[Editor’s note: On March 24, Ron Antonette, communications director for Bike Long Beach, told the Daily 49er that the planned April 2 opening date has been postponed. The lanes will not be open to the public on that day. We will bring you the new opening date when it is announced.]
The City of Long Beach is continuing its pledge to make Long Beach “the most bicycle friendly city in America” by opening two new bicycle lanes on Third Street and Broadway.
Part of a 12-month trial project, the new lanes are scheduled to open to the public on April 2.
The city took time in observing the successes of the first separated bike lanes in New York City: “If you can do it in Manhattan, you can certainly do it in Long Beach,” City Transportation Officer Sumire Gant said.
The California Traffic Control Devices Committee and the Federal Highway Administration will monitor the use and efficiency of the new 1.2-mile long lanes. The new separated bike lanes are meant to entice students and commuters to get out of their cars and onto a bike.
“This is something that is almost a gift to the neighborhood here,” Gant said. She added that the new protected lanes are meant to “serve a new population of people that call this home.”
According to bikelongbeach.org, 79 percent of downtown workers are single car commuters.
In creating the protected bikeways, the city is hoping to provide a more attractive transportation alternative for travel downtown.
A unique feature to this project is the use of illuminated bike signals. Since the protected lanes are on one-way streets, the signals will help direct traffic for bikers making left hand turns. This strategy is being used to decrease the number of accidents that occur between cars and bicyclists.
In designing these new bike lanes, the city hopes to make bicycling more comfortable to those who are uneasy with sharing a travel lane with cars.
Business Administration major and avid cyclist Brent Freeman expressed such a concern about sharing roads like Pacific Coast Highway and Seventh Street with motorists.
“When I do bike around Long Beach, it’s mostly towards the Promenade,” Freeman said.
Since the new bike lanes are experimental, there is no direct access from Cal State Long Beach to these protected lanes. Despite this, there are safe alternative routes to reach the project. Gant hopes that students will be interested in trying it out.
“What we would hate is that it wouldn’t be used,” Gant said. “The whole idea is that it is an open invitation to everybody to come down and try this new facility.”