Hitting South Bay on Bike

Saturday, March 26, 2005, at 03:00PM

By Eric Richardson

Even though I had a decent amount of work I probably should have been doing this afternoon, I decided to get a little exercise and head down to the south bay area for a little food and shopping. I first hit-up South Bay Galleria to get some Chick-fil-a, and then went from there up to REI to talk to the bike people. It's a good trip with a little bit of exercise, a little bit of sun, and a good dose of LA's public transit.

Were you to ask Metro's trip planner how to get from my apartment to South Bay Galleria, it would tell you to walk over to 6th and Grand and take express bus 444, which would get you there in 46 minutes. But that's a freeway bus, with special fares, so you'd pay a dollar or so extra (and actually I'm not sure how that works with passes). Or there's the 740, a rapid that runs from 6th and Broadway. That'll get you there in about an hour and thirteen minutes. But neither of these options really appeal to me.

Instead, I hopped on my bike and rode over to 7th/Metro to catch the Blue Line. I got in the back of the train with my bike, and at one point we accumulated four bikes back in that little open area. I transfered to the Green Line when we got to the 105, after standing for ten minutes or so out in the middle of the freeway waiting for the train to come. Some sort of soundwall in locations like the Green Line stops on the 105 or the Gold Line stops in the middle of the 210 would make a huge difference.

People used to criticize the Green Line as the line from nowhere to nowhere. Well, that may still be true, but the middle section, at least on this Saturday, gets some pretty heavy use. There are a lot of transfers between the Blue and Green Lines, and I'd imagine the section of Green from there to Aviation may be the most heavily used. Lots of people getting on and off at stops like Crenshaw.

I, though, rode to the end of the line. From there it's a 2.6 mile bike ride to South Bay Galleria. Officially it's a 30ft climb, but you go higher and then come back down when you're on Artesia.

After eating a Chick-fil-a sandwich and buying Kathy a birthday present, I jumped back on the bike and made the 4.4 mile ride from the Galleria to REI in Manhattan Beach. That leg too doesn't have much overall elevation change (only 4 feet), but in the middle you probably climb 60 feet or so before dropping back down.

REI's always a fun stop. I bought both a front light and rear flasher for my bike, so that I can legally ride at night. I also talked to the guy there about my desire to buy/build/obtain a fixie (fixed-gear bicycle... see the fixed gear gallery for pics and info). He said a friend of his just bought a fixey all assembled for $350. As cool as it would be to build my own, I think for my first I may break down and buy one.

From REI it's just a block or so to the Green Line's Douglas station. A couple minutes waiting for the train, and then the reverse of my earlier ride. Again at 5pm on a Saturday the Green Line was pretty full. My car probably peaked at 10 standees on a 2-car train. At the Blue Line transfer there was a great older lady who worked for the MTA presiding over the platform from the stairs. She'd tell people to stay back from the edge and then thank them when they did, and then she told everyone when the next train would be coming. I don't know how often she's there, but her presence really improved the feel of the station.