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Time to take a Slow Ride for safety on the L.A. River path

The inaugural Slow Ride Courtesy Christine Mills

The inaugural Slow Ride Courtesy Christine Mills

ELYSIAN VALLEY — Christine Mills is a fan of the L.A. River Path, having ridden her bike on it many times. But, as a pedestrian on the path, Mills has been frustrated and angered by what she describes as the rude and careless behavior of cyclists who race past. After an elderly neighbor was badly hurt after being hit by a bike on the path, Mills decided something had to be done. On Saturday, she was part of a group of 20 cyclists who pedaled down the path as part of the first Elysian Valley Slow Ride.

Mills,  who walks the path daily with her two dogs,  said she wants to raise awareness of the shared nature of the path to promote safety and build community.  The Slow Ride logo includes a sharrow, the arrow-like road markings used to alert motorists that they must share traffic lanes with cyclists. In this case, the sharrow and a symbol of a pedestrian are intended to remind cyclists that they must share the path, too.

“We believe that principle needs to be applied here, so that it’s absolutely clear the pedestrians have a legal right to use the path,” Mills said in an email. “I have also noticed increasing Us/Them tension between fast riders and people walking. My hope is that by cyclists taking an action ….we can begin to bridge that divide, and get to a safer speed, which we believe is our ONLY safe, though temporary solution, until an engineering fix comes into play.”

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell has announced the city is taking steps to increase enforcement of laws that prohibit reckless bike riding on the path. In addition, he’s called for competitive cyclists who train on the path to ride some place else.

“We have been cursed at, shouted at and had enough close calls that it doesn’t feel safe to take your little kid out there to learn to ride,” said Mills. “Ironically, the most hostile interaction I had was with a speed walker who told me in so many words that my kid and dog were in the way and to ‘clear the path.'”

The first Slow Ride attracted only about 20 persons, including a representative of the L.A. County Bike Coalition. But Mills said there was a “good community vibe” and participants were served homemade biscuits and coffee. She plans to repeat the Elysian Valley Slow Ride on the first Saturday of the month.

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4 comments

  1. Pedestrians should also do what runners do and run against traffic which is far safer. The pedestrian will not be startled when a bike passes them at any speed and if needed they can jump out of the way of some idiot on a bike. I use the path mostly for riding at safe speeds and also everyone for walking. I always notify when passing other cyclist and walkers to be extra safe. I wish that people would only wear an earbud on the side of the head where one doesn’t pass for extra safety. One never knows when a person is going to change their mind and turn around. I have had people walk right out of the new businesses along the path with out even looking when going to look at the river. We all need to be safe and use caution to share the path and protect one another.

  2. I stopped taking walks here with my grandmother after nearly getting hit twice by the same lady. She didn’t have a bell, a light or give us a heads up that she was coming up behind us. She was very rude as well! Hope this gets taken care of so i could return for my walks and jogs.

  3. Sadly, the current conditions are dangerous for cyclists as well, especially when they ride fast through this neighborhood. We surprised two cyclists recently, as we started to enter the path from the park at the end of Knox. The high fence and vegetation along the path hid us from view and, even though we stopped at the edge to let the two cyclists go by, they were so startled that the front one veered suddenly, causing the second cyclist to fall, and then the first one fell looking back at the second!

    I don’t believe that either one was critically injured, but they were sure rattled and bruised.

    It is in everyone’s best interest to find a way to co-exist. I think Christine’s “Slow Ride” is a good contribution to the discussion.

  4. Well the pedestrians and the bike riders could not get along.
    So the homeless and the gangsters took it back.
    Nice work.

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