Sunday, October 23, 2016

Elysian Valley leader wants more done to prevent bike vs. pedestrian collisions on river path*

L.A. River, Elysian Valley

Rumble strips – the horizontal markings – are intended to improve safety on river path. David De La Torre

ELYSIAN VALLEY —   A 65-year-old woman suffered a broken arm last week after she was hit by a cyclist on the L.A. River Path on the same day that city transportation officials announced a pilot program to help reduce such collisions on the popular but narrow pathway. Now, an Elysian Valley leader has organized a community meeting to find out if the city can take stronger measures to protect walkers and prevent future collisions.  “My objective is to get greater awareness to the problem at hand and get a true remedy to this,” said David De La Torre of the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch.

The Elysian Valley woman was walking northbound on the path on the morning of Thursday, March 27 when she turned left at Gatewood Street and was hit by a cyclist who was riding behind her, De La Torre said. The woman, who said she looked over her shoulder before turning to walk across the path, was thrown to the pavement.   The cyclist stopped and called the woman’s family for her help.  The woman was transported to a Glendale hospital, where she was found to have suffered a broken arm. She  returned home but was awaiting surgery, De La Torre said.

Police and the fire department were also alerted, De La Torre said.  The Eastsider has contacted LAPD for more details.

The collision took place about three blocks south of where the L.A. Department of Transportation installed rumble strips, which are basically thick coats of paint, on the path near a pedestrian entrance on Riverdale Avenue.  “The series of rumble strips are intended to alert cyclists as they approach a major pedestrian entrance to the path,” according to a posting last week on the department’s Bike Blog.  “LADOT hopes that this demo project will remind bicyclists to watch for and slow down when approaching entryways on the path.”

It’s not clear how fast the cyclist was traveling during last week’s collision or whether rumple strips would have helped prevent the incident. But De La Torre, who has long pointed out problems posed by speeding cyclists, said he has no faith in the strips.  They do “absolutely nothing to reduce speed,” De La Torre. “It’s an accident waiting to happen if the cyclists don’t adjust their speeds.”

De La Torre and other Elysian Valley residents have been involved in using other measures to help improve safety along the path since it was extended through the neighborhood in 2010.  Bright blue “Share the Path” signs have been installed and pedestrians as well as cyclists have signed “Share the Path pledges. “That’s not working, obviously,” he said of the signs.

Instead, De La Torre says the city needs to either widen the path or move cyclists to a route on the other side of the river.  De La Torre has set up a special Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch meeting on April 8 at 7 p.m. to discuss the collisions. The meeting will take place at the Dickerson Employee Benefits, 1918 Riverside Dr.

*Update:  The daughter of the pedestrian said  her mother crossed the  path near Gatewood Street. An earlier version of this post had said the woman crossed near Harwood Street based on early information.  Her mother is now at home awaiting surgery.  The daughter, who is also a bike rider,  said she appreciates that the cyclist stopped to lend assistance and that other cyclist stopped to make sure other riders did not hit her as they waited for medical assistance. “We are being civil,” she said. But “my mother got hurt and we need to do something about it. The path does not belong only to bicyclists. It’s a shared path for everyone.”

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  1. It’s a bike path. Pedestrians shouldn’t be on it at all.

    • Obviously you have no idea what you are talking about. It’s a shared use path that up until very recently was only a walking path since drainage ditches preventing most bikes from easily using it.

      Even thought there are numerous signs the bikes think they rule the world and regularly yell at pedestrians–I even had one yell at groups of people leaving the councilmembers swearing in ceremony!

      I’ve seen shared use paths work great all over the country but here some of the bikes tend to charge on through.

    • Grahm Wellington

      Maybe you can answer something for me Pete. What happens to a person when they get on a bike that turns them into such incredibly self-entitled douche bags? Is the rush and adrenaline so overcoming that you forget that you are not the sole users of our roads and pathways?

      To make a statement that is sooo obviously wrong, I have to believe there must be a special reason. Please enlighten us.

    • Claiming that this is a bike path only bespeaks exactly the problem attitude of a small group of cyclists who use this neighborhood for fast training. As Leticia points out this has been Main St. for Elysian Valley for a long time. The walking folks are “paseando” which by nature entails a bit of conversation, looking around, taking in nature. Its not a place to go fast…

      As we anticipate future LA River restoration and development, we need to think ahead about the increased use of these recreational resources. Part of the equation is respectfully considering the existing community uses.

      Good design is the solution. Our collaborative design team is at work on some workable strategies to slow and widen the path into a more of a meander where pedestrians and bikes and safely co-exist.

      • It’s hard not to detect a NIMBY attitude stemming from Elysian Valley residents that is behind much of the recent friction on the LA River bike path. It’s short-sighted to think there is a small group of cyclists who ride briskly through a cottage lane. The bike path has in the past, and is expected to in the future, extend all 51-miles of the LA River from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach. Thousands of cyclists, bike commuters, and recreational riders come from all over LA to ride on the path as it connects to other routes through Griffith Park, Elysian Park, Silver Lake, Atwater, Glendale, Burbank, ELA and DTLA. Rather than a few neighborhood activists from a small district fighting for a throwback vision of what the path once was, it would be very, very helpful for concerned Elysian Valley residents to embrace a progressive vision of what the path will soon be. Putting in speed bumps to slow cyclists is a bit like sandbagging levee breaches on Lake Pontchartrain before Katrina. In this scenario, the speed bumping Elysian Valley residents, and CD13’s Mitch O’Farrell are the bureaucratic Army Corps of Engineer who clearly fail to see the bigger picture.

        • It’s pretty funny that the same bike activists demanding “road diets” to slow vehicle traffic are upset when similar curbs may be placed upon them.

          • No, there is nothing funny about cyclists and pedestrians being hit by distracted or drunk drivers. But if you’re going with that poor reversal, in this case, the pedestrians are the distracted and unsafe drivers on the bikeway, It is not the cyclists or runners who are causing potentially hazardous road conditions. My opinion is representative of my experience only and not that of a “bike activist.” As a frequent user of the LA River Path, I run, bike, and walk it a few days a week, up to about 50 miles per week. As a multi-user for a couple of years now, I have never seen runners or cyclists creating the problems on the path. It is pedestrians who are behaving erratically and not staying alert to other users. Cycling ‘rumble strips’ are absolutely not an effective “curb” or solution. Cyclists are already alert due to constantly having to dodge the unexpected, things like abandoned strollers, dogs, squirrels, pipe covers, pot holes, shopping carts, large paved mounds, and all manner of debris. The rumble strips are one more bumpy area on an already bumpy path that do nothing to ensure the safety of *any* of the path’s users. Instead of wasting LADOT funding on useless ‘blame the cyclists’ infrastructures and campaigns, please, community leaders of Elysian Valley, give your seniors a class on bike path safety.

          • @cyclist – I was merely pointing at the irony of the reversal of the situation, whether you see the analogy or not. I certainly did not intend to imply that either pedestrians being injured by cyclists or cyclists injured by motor vehicles was in anyway “funny.” (And I think you know that was not my intent). I too run and have encountered my fair share of unaware pedestrians, dog owners and – yes – overly aggressive cyclists. I’ve also cycled along the river path with my son and have experienced both oblivious pedestrians and cyclists so intent on racing along that they create dangerous situations for both slower cyclists and pedestrians. And yes we do yield to faster traffic – nonetheless if you are passing others it is your responsibility to make sure you are able to do so without endangering the pedestrian or cyclist you are passing. If you cannot you need to slow down or stop! . Once again I want to make it clear to you that I was only pointing out the irony that the same cyclists who demand that vehicle traffic be slowed to a crawl to insure their safety refuse to slow down for pedestrians and whine when they are being called out for it.

        • The “progressive vision” for the 50 mile path includes bike, pedestrians, kayaks, fly fishing, bird watching and a more open social space. Many people (residents and visitors alike) come to the river path to visually or actually connect to the Los Angeles River, a movement that is counter-directional to using the path as a ‘linear route’ to a destination.

          The path can serve multiple social, recreational and reasonable commuter uses but in its current form is too narrow. We should cease fighting over a too-meager space and advocate design visions that feed the multitudes.

  2. While the myth that this stretch of asphalt alongside Elysian Valley is solely for bicycling may be loudly proclaimed, the fact is that it is being shared with residents of Elysian Valley and others. Shared rather poorly I might add. To say that one group or other should not use the path is unreasonable and has ended up causing friction among different groups of users. I fault LADOT and CD13 and the other agencies that have jurisdiction over this path for not having stepped up to protect all the users by coming up with a reasonable set of rules and methods of policing the path. It is going to be a sad day when someone is accidently killed because these agencies have been afraid to address a critical situation.

    I am told that speed limit signs wont work because bicycles do not have speedometers…if that isn’t chickensh!t, I do not know what is. The lawsuit is coming….get ready.

    • speed limit signs won’t work because of no speedometers? oh boy, can I use that one with my car? Bikes have to obey speedlimits regardless of whether they have speedometers or not. I have had friends get ticketed for speeding on a bike while going very fast on residential streets. I’m pretty sure if cyclists start getting ticketed for speeding they will either buy a speedometer or avoid a slow multiuse path.

  3. I like the suggestion of opening up another track just for cyclists. I’ve seen pedestrians on the bike path do the most absent-minded things. They walk in groups of four abreast, blocking both sides of the path, they leave old dogs to stumble around unattended and off-leash, they stare at their phones and walk into things, they don’t look before they cross, they don’t look when they step into the path, etc. It’s amazing that more pedestrians aren’t injured on the path.

    Cyclists and runners share the bike path in good harmony. Both are traveling at a rate of speed with pace goals in mind and recognize one another’s pace. Both groups also understand how to safely share the road under conditions at speed. You can see the same dynamic play out on the paths in Griffith Park.

    There are innumerable sidewalks and parks for pedestrians but far too few safe bikeways. Pedestrians need to be educated about how to safely engage a bike path. They clearly do not understand that they are not on a sidewalk and that bikes are meant to go fast in designated bike lanes.

    • Concerned Cyclist

      It’s a multi-use trail, not a dedicated bike lane. Furthermore, the only time you should be chasing speed or pace on a bike in the city is on a segregated track. Not on the streets (despite what Wolfpack or any other club endorses), not on trails and not on the sidewalk. Period.

      I ride 30 miles a day on a bike commuting to work and back and it’s entitled, thrill-seekers that give us all a bad name, not to mention you’re going to end up in a bad way if you continue to ride that way. Blowing stop signs, weaving, riding on sidewalks, etc. Not cool.

      SLOW down, wear a helmet, use hand signals and wear bright colors. And most of all, be courteous to the only more vulnerable people out there than us — pedestrians.

      • The LA River Bike Path dates back to 1993 when LADOT won a grant to build a dedicated bike path. Otherwise, the recklessness you describe is rarely exhibited by the frequent cyclist, because, as you note, they are probably already dead.

        As far as being courteous to pedestrians on the bike path, most cyclists are exceedingly tolerant and forgiving, despite having far too little designated cycling infrastructure in LA.

      • Hi. Wolfpack Hustle is my crew. We specifically discourage riding fast (or at all) on this stretch of the bike path. Its a residential area. During the day there are pedestrians and kids and dogs… yep they just walk around and block the path, but thats how it is. People walking should be given the ultimate freedom.

        In fact its not that safe to be there at night and even sometimes during the day. My girl was harassed in that area by some nefarious characters hanging out on the path and now refuses to use the path at all. Ubray’s buddy was nearly robbed of his bike in that area too and you never know when a homeless person will have a cart in the path or emerge from the dark. The area to go fast is riverside drive where there is space and where you feel like your life is threatened by speeding cars if you go anything less than 25mph.

        Other than that, relax and ride slow on the bike path until you get to the Los Feliz area where there are no houses adjacent to the path and its a clear line of sight ahead. Of course none of what any of us say will matter because there is no overwhelming common sense or courtesy among members of the public anyway. people will just continue to do what they do.

        Rumble strips seem like a dumb idea but I dont expect much brain power to come from the LADOT.

  4. As a resident of this community and avid bicyclist, I believe that an effective solution will require more than the usual outreach or signage tactics. For many bicyclists, there are limited visual cues that highlight a residential community is behind the chain linked fences and brick walls. I hope that the City, or guerrilla designers, will support creative ideas that indirectly slows down bicyclists while supporting shared uses.

    David, thanks for championing this issue. It’s a big concern for many of our community members. Someday, I hope I can tell my parents that it’s okay to walk our little dog along the bike path again.

  5. The path through Elysian Valley is so narrow, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen (not just elderly) neighbors walking fearfully in the dirt just to avoid collisions with bicyclists. Pedestrians shouldn’t have to constantly look nervously over their shoulders because they can’t hear over the loud noise of Metrolink & freeways. Gee, strips that only cover half the path – how long before the regulars bike riders know exactly where those are & swerve to avoid them? That’s creating a whole new problem.

    How many homes are on the Elysian Valley side? How many more are planned? Yeah – the problem is only going to get worse. Widen the path (require larger setbacks for the path on the river side for river adjacent development is one potential solution) or move the bikes to the other side of the river.

    • I have long been an advocate of moving the bikes to the opposite bank for this stretch of river! There are NO pedestrians on that side, and the bikes could go as fast as they wanted, leaving the portion of the path adjacent to a densely populated area for pedestrians. Sadly, we need more bridges and better paving (therefore lots of $$$) in order to make that happen. With collective will, I remain optimistic that these things could happen. 😉

  6. Pete YOU ARE WRONG this is NOT a “Bike Path” and it’s that attitude that causes all the residents who have enjoyed walking the river path to now become sitting targets. I can’t even a enjoy a nice calm casual bike ride on this path because psycho speed marathon bicyclist want to zoom by and have the nerve to yell at me, like I’m in their way!
    My 82 year old Father who has walked this river path for over 50 years can no longer safely enjoy it.
    Due to his age his hearing isn’t the best and he may not hear the bicyclist yelling “on your left/right” and it’s frightening to think of him being hit by a bike/person at any speed.
    Plain and Simple – WE NEED SPEED BUMPS.

  7. Tyrone Washington

    While this is not solely a bike path, there would be great benefit to educating ALL users to KEEP RIGHT. (just like we use our streets) —–>>>>>>>Slower traffic keeps right. Passing ONLY on the left! <<<<——- Here's your sign.

    I'm not a biker but I am a runner and I can empathize with the bikers that are dangerously passing people on the right because the pedestrians are wandering all over the path. It's irritating for a runner, can't imagine how irritating (and dangerous) it is for a biker!

  8. Both pedestrians and cyclists are at fault. Groups of pedestrians will frequently hog-up the entire path without bothering to look anywhere but the sky and straight ahead. The gear-heads also have a need for speed that isn’t accommodated by this recreational bike path unless they get there very early in the morning. “Speed bumps” would only encourage me to build-up speed to bunny-hop right over them. IMO,. the pedestrian path should be widened and flush against the outside border of the path. Bicyclists would be restricted to the inside border of path along the river. As long as everyone diligently remains in their respective lanes, there should be no problem. Unfortunately, there is no fool-proof way to regulate individual eccentricity or self-indulgence. At which point, “on your left!” is all bicyclists have left to warn pedestrians of their oncoming presence.

  9. In fact, just take a look at the cover pix? How is a bicyclist supposed to navigate around those pedestrians who are essentially blocking the entire path? Not even “on your left” would work with these two. Conversely, I’m just as frustrated with bike riders who simply refuse to ride in single file on city streets and hog-up entire traffic lanes in addition to the single-file bike lane that’s a part of the traffic diet being increasingly adopted throughout this part of the city. Once again, there seems to be no foolproof way of regulating instances of selfishness and entitlement in both groups.

  10. Many of the pedestrians on the path are irresponsible. They make no effort to stay on one side of the path and make no attempt to be conscious that cyclists are also using the path. They walk on the right, while their dog stretches its leash all the way across the path to the left edge. They block the entire path with a stroller or by walking two, three or four abreast. I object to this article’s and Mr. De La Torre’s implication that something needs to be done about the cyclists. The pedestrians are far more irresponsible..

  11. OMFG. Ok, if you are on a bike, watching our for pedestrians. If you are a pedestrian watch out for bikes. We don’t need fucking road bumps, or obnoxious over thought mechanisms, can we please just rely on logic instead of ruining our public spaces to prevent every possible stupid accident?

    • What you say is true, but I think you are missing the point. The article and Mr. De La Torres imply that pedestrians need to be protected from endangering cyclists. But when I bicycle on the path, I feel that irresponsible pedestrians are threatening my safety. I resent the implications in the article; they’re wrong.

      • Really? Irresponsible pedestrians? I don’t see it that way. A kid meandering around the bike path while mom and dad tow a small hand cart with their picnic and dog inside of it, or a group of comadres gossiping, or an extended family taking a walk after church or a big dinner – this is what the river path is for as well. In fact, I think those user groups are MORE important than anyone personal fitness goals, commute times, or anything else they have going on. It isn’t irresponsible to use the river path the way humans use every space they walk and live in. Bike riders really do need to chill out when necessary and make sure that they can pass pedestrians without smashing into them. Will true unintentional bike vs. pedestrian crashes still happen? Of course. But we can limit their number and severity by taking it easy out there.

        For all the comments here we are still looking at a very, very, small issue in terms of safety. The real dangers in our community are automobiles crashing into nearly everything within their reach – people, property, and other cars.

        This is, in a sense, a nice problem to have!

  12. what is it the cyclists say about traffic laws in response to complaining motorists? I think it goes something like, “only cars have to obey them because they are much heavier and can cause serious damage to cyclists?” But now that they are the heavier, faster, and more damaging occupant of a lane they are complaining about the pedestrians that always have the right of way. Oh the irony.

    • I have been cycling this path for years, long before the section south of Fletcher was opened. When I am riding on the path and I see see any manner of pedestrian I whistle ahead to avoid startling them and slow down and move as far to the right or left as possible. When dogs and children are present I slow down even more and sometimes end up riding in the dirt. I have come across many other path users who seem to want to share and maintain awareness but increasingly of late I see more people who amble along seemingly unaware of the possible presence of faster moving users.

      For those who say that it is not a bike path please take a moment to look down and note the striped yellow line in the middle with shoulder lines on either side that seems to imply otherwise. In Burbank the Chandler bike path has this same arrangement with signs for both pedestrians and faster users.

      This path has been an obvious choice for training on bicycle because it allows one to avoid this same exact attitude from vehicle operators who, while insulated from the world in their metal cages, feel that the entire road belongs only to them and those of their ilk. Even with the wide lanes in Griffith Park there are those drivers who seem to be oblivious to other users.

      For future reference do a bit of research online to understand how many cyclists lose their lives each year because they do not have access to safer roads. You will be astounded and you will see that they don’t all wear lycra.

      As for your comment, it is a generalization and I resent the implication that we all think alike.

      Lets learn to share safely so that we may all enjoy its rewards.

    • I use the path all the time and have for years – and I love making eye contact, saying hello, and just plain old people watching when I’m riding by. It is trivially easy to simply stop pedaling and coast a while or to lightly hold the brakes to slow down when I approach people, especially older folks and kids or people with pets. It isn’t an issue for most cyclists to do this – we’re right there at the human level. The unsafe behavior I see comes from packs of young boys and adults doing what looks like athletic training of some sort – these folks don’t seem to care about slowing down a little when they approach other people on the path or giving friendly notice that they are passing through.

      The lure of an uninterrupted, fast as you can go, bike ride is too much for some people. I really think that Riverside Drive is the ideal place to put bike facilities to deal with this crowd. The bike path by the river will always be a draw for tourists and locals to meander, stroll, picnic, etc. It cannot be a high speed bike training facility.

      Once the Riverside Drive bridge connects to the river path, commute time bike traffic will definitely increase. If North Figueroa gets bike lanes that connect to the Riverside Drive bridge a cyclists can do a long loop around NELA from South Pasadena (the York Blvd. bridge is getting bike lanes) and head out to Griffith Park and back. An epic recreational and a great bike commuter amenity is in the works.

      I think that the we should expect more and more conflict like this as cycling rates inevitably increase – which is why Riverside Drive should be the primary place that bike commuting takes place. Otherwise we lose out on the mellow, kid friendly, vibe of the river path.

  13. @dingus – Exactly!

    As a cyclist on the path, and someone who walks down to take my lunch break, we don’t need extra signage, bike-snagging nets, cops with radar guns ticketing runners, and whatever else the neighborhood council decides is the best way to waste money. This is an excellent river path, that’s right, RIVER PATH, and should be shared by all users, with the same common sense that we attempt to share our roads. I ride on the path to get to work at a moderate speed, and am frequently overtaken by Velo Pasadena’s cycling team/club, aspiring triathletes doing intervals on the path, and crowds of teenagers on single-speeds. All of whom usually will pass with no warning, and sometimes tell you to get out of the way (of their fitness goals or group-think fashion statement). Cyclist-on-cyclist hating. How did we ever get here?

    At the same time, I’ve been clotheslined by dog walkers who indeed let their stretch dog leash string all the way across the path, only to be accused while I’m on the ground that I almost killed their sweater-clad dustmop-shaped darling. And had to avoid many a stroller just left in the middle of the path (with child inside, no less!) while a parent chats on their phone by the fence. At all of these times, I am usually traveling between ten and twelve miles per hour; plenty slow for the avoidance of normal road obstacles.

    I believe that this issue has less to do with a category of user (pedestrian, cyclist, runner, dog-walker, etc…), and more about the fact that some people are inconsiderate of other people. So the real question is, “How do we turn jerk-off human beings into decent, considerate, well-mannered people?” I think that we may have to invest in a few social psychologists, and probably another message board.

    • We know how to make jerk-offs at least behave like considerate human beings from experience with inconsiderate drivers. A routine police presence and strict enforcement of the law will cause the dbags to find another route or at least slow down.

    • When it comes to high speed bike travel, the bike lane/path/cycle track really should be on Riverside Dr.

      The river path is like the boardwalk down at the beach – people are drawn to it and mixed users groups belong there.

      If people want to train, or ride at high speeds, we should make the sparsely used Riverside Drive into a high speed bike street. Traffic counts on Riverside are ridiculously low and the 5 freeway runs parallel to it. There is no good reason for ignoring it for this long other than LA River myopia.

  14. I’ve never hit a pedestrian while riding the LA River Path. You wanna know why? Because I’m not a jerk! If I see pedestrians, I slow down– why is that so hard to do? Even if they are absent-mindedly meandering, I ring my bell, slow down, and navigate around them. It’s really not that hard. It’s not like there is a constant stream of pedestrians, slowing down for them on the path only adds like 10 seconds to my ride, total. Dumb spandex crowd ruining it for the rest of us, I’ve almost been hit by them when I’m biking.

    • Finally someone talking some sense. Don’t think the spandex crowd is dumb, but many suffer the same personality as drivers on the road. Just like drivers it’s the bicyclist’s duty to slow down and ride carefully around the most vulnerable users on the road way. Unfortunately like some drivers, people are not considering this and are more worried about getting places fast.

      At least the bicyclist stayed and didn’t hit and run like many drivers.

    • Agreed!

      One would think the everyday experience of riding a bike on LA’s dangerous car-centric streets would create a sense of empathy for those traveling at slower speeds.

      Clearly this iisn’t a cyclist or pedestrian problem; it’s an a**hole problem.

      • I’ve had problems with both bicyclists and motorists. Running of stop signs and failure to signal seems to be the most common offenses in NELA. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen both parties at fault there.

        People just need use some common sense and some common courtesy while getting around town. It’s not that hard.

    • I agree with what you’ve said – it does seem to be an issue of spandex-clad, head down, athletes getting in their training miles and bothering to ride safely considering the mixed use nature of the bike path. I wonder if there is something besides our anecdotal evidence to back this up?

      Whole families with little kids should be able to cruise up and down the path in peace on foot – it’s their neighborhood too!

      I think the problem is that Riverside Drive is the right place to put a serious cycle track between Griffith Park and NELA. The river path is so nice – it will always be treated like the boardwalk in Venice.

  15. I wish David De La Torre was as enthusiastic about preventing the carnage on on our streets. That’s where the real criminality lies. No one’s dying on the bike path last time I checked.

  16. Most of this banter is pedestrian vs cyclist which is irrelevant. This is a design problem, plain and simple. The path is designed as a bike path and is physically not conducive to being shared by pedestrians and bikes. I don’t have a preference for cyclists, please don’t misread this. The white lines and visual construction of the path is simply oriented towards biking. The width accommodates one lane of traffic in either direction. Pedestrians and cyclists move at completely different speeds. Two lanes of traffic simply does not accommodate cyclists coming from opposite directions with a pedestrian in the mix. The city needs to address this issue first and foremost. If you venture to Venice or Santa Monica you will find that the bike path is reserved for cycling (and/or people traveling at consistent speeds with other wheeled devices). There are alternative walking routes adjacent to the bike path up and down the beach. I do believe moving the cyclists across the river is the best option – especially since this area has historically been used as open space for walking neighbors. The space in its current use does indeed make it unsafe for pedestrians. For the 80 year old man who can longer safely along this corridor, what a tragedy. This is exactly the kind of situation which could shorten his life span.

    • I hike trails in the mountains and we have the rule “slower traffic yields to faster traffic”. Which means if a bicycle/motorcycle/off road vehicle is heard coming down the fire road or path you step OFF the path. Its for everyones safety and it works. Perhaps if pedestrians practiced stepping to the side (hard to imagine) when faster traffic is approaching everyone would be safer. Also, bicycles should slow to pass slower traffic.

      • That is ridiculously backwards. You can’t even get away with that on a ski slope. The faster person always has the responsibility of avoid the slower person especially on downhill trails. How can you expect people to reliably perceive a person traveling at speed from behind them? The person that is overtaking is the one that can actually see the slower traveler.

        • how do you perceive people approaching from behind? you listen for their signal.
          cyclists ring bells and say “on your left” to alert slower moving traffic they are approaching.

          if you had ever used a bike path maybe you would understand the issue better.

    • You are missing the point. This article and Mr. De La Torre imply that pedestrians need to be protected from dangerous cyclists. I resent that assumption.

  17. Thank you for your passionate opinions. It has been my experience that the vast majority of walkers and cyclist do in fact “share the path” are friendly and overall get it. I firmly believe that no one involved in the handful of incidents that have resulted in serious injury to Elysian Valley residents ventured out to experience the horror of the subject encounters. In fact, I would bet that they anticipated an enjoyable outing, which is precisely what this space should be for all, walkers, cyclist, runners. Unfortunately, as many have correctly expressed the City planners and elected officials failed to take into account the countless warnings against the existing design, which entirely caters to the cycling community as a “bike path”. As a longtime resident of Elysian Valley, I have seen walking groups dissolve out of fear for individual safety. For many of these EV elders (my mom included) the path represented their only local source to exercise. Many of our elders live alone or with a loved one, are on a limited income, do not drive and simply cannot afford the luxury of membership to a private gymnasium. Tragic is the loss of this space to these long time residents. So as we look for alternate solutions that help all stakeholders safely co-exists, lets return to good old common decency and respect for each other especially the most vulnerable among us, the elderly & children. So to the cycling community I say yield to these stakeholders on the path, slow down when approaching, ride single file when necessary and help save a life. It just might be your own! We have seen tragedies elsewhere involving cyclist and pedestrians as well as vehicles and cyclist. We cannot make a distinction between the outrage felt when a cyclist is endangered by an inconsiderate vehicle driver (having the greater tool of danger) and when an inconsiderate cyclist endangers a vulnerable pedestrian. To my elected officials, I call for meaningful action to correct the dangers of this open space particularly in light of the increased traffic that the LA River Revitalization will bring to the area. To wait for someone to tragically pass should be an unimaginable alternative..


    • what about when in inconsiderate and inattentive pedestrian (i.e. wearing headphones) endangers the life of a cyclist? The fact is they are both at equal danger in a collision situation and they should both look out for each other.

      • I think you need to tattoo “pedestrians always have the right of way” on your hand so you can see it when riding your bike. But then I have a suspicion that you don’t really care about traffic laws.

        • If you understood traffic law you would know that having the “right of way” does not give pedestrian the freedom to act without care in any way they please. As part of a working traffic system EVERY user has responsibilities towards each other.

          A pedestrian who feels that they can do anything they like whenever they like is a large part of this problem. Pedestrians do not own the path, nor do cyclists. They use it together and have their own sets of responsibilities.

    • Mr. De La Torre,

      Rather than waste public monies on your personal pet peeves, please take the time to educate the residents of Elysian Valley about basic rules of the road, and how the rules apply to the LA River Bike Path.

      I would also encourage you to use the bike path as a cyclist so that you might understand why pedestrians who do not follow the rules of the road are such a hazard to themselves and others. It is not unreasonable to suggest that pedestrians from Elysian Valley who do not follow the rules of the road on the bike path should be ticketed.

      Source: http://www.dmv.ca.gov
      Unit 7: Rules of the Road and Safe Driving Practices: Urban and Rural Driving

      Keep your eye out for slow moving vehicles and adjust your
      speed for safety. If you are driving slower than the rest of traffic
      stay in the right hand lane or as far to the right as possible.
      Failure to drive to the right is against the law and a cause for

      • If only cyclists adhered to these rules while on city streets. I often have to honk to remind cyclists to drive in single file “as far to the right as possible” along Riverside Drive. They sometimes get irritated but quickly sober-up when they notice my own frustration at their selfish sense of entitlement. Btw, I am a cyclist with a road and mountain bike who avoids city streets. Not safe or healthy enough for the likes of this free-rider. I never understood why any cyclist would want to inhale exhaust fumes for their entire ride(?).

        • 1. There is no law in California that states cyclists must ride “in single file “as far to the right as possible””. Please read CVC 21202.

          2. Studies have shown that cyclists are exposed to fewer pollutants that car drivers.

        • The operative word in the CVC is “practicable” not “possible” and specifically allows full use and rights (and responsibilities) of the road when the bicycle user deems necessary. Riding single file is not required. Also, honking at cyclists can startle them and aggravate an already dangerous situation.

          I would also like to remind drivers that the biggest danger to riding bicycles on the road is other inattentive humans.


    • You say that the path is a pedestrian’s only source of exercise, otherwise they would have to pay for a gym.. But there are many sidewalks in the area for pedestrians. But if a bicyclist uses those, they get in trouble.

  18. It’s important to get a few facts in place here. The entire LA River Bike path is a project of Metro. It is justified as a commuter bike path, not recreational. That said, it’s clear that it is by nature of its location and the need of the neighborhood for pedestrian access that it has become a multi-use path. The pedestrian striping was added after the fact to acknowledge and hopefully help improve the needs of the entire community. One of the posters accurately states that both cyclists and pedestrians share responsibility to make the path safe, and that both get distracted into their own space and forget to be alert for the other’s needs.

    So what to do now? It’s pretty obvious that the special nature of Elysian Valley and its changing demographics, and the greater use by bikes, walkers, runners, kids, elderly… all indicate that new improvements are needed. We can look to the LA River Revitalization efforts to guide the way.

    The simplest solution would be to add a separate pedestrian path by widening where possible, and/or building a terraced retaining wall just down the river bank, wide enough for a pedestrian route and with a decomposed granite surface. Yes, we can accomplish that. If you look at the renderings of the future LA River, you’ll see many features like this as part of tearing down the concrete banks. Elysian Valley is the target zone for these improvements.

    We just have to get this project into the scope of the LA River revitalization program and advocate to make it happen..

    • I think your comment is one of the more reasonable ones here. I would like to expand on one of your “facts,” though. And that is, that the current bike path replaced a path that had been there probably since the River was channeled. It was a horribly pitted and cracked pathway, with huge dips where the street water ran off. HOWEVER, it was a path that was perfectly safe for walking, running, walking dogs, and, notably, for wheelchair-users. For some thirty years, until it became a freeway for bikes, I walked that path frequently with my dog and my wheelchair-using partner, and other than some difficulty maneuvering the dips, we never had problems. The most remarkable feature of this walk was the sheer number of neighborhood people who used the path for walking and socializing and enjoying the natural features and wildlife of the River. Others have mentioned the prevalence of seniors and children. All of us “old-timers” had gotten used to leisurely strolling, taking up as much of the path as we needed, stopping to watch the birds or chat with neighbors. Most were not out for serious exercise that involves walking deliberately, single-file, in a narrow lane. Basically, this path was a well-established PARK area for the Elysian Valley community.

      Even if the newcomer cyclist crowd had perfect manners, the FACT is that the path was, first and foremost, a footpath. Whoever decided that it could also be a “shared” bike path is a lunatic, and certainly had never walked on that path before he started planning to add bike lanes. Why oh why couldn’t the East bank of the River have been improved instead, to be used exclusively as a bike freeway? Why couldn’t that be done now? Build some kind of connector to the bike path at Los Feliz or Fletcher, over the River to the East side, then figure out a way to connect back again at the Figueroa crossing. And give us back our PEDESTRIAN walkway.

  19. It’s very simple alert the pedestrians to please move out of the way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X4Kfv52KrI with a Airzound.

  20. Mr. De La Torre:

    As the cyclist that was involved in the incident – I’d like you to be more accurate in your reporting.

    I yelled at her several times (“ON YOUR LEFT SIDE”) before I approached to pass her. I can tell you with absolute certainty that she absolutely did not look behind before crossing, as she was wearing an over-sized visor that probably obstructed her vision. She ended up running to the left side of the path where and met with my bicycle.

    • @supamii I’m so sorry this lady crashed into you. It is completely scary to have a collision on a bike. The inaccurate reporting is more insult to injury. I trust that you understand the rules of the road and follow them. David De La Torre has got a grudge against cyclist users of the bike path that is completely off-base.

      • Mr. De La Torre’s concerns are NOT “completely off-base”. Enough of the self-righteous posturing from both sides, concede mutual blame, and work out a common sense compromise that accommodates both parties. Otherwise, simply demanding and getting what you want is for babies. Adults compromise to move forward, e.g., pedestrians agreeing to walk on one mutually-agree upon side of the path and cyclists agreeing to ride in single file around pedestrians would be a big step in the right direction.

      • Agreeing on a mutually-understood lingo would help too. “On the left” frequently startles pedestrians on this and virtually every other shared path to move left(?!). It’s one of those counter-intuitive and innocent impulses that not only pedestrians but recreational cyclists are guilty of.

        • “On Your Left” is the established lingo for signaling to slower traffic that you are passing On Their Left. It is used all over California.

  21. The real safety issue on the River Path is the harassment of its users. My girl and her friends refuse to use the path after the many catcalls and sexual harassment faced by the local river folk. Also, it is unsafe to ride in groups of two or less. You are asking to get robbed if you don’t travel in large groups.

  22. To anyone who has been troubled, scared, or physically harmed by speeding cyclist, I’m sorry. I go well out of my way to be kind and understanding of dog walkers, stroller pushers, families with kids running about when I ride the path. I wish everyone exercised curtesy and slowed down to avoid close calls with pedestrians. Even if “it’s the pedestrians fault and responsibility,” I still slow down. It’s not a big deal. Too all the speed racers that can’t slow down, you might as well do laps on the Hyperion bridge if you want to ride uninterrupted. The bike path, contrary to it’s name, is a shared path, both legally and in practice so let’s expect and respect pedestrians on the path!

    • Hey @Salts, hate to break it to you, but you are not unusual or unique. The majority of cyclists slow down and are courteous and respectful on the bike path. Unfortunately, pedestrians on the bike path are not mutually respectful of cyclists. You can’t protect pedestrians from themselves when they blindly walk into traffic and don’t look where they’re going. Furthermore, there are no bike lanes on the Hyperion Bridge, or on most Los Angeles streets for that matter, but you make a great suggestion. This might be why so many cyclists ride on the bike path.

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