The extension of the Los Angeles River bike path into Elysian Valley last year has proven popular with cyclists. The once bumpy and uneven strip along the Los Angeles River was replaced with smooth asphalt, lane stripes, landscaping and lighting. But the not everyone has welcomed the new path and the bike riders. Many longtime residents of Elysian Valley, also known as Frogtown, who once leisurely strolled along the riverside now complain about aggressive cyclists who race down the asphalt without regards to pedestrians. There have been some near misses and a few collisions between cyclists and walkers, including one involving the elderly father of a member of the neighborhood council. As a result, bright blue “Share the Path” signs commissioned by the Elysian Valley River Neighborhood Council will soon be installed along the river to remind cyclists as well as pedestrians that both groups have to be aware of each other.
“There were a lot of close calls and a couple of injuries,” said neighborhood council President Steve Appleton. “To be fair, some walkers were less than aware of the need to share. That’s because no one was used to cyclists speeding down the new smooth path. The river path in its prior bumpy form was the ‘Main Street’ of Elysian Valley before anyone else cared.”
During the path’s grand opening in December, a group of Elysian Valley residents lead by neighborhood activist David De La Torre (pictured in video) gathered on the path to voice their concerns.
The rocky cyclist-walker relations are partly the result of a path that is relatively narrow. The strip of land between the top of the concrete riverbank and the adjacent properties is not wide enough to create separate bike and pedestrian lanes, said Appleton. The neighborhood council worked with the Bike Coalition to get the word out to cyclists about the problems and need to share. There was some improvement but the bike-pedestrian run-ins have continued, prompting the the neighborhood council to look into ways to remind both bike riders and walkers about the shared nature of the path.
“We found that there was no sign in “official” [Department of Transportation] signs to deal with our situation,” Appleton said. “So out of necessity, we created out own. ”
In July, the neighborhood council approved a sign design by local artist Nate Schulman. A pair of the 48-inch wide signs, paid for by Council Distirct 13, will be installed along the path. Appleton said he hopes the signs improve safety and raise awareness of the neighborhood.
“They not only let people know to share the path and exercise care – the signs also let folks know where they are: namely Elysian Valley.”