06 November 2010

Bicycling to Los Angeles Airport (LAX)

Ever try to park your bicycle at LAX? The LA World Airports site has no info and an online search gives you this LAist article which does not say much.

Rolling along 104th st toward the airport. Tower in distance!

I had a long weekend flight and work not far from the airport before and after so I decided to ride my $100 Craigslist bike and leave it. The best advice I got was 'lock it up with the motorcycles'. So I rode into the airport and followed signs for departing flights and then to parking garage 1. Was it sketchy? Honestly, inside the airport felt safer than the sprawl-land madness that surrounds it.

I wanted a better place than this bike I came across.

There are a few concerns when locking your bicycle in an odd place. One is the usual re theft and vandalism. The other is that some overzealous pseudo-authority figure will notice your out of place transportation choice and make it his or her mission to teach you a lesson. I've had my bike locked by security guards, friends have had locks cut by them. It seems to be their business when you leave, but never when you ask them where to park. Anyway, I wouldn't leave my bike locked like the above one out of fear of security guards messing with it.



I circled through the garage and found the motorcycle parking on the first floor- where arriving flights let out. There is no rack here, but there are locks on this ledge railing, so I assumed it was safe. I was also able to double lock it and include both wheels.



The morning I was leaving I had the realization that I couldn't bring my tools on board and I hadn't planned to check anything. What to do with the tools in my seatbag? I didn't want to just leave it because it's too easy to undo the velcro and walk away with $50 worth of tools (half the value of the bike!). My solution? Cover the seat with a plastic bag a la it's raining out style therefore covering the seatbag and hiding it from view (and less sketchy than hiding the tools in a planter- which I've done successfully!). Foolproof? No, but I felt pretty confident that most people leaving an airport have little interest in multi-tools and tire levers.

Confident in my locking and tool hiding job I headed to Terminal 1. Guess what I see! Yep, a bike rack.




In all of my years of flying in and out of Terminal 1 (Southwest!) I have never noticed this rack. Is it new? Now I was stuck with the dilemma of moving my bike or not. One, I really didn't have much time and two, if anyone in all of LAX would steal a seatbag filled with tools it would be someone on a bike....so I left it with the motorcycles.

Four days later I returned and my bike was (seemingly) untouched. Seatbag and all! And serendipitously the plastic bag kept my seat dry from the sprinklers just below. Score.

So when you ride your bike to the airport you have a few choices. I don't know if there are bike racks at other terminals, but you always have the Terminal 1 option. Be sure to enter the terminal area on the 'arriving flights' level to ride right to the rack or to the motorcycle area of Terminal 1 parking, if you choose this option. Riding out of the garage no one looked twiced at me and I made my way to Veggie Grill for an early lunch...

12 comments:

Michael Feicco said...

Fantastic storage job! Glad the plastic bag trick worked, very cleaver. If you used the terminal is their a locker you can rent near by?

Jen Petersen said...

flying under the radar is the best.

bravo!

Matt Ruscigno said...

@Michael I've never seen lockers at the airport.

Louis said...

"if anyone in all of LAX would steal a seatbag filled with tools it would be someone on a bike....so I left it with the motorcycles"

Brilliant!

Brent said...

I'd be curious to know what route you used to get there.

Cheryl said...

Nice blog!

Matt Ruscigno said...

@Brent
I was coming from South Central so I took 104th street for awhile till I had to cut up to Century.

Sirinya said...

VERY informative. Had no idea there was even a bike rack at LAX.

Anonymous said...

There is only one bike rack to service the entire airport. Most employees know best not to leave their bike out on that bike rack by terminal one for the following reasons 1) theft ( wheels,reflectors, other accessories )2) possible damage from bikes being so close 3)no room. This airport has now banned bikes entering the airport premises( ramp area) as of this week of January. So now were are the employees of terminal one going to park thier bikes..the employees used to park inside airport premises. Lax is so far behind.

rjw242 said...

I just cycled to LAX this morning from the Pasadena area, and used this post for advice on where to park. Thanks!

For routing advice (and other opinions on parking) I posted to a frequent-flyer board and got some excellent feedback as well. Here it is if anyone's interested:

Biking to LAX?

Michelle said...

What a great post! Thanks so much for all the detail. Trying to figure out how to take Metro from LB (with a bike and luggage), lock up at the airport, etc. This is a good start! xox Michelle

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this info! I'm just getting into biking, travel a lot, and live very close to LAX. Awesome!