Will “Street Cleanings” Be to Bike Corrals What “Slippery Paint” Is to “Sharrows?”

4_15_10_portlandize.jpgPhoto: Portlandize

Yesterday, the City Council Transportation Committee decided to send a motion to the full City Council stating:

I THEREFORE MOVE that the Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Department of City Planning, be requested to work with Council District 14 on implementing a Bike Corral pilot program along York Blvd between Avenue 50 and Avenue 56.

Just about everyone in the room, local businessmen, bike activists, even the Council Members, spoke overwhelmingly in favor of the project. The owners of Cafe de Leche', the business that has been pushing the corral for months, showed that the corral would be "good for business," while the cyclists note that it would be "good for bikes."

But, then, it was the LADOT's turn to talk.  Rather than paraphrasing the LADOT's "concerns," I'll let the LADOT Bike Blog state their case.

It was recommended that the corral itself be shifted from York Boulevard to the red-zone along Avenue 50, as Bikeways has plans to include a bike lane along York Boulevard.  The corrals would also need to resolve a conflict with the Bureau of Street Services, which is responsible for street sweeping.  Another reservation focused on the ability of the city to properly staff maintenance for the corral.  In order to avoid conflict over staffing concerns, it was recommended that the business, Cafe de Leche, get permitted to install the bike corral themselves.  This would be the fastest method of getting the corral installed and would require the business to be financially responsible for the project.

Let's try to sift through the smokescreen here.

4_15_10_corral2.jpgThe first bike corral in L.A. County, hidden away on Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica Photo: Gary Kavanaugh/Flickr
It was recommended that the corral itself be shifted from York Boulevard to the red-zone along Avenue 50, as Bikeways has plans to include a bike lane along York Boulevard

First, putting a corral in the red zone places it out of the main street, which as Joe Linton notes is going to make the parking less safe for cyclists and make the bikes themselves more likely to get vandalized or stolen.  Also, the motion is pretty clear that the Council Members want the Corral right on York Ave.

as Bikeways has plans to include a bike lane along York Boulevard.

There is no conflict here.  The space for a bike lane and the space for bike parking aren't in conflict unless the city was planning on removing car parking for the bike lane.  They're not.

The corrals would also need to resolve a conflict with the Bureau of Street Services, which is responsible for street sweeping.

Fair enough, but this shouldn't be a major concern.  Have the business be responsible for cleaning this area and have the trucks turn off their cleaning stuff when they pass.  This should take about ten seconds.

Another reservation focused on the ability of the city to properly staff maintenance for the corral.  In order to avoid conflict over staffing concerns, it was recommended that the business, Cafe de Leche, get permitted to install the bike corral themselves.  This would be the fastest method of getting the corral installed and would require the business to be financially responsible for the project.

To me, this seems somewhat insulting.  During his testimony, Stephen Box noted that just about everything in the world gets private parking areas on our streets, tour buses, UPS Trucks, Water delivery trucks, taxi stands, etc.  But setting aside street spaces for cyclists requires the local business owner to pay for it.  It seems as though the owners of Cafe de Leche are on board with the idea, but this just reinforces the idea that so many in our D.I.Y. community are pushing over and over.  If cyclists want the kind of amenities that other users are getting as common place, they have to do it themselves.

Before the matter was closed, Councilman LaBonge, noted that the cleaning issue would be a major one.  After its taken two years, and counting, for Sharrows to be put on the road for a myriad of bizarre reasons, some are already worried that LADOT is again going out of its way to gum up a pilot program for something that is common place in other cities around the world.