Bike Travel in the SFV — The Orange Line Bike Path
The Orange Line is generally how I get anywhere. If the trip is long enough and if the destination is anywhere south east of me, this is my go-to.
The Orange Line Bike Path is best because it is separated from car traffic. This is the be-all, end-all in my opinion. Yes, it has problems, but all of those are completely and utterly mitigated by the simple fact I don’t really have to worry about cars passing too closely.
The range is also unparalleled. You can take it from Chatsworth all the way to North Hollywood! It also has great connectivity. It connects directly to the Browns Creek Bike Path (which will get you from Chatsworth Station to the intersection of Rinaldi and DeSoto and thus to points north and east), Sherman Way, Reseda, and White Oak. It just misses connecting to Winnetka and the Chandler Bike Path. It serves multiple parks, shopping centers, and restaurants. Not to mention, it has a bus along the whole route that can get your home if you went farther than your legs were prepared for.
- First, you have to stop at tons of long street lights. It is annoying, I get it. You have to press the mother-may-I buttons to even get a walk signal. But still, I’d rather lose some time if it saves me some stress of having to think about what the cars around me are doing. (LADOT, if you are listening, you really should put detection loops in the sidewalk.)
- There are sections that are basically just glorified sidewalks. Don’t let that stop you; all sidewalks in the City of Los Angeles are fair game for cyclists.
An aside about sidewalk riding: I personally think that riding on the sidewalk is a bad idea because cars never look for people crossing the sidewalk. Even when they don’t hit you, they will be sticking out in your way. Which way should you go around them? Not to mention bus shelters, sidewalk furniture, and poles. These are the reasons I always ride on the street. However, if you are a slow and careful cyclist, sidewalk riding may just be your cup of tea. And don’t forget the old adage: “If people are riding on the sidewalk, your city is doing bike infrastructure wrong.”
- There are people walking in the bike path. You know, I think this isn’t a bad thing. People around means a vibrant community! How great is it that these sometimes underprivileged neighborhoods have somewhere to go out for a walk safely? Anyway, just remember to go slow and share. Think about how you feel when cars are bearing down on you. You don’t want to make families with their kids feel that way, do you?
- It gets kind of sketchy at night. A bunch of the path lights are broken. There are homeless encampments right next to the path. Graffiti is a common sight. I have SUPER BRIGHT lights and ride really fast at night because, frankly, I am scared at times. YMMV (a weird acronym for a bike article), but I ride the path at night at least once a week, I have done so for the last 4 years, and I’ve never been attacked on the path. I’ve heard stories of people who have been, but again, if you are feeling scared, jump on the bus!
- Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area (aka Anthony C. Beilenson Park, aka Balboa Lake Park): This is the part of the bike path where things get fuzzy. The lane splits up and starts winding all around; where are you supposed to go? I don’t know how to explain this other than go spend the day there once on your bike and explore all the nooks and crannies. Maybe this will be another article someday. While it can be confusing, it can also be beautiful and relaxing. Where else can you commute through a major urban park? Just remember, don’t ride your bike next to the lake. It’s dangerous and not allowed. Just don’t do it. It doesn’t get you anywhere faster either. Also, this is a PRIME bathroom break and water refill on a long-haul across the Valley.
The Orange Line Bike Path/Chandler Blvd/Chandler Bikeway collectively are your best bet East-West across the southern Valley. It runs 17.3 miles from Canoga Park to the city of Burbank. It is almost all car-free wonderful bike path except for a 2.4 mile section from Leghorn/Chandler in Sherman Oaks to Fair/Chandler in North Hollywood.
Bike Friendly Connections: DeSoto (south), Reseda, Zelzah, White Oak, Woodley, Van Nuys (south), Woodman, Burbank, Chandler, Laurel Canyon, Colfax (south)
Near Misses: Winnetka (north), Tujunga Greenbelt (north)
Notable Locales: Pierce College, Encino Velodrome, Balboa Park, SuihoEn Japanese Garden, MacLeod Brewery, Los Angeles Valley College, North Hollywood Park, North Hollywood Library, North Hollywood Subway Station
Between Chatsworth and Warner Center, the Orange Line Bike Path is the best north-south for sure. You can connect to Rinaldi, Chase, Sherman Way, and the rest of the Bike Path running east-west down near Victory. If you cross Canoga at Vanowen, you can then go north a little on the side walk and enter the river. Be warned, the LA River path here is dirt for some reason.
Bike Friendly Connections: Brown’s Creek Bike Path (which leads to Rinaldi), Sherman Way (west)
Near Misses: Chase (east), LA River Bike Path
Notable Locales: Chatsworth Station, Parthenia Park, Lanark Recreation Center, Canoga Park High School, Topanga Plaza Mall (I know it hasn’t been called that in decades, but I will always call it that)
That’s all for now. See you on the streets!