Safety, Liabilities, Arguments

Reasons for Opposing the City’s Plan

Unsafe Congestion for Residents, Pedestrians, Bikers, and Children On or Adjacent to Jackson Avenue

Jackson Avenue is a quiet, narrow, dead-end residential street that cannot handle the proposed increase in cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and scooters zipping up and down the street where local young children play daily. There is barely enough room for two cars to pass each other or enough space for local residents and neighbors to even park.
Jackson Gate
Jackson Gate, Jackson Avenue

Serious Safety and Liability Hazards

The homes at the end of Jackson Avenue have driveways that extend beyond the “blind spot” to the gate. Residents backing out of their driveways every day and at any time, day or night, will NOT be able to see people – especially minors – exiting and entering the bike path from the Jackson Gate. This visibility problem presents a tremendous potential liability for both the city and homeowners. Opening this gate poses a tragic risk of serious accidents and injuries.

Furthermore, young children freely playing in this cul-de-sac area could easily wander through the open gate onto the bike path and get lost. They could also be injured (or worse) because cyclists often speed, especially along ramps and blind curves.

The gaps between the steel cables that form a barrier along the creek are broken in spots and so wide that a child or even an adult could easily slip through and fall into the creek channel itself. (Right past where the gate would open, there are NO steel cable barriers and actually no barriers at all, further raising the risk of an accident.)

Increased Crime, Gang, and Graffiti Activities

There are currently criminal and other illicit activities (bike chop shops, drugs, and gangs) along Ballona Creek. Although rates of reported crimes in Culver City are lower than nearby LA, opening a new access point directly into this neighborhood has a potential logical probability of enabling an increase in harmful criminal activities upon friends and neighbors living on Jackson Avenue as well as other adjacent Carlson Park streets. It will also enable an easy escape for any criminals within the Culver City boundaries.

Gate Adjacent

There is no arguing that there are crime, harassment, and gang activities along the creek – much of which goes unreported. People have been harassed, robbed, injured, hospitalized, and traumatized even when traveling in groups of two or more. Yet promoters for opening the gate near residential access argue that the creek path is the safest way for young students to bike to school. It is not!

Read the reviews and decide for yourself. There is very little supervision or enforcement of any kind in this area. Also, despite signs to the contrary, motorized bikes and scooters do barrel down this path daily.

Safety of Our Children

We believe that it is safer for children to travel to school on residential surface streets where if something happens, there are adults and authorities around to assist them. There is very little supervision or enforcement of anything along this narrow biking creek path. Furthermore, despite signs to the contrary, motorized bike riders, scooterists, and adult cyclists barrel down this path daily, ignoring the signs to slow down around its many blind curves.

Promoting the use of Jackson Gate as a way to get young children and pre-teens to commute to school without first addressing these issues is doing them a disservice. We suggest that our youngsters are better served by:

1. Having more crossing guards along with Braddock during hours when kids travel by pedal, scooters, skateboards, or on foot to and from school;

2. Installing more synchronized traffic lights;

3. Installing blinking lighted crosswalks at stop signs to alert distracted drivers to slow down and stop; and

4. Assigning more police traffic officers before and after school hours to assist with a safe commute, help educate safe biking habits, and help enforce the use of helmets among minors.

The Safety Problems

1. Jackson Avenue is an extremely narrow street that barely allows for two-way traffic and residential parking.

2. Opening the Jackson Gate would create unsafe conditions.

3. Accidents and Liabilities: Poor visibility leading to and from the gate exists due to blind spots that increase the likelihood of tragic accidents and severe injuries.

4. There is a risk of an increase in harmful activities and bio-hazards.

5. See/read what has happened in similar neighborhoods.

Liability increased multifold for the city with the opening of the gate in the current environment. Common sense must prevail. We would rather have our tax money go to the broader good: a greener environment, schools, and education, etc.

Other Arguments

  1. The claim has been made that opening up the Jackson Gate will relieve congestion on Overland, Washington, Braddock, Culver, and Farragut. WOW, that is a tall order! Here again, is our rebuttal:
    a) To make the claim that opening up this tiny street and its maintenance gate will tremendously reduce enough traffic in other areas to dramatically reduce street-side congestion and pollution implies that there will be a huge amount of increased usage along the Culver City portion of this pathway and a great deal of congestion on Jackson Avenue. That is, again, dangerous due to subpar conditions of the path in this area and the already mentioned narrowness in width at several points. In addition, such an increase would negatively affect the creek.  We need to recognize that this area is fragile, and such an amount of use will increase wear and trash upon this vulnerable ecosystem. PLUS, to conclude that this gate – located in a totally small residential area -provides greater access to businesses, errands, or work simply does not make sense. Except for the Jackson Market near Culver Blvd, there are no businesses/commercial operations or large employers in this neighborhood.  But there certainly are several areas of commerce, work, recreation, post office, banking, etc., at the wide Duquesne and Overland access points that already adequately exist—AND these points are less than a five-minute bicycle ride between them.  Of course, if the increase of travel afforded by the gate opening is not substantial, then the reduction in traffic and pollution on the surface streets will not be significant—WHY DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?  YOU CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!
    b) Furthermore, does it really make ecological sense to TEAR OUT a significant amount of FOLIAGE around and below the gate when greenery is what we need? And what about the Rain Garden at the End of Jackson Avenue? This has supported wildlife for years. Will this expensive and worthy garden be disrupted or dismantled in order to accommodate convenience for a few dozen residents?  Has anyone inquired about this?
  2. There is also the claim that the Jackson maintenance gate presents another access point for emergency personnel. Jackson is just seven blocks East of Overland and six blocks west of Duquesne.  The appropriate Culver City law enforcement and emergency and fire personnel should have keys or the combination for any lock on the gate AND practically speaking, DO show up with bolt and chain cutters as part of the tools they normally carry.  As a matter of fact, it is quite easy with the proper tools to break the gate lock open.  Just ask the person who at 3 am this past July who used a tool to quickly break the Jackson gate open and quickly disappeared back onto the pathway when confronted by a pajama attired Jackson Avenue homeowner living next door to the gate.
  3. The claim is that opening this gate provides more “Equitable” access to those challenged and disabled. We disagree. Many of us are seniors, and several are partially disabled and with disabled members of our families. We strongly dispute this for the reasons aforementioned – no ramp at Jackson, no sightlines for residents next to the gate to clearly see entrants when backing out of driveways, heavier usage compounds danger of narrow width areas, cyclists’ history of racing through blind curves, etc., etc.  It is safer to enter and exit via Overland or Duquesne where there are wider entrances, long ramps, people on walkways to assist, and where – on Duquesne—there is the police department right there if needed and in case of an emergency.  With the additional suggestions of blinking light crosswalks and stop lights, these larger venues will be even more accommodating.
  4. Proponents of opening the Jackson gate also claim that this access will foster more “visibility” along the pathway in general. This is very questionable given the small number (30 out of 384 or 7.98%) in the cities’ own survey who said they would use the Jackson entrance “daily.” But even if true, this is a double-edged sword.  The Jackson maintenance gate entrance is at the end of an extremely narrow quiet street.  The amount of usage that would put “more eyes” on the path would not necessarily create more visibility at all hours that might lead to safety, but it would certainly create unsafe congestion at the entry/exit point for the reasons already outlined.  So perhaps more “visibility” (but for those who have NO authority at enforcement), but at the expense of much greater “vulnerability” for all of those residents on and surrounding Jackson Avenue.
    Jackson Gate
  5. Yet another assertion by BPAC that is at best misguided & misinformed, and at worst is a false misrepresentation:

    The BPAC states, “In fact, there are currently five comparable bike path entrances in Culver city into residential neighborhoods on Fay, Cattaraugus, Caroline, Helms Avenues, and Sherbourne Drive also next to the EXPO line Railway which have Proven to be successful in their use since 2016 without the substantial problems anticipated by some of the Jackson neighbors”.

     

    THIS IS A FALSE ANALOGY! The streets that they are referring to, IN FACT, have NO open gates and NO direct access to the Creekside of the Bike Path.  Most dead-end and with a block wall and have a long pathway against that tall solid wall barrier. The path then feeds into a long wide ramp that opens up to the bike path.  The bike path at this point does NOT butt up against the creek.  Instead, it is next to the Expo-line—which is a flat, fenced, monitored area that is out in the open and next to an industrial/commercial area on the opposite side.  That is NOT the same as being up against an isolated creek that has a long rocky drop to the dirty water below it! The end of Fay also is a dead end but has a ramp that feeds into the very long ramp from Syd Kronenthal Park, where the actual access to the bike path emanates.  Again, here the bike path is along the Expo line and NOT the creek. These residential streets do not have dead ends with gates next to peoples’ driveways. The creek itself actually veers away from these streets and crosses the SE side of Syd Kronenthal Park, where it winds around the industrial area.  This part of Culver City has totally different zoning that includes commercial, light industrial, studio, and high-density residential dwellings.  It is a GROSS MISREPRESENTATION TO STATE that these streets are comparable to Jackson Avenue –nor are these streets comparable to the streets neighboring Jackson. This is like comparing apples and bananas:  both are fruits but very different.  All are streets, but very different.