True Grit: An open letter to the L.A. Dept. of Recreation and Parks

The county is clearing up their section of the bike path; the city, not so much.

I was surprised recently by how quickly the county responded to complaints about the Marvin Braude bike.

Do I really need to add that the city’s response hasn’t surprised me at all?

After meeting with officials from the county, I found out that the City of Los Angeles is responsible for maintaining the still sand-covered section of the bike path from north of the Annenberg Community Beach House to Will Rogers State beach.

The exact point where the city assumes responsibility for maintaining the bike path. Or not.

Clearly, they haven’t done the job — at least, not effectively — since the storms of last May. As a result, they’ve put cyclists, skaters and pedestrians at risk, while marring the beauty and utility of one of Southern California’s most popular recreation, commuting and tourist facilities.

So I reached out to my contacts with the city, and was directed to an individual with the Department of Recreation and Parks, which has responsibility for clearing the sand of that single sliver of bikeway.

I sent him the following email last week:

Dear Mr. Haynes,

I’m writing you today about the sand on the upper portion of the Marvin Braude Bike Path, since it is my understanding that your department has responsibility for maintaining the section from above the Annenberg beach house to Will Rogers State Beach.

I have recently been working with the county on behalf of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to improve maintenance of the county section of the bike path. As a result, they have made significant improvements, resulting in a safer and more enjoyable experience for riders on the path.

Piles of sand reduce the ridable area, increasing the risk of collisions.

However, the city-maintained section of the path is still covered with sand, and has been since the wind storms of last May. As you can see from the attached photos, the usable portion of the bike path is significantly reduced in sections, while in others, bicyclists and other path users are forced to travel over a dangerous, constantly shifting surface of sand. In fact, as the top photo shows, you can see the exact spot where the city assumes responsibility from the county.

It is clearly only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured; even as an experienced bicyclist, I’m forced to slow down and ride carefully through this section. While state law absolves the city of liability for such injuries, it also require that adequate warning be given of unsafe conditions, which has not been done here, potentially making the city liable for any injuries that may occur because of the sand.

I urge you to look into this matter as quickly as possible, and take whatever steps are necessary to clear the sand off the city-maintained sections of the Marvin Bruade Bike Path — and keep it clear so that the tens of thousands of bicyclists who use this section of the path on a daily basis can ride in safety.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers

Riders and skaters frequently frequently slip on the loose sand as they round this curve.

Nearly a week later, I still haven’t received any response — and based on my most recent ride through that section, the sand is still there. And it probably will remain there until this winter’s storms deposit still more sand on the pathway, and turn what should be a pleasant bike ride into a slog through the Sahara.

I’m not going to publish his email address here, since it was given to me in confidence. Besides, I’d much rather have that city official spend his time getting the sand removed than responding to a flood of emails.

In some areas, as much a three feet of the path are lost to unremoved sand.

But you can contact his bosses, the commissioners of the Department of Parks and Recreation. And it couldn’t hurt to reach out to your council member, as well as 11th District Council Member Bill Rosendahl, who represents the district that runs along that section of the beach.

Because if we don’t complain, it’s clear that nothing is going to be done.

………

The Marvin Braude Bike Path isn’t the only city bikeway with problems; Joe Linton says the new Elysian Valley bike path along the L.A. River is a great place to walk and ride, even if it isn’t open yet — and no sign that it will be any time soon.

………

A good reason not to mention a bike thief’s mom — he may be armed. LADOT Bike Blog notes the street geometry on Abbot Kinney should work well for sharrows. LAist looks at Mayor Villaraigosa’s bike-centric YouTube video; Curbed says the mayor shouted his support for bicycle planning, or was it in pain? Jessica Biel rides a bike along the Hudson River, along with some guy named Justin. Knit one, purl two, pretty soon you’ve got a whole bike; but what kind of yarn do you use for the derailleur? Riding and reading Longfellow at the same time. More on the Anchorage law revision that would make bike riders liable for any collision; why not just declare open season on cyclists? Headline of the day: Naked Cyclists Stopped Near Dick’s Drive-In. Seattle gets bike boxes. Bicycling wraps up this years Tour, while Lance Armstrong’s Team RadioShack faces discipline for Sunday’s Jerseygate affair — which may have been completely calculated. After a British newspaper prints photos of a leading bike advocate breaking the law, road.cc shows how misleading photos like that can be. A Brit cyclist plans to compete in the upcoming 2012 London Olympics, as well as the Paralympics a month later. When a cyclist hits an older woman in a crosswalk and asks if she’s blind, the answer may be yes.

Finally, after the heart attack suffered by pro cyclist Kim Kirchen — as well as L.A.’s own GT — maybe we should all consider our own cardiac health. The good news is, things are looking up for both of them.

8 comments

  1. Eric says:

    I have a section of bike path where I live that gets covered in rocks and dirt in the event of major flooding, Making for an equally treacherous path. Rather than wait for the county to clear it I have gone out with a shovel and a heavy duty broom and cleared it myself. How about getting some of the cyclists you know and have them help clear the path where you live? If you care about the safety of others it only takes a little bit of manual labor on your part.

    • Stella says:

      if the services are already paid for, it is expected that the city fulfill it’s duties.

      • bikinginla says:

        That’s my take on it. I have no problem doing things myself; I’ve probably fixed more things around my building than the manager has. But this is something the city is already supposed to be doing; if the maintenance isn’t happening — which it’s not — then there’s a problem that really needs to be addressed.

    • Jim Lyle says:

      Eric,

      If we were talking about a few hundred yards of bikepath, I’d be there in a New York minute. Unfortunately, the path is several miles long. The city has both the responsibility and the means to clear the path and is not doing so. From previous comments, it looks like city employees are shirking their work assignments and their supervisors aren’t checking up on whether the work is done or not.

  2. Eric B says:

    Crews were out clearing the sand this morning. It looks like the tools of choice were a front-loader followed by a leaf-blower type device. The path was the best it’s been in months. So good, in fact, that I almost didn’t even notice it’s condition. That’s the way it’s supposed to be!

    • bikinginla says:

      Great news. Was that the section north of the Annenberg Center? I was planning to ride that way tomorrow, but I may alter my route to ride through and check it out.

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