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?

Phase I: Too Few Racks to Make an Impression

Commercial areas bicycle racks priority mapTo recap, Beverly Hills planned to roll out city-installed custom bicycle racks in two phases. (Read the staff presentation.) The first phase complemented a handful of racks installed in the business triangle a decade ago. It added about 25 more racks (primarily to parks and selected commercial corridors, right). These racks were custom stainless steel designs costing approximately three times the cost of off-the-shelf racks. And according to transportation staff remarks to Council, it has limited the total number of racks available to install. In stock the city has only 25 racks on hand – all earmarked for Phase II.

One problem was that Phase I spread too few racks over numerous districts – something Phase II looks likely to replicate. For example, on the 200 block of South Beverly Drive, a busy commercial corridor, only one rack serves the two long block faces where we see  bicycles often locked to meter poles. Oddly, the rack (below) is located nowhere near where people lock-up today (though it is adjacent to an office building). The impression given is of a lone, under-used rack – and that’s when the rack is used at all. Otherwise it is easily overlooked.

Lone bike rack at Gregory & Beverly

This lone bike rack on South Beverly at Gregory Way is not only easy to miss; it’s begging a companion rack or two in order to make bike parking a conspicuous feature of the commercial corridor right-of-way.

While it’s important to provide bike parking near office uses, neighboring cities like Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Santa Monica do that and much more. They have revised their building codes to mandate bike parking for commercial and mixed-use buildings, for example. They install racks on sidewalks in commercial districts. And they each have a rack-on-request program.

Beverly Hills has these programs too, now; but the difference is that those cities actually install racks in any volume. And though Beverly Hills has a bike parking requirement for commercial/office development, the threshold is so high that few new developments have actually incorporated bike racks (as a staffer told us).

Chaumont bike crush: many bikes, no rack.

Transportation officials need no fancy rack placement plan. They need only look where people lock-up today, like this cafe on South Beverly.

As for the rack-on-request program, the plan is to install bike parking on an as-needed basis in commercial areas but only provide 5-10 racks to start, says transportation planner Martha Eros. That limited rollout is scheduled for November. Under the program, no racks have been installed, though eleven requests have been submitted. You can make your own request using the city’s clumsy request webform or the PDF application.

And then there’s the properties that the city owns but seemingly it refuses to proactively install bike parking.

Whole Foods bike parking summer 2014

Whole Foods bike parking: much for City of Beverly Hills to improve to attract riders.

We’ve been begging Whole Foods, which rents from the city on Crescent, for three years to provide bicycle racks to replace the wheel-bender. And more than a year ago we contacted the city directly and met with a facilities guy. To date: no action. While the garage backs up regularly in a massive jam, nobody wants to recognize the value of encouraging travel to the store by bicycle. That is the perspective citywide, evidently.

Phase II: Too Few Additional Racks and Too Long in Coming

Phase II will include 25 racks or fewer, transportation planner Martha Eros says, which will target commercial corridors along Robertson, La Cienega and Wilshire. The caveat is that those 25 racks also include the racks-on-request installations. That is, instead of complementing the city’s Phase II with additional racks on an as-needed basis, the request program actually nibbles away at the few available racks that staff has already identified for installation.

To put the phlegmatic Beverly Hills approach into perspective, both City of Los Angeles and City of Santa Monica have been much more aggressive about installing racks on request. But our program, in development for two years, has accepted applications for months. Yet as far as we know the city has not completed a single evaluation of any request location.*

Ours is a zero-sum approach that reflects our city’s lack of understanding that parking is parking: providing bicycle parking will help us reduce demand for much more expensive car parking. For some reason, neither our Traffic and Parking Commission, nor the ad-hoc Bike Plan Update Committee on which two members sit, recognize the need. So if you do request a bicycle rack in Beverly Hills, mention that we need many more racks than are on offer for the foreseeable future, and tell ’em that Better Bike sent you!

* From the rack-on-request application: “Following receipt of a Rack-On-Request application, the City Transportation Engineer (or designated technical staff) will conduct a field check within two weeks to determine if a bicycle rack can be installed adjacent to your place of business.”

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

In Beverly Hills, Bike Racks are only Metaphors

This item caught our eye when reviewing the upcoming City Council agenda: “Summary Report – City Council November 5, 2013 Retreat.” The report includes a section called the “bike rack” where discussion items are parked for future consideration. The staff report explains:

Council retreat bike rack staff report excerpt‘Bike rack’? This is amusing because bike advocates have pressed Beverly Hills officials for the past three years to install bicycle racks in our business districts to encourage folks to ride a bicycle for their local trips. But our transportation officials have not installed a single sidewalk rack. And that’s despite the obvious need: more bicycles than ever are locked to parking meters and lamp poles in our commercial districts. We have the racks already. The city paid more than $500 each for them yet they sit in a warehouse.

Yet we create a metaphorical bike rack for parking discussion items at a City Council retreat?

Perhaps we’re not recognizing progress when we see it. Retreat facilitators often create a  ‘parking lot’ to sideline thorny issues. Here in Beverly Hills we’re calling it the ‘bike rack.’ Is that progress or a cynical gesture from a city that can’t be bothered to install an actual bike rack? Those of us who take the trouble to ride a bicycle for local errands can’t lock up to a metaphor, after all.

Update from the Beverly Hills Transportation Division

Approved Pilot program bike routes map

The two routes approved for bike-friendly treatments by City Council.

Transportation staff presented a report to the Traffic & Parking Commission this week that outlined progress (or lack thereof) on several cycling-related initiatives here in Beverly Hills. If you’ve tuned in earlier, you’ll know that the city has been talking for the past three years about a new bike plan. They’ve been planning a ‘pilot’ bike route for the past two years. And have been working on a limited bike rack installation program for the past 18 months.  While there’s still no tangible progress to report, we did hear from staff about timelines. Let’s review, starting start with the big opportunity: bicycle lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard. Continue reading

Bike Routes AND the Pilot Come Before Council

beverly hills city hallHere’s a news item! City Council on November 13th is scheduled to hear two bike-related items. First in the afternoon study session, Public Works & Transportation will present for councilmember consideration a bicycle rack program. Then in the evening formal session, Council will discuss specific improvements to be made to two city streets under the newly-approved Bike Route Pilot Program.

Continue reading

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

Bike Plan Update Committee #5

Eastern Gateway right-of-way visualized

Santa Monica Boulevard of tomorrow at the eastern gateway.

The Traffic & Parking Commission’s ad-hoc Bike Plan Update Committee met with a few representatives from the bike community on March 21st, the fifth meeting to date in the process of bringing bike facilities to Beverly Hills. Transportation planner Martha Eros presented an update on the two key initiatives currently underway: the Bike Route Pilot program and an effort to install new bike racks citywide. We also heard from Transportation director Aaron Kunz about the next steps in the reconstruction of  Santa Monica Boulevard, which could be reconstructed as a multimodal corridor (as shown here at the eastern gateway). This informational meeting broke no new ground, but here’s the recap. Continue reading

City Council Gives Tacit Nod to Bike Pilot

The City Council’s marathon study session last week (3/6) ended on an anticlimactic note: Councilmembers gave a tacit nod to Transportation to move ahead with the Bike Route Pilot Program, and the bike racks and rack-on-request program will move ahead too. But in approving these consent items, our City Council didn’t take the opportunity to discuss bike improvements generally – much less express support for safer streets. What we were looking for was a sign of commitment to cyclist safety from our decision-makers, but we didn’t get it in this study session meeting.

Beverly Hills Parking Authority is Losing $4 million/yr

Garage facade

Call us biased, but when your Parking Authority loses $4 million per year and faces a $40 million deficit only eight years down the road, maybe it’s time to re-think our commitment to providing free and highly-subsidized parking for anyone and everyone who chooses to drive. Make that ‘over-provide’: our city has constructed at great expense more than twenty public parking structures, many with excess capacity. Yet we’ve not installed a bike rack in a commercial area in many years. At $200 per, are they simply too cheap to bother?

Beverly Hills Bike Update

South Beverly needs bike racks!

Here at Better Bike we’re wondering if cyclists may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after all for bike improvements. After our August meeting with the ad-hoc Bike Plan Update Committee, we noted that the Transportation division would proceed on a pilot program of route improvements, which could include lanes, markings, and signage. And the city said that it would hire an intern to work bike issues in the Transportation division. Here’s the latest developments according to Aaron Kunz, City of Beverly Hills Deputy Director for Transportation this week.

City Snubs Retailers Rack Request

Rick Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation & Orange 20 likes to grouse that Beverly Hills is the least welcoming of Westside cities to cyclists. Yeah, we’re inclined to agree. If you think you get the cold shoulder from the city, consider how it feels to get snubbed on a bike rack inquiry from a national sales tax-generating chain that wants to welcome cyclists. “They’re not warm and fuzzy,” said the regional manager. “Talking to this city is like a root canal.”

Bike Plan Update Committee Meeting #2

The Beverly Hills Bike Plan Update Committee met with bike and active transportation advocates for the second time this past Monday, Aug. 29th. The committee, which is an ad-hoc body under the Commission, need not meet regularly, nor in public, but Commissioners agreed to apprise us of their efforts to date. With about twelve cyclists joining Better Bike and the Commissioners, we all enjoyed a productive discussion about next steps for a bikeable Beverly Hills.

Library Bike Rack Ground Broken

Catching up with Library director Nancy Hunt-Coffee last week, we learned that the new bike rack/corral intended for the library should be in place by the start of the school year. By broken ground we mean some tilled soil and wooden stakes to mark the new concrete pad.The location is just off Rexford Drive and about 30 feet from the library’s front door. It will serve both City Hall (though nobody rides to work, evidently) and the library. With ground broken, when can we expect to see the new racks?