Locations: La Brea, West LA, Santa Monica, Culver City, Marina Del Rey, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Redondo Beach
Riding through LA County is nothing like riding in Tulsa. Other than both using bikes, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. It requires… oh, how can I put this? I guess you have to be functionally insane. You have to be crazy enough to haul ass and swing around traffic blocks, construction, and stupid drivers, while being sane/functional enough to maintain control and stop yourself from getting killed.
At first I didn’t understand why cars kept flying by in the same lane I was in. I felt claustrophobic. Until I realized what was different: the lane width. A lot of the street lanes were wider than those in Tulsa. So cars were mostly passing about the same distance from me the usually do, just in the same lane. They didn’t need to go into the next lane to pass. Once I realized that, I started to relax a bit and enjoy the rides more. Another thing about the bike lanes (which were nice to have) was that on the right side of those lanes were parking lanes. Lots of parking, and LOTS of cars. I felt that getting doored at some point must be an inevitable part of riding in LA.
There are off-street bike paths scattered throughout these cities. Many were well maintained, though overly crowded. If people think cyclists in Tulsa don’t give enough warning when passing, they’d absolutely HATE it in LA. I rarely heard warnings or passing notifications. There were minimum four times the people with half the warnings. And people would squeeze through openings that I thought were invitations to broken bones and lawsuits.
Riding along the beaches was an interesting experience. First, you have to deal with sand. Everywhere. Usually in long lines that follow the bike path, right where you’d like to position your wheel. If you like to keep your bike clean? Don’t ride at the beach. Period. Next, the crowds here seemed more dangerous and less predictable than the cars, if that’s possible. And lastly, the um… local coverage could be ridiculously distracting, especially on a crowded, winding bike path.
The last thing that differed from riding in Tulsa: traffic lights. Light everywhere. Hell, we’d hit 4 lights and wouldn’t have traveled a mile!
All that being said, once you got used to the adrenaline-pumping traffic, the seemingly unfriendly pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, and the constant stop-and-go, it was actually a lot of fun. The beaches are beautiful, and the city areas are great to ride through compared to the monotony of riding in the Tulsa rural areas (of which, most are). The beach regions don’t offer much climbing (minus Redondo Beach, which gave us some nice hills), but we did a good hill climb up to the Skirball Cultural Center. The downhill would’ve been better without all the construction and lights, but even with that we made better time than traffic on the I-405 that we were next to.
I can’t say I’d enjoy riding through LA on a daily basis, but I give props to those who do, because that takes some serious work (and good health insurance). Stay safe, my LA brethren.