This Is Why No One F*cking Bikes: Lakewood, CSULB, and the Cambodia Town Strip

The theme of the areas above:  tight sidewalks, tight streets. 

And not the tight as in the good tight, as in the oh-shit-I-can-lose-a-limb-kind of tight.

I think the tightness of the streets combined with sidewalks is just one of those things that make it difficult to bike.

I wish there was simple signage that told drivers to simply expect bicyclists.  Expect, expect, expect.  Acculturate, acculturate, acculturate.  To...biking as a legitimate form of transport on the street.

I've divided this post into 4 sections based on the sections of the city I passed through yesterday:  Lakewood, CSULB, Cambodia Town in Long Beach, and Bixby Knolls.

Here's a map of the spots, I took my shots.

Ver Lakewood, Long Beach en un mapa más grande

Now that I've been commuter-biking for over 3 years now, I've learned the "easy streets" to take.  Easy streets being the streets with a lower volume of traffic, generally, the two-way, residential streets. Unless those easy streets are dark and or bumpy (as in Westwood), to avoid any hassle, I will usually opt for that.

However, most people do not do what I do.  Out of convenience, personal safety, they will take the main, busy streets --- usually riding on sidewalks. 

Inevitably, in Lakewood and Long Beach, bicyclists will run into streets that have no room for bikes at all (less you want to take the lane and have a line of 10 cars breathing on your back at 40 mph), as is the case on Carson Street in Lakewood and Anaheim St. in Central and Eastside Long Beach.


In Lakewood, there's Carson Street, which actually has a bike lane around the Long Beach City College area, but offers not much else to the West of that approaching Lakewood.  To the West of that is a tight sidewalk and 3 lanes for cars to run at least 40-50 mph.

Check out how little room there is for any bicycle to fit;  believe it or not, but this street actually leads into a bike path, though many pedestrians at LBCC do not seem to know what the markings of the bike path mean.

Carson & Obispo, Lakewood, CA


Meanwhile at CSULB, what I've been annoyed at is three specific things: a)  the non-biking friendly entrance/exit on Bellflower  b)  the tightness of the lanes on Beach Boulevard (see below), and c) the sidewalk near the Liberal Arts buildings that makes it tight and awkward to move in with a bike (see below)


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b) CSULB on Beach Blvd. towards Bellflower Blvd.

c)  CSULB on Beach Blvd. towards Bellflower Blvd.

Poorly designed narrow sidewalk with just one slight opening.  Upon getting to that opening, I have to ride all the way left to the end of it.

Instead of just hoping into the gravel, to get to the Liberal Arts buildings. Entering this sidewalk, I can ride down that curb and jack up my wheels, or inconveniently lift my bike up. More a pet peeve than a hazard, but nonetheless, one little thing that goes to distance and discourage people from biking.

3)  Cambodia Town in Long Beach

Meanwhile, down in Long Beach, Cambodia Town in particular, a business district tapped for biking, is just a series of one tight corner and sidewalk after another.

This is a district with big dreams.

Cyclo dreams.

But the reality is:  car traffic will squeeze the hell out of you.

There isn't an intersection where I'm not looking over my shoulder hoping someone in the right lane isn't going to get impatient and run me over.

Anaheim St. & Loma St.

Anaheim & Walnut St.

Additionally, on this rainy Wednesday afternoon, within the hours of 3PM - 4PM that I was biking and stopping to take pictures, I noticed around 10 bicyclists getting by on very slim sidewalks.  Demand is there, infrastructure is not.

The man below actually got off the sidewalk because my bike laying flat on this pole, actually blocked his way as you can see in the picture below this.

Anaheim & Raymond, Long Beach, CA

Anaheim & Junipero, Long Beach, CA

4)  Bixby Knolls

Lastly, Orange St. in Bixby Knolls is supposed to be bike friendly with 2-way one-lane traffic.  But riding down this street, I'm scared of popping a tire and getting doored by unsuspecting parkees.


Evan said...

Thanks for this post. I grew up in Lakewood and Long Beach and still know the area well. While I'm really glad to see that Long Beach is taking big strides in bike-friendliness (wish some of that had happened when I live there, but I'll leave that aside), for all of the praise that Long Beach gets, I don't think that bicycle activists in LA, who hear about these things, realize that these improvements are right now just in a small part of the city.

I've always said that once Long Beach starts rolling these things out in the more suburban neighborhoods around CSULB, in Lakewood Village, in Wrigley, on the West Side, and in North Long Beach, then we'll know that they're committed to changing things. The bike route numbered signs are a good idea, but they don't do anything to change cars zooming by at over 40 mph on Bellflower in Los Altos, or the poor street conditions on the West Side.

Alex said...

Yikes those are some tight spaces. Not all the pictures worked for me, but I could see enough...part of my route to work is like that, and I've actually started taking the bus for the first few miles to avoid it. I have a folding bike though, so I just take it on the bus with me, and then get off and ride once I'm on more manageable streets.