The First Bike Station – A Visit to Long Beach California

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I was out in California – very briefly- right before Christmas and made my first visit to the city of Long Beach.  As I made my way from aiport to hotel to meeting spot,  walking outside in the sunshine, I immediately notice the bike racks around the city – all filled with bikes. Given that the only previous mental association I had with Long Beach were some grimey port scenes in the movie “To Live and Die in LA” , the bike racks, palm trees, and abundance of cruiser bikes immediately changed my view of the “Aquatic Capital of the Nation” (really – that’s what ye olde Wikipedia entry has to say).  It’s the second busiest port in the U.S. which was made obvious by the sight of giant shipping cranes from the upper floors of my hotel, but it’s also a city with a focus on good public transportation and serious cycling infrastructure.

They even have a few bike corrals which I’m guessing they don’t have to relocate in the winter to avoid the snow plows.

While I was there I also stumbled across one of the first Bike Station facilities to open in the United States. It’s similar to our Millennium Park Bike Station, though Long Beach Bike Station is also part of a network of bike stations in California – some along the LA Metro line . They also have a facility in Oregon as well as Washington D.C. Your membership in one allows you access to all of them – kinda handy if you live on one end of the Metro line and work on the other.

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The front entrance to the bike station is along the Long Beach transit mall where hybrid buses converge with electric train cars that can take you to downtown Los Angeles.  It makes it very easy to switch from bike to bus or bike to train,  or bike and park for the office building across the street- where I was spending much of my time.

B is for Bike Station  (I took this picture early on a Saturday morning when the only thing open downtown was of course, a Starbucks)

And just to make sure that people don’t forget about the bike facilities on the weekends in downtown Long Beach, they have special deals for cyclists to remind them.

It all seems to be part of a concerted effort in the LA area to improve transportation infrastructure and options for the future.

The vice mayor of Long Beach is a cyclist and is working with the Bike Station folks, as well as others in the Los Angeles Bicycles Coalition to promote cycling in her community – even started Women On Bikes So Cal!

Another view of the bikestation in Long Beach California. It’s a multi-level facility , with wide ramps that wrap around the core, for walking bikes.

The car still dominates Long Beach, like many cities, but it was great to see so much cycling infrastructure too!

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Have you taken a moment to nominate a location in Chicago that provides good bike parking? We’re taking nominations until January 20th for the inaugural Chicago Bike Parking Awards! Fill out and submit the nomination form today!

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