Santa Monica Bike Path Survival Guide
By Vince Basehart
Anyone who has biked or skated Santa Monica's 8.5 picturesque miles
of concrete terror, aka, "The Bike Path," knows it's treachery.
Spectacular collisions are as common here as sunburns.
Debbie, a local nurse and recent casualty of the path, bears a
scarlet scrape across her otherwise lovely face. Remembering through
that fog which mercifully descends during accidents, she described
While biking, a chubby toddler seemingly darted out of a Mary Cassatt
seascape, directly into her trajectory. She spared the child by
laying down her 15-speed like a Hell's Angel avoiding a jack-knifed
big rig. The little cherub scampered away unscathed, just as other
bicyclists bore down upon, and collided with, the heroic nurse.
Though such wipeouts happen daily, errant tots are actually among
the path's least common hazards.
Like a successful trip to the Serengeti, your best tactic for surviving
the Bike Path is to simply know how to identify and avoid its most
dangerous species. Whether out biking or skating, practice extra
vigilance during weekends and holidays when large herds compete
for prime space on the path.
With your safety in mind, we offer "A Field Guide to the Bike
Path's Most Reckless, Aggressive and Just Plain Dimwitted":
The Rhinoceros: Found wearing more pads than a
linebacker, this bicyclist expects to collide multiple times during
his outing, and does. Due to the Rhino's relatively slow speed and
tendency to travel in packs, however, the Rhino can usually be outmaneuvered.
Watch for the Rhino's bizarre, mid-path U-turns resulting in multi-bike
The Boris Karloff: Known for his rigid posture,
unsure footing and flailing arms, this novice in-line skater does
a great impression of Frankenstein's monster. Gentle by nature but
easily spooked, the Karloff is known for grabbing passersby out
of sheer panic and pulling them down with him. Give the Karloff
a wide berth.
The Professional: The F-16 of the Path and perhaps
as lethal. Easily identified by his skin-tight biking jersey emblazoned
with logos of Italian bicycle manufacturers, the Professional goes
Mach 1. He considers civilians mere cones around which to slalom.
Keep to the right to avoid the rare -- but Tour de France-quality
-- collision with the Professional.
The Bay Watch Re-run Watcher: Male, shirtless,
on foot. Perhaps a recent Midwest transplant, the BWRW has high
expectations of spotting, approaching and developing a torrid relationship
with Pamela Sue Anderson. Loving the sights but hating the sand,
the BWRW plants himself stump-like in your way while scanning the
beach for Pam. A loud yell will typically shoo him off.
The Dorothy Hamill: This skater, known as the
Hamill, insists on pirouetting and triple-lutzing her way across
the two-way directional path. Typically female, artistic and a practitioner
of yoga, don't assume the Hamill is harmless. Her moves can be unexpected
and forceful. Beware of her inadvertent (yet expressive) round-house
kick to the head.
The Moses: Leaning deeply forward on in-line skates,
the Moses clasps his hands behind a marathoner's physique and strafes
the path with long, powerful strides. Named for a body as sun-browned
as a desert wanderer and his expectation of the path's masses to part
before him like the Red Sea. Like his nearest relative --the Professional
-- to avoid collision with the Moses, keep well to the right.