Long Beach’s bike-friendliness has caught the attention of Signal Hill.
Although efforts are still in a preliminary stage, Signal Hill planning staff is currently exploring options of how the City may be able to link up with a citywide bike-infrastructure system being implemented by Long Beach, which has aspirations to become “the most bike-friendly city in America.”
The Signal Hill Sustainable City Committee, a 12-member working group of residents and members of the City Council and city commissions, heard a presentation on March 26 about Long Beach’s plans for improving bike and pedestrian paths throughout the city.
Colleen Doan, associate planner for Signal Hill, said the presentation by Steve Tweed, Long Beach transportation planner, and Allan Crawford, Long Beach bike coordinator, was purely educational. She added, however, that Signal Hill city planners are now working with the City’s public works department to conduct research and collect data that may be brought back to the committee to recommend any action by the City Council.
“Given that we’re surrounded on all sides by Long Beach, we thought it would be nice to see their Bike Master Plan… and hear about what lessons they have learned along the way,” Doan said. “Maybe they want to put bike paths from one area of Long Beach to another and want to go through Signal Hill… That would be a point of connection if our City wanted to do something.”
Long Beach city staff presented an overview of the Long Beach Bicycle Master Plan, which the City established in 2001, while providing a status update on implementing the plan, current projects, lessons learned and next steps.
An agenda item states that Signal Hill’s existing “circulation element” of the City’s general plan discusses “bicycle circulation,” however the general plan indicates that new bikeways “should be considered by the City, particularly when they would connect with existing or proposed bikeways in the city of Long Beach.”
Signal Hill is one of many cities, such as Carson, Downey and Santa Monica, in Los Angeles County that have recently considered taking a page from Long Beach’s bike-friendly movement and to develop their own bike master plans.
The Signal Hill Sustainable City Committee, which meets every other month, has previously recommended to the City Council that the city be certified as a green city and establish a green building policy, among other environmental-related issues.
Although considered by some residents as mostly “hilly,” Signal Hill still has a large portion of streets that are “fairly flat” and are conducive to all cyclists, Doan said.
Some more serious bikers often go to Signal Hill to enjoy the city’s bike paths for a “strenuous” workout, but she said the City is looking more at how Long Beach is enticing all individuals, including children and families, to ride bikes to work, events, restaurants, shops and local businesses, and “how that may fit into Signal Hill.” Currently, bicycling on Shell Hill is prohibited because of the street’s dangerously steep nature.
One option Signal Hill is looking at is possibly updating various elements of the City’s general plan, which currently includes bike and pedestrian paths that aren’t as prominent. Such mobility elements in city planning have become “more important aspects of city circulation than six years ago,” Doan said.
She added that Signal Hill is also looking at the possibility of applying for grants.
Long Beach has received millions of dollars in federal and state grant funding for bike infrastructure since first establishing its bicycle master plan. After introducing green “sharrows” on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore that are designed to allow bicyclists to share the road with drivers, Long Beach has installed hundreds of bike racks throughout the city, has developed a “bike boulevard” on Vista Street and has constructed designated bike lanes with their own signal lights in downtown, among many other bike-related accomplishments. The City is also moving forward with designs for four major bike-corridor projects, some of which will span from downtown to north Long Beach, entering into Wrigley, Bixby Knolls and Los Cerritos neighborhoods.
Signal Hill city staff is also recommending that the Sustainable City Committee discuss and determine methods to promote Bike Week LA, a week-long series of events, programs and giveaways organized by LA Metro as a campaign to promote biking while educating the public about bicycle safety.
Events this year include Fix Your Bike Day on May 13, the 10th Annual Blessing of the Bicycles on May 14, a guided tour of bike lanes on May 15, Bike to Work Day on May 16 and Bike Local Weekend from May 17–19.
According to its mission statement, the Signal Hill Sustainable City Committee is responsible for “striking a balance between economic growth, social responsibility and environmental well-being by partnering with [their] neighbors, businesses and the community to provide a healthy and enduring environment for future generations.” The purpose of the committee, according to the statement, is to develop and recommend a “sustainability framework” to the Signal Hill City Council that promotes “environmentally sound and financially practical objectives.”
In 2013, the committee has a goal of building on the City’s Green City Certification by selecting new or additional goals for added sustainability, recycling and environmental benefits. The next meeting of the Sustainable City Committee will be May 28.