Category Archives: bike maps

there are bike maps…

… and then there are bike maps. By now, you’ve probably already looked at the maps of the City’s forthcoming Bicycle Plan. You’ve probably been following the good work over at Streetsblog (start here and here) and have taken the time to read the comments more fully than I. Maybe you’ve read BikinginLA‘s thoughtful and measured critique. I’m hoping to be able to add one more small voice into the mix, but for the moment, I wanted to point out what maps there are.

My friend Jordan gave another go at building an online map for cyclists (cleverly named the Los Angeles Cycling Map). I encourage you to take a look and give him feedback. I think he’d probably agree that the routes are a bit sketchy at the moment, but one of the things that recommends his effort is his attempt to integrate Twitter into the mix in order to provide some more real-time data about street conditions. I like that.

Also, if you haven’t seen it via LAist or Streetsblog, there’s another bike map being developed that maps out potential cycling trouble spots. It’s called Bikewise, and as Sarah Goodyear suggests in her intro, it’s only going to be as good as the people using it.

I still have a couple of the early maps that I put together, but I haven’t returned to the project in some time. If you’re curious, you can find the original piece I put together here. Some while back, Ubrayj added a thoughtful comment: “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.”

He has a point (and he also has a map!) – all the maps in the world won’t do much if we don’t see a larger institutional commitment to considering the place of cyclists in the original design of roadways. All the same, it’s encouraging to see the newest efforts to map biking in the city – a note of optimism amid the din.

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updated bike map: mar vista to koreatown

Will made some helpful points about the first version of the bike route between Mar Vista and Koreatown:

I tried Cochran recently going south all the way to Venice. Not bad, but it’s a bit crowded/narrow in parts.

I’ve also used Cochran to 8th to Fairfax to Venice going south (and vice versa going north) and find that a good option.

Redondo and Crescent Heights are still my faves, and thanks for the tip about Wilton. I had a feeling it was bad but I had never ventured much below Wilshire on it.

The interesting part about Redondo coming back north is not to take it all the way up to La Brea, but instead to make a right from Redondo on Edgewood Place and cross La Brea. A couple blocks on the other side Edgewood meets up with Highland and that’s OK to ride, at least up to Wilshire where the cars get crowdy/angry.

It’s funny, looking at that zig-zagging cut through I do between La Cienega and Venice makes it seem like so much extra work, but I’d do just about anything to avoid La Cienega, especially where there are freeway on and off ramps involved.

All good points, and I tried to take a couple of them and update the map a little. You can see it below or find it here.

bike map: mar vista to koreatown

I actually mapped this one out a little while back but haven’t had the chance to put it up. It’s very much a work in progress and owes a great deal to Will Campbell’s routes, but here’s a first stab at mapping out some routes from Mar Vista to Koreatown. The Venice Blvd. bit is kind of a no-brainer, but it took me a couple of times to figure out the best route between Venice and 4th. As you’ll see, there are a couple options, and if you have any other suggestions, please send them my way.

new bike map: westwood to mar vista

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.

update to the update

Coming back from Westwood last night after two pints, I couldn’t really muster up the energy to deal with traffic on S. Santa Monica Blvd. as it cuts through Beverly Hills. Instead, I decided I’d turn off and try the alternate route I suggested the other day.

What a surprise. I had no idea that Charleville Blvd. was going to be as peaceful or as placid as it was, and I’d definitely recommend it to people who want to move between West LA and places east of Fairfax without dealing with either of the Santa Monicas. I took Charleville at about 7:15 pm last night, and it was nearly empty of traffic. There are lights at two places between Moreno and La Cienega, and every other intersection is a four-way stop sign. If you’re really looking to pick a pace and keep it, it might not be the perfect road (unless you run stop signs on principle), but if you’re looking for a really comfortable alternative to the traffic and narrow road conditions on S. Santa Monica, it’s definitely worth a look.

Crossing north to get to 6th still takes a little bit of work, but it’s certainly possible. You can find the newly updated map here.

updated bike route map: westwood to koreatown

Some people ride for sport; others ride to socialize; I spend most of my time riding commuting back from UCLA. As a result, figuring out the best route from UCLA’s campus to Koreatown has been one of my minor obsessions (with previous explanations available here or here). My route has gone through a couple of different iterations, but I think I’ve finally hit upon a route that I like (thanks to BikinginLA for the tip on Westholme).

Physically, it’s not all that demanding of a ride from west to east. It requires a certain comfort level for riding in traffic coming through Beverly Hills, but I’ve suggested a couple of other ways in which it might be possible to work through that lovely little city. Road conditions-wise, it’s pretty smooth except for a couple of patches along 4th. The same might be said for lighting conditions: It’s all pretty comfortable to ride in the dark except for some sections of 4th between La Brea and Wilton.

UPDATE (09 dec 08): Having ridden the alternate route, I have a couple more thoughts here.

So without further ado:

on bike maps

Or really, on a lack thereof.

I went to a talk today at UCLA – a really fascinating one, really – on continuing developments in the world of map-making. One of the things that the speaker mentioned was Google’s initial resistance to letting users modify their maps, until they realized that there was a tremendous potential in or for user-produced maps (just imagine a YouTube for maps).

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.

What I’m trying to get at is the way in which there’s no one place for LA cyclists to compile their maps. If all the cyclists in the city – and there are a lot of cyclists – put some time and effort into compiling their maps in a single place, it might make the process of riding in this city a lot less daunting. When I started riding here – only a really short time ago, really – I had a lot to learn. I’ve figured out some routes that work for me, but I still have a lot left to do.

With all that in mind, I want to point people to a very worth cause: Google Maps ‘Bike There’ is a website organized around the effort to convince Google to work in bike routes into their mapping software. Take a moment to sign their petition, and while you’re there, check out the post on Houston taking their place alongside Los Angeles as cities with severe smog problems. The post’s last words:

But it’s not time to give up. Places like Houston and Los Angeles, which are so car-dominated that its residents can barely breathe, need our help. Even if it’s an email or a phone call to the people most responsible for suffocating those cities.

As a last thought on this issue of mapping, what if we – imagining the larger community of Angeleno riders – put together our own mash-up? A kind of general map where everybody and anybody could visit and add routes and warnings – and there may well already be something of the kind, but that’d be news to me. So here’s a thought: If you are curious or have something to add, check out this map. Please let me know what you think.

UPDATE (31 oct 08): You’ll see in the comments that Gary from Gary Rides Bikes also got started with a similar idea. I’ve taken the liberty of merging his rather succesful project and mine. It’s very much a version in progress, but it’s kind of neat to see how certain routes are emerging from the city.

UPDATE (20 nov 08: Because sometimes looking at a map is more fun than looking at text: