There is no question that the Class 1 separated bike/ped lane along the soon-to-be Gerald Desmond Bridge project was a score for bicyclists and new urbanists alike when it was included in the design contract in 2012.
Even more, it was a testament to the City of Long Beach, the Port of Long Beach (POLB), and biking advocates working diligently with one another to ensure that future travel options aren’t relegated to the car alone. Win, win with the Mark Bixby Bike and Pedestrian Path come 2016.
There is, however, a major problem: the gap.
This gap stretches between the end of the east side of the proposed bike path and the existing Long Beach biking infrastructure. That’s right: the new path doesn’t connect to Long Beach but ends at Pico Avenue. For many, it amounts to nothing more but a true what-the moment as there are two portals—the LA River Trail and the Broadway eastbound separated bike lane—that the new path could easily connect to.
As of now, the path at its most easterly end runs between Ocean Boulevard and the 710, wraps along the Pico exits for northbound 710 travelers, heads north on Pico to go back under the 710/Ocean to end when Pico meets Broadway. This leaves a 1,500 foot gap between the end of the new path and access to Long Beach.
However, all is not lost since BIKEable Communities offers two viable solutions with regard to connecting to at least the LA River.
One is a cantilevered path that will stretch from Pico at Broadway east along on the north side of the Ocean bridge. The other is an entirely standalone path which will will cross the river on its own bridge and connect directly to the LA River Trail.
Connecting to the eastbound Broadway lane, however, is much trickier. One would have to continue the separated Ocean bike lane to Magnolia and then up to Broadway, causing Ocean to lose its furthest right westbound lane. Or one would have to cut through Santa Cruz/Golden Park and under offramps/onramps to access Broadway.
According to Matt Goldman, Senior Port Planner of POLB, the Port’s Transportation Planning Division will be taking the lead on how to implement the closure of the gap as well as finding contractors and highlighting funding areas. Eric Shen, the division’s director, will have an update on the project hopefully around June.
Now, if we can only get onto that pesky and frightening Vincent Thomas Bridge so that bicyclists can actually get to Pedro safely. As much as we would love to visit the beautiful Terminal Island—cough, cough—it would be nice to ride to Gaffey Street Diner and visit the quieter, cleaner sister beach of LB. Wheels are in your court, Port and Long Beach.