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04/10/2009: "Lane Brains"
I've lived in LA a long time, and it feels as though I've ridden every street twice, and not a few of them a thousand I like to mix up my commutes as much as possible.

Yes, I know I work from home most of the time, but I do have regular destinations; the Garment District, South Pasadena, Larchmont, Hel-Mel (the "Bicycle District" where you find the Bicycle Kitchen, Pure Luck, Scoops, and Orange 20), and, often of Fridays, the Bridge at Playa del Rey where I hang out with Bill G.

Today was a Bridge Day, and to mix up the route I went down Culver Boulevard, which I hadn't ridden for at last a couple of years.

About halfway to the beach I saw the beginning of an ambitious bike path, and decided to see what the powers-that-be had granted to us pedalers there on the unchic half of the westside.

Imminent doom it what it looked like to me after only a mile or so!

It's an odd place for a Class I separated bike path anyway, lying as it does between a wide, freshly-surfaced, and lightly-trafficked stretch of Culver on one side, and a nearly-unused frontage road on the other. Not only that, but wide Venice Boulevard with its wide, fast bike lanes is only a few blocks north, and the Ballona Creek bike path, with no traffic, no stop signs, and no intersections, is a few blocks south--and both go to the same general area.

I suspect it's because there was an old railroad right-of-way there that made it easy to build. Myself, I'd rather see the railroad--meaning a tram--back in operation instead of a redundant bike path. As it was, I saw no other cyclists on the path itself, though I did note a few on the adjacent streets.

Good thing, too. The intersections of this bike path were deadly. Each one fed the cyclist into the path of right-turning motor traffic--at one point traffic gunning onto a freeway onramp. Yep: the green light releases you into the path of distracted drivers accelerating through a turn!

There are few more dangerous situations for a cyclist than coming off a sidewalk at an intersection. That's what gives sidewalk riders a far higher accident rate than street cyclists. Motorists are barely able to look out for pedestrians shuffling into the crosswalk; there is no way they will be aware of cyclists coming into the street at fifteen miles per hour from their blind spots!

Only one of the intersections gave any hint that cyclists did not have clear right of way with the green light--and that one had a stop sign and dismount instruction where the path met the sidewalk--nothing where riders would enter the street.

The rest of the intersections--nothing at all. Just a ramp and a green light, feeding you into the path of right-turning drivers--drivers who, once they began the turn, would never be able to see you either directly or in their mirrors.

A death-trap every block, for twenty blocks--built in the name of "safety."

And it's slower than riding the street lane right next to it.

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