Why cycling in Los Angeles isn't always easy

Cycling alongside LA's beaches may be a breeze, but things can get considerably more complicated when you head downtown.

As keen as Californians may be on cycling, hitting the road isn't always so easy. In Los Angeles, for example, cycling infrastructure is still all too few and far between in a city where the car is still king. In the coming years, the challenge for authorities will be to make this megacity compatible with safe, regular cycling.

Unlike cities like Portland, where much effort has been made to ensure that cyclists can get around and park up with ease, Los Angeles still has little in the way of infrastructures for bikes. It is even one of the country's most dangerous cities for cyclists. But with gyms closed, the pandemic has led many Americans to discover -- or rediscover -- their love of cycling. It's therefore high time for change.

Each year, several dozen cyclists are killed in Los Angeles and its surrounding area. Admittedly, crisscrossed by freeways and highways and other major boulevards, the City of Angels is, in its very nature, hostile to cycling. For the rest, the state of the roads leaves a lot to be desired, hindering safe cycling with potholes and uneven surfaces damaged by tree roots. Finally, the city's cycle lanes aren't always linked up and often lead to nowhere.

So how can the situation be improved? First of all, by taking into consideration cyclists' needs and demands. In this respect, organizations such as the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) are working hard to promote alternative transport modes, starting with bikes. On the other hand, a vast mobility plan envisages the creation of new cycling infrastructure by 2035. The idea is to develop a safe cycling network, independent of the roads used by cars and public transport. In 2020 alone, the City of Los Angeles made safety improvements to over 100km of cycle lanes. There's still along way to go to make the city a model in the field, but growing awareness is driving things in the right direction.