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Is Long Beach the most bike-friendly city in America?

January 29, 2010 |  3:37 pm

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Long Beach is drawing praise from cycling advocates and other cities for its bike-friendly agenda.

On Thursday afternoon, for instance, the city hosted a delegation from Glendale, taking the visiting officials on a bike-mounted tour of its new bike lanes. Los Angeles officials are scheduled to stop by in the next few weeks. While other cities spin their wheels, Long Beach is joining the ranks of places such as Portland, Ore., San Francisco and New York City that have made safe passage for bikes a priority, even at the expense of traffic lanes.

Long Beach has raised $17 million in state and federal grants to improve its bike system through traffic improvements, education and bike-share programs. In the next six months, the city will be resurfacing 20 miles of streets to include new bike lanes, part of a plan that includes painting and paving more than 100 miles of bike infrastructure.

In the spring, the city hopes to install traffic circles on less-traveled streets parallel to thoroughfares and designate them "bike boulevards" -- preferred routes for cyclists. Also in the works are plans to replace entire lanes of traffic with protected bikeways.

And in what's bound to be a controversial move, the city is looking at taking away prime parallel parking spots -- the ones most convenient to shops and restaurants -- and putting "bike corrals" in their place. Last summer a green-colored shared bike-car lane, called a "sharrow," was unveiled, causing a stir on Second Street in Belmont Shore. A few months later, the city unveiled a sculpture of an antique bicycle outside City Hall with a caption that read "Long Beach, the most bicycle friendly city in America."

Was that proclamation premature? Or is Long Beach on its way to becoming a haven for cyclists?

Read more about it in in The Times.

--Tony Barboza

Photo: A bicyclist rides along Second Street in Belmont Shore, where lanes were painted last summer. "Gradually over time, drivers have adjusted. They're slowing down," one cyclist said. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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