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
- 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.