Pacific Coast Highway from Long Beach to East Wilmington

The "bike-friendliness" of Long Beach.

The phrase "bike-friendliness" and any positive association with "Long Beach" will remain a big, cruel joke to me until I see some major structural improvement on two streets, namely Anaheim Street and Pacific Coast Highway, two streets I see plenty of bicyclists, though by heavy automobile traffic.

Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) having a bike route sign on it is the biggest joke of them all.

PCH from Cal State Long Beach to the tip of East Wilmington has 3 very dangerous places to bike:  1)  the PCH Roundabout  2)  the bridge from East Long Beach to West Long Beach  3)  the bridge from West Long Beach to Wilmington.

Basically, PCH is very adverse in general to bicycles, but those 3 transition places are even scarier and are the focus of this post.  Visual evidence in the form of videos after the jump.

1)  The PCH Roundabout

Look at the video below and tell me if you think the cars zipping by at 50 mph on the roundabout are concerned about that stupid microscopically-little, utterly insignificant bike route sign.

Somehow, this is a "bike route."

I'm not complaining about this designation as a bike route, but I'm complaining about how this so-called "bike route" is absolutely NOT designed for much biking.  It is a "bike route" in name, but does not represent what I think a "bike route" is in reality, that is safe enough that I could take my mom and sister biking on the route.

I have ridden on PCH quite often because it was the straightest shot from Cal State Long Beach to the Metro Blue Line station.  I'd much rather move that way than moving through circutious, indirect bike routes.

It's always been scary.  Unless it was 11 o clock at night, there hasn't been any ride where I haven't felt pressure from drivers.

I can't express enough how scary it is to bike up a hill with a 20-lb backpack and drivers breathing on you with mad engines and palms ready to pound their steering wheel horns.  About once every 4 rides, someone will honk at me for what the drivers are likely to see as "taking up the lane" and "holding up traffic."

2)  the bridge from East Long Beach to West Long Beach

Going to West Long Beach from East Long Beach, I think there's even more "invisibility of bicyclists."  One afternoon after coming from CSULB, I got fed up with how little room there was for bicycling on the bridge separating East Long Beach from West Long Beach.

What I saw:  plenty of people biking, some side by side with 4 by 4 trucks, sometimes on the sidewalk, in the wrong direction.  I was just amazed at the persistence to bike, despite the glaringly obvious traffic issues and obstacles presented.

Going East towards Wilmington is scary.

Going West towards Long Beach is scary.

I'm scared of getting "nudged" by not just an automobile, but by drivers in large trucks who seem to be practicing for their auditions on the NASCAR circuit.  I'm scared of falling on my thin tired bike and tripping off the broken concrete.

3)  the bridge from West Long Beach to Wilmington

One afternoon my landlord in Lakewood was recommended to a recycling center in Wilmington, where they would pay us "more" for our metals.  We went to the recycling center with a hundred thirty pounds of metal; we ended up with a grand total of 7 dollars and 25 cents.

I'd been riding this route for a while now.  I'd notice plenty of people walking this psuedo-highway with plastic and aluminum cans.  They push shopping carts, bike with shopping carts full of cargo.  I wasn't sure why.

I found out that day I went to the recycling center, that people did what they did, pushing tons of cargo across a non-pedestrian or biker friendly street/pseudo-highway probably because of the existence of an income-generating mechanism --- those recycling centers.

This is what they have to push through:

The same problems from East Long Beach to West Long Beach are present here from West Long Beach to Wilimington, but its a lot scarier because there are even more trucks and the street actually looks like a highway.

The truck drivers intimidate and get impatient; there's a lot of loose gravel on the road, which compensates for the broken concrete placed on their sidewalks.

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