A low-cost fix for a troubled West L.A. bikeway

Click for detailed map with description and photos

Earlier this year, I wrote about Westwood’s abandoned bikeway — a winding Class 1 route that leads from the intersection of Wilshire and Veteran to the southern edge of the VA Center along Ohio Ave.

It should be a pleasant off-road feeder route for UCLA students, especially since cyclists are no longer allowed to pass through the National Cemetery north of Wilshire. Unfortunately, a lack of maintenance has made it virtually unridable in places; yet it continues to remain on the city’s draft bike plan, for reasons only a bureaucrat could understand.

Recently Evan Garcia, a cyclist who works at UCLA, emailed me with a suggestion that could revive the route by allowing riders to bypass the worst sections and connect to Ohio without running the gantlet of traffic on narrow Veteran Blvd.

Not only is it a great idea, it could be accomplished right now at minimal cost. So I asked Evan to explain it in his own words.

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This site did a great service for all West LA and Westwood cyclists when it thoroughly dissected the problems with the Westwood Park bike path. As it currently stands, it’s a forgotten route. That isn’t to say that cyclists don’t ride through Westwood Park — I do, and I see others often — but right now it has been so neglected in parts (simply look at the photos of the path along Sepulveda) that its full length is not a viable route for cyclists. So, out of both wishful thinking and selfish reasons (it would make my bike commute between Santa Monica and Westwood Village much more enjoyable), I’m proposing some changes to the route that would extend its usefulness.

A simple change here could let bikes bypass heavily trafficked Westwood streets

If you aren’t familiar with the area, Ohio Ave. is a two lane east-west street between Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvds used by many cyclists. Veteran Ave. runs north-south, and it is between Sepulveda and Westwood Blvds. Neither Ohio or Veteran have bike lanes. The “existing” bike path, as previously described on this site, runs on a crumbling sidewalk along Sepulveda. One could of course ride along Sepulveda in the street, but there is no bike lane and drivers seem to treat it as a mini-freeway. On the sidewalk on the east side of Sepulveda are many businesses with parking lots, leading to a risk of a car entering or exiting without looking for bikes traveling on the sidewalk.

Narrow Veteran Avenue isn’t safe or inviting even for experienced for cyclists

Currently when I bike to Westwood, I travel along Ohio and turn left onto Veteran heading north. The ride along Ohio is acceptable, though of course it could be better.  I feel a major problem is alongside Veteran, however. Veteran is a street with two lanes and parking for cars on both sides, as is Ohio, but it is much more narrow than Ohio.

As a result, riding along Veteran can be very intimidating and unpleasant. If there are cars coming in the opposite direction, cars behind a cyclist cannot pass. Of course, many drivers have honked at me (or at the car waiting to pass me) and the cars parked along Veteran ensure that a cyclist is in the door zone unless they take the full lane. What I propose is linking Ohio to the bike path through Westwood Park via Greenfield Avenue, a street one block west of Veteran that dead-ends at a parking lot for the park. This would allow cyclists to travel between Ohio and Veteran through the park and without the dangers of riding along narrow Veteran Ave.

Gate at the end of Greenfield Ave

Greenfield Ave. terminates at the far end of the parking lot. Access from the street to the parking lot is currently blocked off — I assume to prevent cars traveling south on Veteran from driving through the lot quickly as a shortcut to get to Ohio — by a large swinging gate. Along the sidewalk are two stationary poles. Replacing the gate with additional poles — which could be removed by park employees to allow park vehicles to get through — would let cyclists pass between Greenfield and the parking lot without going on the sidewalk, while still preventing cars from cutting through.

Curb blocking convenient bike access

Between the parking lot and the bike path is a curb, and a small incline with a dirt path. Removing the curb would let bikes connect to the path from the parking lot. Further north near where the path exits the park and runs alongside the Federal Building is a crosswalk across Veteran at Rochester Avenue.

Installing a wheelchair cutout on the west side of Veteran — there is already one on the east side — would let cyclists cross much more easily than trying to turn left onto Veteran from one of the Federal Building driveways.

Veteran Ave near exit from Westwood Park; even with a crosswalk, it can be difficult to get across

This may be a pipe dream, but also having a crosser-controlled light warning signal would alert drivers that someone — a cyclist or pedestrian — is waiting to cross (I know from personal experience that very few drivers will voluntarily stop to let someone waiting to cross; it usually takes going into the crosswalk when there is no traffic on the nearest side and hoping that drivers coming on the other side slow down).

I realize that this would not make for a perfect bike path — it does nothing to address the problems of the path along Sepulveda and Ohio — but I think it would make getting from Westwood to Ohio less stressful and dangerous.

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After challenging in the Vuelta, Philippe Gilbert won his second consecutive Tour of Lombardy. Just days after having his two-year ban for doping reduced for cooperating with investigators, Danilo di Luca is free to compete again. David Millar and the ageless Jeannie Longo win the final time trial of the European pro season. Katie Compton wins in the first round of the MTB World Cup.

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SoCal based Felt bikes rolled along with the rest of us at CicLAvia. The people behind CicLAvia are officially honored by the City Council, and deserve our thanks, as well. Examined Spoke compares biking infrastructure in the U.S. and Europe firsthand, and not surprisingly, finds us lacking. The Claremont Cyclist reports on the CORBA Fat Tire Festival — and encourages you to support the advocacy groups that work to keep us all safer. El Random Hero becomes yet another victim of bike theft. A look at Tucson Velo, that great bike website to our east. Building memories in a two-week family bike tour of the Rockies. Nearly 25% of bicyclists killed in the U.S. in 2008 were legally drunk; a BAC of .08 raises a cyclist’s risk of serious injury by 2,000%. Don’t just ride on sharrows, wear them. Building bike culture in the land of Elvis and Rev. Al Green. An 82-year old Destin FL man rides his first century just to see if he could. A Manhattan cyclists alleges an off-duty cop pulled a gun on him in a road rage incident. Taking a bike tour of the palace of Versailles. Biking for transportation means riding anytime, not just bike commuting. Kiwi cyclists can look forward to riding with Landis.

Finally, some good news over the weekend as pro BMX rider and MTV host TJ Lavin shows signs of improvement after being critically injured attempting a stunt in Las Vegas; is he’s.

And in non-bike related news, congratulations to my good friends at Altadenablog, who are now officially related to a saint, by blood or marriage, respectively. I have no idea how that would feel; most of my relatives lean the other way.

One comment

  1. […] A Low Cost Solution to an Old West L.A. Bike Route (Biking in L.A.) […]

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