Tag Archives: bike maps

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.

wandering in elysium

Last week, Will Campbell posted footage from his 26-mile post-Thanksgiving burn-off-and-otherwise-expel-your-excess-calories-ride, and it set me to thinking about my own adventure. While I’ve done a fair amount of biking between Koreatown and points west, my experience of the city east of here has been woefully limited.

While you can see the map below for a more accurate representation of the route (and for a yet more accurate map, the gmap version), a couple of thoughts about the ride. First, figuring out the best way to roll towards Downtown took some doing. Following some of Will’s maps, I pedaled down to head east on 4th; but when that petered out a couple of blocks later, I couldn’t remember which streets Will took to make it to Sunset and Sunset’s bike lane. Instead, I found myself on Beverly looking at a “bike route” sign and thinking that there were worse things I could do than ride by Tommy’s on a Saturday afternoon. As for Beverly – once they finish the construction on it, it’ll be a much nicer ride, but as it stands now, there’s a stretch around Alvarado that’s cut down to one lane on account of that construction, with an exceedingly bad shoulder to boot. But what traffic there was thinned out as I came down the hill over Glendale Blvd, and I had a peaceful slog up 1st to Grand. I rode Broadway north mostly because I remembered it from last week’s Critical Mass ride until I found myself with the south slope of Elysian Park on my left with the LA River channel spreading to my right.

Now for people who live or travel in and around that area, seeing that part of town might just be old hat. But for someone who’s spent so much of his life on the Westside and who’s gotten so used to seeing the Downtown skyline from a particular point of view, there was something tremendously exhilirating about being able to stop at the curb on Broadway and take in City Hall, the old business district, the greened expanse below me, the rail lines cutting along the River channel, the sense of a completely new city. And I’ve driven the 5 before, taken in the view of Downtown from this other side from through the windshield of a car, but it’s a completely different experience to watch the city move from the saddle of a bike.

I cut up – following Will’s route – into Elysian Park just before the bridge over the river, and worked my single-speed up Elysian Park Drive. Along the way, I stopped to catch views east and west, smiling all the while. I worked past Elysian Fields and the baseball diamonds before stopping to call my friend Matt and tell him that I was standing on a hill looking out over Dodger Stadium in the clear late afternoon, that I was going to get back on my bike and pedal through an aisle of palm trees before curving down Chavez Ravine to pick up Sunset Blvd. by way of Elysian Park. The rest of the ride back – minus an awkward turn onto Santa Monica – was easy enough, and when I came out of Scoops after a celebratory ice cream, the clouds in the west were lit up like the backdrop of some set of a movie I have yet to write.

Beautiful ride, and one that makes you appreciate just how much there is to do outside in this city. A friend of mine from back East was just out here to interview for a residency at UCLA. He commented on how strange it was to be in a city with no green, with no nature around. It’s something I hear a lot from people, especially people just recently removed from those states where trees are as natural as rain, and I never know exactly how to respond.

I’m not sure I have the whole answer yet, but this ride is a start.

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:

bike town beta thoughts part 2

First of all, thank you again to the organizers of last Saturday’s Bike Town Beta. That evening was my first time out in a group with other riders, and the whole experience was really empowering.

I met up with a couple of people next to the Bike Kitchen late Saturday afternoon. Taking off was sort of a haphazard affair, what with figuring out who was riding, if we should wait for stragglers, and what route we were going to take out. As it was, we struck out on Santa Monica Blvd. – traffic, but nothing too horrendous, a bike lane in West Hollywood. We cut up to Carmelita once we made it into Beverly Hills and decided to chance Wilshire coming out.

My thought on Wilshire: Friends don’t let friends ride Wilshire. As a hill, it’s not that bad, and traffic isn’t so bad that you’re going to get hit. But as a road, as a physical fact, it’s miserable. It’s absolutely shot, riddled with cracks, potholes and the assorted wreckage of a thousand rush hours. If you have any choice in the matter, don’t ride Wilshire. And if you must (because I feel like I must), take the sidewalk through the country club. Please.

But we made it to Westwood well before most cyclists rolled in – hung out on the edge of UCLA’s campus and talked politics and planning (thanks Mark and Stuart for the conversation) until 6 rolled around. We met the first mass of cyclists coming up from Venice just after 6 and the next fifteen minutes or so we a kind of glorious freedom for me. Like I said, I’ve never really ridden in a big group before, and there was something really exhilirating about being in a mass of people that cars had to recognize as a group and not as individuals (arguments for collective bargaining?).

We rode a couple of laps through Westwood until someone called a halt to find ice cream. From there, people seemed to gather themselves and wander off into the evening. I hung out on the corner at Westwood and Kinross for a little, watching people jump rope, catch up with friends, and make plans for the rest of the evening. I didn’t know much of anyone so stayed on the margins of the whole affair; and it didn’t help that I was planning on leaving before the evening was done anyways.

I hung out there until someone summoned people over the Bertha – which, after a slightly anarchic ride, I learned was a RV – where people gathered again to laugh and plan again for the evening. That was about the time that I skipped out – before Alec’s Red Light Tit Tag, before much of anything really.

In all honesty, I’m not in any position to render any sort of final opinion about the evening. But a conversation I overheard might be a good way to end. I was poking about at the first corner, listening in where I could. What are we doing?, someone asked, Is there a plan? No, someone answered, this is just the beta! But it’s still an open question: Green LA Girl talked about Bike Town as a way of envisioning Los Angeles as a bicycle-centric city, and I’m not sure the event lived up to that. And I think a lot can still be said about what it means to have a bike town. All of that said, thank you again to Alec and everyone else who helped organize the evening.

I’m curious to see what direction Bike Town goes, be it direct action, purchase power, general fun, or some combination of any and all of the fun.

You can find a couple of my first reactions here; but more important to me at the moment is this idea I’m still working with of developing a common map for the cycling community, a way of creating a common well of knowing the roads.

bike town beta pt. 1

I made it out for the first part of Bike Town Beta tonight (and to the organizers, thank you!) – long enough to get a taste, but before the real table of bike-town-ness got set. A shame I had to skip out when I did, but I’m looking forward to the next one. I’ve got some more thoughts coming about the whole experience – my first out on a social ride – but I wanted to take a quick second to encourage people to contribute to the map I’m trying to create.

Again, as I kind of wrote yesterday, this map comes out of a feeling that there isn’t a single place where people can go to actually see bike routes mapped out by people who use them, and I feel like that’s a huge lack within the cycling community (fractured or imaginary as it is).

What I wrote yesterday is here, and I have another little blurb written here.

Most importantly, the map itself.

(And as BikinginLA pointed out in the comments to yesterday’s piece, it would stand to reason that there’s a better way of putting this together – if someone has an idea, I’m all ears)

Update: Having done a little more looking, I found C.I.C.L.E.’s very helpful list of bike routes. It’s another really good place to look for information about Los Angeles routes.

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: