Friday, September 5, 2008

Bike Girl Vs The Cahuenga Pass

Bike Girl has a roughly 6 mile commute to work. This would ordinarily be extremely do-able. But as fate would have it, the commute has a mountain in the middle. This would ordinarily be only a mild deterrent to the physically-fit Bike Girl. But as fate would have it, the only way over that mountain, is via the Cahuenga Pass.

For those unfamiliar with the Cahuenga Pass, It connects Hollywood to Universal City/Burbank. Cahuenga Blvd is split in two by the 101 freeway, so the northbound side of Cahuenga is on the east side of the freeway, and the southbound side on the west.

Cahuenga West may be the most dangerous street for cyclists in the entire city. It runs along the 101 and is often treated as another lane of that freeway by speeding motorists. The right lane is full of potholes, grates, and manhole covers that are not flush with the roadway. It's also a hill.

If it wasn't the ONLY way to get from Universal City/Burbank to Hollywood, Bike Girl would absolutely avoid it at all costs. However, since it is the only option, Bike Girl says a small prayer and holds on to her handlebars with white knuckles and numb fingertips.

Adding to that danger is the fact that Bike Girl has to ride this stretch in the middle of the night on her way home from the evening shift at her Place Of Employment. Oh, and did Bike Girl mention that at least 13-20 of the streetlights on the most dangerous part of this stretch are out. So Bike Girl has to traverse this stretch of road in literal blackness. (The above photo of the blackness was snapped by Bike Girl in front of the building that says Alternative on Cahuenga West)

Bike Girl considers herself pretty brave. After all, she rides the mean streets of Los Angeles. But she has been brought nearly to tears more than once while talking about this terrifying leg of her commute and has required multiple pep-talks from her significant other.

Bike Girl even invested in a Road ID so that when she is inevitably hit or killed on this stretch of road, her Significant Other and Mom can be notified to identify her body. Bike Girl's Significant Other was so worried about her; he purchased an extremely expensive, extremely powerful Nightrider light for her trusty cycle.

Bike Girl notified the city of this horribly dangerous streetlight outage in early August, but weeks later, it hasn't been corrected.

Bike Girl is more concerned because with the path through Griffith Park closed to cyclists during the Griffith Park Light (irony?) Festival, it will be absolutely the only option for more cyclists (Bike Girl gets off work after the park is closed and cannot utilize that way home.)

This stretch of Cahuenga is in Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge's district. Since Mr. LaBonge purports to be a friend to cyclists, Bike Girl would like to invite him to make this bike commute with her one evening to see how dangerous it is.

Bike Girl is calling for

1. Adequate Lighting (starting with fixing existing street lights)

2. Enforcement of existing speed limits to calm traffic and increase safety for all travelers

3. Repaving of this road, especially the right side

4. Opening Griffith Park to cyclists, not only during the Light Festival, but year round through the night so that there is more than one option for travel over the Hill.

Cyclists have the right to traffic signals, signage and maintenance standards that enable and support safe cycling according to Article 7 of the Cyclists Bill of Rights which is supported by Council Members Wendy Gruel, Bill Rosendahl, and Eric Garcetti.

Bike Girl cordially invites Tom LaBonge to drop her an email at bikegirlblog (at) gmail (dot) com and check out L.A.'s most dangerous street.

Related Posts:

Bike Girl Vs The Cahuenga Pass Pt 2

Bike GIrl Gets Stood Up


Anonymous said...

Good for you Bike Girl. I will extend the same offer to Councilman Weiss to ride over the Sepulveda Pass with me on my commute. Sepulveda Pass and it's ever disappearing shoulder and speeding motorists is an official "Bike Route". It's sad that our two main options for bicycle travel between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood/West LA are extrememly dangerous to cyclists.

Andrew said...

Word Bike Girl! Take it to the man!

I also agree with Anon, Sepulveda pass is pretty scetch too. I say a little prayer before entering that tunnel, despite the "bike in tunnel" light. And they seriously need to trim up those weeds taking up the shoulder.

Andrew said...


adam said...

I've ridden the Cahuenga Pass and it's easily one of the most dangerous things to do in LA. It's a shame it's the only route to & from the eastern valley.

Warren Bowman said...

Rock on, Bicycle girl. Cahuenga is a bi-atch to ride. Also, I have gotten over the hill by taking my bike on the Red Line between the Universal Station and Hollywood/Highland Station. I know, you shouldn't *have* to resort to that, but there it is....

Anonymous said...

Oh how I WISH I'd known about this before biking to work over the cahuenga pass yesterday: absolutely the most terrifying ride of my whole life!
I'm another bike girl on my first time in LA, and while I've had my share of terrifying rides back in NYC I've never felt so absolutely certain that I would die on my way to work. I'm not one to admit defeat easy but I think I'll be hoping on the metro for that last stretch of trip.

Bike Girl said...

Going north over the pass is not so bad on the East side of the freeway (cahuenga rather than highland). It is going South on the West side (highland side) that scares me. I do it sometimes with very quality lights.

The Red Line is my preferred way at night.

Anonymous said...

Bike Girl you are so right! I rode Cahuenga pass today and its absolute nightmare. It might be safer to take whole lane and force cars slow behind you to avoid rightside vegetation and pothole hell. Constant right turn makes it worse for you to be seen. Merging to Highland blvd on right lane is very sketchy as well with 101 exit traffic merging from your right side. Something must be done about this.

J.Balboa said...

You are absolutely right. I took the Cahuenga Pass a couple of times and it was so scary how your right lane merges with the freeway off ramp, leaving you in the middle of the avenue with speeding traffic on both left and right.

For a while I was bringing the bike in the subway across the mountain, but after a while, I found an alternative route, but it adds another 6.5 miles to my commute.

I work on Ventura and Sepulveda and live on Western and Melrose (a little over 12 miles). Going to work I still use the subway to cross the mountain, but coming back I come all the way on Riverside Dr and connect to the LA River path and up Los Feliz and the rest is just whatever.

I know 6 miles is a lot, but coming back is all downhill for me and there's a bile lane for the most part, so I make it home in about one-and-a-half hours. I haven't tried going to work 18.5 miles, but at least one way (back) works for now.

While I do this, I'm taking my time to look for a new job on this side of the mountains, because I love biking to work (I hate to drive) and for that reason, I hate the fucking valley...yes, that is a big deal for me. The ideal job for a biker--me--would be within 10 miles, but on this side of the mountains...not in the fucking valley.

I wish there was a bike lane through the Cahuenga Pass. I totally feel you and that's why I was searching the web to see if I was the only one bitching about it.