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Bicycling In Los Angeles: 6 Great Routes

Bicycling in Los Angeles video

A lot of people, both visitors AND locals don’t even think it’s possible to go bicycling in Los Angeles. Or even if it is, that it would be unsafe, not to mention downright dangerous. The car is king here – this ain’t Yurup (which is how we say Europe by the way). However, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that this isn’t in fact true, Bicycling in Los Angeles is not only possible, but safe and even – dare I say it – fun.

Of course that isn’t to say that the cycling experience is always – or even mostly – stellar. There are plenty of parts of Los Angeles where cycling isn’t going to be much fun, not to mention borderline terrifying. However, there are also some really incredible rides, which are super safe and fun. You just need to know where to go – which is why you need this guide to cycling in LA.

In this article I’ll list five great bicycle routes around Los Angeles and neighboring cities, like Santa Monica, that any reasonably proficient bicycler can do and WILL enjoy. My daughter was able to do all of these by the age of ten – I’m just saying!

Bicycle Routes in Los Angeles

1. MANHATTAN BEACH TO PALOS VERDES

Distance: 8 miles

This one’s really easy. Just hit the beach bike path at El Porto, at the top of Manhattan Beach (or you can start further north, in El Segundo), and head south. After cycling for about eight miles, and having the time of your life, you’ll hit Palos Verdes, where the beach ends.

Then just turn around and head back the way you came to your starting point.

Don’t forget the sunscreen.

This map is interactive. To open in Google Maps click the icon in the top right corner.

2. VENICE PIER TO WILL ROGERS STATE BEACH

Distance: 6 miles

Will Rogers State Beach, North of Santa Monica

This one’s even easier. Start at Venice Beach, near the pier and head northeast. Cycle along the beach, past (or rather under) Santa Monica Pier and keep going all the way to Will Rogers State Beach, in Pacific Palisades. Just one of the best things you can ever do.

You could even stop off at the private swimming pool of a silent movie star on the way and go for a dip, at the Annenberg Beach House.

Remember, sunscreen!

This map is interactive. To open in Google Maps click the icon in the top right corner.

3. LOS ANGELES RIVER

Distance: 5 miles

The Los Angeles River

Between North Atwater Bridge and Egret Park (which sounds lovely, but is right under a freeway overpass) there’s about five miles of lovely cycling (totally separated from vehicular traffic). It should be – it’s right by the river after all – but maybe not quite in the way one would expect when told that fact.

The Los Angeles River was put in a concrete straitjacket more than eighty years ago (in 1940) and for most of the intervening time it wasn’t even classified as a river, but as a flood control channel. A terrible example of LA’s determination to remake its very environment in ways that it thought expedient. Although it did make a great location for post-apocalyptic action movies like The Terminator, and feel-good fantasy high school musicals, like Grease.

No more. Now the river is back as a river and slowly life is returning to its banks. Most of the bottom of the channel in this stretch was not concreted, so huge trees grow in the middle of the river and you can even kayak there. The industrial spaces at the side of the river are slowly being turned into creative offices, restaurants and gourmet drip-coffee bars and the residential areas are surprisingly pleasant.

Our recommendation for lunch? Spoke Bicycle Cafe or Salazar.

This map is interactive. To open in Google Maps click the icon in the top right corner.

4. WEST HOLLYWOOD AND BEVERLY HILLS

Distance: 9 mile loop

Out of all the bike routes suggested here this is the only one which involves sharing the road with motor vehicles, but in terms of bicycling in Los Angeles it’s eminently doable and very worthwhile.

You could start at Pink’s Hot Dogs on Melrose and La Brea (or anywhere else along the route for that matter), and from there just cycle west. This stretch of Melrose Boulevard is well-known in LA for its nice shopping and good bars and restaurants.

When you hit Santa Monica Boulevard just keep going west into Beverly Hills. You’ll cycle past the famous Beverly Gardens and eventually come to the even more famous Rodeo Drive. Go down the shopping street to the stars (which nobody in LA calls it) until you reach Wilshire Boulevard. Cycle due east on Wilshire.

After a couple of miles you’ll come to the new Academy Museum on your left. Next to the Academy Museum is LACMA and next to that the La Brea Tar Pits Museum. The Petersen Automotive Museum is right opposite too. It’s a great place to take another break.

After that jump back on your bike and head north, up Fairfax Avenue to the Farmers Market (and another break?). You can take a shortcut round the market to Pan Pacific Park, behind it. Cross the park to Beverly Boulevard and head east to La Brea. Right before you reach it you’ll see the New Beverly Cinema, which is owned by Quentin Tarantino.

Make sure you don’t hit any celebrities here (you won’t – you wouldn’t have got near them) and cycle up La Brea Boulevard, right back to Pink’s.

This map is interactive. To open in Google Maps click the icon in the top right corner.

5. CYCLAVIA

Distance: event sizes vary, you decide

CycLAvia was inspired by the movement that started in Columbia and pushed the city government of Bogota to create new bike paths (cyclavias). Since 2008 it has started a movement here in LA. About once a month CycLAvia organizes an event in a different part of Los Angeles, whereby the streets are closed to vehicular traffic and the bicycle reigns supreme.

There are food trucks and other stalls and vendors, cafes and bars spill onto sidewalks and even the streets themselves. In short it’s a lot of fun, it’s very safe and it’s totally cool seeing all these neighborhoods totally reinvented in a much better way. How wonderful it would be if every day was CycLAvia in every part of Los Angeles! Check here to see what events they have planned.

Another similar event, which is held in the San Gabriel Valley, is 626 Golden Streets.

6. SANTA MONICA & VENICE BIKE TOUR

Distance: 7 miles

Let us do the work by taking our Santa Monica & Venice Bike Tour.

First we head to the Santa Monica Pier, and then we cruise down beach cycle path to Muscle Beach and the Venice Pier. From there we cycle through the beautiful Venice Canal Historic District to Abbot Kinney, where we normally stop for coffee and donuts (it’s one of the most fun parts of LA).

After that we cycle North up Main Street, back to downtown Santa Monica, one block over from the famous Third Street Promenade, where the tour started. And, now that you’ve worked up an appetite, you’re in the perfect place to get lunch! Tour runs daily at 10 am and takes two hours. Tickets are $70 pp (including the bike rental).

Santa Monica & Venice Bike tour

If you have any feedback on Bicycling in Los Angeles please email us or reach out on social media, we’d love to hear from you.

– By Damien Blackshaw (Twitter)

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