Long Beach Bikeway Route 7: Los Angeles River Trail
2010-03-19 · By Peter Dopulos
Long Beach Bikeway Route 7 is without a doubt one of the best bike routes in the city. It’s direct, kid-friendly and visually interesting almost year-round.
I ride this route routinely 3 or 4 times a week. For those living in North Long Beach or Bixby Knolls area, this is one of the safest, most direct paths to downtown. The path is a dedicated bikeway which means painted lanes, no stop lights, no cars and no stopping. Just 8.9 miles of continuous riding.
One of the questions I’m often asked about the Los Angeles River Trail is, “Is it safe?” My answer is that I’ve never had a problem.
When I first started riding Route 7, long before it had that moniker, in 2001 I was amazed that I could ride the whole length there and back and not see another living soul. Riding through a city this large and not seeing another person for 16 or more miles was eerie. However, traffic, both pedestrian and cyclists, has risen over the years. Every Saturday we do the “family ride” southbound on the river and there is enough traffic to be concerned, at times, with collisions with less experienced riders who fail to follow the traffic laws.
As far as safety goes, unaware pedestrians and bird watchers have posed the greatest threat that I have encountered. There are homeless men and women living along the riverbanks and under the bridges, but I have never had an encounter with them.
For most of the journey along Bikeway 7, the Los Angeles River is nothing more than a flood control channel. But after passing under the Willow bridge, the river has a natural bottom and looks akin to an actual river.
Unknown to many is the fact that this section of the LA River is a very important stopover for migratory birds. In both the spring and fall it is not at all unusual to see people carrying cameras with giant lenses trying to catch an unusual bird pausing to catch some insects or small fish on its way to some breeding ground. It is also home to large number of native birds year round. Some of the more interesting species I have spotted while bike riding: Peregrine Falcons, Osprey, Blue Herons, Snowy White Egrets, Red Tail Hawks, Sandpipers and many more I could not identify.
Often times Long Beach Bikeway Route 7 makes up one leg of longer ride for me. One of the bike rides I enjoy most is to head south on Route 7, then along the Long Beach Shoreline, up Long Beach Bikeway Route 65 (San Gabriel River), over to Long Beach Bikeway Route 56 which then takes me home. (Roundtrip, 27 miles.) Another great ride is the Three Rivers Ride; Route 7, LB shoreline, Route 65, cross over to the Rio Hondo, and from there south until you run into the LA River. (Total mileage 52 miles.)
While Long Beach Bikeway Route 7 would not qualify as beautiful, it is visually striking. Heading southbound the city rises up on the left, giants cranes from the harbor on the right. The Vincent Thomas Bridge rises up in the distance and after turning left and passing the ferry landing, you are greeted by Rainbow Harbor and the Queen Mary. Not a traditional kind of beauty, but more of an urban wonderland. This family-safe, kid-friendly route is best ridden in the morning if possible as strong headwinds can make the route a real chore.
Bikeway: Route 7
Streets Travelled: Los Angeles River Trail
Official Mileage: 8.9 miles
Landmarks: North Long Beach, Dominguez Gap Wetlands, Rancho Los Cerritos, Virginia County Club, Wrigley Neighborhood, Rainbow Harbor, Long Beach Aquarium, The Pike, Pine Street
Long Beach Bikeway Route 70 (Del Amo)
Long Beach Bikeway Route 1 (PCH)