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Extending The Beach Boardwalk

Want to bike to the Wedge?

The beach boardwalk will only take you as far as E Street.

Now that the Back Bay report is complete I know a lot of you are wondering where we should focus next.

How about a fresh look at extending the beach boardwalk?

For some, just thinking about the boardwalk brings visions of Council chambers filled with angry, NIMBY homeowners. I think we all know that extending the boardwalk, from E Street to the Wedge, would be the end of civilization as we know it, so a lot of folks steer clear of the idea. That’s too bad because we also know that even more kids could bike to Newport Elementary everyday — and as we all remember, every kid riding their bike to school is one less Mom in a SUV in traffic.

Not to mention teens…

They may have graduated from Newport Elementary, but teens want to go to the Wedge. Nothing we adults say or do can keep them from going. When the waves get gnarly, it’s where boy meets girl. As a parent of two boys on the other side of town I wish that their route to the Wedge could be as safe as possible. And that’s not the case today — the beach boardwalk dumps everyone onto E. Balboa Blvd at E Street. We’ve studied that area — it’s not safe for bike riders.

Maybe because some have decreed the issue out of bounds, solutions lack imagination. Every time I’ve ever thought of what extending the boardwalk would look like, I picture this:

The expensive, divisive boardwalk extension

The long, expensive and divisive boardwalk extension

But then an analogy comes to mind: I remember when I’ve mentored entrepreneurs as they try to raise money for their startups. At some point you’ve gotta ask them, “What’ll you do if you don’t get the money?” They’ve got to persevere and that may mean doing a low-budget version.

Apply that thinking to extending the beach boardwalk. What if you only had a little budget?

90% of the benefit, 10% of the cost?

The mini-extension: 90% of the benefit for only 18% of the cost?

You’d have to consider something smaller, like this mini-extension. Now we’re talking only 700ft, not the 3,821ft monster boardwalk extension, with correspondingly fewer homeowners to placate.

But how does it deliver 90% of the benefits for only a fraction of the cost?
By connecting the boardwalk to F then to G Streets you keep cyclists and skaters out of the busy intersection at E. Balboa Blvd at G Street. Now cyclists can ride quiet, calm East Ocean Front all the way to the Wedge and back. Now you’ve connected an entire neighborhood’s elementary school children to the boardwalk and made it safer for Wedge-bound teens, too.

Is this something worth exploring further?

I think we all know, extending the beach boardwalk wouldn’t be popular — it would be wildly popular!

What if we just extended the boardwalk to here?

What if we just extended the boardwalk to here?




Frank Peters

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