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NBC Universal vs. Everyone Else
To have a continuous bike path along the LA River, it must pass next to Universal Studios. The maroon line marks the disputed path.
Back in an October 2006 interview with the mysterious LA City Nerd, we asked a question of hope: when can we realistically bike commute via the LA River Trail from the Valley to Downtown LA? The nerd was not optimistic saying that "the LA River trail may never connect completely from the Valley to Downtown -- not until the hurtles of Warner Bros., CBS, and Universal Studios are overcome. All three own the property along the river in a way that would require them to give up currently used property for a bike way... it could be 25 years before those issues are worked out - just to get out of the Valley. As for the rest of the Route, the Right of way is there and most of the path could be built if funds were available. I would say the studios are the only thing stopping it from coming sooner."
Thanks to the LA Times, we find out that they are flushing out the issue as we speak. The people, the politicians, the bicycle riders all want the path to be as it should be -- a straight shot along the LA River from Canoga Park to the end of the city limits where the path continues through other cities until it ends in Long Beach. Still, "NBC Universal says it wants the route through its property to loop uphill and back down."
Universal has concerns over security (remember our Steven Spielberg article?), but also, apparently, unsolicited screenplays (ha!): "One bike advocate said Universal executives told him they feared that people would use the path to lob unsolicited screenplays onto the studio's nearby production lot..."
This comes from the very same studio that touts itself as green and eco-friendly and is in need of political and community support for two commercial buildings hovering above the Universal Metro Red Line station and nearly 3,000 residential units on the lot.
As for the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, which also has riverfront property, they are not talking.
For now, biking across the valley floor towards the "other side of the hill" and riding recreationally is doable, just not as accessible as it could be. In an interview last year with the city's Sr. Project Coordinator of the Bicycle Program, Michelle Mowery said "you can do it now but you have to be pretty comfortable in traffic and/or riding over the hills."