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Photo Essay: Biking from Downtown to the beach

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Remember when you moved to LA just south of Downtown, and you thought all those people who got to live in Santa Monica and Venice and Manhattan Beach were so lucky? Or maybe that was me. Either way, you were (I was) overlooking one of the major advantages of living so far from the beach -- you can bike there and get a great workout!

Back in August I used bikemetro.com to figure out a route to Santa Monica because I was starting a job out there a couple times a week. I tried the 15-mile ride once on the weekend and found it only took an hour and a half taking Venice Blvd. -- which has a bike lane starting just past Crenshaw -- most of the way and turning north either at Abbot Kinney or on the beach. One day my drive home from the job took more than 1:15, so I said 'screw it' and started biking to work twice a week. On my best days I could do the trip in around 1:10, stoplights and all. Biking to work meant I had to leave a little earlier in the morning, but it was worth it. I arrived in a much better state of mind having avoided the 10, kept my carbon emissions way down, got a good morning workout in the process, and door to door I think the time was about the same.

Then a couple months ago LAist's own Zach Behrens told me about the Ballona Creek bike path, which extends from Culver City out to Marina Del Rey. It's great -- seven miles long and no traffic lights, cars or exhaust. So all you Downtowners who have a couple hours to kill and want to take a nice scenic route to the beach, here's what's in store for you.

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For this post I took Venice Blvd. out to the Ballona Creek trailhead in Culver City at Jefferson, took the creek bike path out to Marina Del Rey, then the beach bike path up to Santa Monica. I usually stick around for a couple hours there – you’ll see why. On the return trip I took Venice Blvd. all the way from Venice Beach back to Hoover and home.

Starting out: corner of Venice and Hoover

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Passing the oldest high school in Los Angeles, Loyola High School

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Turning down La Cienega to Jefferson

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Ballona Creek bike path

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The creek is actually pretty gross at this end, and yet ducks will hang out here. Dirty, dirty birds.

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Getting there... 3.8 miles to beach

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And the creek starts getting nicer

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Look! Birds! Nature! The Ballona Reserve is full of wildlife

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Getting through Marina Del Rey

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Venice Canals

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Boys on Venice Beach

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See? Lots of people bike to the beach

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Entertainment, and a little upper-body workout

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All sorts of characters on the beach

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Heading home on Venice Blvd.

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Does it make me happy to pass all these cars sitting in traffic? Most definitely.

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Recycling hot-spot

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My favorite mural on the way home, on Venice just before La Brea

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This is what it looks like when I just hold out my camera as I bike past (I'm in the corner!)

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Back to Hoover

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All photos by Jessica Roberts for LAist