Long Beach celebrated its newest protected bike lane facility this morning. The Artesia Boulevard bike lanes extend half a mile from Atlantic Boulevard to Orange Avenue. The lanes are parking-protected, and feature green plastic reflective bollards, rubber curbs, and intermittent green pavement markings.
The majority of the new lanes are parking-protected, meaning that cyclists ride between parked cars and the sidewalk. The parked cars act as a buffer, protecting cyclists from car traffic. At approaches to intersections and at bus stops, the protection drops and there is a merge zone marked with dashed green pavement. (Not dropping the protection would require relatively expensive bikeway signals, similar to Long Beach’s Broadway/Third couplet.)
This morning’s festivities were attended by a crowd of about 50, including city officials, city staff, locals, and bicyclists. Vice Mayor Rex Richardson and Mayor Robert Garcia were on hand to praise the new facility, cut the ribbon, and take an introductory spin.
Long Beach aspires to be the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States. In 2011, Long Beach installed the first protected bike lanes in Southern California. The Artesia lanes mark an important expansion of Long Beach’s bicycling facilities. Though the city has bike facilities in various parts of the city, for the most part, Long Beach has concentrated facilities (and bike-share) in denser neighborhoods along the coast, especially downtown. The Artesia lanes are in North Long Beach or Uptown, a relatively population-dense neighborhood about as far from the coast as one can get in Long Beach. They will serve students bicycling to the nearby Jordan High School.
Long Beach is planning to extend protected bike lanes for the entire length of Artesia Blvd, from the city limit with Compton to the city limit with Bellflower. This first stretch was accelerated in conjunction with a Long Beach Gas and Oil utility pipeline project that meant the street was already being resurfaced.