It’s Tuesday morning, and I’m pedaling to South Pasadena today for a ride that will take me through nearly a dozen Los Angeles neighborhoods in a 40-mile (64-kilometer) round trip. I saddle up in the Miracle Mile, where I live. It’s a strip of main drag off Wilshire Boulevard that’s packed with world-class museums, parks, galleries, restaurants and bistros – nearly all of them fronted by sidewalk bike racks. The fixie and I head east past the tree-shaded mansions of Hancock Park – a choice that is not whimsical: 4th Street has been a signed bike route for over 40 years and is slated to become a “bicycle-friendly street,” aka “neighborhood greenway,” in LA’s latest bike plan.
The eastern end of 4th Street saunters through Koreatown, with its myriad of tiny shops and restaurants. That’s where I turn north to LA’s self-declared “Bicycle District” around Orange 20 Bikes and the Bicycle Kitchen, known as “Hel-Mel” for the intersection of Heliotrope Drive and Melrose Avenue. It’s too early for anything but Cafecito Organico to be open and coffee awaits me at the end of the ride. I pedal on through East Hollywood and into bike-rich Silverlake, the city’s thriving BoHo district, lined with cacophonous coffeehouses, buzzing bistros, pubs, boutiques and bike shops. The decades-old bike lanes on Sunset guide me eastward to Olvera Street, the city’s historic original plaza, beyond which is the region’s transit hub at Union Station.
Were I to turn right, I’d cruise on a brand-new buffered bike lane through the Art Deco wonderland of Spring Street, home to thousands of lofts, offices, bars, coffeehouses, noodle shops and cafes – and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. But today I turn left for a quick spin through Chinatown, and from there around the shoulder of the Elysian Park hills to North Figueroa.
North Fig doesn’t have bike lanes yet, but when the stripes are finally laid down as planned, it will gracefully connect the Los Angeles River bike path with the new lanes on York Boulevard in Highland Park – conveniently passing right by Flying Pigeon LA and the Bike Oven on the way. It’s York Boulevard that will take me home after lunch, tempting me with Cafe de Leche (the site of LA’s first bike corral) and hooking me up to the bike lanes on Eagle Rock for the turn towards Midtown.
Friday’s a vastly different ride; that’s when I head west. After a slog through Beverly Hills – steadfastly indifferent to cyclists – I join the fast, smooth bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard, which let me zip from Century City to Sepulveda at roadie speeds. At Sepulveda you can choose to climb the pass to famed ridge route Mulholland Drive, or even beyond, into the Valley. But the lure of the beach is too great today, so I continue on, cut over to San Vicente and the roadie-heaven bike lanes there, till I come to Santa Monica’s Ocean Avenue.
Santa Monica is rapidly becoming “Portland South,” and its extensive program of bike-friendly infrastructure – including lanes, sharrows, hundreds of bike racks, the brand-new Bikecenter and the Santa Monica Museum’s art rides – have resulted in streets swarming with everyday cyclists on every imaginable type of bike. Its Main Street offers shops, bars, bistros and coffee hangs of all descriptions, as well as a Sunday morning farmers market that offers nearly a full block of free bike valet parking!