Bicyclists and Pedestrians Celebrate LA River Path ExtensionDecember 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Posted in Bike News, LACBC Events | 6 Comments
Tags: Bike Paths, Elysian Valley, LA River, Los Angeles River
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.
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.