Safe Routes to School Success Story: Long Beach – Leadership and a Vision for Change

City of Long Beach: Bike and Walk to School 2011

The City of Long Beach (City) calls itself the most “Bicycle Friendly City” in Los Angeles and has worked hard to reverse its car centric transportation system. Leaders, community members, student, teachers, and city staff have invested time and energy into making infrastructure and policies more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The combination of community outreach, education, and political will created enough momentum to compel big changes. Their non-infrastructure success story was captured in short vignettes and posted on the the California Safe Routs to School Technical Assistance Resources Center (TARC) website and embedded below, also see our introductory post.

In the summer and fall of 2000, the City’s Public Works Department developed a Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) through a public process, where the community asked for increasing safety for pedestrians. Dialogue continued between the community and City staff and areas with high rates of collisions were identified.

The City’s first “Bicycle Boulevard” on Vista Street was not funded by Safe Routes to School or Proposition C funds because it was advantageous for the City to have the quickest possible turn around in the first project so that it could be used as leverage for future public and private grant applications. This Bicycle Boulevard is 1.2 miles long, connects 2 elementary and middle school, and includes placement of 2 roundabouts. After completion of the Vista Street Bicycle Boulevard, it changed the behavior of school children and families and the City’s data showed an increase bicycle and pedestrian mode share to schools. Before, parents sent their children 2-3 blocks out of the way, when walking and biking to school, which influenced some parents to drive their children to school. Additionally, in two years before installing the roundabouts, one of the locations suffered from 8 collisions. The roundabout provided traffic calming and helped decrease the number of conflicts and collisions in that area.  Three more Bicycle Boulevards are on their way in Long Beach.

Infrastructure changes in the City were prompted out of public health and safety concerns and have doubled walking and tripled bicycle riding rates to school. The City of Long Beach has used the outcomes and data collected from their Bicycle Boulevard success in three Safe Route to School grants, private foundation grants, and a Caltrans Bicycle Transportation Account application.

One Response to Safe Routes to School Success Story: Long Beach – Leadership and a Vision for Change

  1. safetrec says:

    Sorry we couldn’t make it to ProWalkProBike, but some day we’ll get a chance to see Long Beach first hand. Great description of institutional change and commitment.

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