Can Surf City Compete with Long Beach for Bike City Claim?

What constitutes the right to call yourself the bike city in California–and can Huntington Beach reach status as a recognized bike city? Neighboring Long Beach, California declared years ago that it was going to earn the moniker of bike city. The 6th largest city in California has one of the best transportation programs in the entire state with a network of Metrorail Blue Line commuter trains to Los Angeles connecting to Amtrak ; colorful buses connecting its convention center and shoreline to the arts district and downtown; a water taxi; a Catamaran speed boat between Alamitos Landing and the Aquarium of the Pacific & Queen Mary; and an airport with Jet Blue among its airlines with daily flights to major U.S. cities. And all of this network of transportation in theory works for bicycle riders.

Huntington Beach has access to a public bus system that connects the city with other cities in Orange County. It also created a summer bike valet fundraiser for a local charity, and installed new bike racks at city hall. City employees get credits that equate to money for riding their bicycles to work a several days each month.

Both Long Beach and Huntington Beach have paved bike paths at the beach, and at Cal State Long Beach, the bicycle is a preferred mode of transportation for getting around the large campus.

Davis, Calif. has declared it is the Bike Capital of the U.S. for decades. This is where there are more bikes per capita than any place in the country. Students actually can arrive on Amtrak train from their homes elsewhere and disembark with their mode of transportation–bikes.

As far as bicycle riding goes, the claim to be called “Bike City” is a worth achieving, and it is evident that there needs to be a lot of bike cities in California. One of the major problems, however, is the danger that lurks in driving a bike after dark, and along busy roads such as Beach Blvd. or Pacific Coast Highway where traffic moves at a 60 mph clip.

While Long Beach is making great strides in moving toward more bike riders, as is Huntington Beach, the better approach to reaching the goal would be in the form of a cooperative of cities so that your arm (Huntington Beach) isn’t cut off from your leg as you arrive in Newport Beach, or your foot in Laguna Beach, etc. Bicycle riders pass through more than one city to travel to work and play. And safety is one of the most cited reasons that people don’t embrace taking the bike to work, school, or the beach.

Can Surf City compete with Long Beach to be called a bicycle destination, a stated goal of Mayor Cathy Green? Yes, it can. But the options for traveling a distance aren’t as extensive, so it probably will not become the transportation-connected city that Long Beach has become.

At a recent event, we asked the reps from Orange Country Transportation Authority (OCTA, funded to provide bus service to Orange County,) if it is possible to take a bus from the Orange County Airport (some 8-10 miles from Huntington Beach) to the beach. They checked into it, and told us “no”.  Getting access from the airport to the coast without having a car,  cab or shuttle charged around $25 (and more) would be a great beginning for bike riders.

One place where traffic congestion and the necessity to ride bikes has reached an epidemic is in China.  Shanghai and Beijing are spending millions of dollars to connect bike thoroughfares in order to keep people moving, minus cars.

If Huntington Beach can join with neighbors such as Newport Beach, a popular bicycle destination, and Long Beach– bent on reach bike city status, then the chances are better that we’ll be able to ditch our cars and ride our bikes to Long Beach, Newport Beach, and beyond.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010 and is filed under Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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