Tag Archives: Long Beach California

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

Peter Douglas, Exec. Dir., CA Coastal Commission, November 19, 2010

“We have told the Port and the City and Caltrans that they need to build in a bike pedestrian path into this bridge. That from our perspective, it is not enough to just design it into the bridge; they have to actually construct it. The problem is that the connectors raise some real significant issues for them, and we think that there are ways to deal with that.  So we’re not saying it has to be opened immediately, but at least it has to be built-in at the beginning, so that we don’t face the prospect of a bridge that’s completed, and then we have to come back to say, ‘now you’ve got to add the bike path and the pedestrian path.’ So we’re with you on this; and we also feel that the Port and the City and Caltrans recognize this and are going to do the right thing here and if they don’ t, this commission is going to see this bridge (project again).

– Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, updating the Commission on staff discussions about the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project, following testimony from Long Beach cycling advocates Andrea White-Kjoss, Alan Crawford and Mark Bixby.

The Case for Bike / Ped on the new Gerald Desmond Bridge

Bicycle/Pedestrian access on proposed Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project is an essential transportation facility and should be integral to the new Gerald Desmond Bridge design. A bicycle/ pedestrian pathway would:

Benefit the Traveling Public by:

  • Providing bike/pedestrian access between Downtown Long Beach and Terminal, and eventually San Pedro when the Vincent Thomas Bridge has a bike/ped facility added
  • Providing for a transportation alternative to motor vehicles
  • Reducing worker injuries and fatalities, and property damage (many collisions take place within construction zones) by allowing maintenance to be based on the pathway, eliminating the need for many lane closures
  • Reducing delays caused by lane closures for maintenance
  • Connecting existing trails to Terminal Island:  the new Downtown Long Beach commuter routes on 3rd Street & Broadway Street; the waterfront Shoreline Village trails; the new Port of Long Beach Queen Mary trail; the Regional Los Angeles River Trail
  • Eventually linking the California Coastal Trail from San Pedro to Long Beach

Benefit the workers and visitors to Terminal Island by:

  • Providing non-motorized access directly to the island, especially important as transport for workers who could use bicycle transportation versus motor vehicles
  • Increase visits through Terminal Island and into and out of Downtown Long Beach

Benefit the Tourism Industry by:

  • Providing unparalleled views of Downtown Long Beach and Port of Long Beach to pedestrians and cyclists
  • Completing the first half of a longstanding gap in the California Coastal Trail
  • When a Vincent Thomas bridge bike/ped facility is installed, the route will drive traffic into and through Downtown Long Beach
  • Enhancing the image of the City of Long Beach as bicycle-friendly
  • Enhancing the image of the Port of Long Beach as a Green Port

Benefit emergency response efforts by:

  • Providing access for small emergency vehicles (Cushman-type)
  • Providing a safety refuge for motorists who break down to get out of the roadway



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.