Sunday, June 12, 2011

An Urban Gem: Pine Ave., Long Beach

Source: Google Maps Street View

I've talked about my love of downtown Long Beach before, but I don't think I've specifically mentioned the awesomeness of one of it's great streets: Pine Ave.

 Source: Google Maps

Pine runs north to south and the part I'm talking about is within the "Blue Line Loop" south of 8th St. and north of 1st St., so the first plus is that's it's easily accessible by transit. The street has the things that urbanists love: residential and job density, a mix of uses, and fairly short blocks. These things are preconditions to getting people out on foot. There's a lot of stuff to do, a lot of people there to do it, and the blocks don't present excessive barriers to flowing throughout the area (with one important exception nearby). Another plus is you have to pay to park on the street. It doesn't cost a fortune, but there is a price for parking, which means people think twice about bringing their cars. As you can see in the photo above there are mid-block curb extensions with crosswalks. These take the already narrow street (one lane in each direction plus a turning lane) and make it even narrower, which calms traffic speeds and makes it easy to cross on foot.

I've got to confess that I hop on the bus and go down here when suburbia really crushes my soul. When I think it's impossible to convince people that neighborhoods with transportation options make sense, or that cities can be relevant to American life I think about Pine Avenue and how my pulse picks up when I walk down it, because it is a living, breathing, urban place in Los Angeles County, defiantly daring to exist.

We have to cherish every one of these tragically rare gems. Urban life is possible. Go see for yourself.

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