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When It Comes to Safety on Bike Trails, Cyclists Are “Not on the Map”

8:21 AM PDT on August 27, 2008

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Last week, when Streetsblog reported on a cyclist being attacked on the Ballona Creek Bike Trail, one commenter noted that the attack wasn't being shown on the LAPD's online Crime Maps.  Yesterday, a commenter wrote that the attack still didn't appear.  Well, it turns out that when it comes to crimes on a bike path, cyclists danger is "off the map."

Back in July, the LAPD testified in front of the LA City Council Transportation Committee, about the  proposed closure of one entrance to the bike path.  One exchange between the LADOT and LAPD revealed that because the Crime Map uses addresses to map where crimes crimes are committed; attacks on bike paths such as the Ballona Creek Trail aren't as easy to track as those that happen off of it.  Streetsblog wrote:

In response, the LAPD’s representatives admitted that crime in the areahas gone down 46% in the first two months of 2008 compared to the sametime period in 2007.  Statistics for crime for the bike trail weren'tavailable because the LAPD Crime Mapssystem has trouble keeping records for crimes without a streetaddress.  Three years ago LADOT tried to get a list of crimes on thebike path, but LAPD could only provide statistics "for the area."

Apparently this isn't a new problem.  Longtime Ballona Creek activist Bobbi Gold, replying to the email that was the basis for last week's post opined:

In 1990, I started working (as a volunteer) on the problemsof crime on the Ballona Creek bikepath, as there was an upswing of attacks atthat time. One of the problems of dealing with these attacks is that wheneversomeone called LAPD about an incident on the bikepath, the person taking areport wanted to know the street address (not merely the nearest crossstreets). I was told that this was because Ballona Creek was not on LAPDs map.Supposedly the problem got corrected at that time, but from xxx's reportsbelow and originally, the same problems apparently exist today in that LAPDwants to know street names and numbers.

This state of affairs is especially frustrating for the victim of last week's attach.  In an email to Streetsblog, he writes,

The omission is especially galling in that the LAPD, thoughsympathetic and helpful, seems resigned to crime along the BC path and expectscyclists to “be aware” and apparently stop using the pathaltogether, all the while depriving the cycling public of the information thatwould make them aware.

Cyclists and other trail users are discussing ideas on how best to improve the trail to make it more safe for everyone.  Feel free to leave any of your suggestions in the comments section.

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