This Is Why I Love: 4th Street

img_0589.jpgLet me make one thing quickly clear in regards to the vehicle pictured at right before assumptions get jumped to: neither it nor its driver is in any demonstrable way, shape or form a tard of either the potential or kinetic energies.

To my knowledge and from my experience he’s just another commuter — and a pretty conscientious one — in a pretty sensible sedan trying to get across town to his job, and I’m showcasing him here simply because for the last two days he’s opted to take 4th Street (otherwise known as 4th Street Bike Boulevard) from Commonwealth at the east to Cochran, the last north/south avenue before 4th terminates at the Park La Brea perimeter at the west. This I know because I bike the same 3.6-mile residential stretch (clickably biggifiable at left) entering and exiting fourth.jpg4th at the same points as part of my 15-mile morning commute. But more coincidentally, this morning and last we’ve done it at the exact same time — and on both occasions I’ve kicked gass traversing it in the same elapsed interval. No, a Lance Armstrong wannabe with a nitrous-outfitted bike I am not so obviously I was not able to physically keep pace with the vehicle, but thanks to 4th’s car-unfriendliness in the form of its many four-way stop signs, and several loooong traffic signals, I was never more than several blocks behind it. Ultimately we crossed La Brea at the same time, and in doing so the most telling difference between our respective modes of transport is that in covering that distance and considering the costs involved the four-wheeled fella burned anywhere between roughly $3.50-$5 (not counting the cigarettes he smoked along the way). The only thing I torched on my two wheels was about 250 calories. F. T. W.

Twice rhymes with nice, after the jump.

The photo at the top of the post is from yesterday, when I rolled up behind him as he waited for the green to cross La Brea. I snapped it somewhat self-satisfied to find him no further along than I was after remembering him passing me back at Vermont. I initially thought about blogging it then, but one photo at the finish didn’t seem enough and besides, I usually can’t stand those tired media reports that pit bikes against cars in a one-time showdown, regardless of who “wins.” Imagine my surprise when I found him passing me southbound this morning on Commonwealth and once again turning right onto 4th for Round No. 2. This time it was Game On and I took documentational snaps of our various meet-ups along the way.


In the beginning: Virgil @ 4th


Next stop: Vermont @ 4th


Crossing Western @ 4th


The interminable red of Wilton @ 4th


The end is here: Cochran @ 4th

Aftermath: I caught him again at the red at 6th and Cochran where I made a right and then beat him across the next two lights. He passed me soon after that as we headed toward Fairfax and got to the light there where he made a right while I continued on 6th to Crescent Heights.

Safe travels until we meet again, my four-wheeled Ford-friendly rival. Tomorrow perhaps?

11 thoughts on “This Is Why I Love: 4th Street”

  1. the most telling difference between our respective modes of transport is that in covering that distance and considering the costs involved the four-wheeled fella burned anywhere between roughly $3.50-$5 (not counting the cigarettes he smoked along the way).

    Am I misreading this or are you suggesting that he only gets 3.6 miles per gallon?

  2. Spencer, via some quick ‘n dirty Googling I found the following webpage ( that offers a calcultor that computes “the true cost of driving,” by looking at direct costs-per-mile such as fuel, insurance, depreciation, vehicle maintanence as well as indirect costs like pollution damage, road construction/repair, and congestion. The direct costs work out to about $1 per mile and the indirect add up to $0.43. So basically I arrived at the $3.50-$5 window by multiplying the distance traveled on 4th Street (3.6 miles) by the direct costs ($1 per mile) and then also by the combined direct and indrect costs ($5).

    If I were doing a fuel-only cost estimate I’d look at the estimated city MPG of the Ford Focus (in this case 24), then divide that into the cost of a gallon of gas ($4.50) and multiply it ($0.1875) by the distance traveled (3.6 miles) to get the total fuel cost of $0.675.

  3. I love it when people pic nits. Regardless of how its calculated the bike had very minimal wear/tear costs to tires/tubes and gave you the added benefit of burning off your brekkie and enjoying the sights along the way.

    Nice post.

  4. I had no idea about 4SBB – and now I have a route to take on my new foldie when visiting friends in the 1st/Vermont area, where there is absolutely no parking and it’s always a logistical nightmare.

  5. I am a long-time fan of cycling 4th street. When will there be a google maps that highlights the best bike routes in LA?

  6. I’ve been on a crusade of late to encourage sean bonner to get his online route thing up and going.

    Great post Will! I love it! The tortoise and the hare….


  7. He does get to be in his air conditioned car with a radio, though. Plus he can have a trunk full of supplies. And he doesn’t arrive at work sweaty and tired.

    Both modes of transportation have their benefits.

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