Tag Archives: Cycling

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

City of Los Angeles says: Bike and Ped on Bridge

The Senior Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles Michelle Mowery has watched this bridge project develop since 2002:

“Over the years since there have been multiple meetings with Port of Long Beach staff, including a field trip to review the current structure, and many reports of the Port of Long Beach’s and Caltrans’ intent to ban bicyclists from the new structure either by declaring the bridge a segment of the Interstate 710 or by detouring bicyclists via Anaheim Street completely bypassing all of the bridges and access to Terminal Island.”

This bridge project is regional in scope and an important link from Long Beach to Terminal Island. With a commitment from the Port of Long Beach to provide pedestrian and separated bike access, the City of Los Angeles can begin in earnest to find funding to install a bike/ped path on the Vincent Thomas Bridge, completing a link contemplated in the 2010 Los Angeles Bike Master Plan.

Read the letter of support:  City of Los Angeles Desmond Bridge Letter, Michelle Mowery

A Green Port For Bicycles

The New York / New Jersey Port Authority leads the way for bike-friendly Green Port efforts. An exerpt from the new policy guidelines:

“Bicycling is a rapidly growing mode of transportation and the New York-New Jersey region is facing increased demand for expanded bicycle infrastructure, safer bicycle routes, access to transit connections and secure parking facilities. While we recognize that many Port Authority facilities currently provide some accommodations for bicycle users, we need to prepare more systematically for the growing use of bicycles as a mode of travel within the regional transportation system.

On February 25, 2010, the Board of Commissioners adopted the following policy:
In keeping with its mission to meet the critical transportation needs of the bi-state region, the Port Authority supports bicycling as an important and sustainable mode of travel. It seeks to provide its customers, tenants, visitors and employees with safe and convenient bicycle access and secure bicycle parking at its facilities, wherever operationally and financially feasible.”

The Executive Director may, consistent with the policy, need to take the following steps to advance this policy:

  • Integrating improved bicycle access, safe bicycle lanes, and secure bicycle parking and storage into existing Port Authority buildings, roadways and other facilities owned or operated by the Port Authority.
  • Ensuring that design guidelines for new construction and major renovations.
  • Developing multi-modal transit hubs that encourage biking and walking.
  • Removing any unnecessary restrictions on bicycle access, and promoting the safe co-existence of motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians at Port Authority facilities.
  • Encouraging tenants to expand bicycle access and accommodation
    Coordinating bicycle facility improvements and inter-modal connections with regional planning organizations, other regional transportation providers, and local governments.

NY/NJ_Port Authority Supports Bicycling_2010-2-25 Meeting Minutes

California Coastal Commission Goals for the Coastal Trail

The new Gerald Desmond Bridge would provide the first half of the path to connect Long Beach to San Pedro along the California Coastal Trail. The second half can be accomplished with the addition of a bike/ped path on the southern side of the Vincent Thomas Bridge (stay tuned for more information on the effort to make this happen.)

The California Coastal Conservancy has six goals for the California Coastal Trail:

1. To “provide a continuous trail as close to the ocean as possible”

2. To have full support of the state

3. To better the public’s knowledge of the good that will come with the California Coastal Trail

4. To have all the policies related to the trail respect the rights of the private landowners (SB 908)

5. To design the trail to create positive experiences for the public while at the same time protecting the environment

6. To have the trail connect to other trail systems and provide a way to the coastal area from urban areas.

The conservancy expects that the trail will improve the economy. The trail will attract tourists, create jobs, and make selling surrounding real estate easier. The trail is also hoped to protect the environment. People looking to enjoy nature can do so without hurting sensitive areas if they stay on the trail. Another goal is to improve quality of life through recreation by encouraging people to use the trail for exercise.

Finally, the conservancy wants people to think of trails as a means of transportation (SB 908 Report 9). To achieve these goals the trail must meet four requirements. It must always be within sight or sound of the ocean. It must serve as a starting point to reach various destinations. It must be separated from all motor traffic. It must respect the current environment and not disrupt the natural habitat. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Remarks to Long Beach City Council, Bridge Appeal Hearing, September 28, 2010

(Draft remarks prepared for City Council. Actual remarks were different based on the remarks of previous speakers and council members and time limitations)

My name is Mark Bixby, I live at XXX in Long Beach.

I speak to the council on behalf of a group called Off the Front, who has been working with the City on implementation of the Bicycle master plan, as a representative of a local cycling team, and as a cyclist in the city of Long Beach for 39 of my 44 years.

I’d like to begin by saying I support the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement. It is important for trade, it is important for regional jobs and for the Long Beach Port and economy. I commend the Port of Long Beach on their support of bicycle friendly paths proposed for the Port near the Queen Mary and for their support of the bicycle festival this year. I met with Bob Kantor and the Port planning staff to better understand the plans for this bridge replacement. Unfortunately, their plans do not go far enough.

The Port will tell you that there is an additional cost of approximately $47 million to add bicycle facilities to the $950 million dollar bridge. They continue to seek funding to reach the $950 million to construct the bridge. Their current design includes the “infrastructure” to add bicycle lanes in the future – an intelligent design choice, and practical, if you consider bicycle paths an extra. But the design is highly problematic from a cyclist’s standpoint, as in, it is unlikely that Bicyclists by themselves will raise $47 million to add a bicycle paths at a later date.

25% of the bridge traffic is currently truck traffic and 75% is automotive. So while the Port needs this bridge enhancement to ease the traffic flow and to allow larger ships under the bridge, much of the traffic is commuter and tourist traffic.  The people that drive those cars pay Federal and State taxes and are entitled to have their tax funds support bicycle facilities.

The Department of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood took a progressive stand in May of this year. I quote: “People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized. We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”

The vast majority of the dollars for this bridge will come from Federal funding sources. There are hundreds of people working on terminal island. They should be able to commute from Long Beach directly via the new bridge. A truly “Green Port” will provide for viable and safe bicycle and pedestrian access to and through the Port of Long Beach.

And if Long Beach doesn’t build a new bridge with bicycle improvements, then LA can simply point our way and say “we can’t build a new bridge with bicycle improvements because it won’t connect anywhere.”

In Kevin Costner’s movie “Field of Dreams”, the famous line is “If you build it, they will come.” This has proven true for bicycling routes in Portland, Seattle, New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Bogota and dozens and dozens of other cities around the world. Connecting communities with bicycle routes and bridges builds a better cities. Long Beach has already started to be the catalyst for change in southern California. Last week Bob Foster and our City bicycle planning staff held a meeting with the mayors of four coastal Cities. This group of mayors from Long Beach to Dana Point reached consensus that they want to form a coalition to promote bicycling efforts along the Pacific Coast Highway and other connecting routes. Los Angeles sent a representative – they are reaching out to us. Los Angeles Mayor Villagarosa is following our lead and pushing to make the City of Los Angeles bicycle friendly.

Every road block to smart bicycle planning that a Port, City, county, state or federal official can dream up has already been overcome somewhere in the United States – be it funding, structure, business opposition, parking issues, easement rights or other. Bicycling just makes too much sense.  It is inexpensive, it is healthy, it is “green,” and it is fun. People smile when they ride their bikes. They feel a connection with their community. They exercise. They feel liberated. Susan B. Anthony said, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. A woman on a bicycle is the picture of free and untrammeled womanhood.”

All the people that I ride with own and use automobiles, and pay Federal and State taxes. The cost to construct and maintain bicycle and pedestrian facilities is a tiny fraction of the cost to build and maintain roads and bridges for automobiles. I love my car, but I’d much rather ride my bike everywhere, on facilities that are safe.  And while I personally am comfortable riding around trucks and traffic, I’d rather not have to. Most people are NOT comfortable riding around trucks and traffic. And I don’t want my three teenage children riding around trucks and traffic. They shouldn’t have to. The previous generation did a terrible job of planning. They only thought of the automobile and its needs. Our generation has the obligation to plan for the next generation. We’re just waking up to the incredible health and environmental costs of being nearly totally dependent on automobiles in Southern California. I know that with the right planning and investment, my children’s generation can and will feel safe and riding their bicycles. And that investment will pay dividends in healthier and more integrated community.

Don’t build a bridge to nowhere. This is the first step in connecting Long Beach to Terminal Island, and eventually Terminal Island to San Pedro. This step benefits the commuters, the exercisers, the racers, the tourists, the kids.

I respectfully request that the city council of Long Beach make a statement to the Port of Long Beach that the Port incorporate separated bicycle facilities into the new Gerald Desmond Bridge design. Thank you.

Hello Bicycle Enthusiasts

This is my opening salvo – a shot at immortality in the blogosphere. A blog on bicycling:  cycling adventures; bike trips & trippy bikers; bicycle advocacy; silly local, state and federal laws and roadblocks; pain and suffering; Freds and other Tom Foolery. Cycling is a way to travel, to stay fit, to be competitive, to see the sights, to escape, to hang with friends. I’ve been hooked since age 5. Hope I can keep riding till I’m old and wrinkled, and then ride some more.

Welcome & please chime in! (Let’s keep it positively-focused).