Heckuva job, LABSM – Bike path lights still dark

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/11/highvoltage-thumb.jpgBad news: The thoroughly vandalized streetlights along the L.A. River Bike Path are still dark, and you could crack your head, run over a sleeping homeless guy or get mugged at night if you don’t have a good headlamp.

Good news: The L.A. Department of Public Works Bureau of Street Lighting is on the job. I saw a city truck out there a week ago, laying cones on all the wiring vaults!

So thoughtful. Maybe it helps the crackheads spot the vaults more easily so they can bash them open and extract the valuable coppery goodness in record time (see photo after the jump) …

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/11/cones1-thumb.jpgThey also put a helpful “High Voltage” warning sign on the vault up at one end to serve as a reminder that if you’re going to be stealing wiring you should first carefully short out the circuit breaker so you don’t get a little burn.

Is the city working to restore these lights? Or are they just happy to accept the risk of people wrecking their bikes, getting mugged, running over the sleeping homeless and filing the inevitable round of liability suits?

Is there a single crooked metals-buyer somewhere in Atwater Village who knows exactly what’s going on and doesn’t mind so long as the cheap copper keeps coming in?

Is there a DPW engineer scoping out vandal-proof wiring vauilts? Is this system ever going to be fixed?

Just wondering.

8 Replies to “Heckuva job, LABSM – Bike path lights still dark”

  1. I’m surprised. Unlike the hugely unsatisfying encounters I’ve had with the LAPD and LA Animal Services, my experiences with LABSM have always been good. Anyway, I just emailed the LaBonge about it (which I forgot to do last time).

  2. Be quadruple careful out there because liability lawsuits against the city will have no traction whatsoever.

    From Metnews.com, May 2007:

    L.A. Not Liable to Cyclist Who Crashed on City’s Bikeway, C.A. Says

    The City of Los Angeles has absolute immunity for injuries suffered by a cyclist who collided with a chain link fence upon exiting the Los Angeles River Bikeway in Griffith Park, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday.

    Div. Eight rejected David Prokop’s contention that the city can be held responsible for damages resulting from its defective design of a class I bikeway.

    Prokop alleged that while cycling along the path, east of Victory Blvd., he sought to exit through an opening provided for bicyclists. When he attempted to cycle through the opening, at a spot where a message on the pavement says “WALK BIKE,” he ran into the fence, suffering a severe laceration to his forehead, loss of consciousness, and neck pain.

    He contended that cyclists are forced to curve sharply several times in order to exit the path and avoid the fence, and that the fence is too close to the path. The city, he alleged, created the dangerous condition and knew or should have known that it was placing cyclists in peril.

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu granted summary judgment, citing Farnham v. City of Los Angeles, (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 1097. The court there held that a class I bikeway, as defined in Streets and Highways Code Sec. 890.4, is a “trail” within the meaning of Sec. 831.4(b).

    The latter section grants public entities absolute immunity from liability for injuries resulting from a dangerous condition on a “trail used for” certain purposes, “including…all types of vehicular riding,” or on an unpaved road that provides access to such activities.

    Justice Paul Boland, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the trial judge was correct, noting that a series of cases have held that bike paths, both paved and unpaved, are trails and that absolute immunity applies as a result. In doing so, he rejected the argument that Farnham, which dealt with an accident on the Sepulveda Basin Bikeway along the perimeter of Balboa Park in the San Fernando Valley, should be overruled or distinguished.

    Prokop’s expert insisted that the gate where the injury occurred does not comply with the criteria set out in the California Highway Design Manual, as required by the California Bicycle Transportation Act. But even if that is so, Boland explained, the immunity has not been waived because Government Code Sec. 815 makes clear that a statute granting immunity takes precedence over any enactment purporting to impose liability on a public entity.

    Boland acknowledged that Prokop’s suit differed from Farnham in some respects, including that the latter case dealt with an alleged defect in the path rather than a gate. But the result is the same, the justice said.

    “No authority concludes that the ‘condition’ of a trail excludes conditions relating to its design,” the jurist wrote. “Indeed, the contrary is the case.”

    Attorneys on appeal were Jonathan B. Cole and Matthew F. Blumkin of Nemecek & Cole and Karen K. Coffin-Brent of Karen K. Coffin Professional Corporation for the plaintiff and Deputy City Attorney Blithe S. Bock for the defendant.

  3. Holy crap, that’s ugly.

    Nice to know that cyclists are second-class citizens out on the city-owned and -maintained trails.

    Good info, Will. Thanks for posting!

  4. I’ve been exiting that gate at Victory for years, even at night, and one would have to be sight-impaired to crash into the fence. There is no curving sharply several times necessary. It’s unfortunate that cyclist was hurt so badly, and if it were a true hazard, it’s jacked up that the city isn’t liable, but really, the guy had to have been going really fast and not paying any attention to what was ahead of him to crash that badly.
    As for the lights. I called and talked with a woman in the LA streetlight division a few weeks ago and was told that they were working on the repairs, but expected that the wires would be stolen again. She then added if anyone had helpful suggestions as to how to avoid theft, feel free to submit them because the city engineers didn’t have time to tackle this one.
    Great.

  5. I would suggest the City replace the pull boxes with
    the bolt down type, Caltrans has a standard for bolt down boxes. Maybe replace the standard bolt with something like the ones used in lock lugs too. It wouldn’t make them “theft proof”, but I’m sure it would help stop some of the thefts.

  6. They’re gonna have to be pretty tough.

    The vandals have cracked open the cement vaults with tools, pried up their bolt-down lids with more tools, even dug up the earth around the vault’s thick cement lip so they could bash through the thinner wall towards the bottom of it.

  7. This was the Bureau of Street Lighting’s response, via a Field Deputy who was responding to my email to LaBonge’s office:

    “This condition is still due to the wire theft problem. The Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) and the lighting is provided by Street Lighting. Presently there are over 150 spans of wires missing. We first had to wait for the materials to start our repairs. Now that we have started our repairs, the thieves have started stealing the wires from our repaired section. The Bikeway overall has experienced a 90% loss of the wiring that we are aware of and we have only repaired approximately 9% to this date. The lights remain out due to the thieves stealing the feed wires as well. We expect our repairs to run through the next couple of months, or unfortunately longer. We are attempting to request additional personnel as the personnel we are presently utilizing are the same personnel responding to damages, outages, vandalized areas, etc. on the City’s streets in this Council District as well all of the other Council Districts. Also, we are requesting support from other City agencies as this is not only a Street Lighting issue.”

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