The Militant finally had an opportunity to ride the new section of the Los Angeles River Bike Path through Elysian Valley this week, which opened to huge fanfare two months ago. The Militant really wanted to check out the opening festivities, but he was tied up with some Militant community activities that day, not to mention that he may or may not have been easily spotted there.
But although the opening was blogged about many times, The Militant has always been about showing you a different angle. So during his recent ride, he was able to enjoy the bike path, not with politicians and crowds, but the way it was meant to be experienced.
After riding south through Atwater Village, he finally broke on through to the new section past Fletcher Avenue, marked by asphalt paving so smooth and dark, it almost looks like it was still wet from this past weekend's rains.
After passing the 2 Freeway overpass, the harsh white-noise roar of cars rushing above soon transitioned into the soothing rush of water and the intermittent quacking of ducks. Ducks? Yes, ducks! Lest you forget, the entire section of Los Angeles River, from Griffith Park to Elysian Valley, lies close to the underground water table, and was therefore never fully paved. The result is a glimpse of the what the River used to be -- and what many hope it will once again become -- replete with islands boasting California Bay Laurel trees protruding from the riverbed, and both native and migratory fauna walking, swimming or flying throughout. There are even mini-rapids where water rushes through rocks in the riverbed, forming calming sounds which soothe the senses. Aromatherapy, anyone?
It is in this section you can witness the Los Angeles River in pure serenity, with only the occasional whoosh and horn blare of a passing Metrolink train across the river interrupting the unexpectedly pastoral setting in the middle of this bustling metropolis.
Once in a while, you'll get a view like this, which just blows away most people's (predictably negative) perceptions of The River:
It was also a unique glimpse into the Elysian Valley (a.k.a. Frogtown) neighborhood - a tiny nook of 8,000 working-class residents living in the shadow of Chavez Ravine. A handful of pocket parks line the route, and the backyards of several houses face the river, some of which have roosters, dogs and California native plant gardens. Interesting to note, that the opposite side of Elysian Valley -- Riverside Drive -- is also a popular bicycling corridor, which The Militant has rolled through many times.
There was a time when the Los Angeles River Bike Path was just a boring, tiny little strip that ran 3.2 miles along the east end of Griffith Park. Whoopty-doo. But now it's grown to a decent 7.2-mile ride (that's 14.4 miles round trip - without worrying about cars); and even a one-way ride through its entire length will take you a while. Now all we need is a link south past Downtown to link to the rest of the River Path and north to the Valley! Let's do this!