Cyclist Attacked on Ballona Creek Trail

Yesterday, I got an email forwarded to me about a cyclist being attacked, beaten and mugged on the Ballona Creek Bike Trail.  You may remember that there has been some controversy about gang activity around one of the entrances and whether or not it is safe for entrances to exist in communities.  The LAPD, favoring gate closure, has protested that they don't have the manpower to properly police the trail and entrances.  This email shows that the problem is worse than we feared, it seems some police in the area don't seem to know that the trail exists.

Below is a first hand account of the attack. 

I was riding west on the BC path at a little after 1pm yesterday, when there was actually fairly heavy traffic on the path.  Under the 405 two gang members (this is what the police believe) threw another bike in my path, causing me to crash, and then sprayed me with pepper spray and took my backpack.  I rode to the LAPD station on Culver Blvd., despite barely being able to see, and reported the incident since it was clear that there would be more victims.  The attackers then used my backpack (which had a heavy On-Guard lock in it as well as several books) to assault at least two other cyclists (and possibly more, according to the detective I spoke with), pulling a knife on one (this is also what the police told me).  My backpack was recovered by one of the victims who turned it in and called me.  It turns out this is the second time he has been attacked in this manner on the BC path, this first time being left unconscious for nine hours.  I did a search of the CICLE and LA Bicycle Coalition websites and found other stories of such assaults in nearly the same spot as recently as May and going back to 2006.  The LAPD was helpful, but I got the sense that the BC path was not a high priority, even though the crimes there are likely related to gang activity in Mar Vista Gardens.  The officer who took my report did not even know what I meant when I said I was riding on the Ballona Creek bikepath under the 405 (he kept repeating the question, "but what STREET were you on?").

Anyway, given the frequency of these attacks and the fact that they occur in underpasses where cyclists are going very fast and the lack of police patrols there, it would seem irresponsible to encourage any use of the BC path.  Unfortunately in LA the only other option for bike commuters like myself is to brave the city streets with the obvious dangers there.  I used to take the Culver Blvd. bike path, but the endless construction at the 405-Culver-Sawtelle junction makes it dangerous even to get to that path on city streets now.