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Cruise control

By Daily Bruin Staff

May 12, 1996 9:00 pm

Monday, May 13, 1996

‘Cruiser Bob’ Kiger envisions Southland cyclists’ superhighwayBy
Susan Lee

Daily Bruin Contributor

After years of pedaling his black Kestral Mountain Bike over
terrain of all varieties, "greenway" designer Bob Kiger is moving
in a new direction ­ and if he gets his way, it will be
straight through the cemetery.

Fresh from a 14-year stay in Hawaii, Kiger ­ an avid
bicyclist known in Maui as "Cruiser Bob" ­ is campaigning for
the creation of a "greenway" bike route running through West Los
Angeles.

Kiger’s plan would give commuters the option of traveling by
bike over the Sepulveda Pass from the San Fernando Valley and along
an east-west path connecting UCLA and Brentwood.

Kiger envisioned the route as a straight path starting at the
UCLA Medical Center, cutting through the Veterans’ Administration
Cemetery and Veterans’ Administration facility and ending up near
Brentwood.

Kiger explained that he sees his role primarily as that of a
scout when it comes to "greenway" construction.

"All I do is sniff out potential routes and get the word out
about connecting pre-existing paths and facilities together," Kiger
said. "In my mind, I have the route planned out. It’s just a matter
of what they want to do and how they want it to be done."

Creating "greenways" is nothing new to Kiger. In 1983, he helped
push local officials in Maui to create the Haleakala Route, a
greenway he helped design. The Haleakal route is now a $10 million
a year tourist spot for Maui and is one of the most commercially
successful downhill bicycle tours, Kiger said. He has also helped
design the North shore Greenway in Maui.

What started as a necessity of his newspaper delivery job years
ago turned into a way of life for Kiger. He has traveled around the
world twice, citing his trip from Delhi to Katmandu as the most
memorable. Also under his belt are a 25-hour trip across the Sahara
Desert and an appearance on MTV’s Real World 3, where he led the
cast’s overnight camping tour of Hawaii.

Citing Sunset and Wilshire Boulevards as streets that are
"killer" to bicyclists, Kiger said the east-west bicycle route
would be a safe and practical alternative to fighting auto
congestion.

"Sepulveda is the heart of the whole West Los Angeles bike
movement. It is critical because it’s the most popular pass for
bikes to get to West Los Angeles," Kiger said. "Not only does it
have to be strengthened and made secure, but it’s the only
practical way here."

Kiger explained that a larger, more important message underlies
his quest for a Los Angeles "greenway."

"Time is of essence," Kiger said. "I believe we need to make a
lifestyle change towards bikes, and I’m just out there letting
other groups know the possibilities. The east-west route is just
one essential part of the larger scope of possibilities for
bicyclists in Los Angeles."

Although bicyclists currently use the path through the
Veterans’

Administration facility, problems are created by the fact that
the gates are shut at sunset. Second-year undeclared student James
Wang, who commutes daily to Santa Monica, remembered having to loop
around when he found the gates closed at dusk.

Although the Veterans’ Administration had already heard of the
bike path idea, Kiger claimed that they were receptive to
reconsidering the idea, especially in light of the fact that the
federal government passed the International Surface Transportation
efficiency Act (ISTA), aimed at utilizing different modes of
transportation.

"Some call me a dreamer, but I’m only just visualizing the end
product and voicing it," Kiger said. "I’m just letting other groups
out there know the possibility so that we can get together and work
it out."

Veterans’ Administration officials are concerned about safety
for residents of the hospital, as well as the upkeep of the
cemetery. But Kiger emphasized that since people are currently
using the path without creating many security problems, few new
problems will arise as a result of leaving the gates open.

"It’s a good idea. If they’re worried about security, they could
make it so they could only allow bikers through the gates at
night," Wang said.

However, other cycling students voiced the opinion that the
proposed bike route would be unnecessary. Third-year Santa Monica
College student Steven Kwon explained that he would not consider
riding through a cemetery or the Veterans’ Administration
facility.

"I know it would be more convenient, but there are already lots
of ways to get around the cemetery," Kwon said. "This sounds funny,
but it’s more like of a respect thing, you know, for the dead and
for the vets. I know I’d hate to be in a facility trying to see
whether or not a bicyclist is coming down the hall to run me
over."

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