So what feels like a good while back, I wrote a little bit about bike maps, noting:
Thinking about biking in Los Angeles, one of the biggest things holding the community back is the lack of well-publicized maps. True, the MTA has put together a map of bike lanes around the city (their Metro Bike Map), but one of the things I quickly learned about that map was just how far removed it is from the actual experience of riding the streets. It’s partly the MTA’s myopic bicycling policy, but partly to do with the fact that different roads ride very differently at diffferent times. I’ll ride Western after 9 pm, but I don’t think I’d be caught dead on the street during rush hour. Wilshire between Comstock and Beverly Hills is a crap shoot: Late at night, you don’t have to take the sidewalk, but I can’t bring myself to ride the street during daylight hours.
As happens with a lot of things, however, I haven’t really set out to do what I wanted to do, which was produce a set of maps to help people new to cycling in Los Angeles navigate the city by bike. The Westwood to Koreatown map was a start, but I thought I’d give a stab at putting together some other maps for the sizable number of people that don’t actually commute or ride consistently between Westwood and Koreatown.
Hence this new map for anyone looking to move between Westwood and Mar Vista. It’s very much in its first stages, so if anyone has any suggestions, comments, or concerns, please let me know.
Both of these routes are great. When I was commuting semi-regularly out to Playa Vista to work with a client, I was trying to come up with an effective route to bike there, to no avail. Either of these would have gotten me there — all I would have had to do was continue on Venice to Centinela, then south either to Jefferson, or to the Ballona Creek bikeway. Thanks for the routes!
My only suggestion would be that I found a great looking bikelane on Grand View — a few blocks east of Centinela — between Palms and Venice. Not very long, but it’s a wide, quiet street, recently paved, and offers a great hill if you’re looking for a little challenge. Won’t add it to your map, since I haven’t ridden it yet myself, but looks like it would be worth checking out.
Glad the routes help! Again, this gets back to one of the difficulties of starting to ride a bike in Los Angeles: It’s just so overwhelming to think about biking along heavily-trafficked arterials, but we’re so used to moving about the city by car that it’s sometimes difficult to figure out the best routes for bikes.
As for the Grand View stretch, it’s a beautiful street – and one heck of a hill – but I’m not convinced it adds a whole lot for someone looking to commute between Westwood and Mar Vista. First, while the hill is a lot of fun to ride up or bomb down, I’m not sure that everyone wants that hill for their morning commute. But more significant, I think, is that once you make it to the intersection of Grand View and Palms, your options aren’t great: Following it north takes you to National and forces you on National until you bail at Barrington or puts you onto Bundy. Taking Palms east puts you back on Barrington again, unless you want to navigate the still problematic bridge over the 405 to get to Military.
So I think it’s a great spur for a recreational ride, but I’m not convinced it’d be all that helpful for a commute. But I can certainly be convinced otherwise.
I somewhat disagree with the “map gap” opinion you hold.
The MTA ran a survey of cyclists in the L.A. area in 2002, and their data showed that cyclists use the same streets and commercial corridors as car drivers.
Clearly, most cyclists know where they are going – what is lacking is consideration for cyclists in the way the roadway is designed.
I don’t want to take away from your idea and effort. I feel that mapping urban bike routes is one part of a broader push to endorse cycling, but that it will not, in and of itself, lead to more cyclists using the roads.
@Ubrayj – I didn’t actually know that, so thanks for pointing that out. And that’s a good thing to know that the MTA did actually solicit the opinions of cyclists in their project.
My point of critique, inasmuch as I have one, is that the map that they’ve produced doesn’t really help identify which streets are the most conducive to being ridden. For someone who might be new to biking in Los Angeles – as I was about this time last year – searching for maps of routes was the first thing I tried to do.
In the long term, I think you have a point: All the mapping in the world won’t do anything unless road design takes cyclists into consideration. At the same time, given our current moment, mapping out different routes – and trying to stimulate a discussion – seems to be helpful. So not a cure-all by any means, but one small way of helping people new to biking in LA learn their way around.
And as a last point, while it’s great that the MTA ran their survey in 2002, that information may be in some ways dated. I’ll openly admit that I’m new to all of this, but I would hope that there is more visibility and awareness for cyclists in 2009 than there was in 2002. But like I said – I’m new to all of this.
All told, thanks for the thoughts, as I think they’re good ones.
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