Tag Archive for bike parking

Westfield Century City wants your business. And they have the free bike valet to prove it.

Westfield Bike ValetFinally, someone gets it.

Instead of fighting to keep bike lanes and the bicyclists who use them from besmirching their businesses — as merchants on North Figueroa and York Blvd in Northeast LA have done lately — Westfield Century City is throwing open the doors for people on bikes.

The Westside shopping center, which sits at the eastern terminus of one of the city’s most popular bike lanes, wants your business.

No, they really want your business.

As I hinted yesterday, the busy mall is planning a new Bike Station, which will be the first in the city of Los Angeles. And just the second to be found north of Long Beach, following the highly successful Santa Monica Bike Centers.

Now Westfield’s Assistant General Manager Louis Schillace tells me they’re offering a free bike valet service. In fact, it’s already open, with the first signs going up along the eastbound Santa Monica Blvd bike lane on Tuesday.

Just ride up to the valet station at the front of the shopping center anytime between 10 am and 11 pm, and the Valet Ambassadors will issue you a ticket and lock your bike in a secure storage area while you shop, take in a movie or just hang out for awhile.

And did I mention it’s free?

Particularly nice now that they charge motorists a minimum of $1 for parking — which rises dramatically after three hours.

And which doesn’t seem to have done anything to diminish the demand for parking, as both levels of the upscale mall’s massive parking lots are often full.

As someone who’s lived in the area almost as long as I’ve been in Los Angeles, I used to avoid driving to the mall from Thanksgiving to New Years, when the holiday shopping frenzy meant long waits and endless circling for one of the few available parking spaces.

Now the popularity of Westfield Century City’s stores and restaurants, combined with one of the city’s busiest movie theaters, means that parking backlog exists year round, on most evenings and every weekend.

Bike Valet SignWhich is probably why their parking valet is always packed. And why they’re building a new 500-space parking garage next to Gelson’s and the aforementioned AMC Theaters.

But unlike most malls in auto-centric LA, they get it.

They understand that bikes mean business. And that giving people an opportunity to get out of their cars and ride to Pink Taco, the Apple Store or the latest Hollywood blockbuster on a typically perfect SoCal day means fewer cars clogging those parking lots and the streets leading up to them.

And that replacing their old, hidden wheel bender racks with safe, secure and convenient bike parking is the best way to entice us to open our wallets.

Meanwhile, the free — and yes, I can’t seem to mention that enough — bike valet is only the beginning.

In the near future, what Schillace assures me will be a state-of-the-art bicycle facility will provide an even better option for local riders.

The Bike Lockers will be in our secure valet area and heavily monitored. There will be access control to ensure the safety of the bikes. We will have male and female changing rooms with showers available for people who bike to the center and wish to freshen up.

Sounds perfect for people who commute to work in Century City. And once again, the plan is for the lockers to be free, though that may change depending on demand.

I can live with that.

I’m usually not one to recommend going to a mall. Let alone actually shopping in one.

But I’d love to see their bike valet swamped with bicycles this weekend, and every weekend to come. Along with an uptick in business to confirm they made the right choice.

And encourage other LA businesses to follow their example.

And while you’re there, be sure to stop at the concierge booth or mall offices and say thanks.

………

On the other hand, one of LA’s leading landmarks could stand to show some serious improvement.

Bike advocate Niall Huffman rode to the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday for a show featuring, as he put it, “badass Mexican guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela along with DeVotchka and Lord Huron.” But when it came time to park his bike, he found the situation sadly lacking.

Leading to this email to the Bowl’s management.

To whom it may concern:

I strongly encourage the Hollywood Bowl to re-evaluate how it accommodates the parking needs of patrons who choose to arrive by bicycle. I recently rode my bike to an event, and found the designated “bike parking” (i.e., a railing around a tree next to the Main Gate) to be a joke. By the time I arrived 15 minutes before showtime, the entire outside of the railing was occupied by locked bikes, and I had to hoist my bike and clamber over the railing in order to find a space to lock up. Because the height of the railing interfered with my handlebars, it took me several minutes to figure out how to move the frame of my bicycle close enough to the railing to be able to lock it securely. A picture I took of the designated bike parking area — overflowing with locked bikes — may be viewed at http://goo.gl/7cFVA.

Hollywood Bowl bike parking

I found the whole experience to be undignified and unworthy of the Bowl’s reputation as a world-class live music venue. Beyond this, I am disappointed that the Bowl’s management has yet to see the wisdom of making arriving by bicycle a more convenient experience. Bicycles, after all, take up much less space than automobiles and do not contribute to the pre- and post-event congestion on surrounding streets for which the Bowl has become famous. In a time when the City of Los Angeles is seeking to encourage public transit, bicycling and walking as alternatives to sitting in traffic and making significant investments in improvements for users of these modes, the failure of large destinations like the Bowl to accommodate bicyclists at the end of their trips is holding back the achievement of this worthy policy goal.

This is all very frustrating because it would be remarkably easy for the Bowl to support the proper parking and locking of bicycles. Properly designed bicycle parking can accommodate 8 to 12 bikes in the space it would take to park one car, and standard U-shaped racks accommodating two bikes each can be bought and installed for around $100-200 apiece. Surely there is space somewhere on the Bowl’s property and in its budget for a few dozen of these racks.

If you require more information about how to provide proper bicycle parking, I recommend consulting the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals’ “Bicycle Parking Guidelines” (available at http://goo.gl/k3KOl), which contains standards for the shape, spacing and siting of bike racks. It would also be a good idea to review the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s guidelines for bike parking (http://goo.gl/vXOBY). It is key that any new bike racks allow for the frame — not just the wheel — of the bicycle to be locked, and that they not require the bicycle to be lifted off the ground.

It is my sincere hope that the management of the Bowl take this problem seriously and work in good faith to address it. I look forward to many more years of riding my bike to events and being treated with the same respect and dignity as any other Bowl patron.

Niall offered the following update on Tuesday:

UPDATE (7/16/13 5:19 pm): I’m told the Bowl provides a sweet bike rack to its employees and that there’s at least one bike commuter in their marketing department who’s working on improving the bike parking for event patrons, including discussing the possibility of having the LA County Bicycle Coalition coordinate a bike valet. Good to hear things may be getting better!

………

On a sadder subject, I’ve gotten a report that another bicyclist has died in Pasadena. However, I haven’t been able to get any confirmation yet; let’s hope it’s not true. And offer a few prayers just in case.

Nothing to see here — I’m on Streetsblog today

Unless there’s breaking news that has to be addressed, I won’t be posting on here today.

Instead, you can find my latest post on LA Streetsblog, discussing sidewalk riding and bike parking in Santa Monica. Especially at the new Apple Store on the Third Street Promenade, where cyclists are shunted off to park — and possibly get their bikes stolen — behind the store in an alley.

Thanks to Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious and Bike Metro for calling attention to the problem.

A road raging Monrovia driver, a bike riding RB police chief, and an anti-bike ordinance in Costa Mesa

Let’s catch up on recent news.

Starting with a traffic-crazed Dr. Thompson wannabe who tried to run over, then punch out, a group of cyclists last Friday.

Monrovia Patch forwards word of a roadway altercation in which a motorist apparently became enraged with a group of cyclists and swerved his car into them, forcing one rider to rear-end a parked car.

Then the candidate for anger management got out of his car and started hitting another rider before police arrived and took him into custody.

Patch reports that two cyclists were treated at the scene by paramedics.

If anyone has more information on this story, let me know.

Thanks to Monrovia Patch for the news.

………

Two big stories hit the news while I was tied up with family activities over the holiday period.

Even if that family consists of my wife and a six-year old Corgi.

First up is the news of the off-duty Redondo Beach police chief who commandeered a theft suspect’s bike to chase him down and help make the arrest.

Hats off to Chief Joe Leonardi for proving a police chief can still be a real cop; I’m not sure how many of his peers would have chased the suspect themselves, rather than just calling in their street level officers. And for remaining in riding shape — and recognizing that a bike is often the best way to get there, whether or not you’re chasing someone.

And whether or not it’s yours.

Chief, you can ride with me anytime.

Second is the news that Costa Mesa has banned bike parking on public property to — get this — battle the local homeless population.

Apparently, homeless people don’t like having their bikes stolen any more than people with residences to go home to at night.

Go figure.

So instead of dealing with the problem — like maybe providing a secure place to store their belongings, let alone a roof over their heads — city leaders respond in a regressive fashion by attacking everyone who rides a bike.

A member of the Homeless Task Force that came up with the recommendation promises police won’t be heavy-handed in enforcing the ban.

Neighborhood Improvement Manager Muriel Ullman, a member of the task force, said the ordinance would be enforced within reason. For example, if nearby bike racks are all full, then police would not enforce the ordinance.

“If the police see there is an open rack, and they sees (sic) some bikes lying on the grass…they’re not just going to go impound the bike, they’re going to work with the people,” Ullman said.

Right.

Never mind that the city currently has only 38 bike parking spaces in their 30 parks.

Something tells me they have a hell of a lot more than 38 parking spaces for cars. And not just at public parks, but anywhere in the city that cyclists — excuse me, human beings — would like to go.

The nearly forgotten Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, which clearly has not made it to Costa Mesa, includes the right to safe and secure bike parking at the end of a trip.

Personally, I think the law should be changed so that anytime secure bike racks are full or unavailable, cyclists have a legal right to lock their bikes anywhere they damn well please. Up to and including the legs of Costa Mesa council members.

That would only begin to put us on a par with motorists, who enjoy tens of thousands more parking spaces than are available for bicyclists in most areas. As well as forcing cities and building owners to invest the relative pennies needed to provide adequate bike facilities, as opposed to the $4000 to $40,000 it costs to provide space for a single car.

We can only hope that Costa Mesa somehow comes to its senses and repeals this discriminatory, wrong-headed anti-bike and anti-homeless ordinance.

If not, I hope everyone who rides a bike will remember this on election day.

Thanks to Lois for the heads-up on the Costa Mesa ordinance, and everyone who forwarded news about the Redondo Beach Police Chief — far too many to thank here, but I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time to send me a link.

………

Erik Griswold forwards a comment on a Danish website (scroll down) claiming to be from a San Francisco motorcycle dealer.

One of my business endeavors is a motorcycle dealership in San Francisco, California. Among other things my dealership services and repairs Police motorcycles for the City of San Francisco and for the California Highway Patrol in this area. I have talked to Police Officers about the “bicycle problem.” We have a serious problem in California with bicyclists thinking that traffic rules apply only to others and that “share the road” means “take the road and screw the cars.” I think some of these people purchased the wrong size spandex and the blood flow to the brain got cut off.

All of the Police Officers I have talked to will not ticket an automobile driver if a bicyclist ignores traffic rules and gets run over in the process. Several of the Officers smiled and quietly encouraged me to “just hit them.”

Everyone is tired of bicyclists inventing their own rules, not just in Copenhagen. Being sustainable, greeny and eco-friendly is not a blanket pass to misbehave.

I cannot wait to paint the first bicycle on the side of my company truck, fighter-pilot kill style. ;-)

Aside from the obvious threat in the last line, if this is legitimate — which, given the nature of anonymous internet comments is always questionable — it goes a long towards illustrating the bias bike riders face from those charge with protecting us.

And yes, I’m looking at you, San Diego Police Department.

………

A judge orders the thrill killers who shot developmentally disabled cyclist Jordan Hickey as he rode his bike to stand trial on murder and special circumstances that could result in the death penalty. Testimony in the preliminary hearing indicated they were cruising for victims when they encountered Hickey, shooting him three times with a shotgun just for the hell of it.

Which, appropriately enough, is where they belong.

I’m not a supporter of the death penalty. But if anyone ever deserved it, these two would be at the top of my list.

………

Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins dons the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, as teammate Chris Froome won stage seven and stage eight was taken by the youngest rider on the tour. It looks like a good tour for the British Commonwealth, as Wiggins takes yesterday’s time trial to keep his yellow jersey, while last year’s winner Cadel Evans holds second overall.

Wiggin’s Team Sky teammate Chris Froome finished second in the time trial. For awhile, it looked like young American rider Tejay van Garderen would win, instead settling for the white jersey as best young rider.

The new leader gets a little hot under the collar when asked about cynics who believe doping is required to win the tour. Cyclists are dropping like flies as countless collisions deplete the riding roster.

If you need an introduction to le Tour, you could do worse than this pop-up guide, reviewed by Gina Morey Rosemberg.

Meanwhile, New Zealand pro Michael Torckler is bouncing back after a near fatal hit-and-run in Sonoma county. A South African woman is the first to finish in the top ten in the women’s Giro d’Italia, as Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley and American Evelyn Stevens take the top three.

Lance files suit against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in an attempt to derail doping charges, and is quickly shown the door for now. Former TdF champ Jan Ullrich briefly almost comes clean. And Cofidis rider Remy Di Gregorio is the latest to be arrested for suspected doping in today’s “clean” riding world.

………

The L.A. Times talks with leaders of the city’s bike and pedestrian communities on how to calm traffic. LADOT Bike Blog offers the agenda for tomorrow’s BPIT meeting. L.A. area schools will share in a $48.5 million Caltrans grant to the Safe Routes to Schools program. Will Campbell rides under the big rock — yes, that rock — with his timelapse camera rolling. Better Bike offers a detailed analysis of cycling casualties, concluding the highest risk is during the summer and for riders aged 45 to 54; he also astutely asks why it’s up to an unpaid bike blogger to compile stats that Beverly Hills city officials should be doing. The Bike Babes Bicycling Classic will roll round-trip from Long Beach to Huntington Beach next Sunday. A young Riverside man struggles to walk again, nearly three years after he was hit by a car while riding his bike.

Cyclelicious asks what’s wrong with this picture, as road construction signs block a major bikeway. San Mateo County officials plan to improve a bike lane where cyclist Lauren Ward was killed in 2010; why does it seem like officials always wait until someone is killed to fix a problem? A writer for the London Mail rides his rental bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. An Oakland cyclist is killed in what one witness describes as an intentional hit-and-run. Sunnyvale could soon be the third city to adopt an L.A. style anti-harassment ordinance; nice to see former LADOT Bike Blog writer Christopher Kidd making a name for himself up by the bay. Sonoma County struggles through four cycling deaths in just five weeks — and Michael Torckler could have easily made it five — while over 200 cyclists turn out to honor one of those victims, former Sonoma State University Steven Norwick. Meanwhile, a local rider says cyclists would stop dying if they’d just slow down; evidently he’s an expert on the subject, thanks to one whole year of riding experience. Fairfax CA police crack down on scofflaw cyclists who blow stop signs in groups of 10 to 20. A Visalia rider makes a slow comeback a year after a devastating solo collision.

A writer blames bike sharing for escalating the mythical war between cyclists and drivers; that explains why no cyclists in cities without bike share programs — like Monrovia, for instance, ever have to deal with angry drivers, right? The National Park Service plans to expand access for mountain bikes. Raising your handlebars could reduce sexual dysfunction for women riders. A big-hearted former bike rider with cerebral palsy offers his three-wheeled recumbent to a disabled Utah man whose bike was stolen for the third time. Collisions are on the rise as Denver cyclists and drivers struggle to coexist on the road; actually, it’s pretty easy — if everyone follows the rules, no one gets hurt. Chicago Jews and Muslims ride together in a show of unity; I’d love to see a ride like that here. Chicago trains 100 to 200 new bike cops every year; then again, Escondido bike cops seem to be doing pretty good, too. Whimsical bright colored bikes reappear for the third year in Muskegon MI. Heartbreaking news, as a registered sex offender has been arrested for the murder of missing Louisiana cyclist Mickey Shunick, even though her body has not been found. Police and prosecutors — and motorists — are ignoring New York’s three-foot passing law. Fearless Bed-Stuy cyclist attempts to stop a thief from stealing two bikes, rescuing one. The popular Bike Radar website launches a new American version.

A North Carolina father riding with his daughter watches as she’s killed by a pickup while riding in Canada. A Winnipeg writer suggests lowering speed limits across the city to the equivalent of about 25 mph. Scandinavian researchers says the effects of inducing traffic demand by increasing capacity are ignored too often. After security officers tackle a young boy riding his bike next to the Olympic torch run, they release a report saying he simply fell down and rode off on his own — despite video evidence to the contrary. An insightful look at anti-bike bias in the media that focuses on scofflaw cyclists while ignoring the far bigger problem of dangerous drivers. Taiwan attempts to kick start a bike culture. A Canadian transport expert calls for loosening Melbourne’s helmet laws on a trial basis. A South African man commits suicide after being charged with the hit-and-run death of an 18-year old cyclist. A new study suggests Australia’s bike boom is a myth, as ridership has declined on a per capita basis.

Finally, a great pro cycling ad from Huffy, of all places. And seriously, if you’re an underage cyclist riding with drugs, burglary tools and a loaded gun, don’t ride salmon without a headlight.

A threatening Beverly Hills driver offers a reminder that we still have a long way to go

I got a good reminder yesterday that we still have a long way to go to secure our place on the streets.

I was riding through Beverly Hills, scouting a route for the LACBC’s I ♥ the Westside Ride next Sunday, when I pulled up to a four way stop to make a left.

Yes, I did stop. And even signaled.

I waited for the first car coming the other way started his left, then pulled out to make mine. And while I was still in the middle of the intersection, the car that had been behind that one aggressively pulled out to make a left as well, putting him on a direct collision course with me.

So I jammed on the brakes, and yelled out “What the f***!” as he blew by.

Next thing I knew, the driver screeched to a stop on the far side of the intersection, then whipped around 180 degrees to put himself the same direction I was going.

I’ve learned the hard way that there’s nothing more dangerous than having an angry driver behind me. And it was pretty clear that I was probably going to have to defend myself.

So I quickly pulled over to the side of the road, positioning myself between two parked cars that offered protection from his car, and got off my bike.

He screeched up to a stop next to me, and stared at me in a threatening manner. So I pulled out my cell phone and held it out so he could see me dialing.

“911,” I said. “Do you want to stick around to see what happens next?”

With that, he screeched off down the road, still clutching the illegally hand-held cell phone he’d had plastered to his face the whole time.

I jumped back on my bike and chased after him, holding out my cell phone to take a photo of his license plate, but lost him in traffic before I could get a clear shot. Then rode home angrily replaying the situation in my head, with images of going all De Niro on his ass.

In the end, I think I handled about as well as I could, responding to the threat without escalating the situation — or crossing the line myself.

Just another angry interaction on the streets, serving as a reminder that things may be improving for cyclists in a lot of ways. But there are still angry, dangerous drivers out there.

And we’re still at risk from them.

It also shows once again why L.A.’s proposed bike anti-harassment ordinance is so vital for our protection. This was a textbook example of exactly the sort of incident it’s intended to address.

Even if it wouldn’t apply on the mean streets of Beverly Hills.

.………

I got an email earlier this week from a reader who recommended the CitySourced app for the Windows, Droid, iPhone or Blackberry smartphones, or Garcetti 311 for iPhones.

These applications allow reporting of all sorts of biking problems in Los Angeles. For example, I was biking up the bike lane on Westwood Avenue a day ago and saw 2 cars parked in the bike lane within a matter of 2 minutes. I often see this illegal parking in the bike lane on Gayley Avenue going past In-and-Out as well. You can now report this with a quick picture of their car/license plate/bike lane (in same photo). You can also report abandoned bicycles, potholes, sidewalk cracks (e.g., Westwood park abandoned bike path), etc. Your reports are saved so you can review them in the future.

On another subject, he also wanted to note that he recently emailed the Westfield Century City mall to ask about bike parking, and was happy to get a response indicating that they have bike racks near the valet station. And he was even more please that they agreed with his suggestion to add that information to their website.

It always makes me a little happier when people become more aware that people use bicycles to shop just like anyone else. And then they respect bike lanes more when they are aware that we’re important customers too.

From what I’ve seen, the bike parking at Westfield Century City could use a lot of improvement.

But he’s right. When businesses understand that cyclists spend money just like drivers do — or as some studies have shown, even more — they’ll make sure we have the facilities we need.

And that our rights are respected in their business, and on the streets around them.

%d bloggers like this: