Just Give Us a Place to Park Our Bikes

Anyone who regularly uses a bicycle for transportation in the United
States knows the feeling — the nagging anxiety about what will happen
when you arrive at your destination, especially if it’s a place you’ve
never been on your bike before. Will there be a place to lock up? Will
security guards be helpful or will they hassle you? Will your bike be
there when you get back? Or will it be gone — not stolen by a common
thief, but clipped by the building management or by the police?

It
can be kind of humiliating, frankly, to be treated as if your mode of
transportation is something so dirty and dangerous and unsightly that
there’s no decent place to put it. Not to mention infuriating.

New York City’s pending Bicycle Access Law
is a big step in the right direction. But this country has a long way
to go before it begins to be the kind of placing where rolling up on a
bike, locking it and heading about one’s business is considered normal — or even acceptable.

To wit, this post from Streetsblog Network member Soapbox LA:

301279557_63c63fa482.jpgBicycle-unfriendly in Denver. Photo by Jeffrey Beall via Flickr.

On Tuesday night, flush with victory after sitting through hours of LA
Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, several cyclists rode from the
LAPD’s Parker Center (a facility that has a new "wave" bike rack which
fails the city’s bike plan specifications for adequate bike parking) in
search of sustenance and nutrition. The cyclists rode the deserted
streets of downtown LA and found themselves at 5th and Flower, which
features Weiland Brewery Underground, a wonderful restaurant and pub
that serves great food long after the rest of the downtown dining
opportunities have closed shop. The Weiland website also features
abundant driving instructions and directions to the automobile parking. As for bikes, not a mention.

Arriving
at 5th and Flower, the cyclists crossed a fairly deserted and typical
downtown business district courtyard…. With no bike racks near the
entrance, they locked their bike to a rail that surrounded the
courtyard and that already hosted a couple of bikes. They chatted with
a security guard who wore a blazer and carried a clipboard and grew
confident that this was a safe place to lock their bikes.

Then

"Gilbert" appeared. With a smile on his face he informed the cyclists,
"If you leave your bikes here, they will be gone when you return."

Thinking he was referring to the safety of this area, the cyclists
looked around but it was well lit, it was close to the entrance, it was
in the most traveled area of the entire complex and there were already
bikes there indicating that others also considered it to be a safe
place. Gilbert clarified "If you leave your bike there, we will cut the
locks and take them."

Under what authority does a security guard
threaten to impound personal property? …Why
can’t they treat those who walk, ride or take mass transit with the
same respect as those who arrive with thousands of pounds of personal
property? If a motorist parked his car illegally would "Gilbert"
and the clipboard team break in and roll the car off into City National
Plaza McGuire impound? I think not!

More from the network: Bike Portland reports record participation in the city’s Bike Commute Challenge. Transit Miami has the news on a master plan for bikes there. And M-Bike.org talks about how Michigan stands to lose millions in funding for bike trails.

  • Well they have California Law on their side, albeit a loose interpretation

    Bicycle Parking

    21210. No person shall leave a bicycle lying on its side on any sidewalk, or shall park a bicycle on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic. Local authorities may, by ordinance or resolution, prohibit bicycle parking in designated areas of the public highway, provided that appropriate signs are erected.
    Added Ch. 751, Stats. 1976. Effective January 1, 1977.

  • DJwheels

    I don’t think 21210 applies at all. I believe that courtyard he’s talking about is away from the sidewalk and is actually private property. In which case, the authority to remove the bikes isn’t the CVC, but rather trespassing on private property.

    However, this does not mean they can just keep your bike after the removal. The remedy for trespass usually is only the actual damages to the property, which could include the expense incurred in removing them and any damage to the gate in the process of removing them.

    I dunno who this “Gilbert” guy was, but hopefully a simple agreement to return and remove the bikes promptly solved the problem.

  • Well we have LA Muni Code on our side and City National Plaza and the Academy are already scurrying to mend their wicked ways. Bike parking isn’t an option, it’s a right supported by muni code. Speak up and help our partners welcome cyclists as Transportation Solutions!

    From the Los Angeles Municipal Code: (LAMC 12.21-A. 16)

    16. Bicycle Parking and Shower Facilities. (Added by Ord. No. 167,409, Eff. 12/19/91.) Off-street parking spaces for bicycles and facilities for employee showers and lockers shall be provided as follows:

    (a) In the C and M zones, for any building, portion thereof or addition thereto used for non-residential purposes which contains a floor area in excess of 10,000 square feet, bicycle parking spaces shall be provided at the rate of two percent of the number of automobile parking spaces required by this section for such non-residential uses;

    http://soapboxla.blogspot.com/2009/02/good-for-bikes-good-for-business-bike.html

  • Then I will have to note all the times in LA which I see No Bike Parking signs which site 21210. I’ve seen quite a few.

  • Matta,

    I’d love to see this list of “No Bike Parking” signs but it’s kinda off-topic.

    In all three incidents, I’m referring to bike parking on private property, at businesses with Certificates of Occupancy that require them to adhere to LA Muni standards including providing basic minimum bike parking.

    City National Plaza, the Academy and Palms all accommodate motor vehicles according to code, why do they ignore bikes? Because we allow them to get away with it.

    Stay on topic and address the failure to adhere to LAMC.

    I’m not asking for the right to leave my bike lying on its side on a sidewalk nor am I addressing the restrictions of 21210.

    But I am asking for adequate accommodation. That is not precluded by or addressed in 21210.

    Bike racks, bike parking, according to the standard of Routine Accommodations, according to the LAMC, according to the City of LA’s Bike Plan.

    None of this contradicts 21210.

  • DJwheels

    Box,

    Who do we have to yell at to make sure that private property owners are complying with LAMC and providing these accommodations?

    Is there a procedure for reporting violators?

  • The procedure is this: you get harassed by a security dude, then you remember the guy’s name and actually call up his supervisor/building manager the next day, write a blog post about it, and annoy the hell out of them.

  • patnet

    There were two racks there until very recently. Where did they go?