My Bicycle Route: Los Feliz to Downtown with Special Guests — LA Bike Trains!

Me (Heather!) and my bicycle

My favorite means of commuting to and from work has always been by bicycle, and my commute to LADOT  is no different. For many bicycle commuters, the decision to bike to work is often because they find the convenience, affordability, enjoyability, and commute time appealing. Biking also takes away the stress of having to rush to catch the [insert any public transit mode] or the all-too-familiar road-rage-inducing traffic congestion.

I live in Los Feliz and it takes me an average of 35 minutes to bike to work Downtown. In total, the ride is about 5.5 very doable miles. If I were to commute by car it would take me roughly 40 minutes plus a few bucks for gas (and then… parking).  There are a few bike routes I can take to work because of the growing bike lane network leading to and through Downtown and the route I take most often is straightforward, based in two prominent north/south and east/west bike network connectors: the 2nd Street tunnel and Spring Street bike lanes.

From my home, I use neighborhood streets to reach Sunset Boulevard, then take Sunset (more than half the ride), and finally catch the bike lane on Spring Street to the reach the LADOT office. My ride starts out in the quiet Los Feliz flatlands, where I weave through neighborhood streets and a few mid-block alleyways. I enjoy the slow pace I can take in the alleyways that feature limited vehicle traffic- their separation from major roadways allows me to relax and take it easy. I also enjoy the sense of community here. There are several schools in Los Feliz, so I routinely see a lot of moms and dads walking their kids to school or older kids walking together in groups.

Turning into mid-block alleyway in the Los Feliz neighborhood.

Turning into a mid-block alleyway in the Los Feliz neighborhood

When I reach Sunset, I take the popular Sunset bike lane for an easy 4.5 miles through a couple different neighborhoods: Silverlake and Echo Park. Biking on Sunset is my favorite part of the ride because it is scenic, varied, and social. There are a few rolling hills, but all elevation climbs are manageable and are subsequently rewarded with fun, gentle downhills. To my surprise, Sunset Blvd. in the mornings doesn’t ever seem as busy as it usually is in the evenings and on weekends.

Silverlake and Echo Park have a lot of locally beloved coffee shops. They’re always in full swing with people enjoying their favorite morning pastries alongside a cup of joe. Mornings along Sunset are also bustling with the bigger business of everyday life- there are always a few freight trucks unloading, buses picking up and dropping off people on their way to work. It’s important to follow the same rules of the road with these larger vehicles. When they are stopped to unload, I pass them safely, on the left.  With busses, sometimes I slow down and wait behind them until they exit the bus zone. Patience and common sense are important when sharing the road!

Using the bike lane on Sunset and passing the Sunset-Silverlake Junction Plaza.

Using the bike lane on Sunset and passing the Sunset-Silverlake Junction Plaza

When the weather is rainy or just too cold or too hot, I’ll opt for a multi-modal commute. For these rides, I dress according to the weather and bike to the nearest Metro Red Line Station, taking my bike on the train. From the Red Line, I get off at Civic Center Station, and then bike the rest of my way to work. Like Jose mentioned in his previous My Bicycle Route post, taking your bike on the train is super easy.

In addition to using other modes of transportation to supplement biking, I’ve also learned a few wardrobe tips to make my trips more successful. These include: 1) layering 2) wearing comfortable or slightly stretchy clothes to allow for lots of leg movement 3) cuffing pants to avoid greasy chain smears and, 4) adorning a reflective strap or vest for safety. Storing work clothes and extra gear like a multi-tool, bike lights, and flat tire patch kit in a pannier will also help ease your ride and facilitate a safe trip.

When I get the opportunity, I like to join an LA Bike Train to commute to work! LA Bike Trains is a free, community-oriented organization that helps people bike to work together. LA Bike Trains currently offer 10+ weekly or bi-weekly routes throughout the city that are led by Conductors, experienced urban cyclists. Some examples of the routes include Silverlake to Santa Monica and K-Town to UCLA. LA Bike Trains is a fantastic resource for people who want to ride their bikes to work, and the organization continues to grow, adding 5 additional routes since 2013. Luckily for me, there’s a Bike Train that leaves from Cafe Vitta in Los Feliz every other Thursday morning at 8 am and rides all the way to Downtown. It’s exactly the same route I usually take, but way more fun because I get to meet fellow bike commuters and have some company on my ride. Apart from social incentives, another great benefit of bike trains or biking with others is creating the “safety-in-numbers” effect, which makes you a little more visible to people driving. My ride to work with the Bike Train always feels fast- I guess time flies when you’re having fun 😉

Here’s my route in detail, from Los Feliz to Downtown:

Los Feliz Downtown

If you’re looking to find your perfect bike commute route, there are tons of resources out there to help you get started. Here are a few leads:

  1. Visit our most up-to-date Bikeways Map on bicyclela.org
  2. Ask fellow bike commuters or employees at your local bike shop
  3. Use the bicycle route option on Google Maps
  4. Use Google’s street view tool to help envision your route
  5. Read about others’ bike commute routes in our My Bicycle Route series
  6. Request a bike map for your region in LA
  7. Get in touch with an LA Bike Train conductor in your area

In addition to the route itself, you might want to think about environmental factors like:

  1. Elevation inclines and declines: Dress and prepare accordingly.
  2. Bicycle infrastructure: Paths, lanes, sharrows and their varying degrees of safety, connectivity, and ease.
  3. Vehicular traffic and speeds: Neighborhood streets often yield slower vehicle speeds while main thoroughfares often yield higher vehicular speeds.
  4. Time of the day: Make sure to use the proper lights and reflectors to make yourself visible.

Keep in mind that one of the best ways to pick your favorite route is to simply go out there and take a few test rides. You can even drive the route in a car ahead of time. Have fun, and let us know what your favorite rush-hour-beating bike commute route is!

Heather Do is an intern in Active Transportation Division’s Bicycle Program.

Cruising the Coast: A Two-Wheeled Tour of San Pedro

Bicycle tourism has been well observed and practiced as a recreational activity across the United States, but often we fail to remember the multitude of sightseeing opportunities right here within our city’s diverse neighborhoods.  As Los Angeles’ bicycle network and multi-modal connectivity expands, we have more and more opportunities get out of our cars and explore new areas by bicycle. There’s no better way to spend a sunny Sunday than exploring Los Angeles’ hidden gems. We thought we would share our favorite bicycle routes and points of interest in and around San Pedro, one of L.A.’s most scenic and bikeable neighborhoods.

Cruising the Waterfront 1

Clockwise from top left: The Corner Store, view from Paseo Del Mar looking north; bike lane signage; Metro Bus 246; palms at Point Fermin Park; Point Fermin Lighthouse; and buffered bike lanes on Paseo Del Mar.

Located 25 miles south of Downtown L.A., San Pedro is home to some of the city’s most breathtaking vistas and historical sights, not to mention bike lanes and paths that even novice riders will enjoy. Our journey begins on San Pedro’s Paseo Del Mar, accessible via the terminus of Metro Bus 246 at Paseo and Parker St. Cruise Paseo’s bike lanes and check out the breathtaking cliff-side views of the Pacific and Catalina Island. Stop by local haunt, the Corner Store to refuel with coffee and snacks before making your way east to Point Fermin Park, home of legendary Walker’s Café and the Point Fermin Lighthouse, built in 1874.

Cruising the Waterfront 2

Taking in the view on Paseo Del Mar.

From Point Fermin, it is a quick 5 minute ride down Shepherd and Pacific Avenues to Cabrillo Beach, where you can check out the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the nearby tide pools. If squids and urchins aren’t your thing, enjoy the views along the beachfront bike path and fishing pier. Head north on sharrowed Shoshean Road toward 22nd Street where twenty-second Street Park’s scenic bike path will lead you straight to Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro’s new artisan marketplace located in a beautifully restored warehouse.

After picking up some homemade marmalade, head up the hill to Beacon St. to check out the Muller House Museum (open Sundays only), a cherished jewel of San Pedro’s past. Other great sights in the vicinity include: the WPA murals in the San Pedro Post Office on Beacon St,  recently constructed Cabrillo Way Marina and Warehouse No. 1 at the south end of Signal St, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cruising the Waterfront 3

Clockwise from top left: Warehouse No. 1; view from Signal St., bike parking at the Red Car Downtown Station, bike lane on Harbor Blvd., a glimpse of the Bike Palace on Pacific Ave., the Merchant Marine Memorial and Maritime Museum off Harbor Blvd. Center: A brand new boardwalk just north of the Maritime Museum.

Take a well-deserved break at Utro’s Cafe right off of Sampson Way, home to arguably the best burger in town. Peruse Utro’s extensive collection of memorabilia to learn a bit about the history of longshore workers in San Pedro. If you’re still up for more San Pedro sights after lunch, take a stroll around the quaint shops at Ports O’Call. From here you can also take the short trip north to the fantastic Battleship USS Iowa and Los Angeles Maritime Museum both accessible via the bike lanes on Harbor Blvd.

If you want to give your legs a rest, hop on the Historic Waterfront Red Car Line, one of the last remaining vestiges of Los Angeles’ railcar past or enjoy the water show at Gateway Plaza, featuring two Fanfare fountains by WET Design. When you’re ready to catch the 246 back north, take bike-friendly 9th, 13th, or 14th Streets 4 blocks west to Pacific Ave.

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=zaHzTGRzimt0.k8-loRkvu2pU&w=640&h=480]

Since there’s so much more to see in San Pedro – like the Warner Grand Theater and Korean Bell, just to name a few- feel free to leave us your suggestions for other great bike-friendly sights in town! Also, let us know if you have any suggestions for other bikeable L.A. neighborhoods you would like to see us explore on the blog.

More great resources for your trip: Bike Palace (located on Pacific Ave. and 16th St.); bicyclela.org (for bike maps and parking info)

My Bicycle Route: NoHo to UCLA

My bicycle route is mainly on neighborhood streets, providing a lower-stress and more pleasant experience.

Jose Tchopourian, LADOT Bike Program.

The Los Angeles region is vast and challenging to navigate by any transportation mode. Some residents, like myself, find it more enjoyable and oftentimes faster to commute using a bicycle alone or in combination with public transit.

Before guiding you through my “hybrid commute”, which combines bicycling and transit, I would like to point you to some helpful resources for making trips by bicycle: bike maps and infrastructure, transit maps and timetables, bike rules of the road, and fun bike rides and education.

Since September, I have been commuting from my home in the NoHo Arts District to class at UCLA’s Urban Planning Department. My trip combines a bike and Metro’s underground Red Line subway. The total commute is 14 miles long and takes about 1 hour door to door.

I start my trip on the Metro Red Line at the North Hollywood station in the direction of Union Station. I ride the train two stops, departing at the Hollywood/Highland station. The train ride takes about 9 minutes. If you are riding Metro Rail with your bike, keep the following in mind: 1) use elevators or stairs to enter and exit stations 2) if the train is full, wait for the next one 3) give priority to passengers in wheelchairs, and 4) stand with your bike in the designated area for bikes, which are clearly identified with a yellow decal adjacent to the car doors.

Holding my bike while riding the Red Line Subway into Hollywood.

Holding my bike while riding the Red Line Subway into Hollywood.

The second part of my commute, an 8-mile bicycle ride, takes about 45 minutes and allows me to experience the sights and sounds of multiple neighborhoods.It is important to follow the rules of the road while operating a bicycle. Obey all traffic signals and stop signs, yield to pedestrians, and use lights to be visible at night. I find that riding predictably and communicating with other road users makes my ride safer.

The route I have selected avoids steep mountainous terrain. Instead, I experience slight inclines during my trip. In addition to elevation, I also consider the type of streets I will be using to get to my destination. Eight years of using a bicycle for moving through Los Angeles have taught me that safety comes first. Even if riding on arterial streets might bring me to my destination a few minutes earlier, I prefer to trade time saving for the lower-stress experience of riding on residential and neighborhood streets. When I do ride on arterial streets, I pick those that have bike facilities on them.

Here is my route. If you see me on the road, say hello!

If you would like to share your favorite route, send it to bike.program@lacity.org.