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Access to the Dominguez Channel walk way is often by bicycle, so we read this recent email from Jordann Turner at the City of Los Angeles with interest.

It arrived as a PDF, but for your reading pleasure we’ve converted it via OCR to postable text. There may be some errors/typos as a result.

September 24,2009
To all Interested Patties:
The City of Los Angeles is pleased to release the draft 2009 Los Angeles Bicycle Plan. This proposed Bicycle Plan is a result of extensive fieldwork, public/community input-including public meetings, mail-in comment cards, the online comment page from the project’s website and routes  submitted via web-based mapping services-as well as a review of the network recommended in the current Bicycle Plan….

There’s more below, but the important thing to note is the deadline for submission of comments of November 6.

Bike paths along the Channel would be Class I – …areas with available right-of-way, usually along flood control channels, utility corridors or through open spaces where the implementation of a bicycle path can provide access to destinations and/or enhance the continuity of the broader bikeway network.[my extra emphasis]

But there is no “broader bikeway network”! Page 19 of 22 in the report shows the bikeway designations for the upper Dominguez Channel. From 120th st near Hawthorne airport south to El Camino College / Alondra Park is designated as an existing bike path, however doesn’t connect to anything and is balkanized by major arterial streets (not shown on map). We’ve commented on this before.

Another very short segment of designated bike lane exists on the map between Garden Willows (near the W end of the 91 freeway). Connections are shown to several potential bike lanes. Timelines are difficult to ascertain, but the vibe I’m getting is that these bike lanes of the future will always be bike lanes of the future.

Then there’s nothing. All the rest of the remaining way to the harbor.

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The City of LA has just released bicycle commute maps.  Check out the South LA / Harbor Area bike map for the one that relates to the Dominguez watershed.

Here at FADW we’re champions of pedestrian and bicycle access along the Dominguez Channel and to points of interest within the watershed.  Where access is currently permitted, the Channel provides an exclusive travel path for cyclists and pedestrians that is often more picturesque and direct than nearby streets.  This is good.

So it was particularly frustrating to follow up on an email recently sent by the LACBC that called my attention to bicycle access in and around the City of LA.  Here’s their email:

ACTION ALERT!!!
The LA Bike Plan maps have been released.
Your input is needed!

The long awaited City of LA Bike Plan maps were finally made available to the public late last week. The maps will serve as the basic framework of the Plan. The City of Los Angeles has made them available on their website. The complete plan has not yet been released.

We, here at LACBC, feel these maps are not ambitious enough to serve as a blue print for infrastructure change in the next decade. While local connector networks could be improved by the proposed changes, major connectivity issues within the city remain unaddressed.

We are disappointed with the process and the current draft, but we see this as an opportunity to educate and influence the city to create positive movement toward meeting the needs of cyclists.

Your input is crucial! The time is NOW to weigh in on the Bike Plan!

TAKE ACTION by June 12th!
Your comments are an integral and important part of the process!

What you can do:
Review the maps carefully
What is missing? Send in streets that you feel have been overlooked to LA City and to LACBC
Look at the “infeasible” marked streets and choose 5 that you feel should be prioritized.
Send in your comments by June 12th to:
Jordann Turner
LA Bike Plan’s project manager
jordann.turner@lacity.org

LACBC
lacbc.comments@la-bike.org

LACBC will be speaking with public and city officials officials. We will be incorporating your comments to highlight the streets that YOU, our members, feel are important corridors that should not be disregarded.

The LACBC is right on target.

If you walk or bike the access road adjacent to the Channel on its upper reach, you see periodic mile markers painted on the ground, presumably indicating how far you are from the Port of LA.  But with all the blocked access, it’s a case of “You can’t get there from here,” at least directly.   Based on the mile markers, it seems that someone once had the intent to connect a travel corridor along the length of the Channel, but today that simply doesn’t exist.

First off: Let’s not kid ourselves that the upper Dominguez Channel corridor (the only portion with continuous access) is an effective bike route for distance commuters: It’s too fraught with mid-block crossings and with cross walk navigation (where you are a cyclist on the bike path, but then have to be a pedestrian to cross a street) to be useful for serious long range bike commuters.   So from a bike commuter standpoint what it looks like is a series of connected neighborhood cut-throughs.  That’s not ideal, but it’s not bad either.  Also on the plus side is that when viewed from a more generic travel-corridor standpoint the upper Channel also offers good pedestrian access.  What I would call this portion of the Channel is a good start.

The Problem: But all that comes to a halt between El Camino College / Alondra Park and the Port of LA (with a brief exception where the Channel crosses under the 110 Freeway).  Looking at the bike route map, these are areas that really need connectivity: A north-south travel corridor is an obvious need, as is connectivity between isolated sections of already-designated bike route.  But access generally isn’t  allowed along the Channel south of El Camino College.  In many areas access to the Channel as a travel corridor is simply blocked with a chain link gate and a posted no trespassing sign.

Here’s a clickable thumbnail of the upper portion of the Dominguez Channel bike path (indicated by the brown line adjacent to the blue Channel indicator). It starts at near the Hawthorne Airport and comes to a halt on the south side of Alondra Park near El Camino College. Shared roadways (balkanized at the right of the picture) are indicated in purple. An obvious connection from the shared roadways to the Dominguez Channel bike route is at 135th street where the main channel is fed from the east (not indicated on map).

Here’s a clickable thumbnail of the middle section of the Dominguez Channel bike path. As you can see, there’s only one short section open. Even though there are a number of shared roadways nearby (purple lines indicating roads signed for cycling), no connection is made to the Channel.

A clickable thumbnail of the lower part of the Dominguez Channel. No access is indicated parallel to the 405 on this map or the previous (with the one exception of a short stretch under the 110) even though it seems like an obvious commute corridor since the number of cross streets one would have to contend with when traveling parallel to the 405 is minimal.

What to do: Please make a comment to Jordann Turner at the email address above.  Feel free to copy the LACBC or post a comment here as well.  Just the knowledge that there is an interested constituency may be enough nucleate a change of plans in LA City planning.