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SGV Hikes and Bikes: Ghost Town Ride in City of Industry

Industry’s side streets are pretty dead on weekends, making for miles and miles of relaxed cycling.

An entrance to the Union Pacific railyard on Arenth Avenue, in City of Industry, CA. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

Nestled in between La Puente and several unincorporated communities that perhaps might have been part of La Puente (but for a contentious incorporation in the 1950’s) lies an unusual, gray, leviathan-shaped municipality: the City of Industry.

Often just called Industry, it’s one of the larger cities in the San Gabriel Valley, at 12 square miles. Yet, it’s one of the least populous towns in the state of California, with only a few hundred residents.

Of course, during the week Industry is bustling. Tens of thousands of workers file in and out of the city day and night, loading trains, making shoes, pasteurizing milk, fixing cars, and dancing in strip clubs. Many of them come and go by foot or bike.

Bike and pedestrian infrastructure is exceptionally weak, and vehicle traffic is exceptionally hectic, especially on Valley Boulevard (though U.S. Representative Grace Napolitano requested federal funding in March ‘23 for a ten mile bikeway across the whole city). Nearly every driver here is a commuter, rushing along a grid of busy corridors: the 60 Freeway, Valley Boulevard, Colima Road, Azusa Avenue, Hacienda Boulevard, Grand Avenue, Fullerton Road, and the mini-arterial, Gale Avenue.

Industry is the undisputed job center for this region, and home to many transnational corporate outposts, but it doesn't yield a lot of benefits for locals beyond employment. The roads and railways bring heat and emissions. Historically, the town has been the site of several landfills and a source of noxious fumes from food stuff processing plants and lead battery smelting plant Quemetco. And tax revenues from all this industry don't go to neighboring communities. As a result nearby schools have been disadvantaged for decades. Several campuses have closed in recent years.

Industry has made some concessions, including funding for the Valley Boulevard Sound Wall and donating to the food bank at La Puente’s First United Methodist Church. 

Other than that, one of the only things to really enjoy about living near Industry is that on weekends and evenings, its backroads are practically empty… perfect for a Saturday morning bike ride. And there is actually scenery to appreciate, if you have a sense of humor.

A foot trail down from Azusa Avenue to the side streets of City of Industry, CA. Those trees smell better than they look. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

While the north end of Azusa Avenue at Highway 39 remains in limbo, you can admire the Union Pacific railyard from the south end of Azusa at the bridge over Valley Blvd.

A view of the Union Pacific railyard in City of Industry, CA, from Azusa Avenue, facing east. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

Forget kayaking in the L.A. River; you might get lucky and someone will leave the gates open to the San Jose Creek. Some say there's history in that water. Some say there are other things.

A utility entrance to the San Jose Creek on Chestnut Street in City of Industry, CA. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

And then there's our centerpiece. A bicycle boulevard of sorts: the unprotected middle lane of Railroad Street. Don't laugh - you can take this baby almost all the way from Azusa to Nogales!

It's better than waiting for the 710 Stub to become less stubby, more bikey.

Railroad Street in City of Industry, CA, facing west. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

And if all of this unnatural beauty isn’t enough, these pictures were only taken within the city’s central area between Azusa and Fullerton and Valley and Gale. There are plenty more small streets to mess around on in Industry’s east and west ends. There are even two ACTUAL trails/bikeways that will carry you out of Industry: the Schabarum Skyline Trail and the San Jose Creek Trail. Who says there’s nothing to do here?

The dead end of Anaheim and Puente Road in City of Industry, CA. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

All jokes aside, though Industry is not for everyone, it really is a fascinating place to explore by bike. You won't see practically any nature, but you will take in one of the main economic engines of California - not just the San Gabriel Valley or the region. Please do it safely on weekends, when truck traffic is a bare minimum. You may encounter drivers using the area as a private racetrack. Stay safe by being aware of your surroundings and watching out for potholes, railroad tracks and other hazards. Industry's back streets can be very isolated, so SBLA recommends exploring with friends, not alone.

For folks interested in exploring Industry on bike, try starting at:

  • Workman Mill Road and San Jose Creek - bike east on the creek path, then continue east on Salt Lake Avenue, Don Julian Road, and/or Gale Avenue
  • Azusa Avenue and Railroad Street - bike east on Railroad
  • City of Industry Metrolink Station - bike west on Currier Road

To explore industry on foot (again not for everyone - no water, no restrooms - lots of isolated industrial landscape, not recommended for solo exploration), maybe start at:

  • Metrolink Station - walk west
  • Malls on Gale (east of Fullerton Road) or Colima Road (at Azusa Avenue) - walk north

Streetsblog’s San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”Sign-up for our SGV Connect Newsletter, coming to your inbox on Fridays!

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