Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Metro Bike Parking - Won't Get Fooled Again!

Won't Get Fooled Again

In 1971 The Who released their 5th album, entitled "Who's next" featuring album cover art consisting simply of a photograph, taken at Easington Colliery, of the band apparently having just urinated on a large concrete piling protruding from a slag heap. The album cover was voted by the VH1 network as the second greatest album cover of all time. The album itself went platinum...three times over.

"Who's next" inspired a generation of rock and roll fans and, apparently, also served to inspire the Metro's transportation engineers who continue to incorporate the "public urination" and "large concrete piling protruding from a slag heap" concepts in their Transportation Oriented Development (TOD) programming.

Consider the Metro's Hollywood & Vine Red Line Station, now also the home of the W Hollywood Hotel & Residences, a $600 Million Transit Oriented Development that somehow made it past the ribbon cutting without so much as a nod toward the incorporation of bike parking.

The Metro's Hollywood & Vine Red Line Station has been in operation for a little over a decade. During that same period of time the Gatehouse Capital and Legacy Partners team has been working to bring the largest mixed-use TOD to Hollywood. This decade-plus journey saw the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), the Los Angeles City Council, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) all working together to bring the gift of Transit Oriented Development to Hollywood. Somehow these titans of development got swept up in the hugeness of the Metro Red Line and W Hollywood Hotel & Residences partnership and lost sight of the details.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) typically refers to residential and Commercial Centers designed to maximize access by Transit and Nonmotorized transportation, and with other features to Encourage Transit Ridership. A typical TOD has a rail or bus station at its center, surrounded by relatively high-density development, with progressively lower-density spreading outwards one-quarter to one-half mile, which represents pedestrian scale distances. It includes these design features (Morris, 1996; Renne, 2009):
  • The neighborhood is designed for Cycling and Walking, with adequate facilities and attractive street conditions.
  • Streets have good Connectivity and Traffic Calming features to control vehicle traffic speeds.
  • Mixed-use development that includes shops, schools and other public services, and a variety of housing types and prices, within each neighborhood.
  • Parking Management to reduce the amount of land devoted to parking compared with conventional development, and to take advantage of the parking cost savings associated with reduced automobile use (NJDOT, 2007).
  • Transit Stops and Stations that are convenient, comfortable and Secure, with features such as comfortable waiting areas, venders selling refreshments and periodicals, washrooms, Wayfinding and Multi-Modal Navigation Tools
Of the five basic TOD elements, the Metro and the W Hollywood have failed to get past the first half of item #1, designing for Cycling. Somehow the Metro's Real Estate Department, led by Roger Moliere, Chief of Real Property Management & Development, and Greg Angelo, Director of New Business Development, allowed a significant 2/3 of a billion dollar development to get to the finish line before they spoke up and said "What about the cyclists?" Within the Metro's Planning Department is a team led by Lynne Goldsmith that is responsible for bike parking at Metro facilities. How is it that the Hollywood & Vine Metro Station is now built out and the W Hollywood ribbon cutting is old news, yet the Metro still doesn't have a plan for cyclists other than wandering around asking "Is there any room left over for the bike parking?"

The Association of Pedestrian and Bike Professionals (APBP) has national standards for bike parking. They are pretty simple. Accessible, visible, secure. Bike parking isn't mystery science, it's often just good common sense and a bit of commitment. All of the training and common sense in the world can't help a major entity such as the Metro if they can get a decade into a project and pass the finish line before they consider the implementation of a bike parking element. This is simply Planning Malpractice. The bike parking element isn't optional, it an integral element of the TOD concept and of the Metro's larger commitment to its status as a Comprehensive Transportation System.

The City of Los Angeles also has bike parking standards. (see below) They are not quite as simple but they are part of the Municipal Code of Los Angeles. The LA Department of Transportation was involved in this project from the early days, working with the Metro and the developers on traffic mitigation, traffic controls. The LA Department of Transportation has a Project Grants, Bikeways and Enhancement Division led by Michael Uyeno, which is responsible for bike parking in the City of Los Angeles, as specified in LA's City Council approved Bicycle Transportation Plan, an element of the Transportation Plan which is part of the City's General Plan. Doesn't anybody read these documents? Isn't anybody responsible for actually following through on these commitments?

Law Enforcement professionals have standards for the built environment referred to as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and if any law enforcement professionals had advised the developers and the Metro on this project, it is reasonable to suggest that they would have excluded secluded areas that reek of human waste as safe areas for bike storage. "Natural surveillance" is a key element and the eyes of the public are of greater value than the hollow promise of video cameras. Urine stains on the walls and floor would be the "broken windows" that serve as cues to both criminals and those who value their safety that this is not supervised real estate.

It's been a year since I last posted "Good for Bikes, Good for Business!" Since then, salaries have been paid, checks have cleared the banks, vacations have been taken, raises have been given and some promotions have been awarded. Granted, those who work for the Metro, the LADOT, the CRA, the City Council, Building and Safety, the LA Police Department, the LA County Sheriff's Department, Gatehouse Capital and Legacy Partners aren't responsible for reading my blog on bike parking, but they are responsible for doing their jobs.

Based on results, often harsh but always fair, anybody responsible for incorporating cyclists, bike parking, and public safety into the Metro's Hollywood & Vine Red Line Station and the W Hollywood's TOD has failed.

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.)


jenni x said...

I have a client in the Hollywood and Vine building, and i found that "bike parking" area the first time i went to work for them.


It should be labeled "Rape, Robbery and Bicycle donation area". An empty room, with nothing to lash a bike to AT ALL, no security cameras, and not a soul around anywhere to provide a watchful eye on my bike.

I wound up lashing my bike to a tree on the sidewalk, in view of the doorman at my client's building on Vine.

Thanks for shining the bright light, Stephen.

Travis said...

I was caught in a fit of laughter when I saw what was unveiled as the 'bike room' there at the Vine Station. The design professional who let that one though the gates should consider some community service. Might as well have the nice guys at a nearby restaurant Valet your bike, you'll lose less in the long run.