Bicycle-focused businesses in Downtown are doing their part to help establish Long Beach as a truly bike friendly city by bringing state-of-the-art bicycles, well-tested organizational models, and an entrepreneurial spirit to the City’s bike infrastructure, which is evolving to support bike safety and culture. The individuals who lead these businesses bring years of experience and observation to the local bike scene to help keep it rolling forward.
“Protected bike infrastructure is critical,” said Chris Nolte, Founder of Propel Electric Bikes at 100 West Broadway in Downtown, right next to the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA). “That is one of the biggest determining factors in developing interest in the bicycle option. People need to feel like they can get to their destination safely. This is part of what drew my interest to setting up shop in Long Beach. I started Propel Bikes in 2011 in New York, where infrastructure is well developed and the culture is there to accept new ideas.”
Nolte expanded Propel Bikes to Long Beach in the summer of 2018. His shop specializes in cargo and commuter-style bikes, which can be charged through any AC outlet. One charge yields an average of 30 to 40 miles of “pedal assisted” riding. One can choose the amount of help the bike provides, from zero assistance up to three pedal turns for each one the rider does.
Propel deals exclusively in Bosch eBikes. “Bosch’s quality and expertise levels are very high,” said Nolte. “They’re setting the standards for safety, reliability, and serviceability, which is important because the market is relatively new.”
A hard-working advocate for cycling as a car replacement option, Nolte can be seen on Propel’s YouTube channel, providing education about eBikes, bike safety, and cycling culture in general.
Maritime Bicycle Courier, based in Long Beach with its office on Co-Founder Langdon Taguiped’s smartphone, is a third-party delivery service which employs a staff of about 20 cyclists. Most of them ride “fixies” — bikes with one fixed gear and no brakes (couriers are adept at backpedaling as a means of stopping).
Taguiped, along with Co-Founder Patrick “Bud” Abille, was a world-class fixie racer, competing throughout Europe and Asia. He became a bike courier in Venice and Santa Monica before co-creating a business model and bringing it to Long Beach eight years ago. “We were definitely the first bike courier service in Long Beach,” Taguiped said.
A typical Friday night in Downtown will find eight or nine Maritime cyclists making deliveries. “I love the freedom,” said courier Jelena Vidovic. “You’re basically in charge of yourself and navigating the terrain on your own. Langdon has curated a really good team of people who support each other.”
Pedal Movement is a Downtown-based, multi-faceted company that, since 2017, has partnered with the City to operate the Bikeshare bike rental program. Pedal Movement maintains the entire Long Beach Bikeshare fleet, which has recently expanded to nearly 1000 bikes. Bikeshare hubs, filled with the sturdy, distinctive blue bikes, can be found Downtown and throughout the City. Several different payment plans are available for bike rental, and accessing the bikes is easy — as simple as scanning a QR code.
“Cycling-wise, Long Beach is light-years ahead of a lot of places I’ve lived,” said Pedal Movement’s Chris Buckley, who serves as Bikeshare’s Fleet Manager. “Where I’m from, in the Northeast, it was common for there to be no bike lanes — or if there were, cars were constantly parked in them. There was no bike awareness among drivers; It was definitely dangerous cutting across town on a bike. I feel much safer in Long Beach.”
Pedal Movement has another contract with the City to provide once-a-month bike classes at the GoActiveLB bike hub on First Street, and is also engaged with the community independently, visiting Long Beach schools and teaching bike safety. They host bike valet services at events, and give free tune-ups and safety checks at local farmers markets. “If it has to do with bikes, we can probably help out,” said Aaron Rickel, Pedal Movement’s Marketing Manager.
With a fully-realized bike infrastructure being developed by the City, and innovative companies such as the ones mentioned above, the City is moving ever closer to a Downtown with cleaner air and less auto traffic, being enjoyed by more and more cyclists who feel safe and welcome while experiencing Downtown in a new way.