Hey, LeBron: If You Plan On Biking In LA, Here Are Some Tips To Stay Alive

In this Aug. 2010 file photo, LeBron James rides at the LeBron James Family Foundation, King for Kids Bikeathon, in Akron, Ohio. James, an avid cyclist, may find the streets of Los Angeles a bit tougher to navigate on two wheels. (File photo by Phil Long/AP)

Good day, LeBron James (Mr. James? King James? Your majesty?). We hear you'll be spending a lot more time in Los Angeles soon.

We also hear you're an avid cyclist and enjoyed riding around Miami, even biking home after games. As you make Los Angeles your home base for at least the next three (but hopefully four) years, we agree with the recent L.A. Times opinion piece that you should be free to roam our city on two wheels without getting run over.

So, LeBron, to help you — and other Angelenos who want to make cycling a part of their L.A. life — here are some facts about biking in the city and several tips to help you stay alive.

Don't be CAVALIER about safety. Cyclists make up roughly 11% of all traffic crashes in the city that cause severe injury or death. Safety issues in our region are very real. From 2012 to 2017, a total of 71 cyclists died in Los Angeles, according to city data.

We hope that doesn't scare you off. Cyclist deaths were down last year, according to the city's statistics. Meanwhile, pedestrian deaths rose 80 percent in the first two years of Mayor Eric Garcetti's Vision Zero program, which aims to reduce traffic, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.

Also, we see you clearly understand the importance of wearing a helmet. The rest of L.A.'s cyclists should do the same.

L.A. drivers are looking at other cars, not humans on bikes. You'll find many of the city's motorists to be oblivious to reality. If it helps, think about J.R. Smith.

They're required by law to give you a three-foot buffer, but they often don't. Also: you'll probably get honked at for biking 100% legally. It happens. Sure, you're LeBron James, but to them you'll just be another cyclist cheating death in the streets of L.A.

Bike lanes? What bike lanes? More to that point of the city's design, you'll find L.A. deeply deficient of designated bike lanes. Just look at this map to see for yourself. There's simply no complete pathway across Los Angeles from the comfort of a clearly labeled bike lane.

Own your lane. If there's no bike lane (which will likely be true for the majority of your rides), then own the right-most lane like you own the court. It's legal for cyclists to ride in the center of the right lane if traffic/safety allows for it. And though we'd hope that L.A. drivers would give you, incoming Laker LeBron James, some courtesy space, don't count on it, sire. Maybe wear a shirt that reads: "If you want another NBA championship, back off."

Steer clear of the sidewalks. You may want to escape L.A.'s infamous traffic by riding on the sidewalk, but don't. It's not legal in many parts of Southern California and in many cases more dangerous. People, pets and cars can pull out of nowhere.

Study up. If you need to brush up on California's bike laws, taking this quiz will help.

Getting from Staples Center to Brentwood. If you do decide to bike home to one of your two Brentwood mansions after a game, here are a few route options, courtesy of Google Maps. Be ready for a long, contemplative ride. Get those tunes ready, but for every Laker fan's sake, stay alert out there.

Thinking about biking through downtown? Like going into the finals, don't be scared. It may seem crowded, but ironically, it's a little safer. Cars can't really pick up speed since they stop at intersections, a lot. That means they might get close, but won't be whizzing by you.

Beware of dooring. We know this is Cycling 101, but feel the need to note to always watch out for people getting out of parked cars. The results aren't pretty.

Go Metro. It's common knowledge that you're not above taking public transit, which is pretty cool. You could mix it up some nights and take the Expo Line for some of the ride home. Hop on at Pico Station and sit back and relax for a ride west to Santa Monica. A bike ride to Brentwood is much easier from there. But, if you're going to ride around Santa Monica, beware the birds.

Our bike culture is still growing. Fewer people have been riding bikes in L.A. County in recent years, but as the city's soon-to-be new alpha cyclist, maybe you can inspire more Angelenos to commute and/or exercise via the bike.

We know you created an educational bike-a-thon back in Ohio and even cruised Miami with Dwayne Wade. L.A.'s bike community is fantastic and there are plenty of options to meet up and ride with other cyclists. CicLAvia would be a great place to start. Their next ride is September 30 and we have a hunch they'd love for you to join in.

KPCC/LAist's own avid cyclists Leo Duran and Aaron Mendelson contributed to this story.


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