Quite unusual for ambitious infrastructural projects, the Los Angeles River bike path on the Riverbed is progressing in record time. The Los Angeles City Council yesterday adopted a motion by Councilmember José Huizar to advance the construction of a bike path along the Los Angeles River's Downtown section. Concurrently, the Metro Board of directors approved a similar motion by members Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Gloria Molina, and Councilmember Mike Bonin.
"Connecting the L.A. River Bike Path is critically important to our growing bike network and our office's placemaking efforts along the River," said Councilmember Huizar in a statement. "We have seen recently great momentum supporting the transformation of the Los Angeles River, while we are also reimagining the 6th Street Viaduct, making this a decisive time to build on the energy of those two once-in-a-lifetime projects to ensure a connected Bike Path is integrated into our infrastructure and restoration plans."
Details of the so-called in-channel bike path have only recently come to light a few months ago, but the plan has already undergone preliminary studies. The proposal was brought forth by real estate developer and downtown resident Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City, who used his personal funds to consult with geo-engineers at Geosyntec and designers at wHY Architecture to explore solutions.
According to Bar-Zemer's plan, an almost 9-mile bike path would be built right on the river bed, connecting Riverside Drive to the north, to Atlantic Boulevard in Vernon to the south. The path would create a continuous 31-mile bike route from Griffith Park to Long Beach, working its way through the most problematic areas of downtown Los Angeles, which have traditionally been hemmed in by pre-existing infrastructure like the railroads and freeways.
John Howland of the Central City Association stepped forward in an earlier Council meeting June 4, to express support for the plan. "There are over 50,000 residents with 5,000 condo units being built currently, with 13,000 more in the pipeline," said Howland. "Downtown has a lack of green space, lack of recreational opportunities. This bike path is a great step on that opportunity to create open space not only for residents but for the millions who visit downtown every year."
While the plan itself has met with support from the Council, an earlier Transportation meeting revealed some skeptics in the community. John Walsh of HollywoodHighlands.org has questioned the feasibility of having both cyclists and a pedestrians sharing the in-channel bike path. "I want to know, what guarantees do we have that we won't be hit by a bike?" he asks. Other concerns raised were the bike path's accessibility for the disabled. Such questions would be further answered over the next months, as more concrete designs and cost estimates for the bike path would be developed The City is also searching for further funding to implement the project.
Rendering courtesy of Linear City, wHY Architecture and Geosyntec