The mere mention of riding a bike on the streets of L.A. is often met with the words “crazy” and “death wish.” While the city recently named the most car-congested in the world is making room for more bicycles – thanks to L.A. Department of Transportation’s added bikeways, Metro’s bike-share program and the individual efforts of bike shops and nonprofits dedicated to the cause — safety in numbers may be key, especially for anyone new to cycling streets.
You don’t have to be a MAMIL (Middle-Aged Man in Lycra), a ripped triathlete or a well-dressed fixie purist to explore our city by two wheels. It’s worth checking out the neighborhood bike shop for organized rides and classes. Here are a few upcoming group rides to get you rolling.
Inspired by Bogota’s ciclovía, the largest open-streets event in the United States closes portions of L.A. to cars, temporarily clearing the roads to Angelenos for use as a public park of sorts. Tens of thousands participate in this regularly occurring art crawl/food tour/consciousness-raising extravaganza. Each of CicLAvia's casual bike rides is held in a particular section of L.A., allowing cyclists (as well as skaters and pedestrians) to safely experience the city. Culver City–Meets-Venice is the next one, on Sunday, March 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. View the route map ahead of time and drop in or out as you wish — it’s not a race. Plan a feeder ride or take Metro. All wheels welcome.
Long Beach Street Grand Prix and Open Streets
Long Beach has gotten in on CicLAvia mania by organizing its own car-free events, such as the upcoming Beach Street Grand Prix ride on Tuesday, March 28, where Toyota will open its 1.5-mile grand prix track to bikes, strollers, roller skaters and walkers for lunchtime spins. The city’s fourth annual Open Streets event is set for Saturday, April 29, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Long Beach public affairs officer Kerry Gerot says turnout has been phenomenal since the first event, which drew 25,000 to 30,000 participants. “All are welcome, and there’s something for everyone at every cycling level, as well as a lot of family-friendly activities,” she says. More info here.
SGV Bike Train and Women on Wheels
Bike San Gabriel Valley teaches bike repair at its Bicycle Education Center and provides monthly Women on Wheels rides led by volunteers and staff who create a safe, supportive space for women of color interested in biking. Another monthly event, the SGV Bike Train, is family-friendly and includes two electric-powered pedicabs, free for people with mobility issues who want to participate. Bike marshals (League of American Bicyclists certified instructors) ride with the group, ensuring cyclists learn safety on city streets. The route is an easy to moderate one, surrounded by stunning vistas of the San Gabriel Mountains and designed to be “as inclusive as possible.” This month they have a downhill cruise starting at the South Pasadena Gold Line Station at 8 a.m. on Sunday, March 26.
Black Girls Do Bike
Founded in 2013 with the mission of providing “a comfortable place where female cyclists can support, advise, organize meetups/rides and promote skill-sharing,” BGDB now boasts 65 chapters internationally. Lula Carter, L.A.’s ride leader, started her chapter after running a 5K in Long Beach and thinking she might prefer biking 26 miles instead. The group attracted 52 members in the first month and today is 1,112 strong. Carter has helped with bike shopping and organized annual breast cancer benefit rides on top of leading short training rides every Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Raleigh Park in Gardena, to “help people get comfortable riding in groups on paths and streets.” Longer Friday night rides start at Marina del Rey’s Dock 52 and head down to Redondo, “only as fast as the slowest cyclist.” All races and women are welcome — lights and helmet required. See Black Girls Do Bike's Facebook page for more info or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Los Angeles Wheelmen
This club has been active since at least 1945, says president Kermit Ganier, though there is evidence of it as a racing club as far back as the early 1900s. Between monthly meetings and a handful of weekly rides for more experienced cyclists, the Wheelmen also host a Newcomer’s Ride at the end of every month. Rides led by group members “for those new to group riding who might be unsure about the etiquette or protocol” can range from 7 to 20 miles, depending on who shows up and their needs. The next gathering is Sunday, March 26, at 9 a.m. Meet at the corner of Olympic and La Cienega near Frank Felton Field. See their site for other rides (including the fun-to-watch Fargo Street Hill Climb).
West L.A. Cycling Club
Before attempting this group's weekly 40-mile ride from Marina del Rey to Redondo, newbies might want to start with the monthly beginner ride on the 20 unfettered coastal miles of the Strand. West L.A. Cycling Club’s last-Sunday-of-the-month "Beginners Ride" focuses on coaching newbies to become better cyclists. It’s no-drop, meaning no one is left behind and you’ll never be lost. Helmets are required, snacks are encouraged, and membership dues are $12 per year. RSVP on their site or Facebook page.
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East Side Riders Bike Club
The East Side Riders (not to be confused with the El Sereno–based East Side Bike Club, which also hosts community rides) focus on introducing youth to physical activity and bike safety by way of community rides and training courses. ESRBC’s sixth annual Tour de Watts, a two-wheeled tour of the Watts neighborhood co-sponsored by Los Ryderz, will take place Saturday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. RSVP on their Facebook page. They also organize a well-attended Friday night ride each week in San Pedro starting at 7:30 p.m. at the 22nd Street Landing. President/co-founder John Jones says “all ages and levels are welcome” and urges everyone to bring a light.