Cyclist Attacked on Ballona Creek Bikeway That Police Had No Idea Existed

Damien Newton over at Streetsblog LA is reporting an incident occuring at 1 p.m. yesterday on the Ballona Creek Bikeway beneath the 405 overpass in which attackers forced a cyclist to crash, then used pepper spray to help steal the person’s backpack.

From a first-hand account of the assault:

I was riding west on the BC path at a little after 1pm yesterday, when there was actually fairly heavy traffic on the path.  Under the 405 two gang members (this is what the police believe) threw another bike in my path, causing me to crash, and then sprayed me with pepper spray and took my backpack.  I rode to the LAPD station on Culver Blvd., despite barely being able to see, and reported the incident since it was clear that there would be more victims.  The attackers then used my backpack (which had a heavy On-Guard lock in it as well as several books) to assault at least two other cyclists (and possibly more, according to the detective I spoke with), pulling a knife on one (this is also what the police told me).  My backpack was recovered by one of the victims who turned it in and called me.  It turns out this is the second time he has been attacked in this manner on the BC path, this first time being left unconscious for nine hours.  I did a search of the CICLE and LA Bicycle Coalition websites and found other stories of such assaults in nearly the same spot as recently as May and going back to 2006.  The LAPD was helpful, but I got the sense that the BC path was not a high priority, even though the crimes there are likely related to gang activity in Mar Vista Gardens.  The officer who took my report did not even know what I meant when I said I was riding on the Ballona Creek bikepath under the 405 (he kept repeating the question, “but what STREET were you on?”).

This is in the vicinity of the controversial bikeway gate closure the LAPD supported in order to mitigate an alleged crime spike occuring in the neighborhood adjacent to the creek and keep it on the path where it belongs!

9 thoughts on “Cyclist Attacked on Ballona Creek Bikeway That Police Had No Idea Existed”

  1. This is one of things that just kill me. It is so easy to just close of viable transportation corridors instead of getting the thugs and creeps off the street. All they do is shift the problem to a new area and nothing is accomplished for the public at large.

    Be careful pal since that is an area where you ride too.

  2. Are there any police on bicycles who patrol the path? They do that on Virginia’s famed Mount Vernon bike trail. Considering that we have both an energy crisis and a traffic crisis, it would be nice to think that the City was trying to make it both easier and safer to travel by bicycle off of the streets and on bike paths.

  3. Matt, I think part of the problem is jurisdictional — at least with the Ballona Creek Bikeway. Not only does it cut through the separate municipalities of Culver City and Los Angeles, but I believe the waterway itself is county property.

  4. A few weeks back I was riding the path on a Saturday afternoon and I had to stop and get out of the way for a LAPD police Cruiser slowly trying to drive down the Ballona Creek path. I thought it was a little lame to try and drive a car down a path thats about a food wider then the car itself. But it was nice to see police anyways. maybe next time they can use a motorcycle or maybe a … bike?

  5. This is not a recent problem on this bike path. I bought a bike back in 1992 and took my first ride on the BC bike path. On the way back to Marina del Rey, heading west in this same location, I was rushed and pushed over by two thugs who wanted my wallet. I refused and they took my bike, crumpled tire and all. They definitely headed back to a housing project along there. The police didn’t seem surprised by it. It was 10am on Easter Sunday, and other people biked passed me during the confrontation, but didn’t assist. Sorry to hear that this is still going on, and even more violently than 16 years ago. Needless to say that was the last bike I owned.

  6. The Mount Vernon trail cuts through portions of Arlington, Alexandria, county areas, and other jurisdictions, so the idea of a bike trail running through different jurisdictions is nothting new. Hopefully, the officials of the different jurisdictions along the Ballona Creek path communicate with each other to coordinate policing along the trail, just like they would need to coordinate maintenance and other issues. We can be hopeful, right?

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