Sometimes it’s the government itself that breaks the law.
A recent planned ride down to Manhattan Beach was interrupted by construction on the bike path, as barricades diverted cyclists onto busy Vista del Mar at Dockweiler State Beach.
That didn’t come as a surprise. The beachfront Marvin Braude bike path has been undergoing much needed reconstruction over the past several months.
Up to this point, however, riders were directed to virtually unused South Marine Avenue, providing a low-stress detour around the construction work.
However, that changed last week as the construction work moved further south, past the point where Marine Ave ends. South Bay cyclist Jim Lyle gave me the heads-up last week, so I knew the pathway would be closed when I got there.
I knew if I wanted to reach my planned destination, I’d have to ride a street that is notoriously unfriendly to cyclists. And pass the exact point where bike rider George Loudon was killed in a still-unsolved hit-and-run less than two years earlier.
The only accommodation to cyclists forced to detour around the construction were some newly added Share the Road signs on Vista del Mar. Not enough to tame the high-speed traffic, or make most riders feel safe on a roadway already known for dangerous traffic.
So rather than add needless stress to a ride intended to reduce it, I decided I’d gone far enough for one day, and would save Vista del Mar for another ride later in the week.
On a whim, though, when I turned back, I decided to ride through the county-owned RV park along the bike path to see if it would allow me to bypass the construction work. Or at least add a little more to my mileage count for the day.
And that’s when I saw it.
Right at the entrance to the park was a sign banning bikes, in clear violation of state law.
Under California law, bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of motorists, and are allowed to use any public roadway where cars are permitted. The only exception is some limited access freeways, where bikes can be banned as long as signs are posted.
And which some cyclists have been known to ride, anyway.
Since there were numerous cars and RVs visible right in front of me, it was clear that motor vehicles were allowed in the RV park. So the only question was whether the park was public or private property.
And a simple look online quickly answered that question.
In other words, an RV park owned and operated by the County of Los Angeles bans bikes from the roads, in clear violation of state law. That presumably applies to people paying to camp there, just as it does to any stray riders looking for a shortcut.
So if someone wants to ride their bike from their campsite to El Segundo or the LAX area via surface streets, and rides on the roadway through the park to get there, they’re in violation of the ban.
Which is in violation of the law.
Even if the RV park is privately operated under a county contract, the roads within it remain public property, and so are subject to state law.
Which brings up the question, when the government itself is either unaware of, or doesn’t care about, the laws of this state, who exactly is responsible for enforcing them?
Let alone protecting the rights of its citizens, on two wheels or otherwise.
Update: I just received the following notice from the county Department of Public Works:
The County of Los Angeles will be closing a segment of the Marvin Braude Bike Path for reconstruction work until April 12th. The limits of the beach bike path closure are from Imperial Highway in the City of Los Angeles to 45th Street in the City of Manhattan Beach.To accommodate bike path users during this closure, a detour has been provided along Vista del Mar. The most seaward of the 4 vehicle travel lanes (closest to the beach) will be barricaded and dedicated as a bike lane for both directions of bike path traffic for the duration of the work.For information contact us at (626) 458-3110, (626) 458-4967 or visit http://dpw.lacounty.gov/bikepathclosures
Good news that they’re going to give cyclists a dedicated lane on Vista del Mar; however, that barricade did not seem to be place when I was there on Monday.
One other quick note.
On Monday’s ride, I found myself chatting with a bike rider who had just flown in from Washington DC earlier that morning, and was enjoying a ride on a beautiful SoCal day.
Then last night, on a ride to a bike meeting in Downtown L.A., I struck up a conversation with a woman riding in her work attire, as she made her way from 7th and Fig to pick up the Gold Line for her commute home.
Nothing extraordinary about either event.
Except I can’t recall ever talking with a total stranger from behind the wheel of a car for any longer than it took for someone to ask directions before the light changed. Or exchange angry epitaphs with another driver.
That’s one of the rare joys of bicycling, as it allows a genuine interaction with our cities and those we share the road with, however briefly.
And helps make our city a better place to live, whichever and wherever that may be.