LACBC ‘Beverly Thrills’ Ride a Success!

Ride start: the John Wayne statue on Wilshire & La Cienega

Photo by Colin Bogart, LACBC.

On Sunday we joined the LACBC for the latest ride in its great Sunday Funday series: the ‘Beverly Thrills’ 13-mile ride though the streets of Beverly Hills. This easy ride brought over fifty riders to our well-tended blacktop. Short of the Gran Fondo or Amgen rides, it’s a record. (For the record those rides kept riders out of the hills.) For this ride we traversed the boulevards and stop signed sidestreets to visit Greystone mansion. But was a thrill was in the offing, it was the steep descent back down. We worked up a sweat and wicked it away. Here’s the recap!

Pickfair in postcard viewThink about Beverly Hills and what comes to mind? Rodeo Drive’s boutiques. Celebrities  like the all-American Will Rogers. Landmark estates like Pickfair (left), the famous home of silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. And the hotels like the Beverly Wilshire & Beverly Hills Hotel.

Beverly Hills has its darker side too. Though we’re too banal to lay claim to the savory history of noir, we’re on the ‘death tour’ for a few untimely departures at the Hilton recently. And on this ride we breezed past the Menendez home, where a notorious double-murder kept Court TV in business for years. Beyond notoriety, though, no tour would be complete without a nod to celebrity. We’ve had our share, but recently they are regarded less for their civic duty than for cracking up cars and simply being famous. Celebrity ain’t what it used to be.

Pickfair post renovationThe city has changed in other ways too, and not always for the better. For one thing, Pickfair is long gone, of course, replaced by a newer version (right). Done in by collusion between officials disinclined to protect historic properties and property owners eager to remodel, Pickfair suffered the ‘scrape’ rather than the scalpel. C-list crooner Pia Zadora felt that Pickfair needed a rehab and, well, like so many TV renovations, it just made more sense to start anew.

And then there’s the bread & butter: how City hall earns its keep. The city once staked growth on resource extraction; oil and cultural production were a rich vein to tap, so to speak. Today, however, we depend on tapping people to pay for our outsourced services, and to plug our forecast $20-40 million public parking garage deficit. Sales and occupancy taxes are king today. We’ve exiled our high-profile oil rig to pasture.

You heard that right: our famously insular city so insensitive to external concerns depends on out-of-town money to keep us afloat. And rather than invest in facilitating new modes of mobility, instead we invest in accommodating the motorist’s choice by furnishing a rather expensive place for them to park. Often for free. Why? Our thoroughfares are more congested than ever. It’s like a civic heart disease where vehicular slogging hobbles the circulatory system of the central Westside. Beverly Hills is the coronary that every day sends our region to a trauma center.

Perhaps it was appropriate then to make the pinnacle (literally) of our journey the Edward Doheny’s Greystone mansion, nestled into the foothills above Beverly Hills. For one thing, the mansion is huge, and was simply a gift from the oil tycoon to his son. So it is a testament to the remunerative opportunity that is big oil. Proof positive that wealth trickles up through the class strata in American society (we could say “gushes” in this case). But it also shows that privilege courses down through the bloodline – a gift that keeps on giving.

But here too the picture is complicated: Greystone itself has its historical baggage: Doheney’s son was reportedly killed in the house by his secretary, both of whom were implicated in the Teapot Dome scandaltrail later that year. The city bought the grounds in 1965. Greystone, here we come!

6 thoughts on “LACBC ‘Beverly Thrills’ Ride a Success!

  1. How come neither of the speakers on the ride announced the July 3rd meeting? I asked directly but got no direct answer, so thought none was scheduled yet. Even when I saw the report on the meeting later, I thought the July 3rd date most have been the post date & the meeting before the Thrill Ride, because it wasn’t shared by the Better Bike or City engineer speaker when asked.
    Is there another city meeting scheduled?

  2. The Thrills ride was announced on Better Bike as both a scheduled event and as a pre-ride announcement. The LACBC also posted it on its events page. We tweeted about it at least twice beforehand. I regret that our heads-up wasn’t included in our 6/29 weekly email digest (posted too late for inclusion ) and that you didn’t see it on the site. But it won’t be the last ride! I’m not sure that the city engineer would know, though – it wasn’t city-organized. Nothing regarding cycling outreach, education and programming is, of course.

  3. Mark, I meant why didn’t the speakers at the road who plugged Better Bike & explained the situation, recapped the meetings, etc. specifically give the date for the committee meeting which i now realize was held just a few days later. There were several BH residents on the ride who were sharing info along the way(ie. re parents/neighbors successful campaign to save Beverly Vista building when we rode by there)and so many long stops where info could be exchanged informally as well as the formal announcements. It really was my first group ride. It would be great have an all-levels/ages recurring ride ending in snacks at a BH business that would welcome bikes. M Cafe and Urth Cafe don’t even have one bike rack, but maybe if a party of cyclists were regular customers they’d be motivated to get some. Vienna Cafe(new, on little Santa Monica has very friendly owner(he unbegrudgingly lets tourists with no pretense of buying use bathrooms) but so far does not open till noon.

  4. Well you give me a good idea: be prepared with a calling card with the upcoming meeting information to promote attendance. I gave the blurb at the fountain about the need to become involved, but I didn’t want to dominate – it wasn’t my ride of course. And it’s very difficult to express in that setting the when and why of it. But we do need to get the word out.
    As for bike racks, there are already packs of spandex guys who descend on coffee shops, bagels, etc. And they leave their bikes propped up everywhere. Other patrons hook up to meters. But retailers don’t make the connection. We have to suggest it. But here’s the hitch: call city hall and ask for a rack and nobody can help you. The rack program has been in development for more than a year with no date of arrival scheduled. (FWIW, spandex guys don’t carry locks anyway!)

  5. Funny, I asked the guy who worked for BH directly, but he didn’t know. Does BH budget anything for bike education/outreach? I picked up a WeHo Independent with budget proposals & increasing that line item was up for discussion at their next meeting. Wondered if BH even had a budget or agency for that purpose.

  6. Beverly Hills budgets nothing for road safety outreach and education, including whatever might relate to cycling. The city did host a one-time bike skills class in mid-2011. But suggestions to our Transportation folks about the need, and specifically about working with the Parks & Rec Commission to institutionalize a class as part of the Summer rec calendar have gone nowhere.

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