Connecting the Los Angeles River Bike Path

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It was not long ago that I joined Los Angeles Waterkeeper as the organization’s new law fellow. Although I came to Los Angles Waterkeeper from Portland, Oregon, I lived in Southern California the majority of my life. So, in recognition of my return to the Los Angeles area, I recently hopped on my bicycle for a self-guided re-acquaintance tour around the city. My ride from Venice to Beverly Hills was certainly more urban than my usual weekend jaunt through the Santa Monica Mountains. But, the ascent up to Mulholland was on par with my more familiar weekend climbs. I was justly rewarded with some incredible views of the city and a fun descent down to Griffith Park. After wrapping my way through the park, I popped out at the Los Angeles River Bike Path alongside one of the beautiful soft-bottom portions of the river, where I snapped the photo above.

After returning home and doing some research, I discovered that there still exists an 8-mile gap in the bike path between Elysian Valley and Maywood. Recently, however, the Los Angeles City Council initiated a study of the feasibility of building at least three access ramps to provide cyclists access to the paved portions of the riverbed within the downtown area. That access would connect the Elysian Valley and Maywood sections of the path, creating a contiguous 35-mile bike path along the river from Griffith Park to Long Beach.

The safety of the project will obviously need to be studied because of the river’s shifting high-water mark, depending on storm water flows from rain events. But, I for one am excited by the possibility of a safe bike route through the heart of Los Angeles that will provide pedestrians and bicycles easier access to the river. This proposed project is just another way in which Angelinos, myself now included, are recognizing the critical role that the Los Angeles River plays in the vitality of our city. If the project goes forward, I am optimistic that the easier access will attract more visitors to the water’s edge, thereby reshaping many residents’ view of the river and revealing the importance of properly managing the storm water that contributes to its flow and the health of flora, fauna, and human visitors alike.

View an L.A. Times article on the subject here.

-Jeffrey Van Name, Law Fellow

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