River Bike Paths Coming to Elysian Valley and Reseda

November 9, 2008 § 11 Comments

Cutaway View of West Valley Los Angeles River Bike Path to Begin Construction in 2009 (Image courtesy LA City Bureau of Engineering, click on image to view 9MB PDF with additional views and details)

Section View of West Valley Los Angeles River Bike Path - Construction Planned to Begin in April 2009 (Image courtesy LA City Bureau of Engineering, click on image to view 9MB PDF with additional views and details)

Next year, the city of Los Angeles will begin construction on two new segments of the Los Angeles River bike path. The bikeways in Reseda and Elysian Valley are expected to be completed in 2011.

Currently there are only two bikeway segments completed on the 32 miles of the Los Angeles River within the city: the Glendale Narrows bikeway (4.5 miles – from Riverside-Victory to Fletcher) and a portion of the Sepulveda Basin bikeway (about 0.2 miles riverfront miles in over 10 miles of park bike paths  – on both sides of the River at Balboa Boulevard.) Additionally, outside the city of Los Angeles, there are 17 miles of county bikeway along the lower Los Angeles River (from Atlantic Boulevard in the city of Vernon to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach.)  Shameless plug alert: Impeccably thorough bikeway information for all eleven completed bike paths on the Los Angeles River and its tributaries is available in the guidebook Down by the Los Angeles River (Wilderness Press 2005) written by one of your friendly neighborhood creek freaks.

West San Fernando Valley Segment:

valley-bikeway-landscape-plan

Concept Landscape Plan for West Valley Los Angeles River Bikeway (Image courtesy LA City Bureau of Engineering, click on image to view 9MB PDF with additional views and details)

The city of Los Angeles has planned a 2-mile segment of the Los Angeles River bikeway from Mason Avenue to VanAlden Avenue in the west San Fernando Valley. The bikeway will be on the south bank of the river and will include grade-separated underpasses at Vanowen Street, Winnetka Avenue, Corbin Avenue, and Tampa Avenue. This bikeway project is being done in conjunction with bridge retrofit projects at Tampa, Winnetka, and Vanowen.

The initial phase will include just the Tampa Avenue Bridge. The approximately 0.8-miles bikeway will extend from Corbin Avenue to Vanalden Avenue adjacent to the Westfield Promenade mall. Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2009, and won’t be done before late 2011. The construction is estimated to take 20 months, but is not permitted to proceed inside the river channel during the wet weather season.

The bulk of the bikeway project funding is from the Metro call for projects. In addition, the city received about $2M in Proposition 50 (state park bond) funding to enhance the bikeway with landscaping, a water quality bioswale, a planter wall, interpretive signage, and even fitness stations to help bicyclists warm up before their ride.

Elysian Valley Segment:

Elysian Valley Bikeway Map (cropped from River Greenway map from LAMountains.com, click to view full map)

Map of Planned Elysian Valley Los Angeles River Bikeway (cropped from Los Angeles River Greenway map from LAMountains.com, click to view full 50KB PDF map)

Officially, this 2.7-mile bike path is called Phase 1C of the Los Angeles River bikeway. It extends from Fletcher Drive to Barclay Street.  That’s from just above the 2 Freeway to nearly the 110 Freeway. The stretch currently has an unimproved access road used unofficially by bicyclists and pedestrians every day, though the surface is uneven and there are about a half-dozen large dips where street ends drain directly into the river.  The old asphalt road is also damaged from the roots of adjacent cottonwood trees.

The project will extend the existing 4.5-mile Glendale Narrows bikeway to an uninterrupted total of 7.1 miles.  It will include an undercrossing at Fletcher Drive, resurfacing, and lighting.

In 1999, the city of Los Angeles applied for and received Metro Call for Projects funding for the Elysian Valley bikeway.  The project has been delayed by legal troubles due to a complicated antiquated easement issue. The Elysian Valley stretch is under a 1920’s era LA County Flood Control District easement. The limited easement would only allow for flood control projects, and, according to city attorneys, was not sufficient for the construction of a bike path. So, even though owners had already seen their property taken away for river channelization many decades ago, the city had to approach 66 individual property owners and negotiate transportation easements. Most property owners accepted the city’s initial compensation offers, but one property owner held out and took the city to court.

In January 2008, in Rabie v. City of Los Angeles, the court’s verdict was that the city had to pay Mr. Rabie $7,000 for the easement. This amount was only a little above the city’s last offer of $4,000, and much less than the $200,000 that Rabie was demanding. This verdict allows the bike path project to move forward to finalizing design.

 The city Department of Transportation is currently finalizing a lighting plan that will minimize risks of copper theft that have plagued other bikeway lighting installations. The final designs are anticipated to go out to bid in January or February 2009. Construction is expected to start in July 2009 and the path is projected to open in January 2011.

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§ 11 Responses to River Bike Paths Coming to Elysian Valley and Reseda

  • Justin W says:

    While parkways and expanded bike paths are definitely a good thing for this city, the West Valley River LA bikeway seems a bit silly. The quite-new Metro Orange Line Bikeway is landscaped, nice, and less than 1/2 mile south of the LA River. Restoring the LA River is good for the area, nonetheless.

  • Joe Linton says:

    @Justin W: Thanks for commenting. I agree with you that river restoration and the Orange Line Line bikeway are good things. The Orange Line is a nice addition to the Valley’s transportation mix – both for bicycling and rapid transit which work well together for multi-modal trips. I often begin a trip into the Valley on the Red Line and Orange Line, then arrive to my destination by bike.

    Where we might differ is that I would suggest to you that bike facilities (as well as good transit and convenient places to walk) should form a network probably about as dense as our roadway network. Would many drivers concur with a statement like: having Riverside Drive seems a bit silly because cars already have Ventura Boulevard a 1/2 mile south?

  • Justin W says:

    Joe Linton: Don’t get me wrong. An LA River bike path is a great idea and as an avid cyclist, I’m all for it.

    But when transportation dollars are in limited supply, it is a shame that this portion of the Valley will be getting redundant bike paths when other regions, like the North Valley get nothing.

    I personally think bike project dollars would be better spent putting bike paths on the LA River’s tributaries in the Valley. These paths could then connect to the existing Orange Line bikeway and transit corridor.

  • Phil E says:

    Just found this article from last november and it brought back many memories from the 1950s. I can remember the river before it was concreted over. After it was paved, I used the service road to visit a girl in Reseda. I would get on at Oso
    Ave and exit near Reseda Park. I would go under the bridges by by riding on the sloping concrete sides. The tricky part was getting access to the riverside path because it was pretty well fenced.

  • […] See the link for the groundbreaking announcement for the Elsyian Valley segment […]

  • […] Officially, this is called Los Angeles River Bike Path, Phase 1C. It will extend from Fletcher Drive to Barclay Drive – about 3 miles. L.A. Creek Freak covered the tortured background of the project in an earlier post. […]

  • […] but in a post from last November researched the "tortured" histories of this segment and another for the West San Fernando Valley.  Officially the Elysian extension should be open in six months, but Linton reports that it […]

  • Joe says:

    From what I have read the Valley L.A. River bike path project is happening because the Bridges in that area of the LA river need to be updated. The idea is, while we are tearing stuff up, lets put in a bike path and maybe someday when enough bridges get retrofitted we will have a bike path that goes from Chatsworth to Long Beach.

    What ever the reason, I like it.

  • Sue in Los Angeles says:

    I like the Elysian bike path idea in concept, except: there will be a concrete barrier between the bike path and the river, which effectively limits or totally excludes access to the “flood channel.’ No going down to the water for any purpose—and isn’t that what the authorities want? Also, the improved trail surface will make it possible for bikes to travel at high speed, which will be hazardous to those of us who use the path as pedestrians, wheelchair users, dog walkers, etc. I suggest having some kind of “gates” to allow access to the water, as well as wide, or separate, pedestrian lanes in addition to the bike lanes.

  • Kevin says:

    The river bike paths have a huge advantage over the Orange busway bike path; NO traffic signals. Compare your experience on the LA river bike path over by Griffith park with the Orange line and you will see what I mean. The signal wait times on the Orange line bikeway are longer than almost any normal traffic light, even when there are very few vehicles on the road. Not so great if you want to use the bike path for anything but a leisurely Sunday bike ride.

    Joe’s statement about the bridges needing to be updated as responsible for the new bike paths makes sense. Almost all of the current bikeways and paths have been installed when and where it is convenient to do so. Potentially, what better city but LA to ride a bike? The weather is great and with a little bit of planning and money we could have a viable alternative transportation system. These projects are a start, but at some point we need to find a way to link them together into a cohesive system.

    • Greenway7x says:

      I wonder if these bridges needing repair include railway bridges? As a pedestrian/hiker who uses a cane or stick (handy on many counts, including shuffling and picking one’s way through the coarse gravel, loose sand, debris and precariousness of tracksides), I often walk alongside railroads. The vaunted dangers of this, even for my old cripply-crone self, seem greatly less than crossing streets; much less stressful. The biggest problem is not being allowed to cross bridges…Which can mean a posted no-no on a bridge that a pedestrian CAN physically cross safely (and might, rather than going back a mile or more), or something only individuals with nerves of steel and minds of rocks would try. There have been both well- and ill- planned efforts to turn DEFUNCT rail roads into trails. I wish they ALL could be made into pedestrian (and, in urban areas especially, paved for non-engined wheels) paths with security and convenience stuff alongside… But I wish the ‘funct’/still-active lines and their bridges (and freeway under-&-overpasses) might be so retrofitted, too. While they’re at it, I wish: Ped under-&- overpasses though RR & freeway embankments. Imagine what that would mean! …Including to the streets, ‘hoods and businessplaces gone moribund from being turned into 1-exit box canyon-ettes by those forbidden, draconianly public-domain-obtained slopes.

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