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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bike rider asks “Speed Racers” to slow down on the L.A. River Path

Kevin is a bike rider from Echo Park who looks forward to taking early evening rides with his girlfriend along the Los Angeles River Path between Elysian Valley and Griffith Park. But some of his recent rides along the river have been marred by other cyclists he refers to as “Speed Racers,” the Lycra-clad bike riders who zoom past and weave in between other cyclists and pedestrians on the narrow path. Said Kevin in an email last week:

It is very irritating and dangerous for other riders when these “Speed Racers,” as I call them, speed down the bike path at a very fast pace. I have been brushed by as they pass, and they turn very close in front of you to get back in line. I fortunately have not fallen but I have already seen two bad accidents in the last week … I don’t know why they can’t slow down.

Kevin is not the first person to complain about bad-bike behavior on the L.A. River Path, which prompted Elysian Valley residents to install signs advising cyclists to “reduce speed ahead.”  But is there any practical way to slow down traffic in a bike lane?  The city’s  Bike Program is looking at some options to control speeding. However, for the most part, cyclists on city bike paths can travel as fast as they want to.

Some cities, such as Hermosa Beach, have imposed speed limits on bike paths. But there are no such limits in the City of Los Angeles, said Nathan  Baird, a Bicycle Coordinator with the Bike Program. Baird said that cyclists can get cited by police if they violate the following portion of the city’s Municipal Code:

No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, cart, wagon, wheelchair, rollerskates, or any other device moved exclusively by human power, on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.  (Amended by Ord. No. 166,189, Eff. 10/7/90.) 

While the city can install speed humps to slow down cars and trucks on city streets,  humps or bumps are not allowed on bike paths under the California Highway Design Manual, which the city follows in building its bike paths. The design manual, according to Baird, states:  “Installation of ‘speed bumps’, gates,  obstacles, posts, fences or other similar features intended to cause bicyclists to slow down are not to be used.”

The city, however, is looking at some form of traffic calming on bike paths, including a “rumble strip” of thermoplastic striping used by some other cities.  “And we’re looking for other alternatives, as well,” Baird said.



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57 comments

  1. Im all for Rumble Strips. Or handy bags of JACKS to toss in front of oncoming speeders. If these SPEED DEMONS are sooooo Hardcore, then ride on the street..

  2. Give me a break !
    Not all Lycra wearing bicycle riders are idiots , why pool them all together as one ?
    I mean, guys that ride fixed gear bikes that wear shorts and chucks ride around like morons all the the time .
    At Cyclavia , the ” messenger type” guys on bikes were the ones weaving in and out of packs of cyclists that were just cruising along .
    I’ve been on the river path and responsible bicycle riders going by fast or slow politely call out “on the left ” , and so you share the road, what is the big deal ?

  3. Too many cyclists (not all) seem to have a bad attitude that everyone else should get out of their way, whether pedestrians, other cyclists, or cars — clear the way for their daredevil riding or risk harm. This issue has been ongoing since years ago with the battles over mountain bikers. The complaints remain the same, and the cyclists don’t seem to give a damn about anyone but themselves. Its all about them.

    Cyclists seem to be aggressive sorts, aggressive not only in their riding habits, but also in how they want everything else changed to serve them, whether these bike path lanes, or traffic lanes on the street, or even access to sidewalks.

    Since the mountain bike battles, they don’t seem to have learned anything — other than to be ever more aggressive about expanding the venue for themselves, and everyone else be damned.

    • ” aggressive sorts” ?
      Are you kidding me ?
      You can replace the word cyclists with the word motorist in your paragraphs and it would fit just as well.
      You sound like you never get out of your car .

      • Exactly! Cyclist & motorist have become interchangeable when it comes to road manners, safety & phone usage whist riding/driving.

    • Thanks, Susan..obviously tons of bicyclists don’t fit your description, but tons do, as well. There does seem to be a bike culture in L.A. that is hyper-aggressive and self-righteous.

      • Thanks, Susan..obviously tons of drivers don’t fit your description, but tons do, as well. There does seem to be a driving culture in L.A. that is hyper-aggressive and self-righteous.

        There, fixed it for you.

    • Yeah, I’m going to have to agree with skoal down here. Although there are a few bike riders (those along the ages of 15-18) that may be described as aggressive, most of us folks that use a bike as their main source of transportation find your statements quite absurd. Again, as skoal said, step outside your car and try to see what it’s like on the other side of things…

      And as far as this bike path is concerned, I feel a though cyclists in these bike lanes should be able to go as fast as they want to as long as they are polite about passing others. I use the LA river path to ride back and forth from Burbank to Downtown quite frequently and do not see all this madness as described above…don’t limit my freakin highway…haha

    • Aldo Thee Apache

      Ditto Susan

      Not all, but a lot of bicyclists have a reckless, aggressive and self-righteous attitude. If I drove my car like them I’d be arrested, but alas bicycles are a sacred cow so no recourse.
      All that behavior does is serve to alienate people like myself who cycle on occasion (and hope to do more).
      Case in point. Bicyclist the other day was in the middle of the street weaving back and forth (for fun?). When I gave him a tap on the horn and a friendly ‘move to one side’ signal so I could pass, he turned around got close to my window and spat in my face.
      It’s not right but I certainly sympathetic to why more cars are deliberately plowing into them now.

  4. I think it’s important to not lump all cyclists together, as the previous commenter (Susan) unintentionally does. saying “cyclists seem to be aggressive sorts” is very different than “some cyclists seem to be aggressive sorts.”

    stereotyping all of them is unproductive. some riders are certainly unsafe. I ride along the path often and have not (yet) seen any dangerous riders.

    now, I’m a driver as well, and i think it’s too bad to see people complaining that bikers “want everything changed to serve them”, including bike lanes. speaking as both a driver and a casual cyclist (not the Lycra type), I find that bike lanes make for safer biking AND safer driving. sharing a lane is way less safe – for everybody – than having separate lanes.

  5. Quite simply… you ride as the conditions permit… if the path is crowded, it’s irresponsible to go over 15mph or at whatever speed at which you have comfort stopping quickly. However, I have no problem cruising at 25mph+ at 6am, in fact, that seems to be the norm.

    I enjoy cruising on my cruiser just as much as my road bike on that path though, both sides are right… no speed limits, just like the roads, it should always be conditions permitting.

    • Amen! I love hauling ass down the LA River Bike Path when it is safe to do so. Really, most people are good about this. When I ride the Orange Line Bike Path, I find peds in the bike section all the time. But rather than whine about it, I go around them and realize life is good without cars either way. CicLAvia is just getting crowded. Hard to travel at any sort of speed. But it’s not about transportation, it’s about being out in the city! Bikes are such interesting devices. They can go slow or fast. Defies our normal rules for things.

      • According to the MTA, the pathways along the Orange Line, as well as those along the newly opened Expo Line, are dual use. That is, they are both bike paths as well as pedestrian pathways. Just so you know. You sound pleasant enough about it but they have an equal right to that path as bikes do.

        • There are 3 separate painted sections. Two bike lanes (each direction) and a section for pedestrians. However, you will find pedestrians can’t read signs or follow painted lines and they are all over the path. Not that I care! ;)

  6. I’m just glad the bike path is now getting so much use that it is actually getting complaints like these! More bike paths please!

  7. What happened to “keep right” and allow faster traffic to pass on your left? You can’t expect everyone to travel at the same speed. If everyone obeyed this simple rule of the road, there would be plenty of space for everyone. The problem occurs when people walk of bike 2 or 3 or 4 abreast, clogging the narrow parts of the trail. Give faster traffic space to pass safely and everyone will be much happier.

  8. Gotta get the heart rate up! No wonder America’s so fat

  9. white people

  10. it’s really so simple, knock them off their bikes…….

  11. Dr. Domingowitz

    I am yet to see any bicycle rider do anything the people on this blog claim. I live in Elysian Valley and all I see are a bunch of people making excuses for their inability to follow the rules of the road. Yes pedestrians! I am talking to you… follow the rules and there won’t be any problems. AND stop taking your frustrations out on bicyclist.

  12. I think these people should get jobs and then maybe they can afford to buy a car and then they can stop riding their bikes everywhere!

  13. i concur with one of the above comments… ” as conditions allow” i get pissed at those riders too, but sometimes i get pissed at idiot drivers. its so tit for tat, why are we even arguing about it.

  14. Kevin and his girlfriend should probably ride single file. That might make things safer for them.

  15. slow bike riders just need to speed up and stop complaining!!!!

    • slow and proud of it

      I feel no need or desire to speed up. I do not wish to race and have very little interest in riding fast except downhill. You want to ride fast? Fine, that is your choice, but you have no right to tell anyone else how to ride. We all ride a bike, and we ride how we like. If you want to ride fast, good for you, but you need to understand that you have no right to denigrate others for how they ride. A slow rider is still a rider, and deserves all the consideration you want for yourself. How would you feel if someone said fast riders need to slow down and stop complaining???? If you cannot ride fast without bothering other riders, you need to slow down or ride somewhere else.

    • Thank you,

  16. I think part of the issue here is the tone of the initial article that seems to imply a lovely young couple just *can’t* enjoy their pleasant evening ride along the river because other bikers are biking there. As if gentle, flutey classical music was suddenly MARRED by someone blasting Rammstein out loudspeakers on their handlebars.

    As another biker who uses the path, and one who enjoys pushing myself when I ride, my immediate thought was “so, ONE kind of biker wants to make sure they are the ONLY kind of biker who uses the bike path.” And yes, I got angry. Because….you know, two lanes and all that. Is this lovely young couple taking up the whole path? Both lanes? Because if they weren’t and they were actually riding on their side of the road, they would be passed with no issues by faster cyclists. The majority of whom would say “on your left” before passing. But if they are riding side by side, disallowing the use of right of way to others. Well… [expletive] them. Same with pedestrians who take up the whole path and just assume everyone else can deal.

    We are all trying to use the same great bike path, and we all use it differently. If you are on the left, stay on the left, and if you are on the right, stay on the right. Following the rules of the road is what makes it possible for everyone to coexist.

    • Thank you, Ann. That about sums it up.

      • This is a multi-use path.

        • Great points. I walk along the path all the time with my friends and their one year old. We always stay on our side of the road. We did see one bad accident once when a cyclist riding rather fast passed someone walking by the Marsh St entrance collided with a older gentleman slowly cruising on his side. Everyone was in their correct lane but the faster cyclist was going to fast to properly react. And then proceeded to yell at the older gentleman. Some people are just pricks.

      • Totally sums it :)

  17. I’d like to suggest that the bike riders take a stroll along the path on a lovely weeknight or weekend.

    • I think I’m sensing that some think the bike path has become a “highway.” I am as opposed to a “Road Diet” for the L.A. River Path as I am for the plan to squeeze off Rowena Ave. Can’t we all just get along?

  18. Most comments here are fairly simplistic in their approach to the issue. This is a complicated problem in a too narrow space. I used to ride my bike before it was allowed, and therefore much emptier than it is now. The point to me is that if there are other bikers or pedestrians near you, you should slow down. I have too often been nearly hit by cyclists who just keep on going regardless of the fact that there are several lines of traffic going both ways.
    It’s not easily resolved. It would’ve been better to open a fast cycle path on the other side, or a pedestrian path on the other side of the river. One day hopefully that might occur.
    I’ve lived in Echo Park for 36 years and plan to leave due to the attitudes of those who think only they and their athletic pursuits really matter. Too bad we are all so selfish.

  19. Wow, there is a lot of animosity out there over something really simple to resolve. All parties use common sense on the path. Slow traffic stay to the right. Fast traffic pass to the left with caution. Pedestrians walk facing traffic and leash your dogs. Both groups take off your stupid headphones. Its a whole lot easier to hear and respond to what is going on around you. Simple.
    Joe, stupid comment, doubt you want to try and knock me off my bike. Who knows, I could be a cop. … Mickey g also stupid comment. Do you want a kid to flat and fall into a sea of tacks? Think before you type.

  20. Residential streets have a speed limit of 25MPH. School zones where there are a lot of pedestrians have speed limits of 20MPH. It would seem like a speed limit on a bike/pedestrian path should at least be a residential 25 and probably should be more like the school zone 20. If a cyclist wants to travel faster than that they should use the streets. In my mind, it is a matter of speed differentials.

    • “Residential streets have a speed limit of 25MPH.”
      If drivers never adhere to this speed limit, then why expect them to adhere to it while they are cycling? And which poses more danger?

  21. Hilarious. The same speed racers who like to use up the entire road, cars be damned, are now complaining about slower bike riders taking up the entire bike lanes.

  22. Take something simple–like riding a bike. Now put that something in Los Angeles. And what do you get? Tribal fucking warfare.

    I can’t wait to get out of here.

  23. I used to run over at the Rose Bowl years ago. The cyclists were in clusters of 20 to 30 or more riders who were racing and weaving in and out of traffic and riding very aggressively with what almost seemed like a “gang type” mentality. There were lots of accidents with vehicles and several times they got very close to me as they passed. Safety doesn’t seem to be a concern with them. Its “their” road and “their” path.

    • That’s a peloton. More a pack than a gang. It’s a bit crowded over there, but I understand that these riders need that kind of training. Quite colorful, actually, to watch them whirl by. Though I understand there may be safety issues.

    • “Its “their” road and “their” path.”

      Yes. When I walk it’s “my” road, when I cycle it’s “my” road and when I drive it’s “my” road. Nobody posting on here is any different, that’s just how Americans are taught, that rights and ownership rule, not negotiated use of shared space.

  24. I ride on the river path almost daily both commuting to work, training race-style and riding casually. I have literally never had a problem sharing the road with people going slow or fast. When I’m going fast I don’t ‘buzz’ people and act like an idiot…and there’s the real issue. People act like idiots on bicycles, on foot and in cars. Blame idiocy…not cyclists.

  25. Unfortunately, some of the new residents of the area believe that the high mortgage payments or rents they pay compared to those who have lived here for a while entitle them to extended privileges. Whether they wear fedoras or spandex, they’re hostile to everyone, including each other. The ugliness is apparent to all except they themselves.

  26. Just be courteous & share the path as efficiently as possible. Slower traffic to the right..do not ride/walk side by side..let there be room to pass..be aware of what’s coming from either direction. The main thing is that we’re all trying to be fit & active. Keep exercising!! Fat is so not you.

  27. “It is very irritating and dangerous for other riders when these “Speed Racers,” as I call them, speed down the bike path at a very fast pace. I have been brushed by as they pass, and they turn very close in front of you to get back in line. I fortunately have not fallen but I have already seen two bad accidents in the last week … I don’t know why they can’t slow down.”

    Funny … I ride about 5,000 miles a year on the South Bay bike path, and I don’t see much of this at all.

    I think this is a matter of perspective, and to me, this statement evidences a bit of myopia on the author’s part. “Lycra clad”? That is standard bicycling attire for those of us who take it seriously. “Speed Racers”? That’s anyone going faster than him. “I don’t know why they can’t slow down.” Well, I’m sure the others are asking why the heck he is going so slow.

    Yea, I have experienced cyclists riding unreasonably fast for conditions. And there are snooters who look down on anyone who’s riding slower than them or isn’t wearing the latest kit, and let you know about it by cutting waaay too close when they pass or chopping in front of you too soon.

    But if this is a regular occurrence with this guy, me thinks the source of the problem is best found by looking in the mirror.

    And a word about the ridiculously slow speed limit on the path in Hermosa Beach (8MPH). I was there when the city council decided to set that limit. Previous to that meeting, the speed limit was 10 MPH, and the Hermosa Police did a speed survey and found that accident rates were low and decreasing. They also found that almost all bike crashes were solo crashes that did not involve pedestrians. Their recommendations were (1) eliminate the speed limit or increase it to 13 MPH, (2) lengthen the “walk bikes” zone near the Hermosa Pier (which is controlled by lights).

    Instead, the city council reduced the speed limit to 8MPH, and decreased the size of the walk zone! The only basis for that 8MPH number was some nitwit at the meeting who said that was the speed limit on some bike paths in San Diego.

    Speed limits are not needed on the bike paths. What is needed is some common sense.

    And for someone to look in the mirror.

  28. I wish LADOT had never striped the path. It worked much better when people had to share because there were no lines. Now it seems like all a lot of fast cyclists see a is an open road. It’s disappointing to me when I’m on my bike (and maybe even in a hurry!) and I slow down to pass pedestrians or slower cyclists (especially kids since they ride so unpredictably) and another cyclist speeds past me between the slower moving person I’m giving room.

  29. Hi Kevin. When I saw this article, I felt like you were speaking directly to me.

    I’m a “speed-racer” by your criteria. I am almost always spandex-clad and I go faster than almost everyone on the LA River bike path. I do weave from time to time but a weave is subjective. (sometimes it’s hard to judge what sketched out cyclists will do when there’s traffic in both directions)

    The LA River bike path is where I cut my teeth in cycling and I still use it today for training routes and recreational rides through Griffith Park and it’s a great way to connect and experience the city. I have ridden thousands of miles on that bike path and I have not seen one. single. incident. of collision between a “speed-racer” and a cruiser or pedestrian. Perhaps I have been lucky. You almost saw two, huh?

    I ride solo or with a small group and we train hard on sections of this multi-use path but also slow down when there is traffic or pedestrians. I will admit to having experienced sketchy passes but that typically happens when pedestrians are dispersed 4-wide along the path or when a couple on beach cruisers leaves no space to pass them, at all. Of course we will sound like agro jocks if we have to yell ahead “ON YOUR LEFT”, especially with the blood pumping and that you have to PROJECT your voice forward (sound travels in waves) .

    Now let’s get to relativity… If you are having a romantic ‘responsible’ bike ride with your gf at 8mph, riding single file with lights ;-) , and “speed racer” has to pass you and he is doing 20, not breakneck but fast, the perception of his speed is impressive! Now imagine how much more precarious this scenario would be if said couple was riding two by two and there was oncoming traffic! There’s no passing these lovebirds!

    On the other hand, there are assholes. You will find them on bikes, 4,000 lb. cars and on two legs. Don’t let assholes be the reason we add rumble strips to an otherwise beautiful cycling route.

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