Arroyo Seco Bikeway Meeting This Wednesday Night

March 17, 2009 § 11 Comments

Existing Arroyo Seco Bike Path (photo: Arroyo Seco Foundation)

Existing Arroyo Seco Bike Path (photo: Arroyo Seco Foundation)

The L.A. County Department of Public Works recently announced a meeting that will be taking place tomorrow night – at 6pm Wednesday March 18th at the Los Angeles River Center – 570 W. Avenue 26, LA 90065.  Here are a few excerpts from the county’s memo:

The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works (DPW) will be conducting a meeting regarding the feasibility of the Arroyo Seco Bicycle Trail project. DPW has concluded that there are no reasonable and feasible options for the construction of the project; therefore, the project is being cancelled.

Description of Work
A 2.6 mile long Class I bicycle trail from just south of Avenue 52 to Avenue 19 was previously proposed.

An overwhelming majority of the comments received during the environmental review of the project were negative. Some of the issues raised were concerns for the safety for the bicyclists, lack of usage due to the alignment of the trail primarily inside the channel, removal of over 150 established trees, acquisition of a large amount of right-of-way, remediation of contaminated soil, placement of additional concrete into the channel bed and the destruction of riparian habitats. Upon consideration of these comments, it was determined that
the original alignment of the trail proposed within the channel could not meet the community’s requirements.

Other alternatives were investigated; however, these alternatives also presented several obstacles. The other alignments required the removal of an even greater number of established trees, access through Heritage Square (a historic preservation site), and a mid-block bicycle crossing on a busy secondary highway.

As it is not possible to create a reasonable and feasible alternative that meets the goals of the proposed project and satisfies the community, it is recommended that this project be cancelled.

These are pretty frustrating words to read.  I’ve never heard a transportation department express that there were “there are no reasonable and feasible options for the construction of the project” when it came to tearing out houses to build a freeway… but the prospect of putting a 10′ wide bike path along the already-concreted lower Arroyo Seco doesn’t sound possible for them.

Unfortunately the problem is less with the county than with environmentalists getting on the same page. The existing bike path in the Arroyo Seco (from just below York Avenue to just short of Avenue 43) is at the bottom of a trapezoidal concrete channel.  This isn’t optimal – obviously it’s impassable during even a small storm.  There are also issues with debris, and visibility… but it does work.

The county initially proposed putting the new bike path (which would extend from just above Avenue 43 down to Avenue 26) along the top of the channel.  This would have meant taking out a large number trees planted along the top of the channel.  At the time, folks from North East Trees (the group that planted the trees) urged the county to put the bike path in the channel, so it wouldn’t impact so many trees.  The county re-drew their plans with the bike path inside the channel.  This took a couple years.  When they presented the new design, it was mostly in the channel, but included a portion running along the top of the channel to create an access point at the Cypress Avenue Ped Bridge.  This alignment was strongly opposed by the Arroyo Seco Foundation as it would add more concrete to the already-concreted channel (read ASF’s critque “More Concrete in the Arroyo Seco Stream???”)  In addition, the initial county designs called for taking out plenty of trees along the top of the channel… a 20-30′ swath of trees were being taken out to construct a 10′ wide bike path.

At the time I, as well as Friends of the LA River, the LA County Bicycle Coalition, and many others, supported the new in-channel alignment, but requested that the county re-examine its plans in order to minimize tree removal.  The view of the Arroyo Seco Foundation held sway, though, and the county went back and to the drawing board to re-design the project in a way that didn’t add so much concrete to the stream. They went back to the drawing boards to study an alignment that would keep the path at the top of the channel – as they had initially proposed.

So… now they’re saying that they can’t do anything.  There’s no easy flawless solution, but I think it’s inappropriate for the county to merely throw their hands up and give up.  There are options, and it’s the county’s job to study the environmental impacts of various options.  We creek freaks need to negotiate things out and get behind a compromise alignment that we can all support.

I do urge folks to go and attend this meeting to show support for the Arroyo Seco Bike Path.

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§ 11 Responses to Arroyo Seco Bikeway Meeting This Wednesday Night

  • bfrobisher says:

    I attended this meeting and it was frustrating hearing all the “reasons” given for the project to be killed. The reasons given were numerous, they involved tree removal, killing of established trees, areas that were not 20′ wide as required for a bike path, massive costs involving tunnels, speed bumps…..the list goes on and on. Members of the audience on hand did not seem to want to agree on much, I think that everyone attending wants the path, but there seemed to be lots of disagreement on how to get that accomplished. Even calls to just complete “some portion” of the bikeway came under attack for one reason or another. I think the final decision was to call another meeting soon and to try to come up with a consensus on what should be done and who should do it.
    There were lots of good ideas discussed and I for one hope that something comes of this project as it is needed for the community.

  • ubrayj02 says:

    I think that the both of you need to wake the hell up and realize that this was a terrible project that put “the interests of cyclists” in direct opposition to those whose political help we will need to create on-street bicycle options.

    Placing a bicycle facility in a drainage ditch, culvert, creek bed, or sewer facility is the wrong way to go.

    I was insulted and upset that the Carlota St. right-of-way (a City of L.A. controlled paper street alongside the 110 freeway) wasn’t even mentioned in this “Study” of the options.

    I was further enraged after learning that the County tried to talk to the LADOT about at-grade, on-street, bicycle facilities but got the brush off.

    We used to have at-grade street cars running up both side of Figueroa St, York Blvd, Cypress Ave, and every minor street in the area. Those rails were ripped out, and we have a huge car-only right-of-way. Why not re-claim that former rail line space for bicycles?

    The enviros would have backed a plan to do just that. Dream a little bigger and you’ll find a political coalition that can actually get the MILLIONS set aside for this project get put to use making something for every-day cyclists to use.

    Sorry to be so rude, but I am hopping mad about this one. This river bed bike path is a joke, and it is exactly what we should NOT be fighting for.

  • Joe Linton says:

    @Josef – I agree with you, Josef, that we need to create on-street options, and that’s definitely where I cycle the most. I would suggest that we don’t need to come from a place of zero-sum scarcity. I suggest that we shouldn’t think that we can only get one bike facility in that corridor – either the stream corridor bike path OR the on-street bike lane/route. I think we can get both, and we need both, and that they work together.

    Studies like the Portland GPS one (see show that different types of cyclists (beginners, commuters, families, etc.) are comfortable riding in different settings. I think that this suggests that we need various types of facilities.

    I would suggest that a greenway bike path is a multi-benefit thing. It serves transportation needs for some, also recreation needs. It also reconnects us with the natural feature – the Arroyo Seco stream – increasing awareness of water and environmental issues. I would suggest that if we just weigh the Arroyo bikeway strictly in terms of transportation utility, then it’s not going to appear very valuable. It’s more of a multi-benefit community asset, which includes a transportation component.

    I agree that we need to build that political coalition, and not get bogged down in conflicts that divide us.

  • Joe Linton says:

    Where is that Carlota Street right-of-way?

  • Jessica Hall says:

    This is so frustrating. I was originally a skeptic of the in-channel bikeway, but then actually rode it (with a friend) and really liked it. I wouldn’t necessarily want to ride it alone, but it does have advantages and, despite appearances, is something of an aesthetic experience. If we as a community could accept this relatively affordable in-channel solution as a temporary gesture while we push for restoration of this highly-restorable river we could really get somewhere that furthers multiple goals. And we would have to be vigilant to ensure that it, like all our work on the LAR and Arroyo Seco, doesn’t become a sacred cow that inhibits the highest level of achievable restoration.

    For it is a far cry from the kinds of bikeways that line rivers and coastlines all over the country. I was chatting with a Sacramento resident just today about his 13 mile bike commute along the American River, and we are seriously short-changed by comparison. We deserve better and need to demand better.

    And I agree with you Joe, we need multiple routes.

  • ubrayj02 says:

    This project is a crap project as bike path – it is easily accessible, it is not lit at night, it is isolated, it is subject to seasonal flooding.

    A protected bicycle lane, at grade, on Figueroa or along the side of the 110 would be a much better option. There are also railroad right of ways that run through the backside of Highland Park from York Blvd. down to Avenue 50 and Carlota Blvd., yet another option which was not considered.

    About the Carlota Street right-of-way:

    This used to be a street prior to severe flooding and then the construction of the 110. It runs all the way up to Avenue 52 (where that street turns into Griffin).

    The small red line I’ve drawn is just one portion of this Carlota Street right of way.

    I think a protected bike lane where the street cars used to run would be the way to do this, exp. with the millions set up for this projjct already. These other paths would be great for equestrian uses or as walking paths.

  • Joe Linton says:

    Thanks Josef – I kinda know that r-o-w from in Sycamore Park where the tunnel goes under it to get the ped bridge… It, too, would make a lot of sense as a bike path.

  • lordj says:

    So I was looking at a Parcel Map next to the Montecito Heights Community Center and I noticed that between N. Homer St. and Griffin Ave. is an alignment that runs from the east side of the Montecito Heights Community Center parking lot down to Heritage Square. This alignment is labeled “California Cycleway”. See map links below:

    I am new to this are and never heard of it so I googled it. This 1890’s proposed R-O-W was meant for an elevated bicycle path which was to run from Pasadena to Downtown LA. I found a couple of links:

    Maybe this is another option that can be explored, it seems pretty simple since the bike path currently ends at the west end of the Montecito Heights Community Center parking lot and the R-O-W begins at the east end. They could even build a wooden portion through Heritage Square for historic purposes.

    just thinking out loud…

  • […] the county’s 9-page background report, with photos and a map and L.A. Creek Freak’s earlier article on the conflicts over the earlier proposed bike path. (Thanks Arroyo Seco Foundation for posting the county’s documents […]

  • […] The county of Los Angeles held a public meeting yesterday to review a new plan for the Arroyo Seco Bike Path. The county has funding from Metro to build a bikeway along the Arroyo… but past proposals  have met with resistance. […]

  • […] As recently as 2009, it seemed unlikely that an extension of the Arroyo Seco Bike Trail would occur anytime in the near future.  But times have changed, thanks in part to the process creating the LA County Bike Plan and political pressure brought by Councilman Ed Reyes and County Supervisor Gloria Molina.  Earlier this week the City Council Transportation Committee quickly and unanimously passed a motion by Councilmen Bill Rosendahl and Reyes allowing the city to begin construction of a quarter mile portion of a bicycle and pedestrian path extending from Avenue 26 to San Fernando Road.  The path provides direct access to the future Confluence Gateway Project from Metro Rail.  The Avenue 26 Metro Gold Line station, known as the “Lincoln/Cypress Station” is within a stone’s throw of the trail entrance. […]

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