And when I can, I bike.
I don't have any real metrics or data available. My rankings are not based on counting speed limits, bike lanes, traffic counts, or whatever, but are based mostly on my whether or not I 'feel comfortable' on main streets in certain cities as a sometimes-commuting bicyclist myself.
Chances are that if I "feel comfortable" as a sometimes-commuting bicyclist who occasionally rides with his scared-to-death fiance, mom, and/or sister, it is likely that even more people/Angelenos, who don't really make the effort to bike nor have given it much thought, will feel the same when encountering the same environs.
"Comfort" for me means "intuitive" and/or "natural." So a driving (pun not intended) question behind these rankings is, how "intuitive" and/or "natural" is it to be biking on the streets of a given area?
The Limitations of These Rankings:
- It's not systematic; absolute lack of numbers
- Areas I know really well where I can take the little streets because I've passed through them many times: LA City Council District 13 (Silver Lake, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Atwater Village), UCLA Area (Westwood-Culver City-Palms) North Hollywood, Most of LA City Council District 4 (Los Feliz, Little Armenia, Koreatown, southern commercial parts of Glendale, Most of the Central San Fernando Valley: Van Nuys, Panorama City, Pacoima, Arleta, Most of Long Beach: Eastside and Westside Long Beach, Wilmington, Pico-Union, Exposition Park
- I could probably find my way around, but mainly use the big streets on: A lot of the Valley (Universal City in the South to Van Nuys in the North, Sherman Oaks to the West, Burbank to the East), A lot of the South Bay Area (Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Carson, Torrance, Gardena, North Long Beach, Cerritos, Compton, Lakewood, Signal Hill, San Pedro), Some of the San Gabriel Valley (Monterey Park, West Covina), Some of the Westside (Santa Monica, Venice), Some of the Eastside (East LA, Boyle Heights), LAX-El Segundo area, Malibu, South LA (USC-Leimert Park), Culver City
- I would be pretty lost here: A lot of the San Gabriel Valley and everything else East (Arcadia, Alhambra, Montebello, El Monte, Pomona, Lincoln Heights), Anything Northwest of Northridge (Chatsworth), Anything North of Pacoima (Lake View Terrace, Santa Clarita etc), Slightly North of Santa Monica (Pacific Palisades, Brentwood), Anything East of Paramount (Bellflower, Downey, Lynwood, Commerce)
- To place a more public spotlight on areas across LA County and City of LA that really feel unsafe for bicyclists.
1) Carson. Carson has streets with decent amount of room for bicyclists, but I am not aware of many of its bike-friendly signs or whatever.
2) Redondo Beach. Not thinking of the actual beach area, but the surface streets. I remember taking Artesia one time. Not a lot of room for bicycling, though it seems to have potential.
3) Inglewood/Hawthorne/South Gate. Inglewood and Hawthorne seem to have space, but I hardly remember bike facilities on either.
4) Alhambra/The Covinas - Wide streets, mostly flat. Only cars have the opportunity to take advantage.
LA County "Oh shit I really hope I don't die today" Tier
1) El Segundo - If you don't know the small streets here, it can be very scary. Luckily the Green Line has a stop for Mariposa, and that's basically the street on which you should stay.
2) Gardena - I have yet to see a single bike facility in this city. It's one saving grace is the East side where there isn't any traffic. But if you try going down Redondo Beach Blvd with its three lanes, BE SAFE.
3) Cerritos - South Street can be scary as noted by me a few years ago. Luckily this town is not that big.
4) Beverly Hills/Century City - I think of Santa Monica Blvd. Hate it.
5) Torrance - My fiance's dream city growing up. All suburbed and boxed in a car waiting to get on/off the 405.
6) Vernon - Would be a decent biking area if there weren't trucks breathing on you, abandoned, and full of polution.
7) Malibu - PCH, PCH, PCH. Despite the fact that bicyclists are highly visible and there are road signs warning drivers to slow down, I still would not want to bike here. The roads are designed for people to zip through, and it's probably even worse during peak hours. Speeds can reach highway speeds
8) Culver City - I really dislike biking anything in Culver City because of the traffic and the utter lack of bike facilities. Sepulveda isnt very enjoyable. Neither is La Cienega.
LA City Rankings "Needs Improvement" Tier
1) Mid-Wilshire - I know these streets already as a bicyclist, but I mention this here because actual Wilshire is still and almost always will be a nightmare (unless past 9P-10P, but that isn't guaranteed).
2) Hollywood - Mostly because the touristy areas along Cahuenga are packed with traffic.
3) Harbor City - Very small section of the city that I know has little bike-friendliness, especially not on PCH.
4) Harbor Gateway - I see this district sign and I immediately think, what kind of bike-enemy trouble am I going to encounter next?
5) Historic Filipinotown - The main East-West thoroughfares, Temple and 3rd St, are and always have been mini race tracks
6) Florence - Whenever I use this street, I don't think bike-friendliness. There is space, but I always wonder what cars are rushing behind me.
LA City "Oh shit I really hope I don't die today" Tier
1) Beverly Glen - I think of Sunset Boulevard and how completely unrunnable it becomes.
2) Beverly Grove - I think of La Cienega Blvd, the lack of space for bicyclists, and the car traffic that breathes on you like a predator
3) Vermont-Slauson - Slauson has got to be the worst East-West thoroughfare with a railroad track on it. Usually railroad tracks are a good sign for bicyclists. In Slauson's, it means just try really hard not to get run over.
4) Cahuenga Pass -The route that I used to take from LA to the Valley was always kind of scary mostly because of the cars breathing on me. Would be a nice fun uphill/downhill if not for the impatient motorists.