Bicycle parking is in short supply in Beverly Hills. Fewer than 30 bicycle racks have ever been installed on sidewalks citywide, and not one has hit a sidewalk in years. Yet demand is clearly there as people riding around town have to park somewhere. So we see bicycles chained to meter posts. Isn’t it time we took seriously the need to park bicycles, just as we afford a motorist someplace to park their car? Only a tiny fraction of our $5 million public parking operations bailout could fund many new racks and rack corrals like this one in Silver Lake at Sunset Junction.
‘Bike corral’ you ask? City of Los Angeles DOT Bike Blog defines a bike corral as:
an on-street bicycle parking facility that can accommodate many more bicycles than a typical sidewalk rack. Bike corrals typically take up an existing single-vehicle parking space and replace it with up to eight bicycle racks…These facilities make more efficient use of a vehicle parking lane in areas with high cycling demands. They are especially useful in areas with narrow sidewalks where it would be impractical to install a sidewalk rack.
Where bicycle parking demand is high and sidewalk racks threaten to overwhelm, a corral groups racks together efficiently, and often on the blacktop where parking belongs. Even sometimes in lieu of a single curbside car space.
Why Not in Beverly Hills?
Our business triangle’s one-way streets practically beg for a demonstration corral project. So we’ve scouted around and found this spot at Dayton and Crescent (right).
Consider the advantages: Crescent is a newly-designated Pilot bike route and a corral would keep with that theme; this corner is near to two markets and a hardware store, so we can expect bike parking demand there; and the cross-street adjacent to this location is one way with no right turn permitted from the right lane. In fact, Whole Foods management itself is asking for bicycle racks.
What would a corral installation entail? Portland helpfully informs us:
What would it take to install a corral in Beverly Hills? After sign-off from City Council and notice to adjacent businesses, it would only require about eight racks and some paint. And voila! Bike parking for 16 riders. Click to animate this visualization of a bicycle rack corral at Dayton and Crescent:
A Bicycle Rack Corral is Good for the Bottom Line
Bicycle rack corrals signal to riders that a bike-friendly business district is nearby. And that can only add to the bottom line. In fact, where rack corrals are installed, retailers report a bump-up in commerce. Portland, for example, can’t hardly satisfy demand. The city’s SmartTrips 2009 survey of businesses found that 68% said promoting biking and walking market their business, while that year 62% of new transplants there cited ‘bike-friendliness’ as a factor in locating there. Not evidence enough? An academic study of customer spending by mode of travel in 2012 found that cyclists spend more than do those who drive or arrive by transit.
The corral has other benefits. It makes bicycle parking more evident, which can shift trips from cars to bikes. The corral also provides a safety benefit as a buffer between the sidewalk and traffic flow. When installed near crosswalks (like at Dayton and Crescent) they clear the sightline for both drivers and riders. And for planners, the corral can serve as an effective curb extension by shortening the crossing distance for pedestrians. Not least, it makes valuable use of curbside where parking would otherwise be prohibited – near crosswalks say. The intersection-proximate corral also allows riders to dismount near two adjacent crosswalks. Win-win-win.
San Francisco has published a flyer to promote corrals and Portland has installed nearly one hundred so far. Indeed local businesses clamor for more. Enlightened cities make requesting a corral easy with online request forms (like these from Portland and San Francisco for example).
With the utility of a bicycle rack corral clearly evident and demand on the increase, it’s no surprise that nearby cities have embraced them. Los Angeles installed its first corral nearly three years ago in the Highland Park section (nobody’s idea of a bike-friendly neighborhood) and even created a Foursquare page to promote corrals. Santa Monica got into the act with a corral for its very bikable Main Street corridor (above).
We’re going to recommend this Dayton/Crescent location to our transportation planners as part of the city’s new bicycle rack installation program. Currently there are only eleven racks slated for installation citywide. So let’s increase that by about 50% by adding the city’s first bicycle rack corral to the mix. Have a good location in mind for a Beverly Hills bicycle rack corral? Let us know.