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Letters to the Editor: Why cyclists hate blocked bike paths — and it has nothing to do with homelessness

Pedestrians walk along the Los Angeles River Bike Path near Glassell Park and Atwater Village.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Nextdoor, the social network for neighborhoods, frequently is home to posts from people who experienced someone’s ire, then logged onto the site to write about it at length, with extraneous details designed to create a context that only the person posting could or should have known at the time.

And now this genre has made its way to The Times’ op-ed pages with the piece by a homeless outreach volunteer who got into a verbal spat with a cyclist while working on the L.A. River Bike Path.

If the bicyclist wrote about the exchange, I suspect he would tell us about the frustration that comes with people standing in the cycling lane when they could just as easily be standing feet away in the pedestrian lane (a problem that ideally will be solved before the bike path is constructed to be a continuous one, connecting the San Fernando Valley with downtown L.A., attracting eco-friendly commuters).

He might also point out that the unhoused are not the ones creating the obstructions.

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Jim Woster, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I really appreciate Daniel Polansky’s straightforward story of the exchange he had with a cyclist who was upset with him for blocking the bike path. He laid out the scenario in a way that showed how any one of us could find ourselves on either side of a contentious conversation depending on the circumstances of the moment.

In recent years, our society seems to have gotten more angry and divided than ever, and we have become quick to judge what others are thinking or motivated by. In fact, if we had the opportunity to listen to the other person, we might find that our anger or judgment was way off base.

Maybe if we could attempt to give others the benefit of the doubt, listen more carefully or at least not make stuff up about what someone else is thinking or doing, we’d all be happier people.

Joanna Ryder, Hermosa Beach

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To the editor: Polansky is of course correct in taking us all to task. For whom does the bell toll?

We all concentrate on the wee impositions and frustrations that life delivers to the privileged and lose sight of the challenges of our fellows who have serious deficits. (Don’t we all?)

Thanks to Polansky for what he does.

Gareth Craig, Tustin

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To the editor: Polansky could have avoided adding to the general vulgarity so prevalent today by asking his unhoused acquaintance to step aside while he broke the sad news of the death of his sweetheart.

Instead, with three people blocking the lane, he chose to excoriate someone who called him out and ascribed to him callous feelings regarding unhoused people based on ... what exactly?

How was this cyclist supposed to know what Polansky was doing, besides swearing at him for voicing a legitimate complaint? A simple “sorry” and a short explanation would probably get more empathy for the unhoused than his hair-trigger profanity.

Priscilla Benson, Altadena


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