Tag Archives: complete streets

$775,000 for Downtown Resilient Connectivity for Park Avenue Phase 2 & $300,000 for Pride on the Beach!

The Regional Economic Development Councils have announced their awards. Long Beach will be a recipient of two of them. $775,000 for Downtown Resilient Connectivity for Park Avenue Phase 2 & $300,000 for Pride on the Beach! [LINK]

$775,000 for Downtown Resilient Connectivity for Park Avenue Phase 2

The City of Long Beach will design and construct improvements along Park Avenue to create complete streets and establish a more resilient downtown. Improvements, including permeable pavement utility strips, stormwater treatment, solar street lights, streetscape amenities and wayfinding signage, will mitigate stormwater flooding, revitalize the downtown, generate economic activity, and also enhance the quality of life in this commuter rail community by making it more pedestrian friendly.

$300,000 for Pride on the Beach!

The LGBT Network is partnering with the City of Long Beach to produce “Pride on the Beach,” a “3-day destination Pride celebration” leveraging Long Island’s beaches as a natural asset to stimulate out-of-state tourism.

We are getting a $500,000 grant for bike lanes on Park Avenue from LB Blvd to Grand Blvd.

I am an advocate of bike lanes. I know safe bike riding can be done around our city, especially on Park Avenue, if done the right way. I remember living in Manhattan in the 90’s thinking how bike riding there was insane. Only crazy messenger or delivery folks did it. Well, go to manhattan today and you will see that it works. It needs to be executed properly. 

“New York City has doubled its bike lane networks since 2006, bringing the total mileage to more than 400. Most bike lanes are selected for installation based on the Department of Transportation’s 1997 Bicycle Master Plan. New York has some of the most innovative bike lane designs in the country, including physically-separated cycle-tracks (8th Avenue, 9th Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan), parking-protected bike lanes (Grand Street in Manhattan) and two-way separated lanes (Prospect Park West and Kent Avenue in Brooklyn). [LINK]

I am please to hear about this grant, however pretty bummed east of LB Blvd gets the shaft. It would be so easy. It’s an old photo, but look at how much room east of Park Avenue has:

park1

Lanes should be for the entire avenue. There is room to make the vehicle lanes narrower. Don’t quote me on the exact measurements, but our lanes are 12 feet and wider. They should be 10 feet. It would be safer for everybody, drivers and cyclists alike. No impact on your precious driving. Here is a great article on that topic: Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now. Let’s make “10 not 12!” a new mantra for saving our cities and towns.

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PRESS RELEASE: December, 2015

CITY OF LONG BEACH AWARDED $500,000 GRANT
TO ESTABLISH BICYCLE LANES ON PARK AVENUE

Long Beach, NY –The City of Long Beach is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a generous grant from the New York State Department of State, in the amount of $500,000, to help fund the City’s streetscape improvements to create a more resilient and connected commercial corridor with the addition of bike lanes on Park Ave. from Long Beach Blvd. and Grand Blvd.

This project will enable the City to address significant safety issues by reducing conflicts between motorists, pedestrians, & cyclists, alleviate parking demand, and generate essential economic activity while encouraging alternative and environmentally-friendly modes of transportation and transit-oriented development. The funds will be matched by the city’s Capital budget, and community engagement will be a critical component of the final design.

“As part of our Complete Streets goals, we have envisioned a more bike-friendly Long Beach,” stated City Council President Len Torres. “After aggressively advocating for several years to obtain funding for this project, we are absolutely thrilled to finally see it come to fruition. The addition of bicycle lanes is yet another component of rebuilding a stronger, smarter, and safer Long Beach.”

“In 2013, the City Council approved the Complete Streets Policy in an effort to help our local businesses as well as promote a healthier lifestyle and cleaner environment,” commented City Council Vice President Fran Adelson. “The City’s Department of Economic Development and Planning applied for this grant for each of the last two years, and we would like to sincerely thank the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and Assemblyman Kaminsky for their support in helping us obtain this funding.”

“I was pleased to assist the City of Long Beach in securing this grant to promote bicycling, a healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transportation,” said Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky. “Bike lanes are essential to cyclist safety and by increasing residents’ ability to bike on Park Ave, I am confident that more residents will choose to bike and therefore move toward healthier and greener methods of transportation.”

Complete Streets on Tonight’s Agenda [YES!!!!!]

completestreets

(The photo is some image on Google. It has nothing to do with Long Beach)

Attention City Council: Please authorize the adoption of COMPLETE STREETS for Long Beach at tonight’s City Council Meeting!!!!!

From Wikipedia:

Complete Streets is a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Complete Streets allow for safe travel by those walking, bicycling, driving automobiles, riding public transportation, or delivering goods. (wikipedia)

I am sure Complete Streets in Long Beach has nothing to do with bridge access, that’s all on Nassau County. Still, I’ve been an advocate of Complete Streets on this blog for some time now, so I am very happy to see it on tonight’s City Council agenda. Bravo to the city for even considering it! Safer streets are so important to all of us and I truly believe this is a step in the right direction. Long Beach is not like most towns on Long Island. Many people here rely on alternative forms of transportation to get around, so adapting Complete Streets is a no-brainer.

I’m refuse to rant on how motorists around here speed through stop signs without even slowing down. Nope, I am not going there. Because then all the negative attention turns to how cyclists don’t obey rules either. The bottom line is this: we all have to share the roads; they are not just for automobiles. Long Beach is a town for all: drivers, cyclists, runners, pedestrians, etc. It’s extremely important to make sure it’s accessible and safe for all. Also, for those of you who think about nothing, but money:  the legislative memo says this would open more opportunities for grants for the City. How can you argue with that?

The last thing I want to see here are comments like “we don’t need this, we need a hospital.” Well, Complete Streets will hopefully put less people in the hospital. How do you like them apples? A SAFE TOWN IS A HAPPY & HEALTHY TOWN! 

That 158 New York Ave Proposal (A few thoughts)

Back in July of this year, Long Beach-based Arcadia Management proposed a building for the empty lot @ 158 New York Ave. Residents went nuts over parking and building height. Proposal withdrawn. This past week at the West End Neighbors Civic Association meeting, Arcadia Management presented a new proposal which you can read all about @ the LB Patch: Arcadia Presents West End Apartment Proposal.

I just have a few thoughts on this new proposal.

THE BUILDING:

(Photo Credit Joley Welkowitz, The LB Patch – Arcadia Presents West End Apartment Proposal. More photos @ the LB Patch)

Regardless of the location (158 New York Ave) and parking issues, I happen to love the look of the building Arcadia is proposing. As you can see in the rendering, it’s fairly modern, clean and brings Long Beach up to date. It makes those fucco (fake stucco) buildings look downright old, cheap, exhausted, cheap and really cheap (I feel like years from now we are going to look back at these styrofoam fake stucco buildings and regret that choice of material. I personally would never want to live in a Styrofoam-type house in an area that has flooding, but that’s just me.)

Anyway, According to the LB Patch, this proposed building would be the first green-friendly one in Long Beach (Didn’t the Allegria try to claim that already?). If not built at this location, I would love to see these plans elsewhere, hopefully starting a trend for more LEED certified buildings in our city by the sea. One of the jewels of Long Beach is our environment (duh…the beach). It’s our job to protect it as much as we can. If we’re going to build, let’s do it the right way with the smallest ecological footprint as possible.

THE LOCATION (158 New York Ave):

Part of me doesn’t want to touch this topic because I know most of you will yell “PARKING!” I don’t live in that particular area of Long Beach, so I don’t know what the parking situation is. I’m assuming it sucks like the rest of town. From the LB Patch: “The proposed building would be five stories, with the first story devoted to parking……Each unit would have a parking space and the two-bedroom units would have tandem spaces.” I believe the last proposal involved the developer to possibly use the lot over at the Long Beach Catholic Regional School for parking, but that wasn’t so clear. So does this new parking scheme suffice? I’m sure it doesn’t, but please don’t yell at me in the comments like with that other building. I am not the one building this thing.

I’m not going to argue about parking with anyone in this town anymore, but I am an advocate of all that smart development/complete streets nonsense. What I see here is a proposed building in a location that is walking distance to the beach and the West End downtown (restaurants, shops, bars). I would like to believe that the added vehicular traffic from this building would be minimal, or not as much as you think. It’s the same old battle between Smart Development and Suburban Sprawl.

That all being said: I am really tired of looking at this ugly lot (see photo above). This project is most likely wrong for that location, but something needs to go here. Anything.

THE USE:

This is actually what troubles me the most. The project was pitched as affordable rentals, but only for retired people. From the LB Patch article: “I am mainly looking for retired people,” [Joe Iorio, Arcadia Management] said. “People raise their families here and then want to sell their homes, but want to remain in Long Beach and are not able to do so because of the lack of affordable rentals.”

The last time I checked, it was the young adults who were having problems finding affordable places to live on Long Island. Most people don’t get it. They say we have to lower the taxes and the young adults will come back. I disagree: A) The taxes will never be lowered, so throw that idea out the window. B) Many young adults want more exciting places to live, thus many flock to the city (See Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s like lord of the flies, but with hipsters). Long Beach is an exciting place, but we are eliminating options for them to live here. Please keep it affordable for everybody, both young and old, before illegal rentals are the only way to go for most.

Project Waldbaum’s Shopping Center. Hell’s Strip Stores. Shopping Plaza Makeover. Desperate Landlord. Queer Eye for the Straight Shopping Center. Vacancy Nightmares.

Something needs to be done with the Waldbaum’s Shopping Center, and its landlord, the City of Long Beach, is even admitting it. Taken from the recently released City of LB Proposed Annual Budget for Fiscal Year July 1st, 2012 – June 30th, 2013 was this little bit:

The City has several assets that are currently underutilized. Consider all options regarding the Waldbaum’s Shopping Center property, which is currently leased for $82,400 per year.

Only $82,400 per year? Hmm… that seems kinda low, but there is so much involved with a lease, so it’s hard to tell with just that one number. Who pays the expenses (insurance, school/gen/lb taxes, CAM)? Do they have triple net leases? Base years? etc.. Commercial leases can get very complicated. And does $82,400 per year include Waldbaum’s rent or just the strip stores? Suffice it to say, that center could do much better for the city. Waldbaums itself isn’t going anywhere since it has a ninety-nine year lease (or so I’ve been told), but those strip stores need to be re-imagined. They’re underutilized; they don’t fit the character of our downtown and they don’t promote new and progressive ideas which are basically rebuilding communities all across america: Smart Growth, Complete Streetswalkability, etc.

I have no idea what the city has in mind for that space, but here are a bunch that have been kicking around this blog (and in my head) for a while:

A Performing Arts Center

Back in December I suggested the idea of converting the vacant Temple Beth El (570 W. Walnut St., Long Beach, NY 11561) into a performing arts center. Yes, I do realize the temple’s current location is not ideal for a music venue (nearby residents would have a hissy fit). So Mary Ellen of the West End Beautification Association took this idea one step further by suggesting, “What if we can find somebody to buy the temple and move it to a better location?” Her idea is totally insane, outside the box and I totally love it:

  • We would be preserving a historical building.
  • Open up 570 W. Walnut Street for proper residential development.
  • Get our performing arts center.

I think the Waldbaum’s shopping center would be an ideal location since it’s in the center of city amenities (LIRR, restaurants, parking, stores, main road access from the rest of Long Island). According to my poll from last December, the people of Long Beach want a Performing Arts Center. Let’s do it! All what we need now are deep pockets filled with lots of money.

Smart Growth / Dense & Diverse Housing (How about Artspace?)

With all that wasted Waldbaum’s shopping center space, Long Beach has a unique opportunity to increase its tax base, offer diverse housing and cozy up the downtown in one swift move: by developing the strip center under the principal of Smart Growth.

Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl. It also advocates compact, transit-orientedwalkablebicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools,complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices.

Smart growth values long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short-term focus. Its goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place; expand the range of transportation, employment, and housing choices; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources; and promote public health. 

(Source – Smart Growth Wikipedia)

That location is walkable to the LIRR, buses, taxis, restaurants, shops and beach; that all sounds like a prime Smart Growth location to me! Because of all this, the impact dense housing would have in that area would be minimal.

I think we should think outside the box on this one. Instead of doing the Long Island norm (condos, multi-family house developments, giant two-family ranches or fake stucco one family houses that droop as they age), why not bring some spark to the area with Artspace? Last I heard, Long Island has a hard time keeping the kids from moving out (lack of culture, lack of diverse housing, too expensive, wants to live in a cool place). Artspace can help with that. From their website:

Artspace’s mission is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations. We pursue this mission through development projects, asset management activities, consulting services, and community-building activities that serve artists and arts organizations of all disciplines, cultures, and economic circumstances. By creating this space, Artspace supports the continued professional growth of artists and enhances the cultural and economic vitality of the surrounding community.

What a way to bring culture, more diverse housing options and an increased tax base to our city. Artspace in Long Beach would be a one of a kind for Nassau County; possibly opening up opportunities for other great stuff. Plus, the building itself would be a conversation piece. The Waldbaum’s center has plenty of parking for residents who would live there. You have a grocery store right next door. Traffic won’t be much more than what the current strip stores provide already, but who needs to drive around when you have the LIRR, buses, taxies, decobike kiosks, beach, restaurants and stores all at your doorstep?

If you want to see an example of Artspace, drive 45 miles east to Patchogue where you will find a brand new Art Space building:

Screen shot 2009-12-30 at 2.14.57 PMArtspace’s project in the Village of Patchogue, a Long Island community about 50 miles east of New York City, will be a new five-story building with 45 affordable live/work spaces on the upper floors and retail space at street level. Located in downtown Patchogue, the $16 million project represents both economic revitalization and the opportunity to strengthen a growing arts community; many Main Street storefronts are now occupied by artists and creative businesses. 

Bring The Stores Up To The Street

If changes are ever to be made, this seems to be a likable option. Bringing the strip of stores to the street will cozy up our downtown and also give the tenants better exposure. There would also be room for parking in the rear. I’m sure RE brokers try to use the current layout as a bonus: The only strip center with parking in Long Beach, but folks here aren’t biting. That’s why that center is in trouble in the first place.

In either case, I agree with the City of Long Beach: The City has several assets that are currently underutilized. Consider all options regarding the Waldbaum’s Shopping Center property. 

Fish / Farmers / Arts & Crafts Market

This is a little pipe dream of mine. Any of you ever go to the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia? Or how about Pike Place Market in Seattle? Mimic those great places of commerce right here in Long Beach with our very own market! We can get the Farmer’s Market to operate inside, art’s in the plaza vendors selling their crafts, plus we can maybe attract even more local commerce.. say.. fresh fish? To take this idea one step further, how about we redevelop the bay side with a marina and have boats bring in fresh fish to be sold daily at our Long Beach Market? Oh… I can dream.

Those were just a few ideas. Anybody got others?

Will the Town of Hempstead Finally Join the Rest of Long Island? [Complete Streets]

The other day I did an article about bike lanes on Park Avenue in Long Beach where I briefly mentioned the Complete Streets-concept (read –Are Bike Lanes on Park Avenue even possible?). I was originally going to write more, especially on how every Long Island township, with the exception of the Town of Hempstead (TOH) were on board with Complete Streets. Newsday is reporting that the TOH are making steps to finally make it happen:

“The Hempstead Town board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a policy that would consider safety and convenient access for all users of town roads — including people in cars, on foot, on bicycles and on buses — in the design, construction and revamping of town streets. The towns of North HempsteadBabylonIslipBrookhaven and Southampton already have adopted similar policies. (Source – Hempstead to vote on road design policy)

Of course people who left comments for that article have no [insert bad curse word] clue. This does not mean that every single street will be retrofitted into a Complete Street over night. It simply means that when it’s time to redesign/renovate a road, Complete Streets will be considered.

“OMG, IT’S GOING TO COST US SO MUCH $$$$$$$”

Yeah, because white paint is soooooooooo expensive.

Get a life. Safer streets are a priority as far as I’m concerned.

(sorry, just cranky)

Why does this matter to us in Long Beach since we’re not in the Town of Hempstead? Well, all of our neighboring towns (Atlantic Beach, Oceanside, Island Park, Harbor Island, Barnum Island, Lido Beach and Point Lookout) are. Austin Blvd in Island Park, which is especially dangerous for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, is apparently undergoing a traffic study. Let’s hope they make it a safer road and not just pour new blacktop. (read – A Safer Austin Boulevard?)

I think we all pretty much agree how bicycling on Lido Blvd in Lido Beach should be safer. The current design, even with those new medians, actually makes me drive my car faster. That road would have benefited tremendously with Complete Streets. As of now, the only safe way to ride your bike there is on the sidewalk which is against the law.

Like that Newsday article says: Long Island in general is home to most of the dangerous roads in the region and the Town of Hempstead is not excluded from that.”

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.

 

 

 

 

A bike-laned bridge over troubled parking

Most of you have already made up your mind on the whole DecoBike fiasco:

  • Worried about the extra 400 bikes.
  • Don’t want our boardwalk sold to private companies.
  • Just don’t want more people coming to Long Beach.
  • Just don’t want more bicycles on the boardwalk and around Long Beach.
  • Worried about the DecoBike racks taking up much needed parking spots.
  • The impact on Buddy’s Bikes.
  • The impact on Long Beach Bicycle.
  • The impact on Local Cycles.
  • Etc.

Like it or not, we are stuck with DecoBikes for the next 5 years. Will it work? Well, none of us went to school for bike sharing and its impact on small barrier Island cities, so I don’t think any of us really know that answer. Only time will tell. Our city officials are billing the ‘DecoBikes plan’ as a way to solve our parking problem, but it can’t and won’t.  Out-of-towners still need to drive and park their cars here in Long Beach to use the service. One way we can solve our parking problem is to bring less cars to Long beach, but we can’t because our current infrastructure doesn’t support safe bike travel from other parts of Long Island.  There are no bike lanes between Long Beach and Island Park, Lido Beach, Point Lookout, Atlantic Beach & even Oceanside.  Heck, I would even go up Loop Parkway though the Meadowbrook to Merrick.

A lot of residents from these neighboring towns, especially Island Park, park in Long Beach to use our beaches and spend money at our restaurants. Maybe some of these folks would love to leave their cars at home and take a bike! Why take a bike when it’s so much easier to drive? Well, it’s simple: there is comfort knowing you won’t have the frustration of finding a parking spot near the beach. Exercise and fresh air are always good too! (Some people, like myself, actually like exercise and fresh air).

This, of course, brings me back to the bike lane over the Michael Valente / Long Beach Bridge proposal (see – Bike Lanes by the Sea).  How many cars come over the bridge from Island Park and park in our spaces?  I’m sure it’s a lot – especially on a hot Saturday in July.  If we can offer them a safe alternative – some will bite.  As of now, bike travel over that bridge is freakin’ dangerous & downright scary. Between the Harbor Island Condos & a redeveloped Island Park downtown, we are going to see an influx of folks coming to Long Beach and that only means less parking spaces for all.

Similar to my bike lane proposal for Long Beach (see – Bike Lanes by the Sea), I propose bike lanes for :

  • Michael Valente / Long Beach Bridge
  • E. Park Avenue & Lido Blvd to Point Lookout
  • Loop & Meadowbrook parkways
  • West end connection to the Atlantic Beach Bridge (which already has a bike lane, by the way).

They say that no man is an Island. Well, lets put those words to good use.

Bike Lanes by the Sea

Ok, so the LB Patch has the full scoop regarding bike rentals and bike lanes. I suggest you read the article before you read the rest of this post. (See: City Council Approves Bike Rental-Sharing Program).

(No really, read the article)

You’re back? Ok, good. The idea of bringing bike lanes to Long Beach isn’t a new one. The following is from the City of Long Beach, NY 2004 Master Plan:

Bicycle routes – The layout of Long Beach, and the existing problems arising from traffic and parking, has encouraged bicycle travel throughout the city.  Special efforts, which could be implemented to improve the safety of bicyclists, will be noted as these could also yield major benefits in reducing auto travel.

Here we are seven years later and this issue is finally being addressed. The way I see it, the following roads are where bike lanes will be needed:

  1. E. Park Avenue: the downtown corridor.
  2. E. & W. Broadway: where bike lanes sort of exist already.
  3. Long Beach Blvd: from boardwalk to bridge.
  4. Grand Blvd & Neptune Blvd: connecting the northern & southern bike routes.
  5. Michael Valente / Long Beach Bridge: a long shot, but a bicyclist and pedestrian deathtrap.

Other areas, such as the West End, obviously needs better bicycle safety.  W. Beech Street is so narrow, but I’m not sure if bike lanes can even fit!  Besides, you can’t take away street parking in the West End and turn it into a bike lane; all the businesses will revolt. The appropriate thing to do with the West End is to figure out how to slow down traffic. (I’ll save that one for a future article).

1. E. Park Avenue:

Bicycles and sidewalks don’t mix, which is why E. Park Avenue is a problem. I’m guilty of riding on the sidewalk in front of the stores. I’m sure most of you are too. It’s because we have no other choice!!  The few times I road my bike on E. Park Ave felt like playing russian roulette.

I personally would love to see E. Park Avenue reduced to two lanes each way because the three lanes are way too much. That extra space can be used for bike lanes on both sides of the street. We’ll then have room for a wider sidewalk with planters, benches, curbside seating; the sort of stuff that gives a downtown some class. This idea is similar to what was presented in the City of Long Beach Charrette Notes from September 27, 2005, but with bike lanes (see photo below).

I know what you’re thinking: “E. Park Avenue to be reduced to two lanes each way? Are you crazy?” Well, no. It should be two lanes each way.  I drive on Old Country Road in Mineola a lot and that’s only two lanes each way. And there are far more businesses & automobiles in that area. Traffic through Mineola builds up during rush hour, but we’re talking about a lot more cars than what we get here in Long Beach.

2. E. Broadway:

E. Broadway almost already has a bike lane. The lines are painted, you just need to insert the ‘bike lane’ graphics. Don’t forget to trim the trees that line the street! Cars don’t park where these lanes would be, so it’s as easy as pie.

 

3. Long Beach Blvd:

The main gateway to our city, and it’s only safe for automobiles.  LB Blvd north of E. Park Ave doesn’t get much pedestrian traffic, so the sidewalks can be a tad narrower to make room for bike lanes.

The photo below shows LB Blvd south of E. Park Ave. where the street lanes are pretty wide. I’m sure we can squeeze a bike lane in their somewhere.

 

4. Grand & Neptune Blvd:

We need bike lanes on both ends connecting the E & W Broadway and E. Park Ave bike routes. Grand & Neptune are just two roads that I pulled out of a hat.

5. Michael Valente / Long Beach Bridge:

This is a stretch and would be way too costly, but this bridge will eventually need to be retrofitted with bike lanes. Last week my wife and I bicycled over the bridge to check out Pop’s Seafood Shack & Grill. Climbing over the bridge hump on the narrow sidewalk (note: bikes aren’t supposed to be on sidewalks, but we had no other choice) while speeding trucks are zooming right by you was an absolute horror.

Believe it or not, Island Park is going through a transformation. Between the Harbor Island Condos, Pop’s Seafood Shack & Grill & King Kullen Shopping center, more pedestrian and bicyclist traffic will be utilizing the bridge. For that, a safer bike & pedestrian passage needs to be added. Heck, NYC recently did this with most of their east river bridges, why can’t we do it here?  Unfortunately, this is a situation where it’s going to take a tragic accident for any local politicians to act.  “In the name of safety” makes a great photo op.  (see  – Community Pushes for Safer Area Between Bike Path and Wantagh Parkway.)

 

In my opinion, those are the streets where bike lanes are most needed. That’s not to say you aren’t allowed to ride your bike on lane-less streets.  Bike lanes exist to make the busier streets safer. That’s all!  We should feel safe when we choose to save gas, save the environment & get some exercise while riding our bikes to local spots.

Now back to the LB Patch article (City Council Approves Bike Rental-Sharing Program), which states:

But Decobike has agreed to pay for the creation of bike lanes, possibly by next year, but the city will conduct the necessary work to determine their locations. 

 I will be interesting to see just where these bike lanes will actually be….