The League of American Bicyclists has been working with bicycling advocates Mark Bixby and local bike coordinator Charley Gandy to get a separated bicycle facility on the new $1 billion Desmond Gerald Replacement Bridge at the Port of Long Beach. League President Andy Clarke wrote a letter of support last month. I promised Mark that I would write a blog post on the bridge campaign this week. Before I had a chance, the US Secretary of Transportation drew national attention to the bridge. On Monday, Secretary LaHood blogged about the project, calling it a “bridge to everywhere.”
The new bridge promises to be an enormously important infrastructure project. Unfortunately, current plans call only for a 10-ft-wide shoulder that could be designated as a class III bikeway (that is, a bike route) in the future. That would be a major disappointment; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance bicycle connectivity in Long Beach by providing well thought out and designed accommodations. It is critical to get this right from the beginning.
Bridges are critical links in a transportation network. They represent perfect opportunities for DOTs to show that the Secretary’s policy statement on biking and walking – which calls for bicycling and walking accommodations on new, rehabilitated, and limited-access bridges – is meaningful, and not just wishful thinking. In addition to this being a bridge to everywhere, it needs to also be a bridge for everyone – including bicyclists.
The estimated cost of the bicycle accommodation is less than five percent of the total project cost. The port on the Terminal Island employs approximately 6,000 workers, who currently do not have a safe way to ride to work. Including bike and pedestrian accommodations is consistent with California’s Complete Streets law and federal regulations – it is also consistent with Long Beach’s efforts to be a “Green Port.”
It’s worth noting at least one other notable, large, California bridge campaign. Advocates in Oakland and San Francisco succeeded in getting bike accommodations on one span of the Bay Bridge. That campaign was in inspiration to the Long Beach advocates. Now the Bay area organizations are working hard to upgrade the other span to finish the job.
Safe and comfortable accommodations on these major California bridges would go a long way in enhancing California bike touring and to connect communities for daily transportation. Stay tuned for our Advocacy Advance report on bikes on bridges campaigns – coming soon.
League Policy Director
Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.