The Slow Lane

No need to worry about bad drivers on these four bike-friendly routes

Photograph by Dustin Snipes

For a family ride, a pub crawl, or just some world-class people watching, you can’t miss with these laid-back bike paths.

Santa Monica Bike Path
The northernmost section of the 27-mile concrete lane that stretches from Palos Verdes and knocks on the door of Malibu is known as the Santa Monica Bike Path. Drive to the beachside lot just south of Ocean Park Boulevard—bikes can be rented at Perry’s Café—and point your wheels north, avoiding the chaos of the Venice boardwalk. After the Santa Monica Pier you’ll enjoy an uninterrupted ride until you run out of real estate at Temescal Canyon Road.

Ballona Creek Bike Path
If the beach is the heart of the low-key cruise, then the Ballona Creek Bike Path is the femoral artery. Stretching inland to Culver City, it makes the sand accessible even from Westlake via the bike lane on Venice Boulevard. Once you hit the water and turn south toward Manhattan Beach, you’ll pass the massive Hyperion Water Treatment Plant and the outcropping used as a launchpad for hang gliders.

Chandler Bikeway
More a thoroughfare than a destination ride, this utilitarian path stalks the Chandler Boulevard Busway for 14 miles, taking you from Woodland Hills to Burbank and within striking distance of Griffith Park. The two-mile stretch on the east end is verdant and festooned with murals and bronze sculptures. Heading west, it’s a bit less scenic, with views of the Van Nuys CostCo loading docks, but it’s just a few pedal strokes to the serenity of Lake Balboa.

Griffith Park/L.A. River Bike Path
The renaissance of the L.A. River includes an extension of the bike path that now splays from Riverside Drive in Burbank to Figueroa Street near the 5-110 interchange. The route is dotted with pocket parks and public art, like Heron Gate in Rattlesnake Park (stop and admire the Fletcher Drive Bridge) and the giant bear sculpture in Oso Park.