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'Carmageddon' downtown: Some came by bike, others by train

May 20, 2012 | 12:36 pm


Some came on their bikes. Some on the train. Some on both.

Gabriel Sajardo, 44, said he had never ridden Metro’s Red Line commuter train before.

But on Sunday the Santa Clarita resident and Kings fan decided to take the train from the North Hollywood Station to 7th and Flower streets downtown. He stepped on the train about 8:30 and was downtown before 9 a.m.

“I’m surprised that we got here so fast,” he said. “It’s definitely faster than driving.”

He said he’s now thinking of taking the train more often.

Drew Dancel, 32, took the Gold Line from Pasadena and then transferred at Union Station to the Red Line.

At the 7th and Flower streets, he got on his bike and rode the rest of the way to LA Live.

“I live here so I know [the traffic] sucks,” said Dancel, who had come to see the end of the Amgen Tour of California, a professional bike race that began in Santa Rosa last Sunday. Dancel joined a couple of hundred other bikers in parking his bike at a free bike valet downtown at the Staples Center.

Not everyone was so lucky.

Decked out in Kings jerseys, Robert Wheeler, 34, and Mark Wetzel, 32, boarded a commuter train at 9 a.m. in Norwalk bound for  downtown. The commute wasn't bad, they said -- until they missed their stop.

The two didn't get to the Staples Center until about 11:30 a.m. The game started at noon.

Wetzel said they had trouble navigating the Metro website to determine what route to take to the game, and worried they'd encounter the same problems on the trip back.

They opted to take the train to avoid the crowds that milled about LA Live just minutes before the game was set to start.

"It's crazy," Wheeler said of the scene.

"Insanity," Wetzel added.

"But what are you going to do?" Wheeler said. "It's good for the city."

Officials are urging motorists to avoid downtown L.A. on Sunday if possible due to numerous street closures and crowds related to several sporting events.

Tens of thousands of cycling, hockey and basketball fans were expected to converge at Staples Center for post-season games and the final stage of the Amgen Tour, which began a week ago in Santa Rosa.

INTERACTIVE: Amgen Tour of Calif. course and street closure map

Dozens of downtown streets were closed for the bike tour and traffic delays were expected throughout the day in the downtown area.

The heaviest traffic was expected before and just after noon, generated by crowds overlapping to attend the Kings game and the bike race finish.

Two pedestrian bridges were built along Figueroa Street in preparation for Kings fans crossing the Amgen bike route Sunday morning for Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference finals.


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-- Ari Bloomekatz and Kate Mather at LA Live

Photo: Spectators cheer the finishers in the final stage of the Amgen Tour. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times.