Bike Parking at Whole Foods in Beverly Hills is STILL Broken

Whole Foods bike rack

Bike parking at Whole Foods in Beverly Hills (photo 2011). Worthy of a ‘B’ grade?

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).

Whole Foods bike parking October 2014

Bike parking at Whole Foods in Beverly Hills in 2014. More tidy, not much more improvement. Note the wheel-bender rack.

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?

Whole Foods rack area

Bike parking at Whole Foods in Beverly Hills in October of 2015. Conditions like this communicate disregard for those who would ride a bicycle to their neighborhood market.

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.

Whole Foods rack site diagram

Bike parking at Whole Foods in Beverly Hills as diagrammed by Better Bike. Room enough for a few racks and desperate for a new coat of paint and some real lighting!

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.

Just a Few New Bike Racks Coming to Bevery Hills

We’ve just received an update on the too-little, too-late Beverly Hills bike rack installation program. The news is not so good: To the couple of dozen sidewalk racks installed last year citywide, we might add only a couple dozen more. That would total to 50 racks or fewer citywide in the five years since we first urged officials to provide conspicuous and convenient bike parking. By comparison, City of Santa Monica had installed 1,000 racks by 2010 and called for 2,500 more in that city’s Bicycle Action Plan (2011). Why can’t Beverly Hills take this smallest step to encouraging multimodal mobility? Continue reading

Where are the Bicycle Racks? [Updated]

Beverly Hills bicycle rack design as adoptedOne year ago, in November of 2012, the Beverly Hills City Council approved a program to place bicycle racks on sidewalks and city parks. A year ago, last February, Council chose a custom design and this past summer we took delivery of the racks. Since August the racks have sat in a warehouse. No new rack has hit a Beverly Hills sidewalk in a decade. Yet Santa Monica installs 200 racks each year. In the coming months that city will install another 250 more. What’s the holdup in Beverly Hills? Why are riders still waiting for bicycle parking? Continue reading

Chaumont Bike Crush

Aside

Chaumont bike crush: many bikes, no rack.From reader and walking advocate Ellen Lutwak comes this snap from Chaumont in Beverly Hills. Biker flash mob? Nope. It’s the usual cluster wherever cyclists congregate without a bicycle rack. Which means pretty much everywhere in Beverly Hills. So why spend our money here?

Traffic & Parking Recommends a Few Bike Racks [Recap]

Post and loop bicycle rack typeThe Beverly Hills Traffic & Parking Commission met this week to further consider a long-continued bicycle rack agenda item. In brief, the city is entertaining a bike parking program that could include city-initiated bicycle rack installations and a bicycle rack-on-request program. It can’t come too soon: local businesses owners have asked for them; cyclists beg for them; and every city but ours is already installing them. For the past year, though, Public Works has only talked and it has been years since any bicycle rack in our city has hit a sidewalk. We’re curious to know the progress that’s been made and eager to learn when we might see a new bicycle rack touch ground. Continue reading

Whither Beverly Hills Bike Racks? We May Know on 9/6

LA bicycle racks map

Los Angeles sure has been busy putting down all those bicycle racks!

In conjunction with the Bike Route Pilot Program, which our City Council recently recommended to proceed, we’ve been talking to Public Works staff about planting a few sidewalk bicycle racks around our city’s commercial districts. Long overdue, bicycle parking has been in the works for the better part of a year. On our recommendation, Public Works planners have crafted a preliminary rack-on-request program to respond to specific bike parking need. But progress has been slow, and in the meantime the City of Los Angeles has installed many hundreds of new bicycle racks (many of them on demand) and launched an online web mapper to highlight them (right). Whither Beverly Hills? Continue reading

Bicycle Racks at Traffic & Parking [Recap]

Golden Triangle rack with decal

Our city’s only contribution to bike racks in years: a new decal to existing racks more recognizable.

If you’ve been waiting for Beverly Hills to install bike racks, we’ve got good news and bad. The good news is that the city may move ahead on three initiatives: racks for city properties, installations in commercial districts, and a rack-on-request program. This week the Traffic & Parking Commission discussed the particulars. The bad news is that the Commission continued the discussion until September, which means we’re approaching three years since the Commission formed a bike committee to implement just this kind of improvement but with scant progress to show. Continue reading

Bicycle Racks Proposal Comes to T&P Commission

Golden Triangle rack with decal

Our city’s only contribution to bike racks in years: a new decal to existing racks more recognizable.

The Beverly Hills Traffic & Parking Commission on Thursday morning will review a staff proposal for new bicycle racks and a rack-on-request program. This is the latest step in moving ahead on the installation of new bike racks since about twenty racks were installed in the business triangle many years ago as part of a beautification effort. Outside of the triangle, though, the city has not installed a single rack. With bike racks finally back on the city agenda, we look at what’s proposed. Continue reading

BH Small Business Task Force: Not Asking the Obvious Questions

Tree base on South Beverly Drive

It’s one of the regular Beverly Hills approaches to a problem: appoint a ‘task force’ that meets behind closed doors with notice not required and scant public participation beyond the handpicked appointees. That’s how City Council approaches issues like sustainability and revitalization, and it’s been most recently applied to small business viability and associated challenges of recruitment and retention. The Small Business Task Force delivered recommendations this week which included parking measures, streetscape improvements, and ‘shop local’ marketing, but it overlooked one potential bottom-line booster: attracting more cyclists to boost foot traffic to retailers.

Time for a Culture Change in Beverly Hills Transportation

David Guftavson

Speaking with Beverly Hills officials, one would think that laying down a few bike racks is akin to a capital improvement project. Just this morning, Transportation (a division of Public Works) suggested that cyclists might have to wait until the next fiscal year (starting in July) for a single new bike rack. This makes absolutely no sense: racks are a couple of hundred dollars apiece. We know where they are needed. Cities already have guidelines for placement. And Beverly Hills has $30,000 in Metro Transportation Development Act Article 3 funds available for the asking to pay for them. Why are we getting the runaround from Public Works?

Bike Plan Update Committee Meeting #4 (Bike Racks)

The Beverly Hills ad-hoc Bike Plan Update Committee met on January 18th to update the bike community on several projects of concern to cyclists, including the installation of new racks, the Bike Route Pilot, and the Santa Monica Boulevard reconstruction project. The previous post addressed the Pilot, the next will address Santa Monica Boulevard, and here we will focus on racks. While we see some city-side progress from the presentations, we have a long way to go to meet demand with new racks. We also see the need for active-transportation expertise among Transportation staffers.

Handy Parking Guidelines

American Association of Pedestrian and Bike Professinoals parking guidelines

Rick Risemberg from Bicycle Fixation passed on a like to a very informative bike rack installation guidelines [PDF] publication from the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP). The guidelines show why most ‘wheel bender’ type bike racks are so inadequate to the task – as if cyclists didn’t already know: they are flimsy, often insecure, and, well, they bend front wheels. More than an instruction sheet, these guidelines are food for thought for cycling advocates, planners, transportation engineers, and facilities planners, all of whom may play some role in providing that most basic of bicycle amenity: a hitching post for the ride.