Tag Archive for L.A. County Bikeway Coordinator Abu Yusuf

True Grit: clearing a path for beachfront bicyclists

See the sand on the bike path? Me neither.

Notice anything different lately?

As you may recall, a couple weeks ago I wrote about the long-standing problem of sand on the Marvin Braude Bike Path along the beach in Santa Monica and Venice.

Then last week, I shared an email that I sent to County Bicycle Coordinator Abu Yusuf, after discovering that the county is responsible for maintaining the bikeway.

Or most of it, any way.

And I promised to let you know when I received a response. Then again, if you’ve ridden the bike path over the last few days, I probably don’t have to tell you what that response was.

To be honest, I didn’t think they were taking me seriously at first.

This is what local cyclists have had to deal with in recent months.

Mr. Yusuf emailed back, explaining that the bike path gets cleared three times a week, and inspected on a regular basis. And their records showed the maintenance was up to date and it was clear of sand.

So I picked up the phone, and said, as politely as possible, maybe you should take another look at those photos.

I explained that I’ve been riding that bike path for nearly 20 years. And this was the first time it had looked more like a sand trap at Riviera than southern California’s most heavily used bikeway — and stayed that way for over two months.

I was prepared for an argument. But his response surprised me.

As late as Monday, the bike path in Santa Monica looked like this.

Yusuf took my complaints seriously — even though they contradicted what he believed — and offered to meet me in Venice to take a first hand look.

Meanwhile, my original email, which had been circulated through the county maintenance department, seemed to be having an effect.

When I rode the bike path last week, it seemed a little cleaner than it had anytime since the storms of last May. Not yet free from sand, but clearly efforts had been made to clean the sand off in a number of places.

Then I rode it again this past Monday. And it showed even more improvement, though it still had a long way to go.

This is how the same section looked on Tuesday.

So Tuesday morning, I rode out to Venice, this time as a representative of the LACBC, to meet with Yusuf and the county’s other Bicycle Coordinator, Kristofor Norberg. I also asked my friend George Wolfberg to join us, since he’s involved in a number of local and regional community groups and bicycle advisory committees.

What we saw surprised us.

Overnight, following the regularly scheduled Tuesday morning maintenance, the bike path had gone from a sea of sand to an actual, ridable bike path. There were still problems, but the cement was cleaner than it had been in months.

It may not be perfect yet, but the bike path hasn't been this clear in months.

Of course, no pathway along the beach will ever be completely free of sand. Daily ocean breezes blow it onto the path, and every beachgoer who tramps across it drags a little sand with them.

But the difference was night and day.

So the first thing we did when Yusuf and Norberg arrived was to say thank you. Then we took them on a little walk to point out some problems that still remained.

They surprised us, too. Instead of the sterotypical SoCal bureaucrats hell bent on defending their department, we found two very polite and friendly men who were clearly committed to solving problems and finding a way to get things done.

In other words, exactly the kind of public servants our city and county so desperately need these days.

Kristofor Norberg and George Wolfberg examine how much of the bike path has been lost to sand.

We showed them places where a malfunctioning sprinkler system washed out the sand bordering the path, sending it streaming across the bikeway in inch-deep deposits. Along with areas where sand had been allowed to overtake the edges of the path, reducing its usable surface by as much as a foot and a half in places.

We pointed out places where pedestrians walk across the bike path, often without looking — and they showed us where warning signs had been removed or covered with graffiti, and where sweeping equipment had worn off the markings that indicated portions of the path were for bikes only.

And we talked about the problems presented by the odd combination of cyclists, skaters, skateboarders, joggers, pedestrians and Segway jockeys who traverse the path on a daily basis. In fact, we watched as a bike rider nearly had to be restrained after colliding with a skateboarder.

And after a tour that lasted well over an hour, our meeting felt more like four friends working together to solve a problem than a couple of cyclists butting heads against the usual brick wall of local government.

This sign used to say something; now it's just bike parking.

In the end, they committed to follow up with the county maintenance staff to make sure the path stays as clear of sand as possible, and to see what can be done about the problem areas and the streaks of sand the sweepers sometimes leave behind.

They offered to look into additional signage and striping to identify the bike-only portions of the path and warn pedestrians to look out for bikes when they cross the path. They also agreed to ask for bike cops to patrol the path from time to time to try to prevent conflicts before they happen.

And finally, they asked for your help.

If you notice any problems on the bike path or areas where the signage could be improved, Yusuf wants to hear from you; you can email him at ayusuf@dpw.lacounty.gov. Or just send them to me or the LACBC, and we’’ll forward it to him for you.

On the other hand, he also made it clear that there are limits to what he can do.

For instance, the county has responsibility for everything on the bike path itself — but anything on either side falls under the jurisdiction of other city or state agencies.

And their jurisdiction ends just north of the new Annenberg Community Beach House, where the city takes over.

Which means we face a whole different set of problems to get that section cleaned.

But at least, this is one clear victory for cyclists.

Clearly, we still have work to do; this is where the city maintained portion of the bike path begins.

Update on the dangerously sandy Marvin Braude Bike Path

As you may recall, last week I complained about the long-standing problem of sand on the popular Marvin Braude bike path through Venice and Santa Monica.

I also mentioned contacting a city official to get something done about it, only to get a response saying they weren’t sure who had responsibility for maintaining the pathway.

Bike tires and sand don't mix; maybe L.A. County doesn't get that.

Turns out, I reached out, not just to the wrong department, but the wrong government. Because even though the bike path borders Venice, which is part of the City of Los Angeles, it’s the county that maintains that section of the bike path.

As a result, yesterday afternoon I sent the following email to Abu Yusuf, Bikeway Coordinator for the County of Los Angeles, and cc’d County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents that district.

I’ll let you know when I get a response.

Dear Mr. Yusuf —

I want to reach out to you regarding the sand on the Marvin Braude bike path along Venice beach, since it is my understanding that L.A. County is responsible for maintenance of the path, rather than the City of L.A.; I don’t know if the county also has responsibility for maintaining the pathway through Santa Monica, as well.

As you may be aware, the bike path has been covered with sand since a series of heavy storms back in May. While attempts have been made to remove the sand using a heavy front-loader, that has actually made the situation worse by leaving behind a thin layer of sand that can cause riders to slip and fall.

Even as an experienced bicyclist, I’m forced to slow down and ride carefully when I take this path, especially on the many curves in the Venice section, and I have personally seen a number of bicyclists suffer minor injuries after falling because of the sand on the bike path. It is clearly only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured.

You can see photos on my blog, taken last week, showing the sand covering the bike path by clicking here. I’ve made suggestions as to more effective methods of removing the sand, and I’m sure you can come up with a number of others. But something has to be done; this bike path is one of the prime tourist attractions in Los Angeles County, as well as a vital recreation and transit corridor for local cyclists.

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

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
bikinginla.com

………

Day three of le Tour traveled the legendary cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix, as the teams broke out special gear to handle the rough roads. Norwegian Thor Hushovd won the stage and a non-motor-assisted Fabian Cancellara moved back into the yellow jersey. Losers included Frank Schleck, who is out of the Tour after fracturing his collarbone in three places, and Lance Armstrong, who fell two minutes and 30 seconds back after suffering a flat, noting that his chances of victory have dropped.

Day four was, thankfully for the riders, far less eventful as Alessandro Petacchi wins the stage. Meanwhile, Saxo Bank rider Jens Voigt calls the organizers assassins. Cancellara doesn’t just wear yellow, he rides it as well. And the World Anti-Doping Agency says the drug probe resulting from Floyd Landis’ allegations is “significant.”

………

Two cyclists were injured in separate collisions in Glendale.

On Thursday, a cyclist riding on the sidewalk was struck by a driver who fled the scene; police later arrested 24-year old Akop Arshamian of Sun Valley on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

In the other incident, a bike rider struck a car from behind on Sunday and did a face plant in the rear windshield. The Glendale News-Press says the rider was tailing the vehicle; reading between the lines, some cyclists might suspect the driver cut off the rider in order to make a right turn.

………

Check out the new video about BiciDigna, the Spanish-language bike co-op developed by the LACBC’s City of Lights program and the Bicycle Kitchen. Gary rides the new sharrows in Santa Monica, while Stephen and Enci Box take the debate over the LADOT sharrows program to the National Committee of Uniform Traffic Control Devices in Chicago. Travelin’ Local takes a lovely spin around Marina del Rey. Bicycle Fixation wishes all those bike-hating drivers who make anonymous comments would just shut up, and seemingly devotes his life to getting a water-filled pothole on 4th Street fixed. More bikes in Big Bear is a good thing. Heaven for bike riders: riding through a car-free Yosemite. A look at car-free spaces around the world. Are blue bike lanes better than black? A small Texas town bans groups of 10 riders or more without a permit. In DC, even NFL players ride bikes. A DC area radio host criticizes cyclists for riding on the road, and doesn’t think they belong off it, either. Would you rather ride in freezing weather or sweltering heat? Having lived in Louisiana and Colorado, I’ll take the heat, thank you. Speaking of Colorado, the Rockies baseball team actively encourages cyclists to ride to the games; any guess when the Dodgers will do the same? Miami-Dade is the deadliest county for cyclists in the nation’s deadliest state. London takes steps to reduces the number and severity of bike collisions with big trucks. When you suck in a fly, do you spit or swallow? Frida Kahlo rides a bike. A positive review for DIY sharrows in British Columbia. Wear your helmet, get a free ice cream. Two men in India are arrested after hitting a cyclist and loading into their van, telling bystanders they’re taking him to the hospital, then dumping him on the side of the road and leaving him to die.

Finally, everybody do The Bike.

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