Small Improvements on the Arroyo Seco Bike Path

December 30, 2009 § 6 Comments

New signage directing folks to the Arroyo Seco Bike Path - at the upstream end of Arroyo Seco Park, off Marmion Way

I bicycled up the Los Angeles River and Arroyo Seco bikeways yesterday on the way to help my friend Monica move out of her apartment. Her old place is practically in the shadow of the 1912 York Boulevard Bridge over the Arroyo Seco. The York bridge, at the border of Highland Park and South Pasadena, is one of the half-dozen or so oldest bridges in L.A. County – a locally-rare-solid-arch historic bridge that I really like… but I will save that story for another blog entry. The Elysian Valley portion of the L.A. River bikeway is indeed under construction, expected to be completed by March 2010. Crews were at work pouring concrete drains at the last of those remaining dips… but that’s another story, too, which I’ve already covered a few times earlier

The story that I do want to tell here now is that I was happy to see a few small improvements on the Arroyo Seco Bike Path. It’s minor stuff at access points, new signage… the kind of innocuous details that only a truly bike-obsessed creek freak would notice, photograph and share. I think these improvements are fairly new – perhaps in the last month or two… but it could be that I just didn’t notice them the last time I dashed down the arroyo. 


The Arroyo Seco Bike Path is a 2.1-mile separate-from-car-traffic bike path that’s located mostly on a slab of concrete located down in the bottom of the Arroyo Seco channel. It’s a somewhat obscure facility, hence somewhat difficult to find. I’ve heard some critics say that it’s never used. While it’s certainly not as busy as the beach bike path, there were certainly folks down there this afternoon:  I passed two joggers, a dog-walker, a solo cyclist, and an adult man riding with two young boys (the kids somewhat unsteady on their new-looking bikes – perhaps Christmas presents?) In the channel, the bikeway does get some debris after rains – there were some areas with some sand, dirt, a few branches,  palm fronds, etc. Not pristine, but still rideable. 

The path was built, I think, around the 1970’s. As with some others built at that time, it has limited access points (listed below) that connect to parks, but not really to many cross streets. These reflect an assumption (widespread at that time, and unfortunately still around here and there) that bike paths were generally for recreation (hence connected to parks) and not really for transportation. 

The Arroyo Seco Bike Path can be accessed via three entry points:

  1. along the Montecito Heights Recreation Center (at the end of Mosher Avenue, off of Avenue 43 – across from Sycamore Park and the anonymous stormdrain mouth of the North Branch),
  2. at the Hermon Dog Park on the upstream side of the 1926 Avenue 60 Bridge (another favorite of mine), and
  3. at the very upstream end of Arroyo Seco Park (by the stables at York Boulevard/Pasadena Avenue – off of that little part of Marmion Way stranded on the east side of the Arroyo Seco.)

For as long as I can remember, the Arroyo Seco bikeway has featured irritating low horizontal bars at each entry point. The bars are barriers which cyclists would need to lift their bikes over. These are awful for bike access when one is carrying a load of groceries in one’s paniers, or towing a child in a bike trailer… and, of course, they also prevent wheelchair users from accessing the path. I have long had fantasies of taking a hacksaw to these bars. Today, the barrier bars were gone – so I was able to just roll directly onto the path without dismounting! Here’s a shot of the remaining circular metal where the bar was removed at the upstream access point: 

Former access barrier removed!

I also noticed that there’s some new signage. At either end of the bike path, there are signs showing the mileage and the destination. At Montecito Heights, the new sign states “South Pasadena – 2 mi” and here’s a photo of the upstream end sign stating “Montecito Hts – 2 mi”: 

New bikeway signage - with destination and mileage!

New signage at the street (on Marmion Way shown at the photo atop this post) now directs people to the bike path.

Ok, dear underwhelmed readers – it’s not much, but I was happy to notice a few small steps in the right direction!

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§ 6 Responses to Small Improvements on the Arroyo Seco Bike Path

  • Kristy says:

    Good Post…actually Jerry Schneider sent me an email pointing out these improvements shortly after the community meeting with the county back in the spring (Was that March?). Maybe a remnant of an old request or a response to a strong community interest in keeping the project alive? Either way–still nice to have them.

    Also, wondering if you have talked to Jeff Chapman or Tim Brick about the rumor that the Arroyo Seco Channel is in need of reinforcement and additional concrete. Maybe we can rally on some naturalization.

    • Joe Linton says:

      @Kristy – The meeting you mention was in March 2009. I remember some recent Arroyo bikeway earlier improvements (the path was re-striped – because nearly all the striping had worn off) … maybe that was early 2009? I rode that a few times and didn’t notice any new signage. Maybe the various city bikeway work was phased in during the course of this year? Maybe I was in my usual running-late hurry-up riding mode and just missed them until yesterday?

      I haven’t spoken with Jeff or Tim recently about the rumor you mention… maybe they can respond here or at your blog (which I’ve just added to our blogroll.)

  • Wes says:

    Great post and great site! I regularly run in the arroyo, starting at Montecito Heights and going to the stables (which I didn’t even know existed until I ran the bike path), then exiting and taking surface streets back home. Keep up the good work, I always enjoy seeing my fellow runner, dog-walkers and bicyclists in the arroyo.

  • […] Linton notes small improvements on the Arroyo Seco Bike Path (sorry Joe, that’s only two mentions today). A driver in the Valley […]

  • Jeff says:

    Great post and thanks for promoting the path!

    According to info we got from the County, there will be work done in the channel beginning in the summer of 2010. I imagine that the path will be impacted by this work, as the project area includes two sections where the path is located.

    Enjoying the ride….

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