A popular bike path closes with no apparent warning; a bike-hating OC writer tries to rip us a new one

I’ve gotten a few emails lately wondering why the Coyote Creek Bike Trail suddenly closed with no advance warning.

The popular Class I bikeway provides a 9.5 mile off-road route along Coyote Creek from Santa Fe Springs until it merges with the San Gabriel River Trail.

Or at least it did.

According to the following email I received from Fullerton cyclist Colin Campbell, the bike path is going to be closed at Alondra Drive for the next several years. And if Caltrans bothered to tell anyone in advance, the word didn’t get out to the riders who use it.

After this morning’s ride, I ate a slice of cold pizza and went out to “finish” today’s ride.  (I’m in the Strava “Twice the Tour” Challenge, in which riders must ride double the miles of the Tour of California, or 1479 miles, during May.)

I’ve been trying to find out how long the Coyote Creek bike trail would be closed around Alondra, I-5, and Firestone.  Last Friday I rode up to the closure from the south, and I couldn’t find anyone to talk to.  Over the weekend, I searched on the Internet and read about the I-5 widening and improvement project from the Orange County line to I-605.  What I read said that there were seven smaller projects, one of which is at Coyote Creek and Alondra. This project has just started, and is schedule to complete sometime in 2015.

So today, I rode across Rosecrans and headed south.  Just past the Alondra underpass, I found people, who directed me to the contractor’s construction office at the corner of Alondra and Freeway Dr, just east of Coyote Creek.  I was able to speak with Mark, the project manager.

He gave me a short overview of the project, and the bad news – the trail will likely be closed for at least a couple of years.  It has already been filled with dirt so that equipment can access the strip of land between the creek and the trail, where 36-inch piles will be sunk 100 feet to support the new I-5 bridge.  I-5 is going to be raised about six feet, and Alondra about 10 feet above where they are today.  So eventually, the trail may head through there “at grade”, rather than being sunk several feet.  (This is just my guess, nothing I was told.)

For now, there are signs at Artesia and at Rosecrans advising riders that the trail is closed.  It is possible to ride south to the swap meet (old drive-in theater) and exit onto Alondra.  However, at some point, Alondra will be closed while it is rebuilt 10 feet higher.  From there, ride east to Valley View, and take Valley View south to Artesia to reenter the trail southbound.

It is also possible to ride north to Firestone, follow Firestone southeast under Valley View, turn right, then right again, and take Valley View north past the closure (most likely to Rosecrans for most riders).

The bottom line is that the Coyote Creek trail is lost to us for a good while, and we should get used to using other routes.  And of course, the other bottom line is that no one in Caltrans thought to inform the cycling community of this “minor” impact….

In a follow-up email, Campbell talks a little more about the closure and apparent lack of notice, and notes that parts of the trail that remain open are in need of repair.

In short, the trail was closed as part of the improvement project on Interstate 5 from the Orange County line to Interstate 605.  I understand that closure of the trail was necessary, but I’m a little sad that Caltrans apparently did nothing to tell cyclists about the closure or the duration thereof.  I suppose that several hundred riders use the trail daily, while about 178,000 vehicles travel I-5 each day.  I am a little bit hopeful that some planning can be done to reopen the trail sooner than the project manager indicated.

One thing I didn’t mention in my e-mail below is that the Coyote Creek trail has been repaved along most of its length, except for about four miles in Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, and Los Alamitos.  Part of the trail is breaking up, leaving the surface narrowed and rough.  LA County DPW tells me that the cities along the trail built it and are responsible for maintenance.  I haven’t yet tried to find out if improvements are in their plans.

………

An Orange County letter writer calls out every anti-bike cliché in the book to protest the recent decision to put sharrows on the coast highway.

After all, we non-bicyclists contribute monies, through our taxes, which pay for all of those never-ending miles and miles of bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, bicycle markings and other alleged “safety measures.” Presently, bicycle riders are getting a “free ride.” Bicyclists are the only group who share the road but don’t pay their fair share.

Evidently, she’s aware of a lot more never-ending miles of bikeways than than the rest of us. Which makes me wonder just where the hell Orange County is hiding them.

She also complains about “older, leisure-time bicycle riders” who dress up in too-tight clothes and an “all-too-common case of road rage.” In fact, she goes so far as to call for banning any cyclists over the age of 65 from riding on public streets.

No, seriously.

I never knew road rage was something you could wear. Then again, I also didn’t know it was possible to meander aggressively. Or that cyclists put drivers of cars, SUVs and trucks in peril.

I must have missed all those stories about careless, distracted and/or aggressive cyclists slamming into SUVs and killing or maiming the drivers. Evidently, it must happen a lot, and we can only thank her for bringing it to our attention.

I know I, for one, will immediately pack away my spandex so as not to threaten or offend innocent motorists such as herself. Even if I still have a few good years left before I can expect to lose all control over my bike and body after crossing that magical 65-year old threshold.

Especially since she thinks the sharrows and bike lanes that we demand others pay for only make drivers more impatient and aggressive. And make it our own damn fault if we get doored and thrown in front of oncoming traffic.

She concludes that if we really insist on having such life-threatening bikeways, we should be forced to pay the exorbitant construction costs ourselves.

Then again, maybe we should send her a bill for all those roads that motorists like her don’t pay for, either.

And as it turns out, she doesn’t seem to like dogs any more than she likes bikes.

………

Finally, one more reason to pass pedestrians with the same margin you’d expect from drivers, as a Pennsylvania man pulls out a gun and shoots at a cyclist who brushed against him. And just in time for Bike to Work Day, the father of Vehicular Cycling seems to suggest that Complete Streets are a fraud, and nothing can be done to encourage people to switch from cars to bikes; thanks to Christopher Kidd for the link.

5 comments

  1. Biker395 says:

    Wow. That was some letter. Seldom do you see anyone make a public ass out of themselves with so much disinformation (myself excepted, of course). But that’s her right and privilege, I guess.

  2. Evan says:

    Read over the rest of her blog for some serious lulz. She blames Rachel Carson and the environmental movement for the spread of bedbugs. Seriously.

  3. Jim Brown says:

    “Presently, bicycle riders are getting a “free ride.” Bicyclists are the only group who share the road but don’t pay their fair share.”

    Most local roadways are funded with local sales tax revenues, which all bicyclists pay, but which are not, for example, charged according to how much space you ultimately get on the road. So you might just as easily say bicyclists are getting screwed, considering how much of the road they pay for (i.e., as much as drivers) and how little they actually get to use.

  4. David says:

    I just found this post from caltrans — obviously months later than it ought to have been written:
    http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/sync/pr/I-5%20Alondra%20Bike%20Path%20Closure%20June2012.pdf

    The good news is it sounds like the trail/path might re-open in the middle of 2013, instead of 2015 when the whole project completes.

    • Craig says:

      Coyote Creek is still closed and I’ve grown fatigued and afraid of the detour. I contacted Caltrans District 7 only to receive a canned reply:

      “Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The subject bike path closure is due to the Caltrans bridge widening project at the I-5 freeway and Alondra Boulevard. An on-road detour for bicyclists has been established and has been in effect for the duration of the project. Guidance signage is posted along the detour route. http://dpw.lacounty.gov/bikepathclosures/ now has a PDF map of the detour route available for download.

      Please contact Mr. Tim Nguyen (Tim_d_nguyen@dot.ca.gov) or Mr. Dale Benson (Dale_benson@dot.ca.gov) to discuss the closure and detour.”

      This is what the detour looks like from a bicyclist’s perspective: https://plus.google.com/110073149938883066900/posts/Y2rirp8Jjmq

      Note how the disturbing lack of a shoulder on the overpass forces bicyclists into traffic lanes.

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