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:
- E. Park Avenue: the downtown corridor.
- E. & W. Broadway: where bike lanes sort of exist already.
- Long Beach Blvd: from boardwalk to bridge.
- Grand Blvd & Neptune Blvd: connecting the northern & southern bike routes.
- 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:
I will be interesting to see just where these bike lanes will actually be….