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Early support tilting toward $47 million raised bike path along PCH

CalTrans presented project alternatives for planned bike lanes along PCH in Long Beach and the one with the most support is also the most expensive.

Early support tilting toward $47 million raised bike path along PCH
A man rides his bike along Pacific Coast Highway just east of Junipero Avenue in Long Beach, which is designated as a bike route despite having no supporting infrastructure, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Pacific Coast Highway is about to get a slew of improvements including upgrades to crosswalks, sidewalks and ADA curb ramps but the biggest change — the bike lanes along the northern stretch of PCH in Long Beach — could depend on community participation.

Over 40 people assembled inside The Guidance Center north of Downtown Thursday night to hear about the proposed project, which is expected to bring new bike lanes between the Traffic Circle and Golden Avenue near the Los Angeles riverbed.

All the options presented to cyclist advocates and residents last week would eliminate a lane of vehicle travel in each direction. Still, the types of bike lanes that could be installed vary greatly in price and how comfortable cyclists say they’d feel using them.

One option would be to simply install a five-foot painted bike lane that would run between traffic and a new seven-foot-wide parking lane. Another would use concrete curbs to separate the new bike lanes from traffic. Both options would create a center lane for making left turns and are projected to cost about $2.65 million.

A third option, which has garnered lots of support thus far, would build a raised bikeway on a newly installed sidewalk extension and would buffer bike traffic from vehicles with new parkway landscaping. That option is projected to cost about $47.4 million, according to CalTrans.

The large discrepancy in cost isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for the raised bikeway option, said Ben Medina, a transportation planner with CalTrans, but public input could go a long way toward helping the agency apply for federal dollars that could help make it a more realistic option.

Erin Hoops, a resident and cyclist in the city, said her wife is hesitant to use existing bike lanes in the city but she’d be more open to using the bikeway that would be elevated and completely separated from traffic on PCH. Hoops said she’d settle for the concrete curb dividers as long as the intersections were protected as well.

Taylor Caceres, who was at the meeting with the cyclist advocacy group, Car-Lite LB, said the new bike lanes on PCH would provide new opportunities for cyclists in East Long Beach to safely ride to other parts of the city like Downtown.

A screenshot of bike lane designs being considered by CalTrans showing how each alternative would affect Pacific Coast Highway.

Caceres, who lives near the Long Beach City College Liberal Arts Campus, said her typical commute Downtown includes a bus ride because she doesn’t feel safe enough to ride a bike there.

While she prefers the more expensive raised, separated bikeway, she said anything would be better than just painting a new bike lane and expecting people to feel safe while riding directly next to vehicles traveling 40 to 50 miles per hour.

“It’s really scary and I try not to do it a lot,” Caceres said.


Jason Ruiz has been on strike from the Long Beach Post since March 21, yet he’s still covering city hall without pay. Thank him for his reporting.


As attendees moved around the room to the various displays set up where people could leave post-it note comments some brainstormed how a hybrid approach to the bike lane project could help save money while also increasing safety.

A group of cyclists openly discussed whether maybe the more expensive raised bike path only needs to be installed between Cherry Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard, an area where multiple fatal crashes have happened in recent years. The move could help make the project more cost-efficient but also give bike riders a big win, they said.

Developing bike lanes on the portion of PCH north of the Traffic Circle could be a critical addition to the city’s bike master plan, which lays out where the city already has and where it plans to create bike infrastructure to help encourage more people to adopt cycling over driving.

The city’s planned bike “backbone” on Orange Avenue intersects with this stretch of PCH and that connection could provide an important link for cyclists in the city.

Paul Van Dyk, the city’s traffic engineer said it was validating to see that the state’s transportation agency referred to the city’s bike network plan during the meeting. Having another agency pay for the cost of installing the lanes would also be helpful to the city, which is already facing the potential of a massive budget shortfall in the coming years.

Van Dyk said that his personal favorite design is the raised bikeway, noting that it creates an opportunity to plant trees and other plants along a route in the city that is lacking in both. That option could get more people out of their cars and reduce emissions while also eating away at the “heat island” effect that parts of the city with few trees suffer from during the warmer months.

“It’s an exponential benefit,” Van Dyk said.

Which version will ultimately be selected could depend on how much support each option gets. CalTrans has an active online survey where it’s asking community members to submit their opinions before the agency moves forward with one of the options.

Because the project is in the early planning stages the survey is expected to be open for some time. CalTrans isn’t anticipating selecting a contractor for the project until 2027.

You can fill out the survey here.


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