But it is also known for traffic, smog and gridlock -- and first-time visitors often comment that the town seems to have been built as much for the convenience of automobiles as for people. “Bicycle friendly” falls low on the list of terms a responsible travel writer would use to describe this city. Yet here I am, doing just that.
reputation as a car-only town has been cracking for years, and recently that
reputation may have crumbled for good. The much hyped “Carmageddon” (in
which a section of the 405 freeway was closed down for a day) did not, as many
predicted, bring chaos. Rather it did the opposite, providing tangible evidence
that Los Angeles is not as hopelessly auto-dependent as previously thought.
More importantly, cyclists used the shutdown as an opportunity to showcase what
they had long known -- that biking offers a viable alternative to what is
arguably the city's Achilles heel, namely a transportation infrastructure
overly-geared to personal cars.
good year doth not a bicyclist's paradise make, and the proof is in the riding.
Come to Los Angles, ditch the car, and find out for yourself on these five
fantastic bike rides around the city:
Explore historic downtown LA
Angeles is a mostly flat, bicycle-friendly grid that offers plenty of spots for
the intrepid explorer. Newer skyscrapers are mostly to the west of Pershing
Square, and Broadway is full of Art Deco buildings (do not miss The
Bradbury Building) and theatres dating back to the days of vaudeville.
Gourmands will not want to miss Little Tokyo and Chinatown, both within easy
Tour South LA
of downtown is a series of communities known collectively as South LA. Start
your ride in the piñata district (because really, how many chances do you get to
visit a piñata district?) on East Olympic and head south on Hill or Main past
wide palm-tree lined streets. The Mercado
La Paloma is a great place to break for lunch.
Beaches and dreams
sand and sunshine, character and characters, Venice Beach is a laid back spot
in a city renowned for laid-backness.
Home to Muscle Beach (where Arnold Schwarzenegger began his political career)
and more medical marijuana shops than you can shake a stick at, Venice Beach is
a great neighbourhood for riding, sunbathing or just chilling out. Santa Monica
Beach is a few miles north, and both beaches have shops to rent bicycles by the
hour or by the day.
Take a celebrity home tour
The eco-friendly company Bikes and Hikes LA offers a
variety of tours around the greater Los Angeles area, including a Hollywood
Tour that can't be beat. Nothing screams “I love Los Angeles” louder than a photograph of you and your
pals posing on bicycles in a famous person’s driveway. Too fabulous for words! Check
their website for prices & difficulty levels.
Cruise with the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition
non-profit LACBC organizes biking events,
including the LA River Ride and other regular thematic rides (such as the
cycle-and-cuisine themed “tour de taste”).
The article 'Bike-friendly Los Angeles' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.