Bicyclists and Pedestrians Celebrate LA River Path Extension

December 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Posted in Bike News, LACBC Events | 6 Comments
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Bicyclists and pedestrians celebrate the new path extension. Photo: Arsen Melikyan

This past Saturday, the local Elysian Valley community saw the LA River path gain a little more ground. While people have been quietly using the repaved path for months, Saturday marked the official completion of the 2.5-mile Fletcher-to-Figueroa shared-use path with lighting, protective rails, and the works. Saturday’s festivities included an LACBC ride from the Autry Center in Griffith Park, an expo near the Crystal Springs cul-de-sac, a dedication ceremony, and our first chance to test the new path extension with all its additions!

It was an overcast morning, but we had a lively group of about 75 bicyclists come for the ride. This group included a great mix of bicyclists including a guy in a Viking helmet and some of the coolest bike-riding children in town. Our LA River Ride Director JJ Hoffman recalled LACBC’s history of involvement with the LA River Path, highlighting the 2006 River Ride when participants sent postcards to the Mayor in support of extending the path. Then we rode on along the Glendale Narrows portion of the path, welcomed by the quacks of some very vocal ducks and the sounds of one rider’s river-appropriate tunes blasting from his bike’s speakers.

The expo was bristling with activity from both bicyclists and pedestrians; we estimate that about 200 people came. KCET Departures captured people’s stories for their LA River StoryShare Initiative. If you haven’t checked out their website, we highly recommend it; they also have some great photos of the event. Then we all gathered for the dedication ceremony to hear several people, including Councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge and our very own JJ Hoffman, to talk about the importance of this path. After the ribbon was cut, Jesus, the 13-year-old winner of a SPECIALIZED bike from LACBC, led bicyclists and pedestrians to explore the extension together.

Council Members Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge use comically large scissors for the LA River Path extension ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: Arsen Melikyan

To folks who ride bikes who are reading this: please remember that this is a shared-use path and that bicyclists must yield to pedestrians. Take the moment to slow down, say hello to your fellow human beings, and enjoy the sights and sounds of this often misunderstood river. You won’t regret it.

The opening of this path extension holds a special place in my heart. Though there is a misconception that the path is only recreational, it actually connects my bike and me from my home in Glendale to the LACBC offices in downtown LA. Also, it is mostly through this path that I’ve learned to appreciate the Glendale Narrows portion of the river. Growing up in Glendale, I had often passed by the river from the confines of my car, but within the past few years I’ve begun to bike the path and notice how much wildlife thrives here. Biking and walking the river are really two of the best ways to understand the river (although now that it’s been declared navigable, I can’t wait to kayak it).

While some Angelenos tend to overlook and neglect the LA River, the people who use the path–bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users, skateboarders, skaters, etc.–have a keen awareness of the Glendale Narrows’ quirks, both pleasant and alarming. We notice when the water level changes, how the birds will incorporate trash into their nests, when the carp start spawning and splashing around, how the river sparkles the week after La Gran Limpieza. We’ve noticed how this Elysian Valley portion of the path used to be uninviting and isolated, save for the birds. But in the last few months, we’ve experienced how, to borrow a phrase from Jane Jacobs, we now have more “eyes upon the path,” making the area both safer and livelier. Even though the path hasn’t been officially open during this time, I’ve seen parents teaching their children to ride bikes, families out for walks, people fishing, artists painting the landscape, musicians playing their guitars, and even the occasional teenage couple making out (oh, young love!). This section of the river has been given new life.

Thank you to those who have given the river path new life. Thank you to Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Ed Reyes, and Tom LaBonge, as well as their deputies Mitch O’Farrell and Lupe Vela. Thank you to LADOT and Michelle Mowery. And thank you to all of you who have advocated for path improvements, to those of you who ride and walk the path, and to those of you who will be riding and walking the path soon.



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  1. I was at the opening, and it was great fun for all. The stretch south of Fletcher really is much more scenic than the stretch to the North (bordered by the 5), and I look forward to using it often.

    One question: you mentioned in the post, “Though there is a misconception that the path is only recreational, it actually connects my bike and me from my home to the LACBC offices in downtown LA . . .”

    What route would you recommend in using the path to get to/from downtown LA? I was under the impression that this stretch of path still ends at about the 5/110 bridges. Is there an easy way to take the streets from that point to downtown? While that point is really close to downtown, as far as I can tell fiddling around with Google Maps, I can’t see a very good way of getting downtown from that point. How do you do it? I’d love to have a scenic river route if possible.

    • You’re right. The path ends near where the 110 and 5 Freeways meet. I should have specified that I still have to ride through Lincoln Heights and Chinatown to get downtown.

      Here’s what I take:
      – Exit path at Egret Park and turn left on Figueroa.
      – Right on San Fernando Rd.
      – Right on Pasadena Ave.
      – Right on Broadway
      – Left on Cesar Chavez Ave.
      – Right on Spring St. and ride the bus/bike lane into downtown.

      This includes riding through an industrial area for a bit, so it’s not quite as scenic as the river path (watch out for debris!). Does anyone reading this have another route suggestion?

      • Got it–that looks like a pretty good route except for the few industrial blocks (which, at least I’d imagine aren’t too heavily trafficked). Thanks for the tip. I didn’t want to wind up accidentally making my way onto a freeway onramp with all those confusing and overlapping lanes!

      • Carol’s got it–that’s the route I take to/from DTLA to point’s north and east. From DTLA, its essentially, head N through Chinatown on Broadway, continue over the bridge, at the end of the bridge veer left onto Pasadena Ave, make a left at the 2nd light (San Fernando Road). Take that N wherever you want to. To get to the LA River Path, you would make a L when you get to Fig. and the first river path entrance will be on your right.

        There’s a bit of traffic during rush hours (but where is there not?), and cars move at a good clip during certain stretches of road here. Be as visible as possible.

        Be on the lookout for debris and chewed up asphalt over the bridge and on San Fernando and Fig. Being assertive and taking the lane where appropriate may help to avoid some of that. There is a VERY big rut on the 5 fwy side of the Fig St. bridge over the river that could easily eat up a wheel, so watch that carefully.

        A cyclist comfortable on most city streets shouldn’t have any major issues, but those less accustomed might want to ride with someone the first time or two.

        Which brings me to my last point: I know our politicians would love to continue the LA River Bike Path to DTLA, and that’s great–I hope that happens. But this major bike access route to points north (Cypress Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Mt. Washington, Atwater Village, Glendale, HP, Lincoln Hts., Pasadena, etc.) really should be upgraded to be more amenable to cyclists as the legitimate road users they are. Currently, it’s not. This is not encouraging for beginning cyclists.

  2. Thanks for the tips, Ross and Carol!

  3. […] on a Class I Bike Path! See footage from the ribbon-cutting ceremony in December and read our blog posts on […]

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