A proposed update of the city of Los Angeles Bicycle Plan designates the creation of more than 1,600 miles of bikeways throughout the city, with 200 miles slated for construction every five years.
Officials say the 2010 update of the Bicycle Plan, which was readopted in 2002 and 2007, is part of the commitment to transform Los Angeles from an auto-centric city to one using multiple modes of transportation. Some transportation advocates note that the extensive amount of bikeways created under the plan will help guide the city to provide safe, more complete streets offering access for everyone who uses the roadways.
“We’re truly going to be creating, instead of talking about it, some real bike lanes throughout the city,” said City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee which held a joint meeting on the plan with the Planning and Land Use Management Committee Feb. 9.
But for some cycling advocates on the Westside the plan update will be without one key stretch of potential path on the highly popular South Bay beach bicycle trail: an extension from the Venice Pier to the north jetty of Marina del Rey. They say that the 22-mile-long path, which extends from Pacific Palisades to Redondo Beach, travels mostly along the beach except at Washington Boulevard in Venice, where path users are directed onto the corridor in order to cut through the Marina to reconnect with the beach path.
Proponents of the path addition to the Marina north jetty have said it would afford cyclists the opportunity to continue a scenic coastal ride without having to make a detour onto a busy thoroughfare and provide improved connection to the Marina.
“It would be a really great ride along a scenic route that would loop through onto Via Marina,” Jim Kennedy, an avid cyclist who pushed the proposal, said in a prior interview.
Supporters were hoping to keep the beach extension as a future possibility by including it in the Bicycle Plan update but say the proposal has now been virtually quashed. At the joint meeting Feb. 9, the transportation/land use committees voted to support the bike plan update without backing a motion by Councilman Richard Alarcon to include the Marina addition. The update must still be approved by the City Council.
Some of those who pushed the path completion say it was not excluded due to a lack of community support but believe that opposition from neighbors in the area was a major factor in the committees’ vote.
“It was quite apparentŠ that pressure was already applied to ensure a private beach on public lands,” Kennedy recalled of the meeting.
Playa del Rey resident Jon Nahhas, who said the extension would have allowed for an easier commute to coastal areas, was quick to express his disappointment with the exclusion.
“I am a bicycling enthusiast and use the bike path quite often. It seems ridiculous that the beach on the Marina Peninsula remains exclusive to the majority of our citizens,” he said.
Mark Winter, director of the Marina Peninsula Neighborhood Association, said his neighbors have long opposed such a plan and he believes their concerns were effectively expressed to the committees.
“The (Marina Peninsula) community was unified in its opposition for a lot of reasons,” Winter said. “We gave our reasons in a clear, articulate way to the council and community at large. I think our views were respected and ultimately prevailed.”
Among the various concerns of area residents were that the plan would require extensive capital improvements that the city cannot afford and that communities where a bike path traverses through tend to have higher incidents of crime and graffiti, Winter said. He added that there is “no logical outlet” onto Via Marina, which does not have a dedicated path, and many cyclists are still able to access the Marina channel through an alleyway on Speedway.
Winter additionally noted that Rosendahl, who represents the area, was not in favor of the extension and the only councilmember to support it, Alarcon, is from an outside district.
Referring to one of Winter’s concerns, Rosendahl said that even if the path were completed, cyclists would still have to travel off the path to go around the Marina channel and the Washington route is an effective diversion. He said officials are working on creating a safer route with more markings.
“When it comes to that stretch (on the beach) the truth is you can’t cross over the canal no matter what. I didn’t see the value with putting in that little piece where there’s no bridge over it,” Rosendahl said.
The councilman added that reviewing the proposal would have likely held up the plan and he wanted to ensure that the effort to create 200 miles of bikeways over the next five years was not delayed.
“I’m thrilled that the two committees moved forward with (the Bicycle Plan),” he said.
A former deputy to Rosendahl, Kennedy said though he is disappointed at the missed opportunity, he strongly supports the overall bike plan, which will lead to various improvements for the cycling community.-