Miles Today: 51
Miles to Date: 9,226
States to Date: 25
Hard to imagine a better start to a day than waking with the California sun streaming through the window of a hillside home with a great view. I said goodbye to my excellent hosts Diane and Alan and headed over a short pass to Hollywood. The Hollywood Bowl, Sidewalk of Stars, Graumen’s Chinese Theater. It’s so easy to see sites on a bike, especially before most people in LA are even up for the day.
I wove through west LA to Venice Boulevard; six lanes (plus a bike path!) straight to the beach, then wound along the famous beach path through Santa Monica to the Getty Villa. Riding my bicycle dampens my interest in opulence, but the Getty Villa is pretty fabulous. The recreated Roman villa is stunning. Boston-based architect Machado and Silvetti’s extensive ancillary structures are also very good. The architectural tour guide made illustrative connections between opulent, status-conscience first century Rome and opulent, status-conscience twenty-first century California. I am not a connoisseur of early art, so didn’t spend too much time amidst the marbles, bronzes, and ceramics. But, the vistas are breathtaking, the proportions satisfying, and the terrazzo and tile floors are the most spectacular I’ve ever seen.
It took awhile to get out of there. (The Getty shuttle system is a mess. Why don’t they put in a sidewalk and let people who walk, ride bike sand come by bus walk the sort distance up the hill? LA car snobbery at its peak.) I had a 3 p.m. interview on Wilshire, so couldn’t loiter on the beach. The ride back into town was worth it because Lisa Arungua of the LA Public Health Department was one of the most interesting people I’ve talked with to date. We could have talked for hours, but I had to bow out at 5 p.m. because I needed to get to Culver City before dark. As serendipity would have it, I passed one of Lisa’s public service billboards on my way.
I try not to ride at night, but in LA I need to be doubly careful. LA’s reputation as a bad cycling town is fully deserved. Within my first 24 hours here no fewer than six cars pulled U-turns and come close to me at the curb. They look for other cars, but not for bicycles.
Then there are the parked cars. Most streets allow parallel parking. What’s unusual in LA is how many people park and then remain in the driver’s seat. Don’t ask me what they’re doing there. Maybe they live in them. As a cyclist I have to monitor moving cars on my left and potential doors opening on my right. When fully one-third of the parked cars have people in them, doors open into the bike lane all the time.
Finally, there are very few bike lanes compared to other cities. Cars – fancy ones with loud engines and expensive finishes – have no time for the likes of me. As I result, I was pretty happy that I had to traverse Venice Blvd three times today. It has by far the best bike lane I’ve seen in this city.