Riding the Los Angeles River

Mar 10, 2009 by Lisa Newton

After Saturday’s LA Bike Summit, I’m confident that using a bike in LA will start to become a little easier. The Summit brought together people from all walks of life, with just one commonality, bikes. It just so happened that on Friday, I decided to take advantage of the great weather, so I packed up my bike and went to a small section of the Los Angeles River trail.

Being from the Midwest and East Coast, I am very familiar with the term “river,” and what one should look for when finding one. However, the LA River is unlike any I’ve ever seen:

Over the years, the Los Angeles River has gone through several changes, starting with the plan to control flooding, by having the city engineers completely encase the river’s bed and banks in concrete, which results in only a trickle of water usually flowing down its middle.

This started after the devastating 1938 flood of Los Angeles, which killed approximately 115 people and destroyed 5,601 homes.

In 2005, the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Public Works-Bureau of Engineering, started looking for ways to revitalize the River. After several studies, the City of Los Angeles implemented a 20-year blueprint for development and management of the Los Angeles River.

Several non-profit groups and state agencies have also joined in its efforts:

  • Friends of the Los Angeles River
  • The River Project
  • Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council
  • California Coastal Conservancy
  • Arroyo Seco Foundation
  • The Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River
  • Although fairly short, my 8+ mile bike ride was full of panoramic views of the city, the Los Angeles River, wildlife, and even a few people. Over the next few days, I’ll be highlighting different aspects of the River–which is indeed a river in every sense of the word, including the urban Los Angeleno’s penchant and flair for graffiti.

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    16 Responses to “Riding the Los Angeles River”

    1. Barb Hartsook says:

      You make me want to live along your Pacific coast just to travel and visit and become part of the landscape you paint so well with your photos and research. Great blog! (Loved the poetry a couple posts back too.


    2. LisaNewton says:

      @ Barb I’m glad you feel at home here, and thank you for sharing my home with me. You’re welcome to drop by anytime………………….:)


    3. Henie says:

      River means such a different thing in LA!:~) Thanks as always for taking us on the journey!

      Henie’s last blog post..The Shadow of Past


    4. Henie says:

      I wanted to comment on the beautiful sunset with the electrical towers… a lot of my sunset shots have them…I always say you don’t need to go anywhere exotic to find incredible sunsets!

      Also, I love Larchmont!

      You just know all the cool and happening places around! :~)

      Henie’s last blog post..The Shadow of Past


    5. dc says:

      Lucky you are to live in a bike-friendly land! I hope that more cities (and towns…) pick up on this idea soon. Up here, we’re still trying to convince people that bikes belong on the roads too.

      dc’s last blog post..Sticks and Stones


    6. LisaNewton says:

      @ Henie I’m don’t think I know all the cool happening places, but I do love going to different places. Your sunset pictures are to die for………………:)

      @ dc LA isn’t that bike friendly, but it’s getting much better. Today I rode about 20 miles of trail, all on a Class 1 trail, which means, Off Road Paved Bike Path, a completely separated bi-directional right-of-way designated for bicycles. It was great, and you’ll see it soon as a post……………:)


    7. Lance says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Good for you, Lisa, getting out there and doing some biking. I’m looking at my bike as we speak – having brought it inside to get ready for spring. Now…we just need our snow to melt!

      Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day


    8. LisaNewton says:

      @ Lance How is the snow melting thing going?


    9. Lisa's Chaos says:

      See, if you hadn’t told me that was a river I would have thought it was just some man made drainage. Sounds like a great ride! I sure have been thinking about getting my bike out, but things are so wet that I’d end up with a wet butt and back. Ew.

      Lisa’s Chaos’s last blog post..Starfish Macro Monday


    10. LisaNewton says:

      @ Lisa I’m not a fan of riding when it’s wet either. I totally understand the “Ew” factor. I know you’ll be getting your bike out real soon.


    11. Lance says:

      The snow is almost all gone!! I have my bike out of our shed and into the house – where I’ve been tuning it up. I’m ready to go…won’t be long now!!

      Lance’s last blog post..Finding Balance In The Jungle


    12. Vanessa says:

      I walked along the Glendale Narrows today and was surprised to see how much the LA river looked like an actual river. In just a few miles, I saw ducks, cormorants, and a blue heron.

      Vanessa’s last blog post..Union Station


    13. LisaNewton says:

      @ Vanessa I think parts of the river are coming to life due in part because of the recent rain, although we could definitely use more. I continue to be surprised by the changes I see in it.


    14. Morgan says:

      Have you ever taken a ride from long beach up the river to LA??


      Lisa Newton Reply:

      @Morgan, No, but it’s on my long to-do list. Have you ridden it?


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