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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