Breezing and Biking Along
Marvin Braude, a Los Angeles City Councilman from 1965 to 1997, left a legacy of many wonderful recreational areas for our Southern California community. His many efforts to make our community better and more enjoyable were acknowledged, when among many things, the Santa Monica Bike Path was renamed to honor him. The nineteen mile path from Pacific Palisades south to Redondo Beach came into being thanks to his support and vision. I’m sure Councilman Braude, an avid bicyclist himself, were he here today would be glad to see how the bike path still draws thousands of people, adults as well as the young and small. I sure he would gleefully join the week-end parade along the concrete ribbon that zips back and forth along the sand.
The bike path parallels the edge of beach closest to the parking lots, arcs around green belts and children’s playgrounds, and darts pass commercial enterprises encroached on the sand. What can I say? What could possibly be more southern California than cruising along with the breezy ocean winds in your hair and the vastly glittering Pacific at your side?
The bike path brings out our open spirits. Beside bikers there are of course the many arm-in-arm strollers, walkers, joggers, dog walkers, skateboarders, in-line skaters, traditional-type-skate skaters, and an odd segway now and then. The skaters seem to need speed and whiz past, some do fancy turns just to show off. You can see the pleasure in their faces. Once in a while you can even see those lay-down-and-pedal it like a bicycle kind of contraptions. They don’t look like fun and they certainly don’t look safe, but to each his own, eh?
Now the bikers fall into several categories: the majority are casual roadster bikers just out to enjoy the day, then there are the moms and dads herding along their little boys and girls who are out for their first bike ride into the public just like the grown-ups, and then there are the lycra jerseyed, head down and elbows tucked, ten speeders. Many of these different people have either iPods or i-phones in their ears, sometimes both. So you can see the Marvin Braude Bike Path means many things to many different folks.
Sad to say however, a controversy evolved over just who has the right to be on the concrete and who should be off in the sand with their strolling, walking, jogging and the other odd vehicles. After all, it is a bike path. And it is ironic that you will pass ped-xing signs from time to time. The signs also warn path crossers to watch out for on coming traffic. Otherwise the bike path has no other enforcement. It is by benign neglect that the path’s use is being usurped by everyone, especially in the Santa Monica-Venice area.
So let me put in my observations. Several years ago I was driving on the east coast, or as close to it as I could or any visitor could possible get, to the actual coast. I was possibly within a hundred feet of the Atlantic Ocean. But the land was privately owned and the general public, which would be everyone who uses the Marvin Braude’s Bike Path, was blocked. I couldn’t even see the water. How sad, unless you happen to be one of the privileged few to own your piece of the coast, exclusively. So, we have something the folks on the east coast don’t have. We have our coast. Let’s put this controversy in perspective. We can stroll, walk, hike, skateboard, skate in what ever form we want, bike in what ever form we want, including the children-especially the children, and enjoy every moment of our day. When we do, let’s not forget a man who helped make it possible: Marvin Braude. Now, to the guy who has the lay-down-and pedal it like a bike- Could you please, please, not use that. I’m just saying…