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  1. #1
    Senior Member El Gigante's Avatar
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    Anyone have a good route to Downtown LA?

    I'm consideriing attempting a Van Nuys to USC commute by bike and was wondering if anyone could suggest a good route? I currently bike down Chandler to the Red Line, take the subway downtown to 7th and Figueroa, then take Fig. the rest of the way to SC. Anyone ever tried this commute before?

  2. #2
    Can't Re Member Nerdanel's Avatar
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    Hi El Gigante!
    I commute from North Hollywood to Vermont & Wilshire. Usually I roll the bike onto the subway at either North Hollywood or Universal, but when I have time I ride all the way in. The current version of my route is Chandler to Colfax to Moorpark. South on Clybourn, east to Pass Ave on one of those pretty streets through Toluca Lake that pretend to be one way but aren't, Pass to Olive to Forest Lawn.
    Forest Lawn to the LA River path at Victory. You can take the LA River to Fletcher, right on Fletcher Glendale, left on Riverside, right on Glendale and follow it around to Silverlake. (Or leave river path at Fletcher, right on Fletcher, left on Glendale, right on Silverlake). Silverlake to Virgil (an ugly left turn and a nasty couple of blocks of traffic) to Third to Vermont. Or Virgil to Wilshire and left to Hoover. Etc.
    A prettier alternative to taking the River path is through Griffith Park on Riverside. In fact, an alternative to most of the route is Riverside through Toluca Lake and Glendale, but I prefer the other side of the river.
    Last edited by Nerdanel; 01-13-09 at 02:32 AM. Reason: confused two turns
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Gordo Grande's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdanel View Post
    Hi El Gigante!
    I commute from North Hollywood to Vermont & Wilshire. Usually I roll the bike onto the subway at either North Hollywood or Universal, but when I have time I ride all the way in. The current version of my route is Chandler to Colfax to Moorpark. South on Clybourn, east to Pass Ave on one of those pretty streets through Toluca Lake that pretend to be one way but aren't, Pass to Olive to Forest Lawn.
    Forest Lawn to the LA River path at Victory. You can take the LA River to Fletcher, right on Fletcher left on Riverside, right on Glendale and follow it around to Silverlake. Silverlake to Virgil (an ugly left turn and a nasty couple of blocks of traffic) to Third to Vermont. Or Virgil to Wilshire and left to Hoover. Etc.
    A prettier alternative to the River is through Griffith Park on Riverside. In fact, an alternative to most of the route is Riverside through Toluca Lake and Glendale, but I prefer the other side of the river.
    All good suggestions. I might also suggest taking some side streets around Virgil. Go past Virgil one block, and then cut down the side street behind Virgil Middle School, (can't remember the name of the street). Then, you can take 1st street over to Vermont. A little less hectic, then Virgil to third.

    I would definitely cut through Griffith Park. It's a very pretty ride, and Riverside Blvd is nice and wide south of the park.
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    I ride 2x/week from Northridge to downtown and agree with the suggestions above for getting to Riverside and Glendale, especially the one about going through GP instead of the LA River bike path. GP is a much nicer ride with a couple rollers instead of the flat bike path. I work near 3rd and Grand, so can't help beyond getting to Riverside/Glendale, though I can add that the one time I tried Glendale into downtown I thought Glendale was pretty unsafe for bikes. Not sure of any other way to get there from Riverside though. If you wanted to cut through downtown you could continue on Riverside, right on San Fernando, left on Pasadena, right on Broadway (take the entire left lane on Broadway through Chinatown) into downtown. Not sure of the best way to USC from there.

  5. #5
    Senior Member El Gigante's Avatar
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    Hi Nerdnal,Gordo, and NRRider,
    Thanks all for some good suggestions - common thread here seems to avoid the Coldwater Cnyn/ Cahuenga Pass foolishness, and head east around Griffith Park. I thought this would extend the trip, but if it cuts out the Cahuenga Pass, I'm all for it. I've ridden through Griffith Park and down Riverside before and agree that it is a really nice trip. For your guys that have made the commute before, how much time do you usually allow? (Especially if you're not a real fast rider!!)

    Appreciate the time you guys took to respond - Thanks!!

    El Gigante:

    BTW Nerdnal, your photo rocks!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Gordo Grande's Avatar
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    By all means, avoid Cahuenga Pass. I've tried, and I just can't figure out a safe way through there. Ditto for Laurel Canyon.

    I use a rough estimate for travel time. Figure out how long it would take to get there by bus, and it's about the same for a bicycle. :-) That probably isn't much help, huh? I tend to average about ten miles per hour, because we stop for traffic lights. Be sure to give yourself extra time, especially the first few times you try it. I always leave at least 15 extra minutes, in case of a flat.

    One final note: If you're going to be doing a lot of bike commuting, think about taking some extra steps to prevent flats. e.g. Mr. Tuffys, thornproof tubes, wider tires, etc.
    Rip Van Winkle went to sleep for twenty years, and when he woke up, all the bicycles had changed!

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    An estimate from me wouldn't do much good, since I start from Northridge and end at 3rd and Grand. That said, my commute typically takes 2 hours all in. You are starting closer but ending farther away.

    As you've been advised, bring stuff to deal with flats. I think the Tuffys (or slime) are about all you can do to really avoid them, but they add weight and Tuffys make the ride more harsh. Plus, neither works on everything. I flat every couple months or so and carry a patch kit, spare tube and pump and have been fine. If you need a pump I strongly recommend the Topeak Road Morph. The rubber hose, pressure gauge and flip out thing for your foot really make life a lot easier and prevent broken stems.

  8. #8
    Senior Member El Gigante's Avatar
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    Gordo and NNRider,
    Thanks for the time estimates - I've commuted at least 3x per week over the past year using the Bike - Subway - Bike system and its about an hour and a half door to door. I'll probably wait until spring to try the end to end commute, but the route options are just what I was looking for - again thanks for the tips.


    I appreciate the advice about dealing with flats. I went the whole summer without a single flat, then had three, (all on the rear tire) within a span of about two weeks. I also carry a patch kit, spare tube and a pump and have been able to deal relatively easy. I have 700 x 38 Specialized Infinity Armadillo tires mounted on my ride, and while they claim to be puncture resistant, they sure ain't puncture proof. The Topeak Road Morph sounds just like what I'm looking for - I have a Blackburn Air Stick on the frame now, and it isn't working too well since it was ran over by an MTA bus on Figueroa. Besides, I'm really sold on Topeak products so I'll definitely look into the Road Morph.

    Happy commuting guys - look for me on the Brown Specialized Crossroads if you're ever heading west on Chandler around 7:30 in the morning.

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