Lonely Planet Explores Not Quite Uncharted Territory: 'Bike-Friendly' L.A.
It's been done before: a travel writer comes to Los Angeles and discovers that—despite the fact our fair city is neither as dense as East Coast cities nor as bike-friendly as Portland—touring the city by bike isn't a bad way to go.
Lonely Planet came up with its own take on bike-friendly Los Angeles. The list isn't bad, if a little hazy on details. Lonely Planet recommends pedaling around historic downtown, the coast along Venice and Santa Monica, a celebrity home tour and South Los Angeles.
Downtown is a great place to bike around (and it's extra fun to speed through when the streets are cleared of cars for a film shoot), but I'd take issue with the characterization that downtown is mostly flat: you realize how Hill Street got its name when you're on a bike. Biking along the coastline near Santa Monica and Venice is a no-brainer. The celebrity home tour on bike is an interesting twist on an old tourist stand-by. (Although I'm guessing that the tour doesn't venture too far into the quad-busting Hollywood Hills).
The South Los Angeles tour is a little baffling. Sure, Lonely Planet is all about off-the-beaten path exploration, but unsuspecting tourists could use a little more guidance if they set off on a biking tour from the Pinata District to Mercado La Paloma. Lonely Planet says, "Just south of downtown is a series of communities known collectively as South LA." But the thoroughfare they suggest is pretty heavy on industry, light on community and scenery. (If you MUST follow Lonely Planet's advice, at least scoot over to Central Avenue to see the Coca-Cola factory that looks like a ship.)
A better suggestion might be to include the Pinata District (and maybe the Garment District) in the historic downtown biking tour and create a separate South Los Angeles tour that avoids the industrial corridor near the 10 freeway altogether. Mercado La Paloma (home of Chichen Itza and Mo Chica) is worth a stop. If you head east from there, there's gorgeous old homes in West Adams, Exposition Park and the strange, wonderful Velaslavasay Panorama. Leimert Park Village is three miles to the east—that route might not be particularly bike-friendly or scenic, but at least it's less industrial.
When the New York Times' budget traveler came to Los Angeles, he also added Beverly Hills and Pasadena to the list of tourist- and bike-friendly areas as well.
Any other neighborhoods worth biking around for the sake of seeing the city—not just getting to a destination?