View Hermosa Beach-Torrance Beach by bike in a larger map
It was my daughter Rebecca’s idea to do at least a part of the route by bicycle, and the stretch from the Hermosa Beach Pier to the south end of the Santa Monica Bay bike path at Torrance Beach presented the perfect opportunity for it.
It was perfect because we could rent bikes near the Hermosa Beach Pier. The south end of the bike path was a pleasant three-and-a-half mile ride.
Officially, the 22-mile bike path that skirts Santa Monica Bay is named in memory of Marvin Braude, a Los Angeles City Councilmember for many years who was an advocate for the environment. Unofficially, it’s a paved, two-lane bicycle highway that, though it has been there for decades, pedestrians still haven’t quite figured out carries some high-speed traffic. If the spectacle of open ocean isn’t enough, there’s the constant surprise of beach-goers who seem to like stopping right in the middle of it.
In all honesty, there are few civic treasures quite as grand as the bike path. I have been riding it for decades, and each outing is a rediscovery of just how wonderful it is. A few call it a waste of scarce tax money, claiming that it doesn’t make it easier or safer for anyone to navigate the city on two wheels. Somehow, that misses the point. The point is that it lets many—tens of thousands on a bright summer day—enjoy the sweeping arc of Santa Monica Bay and get exercise doing it. Like a park or a museum, the bike path is a recreational arena that many places can’t have.
Hermosa Beach looks much like Manhattan Beach, its neighbor to the north, especially along the coast. But there are some big differences locals can discuss for hours. Hermosa, they’ll tell you, is just a little bit “funkier,” by which they mean that for whatever reason, Hermosa retains a little bit more of the 60s beach feeling than its neighbors. (Rising property values for decades through the whole South Bay have priced out much of that “funk.”) Hermosa is a little smaller than Manhattan by population, but the population density is about the same.
To Hermosa’s south is Redondo Beach, the largest of the South Bay cities by population. It has always had a slightly older feel to it—ocean-front dwellings here are often high-rise condominium complexes which are much less common in Hermosa and Manhattan.
At Hermosa’s south end, the bike path veers off the beach and onto an asphalt street before it hooks through the Redondo Beach Pier parking lot and out the other side. South of the pier, the path continues south along the sand, through a tiny strip of Torrance before it comes to an end near the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.