Long Beach Bikeway Route 1
2012-10-12 · By Peter Dopulos
About two years ago the City of Long Beach set out to become the most bike-friendly city in America. Among the many bicycle improvements implemented to encourage citizens to travel by two wheels instead of four were miles of painted bike lanes, sharrows, bike boulevards and funky bike racks and corrals. As part of this effort to make Long Beach’s streets more bike-accessible the city began designating Long Beach Bikeway routes with good-looking signs and directions. They caught the attention of many, myself included. When they first appeared along city streets, there was little or no information on these bikeways so I took it upon myself to review the routes. What I discovered was a well-designed system modeled along the lines of the U.S. Interstate system, with numbers indicating routes and directions that spanned the entire city. I also found that I was a bit ahead of the curve, often riding routes that weren’t complete. With Long Beach’s master bike plan in place, join me as I set out to identify, ride and review LBC’s Bikeways.
Each Bikeway is designated by a number and allows riders to travel across the city by linking up routes, at least in theory. For example, to kickoff these articles off I naturally began with Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway. To get there I rode Bikeway 56 to 45 to 33 to and finally Bikeway 65, which intersected with Route 1’s start. These reviews will include connecting routes, start/finish, and mention points of interest. Also included will be an official distance as well as an official distance in such cases where it may not be clear where a route ends or where it makes more sense for a ride to end.
Bikeway Route 1 – Pacific Coast Highway
Ride Type: commuter
This route follows Pacific Coast Highway, connecting the cities of Seal Beach and Carson while bisecting our fair city. To characterize this route, it is strictly a ride for commuters, and only those cyclists who are happiest jockeying beside heavy, full-speed motor traffic. This is not a route for the novice rider and certainly not a family-friendly ride. All that being said, if you need to get across the city by bike in the fastest manner possible, Bikeway 1 fits the bill.
The route begins/ends at the San Gabriel River Trail, Bikeway 65, and through this first section the traffic is fast paced over wide roads with the bike lane brightly painted and nearly a full car lane itself. Through here the route passes by Alamitos Bay, Cal State Long Beach and plenty of shopping centers. Be alert around the intersection with Bellflower and 7th Street as the painted lane suddenly disappears before resuming past 7th.
As Pacific Coast Highway approaches Lakewood Boulevard, the route travels through the infamous “LBC traffic circle”. I have heard it said this is the most dangerous traffic intersection in Long Beach and while I have no statistics to back this up, I sure wouldn’t be surprised. As I told everyone the last time I reviewed this route, “I am never riding through this traffic circle again,” and this time I mean it. This is an extremely dangerous intersection not meant for cyclists at all. To quote my previous review:
“At the best of times, this is a traffic free-for-all where Mario Andretti wannabes practice their driving. At rush hour, it gets considerably more dangerous and cycling through the Long Beach Grand Prix would be just as perilous, to be sure.”
As dangerous as the roundabout is, the immediate climb coming out of it leaves riders traveling along a road with no painted lane, six lanes of traffic and a foot and half of gutter to ride in, all the while climbing uphill along a blind curve. Having passed through the circle safely, this stretch made my skin crawl.
From here the route is marginally safer but devoid of painted lanes and on-street parking is common, meaning the chance of getting doored is very real. Motorists are not expecting cyclists to be on the road and I found myself constantly buzzed.
As the route passes over the 710 Freeway, you will find yourself traveling through a bleak industrial corridor alongside an endless procession of tractor-trailers. 6.96 miles into the ride signs indicate a right turn to reach the Los Angeles River Trail which is designated as Bikeway 7. There are no signs indicating this is the end of the route, but for all practical purposes, the ride should end here. However, on the Bikeways map it indicates that the route continues over the river as far as Terminal Island Freeway so I pedaled on another mile and a half. Dangerous, narrow, unpleasant – don’t ride this section.
Riding this route is an efficient way to cross the city east to west but it’s not the safest, nor the most pleasant way to do so.
Official Distance: 8.49 miles
Unofficial Distance: 6.96 miles
Connects to: Bikeways 2, 3, 7,10, 11, 17
Points of Interest: Seal Beach, Alamitos Bay, Cal State Long Beach, Long Beach City College, Long beach Polytechnic High School, City of Carson.