Presentation to Harbor Commissioners 3.14.11

The BIKEable Communities team presented to the Harbor Commission on a Gerald Desmond Bridge discussion item put forth by Commission President Nick Sramek. Six bicycle advocates spoke and presented a “Prezi” slideshow to request mandatory inclusion of separated bicycle and pedestrian paths. A 30 minute long discussion between Commissioners and Port staff ensued. The Port staff committed to inclusion of a separated bicycle and pedestrian path in the request for quote and stated that the facilities would not be separately costed.

View the presentation by BIKEable Communities:


Vice Mayor writes to POLB: Bike and Pedestrian separated paths should be mandatory on GDB

Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal wrote to POLB Executive Director Richard Steinke emphasizing the importance of building a bridge for all users. And creating a public space with the public dollars that are being invested in the project. She called on the Commissioners and staff to consider the inclusion of observation areas from which tourists, visitors and commuters could step off the bike and ped paths to view the spectacular coastline and workings of the Port.

See the full letter here:

Letter from Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal to Richard Steinke

End Game: Coastal Commission writes: “… separated lanes be a mandatory component of bridge construction.”

The March 14, 2011 letter from Coastal Commission Deputy Director John Ainsworth to Nick Sramek and Richard Steinke states in conclusion: “We request that the Port of Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners take whatever action is necessary to make the Gerald Desmond Bridge accessible to cyclists and pedestrians by requiring that separated lanes be a mandatory component of bridge construction.”

See the full letter here:

CACoastalCommGerald Desmond Bridge Ltr 3-14-11

Video Excerpts, CA Coastal Commission, January 14, 2011

Video footage and editing by Allan Crawford

Commissioner Comments after Public Testimony 1-14-2011

California Coastal Commission, January 14, 2011, 9:25 am – 9:35 am, Long Beach, CA; Excerpts from Commissioner responses to public comment:

“In response to the substantial public comment regarding bicycle and pedestrian access, I think they are absolutely spot-on. In tagging along with the comments from Director Peter Douglas… in signaling to Long Beach and the Port about the Desmond Bridge, that even though that [Bridge] project is not yet before us, I think it is a healthy reminder that this is a standard that I think this body [Coastal Commission] looks forward to seeing that the City lives up to. And I think the that the trend across California, and as rightly pointed out, in the Northwest of the United States, we are becoming, in this nation, finally, very focused in looking at a Complete Streets model. And the Complete Streets model is delineated by the idea that when there is any substantial restoration of our streets, that part of that restoration include, not as an afterthought, but as a primary vision, that those streets are not necessarily restored, rehabbed or rebuilt simply just for the private automobile… or even just for transit itself, but for bicyclists and pedestrians. I think that the testimony today is consistent with my observations of my last few days of being here in Long Beach… So I hope that the comments here today are well heard by the Port, by the City of Long Beach so that when it [bridge permit] comes before us, it is not just considered a footnote of how important the installation of bike and pedestrian access is into the larger schematic that will come soon.”   – Commissioner Ross Mirkarimi

“I congratulate the residents of Long Beach for having the goal of making Long Beach the most bicycle friendly city in the United States… our own City of Oceanside is also striving for that goal, so we’ll see who gets there first. I have had the opportunity to attend the International National Livable Cities Conference in Portland, who also claims to be the most bicycle friendly city, and bicycle friendly cities – including separated bike paths – is one of the goals of the organization. Certainly public access and views are important issues for the Coastal Act. As Commissioner Mirkarimi pointed out, our Executive Director did address the need for pedestrian and bicycle elements for the Gerald Desmond Bridge and I thank you for your comments.”  – Commissioner Esther Sanchez

“I’d like to join my colleagues in underscoring the importance of this issue, and as the mayor of another city contending for the most bicycle-friendly city, I’d just like to say I really appreciate that our neighbors down the coast are enthusiastically approaching this issue. And I certainly agree, the issue of connectivity and access is critical to successive bike and pedestrian programs and I look forward to seeing this issue come back with the goal of enhancing both of those.” – Commissioner Richard Bloom

“I think you might be getting a sense from the commissioners here that this is an issue that when we do see [it], it might have been a bit easier if staff had taken a position to the responsible authority… the Port, that this is not an option. Can you inform us of the position of the Port;… it is certainly within the staff’s authority to propose to the commissioners, when we see it in the staff report, to make it a condition, correct?  – Commissioner Steve Blank

“Yes, I would imagine that that is going to be on the table.”  – Charles Lester, Deputy Director, CA Coastal Commission

“I just want to make sure; I think you have a sense of the commission? Is that correct?”  – Commissioner Steve Blank

“I do, yes.”  – Charles Lester, Deputy Director, CA Coastal Commission

“It is certainly appropriate for commissioners to express their support for the concept of bicycle friendly and pedestrian friendly means of travel and the importance of that for public access… but clearly, we are here to support and uphold the Coastal Act, which does require public access.”  – Commission Chair Sara J. Wan

Coastal Commission 1-14-2011, Public Comment on GD Bridge Replacement Project

California Coastal Commission, January 14, 2011, 9:00 am – 9:35 am, Long Beach, CA, Excerpted from remarks made during public comment period:

“As a small business representative in Long Beach, we support equal access to transportation facilities for pedestrians and cyclists on the Gerald Desmond Bridge. As an individual state and federal tax payer , I respectfully expect equal access to transportation facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Please do not treat us as second citizens by denying us access to facilities we pay for.  I respectfully request that the Board require the Gerald Desmond Bridge to be built with cycling and pedestrian facilities.”   – Brian Cox, Jax Bicycle Center

“We are a leaseholder on Terminal Island, we have a new 15 year lease. We are building a multimillion dollar facility as we speak. Part of that facility we’re building includes showers, [and] lockers for our employees so they can use alternative means of transportation. All of that will kind of be for naught if we don’t have a bridge to give these employees the ability to walk, cycle or use some other means of transportation to get to work. Our company is an ISO 14001 [compliant]. Our owner, the President of our company, the health and wellness of our employees; it is very important. He is doing everything possible to reduce our carbon footprint. We have repowered all our tugboats beyond AQMD standards; we’re purchasing a fleet of hybrid cars for LA at this time… We have facilities up and down the west coast. Our headquarters is in Seattle; they’ve done a great job there of incorporating cycling and pedestrian access throughout the Port… it’s a lot colder, a lot darker up there, but they are using it [cycling] up there, it is a part of the culture. Same thing with Portland. We don’t have the bike access, the pedestrian access in the Port of LA [LB] at this time.”  – Doug Houghton, General Manager, Southern California, Harley Marine Services [100 terminal island employees]

“…There are 16,000 employees in the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles combined; there are 6,000 on terminal island alone. There are 1,200 boat slips on [near] Terminal Island in the City of Wilmington. Without access across this bridge, there will not be bike and pedestrian access for these people… If you turn to page 10 of this document [executive summary of the case for bike/ped access], you’ll see that we’ve cited a number of authorities associated with the legal rationale behind putting in a bike and ped facility. There is DOT, there is California State, there is Federal Highway authority, and of course, there is the Coastal Commission Act, all of which specify in some cases be considered, and in other cases be mandated… If you look at page 11… I think this is the most salient of all the slide in this section. It is the California State [Highway] Code 888, and in this Code it says “The department shall not construct a state highway as a highway that will result in the severance or destruction of existing major routes for non-motorized transportation.” The key here is we’ve got a route here on the Gerald Desmond today. This law says, you’ve got one, you’ve got to maintain it.”  – Alan Crawford, Ph.D., Professor CSUN, Long Beach Cycling Advocate

“I have a letter of support here in favor of keeping the bike and pedestrian access… for the Sierra Club, from the Senior Director of the Sierra Club of the entire Nation… I just ask that you please mandate that our Port do this [include bike & ped] as they rebuild; they’re sending it out for bids right now, and if afterwards they sort of interject haphazardly some bike and pedestrian access, it is not going to be as good as if it really from the beginning of the design was there. And so far the Port has said they’ll really sincerely look into doing it and hope they might be able to… but that is no requirement… it is like me saying I think I might be able to make my mortgage payment on time, hopefully, maybe, I’ll see what I can do… we need this thing [bike/ped] to be really required, to be mandated, or, it may not happen… I need somebody to please be the authority to step in and mandate that we keep the pedestrian and bike access that is there now.”  – Gabrielle Weeks, Sierra Club

“I would like to comment on the need for a separated bike lane on the Gerald Desmond Bridge. LB Cyclists is a local bicycling advocacy, education and community organization with a 16-year history in this area. Many of our members are recreational cyclists like myself, but a significant number use cycling as their primary source of transportation, often by choice. We are disappointed that cyclist’s rights have been ignored, by not including a Class 1 separated bike lane in the plans for the Gerald Desmond Bridge. We firmly believe that this improvement, which is supported by law, should be part of the initial bridge plan and not be deferred for later consideration, which may never occur, and which would certainly be more costly. Cyclists in our community have the right to commute and recreate safely. Recent surveys show that many adults don’t ride a bike because of fear of motorists. A separated bike lane on this bridge would help allay these fears and encourage people to give cycling a chance and to live a more healthful lifestyle. Every time I drive over the bridge, I’m struck by the beauty of our coastline and the dynamic complexity of our Port. I believe that a separated bike lane will showcase these assets and provide safe passage for those who wish to pedal rather than pollute.”  – Tom Duvalle, Long Beach Cyclists

“I too bought a bicycle from JAX bicycles many years ago. I rode it here to this meeting.  When I was working, before I retired, I rode it almost every day to and from work. I am very much in favor of a class I separated bike lane on this bridge. I’ve ridden in this city for many years, and I don’t know if it is America’s most bicycle friendly city, but it is getting better. There are a great many health benefits of riding a bicycle. Bicycles also cut down on wear and tear on the infrastructure, they leave a lot more room on the highways for other vehicles, there’s less parking space needed, they cut down on the need for imported oil, they help clean up the atmosphere…”  – Donald Moore, Long Beach Cyclists

Bob Kanter, POLB, Comments; Peter Douglas, CCC, Responds About Bike Path

Bob Kanter, Managing Director of Environmental Affairs and Planning for the Port of Long Beach, made public comment at the California Coastal Commission meeting, held in Long Beach on January 12, 2011. In those remarks, Mr. Kanter explained that the Port is working on bike improvement projects to bring people to the Port and to view the coastline. While these plans are laudable, it was notable that his remarks specifically avoided any mention of a bicycle or pedestrian path on the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project. After his remarks, Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the Coastal Commission commented:

“Madam Chair , if I may, I just want to tell the commission now that we did meet with Mr. Kanter yesterday, spent an extensive period of time with him. He did a very outstanding job laying out everything the city [Port of Long Beach] is doing relative to bike circulation and improvements, public facilities. We reiterated our position that this bridge needs to incorporate a bike path, and we did indicate that maybe the connections on both ends would take some time in the future to get the funding, but at least the basic bridge needs to incorporate a bike path, and if that isn’t done, in terms of the action that they take, that we would appeal the action locally and bring it to this commission.

Video Archives:  Kanter & Douglas comments begin at approximately 20:00 (9:20 a.m)

Runners Endorse Separated Bike / Ped Facilities on the Bridge

Todd Rose, President of A Running Experience Long Beach, a club with 465 members, says:

“We believe that a running trail / pedestrian walkway from Downtown Long Beach would be utilized by short and long distance runners as a great training route, with the advantage of a 250 foot hill climb affording stunning views of the harbor and sunrise and sunsets across San Pedro Bay. We can envision running races that traverse the Port of Long Beach and the two amazing bridges. What a great way to show off the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles. This bridge also will create a much safer link to the LA River Trail for pedestrians. If you install nice pathways, we think runners and cyclists will use them.”

A Running Experience Letter of Support

Overview of Relevant Federal and State Law and Policy

The intent of the following laws and policies clearly support the inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian access on major state and federally funded projects. For an overview, download the following five page PDF file:

United States and California Law and Policy

Links to websites containing full text of each law or policy:

CA State Highways Code 888

CalTrans Project Development Procedures Manual (PDPM) Chapter 31, Article 1  

California Complete Streets Act, Assembly Bill 1358

CalTrans Deputy Directive – DD 64 R-1

California Coastal Act (2010)

Federal:  Title 23 U.S.C. §217: Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways

Sierra Club Endorses Bike & Ped on the GD Bridge

At the Sunday January 9th, 2011 meeting, the Sierra Club (National, with 1.4 million members) approved a motion endorsing bicycle and pedestrian access. Gabrielle Weeks, Chair, Sierra Club Long Beach Group/Angeles Chapter, explains:

“The Sierra Club asks the Port of Long Beach and the Long Beach City Council to ensure that separated pedestrian and bicycle facilities are part of the plan for the new Gerald Desmond Bridge and included as an integral part of its construction.

Separated bicycle and pedestrian facilities encourage walkers, runners and cyclists of all ages and abilities to travel in the most-energy-saving, least-polluting way.

To eliminate the existing bridge’s bike and ped access would be contrary to the city’s pioneering bicycle plans and conflict with the spirit of California’s new Complete Streets Act (AB 1358).

We remain astonished that the Port of Long Beach, the ‘Green Port,’ thinks that bicycle and pedestrian access on the bridge and through the Port is optional; that the Port has an option. State and Federal law and policy clearly mandate the inclusion of bike and pedestrian routes. The Sierra Club will not stand by and watch these fundamental rights ignored.”