At its core, Walk Long Beach (WLB) is about creating and strengthening more sustainable and equitable communities through the lens of walkability and pedestrian safety. This includes advocacy for more walkable neighborhoods and commercial districts, better pedestrian connections to schools, activity centers and corridors, senior and social service centers, and access to public transit. Long Beach, like many medium to large-sized cities, is made up of a series of neighborhoods and districts. Some of these are physically walkable, but suffer from neglect, and/or experience environmental conditions or safety concerns that making walking uncomfortable or unsafe. Other areas are more typically suburban and were not designed to be walkable. Each of these situations will require different design and community outreach strategies, but will require expertise, community organizing, and advocacy.
Walk Long Beach (WLB) works to promote walkability and pedestrian safety within neighborhoods and corridors in the Greater Long Beach area. More specifically, WLB will promote the adoption Vision Zero policy by the Long Beach City Council and collect and analyze related collision safety data collection, continue to expand the walking loop card program (internal link to walking loops page), and help to establish a broad network of walking clubs and supporting organizations through community outreach and events. WLB will expand its programs and solidify its network of support and community outreach partners.
Walk Long Beach was originally formed as a collaborative effort among several organizations, by YMCA of Greater Long Beach, through its Pioneering Healthy Communities program funded by the CDC through the YMCA of the USA. These organizations included the Long Beach Community Foundation, the City’s public health department (one of three such city programs in the State), the City’s long-range policy planning staff, the Long Beach Alliance for Food and Fitness (LBAFF), and others.
At that time, there was a host of active bicycle advocacy organizations at that time, that were promoting an active transportation agenda for a wide range of cycling interests, from commuters to racers to recreational cycling. As the City of Long Beach focused on securing grant funding for bicycle facilities, a growing contingent of City staff and the public felt that the pedestrian environment was being increasingly ignored.
In anticipation of the ProWalk/ProBike/ProPlace biennial conference coming to the Long Beach Convention Center in September 10-13, 2012, the need for the effort to expand on the pedestrian side of the active transportation equation became more apparent.
From this effort, a walk audit was conducted for Central Long Beach in September 2012. This effort was coordinated with the Project for Public Spaces and America Walks to serve as the origination of the Walk Long Beach collaborative.
Walk Long Beach operated as a collaborative of the following organizations from 2012 to 2016:
Members of the WLB collaborative attended the YMCA Pioneering Healthy Communities summit in Washington, D.C. in December 2009, which began the conversation about walkability in Long Beach.
The collaborative was meeting and organizing community events since 2009, and expanded into policy advocacy work through the adoption of the City’s Mobility Element in October 2013.
Since then, members have attended the New Partners for Smart Growth conferences in Seattle in February 2010, San Diego in February 2012, Portland, OR, in 2016, and St. Louis in 2017. WLB participated in the California Walks walking advocacy summit in October 2014 in Oakland, California, and attended the 2nd Annual National Walking Summit October 28-30, 2015 in Washington, D.C. and the first national complete streets conference, NCSI/SGA Street Lights, in November 2016 in Sacramento. WLB was the local host for the biennial PedestriansCount! conference for California Walks in June 2016, held in Long Beach.
In April 2016, Walk Long Beach became a stand alone non-profit organization, a project of Community Partners, its fiscal sponsor.