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L.A. City Council Approves Support for a $30 Million 2-Mile Beach Bike Path

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Along the Marvin Braude Bike Path in Santa Monica | Photo by stevendamron via Flickr

Along the Marvin Braude Bike Path in Santa Monica | Photo by stevendamron via Flickr
A controversial resolution supporting federal funding of a $30 million, nearly 2-mile bike path north of Santa Monica was approved today by the L.A. City Council. On one side of the issue were bicycle community organizers who thought it was a bad idea to seek money for this in the current fiscal climate while supporters agreed that it wouldn't send a bad message, it helps tourism and save lives.

Having a resolution on file in the city's federal legislative packet is a pre-emptive tool if money for such a project ever came to fruition, whether it be through coastal, transportation or other funding sources. "There's nothing negative with pushing this forward," said Council President Eric Garcetti, "no doubt, this is a positive."

The 19-mile Marvin Braude Bike Path along the Pacific Ocean stops 1.9 miles short of Los Angeles' border with Malibu. Officials and residents would like that gap be completed for reasons of safety, commuting, recreation and tourism. Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, resident George Wolfberg said this would continue building California's Millennium Legacy Trail, a long-term project to build a public trail system along the state's 1100 miles of coastline.

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For bicycle activist Stephen Box, who in most cases would thrilled to see the city pursuing bicycle funding, this money could be spent more wisely. "There's no time greater than right now for us to demonstrate financial responsibility, regardless of whose money it is," he said. "This does not send a message that we're paying attention to what we spend, where we spend it, how we spend it."

Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Dennis Zine, the two dissenting votes, agreed. "We sit here talking about no revenue. I think what we send is a very sad message," Zine said, noting that he supports the project, just not during the current budget situation.

"Have some vision for the city," yelled back Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who said he will support the bike path in Zine's West Valley district when and if funds come up for the L.A. River project.

"I have to say in good conscious, asking for $30 million to provide a 'breathtaking view'?" asked cyclist Alex Thompson, quoting the city analyst report (.pdf), which also states safety--"to avoid having bicyclists riding in unsafe conditions on Pacific Coast Highway"-- as a reason for the project.

Cyclist Enci Box called it the "bike path to nowhere." She asked that for projects that benefit the larger population and everyday commuter, "regardless of transportation." For Box, her husband Stephen and Thompson, they would like to see funding go into something like the Backbone Bikeway Network, a plan they participated in creating. It would focus the city on safety improvements and maintenance to key roads throughout the city, allowing for "cyclist's freedom to move."

But Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who authored the the resolution, called the section of Pacific Coast Highway along the missing bike path the most dangerous, adding that the path is "the most traversed bike path in the nation."

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