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Existing Access

Access, security, and safety are the preconditions for successful public use of the LA River.

Currently, conditions reflect the legacy of development that historically turned its back to the river and the fragmented nature of investments that have begun to incrementally change this.

Trails along the LA River currently provide access to 32 of the 51 river miles. The county has hundreds of miles of proposed multiuse trails throughout LA County. This includes the closure of gaps in the bike paths along the LA River and Compton Creek. The longest continuous segments of the LA County River Bike Path are a 12-mile stretch between Imperial Highway and the mouth of the LA River at Long Beach and a 7-mile stretch along the Glendale Narrows.

The trails vary substantially in width and material as well, from a 17-foot-wide gravel path to an 8-foot-wide striped asphalt bikeway. This variability accentuates the lack of continuity in the river corridor. Users experience many paths rather than one. Therefore, as trail usage increases, it is possible that there may be more conflicts between users due to differences in speed and skill level—particularly where trails are narrow. Consistent visual and material surface cues, such as consistent paving materials and widths per each trail use, can help achieve a continuous, legible river corridor that serves a diverse set of users.

Bike and Multiuse Trails Along the LA RIver
LA County Map
Bike and Multiuse Trails Along the LA River. Existing bikeways and multiuse trails provide access to 32 of the 51 river miles.
City of LA, LA River Greenway, LA River Access and Points of Interest; OLIN, 2018.
Access Along the LA RIver
LA River Accessibility Composite
Access Points, OLIN, 2018. Department of Parks and Recreation Trails, LA County Department of Parks and Recreation, 2015. DPR Trail Access Points, LA County Department of Parks and Recreation, 2016.

Along the LA River, access points take on many different forms. Following the advocacy that led to the LA River’s designation as a federally protected waterway in 2010, there are now two sections of the river designated as River Recreation Zones created to allow access into the river for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. One segment is a 1.7-mile section in the Narrows and the other a 2-mile section in Sepulveda Basin. One-hundred and five access points that allow the public to access the river were identified. These access points vary from well-signed trailheads to holes cut in the fence that runs adjacent to the river. Access points, like the path, tend to be located on one side of the river at a time, although 45% connect to the opposite bank via pedestrian-accessible bridges. Moreover, access points are not always connected by the street grid, which often becomes sparse or fragmented as it approaches the river. The issue affects users arriving by all modes: pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, or transit riders traveling the “last mile” between the nearest station and the access point. A continuous 51-mile trail along the LA River with improved and increased access points can help the river serve as an active and alternative transit mode for communities adjacent to the river and throughout LA County.

Photo of people walking along LA River Trail near the SELA Arts Festival.
Pedestrians often frequent the LA River trail for leisure, exercise, and during community events. SELA Cultural Arts Festival, river mile 12.3.
LA County Public Works, 2018.
Image of two cyclists riding along the bike trail.
Large lengths of the river are accessible via bike trails.
LA County Public Works, 2018.
Photo of a small pocket cafe along bicycle depot.
The LA River Trail can be a catalyst for local businesses along the river and in the adjacent communities. Spoke Bicycle Cafe, river mile 26.3.
OLIN, 2019.
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