Monday, June 14, 2010

Metro's Hollywood & Vine Station needs a Bike HUB!

The Metro's CEO, Art Leahy, refers to the Hollywood & Vine Metro Station as "a flagship transit HUB, one that should set the standard for the Metro's comprehensive transportation system." Gatehouse Capital refers to its W Hollywood Hotel & Residences Development as "a glamorous venue, one that will seduce you - mind, body and soul." Legacy Partners refers to its 1600 Vine Residential/Retail development as 1600 Vine as "a truly unique living experience full of comfort, urban conveniences, and contemporary amenities in one of Los Angeles’ most renowned locations."

Collectively, Hollywood & Vine is LA's largest Transit Oriented Development and it became a reality after a decade of grappling that saw the Metro, the CRA, the City of LA, the LADOT, the Chamber of Commerce, lawyers, developers, investors, activists, neighborhood councils, artists, merchants, and neighbors all working to protect their interest in one of the most iconic intersections on earth. Now that the dust has cleared, the awesome magnitude of the Hollywood & Vine TOD has become the standard for future Transit Oriented Development projects.

I think that's a problem.

For all of the celebratory ribbon cutting, soft focus photo opps and champagne toasts, the details matter and the Hollywood & Vine TOD is missing some significant details that go a long way to demonstrating a commitment to people who walk, who ride a bike, who simply want to enjoy public space and who believe that a TOD is something more than an interchange, that it is a significant place, one that is made for people.

Missing from the Hollywood & Vine project is a Bike HUB, a community benefit that is provided by the Metro, the CRA, Gatehouse Capital, and Legacy Partners. This simple commitment to supporting cyclists goes a long way to demonstrating a commitment to TOD projects which purportedly serve cyclists, pedestrians, mass transit passengers and the immediate community.

1) The Hollywood & Vine project has overbuilt on its motor vehicle parking requirements, demonstrating a bias that encourages vehicle trips instead of working to reducing congestion by reducing the number of generated vehicle trips.

2) The Hollywood & Vine project has failed to provide the bike parking as required by LA's Municipal Code, a fact that failed to trigger a response from Building & Safety, a department that never invokes any bike parking minimums in spite of the law.

3) The Hollywood & Vine project unfolded over several years and during that time, the community requested a Community Car Share program, a Community Bike Share program, and a Community delivery service but none of the promises turned into reality. 

4) The Hollywood & Vine project received concessions and funding and legal support (eminent domain) based on its claims of a positive impact on the community, the economy, the traffic, and the quality of life as a whole for those who live in Hollywood, those who work in Hollywood and those who visit Hollywood.

5) The Hollywood & Vine project claims to be a Transit Oriented Development, a designation that includes a commitment to cyclists, pedestrians, vibrant street life and a connectivity to the community.

All of this being said, I look at the two-thirds of a billion dollar H'wood & Vine TOD Fortress and I ask "Where's the Bike HUB?"

I propose that the Metro and the CRA and Gatehouse Capital and Legacy Partners get together and immediately implement a Bike HUB program at Hollywood & Vine and I've got the location already selected. (There are actually three great locations, one on Hollywood Blvd., one on Argyle, and this great location on Vine)

Imagine a Bike HUB on Vine Ave., a bike shop for locals where cyclists can work on their bikes as well as store them in a secured environment. The Bike HUB could also offer a Bike Share for locals and a Bike Rental for tourists. In addition, the Bike HUB could serve as a Visitor's Center for tourists who simply need info on the neighborhood. Good for cyclists, good for the residents, good for the tourists, good for business and great for transit, offering Metro passengers a "last mile" option.

There are many iterations of the Bike HUB concept, from city-sponsored and more city-sponsored to artistic eco-storage to on-campus facilities to sophisticated spa facilities with showers, lockers, and masseuse to the bike storage robot, they all offer variations of bike repair support, secure bike storage, bike-share or bike-rentals, education, encouragement, and helpful information on the surrounding community. Los Angeles is surrounded by great examples of bike co-ops including the Bicycle Kitchen, BikeRoWave, the Bike Oven and the Bikery. There is also the Bikestation organization with facilities in Long Beach and Covina and Claremont.

Last week's Urban Land Institute TOD Summit featured politicians, transit operators, bureaucrats, developers, lawyers, planners, and advocates, all clamoring to keep their place at the table as LA's 30/10 plan for putting $40 Billion to work on a dozen mega transit projects picks up steam. There in the mix was Andréa White-Kjoss, President and CEO of the Bikestation, working to remind the Summit attendees to keep things in perspective, that the high altitude funding and planning will only succeed if the vision is kept centered on the experience of the individual, the person who walks or rides a bike or shops at the store or meets friends in the public space.

It is imperative that we set professional standards for active transportation and that we firmly establish "last-mile" elements into any TOD programming. The folks at Bikestation have a strong support track record for providing innovative solutions to unique transit opportunities and Hollywood is the capital of innovation and opportunity.

Now, more than ever, it's important that we set a standard at the Hollywood & Vine TOD, that we firmly establish a standard for a Bike HUB and that we make it a robust success, with the support of professionals such as the folks at Bikestation, with the support of the Metro and the CRA, with the support of Gatehouse and Legacy, and with the support of the community.

What happens in Hollywood will set the course for the future.

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