Bringing bicycle riding awareness/safety/education to Long Beach. Chime in with a few ideas of your own. Constructive conversation only, please :)

Let’s make a few things clear about transportation: Riding a bicycle is a right, driving an automobile is a privilege. You need a license to operate a motorized vehicle. It might seem crazy to ride a bicycles on busy roads such as Park Avenue or Beech, but they have every right to be there as much as cars do, especially since it’s illegal to ride a bike on a sidewalk. That being said, there needs to be more bike awareness and education on bike safety in Long Beach. Once you hop on that bike and start peddling, you are at risk. [disclaimer: don’t take my advice to bike on the busy streets. Please bike at your own risk!]

I recently attended a Long Beach Streets meeting where we talked about was to bring bicycle riding awareness to Long Beach. Here is an extremely brief overview of just a few things that came up, plus a few of my own propaganda ideas:

  • There is a responsibly for not just drivers on the road, but for bicyclists as well. Bike riding laws should be enforced: helmets on children, proper amount of reflective gear when riding at night, obeying the street laws such as not going the wrong way on a one way. I am guilty of the later myself, but when cars are making turns on a one-way from a boulevard, chances are the driver is not looking in your direction, but the direction of the traffic.
  • There should be a Bicycle Safety Class at our schools. Even if just a few kids pay attention, it’s better than none. The same way how we learn Drivers Education, kids should learn the consequences of reckless bike riding.
  • Social bike clinics where you learn how to care for your bike, fix flats and learn about road laws and even how to ride a bike.
  • Promoting the health/economic benefits of riding a bike: riding a bike burns calories, driving a car burns gas (and lots of it).
  • The use of reflectors, reflective stickers, blinking lights – anything that makes you more visible at night.
  • The LIRR station bikes racks are a mess. They are overcrowded and not enough racks, bikes are stolen or people feel unsafe in the area especially at night. Something needs to be done to address these issues.
  • Bike riding is not only for recreation, but for transportation as well. Not everybody in Long Beach is riding a bike just to smell the salt air, soak in the sun and people watch on the boardwalk.
  • Right On Red (this is for automobiles).Technically, you are supposed to make a full stop before you make that right turn on red. Many drivers don’t. Being that Long Beach is a dense populated city (not suburbia) filled with cyclists & pedestrians, should we ban the Right on Red privilege? Right now you are allowed to turn right on red, unless there is a sign saying otherwise. I say we make it that way across the board, just like NYC.

I am putting all this it there as a way to bring up the conversation on a much wider level. What are your ideas on bringing bicycle riding awareness to Long Beach? What would you do to make riding safer in this town? And please, don’t write how you want to ban bikes. People, such as myself, love to bike around town and we have every right to do it as much as you love to drive. Please be smart with your comments or don’t comment at all. The comments on this blog are starting to resemble the patch and I am going to have to start moderating as it is..

An advocacy bike group is in the mist of being formed, so if you’re interested, please visit Long Beach Streets on Facebook where Allison writes about crazy bike stuff all the time. You can also comment here or contact me and I can get you in touch with Allison myself.

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10 thoughts on “Bringing bicycle riding awareness/safety/education to Long Beach. Chime in with a few ideas of your own. Constructive conversation only, please :)”

  1. Bike lanes are a must for park ave. Even if you tried to be safe and ride in the right lane you still have to contest with all of the double parking that happens.

  2. Honestly, most people who I see riding bikes in LB ride like complete idiots.. Riding the streets of LB is like riding on the boardwalk for most. Completely oblivious to everything besides themselves and their phones. Even you admit to riding the wrong direction. They blow through stop signs. They ride two or three across in the middle of the road. You can put the onus on the car drivers, but realistically, that will never work. Most drivers see bike riders as a nuisance and no attempt at reeducation will work.

    So, you have to make sure bike riders follow the rules for their own safety. Make sure they realize they have to be very careful when coming to stop signs and red lights.. if there’s a car coming to a stop sign, make eye contact with the driver. As a bike rider, I always do.. when I know they see me, I go and nod in thanks. I’ve never been hit or even close because I put the responsibility of safety upon myself.

    Biking on Park Ave or Lido is inherently dangerous.. just like any other busy street. Ride at your own risk I say… and do, with full knowledge that cars take precedence over my little bike ride. I don’t think, I have a RIGHT to BE HERE and DAMN YOU STUPID CARS… that’s silly.

  3. Although I do not have any experience with these programs. AAA (the car club) does have a bicycle safety program that is available to schools and other organizations. They also have a program called a “bicycle rodeo” that ties in with their bicycle safety program. Details can be found here for the Bicycle Safety

    http://www.ny.aaa.com/Safety/SchoolsAndCommunity/School-Programs/Bicycle-Safety.aspx?zip=11561

    The Bike Rodeo info can be found here: http://www.ny.aaa.com/Safety/SchoolsAndCommunity/Bicycle-And-Pedestrian-Safety/Bike-Rodeos.aspx

    It might be too late to get one organized for this year but perhaps some of the more civic minded people could begin to plan one for next spring

  4. I hear what you’re saying, B. You’re right, a lot of bicyclists view riding the wrong way (something another local bicyclists convinced me was a bad idea, he told me to get a mirror if I was so concerned about being able to see traffic) the same way a pedestrian views jay walking.

    On the positive side, cities that have set up bicyclist specific infrastructure have found that compliance with bicycle rules increases because the rules are more apparent and because bicyclists don’t feel like they need to bend rules to feel safer.

    More bicyclists means more parking for motorists, less wear on the streets, healthier people and encourages local commerce.

  5. I think about this issue almost everyday when I drive from my house in LB into Manhattan. A few things have become very clear to me.

    Cyclists are, on the whole, completely reckless on the road. They blow red lights, weave through traffic (like motorcyclists), and endanger themselves and those around them. This mostly applies to bikers in Manhattan, but I think LB bikers are just as bad when biking in the streets, its just not as dangerous as in the city.

    It is way too easy to get a driver’s license. This is a broader issue than simply coexisting with cyclists. The frequency at which I encounter drivers who don’t know how to properly merge onto a highway, think its fine to park/stand in a live traffic lane (Park ave at associated marketplace/Lido Kosher Deli, anyone?), and are completely unaware that different lanes on a highway serve different functions, is deeply troubling. To me, step one in making the roads safer for everyone is a much more difficult licensing exam (I remember my road test, it was a joke).

    Strict reactionary laws never make things better. It’s bad enough that the policy of bleeding revenue from the citizens via red light and speed cameras seems to have become acceptable. Our roads are already congested and inefficient. Please do not think that banning right turns on red will accomplish anything. If cyclists ride in a reckless manner, by all means, they should be punished, but the laws are already on the books. Maybe cops can start issuing some warnings for riding on the wrong side of the road instead of setting up seat belt ticket traps on commuter routes in the morning.

  6. Pat, I am sorry that you come across so many reckless cyclists on a daily basis. It can be frustrating for anyone to come across a reckless pedestrian, skater, cyclist or driver because they are not just putting themselves in danger but the lives of people around them.

    And YES having more difficult licensing exams would not be a bad idea at all. Funny thing, I thought getting through the gruesome drivers ed video’s was much harder than the licensing exam. All those car wreck video’s are probably why I prefer not to drive lol.

    I think you might like some of the efforts moving forward with this group. We want to bump up education for cyclists on laws as well as campaigns for drivers – you know, like looking back before opening a car door, for example. Also, bike maintenance 101 classes might make some people more responsible with their rides while recycle-a-bike groups could increase a new trade for some kids or provide mobility for someone with a new ride. How about a seniors ride? A nerdy bicycle parade? Or how about we push for more cyclists to wear blinky things at night? The more educated we are about this, the more people will feel comfortable riding further (could you imagine how that could reduce congestion?). We want the streets safer for everyone and that includes you, Pat, when you are driving. I know you do not want to hit anyone with your car.

    We also want to increase bike racks around town- especially near shops! Great for employees and shoppers! And think of how LESS congested the city would be if we could consider a one day pop-up bike lane in part of town to coincide with something going on around town like the Michelle O’Neil event or Irish Day – events where there is already a large chunk o bikes in town and we do not want to encourage anyone driving around.

  7. I’m just saying that there needs to be more bicycle education in Long Beach. Adults needs to set good examples for kids and kids need to learn about it in school programs. I hear all sorts of rumors about school bicycle safety programs that never happen. I am flabbergasted! You’d think bike safety was a given, especially in an area like LB.

    But bike riding is here and nothing will stop people like me from riding a bike. Since that is the case, there needs to be better bicycle awareness/education and safety programs. That is the point of this post, not to compare who breaks laws more – bikes or cars. (quite frankly, i’d rather be hit by a bike breaking the law than a car. I see those cars speed through stop signs all day and boy is that worrisome)

    and yes, I will admit to riding the wrong way down a one-way, but I am going to stop and I hope others who are reading this stops doing that as well. The more bicyclists we have obeying traffic laws, the less accidents there will be.

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