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Transit Officials Push for New Bikeway : Commuting: The five-mile path would cross four cities, but so far only one city has funds for its section. The inland route is intended to entice some workers out of their cars.

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Local transportation officials are pushing for a new inland South Bay bikeway, saying it would entice residents to commute to work on two wheels instead of four.

The five-mile bike path from Redondo Beach to El Segundo would take about two years to build and cost $1.5 million. Of the four cities along its proposed route, Redondo Beach is the first to secure its share of funding for the project: $320,000. The other three, El Segundo, Hawthorne and Manhattan Beach, hope to have their money in hand by the end of the summer.

Starting at Rockefeller Lane in Redondo Beach, the bikeway would extend north along the Southern California Edison Co. right of way paralleling Phelan Lane. Although the route is under discussion, planners say the path would probably enter Hawthorne, angle west into Manhattan Beach and then turn north again, running through El Segundo to the Century Freeway.

The project, being coordinated by Los Angeles County, is part of a growing effort in the Los Angeles area to build an interlinking network of bicycling pathways. The southern end of the route would connect with an existing bikeway in Torrance and the northern end could eventually hook up with a proposed Westside bikeway.

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The county is promoting such networks, along with car-pooling and commuter rail lines, as a way to cut traffic congestion and improve regional air quality.

“The main objective of the path is to bring bicyclists up from the south to the north in a safe way because there is no other (inland) path that does that,” said Sue Perry, who is overseeing the project for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (formerly known as the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission).

Nearly half of Los Angeles’ commuters live within a “reasonable” biking distance--less than 10 miles--of their workplace, according to the county, but only 1% of the working population cycles to work. With a South Bay bikeway, officials estimate, 4% of local commuters would pedal rather than drive.

“If we provide a safe and reliable bike path, people will use it,” said Rancho Palos Verdes City Councilwoman Jacki Bacharach, a county transportation commissioner.

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Safety is a major concern for commuting cyclists, many of whom have to battle automobiles during morning and evening rush hours because they lack bike lanes and paths. Safety issues have prompted some biking commuters to give up pedaling to work altogether.

Lucio Tolentino, who formerly biked from Torrance to his job in El Segundo, stopped after several close scrapes with motorists. “Essentially, the problem areas are in El Segundo, where everything funnels into small busy intersections,” said Tolentino, a safety engineer with Aerospace Corp. in El Segundo. “If there were a safe path, I’d ride probably four times a week.”

Under pressure from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to take more cars off the road, large South Bay employers are eager for the bike route to open. In 1989, the AQMD enacted a regulation that requires employers with more than 100 workers to implement plans to reduce the number of single-occupant vehicle trips.

“We’re very excited about the bike path,” said Cheryl Paniagua, who serves on the Bike Path Committee for the South Bay Transportation Forum, a group composed of the large aerospace companies in El Segundo. “It’s not going to be a network for bikers who like to race, but it will be a nice-paced ride to work.”

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Redondo Beach received its $320,000 for the project from a county fund earmarked for transportation improvements. The city plans to have its segment of the route built by June, 1993. El Segundo, Hawthorne and Manhattan Beach, which are seeking state transportation funds for their sections of the project, hope to have the bikeway complete by the summer of 1994.

“We are really trying to build a viable county bike system,” Bacharach said. “We certainly have the climate for it.”

Making Way for Cyclists A new South Bay bikeway is being planned to encourage more residents to cycle, rather than motor, to work. Nearly half of Los Angeles-area commuters live less than 10 miles from their workplace, county officials say, but only 1% make the trip by bike.


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