The cyclist who searches for an actual bike rack in Beverly Hills is bound to be disappointed.There are just so few, and none of them where you’d need them. Want to latch up near your bank, cafe, or employer? You’re out of luck. Think you’ll find one in a public parking garage? Keep looking – there are only two such racks we’ve been able to find. But the city has installed a score of racks some years back as part of the Golden Triangle rehab. Those racks are of unconventional design are very difficult to spot, however.
So the folks over at Transportation decided to affix a pictograph decal marking them as bike racks. And they decided to create a map of existing bike racks and post it to the city’s website. These were the two deliverables identified in January by the Traffic & Parking Commission’s Ad-Hoc Bike Plan Update committee.
Fast forward a half-year, and the decals are applied and the bike map released (at right). (No word on posting the map, though.) Better Bike has never seen that many racks, so we took map-in-hand for a ride around the Golden Triangle to see for ourselves. What we found was that the map was unusable: the red dots are too out-of-scale for the map, making exact rack locations difficult to determine. We also found the map indicated several racks where we couldn’t find one, and it inexplicably omitted three old-style racks at the Civic Center. (Better to leave them unmarked, actually.)
We can attest that these low-profile stainless steel art racks are indeed elusive; in fact, they are so difficult to spot that even with a map in hand we sometimes had to circle around to spot one.
With this junior-level planning exercise under the belt, we now make two observations to city officials. First, bike racks should adhere to rack standards. However attractive are these racks, they don’t read as bike racks, so it is common to see bikes lashed to light poles, meters, and trees even just a few yards away.
Second, bike racks are legitimate parking facilities for cyclists and so should be conspicuous. They should invite cyclists to park there rather than chain-up to a meter pole. Standards in rack design and placement would go far to telegraphing that necessary ‘park here’ message. Consider that car garages fairly scream ‘PARKING’ to entice motorists (right). Unfortunately, decals don’t really do the job.
Another observation: There exist virtually no bike racks anywhere else in Beverly Hills. We have looked. There are excellent opportunities for rack installation, however. The Golden Triangle has numerous curb extensions that sometimes ‘feature’ trash cans or news boxes and the like. Let’s use them to instead frame a parking facility for cyclists.
While bike parking is relatively scarce, the same cannot be said for car parking. Beverly Hills has erected 18 garages with about 16 of the structures in and around the Golden Triangle (the garages are noted on our map, at left).
Sixteen garages! That’s almost as many garages as single bike racks! With each car space costing anywhere from $15k to $25k (today’s dollars) and each rack costing a couple of hundred bucks, it’s not difficult to do a back-of-envelope calculation of value.
What’s the takeaway? For one, you can forget the city’s map and take ours when you’re looking for a rack to lash to. The larger point, though, is that a year after the Ad-Hoc Bike Update Committee was formed, and a half-year after identifying tasks, all we have to show for their effort is an inaccurate map and some decals. No additional racks, and no posted bike rack map.
If our own city won’t do it, then we will – on our time and our dime, and without a fat salary and benefits package. Keep an eye out for our coming faux City of Beverly Hills bike website, including our own map and safety tips!