At the busy intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente Boulevards in West Hollywood, tour buses wait to make a left turn at a notoriously long stoplight while passengers crane their necks in hopes of catching a glimpse of someone, anyone, famous.
Just down the block, at the Bikes and Hikes LA shop, owner Danny Roman can be found convincing visitors that there’s a better way to see Los Angeles. Roman and his staff organize independent, guided tours on bike, foot, sailboat and kayak.
The most popular tour is the LA in a Day Bike Adventure, a 32-mile, six-hour ride that pedals past celebrity homes, movie studios, trendy shopping districts, the Sunset Strip, architectural gems, beaches and parks. “LA in a Day started out as a ride I would take family and friends on when they were visiting town,” says Roman, who has the energy and build of a professional athlete. “Then one day, it just clicked: If I can showcase this gorgeous city to visitors in an eco-friendly and health-conscious way, instead of cramming them on a bus, they’ll have a better experience, feel more connected to the city and get some exercise.”
Now five years old, Bikes and Hikes LA is a full-fledged excursion operator that can customize programs for groups of all interests, fitness levels and budgets. The business is especially popular with corporate wellness programs. “Companies are trying to attach themselves to green, health-conscious initiatives,” Roman says. “Why would you want your employees sitting in traffic when you can hike with them to the Hollywood sign?”
Riders don’t have to leave from the West Hollywood shop. Up to 75 bikes can be transported to any number of Southern and Central California locations, where other activities, like scavenger hunts, beach volleyball, surf lessons, wine tastings and catered lunches, may await. At Bronson Canyon, a section of LA’s Griffith Park that has been a popular film location, tour members walk a red carpet to pick up their bikes and are then shown the entrance to the Batcave from the ‘60s Batman TV series. Roman has organized a sailing regatta for 300 lawyers, put 175 Microsoft employees on bikes, and guided 15 European executives through a Santa Barbara bike tour before driving them, blindfolded, to a tour of a lawful marijuana farm. “We never say no to anything,” Roman says, “as long as it’s legal.”