Traveling south along the South Bay beach bicycle path, cyclists and other users are faced with a change of course at the Venice Pier, where they are redirected away from the beach down Washington Boulevard.

Rather than continuing along the beach toward the Marina del Rey jetty, path users must follow a trail down the Washington corridor before cutting through Marina del Rey to reconnect with the beach bicycle path near the south jetty.

Though the path must inevitably lead away from the beach temporarily in order to circle around the Marina channel, a proposal is being renewed to keep open the possibility of extending the beach trail from Washington to the Marina north jetty.

Some local community members and bicycle advocates say the possible addition would afford cyclists the opportunity to continue a scenic coastal ride without having to make a detour along a thoroughfare and provide improved connection to the Marina.

“The unique aspect is that there isn’t a path there now. It would be a really great ride along a scenic route that would loop through onto Via Marina,” said Jim Kennedy, an avid cyclist who is pushing the proposal.

“From almost Malibu down to Palos Verdes you have an amazing bike path, but right around the Marina area it becomes very convoluted and broken down.”

Alex Thompson, a member of the Mar Vista Community Council and president of the group Bikeside LA, agrees that adding the stretch of pathway to the Marina north jetty would create an important connection on the beach route.

“It completes an over 20-mile bike path that serves hundreds of thousands every year, giving Angelinos and visitors from around the world the opportunity to enjoy the coast by bike,” said Thompson.

Others point to safety improvements, saying the possible extension would allow path users to avoid riding on the heavily traveled Washington Boulevard, where they could be more at risk for accidents with vehicles.

“The 22-mile-long path is world renowned and has one major flaw: it empties onto Washington Boulevard right in the middle of it and puts riders, skaters, runners and walkers at tremendous risk,” Marina del Rey resident Jon Nahhas said. “While the Class 2 path will stay on Washington, a Class 1 (dedicated path) extending to Marina del Rey would be safer, more friendly to users and allow for an easier commute for Marina residents to coastal areas.”

Hoping to keep the bike path addition as a discussion topic, some have proposed to have the city of Los Angeles amend its Bicycle Master Plan to include the potential extension to the Marina north jetty. Due to an issue of dual jurisdiction among the city and county, the amendment must be included in the city’s bike master plan in order for the county to consider the proposal in its master plan, said Kennedy, a former deputy to Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

The Venice Neighborhood Council voted Jan. 18 to support a motion submitted by Kennedy and Nahhas, requesting that the city Bicycle Master Plan be amended to include the path extension.

The neighborhood council’s endorsement of the amendment came as disturbing news to Mark Winter, director of the Marina Peninsula Neighborhood Association, who said his neighbors have long opposed such a plan. Winter said communities where a bike path traverses through tend to have higher incidents of crime and graffiti, and cited other concerns including a lack of public parking and increased congestion.

“The community at large would oppose it and oppose it vigorously. We don’t believe it’s a positive amenity for the community,” Winter said of the potential extension.

Winter, who believes the rerouting of the path at Washington is effective, said he was shocked that the Venice Neighborhood Council did not confer with his association before supporting the motion.

Neighborhood council President Linda Lucks said the motion was submitted by a stakeholder and not the council, but noted that Winter has the option of submitting a request for board reconsideration.

Kennedy cautioned that simply including the proposal in the city’s bike master plan does not mean that the extension will be approved and said there will be ample opportunities for community input.

Thompson agreed, saying the amendment will just open up the discussion.

“Including the bike path extension in the L.A. bike plan doesn’t mean it will be designed and constructed without discussion, it merely allows the discussion to take place,” Thompson said. “I personally hope, and am willing to see to it that the extension is thoroughly discussed and vetted before any implementation.”

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