Fri 15 Jan 2010
Nevermind after dark, some consider biking along Ballona Creek during the daytime a risk simply not worth taking. As recently as last month there was a report of the latest in a series of assaults that goes back years, this one taking place on the bikeway about halfway between the 405 Freeway overpass and Inglewood Boulevard.
Ironically it happened on the same day that the renovation/beautification to the bikeway’s entrance at Inglewood was formally dedicated, with officials and dignitaries lauding the results to the people and media in attendance as an important step toward making the creek more welcoming to the community.
Not more than a couple hours after all that feel-gooding, a cyclist notified police that as he was biking about a quarter-mile east of Inglewood, he passed a male on foot who surprised him by sending a wild roundhouse his way — missing, thankfully — as he pedaled by. When the cyclist stopped a safe distance away and turned to find out what the hell just happened, the suspect motioned for him to come back, but he wisely just kept going and called the cops, who again demonststrated their chronic lack of familiarity with the channel by repeatedly asking him what “street” he was on at the time of the attempted assault.
So why do I make it a point to ride along the creek bike path, especially at night? For two reasons. One, because not to do so for fear of being mugged is just not how I roll. And two, because it’s the most efficient and serene — and frankly, safest — way for me to get from the office in Westchester to Culver City.
Fact is, in the two-plus years I’ve been biking from Silver Lake to work and back, I’ve been on Ballona Creek at night somewhere between 200-300 times. And the worst I’ve directly encountered was a belligerent malcontent in the form of a recyclables scavenger — possibly mentally challenged — who repeatedly called me a “faggot” as I passed. In fact, since I’ve seen him several times in that stretch of the creek between the 405 and Inglewood and he’s always surly to me it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a local and perhaps then the the same guy who swung so unprovoked at the cyclist in the incident mentioned above.
I do it for another reason — I’ve said it before and it’s the same reason why I ride the streets: to disprove those fearful perpetuators — most recently Councilman Tony Cardenas at a recent meeting who trotted out the old tried-and-true myth that cyclists on the streets in L.A. take their lives in their hands whenever they ride.
Shut. Up. Especially if at best, Cardenas rides maybe once a year… probably on Bike To Work Day. And accompanied by a police escort.
I’m sick and tired of our officials. Either they’re showing up for a few minutes in Mar Vista to pretend a bikeway is suddenly more welcoming or they’re throwing such fearful exaggerations out under the guise of hopeless empathizing — as if that’s enough. It’s not.