January 28th, 2016

LA Bike-Friendly
Los Angeles is perpetually slammed by urbanists for being a sprawling, car-centric culture — earmarked by freeways, congestion and poor public transportation. This is an oversimplification. LA was built around the car, but there are amazing new transportation developments taking place.

I grew up in Los Angeles right next to the Pasadena Freeway, and I am well aware of the changes that have evolved in recent decades. In many communities there has been a sea change of sorts—a move away from the car and a focus on a lifestyle that supports sustainable transportation.

bike-friendly LA

If you live in parts of the West Side of Los Angeles or have visited recently you can’t help but notice the huge proliferation of all types of bike riders — from weekend road warriors to daily commuters to surfers on cruiser bikes. There are miles of bike lanes along the beach, and a slew of bike rental shops and city bikes for rent.

What I don’t understand is why no one acknowledges that in these parts of the West Side Los Angeles region there appear to be more bike lanes and bike riders than almost anywhere else in California (other than perhaps sections of San Francisco and some college towns). In my opinion, the Santa Monica and Venice areas may be among the best life/work set-ups in California for someone not wishing to commute by car.

Santa Monica just launched a new bike sharing program. And soon there will be a LA Metro line providing train service to Santa Monica. When this Santa Monica station opens, you’ll be able to take your bike on a fast train from downtown LA to within a few blocks from the ocean. Just think – you’ll never be “stuck” in highway traffic if you choose a more accessible, fast public transit option.

CicLavia is the largest open streets event in North America and it’s changing how residents think about transportation and healthy living. You can keep up with the latest in transportation-related news by reading Streetsblog LA.

Just take a look at a few lists of the top “US Cities To Ride” here and here and you’ll find no mention of Los Angeles anywhere. Perhaps this is because we focus on LA’s insatiable appetite for freeways, and simply do not see what’s really going on there in terms of alternative transportation.

In any case, this fuels us even more to prove that the Los Angeles region is thinking differently about transportation with the opening of our PUBLIC Santa Monica shop at 2714 Main Street in mid-March. We’re super excited to be opening up on Main Street to help grow this already booming bike community.


Rob Forbes
PUBLIC Founder

4 Responses to “Why Does LA Get Such a Bad Rap?”

  1. Katherine Jones

    I agree, Rob. I lived in Pasadena for 5 years before moving to Redlands in 2010. The cycling situation has improved in just the last 5 years in both places.
    No one mentions the public transportations system in LA. While in Pasadena I could take buses and trains everywhere. Sometimes it took a while, because the distances are long. I was part of a walking group that for 3 years took public transportation to a different neighborhood in LA and walked one of the 36 walks in the book Walking LA. For most people it was their first time ever on a bus. There is an express bus to Santa Monica from Union Station if you want to go before the train line is finished. There are many rapid buses going from Pasadena to Hollywood and beyond every 10 minutes.
    Now I am in a transportation challenged area. I work 6 miles away and would like to bike, but while there are narrow bike lanes and many of the spandex riders commute, the automobile speed is about 55 mph, and not bike friendly, so no thanks. So, I take the bus, which runs every 30 min. I have ridden 5 times, and felt terrified. There is enough room on the side of the road to make a separate bike path, but that is unlikely.
    Thank you for your blog, and best of luck with your new store in SM.

    • Galen Nishioka

      One thing I’ve noticed about LA whether about art, social issues etc., when people in LA put their collective minds to work, big things happen more that in most cities.

  2. M. Smith

    Super pumped and proud of how Santa Monica is embracing & developing its biking community. So much has occured during the past 5 years or so and since the two articles cited (listing top biking cities) were from 2010 and 2013, perhaps that is why we were not included? Might be a good opportunity to pitch an article to these publications to update them with a featured article on all the exciting developments for biking in the urban world of Santa Monica/Venice?

  3. Camille Simmons

    Consider Long Beach too! Great bike-friendly city and people would love Public. We brought our Public bikes when we moved from Oakland and everyone always compliments us!