Is Extending South Bay Bike Path Worth a Debate? LADOT, NIMBY’s Say No.

Cruising down the Venice Beach Bike Path.  Photo:## Archer/Flickr##
Cruising down the Venice Beach Bike Path. Photo:## Archer/Flickr##

For Jim Kennedy, the matter is a simple one. The South Bay Beach Bicycle Path is a unique public resource, and cyclists shouldn’t be forced to take a detour down Washington Boulevard in to Marina del Rey when they hit the Venice Pier to keep riding on it.

Kennedy at the Tour de Ballona II in 2009.
Kennedy at the Tour de Ballona II in 2009.

However, nothing is that simple when it comes to changing and improving infrastructure in Los Angeles, especially on the Westside.

Kennedy has been beating the drum for proposal for years and is pushing for an extension of the beach trail from Washington to the Marina north jetty to be included in the city’s Bike Master Plan.  This extension would increase safety for trail users, they wouldn’t have to enter and exit traffic on busy Washington Boulevard, and would make the ride down the beach a far more pleasant one.  In the past couple of weeks, his plan has gotten some significant endorsements: one from the Venice Neighborhood Council and another from Alex Thompson a Board Member of the neighboring Mar Vista Neighborhood Council and President of Bikeside.  It should be noted that Bikeside itself has taken no position on the matter.

However, the extension faces a number of major obstacles, not the least of which is that it is not included in the most recent draft of the Bike Plan and opposition from Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery.

In the December 9th meeting of the City Planning Commission, Kennedy attempted to get the proposed path extension added to the Draft Bike Plan.  LADOT Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery   Mowery objected to placing the extension in the plan because, as she stated, the project wasn’t a high priority for the city, it would be expensive to build a bridge over the Venice canal (which isn’t part of the plan), funding could be used elsewhere better, there is a lack of community support and a path extension doesn’t have to be a part of the Master Plan for it to be eventually constructed.

Addressing the last point, Kennedy notes that because the section of the path he hopes to extend is controlled by both the city and Los Angeles County, it does have to be in the Plan.  Actually, it has to be in both plans.  Most of the other points also don’t carry a lot of weight in debating whether to include the Path in the plan.  After all, there are plenty of other expensive, low priority projects who’s funds could be better spent elsewhere that are included in the Draft Bike Plan.

That leaves the issue of community support.  While the Venice Neighborhood Council may be on board, a group of local NIMBY’s who don’t like the idea of increasing access to “their” public beach have stated their opposition to the project.  From The Argonaut:

The neighborhood council’s endorsement of the amendment came as disturbing news to Mark Winter, director of the Marina Peninsula Neighborhood Association, who said his neighbors have long opposed such a plan. Winter said communities where a bike path traverses through tend to have higher incidents of crime and graffiti, and cited other concerns including a lack of public parking and increased congestion.

In this case, the argument of the scofflaw cyclist holds even less merit than usual.  Let’s put aside the national statistics that show that crime is lower in areas that have bike paths running through them.  While it is debatable whether or not the Ballona Creek Bike Path made it easier for groups of teenage hoodlums to terrorize West L.A. streets adjacent to the path then speed away, the beach bike path doesn’t directly connect to other residential areas with higher crime rates.

As for the arguments about traffic, parking, and congestion, they also don’t hold much water.  The Bike Path is a public resource, and the city should be finding more ways to make people access it.  And as much as I hate to point out the obvious, many of the people who choose to access it will do so by riding their bike to it.

All that being said, all Kennedy is looking for is the chance to debate and study the path extension.  The surrounding communities and bike advocates agree with him.  All we need now is for the city to listen to the people arguing for the best utilization of public resources rather than those arguing to keep access to the resource to the privileged few who live near it.

The next chance to alter the Bike Plan will be at a joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use (PLUM) Committees.  The meeting has not yet been scheduled.

  • TrueDis

    Umm, and then what happens when you get to the north jetty? You swim across the Marina? I don’t get it.

  • Bikeside promoting a bike PATH?

    Wait, is this the same Bikeside that was chewing out LADOT for the Pacific Palisades bike path as being wastefully expensive?

  • Dear Bikeside promoting a bike PATH?, I should have noted, and updated the story to say so, that Bikeside itself has no position. Just Alex.

  • roadblock

    It would be nice to have. Not really essential since washington does have a bike lane for most of the way to connect to the path through Marina del Rey. But I love separated bike paths and I too am surprised that Alex is endorsing it. I personally thought the bike path to the palisades was a good idea too as long as the money wasn’t going to be sucked away from inner city bike infrastructure which, from what I understood it was not.

  • bert

    Well that is a pretty serious bridge that would need to be built. I would assume that is a much bigger obstacle than any Nimbys. Seriously. Take a look at a map.

  • Eric B

    It’s worth restating the obvious: this is about including it in the bike PLAN, not funding or building the segment. All this does is open up the door for future discussion. It’s kind of a no brainer, no matter where you stand on paths vs. lanes vs. sharrows.

    @TrueDis, Because this is a recreational path, the quickest route from point A to point B is not as relevant. Most of the through riders take surface streets from Admiralty Way well into Santa Monica. The route would then take a scenic journey around the marina rather than bridging the channel.

  • roadblock

    Sure, throw it in the plan. Hell yeah the more the better… But if the bike plan is more conceptual than realistic well then…. I have some cycle tracks I’d like to draw in along venice blvd from Western to the beach.

  • roadblock

    and to be perfectly realistic, there should be cycletracks along crenshaw transit corridor. there practically are already, just have to bust through some curbs.

  • @ Roadblock – as currently planned, the Crenshaw Line will have accompanying bike lanes installed wherever the line isn’t underground.

  • Seems like a waste of money to make a path to nowhere. Existing Washington route seems sufficient. I am sure there are better projects to focus on. Once LA has world class bike infrastructure then tackle the path to nowhere. or have a AEG/Farmers Insurance sponsored bike path….

  • Joe

    I really think you (and other proponents) are pitching this the wrong way. Perhaps if you were more clear that this is a spur, or a detour, and that riders would still have to backtrack and ride on the street in order to continue on to the south bay, people wouldn’t be quite so confused.

  • Eric B

    It’s impossible to have a good discussion about bike facilities through the Marina without understanding what the Marina may look like in the future:

    A perimeter bike path becomes the transportation spine for a Marina del Rey with a lot less parking. There are currently scattered facilities, but how do they all connect?

  • Mowery’s comment shouldn’t even be included – we all know what she’s going to say when on the record. It’s a million flavors of “No”. You could shrink it down to a logo with a speech bubble coming out of it and save us all the time of processing text.

  • Goldph

    Extending the bikepath in Marina Peninsula endangers children who frequent the beach in this location.  I am an avid bikerider and most of us don’t mind the Washington Boulevard route.  Spend the tax dollars on something more important!!!!


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