While many cities over the past 20 years have made cosmetic gestures of accommodation to the growing demands of bicyclists, some road modifications, such as the skinny bike lane, seem to be more of an attractive nuisance than help. LAStreetsBlog has been examining how Long Beach has been moving far beyond such superficial concessions as additional signage and bike racks. The blog likes what it sees in this city.
"Long Beach," write Joe Linton, "in looking to differentiate itself from Los Angeles, and even from adjacent Orange County, has embarked upon an ambitious and for-Los-Angeles-County-unprecedented 'Livable Community Agenda.' Long Beach wants to become known as great place for bicycling and walking."
Some of the changes affecting cyclists sound like true realignments of
our relationships between car, pedestrian and cyclist. (Not all
conflicts are between motorists and cyclists; many involve run-ins --
literally -- with cyclists and pedestrians.) The results bring to mind
a European sensibility -- reading Long Beach's accomplishments and
future plans for cycling, you can almost see windmills slowly churning
on the horizon. Among the additions are bike boulevards, dedicated cycletracks, bike corrals and increased "traffic calming" that combines diagonal parking spaces with landscaped curb extensions.
But the most ambitious strategy has been the introduction "sharrows"
-- broad, green-striped lanes whose stenciled bike icons make it clear to
motorists that they must share the lane with cyclists. Several U.S.
cities, especially in Western states, have begun employing sharrows and
the effects in Long Beach seem encouraging.
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"Overall, bicyclist volumes have increased by 29% - the daily average
went from 414 to 538. Sidewalk bicycling declined by 17%. Door zone
riding declined by 7%. Cyclists taking the lane increased 22% - from
12% to 34%. No bike-ped or bike-car crashes have been reported."