It doesn’t take a seasoned Angeleno to know that Dodger Stadium traffic is painful. Fans come from all over the city and beyond, and, if they are driving, they crawl up Sunset Boulevard, crawl through the gates, then creep toward a parking spot. Surely, there’s a better way—a faster way—right?

There are options: The free Dodger Stadium Express carries baseball fans right up to an entrance, there’s a solid supply of bike parking, and those looking to get a little urban exploration in before the game can walk to the stadium.

Each of these modes has its advantages and drawbacks, but how do they stack up against each other? In search of the speediest, most efficient way to get to a Dodger game, and inspired by KPCC’s race to the Santa Monica Pier from Union Station, Curbed LA raced to the stadium for a Saturday afternoon game against the Chicago Cubs.

The course

From Union Station to the Top of the Park Team Store at top deck level entrance

The routes

The car: Adrian Glick-Kudler took Alameda through Chinatown to the Downtown gate

The bike: I peddled straight up Cesar Chavez/Sunset Boulevard to the Sunset gate

The Dodger Stadium Express shuttle: Elijah Chiland was ferried up Sunset through the gate of the same name

The pedestrian: Jeff Wattenhofer rode the Gold Line to the Chinatown stop, then walked to Downtown Gate via a pedestrian bridge over the 110 Freeway

The race

Before setting off at noon, the consensus had been either the bike rider (me) or the shuttle rider (Elijah) would win. But once we all hit the streets, that prediction quickly changed.

Sunset was emptier than I’d seen it in a while. (Did FYF turn Echo Park into a ghost town?) I had the bus lane to myself, but the rest of the street was just as carless. From behind the wheel of her car, driving through Chinatown, Adrian was seeing the same thing. “Once I got on the road, and I saw how little traffic there was, and my GPS told me it was going to be like 12 minutes, I thought, ‘Uh oh, I’m going to get there pretty quickly,’” she said.

dodger race photos
Jeff’s walk, though hilly, was probably the most scenic, especially this chainlink-enclosed pedestrian crossing. Photo by Jeff Wattenhofer.

Back at Union Station, Elijah didn’t immediately get onto the shuttle. He paused for free cans of La Croix, promotional gifts from some marketing people stationed near the Dodger Stadium Express shuttle pick-up spot. Free sparkling water acquired, Elijah boarded a bus that was already there and left shortly after.

Jeff was catching his Gold Line to Chinatown around this time; he estimates he waited about five minutes for the train. From Chinatown, he walked toward the stadium by way of Yale Avenue, a popular route for Dodger fans entering the stadium on foot. His walk was a picturesque if solitary one. “I didn’t see a soul on the Downtown side, really even when I was in Chinatown, since that pedestrian bridge is tucked away down a dead-end street,” he said. “It was a bit eerie.”

While Jeff was hoofing it through the hills toward the Downtown gate, Adrian was already pulling up to its parking lines. Having purchased pre-paid parking online, she got to use a separate pre-paid parking lane, but she’s not sure that helped because, “it was early, so

[traffic into the stadium] was all moving pretty quickly.” She was, however, “siphoned into the deep reaches of parking,” and had to climb a few flights of stairs to get to the finish line.

The parking lot was a problem for me, too. I had excitedly turned into the wrong parking level and needed to slog up a few flights of stairs with my bike over my shoulder to get up to the top deck entrance.

Elijah’s arrival wasn’t so smooth either. His short ride ended in a long walk: As he exited the shuttle, he found he was over by center field and not close to the top deck entrance. “We could not have been dropped off further from the meeting place,” he said. The final stretches for both Elijah and Jeff involved several flights of stairs.

So who won?

The race was close, but the miraculous lack of traffic helped Adrian rocket to the finish line in 20 minutes.

I came in second, arriving at the Top of the Park store in just 23 minutes. (I firmly believe the parking level mix-up and the stairs ate up at least three minutes.)

Third place went to Elijah, who appeared at the finish line in 25 minutes.

Jeff wasn’t that far behind, arriving in 35 minutes.

The takeaways

  • Dodger fans don’t get to games early.  Adrian confirmed, “I’ve been here closer to a game, and the parking lines have been bad,” so getting to the game early was a good way to ease traffic headaches.
  • The Saturday game likely helped us all, too, because none of us had to contend with rush-hour traffic like a weekday game attendee might. But seriously, there was a freakish dearth of car traffic, even for a Saturday afternoon.
dodger race photos
Nearly at Vin Scully Avenue and barely a car. Very weird.

  • Upon examining a map of the stadium after the fact, Elijah and I noticed there is supposed to be a second Dodger Express drop-off spot—right behind the top deck entrance. That seems like something a shuttle rider would have to know for themselves beforehand, though. “[E]veryone got off the bus when we did so it definitely didn’t seem like there was another stop,” he said, and if there was an announcement about a second drop-off spot, he didn’t hear it.
  • Biking is definitely a reliably fast way to get to Dodger Stadium (you can take the bus lane!), though if I were to do it again, I’d choose seats that were accessible from a lower point in the stadium.If I’m riding up hills, I don’t want to see asphalt and parked cars.
  • Jeff’s route was not the fastest, but he enjoyed it: “Overall, it was a pretty pleasant walk, and one I would like to do again on a clearer day. Though if it had been hotter that day, I don’t think I would be saying that.”
  • There are, of course, plenty of variables at play here for all modes of transport. If the game had been on a weeknight, or if the weekend car traffic had been worse, this race might have had a totally different ending.
Test these routes and tips out for yourself this weekend. The Dodgers are playing the Padres at-home tonight through Wednesday.

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