Bicycle planners will soon be pursuing federal funding that would help bridge a key gap on a path along the Los Angeles River. Currently, a riverside bike path exists on both ends of downtown L.A., enabling bike commuters to pedal over 7 miles north, to the San Fernando Valley, or 17 miles south, to Long Beach, but for trips through downtown, no contiguous option exists.
"The river corridor is home to more than one million people, 390,000 housing units, 480,000 workers, 35,000 businesses, and 80 schools," said Nate Baird, Bicycle Coordinator for Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). "Making these connections meets many of the goals of the 2007 Revitalization Master Plan and the 2010 Bicycle Plan."
A grant sought by the city would fund about five miles of on-street bicycle infrastructure to link the riverside path in downtown. The funding would also go towards five miles of bike path along the L.A. River in the San Fernando Valley--two miles would be installed in Reseda and three in the Sherman Oaks/Studio City area.
Another 20 miles of on-street infrastructure, like bike lanes and sharrows, would help extend access to the river to more downtown and valley neighborhoods.
A downtown Los Angeles bikeway network would be, as stated by Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council letter supporting the project, "useful means for navigating our neighborhood without a private vehicle."
Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, introduced the grant as a source of funding to strength the economy and create jobs through "affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices," noted the city's official bicycle blog.
Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, is a discretionary grant program under the FY 2011 Continuing Appropriations Act, an offshoot of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
"We're asking DOT to fund $13 million of a $18 million project," Baird told KCET. "We'll be asking City Council for the authority to match the federal funding with $5,000,000 of Measure R returns." Measure R was approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 to fund transportation projects.
"The build out of a city-wide corridor dedicated to biking along the river," continued Baird, "can provide Angelenos with new and safer access between homes, schools, jobs, or natural, historical, recreational, and cultural resources."
Departures has extensively covered the L.A. River. Explore it here.