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#StreetsR4Families- The Los Angeles River Ride

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 12.19.23 PM

From the back of my bike in 2012 to fifteen miles on his own bike in 2016…the River Ride also allows me to check on his progress as a bike rider.

Yesterday was the 16th Annual Los Angeles River Ride. The River Ride serves the three-part purpose of fundraiser for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), tour of the L.A. River, and a group ride that brings together hundreds of bicyclists.

After missing the ride for a couple of years due to my vacation plans, I was able to join the 1,500 or so bicyclists that take part in the two-, fifteen-, thirty five-, fifty- or one hundred- mile bicycle routes that are part of the ride.

In recent years, LACBC has made a concerted effort to attract more than just hard-core racers and Livable Streets Advocates culminating in yesterday’s event which featured multiple ways for children to be part of the city’s largest bike party this side of CicLAvia.

Walk n’ Rollers provided bike-related activities such as helmet-painting and a bike rodeo for the littlest bicyclists. The LAPD provided escorts to the two mile and fifteen mile family rides. First 5 L.A. provided subsidies to make the family rides more affordable to families of any income level.

The River Ride happens once a year. Check back to Streetsblog in early 2017 for information on the next ride. After the jump you can find your media from the River Ride via Storify. Read more…


A Tale of Two Future Bridges: New Bike/Ped Crossing on L.A. River, Fewer Sidewalks on Glendale-Hyperion

A person crossing would have to come down from the bridge on the right to the red car bridge on the left to cross the bridge. Would anyone do this and add 12 minutes to their trip in the real world?

Under the two plans announced today, a person crossing would have to come down from the bridge on the right to the red car bridge on the left to cross. Would anyone do this and add 12 minutes to their trip in the real world?

It was sort of a surreal moment. Even as Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell stood at the podium discussing the benefits of a planned new bicycle and pedestrian crossing over the L.A. River, the Bureau of Public Works released its recommendation (PDF) that the new Glendale-Hyperion Bridge would actually have fewer feet devoted to safe sidewalks than the current bridge.

LaBonge and O’Farrell at this morning’s press event. Both pics by Damien Newton

What was supposed to be a light press conference announcing the opening of a permanent bridge project using existing support structures from an old Red Car bridge across the L.A. River turned somewhat sour for many of the community and traffic safety advocates in attendance when the Bureau announced their plans for the bridge on their website. News traveled quickly among the crowd, and the reporters present suddenly found themselves with dozens of sources for a meatier story than a made-for-bike-week announcement of new infrastructure.

In the fall of 2013, news broke that when the Glendale-Hyperion complex of bridges that connect Atwater Village and Silver Lake would be retrofitted to make them earthquake-proof, local advocates immediately noticed problems with the new design on the street portion of the bridge. Despite appearing on the city’s bicycle plan, the road redesign called for widening the existing car lanes, installing “crash barriers” in the middle of the bridge, removing a sidewalk, and adding no bike lanes.

After an explosion of public comment and a community forum which turned into a Livable Streets rally, O’Farrell, announced a citizen’s advisory committee would be formed. The Mayor’s office submitted a request for an extension to the grant. The old timeline would have precluded any major changes to the proposed road design.

Earlier today, the Bureau of Engineering released its analysis of four different designs for the new bridge, concluding that to make space for a pair of bike lanes on the new bridge, the best option was to take out one of the two sidewalks.

At the podium this morning, O’Farrell painted as rosy a picture as possible, discussing the importance of river crossings for all mode users and some of the improvements the new Hyperion Bridge will have over the existing one, including marked crosswalks and bicycle lanes. He even struck a populist tone, declaring his support for “protected bicycle lanes” on Hyperion and across the city.

But that wasn’t enough for many of the safety advocates in the audience. A press release from L.A. Walks noted that any bicyclist or pedestrian on Glendale Boulevard wanting to cross the river on the “Red Car Bridge” would need to travel twelve minutes out of their way–and are thus far more likely to use the limited sidewalk or just walk on the shoulder even without a sidewalk.

“The City of Los Angeles promotes the fact that we have moved past our auto-centric history and want to be ‘A Safe City,’ as it states in the Mayor’s Great Streets for Los Angeles Strategic Plan,” says Deborah Murphy. “We cannot achieve this goal if we can’t provide the most basic of provisions for pedestrians–a simple sidewalk on both sides of the bridge.” Read more…


Metro Round-Up: LAX, Open Streets, New Reps on Technical Committee

Concept rendering for new LAX rail station. Green Line and Crenshaw Line light rail  run at grade, below future "automated people mover." Image via Metro staff report

Concept rendering for new LAX rail station at 96th Street and Aviation Bo. Green Line and Crenshaw Line light rail run at grade (visible in the middle right), below future “automated people mover” (visible in the upper right). Image via Metro staff report [PDF]

At yesterday’s Metro Board Meeting, directors approved a handful of initiatives that have great implications for the future livability of the Los Angeles Region. Here is the re-cap:

Technical Committee Adds Pedestrian and Bike Representatives

The Metro Board approved adding two new active transportation representatives to the agency’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). In addition to new TAC members representing bicycle and pedestrian transportation experts, the motion [pdf] approved yesterday also added a non-voting public health representative.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Safe Routes to School National Partnership have pushed for long-overdue Metro TAC expansion. The TAC includes a representative from the Automobile Association of America, but no one advocating for active transportation. Earlier this year, Streetsblog previewed TAC expansion. Since that earlier article, the somewhat half-hearted proposal was strengthened by a March 2014 motion from Metro boardmember Mike Bonin.

Here’s what the LACBC’s Eric Bruins had to say about yesterday’s Metro board action:

It’s about time for Metro to embrace multi-modalism throughout the culture of the agency, including their advisory committees. This committee is involved in the nuts-and-bolts of decision-making at Metro, so it’s important to have people at the table constantly viewing agency actions through a lens of how they impact walking, biking, and public health throughout the county.

Open Streets Events Expanding Throughout L.A. County

SBLA covered the expansion of CicLAvia-type open streets events when Metro staff recommendations were circulated about a month ago. As LongBeachize previewed, representatives from the city of Long Beach attended the Metro Board meeting, expressing their concerns over Metro’s selection criteria. Metro awarded funding to only one event to each applicant city before funding any additional events hosted by the same city. Proportionally, this puts the cities of Los Angeles (population 4,000,000) and Long Beach (population 500,000) on equal footing with Lawndale (population 34,000) and Culver City (population 40,000). (Population figures here.)

Though Metro board member John Fasana expressed that Metro should “re-tool” in future open streets funding cycles, the board approved the staff recommendations unchanged. Lots more ciclovías coming to lots of neighborhoods over the next couple years!

Rail Connection with LAX Approved

Despite boardmember Mike Bonin expressing some concerns (including very low ridership projections, a focus of this L.A. Weekly article) at last week’s Metro Programming Committee meeting, yesterday’s LAX approval went very smoothly. The Metro board approved a preferred alternative for connecting rail to LAX. It’s a new rail station, located at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard, where LAX-bound riders can board an Automated-People-Mover (APM). Depending on operations decisions, still to be determined, the new station will serve the existing Metro Green Line, Metro Crenshaw Line (under construction) and possibly even Expo Line trains via Crenshaw. (Editor’s note: this would be way in the future – there are no current plans to connect Expo and Crenshaw tracks.) Both Mayor Garcetti and Bonin stated that they expect the 96th Street Station to be more than just a transfer point, but indeed a full-featured world-class gateway to Los Angeles.

With the LAX connection conceptually decided, there’s still lots of environmental studies, design and operation decisions, finalization of features that will be designed/built by LAX itself, and about a decade of construction before the riders can experience it.  Read more…


Weekend Update: Lawsuit and Rally to Save Riverside-Figueroa Landbridge

Tomorrow is a crucial decision point for the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge. LandBRIDGE proponents rally at the bridge at 8am.

Tomorrow is a crucial decision point for the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge. Landbridge proponents rally at the bridge at 8am.

Last Wednesday, proponents of preserving the historic Riverside-Figueroa Bridge lost an appeal before the L.A. City Public Works Commission. EnrichLA, RAC Design Build, and others, have pressed for converting the bridge into a “Landbridge” – an elevated park, similar to New York City’s Highline, accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

Last Thursday, the new parallel bridge opened to traffic; car traffic that is, bicyclists and pedestrians are still awaiting the opening of their facilities. Late Friday, Landbridge leaders filed a lawsuit to prevent demolition. Landbridge proponents are seeking a legal injunction against demolition. The case is scheduled to be heard at 8:30am tomorrow morning at Department 85 or 86 in Los Angeles Superior Court, 111 N. Hill Street in Downtown Los Angeles.

Just before the court hearing tomorrow, Monday June 2nd, 2014, at 8am, there’s also a rally at the bridge itself. Event details at Facebook.

At a time when the city is announcing a billion dollar investment in this stretch of the Los Angeles River, it would be unfortunate for them not to preserve existing structures that contribute the historic character of river.



Rumble Strips on the L.A. River Walk/Bike Path

The horizontal white lines are LADOT's new bike rumble strips, designed to slow cyclists down so they can share the path with pedestrians. Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

The horizontal white lines are LADOT’s new bike rumble strips, designed to slow cyclists down so they can better share the path with pedestrians. Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

The Los Angeles River path through Elysian Valley has new speed bumps.

They’re small strips of thermoplastic perpendicular to the direction of travel. For now, they’re located only where the multi-use river path intersects Riverdale Avenue. They’ve been covered in articles at the LADOT Bike Blog and at L.A. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s blog. The most extensive story is this article at the Eastsider which reports:

A 65-year-old woman suffered a broken arm last week after she was hit by a cyclist on the L.A. River Path on the same day that city transportation officials announced a pilot program to help reduce such collisions on the popular but narrow pathway. Now, an Elysian Valley leader has organized a community meeting to find out if the city can take stronger measures to protect walkers and prevent future collisions.  “My objective is to get greater awareness to the problem at hand and get a true remedy to this,” said David De La Torre of the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch.

The Elysian Valley woman was walking northbound on the path on the morning of Thursday, March 27 when she turned left at Gatewood Street and was hit by a cyclist who was riding behind her, De La Torre said. The woman, who said she looked over her shoulder before turning to walk across the path, was thrown to the pavement. The cyclist stopped and called the woman’s family for her help.  The woman was transported to a Glendale hospital, where she was found to have suffered a broken arm.

The Elysian Valley stretch of the L.A. River Walk/Bike Path has been a fairly contentious site for some time. To date, this is only stretch of L.A. River path where residential neighborhoods are immediately adjacent to an improved accessible stretch of relatively natural river. Prior to the path’s official opening in 2010, this area featured an unimproved access road that served as an unofficial shared walking and bicycling path. The access road was bumpy, with several large dips for surface drainage. This uneven surface served as a sort of unintentional traffic calming device, making for relatively-conflict-free sharing between cyclists and pedestrians. Read more…


The Clock Approaches Midnight for the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge

Plans for the Figueroa Landbridge are on life support as the City Council and Mayor allow a flawed estimate from the Bureau of Engineering to scare them away from not demolishing the current Figueroa-Riverside Bridge.

Plans for the Figueroa Landbridge are on life support as the City Council and Mayor allow a flawed estimate from the Bureau of Engineering to scare them away from not demolishing the current Riverside-Figueroa Bridge.

It was just over two years ago that I first heard that the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge over the L.A. River was doomed for demolition to make way for a newer version that would be built right next door. Despite its historic designation, it is the only mixed concrete and steel truss bridge crossing the L.A. River, I was resigned to seeing it go and just quietly said goodbye. The bridge was built in the 1920’s and rebuilt in the 1930’s, and it seemed it was just time for the bridge to go.

The demolition is planned to occur sometime in the Spring of 2014.

This summer, at the 11th hour, a plan to save and better the bridge emerged. Architects at RAC Design Build showed a preliminary design where a public park and bicycle and pedestrian path would be built around one section of the steel span built by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers in 1939 after a landslide badly damaged the bridge. The full report prepared for free by RAC Design Build can be found here.

Enthusiasm for the plan, which was named the Figueroa Landbridge, grew until a report by the city’s Bureau of Engineering said the design would cost nearly $5 million more than the $43 million set aside in federal funds for the new bridge project.

The City Council refused to set aside $64,000 for a real feasibility study, even after it was revealed that the estimate was inflated for several reasons, not the least of which was the claim that cranes wouldn’t be able to access the river channel even though cranes were doing just that for the construction of the new bridge.

In an article in this week’s Architect News, RAC Design Build architect Kevin Mulachy and principal Rick Cortez are pushing the plan again as time is running out for the City Council to make a move to save the bridge. A petition at has attracted 367 signers at the time of publication. But so far the petition has made enough noise to attract support from city leaders. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, which has made saving and restoring the river a cornerstone of their plans for the city, passed when offered a chance to comment on the bridge plans. Council Member Mitch O’Farrell told Streetsblog they would get back to us yesterday afternoon. Read more…


City Recommends General Contractor for Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement

The 6th St. bridge over the L.A. River. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

I’m not sure I’m ready to let the 6th Street Bridge go just yet, but it seems I have little choice.

It is in pretty bad shape, according to a planner linked to the project I spoke with last month. Internal chemical reactions have eaten away at the concrete of the 80-year old structure, he explained, meaning there wasn’t much they could do to save it.

And whether or not I’m a fan of the winning design from HNTB, the project appears to be moving along steadily.

Today, city officials announced that the Bureau of Engineering has recommended that Skanska/Stacy and Witbeck take the helm of the $400 million dollar replacement project.

In order to make the process more efficient, they say, Engineering and the Department of Public Works will, for the first time, make use of the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) Method. This means that the contractor will present during the design phase and work closely with HNTB to ensure the project meets budget targets, design is optimized to reduce cost, and quality and sustainability are enhanced.

In a statement released about the choice of contractor, City Engineer Gary Lee Moore noted that the city’s commitment to making the bridge a community destination remains unchanged, saying “The Skanska/Stacy and Witbeck team understands our commitment to partnership and demonstrates an exceptional ability to work collaboratively with the design team as well as the Boyle Heights and Downtown Arts District communities, and the Design Aesthetic Advisory Committee.”

Construction activities, slated to begin in 2014, will join several other recently completed, currently underway, or future projects, designed to enhance L.A.’s relationship with its much maligned (and even recently engulfed-in-flames) river. Read more…


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. Read more…