A Possible Fix for Expo Bikeway Safety Problems on the Westside: Elevate the Bikeway

A "bicycle freeway" probably won't look like this turn of the 20th Century wooden highway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena. Photo: Wikimedia

When people try to describe the future Expo Bikeway that will provide a bike connection from Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Santa Monica they reference the Orange Line Bike Path as the example. The Orange Line Path runs parallel to the Bus Rapid Transit Line in the Valley and many people are at least aware of it, even on the other side of hills.

As currently planned, the future bike path runs onto the street in several places most notably at major intersections such as Sepulveda, Sawtelle, Pico/Gateway and Barrington.  The problem of the bike path running on and off the congested Westside roads is well put in blogger/activist Gary Kavanagh’s Raise Some Red Flags Bike Advocates, Expo Line Bike Path/Route Not Looking So Good.

But the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) has a different vision for the Bike Path, a vision first described by BAC Planning Subcommittee chair Kent Strumpell (previously, a 10-year LACBC board member).  Another BAC member, Jonathan Weiss, who led the surprisingly successful campaign to create additional green space at the Westwood Blvd. Station, is going to Neighborhood Councils on the Westside asking them to support a study of a “bicycle freeway” design to elevate the bikeway at the intersections of Sepulveda, Sawtelle, Pico-Gateway and Barrington, roughly three quarters of a mile.

In a letter to the Westside Neighborhood Council, who ultimately voted to ask the Expo Construction Authority to study elevating the listed Westside intersections, Weiss make that a mini-bicycle freeway will keep cyclists safe, and car traffic moving.  

Elevating the bikeway would encourage and facilitate cycling by providing a safe, convenient route over a series of intersections that otherwise entail circuitous, time-consuming and potentially hazardous crossings. It would also ease the flow of automobile traffic in the area by reducing the need for special bicycle accommodations within the roadway and additional signal phases.

Strumpell hopes that, even if the highway is not built now, the train bridges will be engineered so that they could hold a bikeway in the future.  But the environmental documents for the bikeway make no mention of an elevated bikeway, so it’s wildly unlikely that Metro, or the Expo Construction Authority which is building light rail and the bikeway for it, will take this issue seriously without strong political support.

And that support is growing.  The Westside Neighborhood Council is the first Neighborhood Council to join the Bicycle Advisory Committee asking for the study.  Weiss’ next target is the West L.A. Neighborhood Council who’s Chair, Jay Handel, is on-board with Weiss’ concept.Weiss’ next target is the West L.A. Neighborhood Council who’s Chair, Jay Slater, is on-board with Weiss’ concept.

I fully support the study of the elevated crossings for the EXPO bikeway.

Building these elevated sections are integral to the safety of cyclists who will use this new east/ west corridor across our city. Along with the rail line it will be another element in decreasing traffic congestion on the west side.

We should note that despite the opposition to the Expo Bikeway by some members of the Westside Neighborhood Council, their vote was done in good faith.  Some members of the Council who are also members of Neighbors for Smart Rail abstained from the vote to avoid any appearance of conflict.

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