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Community Commentary:

Bike speed limit not required

November 05, 2008|By John Gaskill

I suggest that Pamela Lang’s recent call in this space for a speed limit on the Chandler Bikeway (“Bikeway needs a speed limit,” Community Commentary, Oct. 15) represents a mistaken understanding of what the bike path is about and what it may do for us all in the longer run.

The bikeway is not a sidewalk, even though it looks like one. It is illegal to ride a bicycle on many city sidewalks in Burbank. Sidewalks are reserved for pedestrians. The bikeway is for bicycles, tricycles, unicycles and other person-powered means of wheeled transit. It is divided into three segments by painted lines: two wheeled-traffic lanes for east- and westbound bikes, etc., and one lane for pedestrians, joggers and walking stroller-pushers. Overhead signs at main entry points indicate traffic lane assignments and flows using pictographs. Faded pavement markings restate the overhead signs. I recall that, at one time, there were signs prohibiting skateboards, but they seem to have vanished (sadly).

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I use the bike path multiple times each week in pursuit of fitness. In the past, I rode back and forth from Vineland to Mariposa, completing four or five laps for a ride of 24 to 30 miles, but now use the bikeway as a traffic-free zone to and from the Los Angeles River Bikeway. I was driven away by increases in the number of pedestrians walking three abreast in bike lanes; groups of people standing and conversing in the middle of the bike lanes; cruiser bicyclists riding in groups of two and three abreast, oblivious to the traffic lanes and unwilling to ride single-file when opposing traffic approaches; roller-bladers and scooter pushers ignoring their surroundings; and last but not least, families attempting to teach young children how to ride bicycles with training wheels.

While using the bike path, I was once knocked off my bike by a skateboarder traveling in the opposite direction who turned across the lane in front of me without warning and did not bother to look up in spite of my shouts. Hard braking could not stop me in time, even though I had previously slowed to about 10 mph. He was with five other westbound skateboarders, all of whom had moved out of the eastbound lane I was using. I was also nearly felled once by a scooter rider in the pedestrian lane who lost his balance and turned a 360 holding the handlebars while the scooter became airborne like a scythe blade.

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