Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Good for Bikes, Good for Business! Bike Parking!

Hollywood sits right square in the middle of the universe. At least it does for me and based on the abundant crowds of people and the rampant development and the gridlock traffic, it's true for many others also.

Hollywood is the land of promises, the land of dreams, the land of hope.

It's the kind of neighborhood that urban planners had in mind when they estimated that as much as 30% of the traffic congestion is caused by motorists circling the block and searching for a parking place.

It's the kind of neighborhood that traffic engineers had in mind when they estimated that half of all motor vehicle trips were only a couple of miles in distance.

It's the kind of neighborhood that cyclists have in mind when they suggest that they would be more likely to ride their bikes if only there were end-trip accommodations. (that's another way of saying "Where are the bike racks?")

A couple of years ago, Chicago's Mayor Daley declared his city the greenest big city and went to work supporting healthy activities such as cycling by promising to install ten thousand bike racks. One can track the progress of the bike rack installation online and search by zip code and by ward and by neighborhood. The Department of Transportation has a Department of Bike Parking. Very promising!

Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles, the Department of Transportation's Bikeways Division just presented a contract to the Public Works Department for payment after a four year journey to install 700 bike racks. All this in a city with 6500 miles of streets. At a rate of one bike installed every two days at an average one per nine miles of street, it appears that the contractor did the work on foot.

Of course, this is the land of promise, not of action. This is the land of dreams, not of reality. This is the land of hope, not of results. This is the land where the LADOT paints the orange bike rack markers outside the City Council President's office 8 months ago and then never returns to install the bike racks. They then get away with complete failure to complete a simple bike rack installation.

All this on Hollywood Boulevard, the "Walk of Fame," a pedestrian oriented district and a transit hub, a community with such potential if only there were some bike racks upon which to rest a weary bike. Between La Brea Avenue and Western, there are approximately half a dozen inverted U bike racks, one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective forms of bike parking and yet so rare.

The intersection of Hollywood & Western has a few opportunities for bike parking, none of them good and all of them serving to advertise why riding a bike in Hollywood is a bad idea.

The CRA's Hollywest (Ralph's) development on the NE corner has bike parking at less than the LAMC required minimum but who's gonna bust the CRA. They elected to go with the wheel-bender bike rack and chose to instal it so that the bikes extend into the walkway. The inability to lock the frame of a bike to the rack is advertised by the remains of a bike, a wheel that remains locked to the rack.

The Metro Village (Red Line) development on the SE corner also has bike parking with two typically unused wave racks on the street level and the more popular and effective inverted U racks in the center behind a wall. There's also a bike locker for two but that's a VIP situation and the waiting list is a year long. The inverted U racks have a bike carcass still attached as a reminder to all that leaving a bike at the Hollywood & Western Red Line station is at your own risk. With empty storefronts and a patio that now serves as a campground, the station is far from a secure location for bike parking. Too bad. Such promise if only the racks were in a better position.

The Mayer Building on the SW corner has security bars on the windows and little orange paint marks that promise bike parking in the future but other than that, there is no evidence that riding a bike is an encouraged or supported behavior at the SE corner of Hollywood & Western.

The Thai Hot Dog has the best promise for bike parking with a wrought iron fence that is stretched for several yards. Patrons of the 24 porn shop have plenty of opportunity to lock up their bikes under the brightly illuminated signage and in front of the heavily trafficked popular business. Who would have thought?

Bike parking is such a simple amenity and it goes such a great distance in changing the character of a neighborhood. Putting bike racks up front in plain sight is not only a great security measure, it also encourages and reinforces cycling as a viable transportation solution.

The inverted U rack is the simplest and cheapest but there are other racks that are a bit more stylized while still offering the basic two points of frame contact and an opportunity to secure the frame with a U-lock, all while securing the bike out of the traffic lane of the pedestrians.

A little wayfinding goes a long way and serves to normalize cycling by reminding people that cyclists also have a place in the neighborhood.

Bike racks don't have to be boring and plain, they simply need to work.

Sometimes they take on a whimsical or artistic flair.

Sometimes they are a part of the public art in a public space.

They simply need to run parallel to foot traffic and offer two points of contact for the frame.

They can be converted parking meter poles.

In some lands they even protect from the elements. (I know, we don't even do that for people!)

Car spaces can be converted into bike parking with great success and look at the capacity !

Great racks in great locations are good for cyclists and good for the neighborhood and good for business!

Bike parking can also be innovative and opportunistic, such as this out of commission boat that uses the sliding racks like the ones that have been sitting unused at Hollywood & Western for a couple of years.

These bike racks have been kept under lock and key where they're safe, since 2005. Not one has been stolen.

These are some of the loneliest bike racks in the city of Los Angeles. The next closest racks are a mile to the west and a quarter mile to the east.

When in doubt, add some more racks.

Why can't we get along?

Apparently we can!

For the nature lover in all of us!

While the City of Los Angeles is full of examples such as these of weak and ineffective attempts to provide bike parking, the City Council went to work and put into place an ordinance specifying the City's bike parking standards. All that's required is the political will to implement this legislation.

From the Los Angeles Municipal Code: (LAMC 12.21-A. 16)

16. Bicycle Parking and Shower Facilities. (Added by Ord. No. 167,409, Eff. 12/19/91.) Off-street parking spaces for bicycles and facilities for employee showers and lockers shall be provided as follows:

(a) In the C and M zones, for any building, portion thereof or addition thereto used for non-residential purposes which contains a floor area in excess of 10,000 square feet, bicycle parking spaces shall be provided at the rate of two percent of the number of automobile parking spaces required by this section for such non-residential uses; provided, however, that at least one bicycle parking space shall be provided for any such building having a floor area in excess of 10,000 square feet of non-residential use. If the calculation of the number of required spaces under this paragraph results in a number including a fraction, the next highest whole number shall be the number of spaces required.

(b) The bicycle parking space requirements in Paragraph (a) shall also apply to any building, regardless of zone, owned by the City of Los Angeles and used by the City for government purposes which contains a floor area in excess of 10,000 square feet.

(c) All bicycle parking spaces required by this Subdivision shall include a stationary parking device which adequately supports the bicycle. In addition, at least half of the bicycle parking spaces shall include a stationary parking device which securely locks the bicycle without the use of a user-supplied cable or chain. Devices which hold the bicycle upright by wheel contact must hold at least 180 degrees of wheel arc.

(d) Each bicycle parking space shall be a minimum of two feet in width and six feet in length and shall have a minimum of six feet of overhead clearance.

(e) Bicycle parking spaces shall be located no farther than the distance from a main entrance of the building to the nearest off-street automobile parking space.

(f) Bicycle parking spaces shall be separated from automobile parking spaces or aisles by a wall, fence, or curb or by at least five feet of open space marked to prohibit parking.

(g) Aisles providing access to bicycle parking spaces shall be at least five feet in width.

(h) Signage which is clearly legible upon approach to every automobile entrance to the parking facility shall be displayed indicating the availability and location of bicycle parking.

(i) Showers and lockers shall be provided as required by Section 91.6307 of this Code. (Amended by Ord. No. 177,103, Eff. 12/18/05.)

It was up to the LADOT Bikeways Division to develop the standards for bike parking and they did not disappoint!
While cities such as Chicago fumble along with commitments and results, Los Angeles demonstrates its unique approach to supporting the cycling community by putting pen to paper towel and drafting some almost accurate plans for bike parking installation, closing any back doors and putting to rest any insinuations that the LADOT is insincere in its support of cycling as a valid means of transportation.

(The paper towel is actually the bike rack plan offered by LADOT Bikeways to facilitate the installation of the bike racks at the Griffith Observatory. It's hard to imagine how it resulted in the re-installation and then the re-re-installation of the racks. It looks so simple, complete with the minor error included!)

Let there be no doubt. The evidence is in! The LADOT Bikeways Division is committed to supporting the cycling community!


Anonymous said...

Hollywood Blvd. should be the Boulevard where all the world goes to for inspiration for the bike racks of the Walk of Fame.

Unfortunately, the Walk of Fame looks pretty bleak in supporting a sustainable Hollywood.

No bike racks, no recycling bins, no pretty bus stops and bus benches. It's just a sad walk down T-shirt boulevard.

Sahra Bogado said...

How the HELL did you get that paper towel drawing?! Is that for real?

SoapBoxLA said...

Here's the story. When the Griffith Observatory reopened after the remodel, we fought to make sure that they installed bike racks. Long fight, long story...they put in a toast rack.

We fought for the inverted U reack, principle based fight, the entire property has great fence but I degress.

The guy from the Observatory has to go to the LADOT to get the inverted U reacks. When he asks about the specs for installation, this is what they gave him...along with a bit of eye-rolling and attitude.

He got back at them though, by telling me about the 700 bike racks in a warehouse in Van Nuys. We organized a "Storm the Bastille" to the BAC to confront the LADOT on the stash of bike racks, all while they were telling the community and the bike advocates that there were no more racks to be installed.

Well, the next week the Bicycle Kitchen was fitted for racks on both sides of the street. Hollywood Pro got the two racks that they had requested years prior. 700 racks went down and fast.

Of course, I had the only set of instructions so a lot of the racks went down a bit screwy but...at least we got the racks!

Mr. Homegrown said...

How exciting to see the infamous paper towel bike rack diagram. I want a t-shirt.