Photo by Allan Crawford
In California you will find beach cities lined up and down the coast, but once you’ve experienced the cultural diversity and the welcoming bike infrastructure and culture of Long Beach by bike, you’ll know that you’ve traveled to a very special place.
My afternoon ride starts from my home in central Long Beach, near 10th Street, which is a major bike thoroughfare. I’m near downtown and the bike accessible Blue Line Metro Station, where bikes are allowed on trains at all times. I head south and ride through the East Village Arts District, which happens to be my favorite Bike-Friendly Business District (BFBD), and is home to art galleries, bike shops, coffeehouses, restaurants and vintage shops. It’s one of four BFBDs in town that encourage business owners and their customers to replace cars with bikes and to shop and dine locally. The East Village is my favorite BFBD because it’s nearby and includes my grocery store, bakery and coffee shop. I usually stop here for treats after a ride from Shortnin Bread bakery. As part of the Bike Saturdays program, this is one of the 175+ businesses that offer special discounts to cyclists who make purchases on Saturdays.
The city installed two separated bike lanes in downtown Long Beach a year ago as part of a pilot project, and I’m always excited when I get to hop on them and ride. I make a left onto one of them heading east on Broadway, exiting the lane in front of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. I go a couple of blocks and turn right onto the quiet bike lane on 3rd Street. Here I cruise by a newly opened neighborhood coffeehouse called Lord Windsor Roasters and Yellow 108, a cute little bike accessory shop whose goods are made from recycled materials.
Once I get to Temple Avenue, if I were to turn left and go up a block to 4th Street, I could ride through Retro Row, another BFBD, and enjoy the cool vintage shops and great restaurants along that strip. Today though, I turn right and head south for a couple of blocks before turning onto Vista Street, continuing east. Vista is Long Beach’s first bike boulevard, a low-traffic street that has been optimized for biking with treatments like roundabouts, posted signs and pavement markings. As I pedal past charming Craftsman style houses, I consider why this is an ideal location for a bike boulevard. There are three schools along the route and the bike boulevard encourages kids to ride their bikes to school. I also love riding the small rolling hills along this street. On some peaks, if you look south, you can see the ocean. I ride Vista until the road dead-ends. Making a right and then a left at the end of the block takes me to the Alamitos Bay Marina that leads to Alamitos Bay Beach a block away. Here you’ll find families soaking up some sun and fun while swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding or training for their next big event.