Westside bicyclists sound off about some of the area’s worst conditions for two-wheeled travel

Compiled by Gary Walker and Elliot Stiller

Westchester: Southbound Sepulveda Boulevard

Dense traffic, particularly during rush hour, makes Sepulveda a place that bicyclists are better off avoiding, according to Kent Strumpell, a member of the local city council district’s Bicycle Advisory Committee.

“It has a lot of airport-bound, high-anxiety drivers, so I usually use the side streets to stay away from Sepulveda,” says Strumpell, a Westchester local.

Playa del Rey: Culver Boulevard at Nicholson Street

Cars speeding through the Ballona Wetlands into Playa’s main drag make this intersection a treacherous place — in the case of some collisions, fatal — for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

“There’s no real bicycle lane on Culver, and with all of the traffic going so fast to the South Bay and to Santa Monica it makes it really hard to ride a bicycle on the boulevard, especially during rush hour,” says Roy van de Hoek, co-director of the Ballona Institute.

Marina del Rey: Fiji Way at Lincoln Boulevard

While cyclists don’t shy away from riding down Fiji to connect with the coastal Marvin Braude Bike Trail (which runs from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance), getting there from Playa del Rey, Playa Vista or Westchester using Lincoln Boulevard can be a nail-biter.

“There are no bike lanes there and no shoulder, so it’s quite a challenge for bicyclists,” says Strumpell.

Del Rey: Lincoln Boulevard at Washington and Ballona Creek

They don’t call Lincoln Boulevard “Stinkin’ Lincoln” for nothing. Traffic congestion makes biking anywhere on this overworked north/south arterial a scary prospect for many — but especially so when crossing Washington or Ballona Creek.

At Washington, “the bike lanes disappear close to the intersection and there are a ton of issues even without bikers being in the picture,” says Del Rey Neighborhood Council member Matt Wersinger.

At Ballona Creek, “The bridge is very skinny and the speed limit quite high,” he says.

Mar Vista: Centinela Avenue at Venice and Washington Boulevards

These two intersections are particularly tough for cyclists, says Steve Wallace, who co-chairs the Mar Vista Community Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee. He avoids them when biking with his family to the beach.

“My kids are young, so the bike lane on either boulevard is not an option because the drivers around here are always in a hurry to go nowhere and for the most part do not pay a great deal of attention,” says Wallace. “Over 12 years ago the Venice Boulevard Streetscape Improvement Association proposed a European-style bike lane on Venice Boulevard from the 405 to Lincoln Boulevard. Is the city interested? I don’t think so. What happened to safety first?”

Venice: Pacific Avenue

A narrow roadway with plenty of parked cars makes traveling by two wheels along Pacific Avenue a dicey proposition. Traffic is swift and continuous, and the rearview mirrors of parked cars jut out like tripwires. Even the sidewalk is narrow, with utility poles jutting out in the middle of the pedestrian pathway.

“There are always cars parked there, and since there’s no bike lane I personally do not ride my bike on Pacific. It’s the worst street to ride a bicycle,” says Venice activist Nick Antonicello, who has pushed for color-striping Venice bike lanes similar to what Santa Monica has done on Main Street.

Santa Monica: Wilshire Boulevard

Santa Monica officials have made tremendous progress improving the city’s bicycle transportation infrastructure, but not yet along Wilshire Boulevard.

“There are no bike lanes and it’s difficult to maneuver through and around cars,” says William Black, who rode with the SMC bike club while attending Santa Monica College.

“On the entire length of Wilshire Boulevard the surface conditions are terrible,” adds Ron Durgin, general manager of the Santa Monica Bike Center.

In the meantime, there are better east/west options. Use them.

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