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Column: Cars are banned from Bay Shore Avenue this spring break. Let’s keep it that way

The bustling road beside Bayshore Beach in Belmont Shore will be closed to traffic this week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., allowing residents to enjoy a car-free play zone by the shore.

Column: Cars are banned from Bay Shore Avenue this spring break. Let’s keep it that way
From April 1 to 7, 2024, Bay Shore Avenue is closed to cars between Ocean Boulevard and Second Street in Belmont Shore. Photo by Jake Gotta

A popular stretch of Bay Shore Avenue between Ocean Boulevard and Second Street will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April 7 in Belmont Shore, according to Long Beach Public Works.

The city has closed this stretch in the past over spring break and during the summer months when the adjacent Bayshore Beach — colloquially known as “horny corner” — is typically packed.

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The road is now wide open for people on foot, skates and bikes, according to @goactivelb.

Although the street closure ends every day at 5 p.m., folks from all over have the opportunity to enjoy the beach without the noise or pollution from all the cars zooming by.

This road shutdown is a great example of what it could be like in beachside communities all over the state if we committed to more car-free zones.

Some will undoubtedly argue that the route is part of relieving congestion on the main road, Second Street, which at peak hours is noticeably congested. Typically, commuters opt to take Ocean Boulevard and Bay Shore Avenue as a detour around Second Street.

But the decision to push the excess traffic into the neighborhoods around Belmont Shore doesn’t just create a new bottleneck at a different choke point — it affects all the people who live in these neighborhoods, and other people from Long Beach who can easily ride a bike or take a bus down here instead.

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Catering to commuters driving in and out of town is what causes these traffic headaches in the first place. I get that there aren’t great public transportation options for commuters entering the city, but improving the walk- and bike-ability of these areas will improve conditions for the residents who live here in the long run.

This is just another example of the city having a good idea that temporarily bars vehicles from popular recreational areas. In February, the Downtown Long Beach Association shut down Pine Avenue for a “pedestrians-only date night dream” — it was a resounding success. Yet, cars were back on the road the next morning.

Beach Streets is another shining example. This event, now approaching its ninth year, shuts down popular thoroughfares and residential streets to cars, allowing tens of thousands to enjoy the open streets for biking, scooting, skating or just with their own two feet. Did you catch the part where I mentioned that tens of thousands typically take part in Beach Streets?

The people have shown that they love it when the city commits its streets to pedestrians. We just need to find a way to make some of these streets entirely car-free.


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