While reading a recent link-bait post over at Los Angeles Magazine, we were reminded just how unwelcoming is our local Whole Foods to those who would ride a bike. In its back-of-the-envelope comparison of “shopping experiences” at Whole foods in Mid City and Beverly Hills, the magazine nearly flunks the Mid City store. But ours gets a ‘B’ grade? For many years we’ve complained about a wheel-bender rack in a grimy corner of the Beverly Hills Whole Foods garage. But to no avail.
Honestly, a ‘B’ grade for the Beverly Hills Whole Foods store seems like a bit of grade inflation. The store is somewhat cramped. Access by riders and pedestrians is not only a hassle, it’s hazardous. Even harried motorists feel the burn when queued up for one of the spots in a relatively small garage. So why the ‘B’ grade here? Because finding parking at the 3rd and Fairfax store is even more of a hassle. You see, LA Magazine is grading the parking experience of Whole Foods, and not the shopping experience. We should have known as much from a post tagged ‘LA Driver.’
Here the magazine’s perspective is from behind the windshield: fuzzy metrics concern exclusively but driver’s convenience. So the Mid City store could only fail because, the magazine says, it is “a suburban store in an urban environment.” Whatever that means!
The parking limit is 90 minutes, but how can any of the attendants tell how long someone’s been in the lot?… Sure, if you hit this place up on a Tuesday at 11:12 a.m., it’s not bad. Most other times, just no. Tear this whole thing down, get rid of the KMart, and put the parking underground. — LA Magazine, Grading the Parking Lots of Whole Foods
Often the only answer from someone behind the windshield is to construct an even larger parking lot. Sounds like the problem is not that it’s suburban but not suburban enough for LA Driver.
Beverly Hills Gets a Pass?
Beverly Hills is also an urban location and it too is plagued by many of the same issues: heavy traffic, small garage (chock-full most of the day), and the usual hazards to pedestrians that suggest serious public safety concerns. Even the forgotten bike parking area at the Beverly Hills store seems worse than the one at 3rd and Fairfax. Why not a ‘D’ grade for Beverly Hills too?
We think that Whole Foods should get a ‘D’ if only for the poor effort its made to make bike parking convenient and appealing.
We’ve done our part: for years we’ve urged Whole Foods to upgrade its bike parking. Have a look at the picture at the top. Taken in the fall of 2011, it shows an old-style wheel-bender rack (which secures only the front wheel in an unstable manner). There is also all kinds of detritus that gets in the way. The rest of the garage is no better; there are no other racks there.
So starting in the fall of 2013 we contacted the store numerous times. After some back-and-forth, Eliberto Gamino, the ‘Store Team Leader’ for Beverly Hills, said “We are still waiting for the outside building [renovation] project to be done. When the outside project is done we’ll be installing new bike racks on the outside.” But that job came and went and no rack was installed.
Then we chatted up Mario Inga, Parking Services Manager for the Beverly Hills store. We met with him and highlighted the dingy area (below) as well as other rack opportunities near to the store entrance. He was enthusiastic, but again no action was taken. Here’s how it looked in 2014 (with the detritus finally gone).
Next we contacted corporate via Twitter (not once but twice, most recently this summer) and, while we get a sympathetic response, the talk goes quiet. And nothing is done. We even contacted city facilities manager Brenda Lavender (Beverly Hills owns the garage and the building) on the store’s behalf. Not only did we see no action, we received no response from her at all.
So four years after we first raised concerns, and after many such messages, here’s the view of the Beverly Hills Whole Foods bike parking area this month. How is this work satisfactory for a ‘B’ grade?
We didn’t just drop our demand in corporate’s lap. We penned a site diagram to help store officials communicate with HQ and the city on a makeover. Here’s an aerial and our diagram.
What more can we do to get a couple of real bike racks installed? So it sticks in our craw that Whole Foods gets a passing grade even from ‘LA Driver.’ “There’s an hour of free parking and an overflow lot next door,” the magazine noted of Beverly Hills in its back-of-envelope comparison. Indeed there is. If you drive. Evidently that’s good enough for LA Magazine to give Whole Foods a pass.