Mark Bixby loved biking and bringing you along for the ride – Press Telegram

To Mark Bixby, using a motorcycle was about greater than feeling the wind in his hair. 

To him, biking was an journey and a approach to deliver folks collectively. Just like the time in 1985, when he rode his bike 3,000 miles throughout america along with his buddy, Andy Merrill, to satisfy folks alongside the best way who you’d miss driving a automobile. 

Bixby was concerned in quite a lot of neighborhood tasks, however he could also be finest recognized for his advocacy of bicycling and championing points to make Lengthy Seashore probably the most bike-friendly metropolis within the nation. He helped create town’s Bicycle Grasp Plan and based the Lengthy Seashore Bike Competition. 

When the Lengthy Seashore harbor fee determined to construct a successor to the Gerald Desmond Bridge, he was a number one advocate to construct a bike-pedestrian path on the brand new span. Sadly, Bixby, a member of the Lengthy Seashore’s founding Bixby household, was killed on March 16, 2011, within the crash of a twin-engine Beechcraft King air turboprop airplane at Lengthy Seashore Airport. 4 different folks on board additionally died; one, Mike Jensen, survived.

The airplane had been certain for Salt Lake Metropolis, the place Bixby and his mates have been going for a snowboarding trip.

Former state Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal then used her affect because the chair of the Transportation Committee to steer the Legislature to move a decision in 2012 designating the bicycle and pedestrian path on the Gerald Desmond Alternative Bridge because the Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle Pedestrian Path. 

“It was my honor to take this via the Legislature,” stated Lowenthal, who’s now a member of the Lengthy Seashore harbor fee. “Mark Bixby was a doer, a real hero within the historical past of Lengthy Seashore.” 

The Gerald Desmond Alternative Bridge will open to automobile site visitors Monday morning, Oct. 5.

However when the Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle-Pedestrian Path will open stays unsure, in keeping with Mario Cordero, government director of the Port of Lengthy Seashore.

“We may have a dedication ceremony for the Bixby Path inside a few months, however we don’t know but precisely when the trail shall be open for the general public,” Cordero stated.

One challenge is the forthcoming demolition of the previous Gerald Desmond Bridge, which, in some locations is barely about 2 toes away from the brand new bridge, which may trigger questions of safety for folks using bikes or strolling on the Bixby path. 

“We need to be sure that the bike-pedestrian path is as protected as attainable earlier than we open it as much as the general public,” Cordero stated.

One other challenge is the development of a bicycle path connector bridge that can hyperlink the Bixby Memorial Bicycle-Pedestrian Path to town’s bicycle community. That bridge will cross over the eastbound Ocean Boulevard connector ramp and Pico Avenue off-ramp from the brand new bridge for higher entry.

Earlier than the connector bridge is constructed, cyclists and pedestrians would use a 12-foot-wide route that has lanes for the general public to go from the Ocean Boulevard-Pico Avenue intersection on the east facet of the Port of Lengthy Seashore over the brand new bridge to Terminal Island and again, a distance of almost 2 miles.

Three remark decks alongside the primary span will present scenic overlooks of town, the Port of Lengthy Seashore and, on a transparent day, Catalina Island. The Bixby path is on the south facet of the brand new bridge. 9 informational indicators will inform cyclists and pedestrians concerning the historical past of the Port of Lengthy Seashore, the brand new bridge and Bixby himself.

Members of the Bixby household stated in interviews this week that they completely satisfied the bridge is lastly opening on Monday, even when the trail honoring their relative is not going to.

“We’re simply thrilled that the bicycle-pedestrian path is called in honor of Mark,” stated his mom, Betsy Bixby Steen, from her residence in Tucson, Arizona. “Mark was such a humble, modest individual. He by no means regarded for private recognition. He simply needed to make issues higher. If he have been right here now, he could be completely shocked by his title on that path.”

Bixby Steen additionally recalled the final day she noticed Bixby in 2011.

“He was so excited as a result of the bicycle-pedestrian mission was transferring forward,” she stated. “Two days later, he was killed within the airplane crash.” 

Cordero, who was a member of the harbor fee in 2011, stated he inspired Bixby to make a presentation for the bike-pedestrian mission to the complete fee on March 14 of that 12 months. There had been some pushback, Cordero stated, from the employees about the price of the mission.

“The assembly with the fee went effectively,” Cordero stated. “Mark known as me the subsequent evening to thank me for my help. The following day, he died within the airplane crash.” 

Cordero stated the bicycle-pedestrian path wouldn’t have been authorised if it had not been for Bixby’s involvement. 

Jean Bixby Smith, Bixby’s aunt, stated the household will have fun his legacy on the dedication ceremony, “though will probably be very unhappy, to say the least, that he received’t be there with us.

“He would have been thrilled,” she added, “though he by no means sought private recognition for his many volunteer tasks.” 

Theresa Bixby stated one in every of Mark’s favourite quotes was from Claude Herve, a French journalist who cycled all over the world along with his spouse.

“To journey by bicycle is a humble approach to get near folks,” Herve stated. “It’s a approach of claiming we’re passing via with no considered invasion or conquest, solely the easy will to share part of the street.” 

Theresa Bixby, Mark Bixby’s widow, stated that’s what her late husband’s life was all about.

“It was about sharing part of his street,” she stated. “His thirst for data, his sense of journey, his compassion for household, mates and neighborhood all had one factor in widespread: he needed to deliver you alongside for the journey, to study from you and know extra about you, and most significantly, to make a brand new buddy.”

I used to be honored to be one in every of Bixby’s mates. We met for the primary time as members of the Management Lengthy Seashore Class of 1996. He was one of the vital extraordinary folks I’ve met in my a few years in Lengthy Seashore. 

It appeared like he may do something he set his thoughts to:

He was an athlete, a pc nerd, a handyman and an astute businessman. He was the youngest president of the Lengthy Seashore Rotary Membership. He helped create Rotary Centennial Park. He chaired the YMCA Tenting Providers Board. He was an avid surfer who additionally cherished crusing. He labored as an emergency medical technician and as a gondolier through the summer time for Gondola Getaway.

And, in fact, he cherished biking.

One time, I instructed him he should run for mayor. He responded in his ordinary modest approach.

“Oh, no, that’s for others,” he stated. “I simply need to get issues achieved and assist folks and town in any approach I can.”

Bixby’s enduring slogan was, “Go large or go residence.”

That spirit lives on within the Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle-Pedestrian Path, alongside Lengthy Seashore’s spectacular new bridge. I can’t anticipate it to open so I can stroll the stroll that Mark Bixby envisioned.

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