Equestrians need improved park access

Re: “Council split over second bridge for Riverwalk,” July 13.

Atwater riders have historically used the risky Los Angeles River flood control channel bottom to cross to and from Griffith Park to reach its many miles of riding trails. Kudos to Los Angeles on its North Atwater Crossing Project plan to accommodate the Atwater contingent, as well as park users on foot and bicycle. But with no bridle trail from the new horse facilities at Glendale Narrows Riverwalk Park to the bridge at Atwater, it will be inaccessible by Glendale riders, who must continue to cross the busy Victory-Riverside-Sonora intersection to reach the park's miles of trails.

Recreation-oriented bridges spanning the river are too few. Hundreds of equestrians inhabiting the long stretch from Burbank and Glendale to Atwater, which includes the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, many rental stables and Rancho residential stalls have only the aging narrow suspension bridge at Mariposa Street in Burbank to access Griffith Park and Martinez Arena.

This is not to say that the new riding amenities at Riverwalk haven't enhanced equestrian experience in the Glendale Rancho, which went without a dedicated riding and exercise area until the park's December 2012 opening. The large arena and round pen adjacent to the Golden State Freeway, and curving trailhead access from the Bette Davis Park bridle path, are robustly enjoyed.

Griffith Park is an urban paradise for legions of riders and its paved roads are wildly popular with cyclists. But even with future pedestrian and cyclist safety upgrades cited in the Riverside Drive bridge widening and retrofit project likely to begin spring 2015, there will remain a missing link for riders.

An access path and bridge from Riverwalk would offer Glendale, Burbank and LAEC equestrians a superb and convenient connection with the famous park across the river, as well as provide a new legacy via a loop route that never existed before.

Joanne Hedge

Editor's note: The writer is president of the Glendale Rancho Neighborhood Assn.

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