This Week’s Hot Trend, Large Bike Parking Facilities Near Rail

This week’s been a big one for bike parking in L.A. County with the opening of Bike Stop in Burbank and Bike Center later this morning in Santa Monica.  Meanwhile, the Culver City Bike Coalition is looking at plans for the Expo Line stop in Culver City and wondering “what about us?”  Streetsblog presents a quick tale of three public cycling centers:

Santa Monica, Bike Center:

The outside of Bike Center. Photo via The Source

We start with today’s opening of what might be the largest bike parking facility in all of the United States of America.  The mammoth $2 million full-service “Santa Monica Bike Center,” is a joint product of the People’s Republic and Metro.  Bike Center is actually two locations (Parking Structure 7 at 320 Broadway and Parking Structure 8 at 215 Colorado) in the center of downtown with a combined 5,300 square-feet of space and nearly 360 secure bicycle parking spaces.  To the best of my research, the next largest bike parking facility, Chicago’s McDonald’s Cycle Center, has “only” 300 spaces.

The Center will provide secure bike parking, retail, bike repair, bike rental, attended bike parking, and could serve as a center for other bicycle related activity in the same way Long Beach’s Bike Station hosts classes and is the starting point for bike stores. For more information, check out the Bike Center web site.

Anticipating the light rail that is on it’s way, Bike Center is also built close to the future terminus of Phase II of the Expo Line.  Metro staff talks about riders being able to bike to their closest Expo stop, take the bike with them on the train, and then having a safe and convenient place to park if their plans don’t include taking their bike with them when the line is completed.

A grand opening event is scheduled for later today and will be followed by an all-weekend open house featuring free bicycle parking, free bicycle rides and tours of the facility.  For more information on the events, click here.

Burbank, Bike Stop:

Bike Stop! Image via The Source, again.

Burbank’s Bike Stop doesn’t compete with the mammoth Bike Center in Santa Monica, but does provide a facility for 40 bicycles to park near Burbank’s Metrolink Station.  The Glendale News-Press outlines why the Stop is a leap forward:

The downtown Burbank Metrolink station is busy a hub for commuters from Antelope Valley and those working in Glendale and Los Angeles. The Bike Stop — partially funded by the California Department of Transportation — gives bicyclists a spot to park their bikes for free, instead of having to lug their equipment around from station to station.

Bike Stop doesn’t have a staffer on-hand all day, but does have a passcode protected security system and space for some bike classes that could be used to expand the parking if demand calls for it.

Culver City, …. :

Here’s something you probably won’t read in The Source.  The Culver City Bike Coalition (CCBC) is demanding to know what happened to their public cycling center?  While Phase II of the Expo Line is getting a Bike Center at its terminus.  The Phase I terminus is getting….nothing.

Which is a shame for two reasons.  First, Culver City has done an admirable job creating a “downtown connector” to provide an attractive way for cyclists to get to and from the station from Downtown Culver City and other points west.  Secondly, there was originally supposed to be a bike parking center that presumably would at least be similar in style to Burbank’s Bike Stop, but it was dropped from plans for the station.  CCBC blames the Expo Construction Authority for a lack of planning, foresight and funds in their weekly column in the Culver City News:

The Expo Authority has concluded that a partial solution to its notorious budget-overrun problems is to axe the Culver City bicycle facility. But why should cycling commuters and travelers take the hit for the Expo Authority’s issues? Especially when cycling is such an essential component of our transition to a less automobile-centric metropolis?

The CCBC plans to “make a little noise” in the coming weeks and months to try and get their Bike Station/Center/Stop.  If you want to help them make that noise, their piece in the Culver City News contains the contact information you need to get noisy.

  • Anonymous

    L.A. Union Station next?

  • Congratulations to Burbank and Santa Monica. These facilities are cool… and I feel like I should be more excited about them than I am… but is anyone else concerned that it’s easier for cities to give cyclists a room in a building than to give them room on actual streets? These aren’t mutually exclusive, and cities can and should do both… but I am a bit skeptical about prioritization. Space on public streets is cheaper, but more politically fraught. I’ve heard a lot of reluctant cyclists say “I don’t bike because the streets don’t feel safe” but none say “I don’t bike because there’s no $2 million bike parking space for me.”

  • Jim Brown

    Great point about priorities, Joe. And it points to the work that remains for creating a roadway network that truly accommodates all users. Safety and parking aren’t competing priorities when it comes to motor vehicles — both are understood to be necessary — yet clearly we’re not there with respect to bicycling. 

  • This is why, when I was mortified at the thought of moving to LA, I moved to Santa Monica.  Also, to the posts about ridable streets, while SM is a LONG ways from perfect, it is so much better than everywhere else I’ve ridden LA that it’s embarrassing. I can ride reasonably comfortably north or south or east/west at least on one street out of every 5 or so.

    We still lack a good, fast way to get from north-south, or vice versa. Ideally Lincoln blvd. would have a separated, protected bike lane, but that’s a dream. Main St. and, in Venice, Abbot Kinney are OK, but not great. I worry about getting doored all the time riding down Main st. If I don’t mind being a bit late I’ll ride on the strand, but of course that’s covered in sand and tourists taking their first bike ride in 5 years (and good on them for doing it, but they’re not exactly quick, or aware of their surroundings).

  • Great comment, Joe.  

    From another point of view, I find that I need my bike on both ends of my journey, otherwise I’d have to walk to my destination — which doesn’t work too well for example when I take the Metrolink to the Sylmar station and then have 8.5 miles to get to the doctor’s office.  Aren’t others using their bikes the same way?

  • Dominic Dougherty

    I wonder how many hundreds (thousands?) of bike racks or dozens of bike corrals could have been installed all over the city in convenient locations with the millions of dollars spent on this single bicycle parking facility. I park my bike the same way people park their cars – I like to get as close to my final destination as I can. I feel that most cyclists feel the same way since you can find scores of bikes chained to trees/poles/fences within a 2-block radius of Long Beach’s Bikestation on any given day.

  • Chris Loos

    LA beat Santa Monica to getting some green, separated bike lanes, so the issue is not cut and dry. :)

  • Dennis Hindman

    To put this in perspective, the Red Line Subway-which is heavy rail-carries over 150,000 passengers every weekday and the entire route has parking for a total of 515 bikes. So, this one stop in Santa Monica-on a future light-rail line stop, with a maximum passenger load of half of the Red Line- will have parking for 360 bikes. This is a major step up for bike parking close to a Metro rail line station in the LA area.

    The inconvenience of lugging my bike up and down stairs, cramming into elevators and trying to find room to stand, while holding the bike on the train, is why I usually prefer to walk about 3/4 of a mile to the Red Line Subway station at Universal City. If these bike stations make it easier and more convenient to use a bike, then more people will ride to the train station.

    Lack of safe and convenient parking is a major deterent for people that would consider riding a bike to a rail station. There is no single magic bullet to getting people to bike, it’s a combination of several different things, but having a good amount of convenient parking at rail stations is a major reason why the Netherlands has a very high modal share for bicycling. 

  • Good point Chris; I haven’t been on any of those yet but look forward to trying some out.

  • Mark Elliot

    Let’s not forget that Culver City officials, in their infinite wisdom, hobbled their brand-new bike plan by nixing bike lanes on Washington Boulevard. That’s a critical artery through town and a key means of access to the new station. Sure, the Expo Authority screwed the city on the bikestation, but the city screwed cyclists by taking Washington Blvd. off the active transportation menu.

  • Joe B

    I’m not likely to use the SM bike center — it doesn’t address my needs. But that’s okay, because there are other people whose needs it DOES address.

    It’s not an either-or. We need (and will be getting) racks and corrals distributed in useful places all over the city. We ALSO need a secure parking facility for those who will be leaving their bike for 3-8 hours while they have dinner and a movie, or while they work.

    I just wish we could also have safe, non-door-zone, non-gutter bike lanes too.

  • Steve Herbert

    I just toured the facility this afternoon and I can’t believe the physical space cost $2 million.  I’ve not looked over the grant but I strongly bet that some of that money is being used for the bike rental program they have there & maybe even startup costs of running for a period of time. 

    Public construction costs quite a bit because we demand many things from our pubic spaces, so it’s likely more than what could be done on the private sector, but that didn’t look like 2 million to me.

    That said, it’s a great start and Cynthia Rose of SM Spoke and I were talking about the possibility of smaller 24/7 Bike Center pods around the city and AT the beach to provide secure parking & lockers for beach users who would ride but have no way to secure a wallet and phone other than locking it in a car.  Maybe a cargo container like version with key card access that can handle a dozen bikes.  Put them next to the newly built beach restrooms or adjacent Perry’s Pizza and bike rentals, a partner in SM Bike Center.  

    Many possibilities to get bike riders more on par with car users.

  • Steve Herbert

    I did a quick bit of on-line research of what it costs to create a car parking space and found that a surface lot space runs anywhere between $5,500 – $11,000 per space.   

    Bike Center received a $2 million grant with contracts for construction totaling $1.5 million and provides 350 spaces.   350 into $2 million = $5,714 which means  cyclists are receiving parity to automobile parking for once!!!

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