On June 26, the city introduced special lanes called “sharrows” in the downtown business district of Long Beach.
Sharrows are street lanes designated for both vehicles and bicycles alike. Sharrow lanes are painted green to signify their status to motorists and cyclists.
The sharrow lanes, introduced on 2nd street in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, are part of a pilot project that the Long Beach City Council will study with the hope of implementing throughout the city.
City Manager Pat West shared his hopes in regards to bicycle awareness in a phone interview.
West said that bicycle awareness is a “city council driven priority enhancing city efficiency and mobility.”
West said there would eventually be bicycle boulevards, protected bike lanes, as well as more sharrows added to the city streets.
“I believe this is the wave of the future” said West.
A handful of other cities have sharrows, but they are not marked with the green stripe.
These lanes provide people with an efficient alternative to driving in the downtown district of Long Beach.
“A bicycle is much faster than a car,” West said. “You get a ticket for riding on the sidewalk.”
As well as reducing traffic congestion in the already crowded shopping district, sharrows will draw people to the beach area.
Martha Reynolds, Sustainability Coordinator of Long Beach, said the city is taking a positive stance on bike efforts.
Reynolds claimed that about 10 million dollars in grant funding has been given to the city to be spent in the next three years for bicycle safety programs and further developments.
These bicycle programs will be funded entirely by this grant, not by the city of Long Beach.
“This is all gravy on top,” Reynolds said of the bicycle developments and programs.
Charles Gandy, Mobility Coordinator of Long Beach, said, “I believe Long Beach can do in three years what Portland did in 15 in bike safety.”
Gandy said the City Council made the decision two years ago to become the most biker safe city in the country.
“Fun is a renewable source. Cities don’t have to do this, but city’s that do reap the reward” said Gandy.
Louis Dettorre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org