Yet another L.A. bikeway fail; CHP steps up to catch a hit-and-run driver

Los Angeles recently approved a widely praised bike plan; now the county is holding a series of workshops on their new plan.

And countless other cities around the greater L.A. area are currently somewhere in the development or approval process on plans of their own. Yet one thing that often seems to be forgotten is the need to maintain those bikeways once they’re built.

We’ve discussed it before, from Westwood’s long abandoned and barely ridable bike path, to bikeways blocked by everything from sand to trash cans.

Yesterday, Margaret Wehbi copied me on an email she sent to County Bikeway Coordinator Abu Yusuf, complaining about the condition of bike lanes on Imperial Highway just south of LAX.

In it, Webhi describes her typical ride, in which she pedals up the beachfront Marvin Braude bikeway from Manhattan Beach to Dockweiler, then heads east on the bike lane along Imperial Highway.

And that’s where the problem starts.

Aside from the same broken and pitted pavement faced by riders throughout the L.A. area, she reports that the lane has never been swept, resulting in lots of broken glass, as well as ice plant growing into the bike lane.

Then there’s this:

As you can see, sand has washed out from the embankment onto the bike lane, blocking it entirely and forcing riders out into often unforgiving traffic. According to Wehbi, it’s not a new problem; the photo she took in January would look the same as one taken today — and the same as it would have last year.

Yet it wouldn’t take much to fix the problem.

Just a few scoops from a front loader, and a passby from a street sweeper — making sure to move all the way to the right to get the full bike lane, rather than just cleaning the motor vehicle lanes and leaving cyclists on their own. Then doing it again on a semi-regular basis to keep it that way.

My experience working with Yusuf tells me he’s one of the good ones — an all-too-rare government official who genuinely cares and is committed to doing what he can to improve bicycling in the county. Even if he is sometimes hamstrung by limited budgets and government bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, though, the problem isn’t in his jurisdiction. As I was writing this, I received a response from Yusuf indicating that he had forwarded Webhi’s email to Tim Fremaux and Nate Baird at LADOT Bicycle Services.

Hopefully, they can track down whoever is responsible for not maintaining the bike path into its present condition.

And that’s a big part of the problem, because it’s often almost impossible to discover who is responsible for any given street in the jumbled mishmash of city and county jurisdictions that make up the greater L.A. area. Webhi reports being bounced from the City of El Segundo, to the City of Los Angeles, to L.A. County, and now back to the city in a so far vain attempt to get someone, anyone, to just fix it, already.

But it also serves as a reminder to all of us.

It doesn’t matter what’s in the bike plan, or how many bike paths, lanes and bike friendly streets end up being built, if we can’t ride the ones we’ve got.

.………

I can’t say I’m always a fan of the California Highway Patrol’s investigation of bicycle collisions.

Too often, they’ve appeared to show a bias against cyclists, concluding that we’re at fault in most wrecks involving cyclists.

Even though many other authorities disagree with that conclusion.

Of course, who is at fault too often depends on who is investigating, and the quality of training they received.

However, Lois points us to a recent case in which the CHP appears to have gotten it right, and went out of their way to capture a hit-and-run driver.

A writer on the SoCal Trail Riders forum related the story of a recent hit-and-run in which he was rear-ended by a passing car on Live Oak Canyon Road near Cooks Corner. At first he thought the car clipped his bike beneath the seat. But once he got home and removed his bike shorts, he discovered the clear imprint of a car mirror on his ass.

And as it turned out, the mirror from a gold Nissan was left at the scene after the driver fled.

The CHP arrived, took the report and collected the mirror.

But rather than just file it away, as too often happens when a rider isn’t seriously injured, the CHP officer who took the report went back the next day to look for the driver. And just happened to spot a gold Infinity — made by Nissan — which was missing its right mirror.

Of course, the driver denied any knowledge of hitting a cyclist, claiming that he had been in a collision with an unidentified truck the previous day. But all the authorities have to do to make their case is to match the mirror to the car, and match the bruise on the rider’s butt to the mirror.

Case closed.

The cyclist reports that the officer will be forwarding details to the DA. And that he’s now a big fan of the CHP.

.………

Just a few more quick notes:

A new organization claims to represent the Beleaguered British Driver, politely and automatically  — if involuntarily — enrolling all 30,000,000 of the nation’s drivers. And claims that politicians who support cycling are mentally ill, offering as proof the “fact” that riding a bike requires putting “oneself in the path of rather heavy fast moving machinery,” and asks “Would any sane and right minded person do that?”

The RACF has really commissioned an anti car anti driver report and that is because there is no level playing field. Cycling is done by a tiny minority RACF. Whereas everyone depends on the 30 million drivers of this country and the economy would collapse without them, no-one would miss cyclists at all. The push bike is a political menace simply because any politician who rides one is in a minority and as I have demonstrated, has to be mad.

Someone seems crazy alright. But something tells me it’s not the ones he’s complaining about.

.………

The UCLA Bicycle Academy points out that the school may have been honored as a Bike Friendly University, but there’s still a lot of work to do. And invites you to join them tomorrow at their monthly lunchtime meeting.

And in light of yesterday’s post touching on the Mary Poppins Effect, Travelin’ Local’s Lisa Newton forwards a link to an older study showing a blonde wig could do more to keep you safe than a helmet.

6 comments

  1. Alan says:

    I used to ride the same route, from RB to Imperial Highway to the Aviation and Imperial Station. The condition alonng Imperial Highway is poor, not just with sand, but with broken asphalt and plants growing out of the cracks.

    It actually appears that they resurfaced the traffic lanes about 10 years ago, but forgot about the bike lanes.

    In addition, the speed of cars on that section sometimes is well over the posted speed limit (am not saying people are doing 70+ mph at 6:30 in the morning, but from my perspective, it sure seemed like it.)

    LADOT knows about the problems and has some big plans for improving this section. So it’s not like they are ignoring it. They are waiting for the funding to come in and make it much nicer. Ten years ago, those funds would likely never arrive. Today, I remain hopeful.

  2. [...] Major Problems on Imperial Highway Bike Lane (Biking In L.A.) [...]

  3. Nate Baird says:

    @Alan There is currently a project in the design phase to either widen Imperial Highway or narrow its median from Pershing Ave. to a couple thousand feet east to allow for a continuous bike lane through that section.

    This, however, seems to be a separate issue. I’ll be putting in a call to 311 today to see about getting it taken care of and will be sure to update everyone on how things progress.

  4. [...] a man in South L.A. Richard Risemberg criticizes the same crumbling Imperial Highway bike lanes I wrote about last March. A Santa Monica columnist criticizes “arrogant creeps” and “clowns” on “multi-speed [...]

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