We’ve argued tirelessly for Class II bicycle lanes for Santa Monica Boulevard. New legislation (AB 1193) in Sacramento would go one better: it creates a new class of bikeway known as a ‘cycletrack’ that is protected from vehicular traffic by physical barriers or grade separation to ensure rider safety. Unlike a Class I off-street ‘path’ or a striped Class II lane on the street, this new protected area within a roadway provides for bicycle travel without having to share the blacktop. Perfect for a road like Santa Monica!
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.
Leave it to Long Beach to come up with yet another opportunity for folks to get in the saddle. Tonight at the Bicycle Drive-In: The Triplets of Belleville. Sure this imaginative little French animated feature is a crowd-pleaser. And so is a drive-in movie! It’s part of Downtown Long Beach’s Summer and Music series. We can’t think of a better excuse to take a dusk ride, spread the blanket, and gaze at the stars.
And it’s a great idea for Beverly Hills. Let’s recommend that we put it on the centennial agenda for next year. We’ll look forward to spreading out the blanket in Beverly Gardens Park for a cinema treat. Even the film is perfect: Cannes is our sister city! C’est parfaitement logique.
When Better Bike reader and scouting parent Jeffrey Courion hipped us to the Boy Scouts of America cycling merit badge, we couldn’t have been more astonished at the rigorous paces the organization puts their charges through for the recognition. It puts to shame state DMV advice, city ‘ride safe’ pages, and even League of American Bicyclists ride skills classes. If every urban rider earned their merit badge, we’d have many more cyclists and much safer cyclists too.
One expects that Boy Scouts merit badges puts character-building and community health & safety foremost. Indeed since 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has prepared young men to become “responsible, participating citizens and leaders,” with merit badges introduced shortly after in 1911. The Boy Scouts program as a whole develops character, citizenship, and mental and physical fitness. The Scout oath:
On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
The merit badge, however, cultivates specific skills, infusing confidence and highlighting safety and leadership across a variety of activity areas. An astonishing 117 million merit badges have been awarded since the first one in 1948, with swimming the most popular badge sporting activity (six million awarded). Cycling has a bit of catching up to do – only “hundreds of thousands” have been awarded.
Looking at the cycling merit badge, we’re utterly flabbergasted at the extent and depth of the requirements:
- First aid for injuries that could occur while cycling, including hypothermia and dehydration;
- Emergency repairs, including tire changes, as well as inspection and adjustment of the major components like brakes, seat, and lube points;
- Road skills, from mount-up to road rule complexities like continuing straight at right-turn only lanes, as well as book knowledge of the laws;
- And the planning and completion of 10, 15, and 25 mile rides – not just once but two times each!
Not least, the requirements page lists a rather complete reference section including the seminal book on vehicular cycling, John Forester’s Effective Cycling. Incredible. Most folks on two wheels today learned the bare basics (keeping upright and braking) when they were five years old. Few of us have taken road skills classes. And very few of those on the road – even veteran cyclists – have a merit badge.
Perhaps we can add yet one more requirement to the list – effective civic advocacy. We need to ensure that our Scouts (and everybody else) have half of a chance to get where they’re going on our traffic-choked urban streets. So let’s get the Scouts out front on it. To tick off the civic requirement, the would-be merit badge earner would need to bend the ear of a policymaker or transportation professional to get them to put half the effort into making safer streets that the Scout will put in to his cycling badge. Got a suggest about how to structure the civic advocacy requirement of a Boy Scouts of America cycling merit badge? We’re all ears!