Bike Art Dedication

And a little extra.

“Long Beach, the most bicycle friendly city in America”  (It may be possible, with the correct steps taken)

Today’s dedication will commemorate Long Beach’s future goal to be the bike friendliest!  We commend the spirit of Long Beach city officials in setting fourth this future achievement, and believe that it could happen, eventually.  I also want to add that the art that will be unveiled is quite stunning, thank you to the artist Patrick Vogel for such a beautifully crafted piece!

Now, for the facts… Yup, I’m diving right in!

Most of you will agree on one thing, Long Beach is far away from being viewed as “The most bicycle friendly city in the country,” Many steps need to be taken still.  A person wrote into us this morning and shared a story about the lack of friendliness he received from a Long Beach’s police officer while riding his bicycle in the downtown area.

[Yesterday evening, my girlfriend and I were cycling westbound on 3rd St toward Alamitos Ave.  As we were nearing the light a LBPD officer pulled up behind us and got on his loudspeaker and said that we needed to move farther to the right and get out of the lane.  We were in the right westbound lane, he was in the left westbound lane and there was no other traffic in the area at the time.  We were riding in the middle of the lane, to be outside of the door zone of all the parked vehicles along 3rd St and were riding in the exact same location that we would be if we were on the Belmont Shore Sharrows.  

After he told us to move to the right, I looked back at him and motioned to him that I wanted to talk.  He pulled up along side me and rolled down his window.  I told him that it was incorrect that we needed to be farther right because that would put us in the door zone.  He said we could stay out of the door zone but still needed to be farther to the right.  I said that I wouldn’t because it would be unsafe.  The officer became noticeably mad and said, “Don’t argue with me or I’ll give you a ticket.”  I said that I had documentation that stated that I was allowed to ride in the lane.  He didn’t ask what that documentation was, but I was referring to a pamphlet that I have that contains sections of the California Vehicle Code that pertain to cycling.  I received the pamphlet during the Long Beach Bicycle Festival from the City’s booth.  I also have another version of the pamphlet that was issued by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Metro.  The officer then said that he didn’t want to catch us riding in the middle of the lane again.  I reiterated that it was the safest place for us to ride.  The light at Alamitos had turned green by this point and he said to ride safe and we all proceeded through the intersection.

Both of us have taken the Traffic Skills course that is taught by local League of American Bicyclist instructors and I’ve read over the sections of the California Vehicle Code that I mentioned above (CVC 21202) and sections of the Long Beach Municipal Code.  I know we were not riding improperly and was more bothered by the officer getting angry and threatening me with a ticket when I challenged his information than I was by him telling us to move over.

Today there is an art dedication and photo shoot at Long Beach City Hall for what appears to be a self proclaimed, “Long Beach, the most bicycle friendly city in America.”  I know that this wasn’t the first time a cyclist had an interaction with an officer about riding in the lane.  I would imagine that there was a lot of discussion about cycling and where cyclist should ride or are allowed to ride after the implementation of the Belmont Shore Sharrows.  So I’m wondering, since Long Beach is such a bicycling friendly city, what is being done to educate the officers of the LBPD and the general public about proper bicycling and following the rules of the road?  I’m frustrated that I continually see cyclists riding the wrong way on one way streets, not paying attention to stop signs and riding on sidewalks while I get threatened with a ticket for riding in the lane.  We ride this route frequently when going downtown and will continue to do so even though we are now at risk of getting a ticket from this officer if he sees us cycling in the lane again.

I know there are many projects in the works to help make Long Beach a more bicycling friendly city and I want to make sure that education are part of those plans.

Thank you for your time,

Scott Casey ]

This is the reality, as frightening as it may be some and not at all surprising for others.  Scott and his girlfriend’s experience is just one example of many I have heard personally, in fact, a similar situation happened to me a couple months ago.   Just so we are all clear, I shared this information not to b*#ch and complain and stomp my feet, but to start the dialog with our community about where we need to begin in hopes of becoming (one day) the most bicycling friendly city.

The answer:  EDUCATION

Several LB Cyclists members are League Certified Cycling Instructors (LCI’s) under the League of American Bicyclists certification.  They  hold monthly classes in Long Beach to teach anyone who will listen the rights, rules, safety and regulations of bicycling.

If the City of Long Beach’s Bicycling authority, officials and/or Legislators would like us to run a program for the LBPD, (for starters) we would welcome that dialog!

For now, enjoy the art this afternoon, but attend with a sense of responsibility and don’t get swept away from the reality of the “most bicycle friendly city” declaration.


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LB Cyclists at CSULB Eco Week 2009! November 18 & 19

Come talk shop with us and the other LB bicycling groups

We will be discussing education, advocacy and how to establish a better bike community in Long Beach.

Eco Week