LA’s Worst Bike Amenities: Wilshire Crescent

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Three weeks ago, I announced a new Streetsblog feature where "every Friday" we’d examine a particularly bike-unfriendly place to visit. The idea was to show how far we have to go to have the Los Angeles that we all want and that’s it’s not all a political problem.  Many places in Los Angeles can actively discourage bicyclists from visiting by doing the little things wrong, such as not having bike parking or just being rude to people with helmets. While I asked for submissions, I also promised that I would write the first one up on my own. However, if there’s a place you would like to receive the same treatment, please email me at damien@streetsblog.org. If you have pictures to support your story, all the better.

A couple of weeks ago I met my Mom at the new lunch and frozen yogurt hot spot Green Apple in the Wilshire Crescent strip mall located at the corner of Wilshire and McCarty Vista. After meeting and chatting with Mom for a second, I chained my bike to a poll next to the sidewalk and headed inside.

Within moments, the parking staff came into the restaurant and told me that I had to move my bike. Apparently, even though it was completely out of the way, it was some sort of safety hazard and I had to chain it to their bike rack. I hadn’t noticed a bike rack, and this seemed more than reasonable so I went to where they pointed. When I got there I saw a rack that was big enough for four bikes, but it was full. On top of that, two of the bikes had large baskets. When I told them they told me there was plenty of room and picked my bike up and layed it across some of the other bikes. After getting my bike back down I got in a short argument about how they were forcing me out of their establishment. They refused to give me contact information for the parking agency or the strip mall so I could lodge a complaint. When we told this to the folks at Green Apple, they were mortified and apologized profusely.

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So, after eating some takeout with Mom in a bench by her office, I rode home, grabbed my camera and rode back. In addition to getting a quick shot of the bike rack, I also noticed that a car was parked in a handicapped space without a placard. When I asked the lot officials why they weren’t bothering to enforce the law, they informed me it was ok because they were out of space and there weren’t any handicapped people looking to park. Unfortunately as we were arguing the non-handicapped driver sauntered out of one of the restaurants and got in his car before I could get a better picture.

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There Were Twice as Many Bikes When I Tried to Park

When I got to the mini-bike rack, some of the bikes from earlier were gone. The official told me the remaining bikes were actually the people that work the parking lot, a form of the "don’t blame us, we’re cyclists!" defense. What it really told me was that the bike parking was for employees, not people trying to go to one of the shops.

I couldn’t find contact information for the folks who run Wilshire Crescent, but I do have an email address for Green Apple. As I mentioned before, the people running the eatery were nice and sympathetic, so if you choose to drop them a line about bike parking for their restaurant make sure to ask them to forward it on to their landlords.  They can be contacted at: info@greenappleus.com .

Photos: Damien Newton

  • damien,

    this will be a great re-occuring series and i look forward to it. hopefully these will serve as a catalyst for the offenders to mend their ways.

  • Maybe a re-visit to Dodger stadium is in order for this minor infraction of etiquette:

    The new bike racks at Dodger Stadium are surrounded by a gate during games – as a place for visitors to hangout and smoke cigarettes. Yes, the bike racks are smoking hot during games, and your bike will be covered in ash and dust, and will have the faint aroma of an ash tray after each game. It was a bitch to get my bakfiets clean after a game I recently attended.

  • Bekka

    It would also be nice to highlight places with good bike amenities. That way we can support local neighborhoods and businesses that take care of bicyclists.

    For example, I noticed a large new bike rack appear near Intelligentsia in Silver Lake in addition to the regular city bike racks on the sidewalk. (Though I don’t know if the new rack is keeping up with demand, on weekends there are so many bikes/vespas parked on the block it’s starting to resemble Copenhagen.)

  • Absolutely Becca. Anytime someone sees a new amenity they should email tips and I’ll go out and grab pictures. I’ve done that before when “Sharrows” showed up in Westwood and I’d love to do more good news stories.

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2008/04/23/new-sharrows-on-westwood-blvd/

  • Andrew

    Awesome series! I’ll drop a line or two to any “offenders” whose contact info you post on here! If everyone does the same, we might make a difference.

  • Eliot

    You didn’t mention that the bike racks themselves are diabolically bad. Notice that rack is filed under “Poor Bike Parking” on this Portland site: http://www.portlandonline.com/TRANSPORTATION/index.cfm?c=34813&a=98040

  • Looking forward to more of this and I’ll be keeping my eyes wide for submission opps, but if that’s the same strip mall I pass to and from work each day it looks like its the one on the southeast corner of Wilshire and McCarty Vista (which become Crescent Heights north of Wilshire), not San Vicente.

  • Will, you are absolutely right about the street name. San Vicente is where my Mom works, it’s McCarthy Vista where the strip mall is. Good catch.

    PS – I’ve read about your commuting up 4th Street from close to (or from) the Downtown…you must have a pretty long bike commute everyday.

  • Yeah, when my route takes me past this strip mall it’s about 14.5 miles one-way between where I’m at in Silver Lake and the Culver City/Westchester border. My ride along 4th Street runs between Commonwealth at the east end all the way to Cochran at the west just before 4th runs into the Park La Brea compound.

    Crescent Heights between Olympic and Venice is actually a great bike-friendlier street (especially if considering hellish La Cienega). Then I jog through the lower portion of the Crestview neighborhood to avoid the nightmare of the 10 Freeway underpass on La Cienega north of Venice. ONce on Venice I get into Culver City and onto the Ballona Creek Bikeway to Sepulveda, then south to Centinela and I’m at work. Takes me about an hour… about 10 minutes slower than if I did the same general surface street route by car. And at least 30 minutes faster than the soul-sucking, life-shortening freeway route of the 101 south to the 110 south to the 10 west to the 405 south.

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