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Advocates Meet, Plot Coastal Strategy

Long Beach and Newport Beach advocates meet
Bike advocates from Long Beach visit their peers in Newport Beach for a half-day strategy session, led by Charlie Gandy.

If you had a magic wand and could wish for a more livable community that’s safer for pedestrians and cyclists, where would you start? This was our challenge today – to harness the collective enthusiasm and experience around the table and focus it on achievable goals.

Compared to most cities, Long Beach is way ahead in terms of creating bike infrastructure. It’s got the political will, the money and the leadership of experienced advocates, so it’s no wonder that they’ve accomplished so much. But there’s lots more to do and Bikeable Communities is committed to improving cycling conditions throughout Southern California.

Long Beach advocates Martin Howard, Alan Crawford, Luciano Gonzales, John Case and Melissa Balmer came south to Corona del Mar this afternoon for a half-day strategy session where they shared the benefit of their experience with their Orange County peers: Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Gardner, David Huntsman, Dan Murphy, Matt O’Toole, Pete Van Nuys and me. Charlie Gandy led the discussion which focused everyone on goals, breaking them into 3 categories: lay-down, stretch and visionary goals. For me this was helpful because I’d been spending most of my time on visionary goals, but accomplishing the easier, lay-down items will, according to Charlie, build credibility, bragging rights with the Press, and best of all – momentum, which will carry us further on the stretch and visionary objectives.

So what did we talk about? The needs are so great, where shall I start? We’ve got to attract more cyclists to the cause, so to do that we discussed hosting events, more bike rides, hopefully without the rain of our previous attempt. Next, organizing our arguments to begin lobbying local merchants on the benefits of slowing traffic and creating a more livable community that’s both pedestrian and bike friendly; it turns out that this is good for business based on Long Beach’s experience. But what about a stretch goal? It wasn’t hard to come up with several. My favorite? Working with Caltrans and all the Orange County coastal cities to improve conditions for cyclists along Coast Hwy, adding bike lanes and Sharrows from Long Beach to San Clemente. Imagine the interest this could generate; cyclists from around the world would be attracted to these gorgeous communities. The opportunities for tourism and the resulting economic development seem dramatic and within reach – a worthy stretch goal.

Care to join us? We’re working to change the quality of life here along the coast and there’s half a chance we’ll succeed. If you’d like to attend our next meeting send me an email.

Charlie Gandy leads the discussion
Charlie Gandy leads the discussion.

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Frank Peters

listen to my podcast shows at cdmCyclist.com

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