LA’s Main Drag

I live by Wilshire Boulevard, in the “Miracle Mile,” which was designed as the country’s first automobile-oriented commercial strip—but which has improved considerably since then, now boasting a WalkScore in the 90s.

While the sidewalks are wide, and new buildings are required to have their front doors on the street, not the parking lot in back, there is still too much traffic, and it’s not, sad to say, very bike friendly.

There are three major strategies employed for bicycling through the Mile. Two are shown in the video snippet below:

The third one is simply to ride on the sidewalk, which around half the riders I see choose.

Nevertheless, a lot of people ride Wilshire these days, either to get through the Mile to someplace else, or to stop at the eateries, shops, and offices that line the street—and the museums and park, of course. A surprising number of people, considering how fast, thick, and rude the motor traffic tends to be. The bike racks are in good use—and there are plenty of them, at least twenty-five sidewalk racks for the mile, plus a wave rack in a parking lot across form LACMA, and a private bike corral in the Wilshire Courtyard building which is always hosting a dozen or more employee bikes.

Imagine what bike lanes could do for bicycling on Wilshire, if people are already riding that daunting traffic! And in fact we’ve been promised bus/bike lanes (which have worked well in other places< and were in place on Spring Street downtown before the conversion to a buffered bike lane). However, I believe those will be in effect for rush hour only.

They should be full time. Not just for cyclists, either: Metro’s buses already carry more people down the corridor than all the cars put together, so until the subway is done at least they should have priority.

Meanwhile, LA’s sensible folk are still riding down the Mile in whatever way they can, spilling over from the popular 4th street bike route and heading west to earn and spend their money.

Someday the city will catch up to us.

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