Discover Metro Bike Share: Chinatown, Civic Center, Little Tokyo & the Arts District

Photo courtesy of Metro Bike Share, Facebook

With dozens of new Metro Bike Share Stations located in Downtown Los Angeles, it's now easier than ever to enjoy Downtown L.A. by bike. Hundreds of bikes are now available at all hours, day or night, and the frequency of MBS Stations makes it easy to hop on and off a bike any time. Now instead of calling a rideshare, jumping in your car or walking, you can make short trips easily by bike. Or you can make a day of riding through the neighborhoods that make Downtown L.A. such a fascinating place to live, work and play.

This guide explores some of the Metro Bike Share Stations in Chinatown, near the Civic Center, in Little Tokyo and in the Arts District. The cross streets in bold are locations of MBS Stations. The stops are ordered so they may be ridden in some kind of logical progression, starting from Chinatown - but really you can explore Downtown L.A. however you like. Just remember to be mindful of traffic and have fun!

NOTE: Sometimes you just feel more comfortable riding carefully on the sidewalk. That’s cool. In the City of Los Angeles you may ride a bicycle on the sidewalk unless it is done “with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” (LAMC 56.15). So if you want to ride a combinations of bike lanes, sidewalks, alleys and side streets - go for it!

CHINATOWN

At the time of writing, Chinatown has the north-easternmost MBS Stations in the Downtown L.A. area. Chinatown is rich with history, ripe with foodie options and is a great place to begin and or end any MBS adventure.

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Bruce Lee statue in Chinatown | Photo courtesy of lizarraga91, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool

Hill & College (881 N Hill Street)
Your ride starts at the Hill & College MBS Station, just a block away from the gates of Old Chinatown. Old Chinatown is great for people watching, snapping photos and snacking. Admire the beautiful paifang gateways, take a selfie with the seven-foot tall statue of Bruce Lee and nosh on ‘Chinatown’s #1 burger’ at the always popular Burgerlords. For more traditional fare head across the street and get dim sum at Golden Dragon.

Spring & College (870 N Spring St.) 
Just a few blocks from Hill & College is the Spring & College MBS Station, adjacent to the Chinatown stop of the Metro Gold Line. There are a ton of cafes, shops, markets and restaurants on Spring, Broadway and Hill Street (more so on the latter two).

After Chinatown, you will head west, towards Downtown L.A. and Civic Center / Grand Park but first, you can make a few stops to check out some other cool MBS Stations along the way. Take Spring Street down to Cesar Chavez Avenue because it seems to be quieter and less busy than Hill or Broadway. Cesar Chavez is listed on Google Maps as a ‘bike-friendly’ street, but apparently there are no bike lanes - stick to riding carefully and car-free on the wide sidewalks.

Once on Cesar Chavez there are bike hubs in both directions - you can go left towards Union Station or you can go right towards Figueroa Street.

Union Station | Photo courtesy of C. Strife, Flickr

Union Station | Photo courtesy of C. Strife, Flickr

Union Station West Portal (834 N Alameda St)
From Cesar Chavez take Spring Street then cut through to Main Street at Paseo Luis Olivares and then use the crosswalk to enter the oldest plaza in L.A., El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. Hop off your bike and listen to some music and people watch in this beautiful and historic public space. Cross the street again and ride towards the mission-like Union Station. Built in 1939, Union Station is still an important metropolitan hub as well as a fascinating site in its own right.

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Metro Bike Share Station at 2nd Street & Figueroa | Photo by Joshua Johnson

Figueroa & Cesar Chavez (668 N Figueroa St.) + 2nd & Hill (201 South Hill St.)
On the other side of Cesar Chavez is the Figueroa Street MBS Station, located at the beginning of the Figueroa Street bike lane. The bike lane is a pleasure to ride down to 2nd Street, where a left turn will take you into a long tunnel that burrows under The Broad, Hope Street, Grand Avenue and emerges at Hill Street where there is a MBS Station. There is a dedicated bike lane the entire length of the tunnel and it is a super fun little stretch of downtown to ride. Near the 2nd & Hill Station is Redwood Bar & Grill, a pirate-themed dive bar with live music.

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Grand Park | Photo by Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority

CIVIC CENTER

Between Downtown L.A. and Chinatown is a sprawling lawn and public space that radiates from City Hall. Civic Center, Grand Park and City Hall are surrounded by MBS Stations and are wonderful places to rest on the grass and enjoy the sunshine.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall | Photo courtesy of Candice Montgomery, Flickr

Hope & 1st (111 N Hope St.)
Across from the Ahmanson Theater and the Mark Taper Forum, this MBS Station is an ideal place to take in the view of both parks and City Hall. The visually striking Walt Disney Concert Hall is a block away and well worth a long look. Bike to Grand Park and past the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain and towards City Hall. Look for the Grand Park Farmers Market Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Edison

The Edison | Photo: The Edison, Facebook

 |  Photo: The Edison

Main & 1st (120 S Main St.)
On the other end of Civic / Grant and across the street from the Los Angeles Police Dept. Headquarters is the Main & 1st MBS Station. A stone’s throw away is The Edison - an opulent, speakeasy style bar - and Pitfire Artisan Pizza. Indie and cult movies are shown at the nearby Downtown Independent. Both Main and Spring Street are ONE WAY streets and both have bike lanes, so just ride the street that applies.

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Fairfax sandwich at Eggslut | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Broadway & 3rd (303 S Broadway St.)
The Broadway & 3rd Street Station is next to the Bradbury Building, the oldest commercial building in central L.A. and popular film location, famous for its Victorian center court and wrought iron features. Also nearby is the epicurean mecca, Grand Central Market. Anything your tummy and tongue could want is here. Notable vendors include Eggslut, Belcampo Meat Co. and Horse Thief BBQ.

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Arts District in Downtown L.A. | Photo courtesy of Metro Bike Share, Facebook

LITTLE TOKYO + ARTS DISTRICT

1st Street has a nice bike lane that runs from Figueroa to Judge John Aiso Street - a wonderful route from Civic Center to Little Tokyo and the Arts District. Both neighborhoods don’t have many bike lanes but there are also more side streets than other Downtown L.A. neighborhoods that offer a quieter, more relaxed ride.

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Photo courtesy of Daikokuya, Facebook

1st & Judge John Aiso (134 Judge John Aiso Street)
This MBS Station is nestled in a dense cluster of noodle shops, sushi restaurants, bars and cafes. Perhaps the most famous restaurant is Daikokuya, the tiny ramen spot that almost always has a line snaking down the block. For your sugar fix, don’t miss Fugetsu-Do Bakery Shop. Family owned since 1903, this sweets shop is known for its traditional Japanese confections.

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Laborers in sugar beet fields outside of Shelley, Idaho (detail). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-073809-E. Photo courtesy of JANM, Facebook

1st & Central (369 E 1st St.)
You’ll find this Station tucked next to the Japanese American National Museum and kitty corner to the Koyasan Buddhist Temple. Hungry? Grab a bite at Sushi Enya.

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Metro Bike Share Station at Angel City Brewery | Photo by Joshua Johnson

Traction & Rose (599 Traction Ave)
Riding from Little Tokyo south-west towards the Arts District the first MBS Station you'll run into is a favorite due to its proximity to Angel City Brewery. Park your bike and pony up to the bar of this beloved brewery that has great beer and food, free wifi and often a food truck or two pulled up out front of its mural covered brick building. Speaking of murals, wander the nearby streets and alleyways for some of the most vibrant and beautiful street art you’re likely to see anywhere in L.A.

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Honey Citrus | Photo courtesy of ediBOL, Facebook

3rd & Santa Fe (999 E 3rd St.)
3rd Street is a relatively bike friendly street in this neighborhood, so ride a few blocks to the Santa Fe Avenue MBS Station and the vicinity of some really tasty food options. Park the bike and start eating. Cafe Gratitude is reknowned for its fun menu names, delicious vegan fare and detox juices. Amazebowls serves fresh fruit, granola, hemp milk and other goodness in - you guessed it - a bowl. And if you want some meat with your veggies and grains, go to EdiBOL and order the pork belly. After you’re done noshing, browse the ARTBOOK @ Hauser Wirth & Schimmel gallery.

Factory Place & Alameda (1245 Factory Place)
This Arts District MBS Station is an ideal location to explore some of the surrounding gallery spaces. Closest to the Station is MAMA - a contemporarily art space known for its multimedia installations. A block or two away is Jason Vass, a 2,700 square foot space showcasing the work of contemporary artists. If you like your art more grungy and punk rock, then the nearby Superchief Gallery should be more to your liking.

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Photo courtesy of Church & State

Industrial Street & Mateo Street (1855 Industrial St.)
Next to one of L.A.'s most popular bistros, Church & State, this is the last MBS Station on your itinerary. Chic and rustic, Church & State is known for its charcuterie and creative cocktails. The Daily Dose is a nearby cafe that has amazing artisan sandwiches and awesome outdoor seating. For Belgian-style beers and a killer grilled cheese, step a few feet from the MBS Station and into Little Bear. Artsy types will want to ride a block away to Artists & Craftsman Supply and browse their huge selection of art supplies.

This is just a little taste of what Downtown L.A. and Metro Bike Share offers the adventurous spirit looking to explore some of L.A.'s landmark neighborhoods. What will you find when you pick up your bike and get lost in L.A.?


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