Cycling in Los Angeles can be intimidating. There are steep hills to contend with. There are distracted, oblivious, aggressive (take your pick) drivers to avoid. But it’s February and winter has apparently been canceled and straddling the seat of a bicycle has never seemed so appealing.
Even if you’ve seen L.A. through the windshield of a car a million times, seeing the city by bike is a totally different experience. And there’s no need to wait for the next CicLAvia to do it. L.A.-based author and cyclist Kelton Wright—in collaboration with London-based cycling clothier Rapha—has created a practical, user-friendly pocket guide to riding in L.A. City Cycling Los Angeles features guided rides through five subsections of L.A. and its environs—Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu; Beverly Hills and Hollywood; downtown L.A.; Los Feliz and Echo Park; and Pasadena and the Rose Bowl—and each chapter has a map loaded with stores, coffeeshops, restaurants, and local landmarks to check out. There’s also a section with essential info, like etiquette, safety, and security (i.e., making sure your bike doesn’t get swiped when you’re all the way on the other side of town).
The book comes out on March 6, but in the meantime, Wright shared there three tips for safely and confidently riding a bike in L.A.
1. “Watch out for looky-loos and tourists.”
“Almost no one in L.A. is looking at the road. They’re looking for parking spots, at navigation apps, at their text messages, and at the sunset. When commuting, never assume someone sees you, always stay out of vehicles’ blind spots, and even if you have the right-of-way, check to make sure you’ve been noticed.”
2. “Keep an eye on side mirrors and crosswalks.”
“Bike lanes can lend a sense of false security. Watch for movement in the side mirrors of parked cars. People often forget to check for cyclists when opening their doors or pulling into traffic, but knowing which cars have people in them can help you avoid getting hit. And remember, pedestrians in crosswalks often don’t check for bikes either, but cyclists should definitely check for them.”
3. “It’s not always perfect weather.”
“There aren’t many elements to deal with in L.A., but there are a few that stand out. Depending on the direction of your commute and the hour of day, you might have to deal with serious glare. If the sun is blinding you, it’s blinding the cars too. Try to ride earlier or later than this time. If it’s misting or raining, use extra caution. Rain historically increases the number of traffic accidents in Los Angeles…and it makes painted sidewalks and bike lanes more slippery. And, lastly, skip the labored breathing if the air quality is especially bad—it’s not just fire season that causes this, so check your weather app to be sure.”
City Cycling Los Angeles (Thames & Hudson, $9.95) is out on March 6.
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