City Breaks Ground on West Valley River Bike Path

Councilman Dennis Zine, far left, leads a team of activists and city staff breaking ground on a new bike path. Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

City Councilman Dennis Zine served as master of ceremonies at the groundbreaking for the West Valley Los Angeles River Bike Path yesterday.  Construction has begun on this first phase of the path, a 2.2 mile stretch that extends from Vanalden Avenue to Corbin Avenue.  The path won’t just be a stretch of concrete, but will also have some landscaping, access some mini-parks and have overhead lighting.

The total cost of the 2.2 mile path?  $7 million.

To read Joe Linton's ongoing coverage of this issue, click on his picture.

But, as Joe Linton points out at Creek Freak, because of all the amenities the path is more like a 2.2 mile linear park than a bike path.  Over $5 million of the budget comes from federal stimulus funds and the rest comes from a state grant program programmed for the expansion of open space.

There are 32 miles of L.A. River embankments in the City of Los Angeles, and currently only eight miles have adjacent bike paths, so this is a significant investment by the city in improving access to the river.  Future phases of the River Path are funded, but the construction timelines are unclear.

At the groundbreaking, Zine introduced a handful of speakers and repeatedly stressed that this path is a recreational, not commuting, bike trail.  Oddly, Zine spent a large part of his speaking time talking about how he wants to commute Downtown on a ten speed instead of in the Buick he drove to the conference.  Later, before introducing LADOT Senior Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery, who commutes on a portion of the river trail when she bikes from Long Beach to Los Angeles; Zine commented that “we all should ride our bikes here for the groundbreaking.”

But not everyone was in the mood to celebrate.

This sign waver was upset with the cost of the bike path, that it didn’t connect to any major attractions or population centers, and that it would take too long for the path to be completed.  It’s hard to argue with any of his points.  If I were given a $7 million check and told to make Los Angeles a better place to ride a bike, this path wouldn’t be high on my list.  That being said, the funding for this project came from state sources that were earmarked for parks and federal funds that needed to be spent by 2013.  This project fits both bills.

And by the way, if one is concerned that the complete path will take too long to finish, then one should be advocating for more funding for bike paths.  If one is upset at how much bike paths cost, then one should be advocating that no more funds be spent on bike paths.  Pick an argument!  You can’t have both.

The 2.2 miles of the West Valley River Bike Path is due to open in 2012.  Streetsblog will be there to see if Zine is riding his bike.