Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hollywood Bike HUB at Hollywood & Vine

Fly-through video rendering by Jeremy Grant

Hollywood & Vine's "Hollywood Bike HUB" is on its way to the Metro Board for final approval, having just picked up an endorsement from the Metro's Planning & Programming Committee along with a recommendation that it serve as a "demonstration project" in the establishment of transit oriented development (TOD) standards.

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

One would think that bike storage would be a basic for Metro transit hubs, especially when surrounded by TOD but such was not the case at Hollywood & Vine.

The Hollywood Bike HUB journey began earlier this year, about the time that we should have been celebrating the centenary of the Hollywood & Vine crossroads. Instead, all eyes were on the ribbon cutting at the W Hollywood's four acres of TOD, representing the collective machinations of the City of Los Angeles, the CRA, the Metro, and the Developers, and two-thirds of a billion dollars in funding from sources that included ARRA, Calpers, and the CRA.

The W Hollywood, from the hotel to the condominiums to the apartments, claims to channel the Hollywood spirit, connecting to Hollywood's heyday and "infusing it with the contemporary innovation, energy, elegance, and excitement" of the W experience. Metro officials positioned the integrated Hollywood & Vine Red Line station as a "flagship transit HUB," one that sets a standard for multi-modal connectivity.

None of this resonated with the pedestrians and cyclists who noted that the promised intersection improvements failed to materialize, that the promised bike-share and car-share facilities failed to happen, that the public space was surrounded by fortress walls of exclusivity, and that cyclists were obviously an afterthought as evidenced by the lack of bike racks or bike storage.

I spoke up and pointed out that waiting until after the ribbon cutting to ask "Where do the cyclists fit?" is hardly a demonstration of a multi-modal commitment. While the issue of bike parking facilities at Hollywood & Vine was the immediate challenge, the larger problem was the simple fact that TOD projects are being built throughout the county, (35 underway, 17 more on paper) and yet there are no Metro TOD standards in place. Developers qualify for funding based on their promises of TOD facilities, improving their position by writing "public benefit" into their proposal, yet without standards in place, it's a soft claim with little meaning. Hollywood & Vine proves the point.

While advocating for TOD standards, I proposed several locations for the Hollywood Bike HUB, a bike facility where people could not only safely park their bikes, but also rent bikes, get minor repairs done, and buy bike accessories, such as lights, patch kits, pump, etc. to make their commute more convenient, comfortable, and safe.

Over the past year, I've been joined by Enci of illuminateLA, Ron Durgin of Sustainable Streets, Glenn Bailey of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee, Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition and Jeremy Grant of the LA Bike Working Group. The struggle to incorporate robust bicycle facilities at the Hollywood & Vine station took us on a journey that included meetings with Metro staff, the developers, the tenants, the Sheriff's Department, the CRA, the City Council, the LADOT, and anyone else with a finger in the pie.

Ultimately, it was the Deputy Mayor Jaime de la Vega and Metro Boardmember Richard Katz who embraced the vision of the Hollywood Bike HUB and the notion that TOD standards should drive the development process, not simply be added as a garnish at the ribbon cutting.

To that end, Jeremy Grant developed the Hollywood Bike HUB renderings that went to the Metro Board this past week and the Planning and Programming Committee approved the Hollywood Bike HUB concept, sending it to the full Board this Thursday morning for final approval.

Boardmember Katz added the following language to the Hollywood Bike HUB motion:

"Direct staff to develop the Hollywood Bike HUB as a demonstration project, engaging the public and using the process to develop robust TOD standards that provide systemic commitments to pedestrians, cyclists, open space, connectivity, accessibility, and community benefit."

The Hollywood Bike HUB is located on the east side of Vine Avenue, just south of Hollywood Boulevard. With over a thousand square feet of interior space, the HUB is a commitment to connectivity, literally and figuratively. Guests will have access to showers, lockers, activated public space, and local information services, all as elements of the HUB's commitment to connectivity.

The intersection of Hollywood & Vine was born 100 years ago when the City of Los Angeles annexed Hollywood, renamed its streets, and ushered in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Griffith, Pickford and Sennett came to town. Radio Stations proudly announced "Broadcasting live from Hollywood & Vine!" Record labels and production companies commissioned architects such as Schindler, Neutra, and Naidorf/Becket. Charlie Chaplin and Will Rogers kept offices in the Taft Building along with neighbors such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The intersection grew to become one of the busiest in the city and one of the most famous in the world.

Hollywood & Vine has seen the glamor days of Clara Bow's It Cafe, the Brown Derby and Sardi's. It has also seen tough times with businesses closing, buildings falling into disrepair, sidewalks cracking and crowds toughening. Through it all, it has maintained its status as the center of Hollywood, crossroads of hopes and dreams for people from around the world.

I believe that the crowd-sourced solutions that brought the Hollywood Bike HUB to the Metro Board are an example of all that is great about Hollywood and evidence that Hollywood is reclaiming its title as the center of the creative universe.


Alex said...

This looks just like the Bike Station I saw last week in Santa Barbara!

PlebisPower said...

Damn, Stephen, aren't we shooting ourselves in the foot with a great facility like this? As a cyclist, it's hard to stay angry on our mean streets when we can pull into a full-service joint built JUST FOR US. I'll loose my edge! And aren't we getting ahead of ourselves with this hard-won legitimacy? After feeling for so long like Dickensian transpo orphans, begging, as you say, for a cold bowl of porridge, what on Earth will we do with some measure of respect and recognition?