Broadway, Santa Monica
Access Type: Bike Lane (5th St – Centinela Ave)
Traffic Intensity: Light
Other Bikers: Always but not crowded
The View: Bike-friendly neighborhood
Broadway exemplifies a neighborhood that has accepted biking as a legitimate method of transportation and that has conformed its infrastructure to the convenience of its riders. It has a generous bike lane, and the car traffic is never too busy to make a rider feel endangered. As well, most stretches do not harbor long chains of parked cars (the exception being the few blocks between 20th and 23rd St, where many visitors to St. John’s Hospital use the 9-hour parking meters), whose swinging doors constitute a constant concern for cyclists. There are some pretty, antique-y street lamps at 16th and 17th, where one also finds the bike-friendly Santa Monica Co-Op. Though Broadway is relatively quiet, riders will rarely feel lonely as there are ALWAYS other riders nearby.
As far as businesses go, I appreciate the indie-but-not-hipster vibe found on this drag. Funnel Mill at 10th offers some of the best coffee (including the $80/cup Kopi Luwak) in LA. Port Royal Cafe at 14th dishes up Jamaican but only opens dinner doors if someone reserves in advance. Cafe Bello at 19th is a uber-cute, European-y cafe. Big Jo’s is an old-school, classically (Korean-)American burger station where one orders and gets food through a window, then eats the food on patio furniture inside a converted garage (?) next door. 18th Street Coffee House is something out of another time; walking through its doors makes me feel a little like I’ve stepped into a very nice saloon (with no wi-fi and no cell phones allowed, some might call it that).
If you are leaving the bike haven of Santa Monica and heading into the jungles of West LA/Westwood/the rest of LA, you should
go for a tune-up at Helen’s Cycles. It’s the last time you’ll find free air and people who smile at cyclists for a looong time (I’m kidding…!)
NOTE: Once west of 5th St, you are entering heavy traffic/no bike lane zone. Biking near the Promenade is generally not ideal, given the high volume of pedestrians, cars, and buses. Take Arizona instead, but use caution everywhere around 3rd St.