Bikeaggeddon as Metro Closes Bike Path for 405 “Improvements.” Re-Opening Date a Moving Target

This picture is from last fall at the Waterford and Constitution Bike Path, but Percus assures Streetsblog that it pretty much looks the same way now. Photo: Allon Percus

On April 16, Metro sent out a notice to Westside stakeholders of the 405 “Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project” that a bike path from Waterford Street to Constitution Avenue on the Southbound side of the 405 would be closed from April 18 until May 2 from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. Cyclists groaned.

When a similar proposal occurred in September of last year, cyclists were treated to a three month odyssey of shifting explanations as the community demanded Metro provide a safer route during the path closure. Cyclists are double worried this time because an estimated re-opening date for anything having to do with the Sepulveda Pass (Still Totally Worth It!) Project is always a moving target.

On May 9, mathematical sciences professor Allon Percus approached the path, and saw that it was still closed. He fired off a letter to Metro staff, and was immediately rewarded with a full closure of the bike path for twenty four hours a day, until May 16 at the earliest. Yesterday, Metro re-noticed the community, retroactively, that the bike path would remain closed from May 2 until May 16.

Percus tells his story.

I arrived by bike at the north end of the path today at 5:40pm (Thursday, May 9 – ed), carrying my 4-year-old daughter on a bike seat.  Even though this was well outside of the work hours communicated in the original closure notice, and even though we are well past the scheduled final closure date of May 1, we found ourselves locked out of the bike path.  The only alternative bicycle routes were a shoulderless highway during rush hour (Sepulveda Blvd. between Montana and Constitution) and a 2-mile detour involving a 150-foot climb.  As you can imagine, this is a distressing situation to find yourself in with a small child.  (In the end, safety won out and we opted for the 2-mile detour and the 150-foot climb.  It is not an experience I’d like to repeat, though.)

For their part, Metro staff assures Percus that the closure is a safety concern, and that the extended hours of the closure are also for safety reasons. Taking them at their word, that the path is now dangerous even when construction is not occuring, their safety solution (available to read in the closure notice) for cyclists and pedestrians is, in a word, unsafe.

Percus explains:

Furthermore, I am not sure if you realize this, but the recommended bike detour requires northbound cyclists to run a red signal in order to cross Sepulveda Blvd. at Constitution Ave.  That is because there is no means provided for bicycles to trip the automotive sensor that activates the green signal for cross traffic.  The pedestrian buttons have similarly been deactivated at this intersection.

At this late date, the best we can hope for is that the path re-opens “on time” this Friday for the weekend. Hopefully Metro learns a lesson that notifying cyclists when closing their routes is just as important as notifying drivers when it has to close a street.

I’ll be out of town starting Friday morning, but if anyone wants to check it out on our behalf, please send a picture to damien@streetsblog.org.