Friday, July 19, 2024

Thank the bicycle gods: A guide to the new curb-protected Long Beach bike lanes

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Despite pundits, Long Beach is a leader in Southern California livability, especially when it comes to bicycling. The city premiered L.A. County’s first protected bike lanesfirst parklets, and more. The city recently added four high-quality concrete curb-protected pathways—making these Long Beach bike lanes some of the safest in the region.

Concrete curb protection on Spring Street near Studebaker Road.

Concrete curbs are real protection, especially compared to plastic bollards/posts that errant drivers regularly mow down. These aren’t Long Beach’s first curb-protected facilities; similar features can be found on DTLB’s Broadway / 3rd Street parking-protected couplet—reworked somewhat since their 2011 debut.

Stretches of fairly similar curb protection are installed in a handful of L.A. County cities—including multiple in Santa Monica, plus Hermosa BeachTemple CityL.A.Pomona, and Pasadena—but right now Long Beach leads the county with the most overall curb-protected mileage: About 15 lane-miles citywide, counting sidewalk-level bikeways. And it also leads the county in total traffic circles. With numerous protected facilities without curb protection (mostly parking-protected), Long Beach also leads L.A. County in per capita protected bikeway mileage. 

The latest batch of Long Beach curb-protected lanes appears to be a sort of standard prototype that could be implemented in many locations. 

Below are some specifics on Long Beach’s four recent curb-protected bikeways, followed by photos of a couple other notable projects SBLA spotted on a recent visit to the LBC.

Curb-protected bike lanes on Costa Del Sol Way.

Costa Del Sol Way

Costa Del Sol’s curb-protected bike lanes are short but make worthwhile connections. 

Located in the Alamitos Bay area in southeast LB, Costa Del Sol has one block (about 300 feet) of protected lanes both northbound and southbound between Loynes Drive (see below) and Cadiz Lane, plus another 800 feet of southbound-only protection south of Cadiz to Jack Nichol Park where cyclists can connect to a marina bike path or to Pacific Coast Highway.

Curb-protected bike lanes on Del Amo Boulevard.

Del Amo Boulevard

The Del Amo facility is a half-mile long, between Orange and Atlantic Avenues, in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood.

This stretch of Del Amo was effectively a speedway in front of Barton Elementary School – a couple of long blocks with mostly backyard fences and no driveways, no friction to slow drivers down. Long Beach did a road diet on this stretch of Del Amo Boulevard, reducing six travel lanes to four, and adding protected bike lanes.

These new bike lanes closed a gap, connecting existing bikeways on Del Amo, Atlantic, and Orange. (The city is extending and upgrading Orange Avenue bike lanes, with that street intended to serve as a primary north-south “backbone” bikeway.)

Protected bike lanes on Loynes Drive.

Loynes Drive

The new Loynes Drive bike lanes extend a quarter mile between Pacific Coast Highway and Bellflower Boulevard. This was another overly wide street, with no driveways. The city reduced car lanes from four to two to make space for the protected lanes. 

The Loynes lanes connect to bikeways on Bellflower and PCH, the Costa Del Sol lanes, and a marina bike path paralleling Azure Way. 

Curb-protected bike lane on Spring Street.

Spring Street

The Spring Street curb-protected lane extends about 0.8 miles from Studebaker Road to El Dorado Park (that’s the name of the street that enters the park). Studebaker has existing painted bike lanes which the city is about to upgrade to protected.

Though this stretch of Spring is in and along the 650-acre El Dorado Park, it is another frictionless, overly wide road conducive to speeding – especially for drivers in a hurry to get to and from the 605 Freeway.

On Spring, the city reduced six car lanes to four, freeing up space for the protected bike lane. Spring now allows for safer travel between residential neighborhoods to the west and the San Gabriel River bike path. It gets cyclists nearly to the Coyote Creek bike path and the adjacent Orange County city of Los Alamitos.

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Cyclists on Spring Street, next to El Dorado Park.

For a bit more background on Long Beach’s recent protected bikeways, see the city’s 2023 Safe Streets Progress Report

Lastly, a few photos of other bikeways and projects SBLA visited last week:

Long Beach recently did a road diet to install two long blocks of parking-protected bikeway on Atlantic Avenue between Anaheim Street and 10th Street—just north of Downtown.
Most of the city’s recent Atlantic Avenue bikeway is parking-protected, but protection drops at several loading zones and bus stops.
Construction is well underway on the Colorado Lagoon Open Channel Project, which is restoring the coastal wetlands’ connection to the sea.
Long Beach has five small traffic circles (installed nearly a decade ago) to calm traffic on just over one mile of its 6th Street bike route.
Joe Linton
Joe Lintonhttps://la.streetsblog.org/author/joe-linton
Joe Linton is a longtime urban environmental activist. His main areas of interest have been restoring the Los Angeles River and fostering bicycling for everyday transportation. He’s worked for many Los Angeles livability non-profits, including Friends of the L.A. River, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, C.I.C.L.E., Livable Places, and CicLAvia. He also served as deputy to Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m all for bicycle safety. However, in my many years of riding my bike, I usually avoided the busy streets. I would go an extra block to ride on slower neighbor streets to get to my destination.
    I am wondering if there was ever a survey that was done with bicyclists as well as car owners who share the roads. Most people who live in my neighborhood (Alamitos Beach) do not work close by. They use their vehicles for trips to work, out of the area for shopping, as well as going to appointments out of the area. Public transportation is great within the city and some surrounding cities. Too much time in transit to those areas. Businesses on Broadway are suffering because many curb parking spaces have been eliminated. Cars must park in neighborhoods to use those businesses during the day and evening times. Not a good thing for homeowners or renters. Their on-street parking has been greatly impacted. Always wonder how many cyclists are using the new safety lanes, compared to the vehicle users who lost their parking spaces. On street parking spaces are used more hours than the bicyclists are using the safety lanes, I think. This is why there needs to be an in-depth survey before more streets are reconfigured for the safety of bicyclists. Many more vehicles use streets than bicycles.
    Please, please, listen to vehicle owners about how their street parking is being eliminated. I still ride my bike locally.
    We appreciate your consideration.

    • Study after study show that replacing street parking with protected bike lanes not only increases property values but also increases local business revenue. Even when studies clearly show an positive effect on businesses, those same business owners will be vocal against bike lanes. They are just so brainwashed into thinking the curbside parking is more important than making the street safe and more pleasurable to be on. So no, we should not listen to business owners when it comes to expanding bicycle infrastructure.

      In my personal experience, my family and I will bike over to the shops in Alamitos Beach only because of the protected bike lanes. If it weren’t for them, we would just stick with the shops in downtown.

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