Are Bike Lanes on Park Avenue even possible? [Photos]

Like most people in Long Beach, my bike rides usually involve warped 2x4s and an ocean view. I automatically head for the boardwalk, unless I’m specifically riding to non-beach destinations which are usually on Park Avenue or Beech Street. Biking on Park Avenue seems like suicide, so I stick to the side streets and the “no bike riding allowed” sidewalks. So the other day I decided to bike Park Avenue. I wanted to see just how dangerous it is and if a bike lane would be possible there.

I started at Maple Avenue in the east end of Long Beach and rode all the way to Lafayette Blvd where I turned around and headed back east.  I took a bunch of photos, so if anything, this gives some folks a good idea what the Long Beach downtown looks like in Spring 2012.

FIRST OF ALL, WHY BIKE LANES?

Some folks might see bike lanes as a false sense of security, but then isn’t everything? You aren’t safe every time you’re in a car, just like how you’re not safe in an airplane or on a boat. Airplanes fall, boats sink, cars crash. That’s life. Some people will always drive cars fast and other people will always text while they drive, so nobody is absolutely safe on the road. So even though bike lanes aren’t a guaranteed safety measure, they do have benefits which are better than nothing. According to the bike-lane-benefit roundup from The City of Cambridge, MA official website: In summary, bike lanes do the following:

  • support and encourage bicycling as a means of transportation;
  • help define road space;
  • promote a more orderly flow of traffic;
  • encourage bicyclists to ride in the correct direction, with the flow of traffic;
  • give bicyclists a clear place to be so they are not tempted to ride on the sidewalk;
  • remind motorists to look for cyclists when turning or opening car doors;
  • signal motorists that cyclists have a right to the road;
  • reduce the chance that motorists will stray into cyclists’ path of travel;
  • make it less likely that passing motorists swerve toward opposing traffic;
  • decrease the stress level of bicyclists riding in traffic.

Bicyclists & motorists are supposed to share the roads; no ifs, ands, or buts. Several municipalities in New York have adopted an idea called Complete Streets. Which, by wiki-definition means:

In U.S. urban planning and highway engineeringcomplete streets (sometimes livable streets) are roadways designed and operated to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users, including pedestriansbicyclistsmotorists and public transport users of all ages and abilities. (Source – Complete Streets Wiki)

I am not about to turn this article into a rant on why I like the Complete Streets-concept so much, but I do think all those benefits that were outlined by The City of Cambridge, MA would occur here with bike lanes.

So here is my visual observation:

There is nothing scientific in this post; just pure visual observation. City Council Member Len Torres said during the East End Long Beach Listens how a bike lane is typically 3 feet wide. I used that width as my visual-measurement. No, I didn’t bring a tape measure with me, but I know how wide three feet is, so bare with me.

(See Photo Below) Starting at Maple Avenue and heading west to Long Beach Road you can see there’s plenty of room in right lane. If you look at that the hub cap to the right of the black car, there is more than three feet available. In fact, that right lane has way too much room. We need more lines here to help define road space.

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(Photo Below) The intersection of Park Avenue and Long Beach Blvd is tricky because the road goes from three lanes to four, with the two right lanes being turning lanes, the one inner right lane being optional go straight or turn right.

For a bike lane, the two right lanes would have to to be RIGHT TURN ONLY or it’s not going to work (see red arrows). The bike lane would then split those two lanes with the ones going straight. See example below if this seems confusing..

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(Photo Below) Heading west between Long Beach Blvd & Riverside Blvd. Still plenty of room for a bike lane, but where are the street lines? No wonder why some people on Park drive like it’s their first time behind the wheel. Anyway, I still felt very safe riding my bike – room a plenty.

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(Photo Below) Still heading west in front of City Hall towards Starbucks. Still plenty of room for a bike lane. As you can see in the photo below, cars tend to drive in the middle of the wiiiiiiiiide right lane. A bike lane in this situation will:

  • help define road space;
  • promote a more orderly flow of traffic;

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(Next two photos) From National to Magnolia to Lauralton to Lafayette: plenty of room. 

Doesn’t the wide right lane in the photo below make you want to speed?

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(photo below) Since Park Avenue is pretty much wide the rest of the way until Grand Blvd, I did a u-turn at Lafayette and headed back east on the south side of Park Avenue. This side of Park does look a little bit more narrow, but I still felt safe.

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(Photo Below) Magnolia Blvd. It’s getting a little narrow over here. Maybe all the street lines have to be shifted a little bit to the left? A bike lane on this side would be a little tight. but I still felt safe riding with cars zooming by. 

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(Photo Below) This was east of Magnolia towards National. Again, I still felt safe, but there were a lot more cars here and the right lane is a lot narrower than other parts of Park Avenue. The photo below shows you a small Scion, which might not be the best for scale, but it still seems like you can squeeze in a three foot wide bike lane. The jeep in the distance is sticking out too much. Cars didn’t seem bothered that I was rightfully sharing the road with them.

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(Photos Below) The part of Park Avenue that concerns us the most: Going east between National and Edwards. This little section of Long Beach is definitely the busiest. I actually didn’t feel unsafe riding there. I think the major issue would be illegal double parkers, which I didn’t experience that day, but we all know how much it happens. You also have to be on the lookout for car doors swinging out.

If you look at the next three photos, there is a bit of bike lane room. Maybe the left lanes are wide enough for us to shift the lines over to squeeze in a bike lane here.

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(Photo Below) After Edward’s Blvd heading east the roads felt wide again; Plenty of bike lane room all the way back to Maple Avenue.

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Conclusion:

So what does this prove? Most likely nothing since I didn’t take actual measurements. But, I did learn that I can bike on Park Avenue and live to tell about it. I also wanted to remind everybody that bikes and automobiles are supposed to share the roads. It’s actually illegal to bike on a sidewalk.

Now, I have no idea what DecoBikes has in store for us and if Park Avenue is even marked for bike lanes already, but I do think they are possible here. There might have to be some repainting on the south side of Park and also a right lane reconfiguration at the Park Ave/ Long Beach blvd interaction, but it’s all white paint. No construction needed.

 

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Are Bike Lanes on Park Avenue even possible? [Photos]”

  1. Great article. I wish we didn’t have three lanes of traffic on Park Ave. Also would rather see the bike lane on the meridian side to avoid the folks getting in and out of parked cars as well as the double parkers.

  2. That is a big concern – car doors and double parked cars, but how do they deal with that in NYC and other areas? I actually did a whole post back in the summer about redesigning our street/sidewalk/downtown configuration. I know it would be unpopular, but it’s similar to what you mentioned.

    Only, decrease the car lanes from 3 to 2. Curbside parking is moved to the meridian side and the sidewalks are increased in size with the bike lane right next to it. Here was my photo: http://www.seabythecity.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/redesign1.png

    I am curious to see where they put the bike lanes though. I wonder if they need to be by law on the right side of the road, or if the left side by the meridian could be an option…

  3. I ride my bike down Lido Blvd. to Pt. Lookout, through the town and then back. Lido has people flying by doing 60mph with no enforcement but the town itself is great to drive through. The speed limit is 15 and the majority of cars yield to me on my bike. Way better than Long Beach.

    One major issue I encounter are cyclists going against traffic towards me. I have no way of knowing if anyone is behind me so it becomes a game of chicken. I let the other bike go around me since they’re opposing traffic and can see what’s coming.

    That being said, I never feel safe riding my bike around Long Beach. I’ve almost been hit by a car too many times. People blow through stop signs with impunity (see the theme here?) and think right on red means turn without looking.

    Changing Park Avenue to 2 lanes sounds like a great idea but it’s already congested and removing a lane would just aggravate that situation. I can totally see frustrated drivers going into the bike lane and getting away with it (there’s that theme again).

    I don’t mean to be the naysayer here but realistically cyclists and runners take their lives into their hands when using the streets. If I had my way, we’d become like Catalina and only allow golf carts for local transportation and no cars.

  4. Lido is another story.. of course, Decobikes doesn’t have a contract to put bike lanes there, but the Town of Hempstead really screwed up a few years ago when they placed those medians in the middle – now there is no room for bike lanes at all on Lido Blvd because that road is even more narrow.

    The only time I really don’t feel safe riding my bike in Long Beach is at the stop signs. I always find myself in an uncomfortable situation.

    I am not sure if changing the lanes from three to two will have the effect people think it will.. i know it’s an unpopular idea, but i can think of plenty of other roads that get more traffic and are only two or even one lane. I plan on doing a whole story about that in the future, but some examples are:

    Post Ave in Westbury – one lane.

    Franklin Ave in Garden City – two lanes.

    and another Franklin Ave in Franklin Square – which probably has triple the amount of cars our Park Ave gets. That is only 2 lanes.

  5. Keep the three lanes but narrow them. Look at those pics and the wiggle room cars are given. And we wonder why people text and drive? Why would any driver be completely focused when the excess room allows them to take their eyes off the road. Its statistically shown that narrow lanes calm streets as drivers actually use caution.
    I love that you refer to Cambridge, MA as they addressed their bike safety issues diligently. I know I’ve said a few hail marys on my bike there years ago.. Also, Jack went to college there so perhaps he would be more receptive to addressing shared road initiatives.

  6. I offered to create a thorough report as part of an internship and I was promised a position throughout the fall/winter. He dropped me the night before my intern class where I had to hand in my study idea. So yeah, I could’ve been workng on this much needed study but turning down sexual advances meant no internship. Sorry guys but giving him my ass wasn’t worth it.

  7. Am confused. He wanted to “tap that ass”, and as a result of your refusal, he prematurely ejected you from the internship?

  8. Am confused. He wanted to “tap that ass”, and as a result of your refusal, he prematurely ejected you from the internship?

     

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