Photos by Allan Crawford. Scroll through the gallery above to view them all.
After DTLB and Cambodia Town saw over 70,000 bicyclists, walkers, skaters, and explorers invade the streets for the City of Long Beach’s 2016 ciclovías, it seems like they can’t stop and won’t stop: the fourth Open Streets event in East Long Beach is drawing unofficial counts at the same total.
The 4-mile “University” route—one significantly smaller than DTLB’s Beach Streets but more expansive than Cambodia Town’s route—took over East Long Beach this past Saturday. And this Beach Streets was different in feel for two major reasons—one good, one bad.
Let’s start with the bad: getting to its location. Many from Los Angeles dismissed the event since they would have to ride miles from the Blue Line on major arterials in order to garner access. At the event, frustrated rider after frustrated rider lamented to me the lack of safe and easy access.
“The real problem with East Long Beach: no way for the rest of the city to get in,” said local bicyclist and college teacher Corey Leis. “You have to cross major conduits from all directions, making it really daunting for bicycles.”
While I applaud the inclusion of East Long Beach and “tying all parts in,” accessibility to alternative transit is a key point of Open Streets events. “So, Brian, you’re saying limit those events to being nearby the Blue Line?” Yup, that’s precisely what I’m saying. Open Streets events are regional events; not local ones. You keep the spirit of the event Long Beach but you keep its accessibility SoCal.
Now, the good point: despite accessibility, it highlighted our University’s hood, an area rich in mid-century modern architecture, suburban sprawl (in the good sense: gorgeous homes, weeping willows, idyllic Long Beach), and the operation that is Cal State Long Beach with the Walter Pyramid acting as a backdrop. It was a ciclovía that, ironically, didn’t highlight urban living at all—and it was a gorgeous touch. It had more families and more kids than any other Beach Streets and that was not just a warming but a welcoming touch.
That being said, Beach Streets Norfside, Beach Streets Port and/or Westside, and Beach Streets Coastline (yup, shut down Ocean from DTLB to the Shore, dammit—and watch the infuriating NIMBYs lose their shit) need to happen.
Ride on, Long Beach, ride on.