By Marina Hernandez
We interviewed former cycling Olympian, bike enthusiast, and Community Programs
Specialist with the Public Works Dept. at Long Beach City, Tony Cruz, to ask him
more about biking the great city of Long Beach!
What are the bike friendly routes in ELB? Is there a street by street guide or link to a map?
The City’s Go Active LB webpage is full of current bicycle infrastructure information. City staff regularly update the interactive bike map as new bike lanes get added. Check out this link for the latest map:https://www.longbeach.gov/goactivelb/resources/interactive-bike-map/
How many minutes would you estimate it takes to navigate the full route in East Long Beach?
Based on an individual’s fitness level, experience with cycling, and comfort level in navigating the open road, here are my best estimates on how long it takes to traverse East Long Beach. Please note, these estimates are based on my personal experience as a cyclist, riding with my kids and with friends.
Experienced Cyclist: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Weekend Warrior: 2 - 2.5 hours
The Casual Rider: upwards of 3 hours
Family with Young ones: Riding this route is an all-day affair
Teenagers: 3-4 hours
What has been your motivation in helping to create a bike friendly city?
Personally, the sport of cycling has given so much to me and my family. I’ve had a successful career in cycling: I earned a national title in 1999, won the U.S Olympic trials in 2000, competed for the United States at the Sydney, Australia Olympics in road cycling, and raced in the European Pro Tour for a decade. I enjoy sharing my love and passion for bike riding and bike racing with others, especially in the community that I live in and serve as a City employee.
Who can and should navigate the routes?
We encourage riders of all ages, abilities and levels to travel the City’s vast bicycle infrastructure. The City designs its own bicycle infrastructure for riders between 8-80 years of age. This is a large part of the City’s Bicycle Master plan.
What is your favorite leg of the route in East Long Beach?
I enjoy riding from Marina Vista park, up to Bellflower Blvd, to Atherton Street, to Studebaker Road, to Carson Street to the San Gabriel River path, and ending at El Dorado park. I’ll do a few laps around the park and ride back to Marina Vista park.
Throughout Long Beach?
I enjoy and recommend the 30-mile loop of the Tour of Long Beach. I start at Marina Greens on Shoreline Drive and ride west to the LA River and then up north to Bixby Knolls (Los Cerritos park area), cut across to travel east along Bixby Road to the LB Exchange, past Heartwell Park and over to the San Gabriel River path, then head south to PCH to Marina Drive to 2nd St, down Bay Shore Ave to the Beach Bike path and back to Marina Greens.
Tell me about the bike fix stations.
Each fix-it station is literally a bicycle rack with tools and a bike pump for riders to use when they are out for a bike ride and need to repair a flat or quickly fix or adjust something on the bicycle.
What are your 3 “must-have” items for an enjoyable bike ride?
I think of the “ABC”s: Air - properly inflated tires, B - functioning front and back brakes, and C - a lubricated chain. These fundamentals are a must have for rider safety and enjoyment before going out for a ride. Of course, make sure you always wear a well-fitted helmet and bring snacks and water with you.
What are your top safety tips for beginner riders or families riding together?
First and foremost, please wear your helmet. Always pack water and snacks for your riders, locate a route that’s not too far so you can gradually build up your stamina, and teach your family members, including kids, the rules of the road to keep them and their families safe.
Do you have any advice for folks sharing the road with a cyclist?
Yes: for drivers I’d say be patient when passing a bicycle rider or group of riders, especially on roads where bicyclists and drivers must share the road. Conflicts between a driver and bicyclist hardly ever end well for the bike rider who is just trying to commute to work, out for some exercise or riding with friends.
For cyclists: Do not assume anything while out on the road and always look before you act, ride safely and predictably on the road, use your hand signals, and be respectful to motorists.