Due to this year’s El Niño storms, the federal Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is clearing vegetation (arguably illegally according to a similar regional water board lawsuit) in the most natural areas of the L.A. River. USACE is also adding temporary flood barriers along the river in the middle of the central stretch of L.A. River bike path. The flood barriers have closed the river bike path between the 134 Freeway and Fletcher Drive. The closures apply not just to bicycling, but also to the equestrian crossing from Atwater Village to Griffith Park.
The closures are temporary; USACE Twitter suggests that they will be gone around mid-April.
USACE, via twitter, encourages cyclists to avoid the bike path closure by taking a rather circuitous detour, apparently a route planned by the L.A. City Department of Transportation (LADOT). The detour is mostly fairly quiet streets, but to get to these streets, cyclists are shunted onto bike-unfriendly arterials – Los Feliz Boulevard and Fletcher Driver – for stretches littered with freeway on- and off-ramps. The detour is not marked with signage. It is apparently only for folks who find it via Twitter or the USACE website.
Would drivers settle for an un-signed circuitous detour like this? Think of all the publicity afforded to detours during recent freeway closures for bridge demolitions.
For subway construction in downtown L.A., LADOT installed detour bike lanes on Hill Street south of First Street. Could the river path closure be a good excuse for temporary (or permanent) bike lanes to be added to Riverside Drive between Los Feliz Boulevard and Glendale Boulevard? These would create a relatively direct detour route – and connect with existing Riverside Drive bike lanes between Glendale Boulevard and Fletcher Drive.
Winston Churchill said “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Certainly it appears that the USACE is taking advantage of an alleged crisis here (the L.A. River has a history of flooding in La Niña years, but not El Niño years) to generate lots of work to advance their agenda. Could LADOT have used El Niño to spur some bike lane implementation at the same time? There is still time.