For as long as I can remember, South Gate has had a bike path along Southern Ave. It begins near Alameda, passes South Gate Park and reaches the Los Angeles River bike path via an entrance at Tweedy & Burtis, at the edge of abandoned industrial lots. As you can tell by the pictures, the bike path runs under the DWPâ€™s transmission towers and often intersects residential streets far from the corner, creating a hazard whenever bicyclist and driver fail to look for oncoming travelers. LACMTA classifies it as a Class I bike path [pdf] until it reaches South Gate Park, at which point there are bike lanes on both sides of Southern.
That being said, I still cyclists riding on the sidewalk on the other side of the street or bicyclists on the street itself, though the bike path is just across the street. What gets into peopleâ€™s heads to ride so unsafely when they have the option the ride safely, separate from cars, across the three-lane street? Itâ€™s bothered me every time Iâ€™ve seen it, both as a pedestrian and a driver. Iâ€™m not disturbed that asshole cyclists shut down the street (they donâ€™t), itâ€™s that riders do not take advantage of the opportunity to ride safely. Childrenâ€™s races along the bike path are a welcome common sight, but Iâ€™d like to see more of the cyclists going in South Gate on the bike path. More (including images) after the jump.
As a kid, I rode on the bike path often, sometimes racing friends from one end of the block to the other. Itâ€™s a great bike path and it would be a better path to walk along if something was done about the weed-filled lots surrounding the bike path. Iâ€™ve always considered the DWP right of way along Southern a prime area to create a sort of Emerald Necklace through the middle of South Gate. South Gate & Hollydale parks are the only large parks in South Gate, each on separate sides of the L.A. River. Stanford Ave. & State St. parks are small lots of land, the former having a few slides, the latter being little more than a field on the northeast corner of State & Southern.
Around ten years ago, a portion of the DWP right-of-way was converted into Cesar Chavez Park, with slides, picnic areas, and shade at Southern & Santa Fe, a part of South Gate lacking in green space and far from South Gate Park. Stanford Ave. Park is two blocks south of Chavez Park, but it doesnâ€™t provide the large space for a soccer game or a good water balloon fight.
Chavez Park may not have many trees, but itâ€™s a good example of turning an existing empty lot of dirt & rocks into a green space that the community around enjoys. Sometime last year, South Gate finished Phase II of the Cesar Chavez Park project and turned the empty land along between Long Beach & State into a chain of parks. They are much better than the barren land I biked along when I was younger and theyâ€™re perfect small parks for the communities around Southern Ave.
The bike lane provides an opportunity for the city to improve the quality of life of its citizens (and possibly real estate values) by taking the completing the chain of parks. Currently, the General Plan of the city of South Gate is in the process of being updated and the park along Southern is one of the proposals for the new General Plan. To read the draft of the General Plan, click here [pdf]. You can also read the Parks and Recreation Master Plan here [pdf]. And please, instead of calling it Cesar Chavez Park, can we call it Southern Park? Not everything has to be named after Cesar Chavez.
I took all the photographs used in this post. Crossposted over at my site.
If you want to see how the barren lots look now & how Phase II looked during construction, mess around with the Google Street View.