We are really excited that Beach Streets is returning to the Bixby Knolls area on Saturday, Oct. 28.
“What’s Beach Streets?” you ask. From the event’s Facebook page: “Beach Streets opens streets up for walking, bicycling and socializing by temporarily closing thoroughfares to automobile traffic. Known more generally as “open streets” events, similar events are now occurring across the world and are a common way of pursuing innovative strategies to achieve environmental, social, economic and public-health goals.”
The event originated as “Ciclovia” in Bogota, Colombia, “where each Sunday and public holiday from 7am until 2pm certain main streets of Bogotá, Cali, Medellin and other municipalities are blocked off to cars for runners, skaters and bicyclists. During the event, stages are set up in city parks and public spaces. Aerobics instructors, yoga teachers and musicians lead people through performances of all types. Bogotá’s weekly ciclovías are used by approximately 2 million people (about 30 percent of the population) on over 75 miles of car-free streets!” (Source: Wikipedia)
Then “CicLAvia” took off in Los Angeles, where attendees get to check out different parts of the city on foot or on bike in a way they have never been able to before. These are a huge success and can draw over 100,000 people. The Cohns try not to miss any of the CicLAvia events and recently enjoyed the “Heart of the City” route that took us from Echo Park to Boyle Heights and Chinatown to the Historic Broadway Theater District.
Long Beach took up the challenge two years ago, partnering with LA Metro to create its own identity and flavor, naming the event Beach Streets– and I’m telling you that you must come out and do it.
So, for Beach Streets Uptown (and Long Beach has hosted downtown, midtown and university events), the route will take you from Wardlow and Orange west to Atlantic Avenue and north all the way to Harding at Houghton Park. The route will be programmed with live entertainment and fun features of all kinds. It could literally take you all day to stop and enjoy all the programming from one end to the other, which is a great challenge to have! You’ll get some exercise at a bare minimum, and that’s never a bad thing.
We hosted the event through our business district in June 2015 and had a blast. It turned out to be a picture-perfect day. When the event ended at 4pm, folks did not want to leave! The good news was that our businesses were bustling all day long. Stacks of bikes were parked at the restaurants, and most places had record sales. Many of our businesses have already made their plans to do something fun that day.
I remember riding up and down Atlantic Avenue with Councilmember Austin and just taking it all in. Al and I had been to a recent CicLAvia together and hoped we would see the same type of diversity of attendees and full range of bikes, trikes and funky mobile contraptions– and the overall positive vibe– when Beach Streets came to our neck of the woods. By early afternoon, we both agreed that it was “mission accomplished.”
When I made it to Houghton Park and ran into Vice Mayor Richardson, we both just started to laugh before we could even say anything. We both knew how cool it was…like overwhelmingly bananas-cool!
So what can you expect on Oct. 28? Fun in all forms. We are putting together our huge list of programming from the BKBIA and our businesses, plus you will experience live music of all styles, dancers, street yoga, a farmers market, food trucks, yoga, swimming, street performers, art activities, community organizations and tons of kid-friendly features. Plus, the event will be quasi-Halloween-themed, so there will be trick-or-treating, a kids’ Halloween parade, giant pumpkins and some ghouls and goblins making the scene.
The City will be programming the three other entertainment areas: Village Fest Hub (Houghton Park), Family Hub (Scherer Park) and the South Hub (Wardlow and Cerritos).
And you’ll see “Long Beach”– not just the uptown streets, but its people. (I hope the guy who rides around with a big speaker blasting sound bites from Huell Howser comes back again.)
There may be all kinds of weird or upsetting headlines in the news lately, but an event like Beach Streets gets everyone out to enjoy a true sense of community, city pride, neighborhood pride, family and good, old-fashioned fun. Leave your stress at home; dust off your bikes, skates or walking shoes; and be present. Keep your head on a swivel, and take it all in. Enjoy yourselves. I’ll be looking for you.
Keep up on all the updates at: Beachstreets.com or Facebook.com/BeachStreets.