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Cyclist Attacked on Ballona Creek Trail

8:41 AM PDT on August 21, 2008

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. 

Iwas riding west on the BC path at a little after 1pm yesterday, whenthere was actually fairly heavy traffic on the path.  Under the 405 twogang members (this is what the police believe) threw another bike in mypath, causing me to crash, and then sprayed me with pepper spray andtook my backpack.  I rode to the LAPD station on Culver Blvd., despitebarely being able to see, and reported the incident since it was clearthat 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) toassault at least two other cyclists (and possibly more, according tothe detective I spoke with), pulling a knife on one (this is also whatthe police told me).  My backpack was recovered by one of the victimswho turned it in and called me.  It turns out this is the second timehe has been attacked in this manner on the BC path, this first timebeing left unconscious for nine hours.  I did a search of the CICLE andLA Bicycle Coalition websites and found other stories of such assaultsin nearly the same spot as recently as May and going back to 2006.  TheLAPD was helpful, but I got the sense that the BC path was not a highpriority, even though the crimes there are likely related to gangactivity in Mar Vista Gardens.  The officer who took my report did noteven know what I meant when I said I was riding on the Ballona Creekbikepath under the 405 (he kept repeating the question, "but whatSTREET were you on?").

Anyway, given the frequency of theseattacks and the fact that they occur in underpasses where cyclists aregoing very fast and the lack of police patrols there, it would seemirresponsible to encourage any use of the BC path.  Unfortunately in LAthe only other option for bike commuters like myself is to brave thecity streets with the obvious dangers there.  I used to take the CulverBlvd. bike path, but the endless construction at the405-Culver-Sawtelle junction makes it dangerous even to get to thatpath on city streets now.

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