Long Beach has heard the ongoing concerns about the recently completed Broadway project — and officials are responding to them.
City staff announced on Monday, July 22, that it will make a slew of tweaks to the road diet, which recently made way for protected bike lanes from Alamitos to Redondo avenues. Some residents have criticized the road diet for not increasing traffic safety, as intended, as well as creating congestion and limiting parking options.
Specifically, the changes residents may expect to see in the coming days and weeks — some of which are still under review — are:
Moving the black curbs that define the bike lanes, where necessary, to widen traffic lanes;
Shortening bus stop zones to make way for more parking;
Shrinking buffer zones as another way to create more parking;
Adjusting colored curbs to add loading zones or to allow more overnight parking;
Improving wayfinding signage; and
Adding more trees and greenery to the corridor.
One change staff implemented at the beginning of the month, which City Manager Pat West said went unnoticed by many locals, was the elimination of no-parking, street-sweeping zones along Broadway.
While street-sweeping will continue along the stretch, West said during a Monday press briefing, new machines that can fit in bike lanes will no longer require folks to move their cars for the weekly cleanup.
“We are finding out that not everybody knows we did that,” he said. “Apparently, we still have signs that say, ‘Street sweeping at six o’clock,’ and people are moving their cars.”
West said city staff would put socks over those signs in the near future.
Those changes were spurred, West said, by community input now that the project has finally been completed.
“There are all sorts of tweaks that need to happen,” he said, “and we have to do a listening tour, so that’s kind of what we’re doing right now.”
Monday’s meeting came a week after dozens of people crowded along Broadway to protest the changes.
Those demonstrators expressed concerns about parking and traffic, and also said they were worried the thoroughfare had become more dangerous since the makeover was completed.
But James Rexwinkel, the Fire Department’s deputy chief of operations, along with Police Department Field Support Division Commander Rudy Komisza, said the data doesn’t back up those misgivings.
Collisions along Broadway from mid-April to the end of June were down 20% this year from the prior five-year average for those same months, Komisza said.
And response times for the Fire Department, Rexwinkel said, have been stable. The one effect he has seen because of the road diet is that firefighters need quicker police backup when they respond to a fire to help reroute traffic around the engines in the new, slimmer lanes.
West said city staff will continue listening to residents and make adjustments as needed.
Second District City Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce said the plan all along was to make the roadway safer, and that she’s glad to see that happening.
“The Broadway corridor, over the years, has been a speed thoroughfare for vehicles racing across downtown,” she said. “Designing our streets to make sure they’re safe corridors is a No. 1 priority for the city of Long Beach.”