Tag Archives: Port of Long Beach

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


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)


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

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.