Dodgers Have a Winning Season Promoting Transportation Options

In 2008, we had to make ##http://la.streetsblog.org/2008/05/08/taking-a-bike-to-dodger-stadium/##our own map## that showed one sad bike parking area. In 2013, both the map, and the actual parking, are much improved.

The irony was obvious.

The only professional sports team named for a mode of transit also played in the most car-dependent stadium in the country. When the Brooklyn Grays changed their name to the Trolley Dodgers, it was a reference to the trolley lines surrounding Ebbets Field. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, the trolleys were already partially gone from city streets and the stadium was surrounded by a sea of asphalt. (Note: there’s a great comment by Militant Angeleno on the history of the trolley lines and the Dodgers name below.)

When Streetsblog arrived in 2008, I was shocked by how bad conditions were. Routes to the stadium completely lacked sidewalks, staff seemed confused when asked about bicycle parking, and the transit options dropped off riders at least a half mile away from the stadium.

Nobody is going to confuse Chavez Ravine with stadiums in San Francisco and Atlanta with large bike valets nor ones in New York or Chicago served by heavy rail; but the 2013 Dodgers are different and better than the 2008 Dodgers in many important ways outside the stadium and away from the parking lot. No matter what happens on the field against the St. Louis Cardinals over the next week, non-car dependent Dodgers fans were big winners this season.

While the recent announcement of free parking for carpools with at least four passengers is encouraging, the biggest improvements came for bus and bike riders seeking access to Dodger Stadium.

Elson Trinidad, a community activist, bike rider, musician and member of the Dodgers citizen advisory committee from 2005-2012 credits the sale of the Dodgers from Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Partners.

“We had a meeting in July 2012 with new President/CEO Stan Kasten, I saw that as an opportunity to give some real input, and I personally gave him some ideas on improving bike and transit access to the stadium…” Trinidad explains. “…among them were a bus-only lane and better bicycle racks placed around the stadium, near gate entrances. Both came to fruition albeit in the limited sense. The bus-only lane I envisioned was inside the parking lot so Dodger Stadium Express buses wouldn’t have to be hampered by the sea of cars leaving the lot. And there are small-capacity “Hoop” style bike racks near some of the entrances now, though I always see them filled to capacity.”

According to the Dodgers press office, racks are available at seven places around the stadium. In 2008, a single bike area existed near the south portion of the stadium where one could chain their bike on security gates that also served as the smoking area. Security were untrained on the location of the racks and the only map that existed was made by Streetsblog.

Not a massive bike valet, but the racks are certainly a major step in the right direction.

The Dodgers have done more than just put out some racks. Officials worked with bicycle groups Cyclists Inciting Change Through Live Exchange (CICLE) and the Eastside Bike Club to program “Dodgertown Rides.” Over 100 cyclists attended the first ride this summer and were greeted with expanded bike parking. The ride created good feelings with cyclists, many of whom were already Dodgers enthusiasts,

“It was an amazing experience showing a hundred bicyclists how to ride from Union Station to Dodger Stadium,” remembers CICLE’s executive director, Dan Dabek. “The May 2013 ride was a partnership between Metro, C.I.C.L.E. and the Eastside Bike Club.  The Dodgers staff was very accommodating to our group and demonstrated their commitment to bicycling as a way to reach the stadium.  Hall of Famer, Tommy Lasorda welcomed our group at the top of Chavez Ravine and Carlos Morales, from the Eastside Bike Club, and I got to promote bicycle transportation to the whole stadium during an interview on the jumbotron.”

Photo:##http://www.flickr.com/photos/metrolibraryarchive/with/8617943722/##Metro Library##

The Dodgers change of heart towards transit riders is just as dramatic. In 2008 and 2009 the Dodgers seemed almost annoyed by a Metro program that provided free bus rides from Union Station to Dodger Stadium. Without the aid of Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who sits on the Metro Board of Directors and does not represent the area surrounding the stadium in the County Board of Supervisors, and then Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Dodger Stadium Express (formerly just called the Dodger Shuttle) never would have happened and/or would have been cancelled after the first (successful) season.

And the Dodgers didn’t seem to care. Team owner Frank McCourt scoffed at the “few buses” that provided access to his stadium at no cost to the team. When he vowed to not lift a finger to help the shuttle, an outraged Bill Rosendahl, the then-City Council Transportation Committee Chair and east-coast transplant who could claim to be both a Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers fan, scolded the recalcitrant owner during a public hearing.

Metro still provides the shuttle as a free service, with funding coming from a County slush fund. However, in-stadium promotion for the shuttle has dramatically increased and the Dodgers offer promotions and discounts to fans who arrive to the game by transit. The public has responded by choosing to Go Metro in record breaking numbers every season since the service was introduced.

Is it the Mets’ award-winning “Take the Train to the Game” promotion? No, it isn’t. Is it a step in the right direction? Yes.

But Trinidad wants to see more from the Dodgers to make the bus trip to the stadium a better one.

“I personally take the bus most often for games these days, as even the lower parking cost isn’t worth it due to the slow-moving post-game traffic,” Trinidad continues. “I haven’t driven to the game in maybe 3 or 4 seasons. I take the Dodger Stadium Express most of the time, and would like to see the stretch between Alameda and Figueroa coned off.  I would like to see the Dodgers open the Scott Ave gate for Dodger Stadium Express buses only and have a bus-only lane within the parking lot to facilitate bus ingress and egress. I can leave the game quicker by walking down the hill to Sunset and taking the Line 4 bus home.”

But pedestrian access is one area where the team has yet to make headway. Broken (or non-existent) sidewalks surround the property, and navigating through the parking lot feels perilous even if you happen to be wearing a Dodgers jersey. Dedicated pedestrian areas in every lot leading to the stadium would be a start. Working with the city to provide better sidewalks leading to the stadium would be a great step 2.

But organizationally, the team made strides in 2013, and we’re not just talking about the amazing comeback on the field that landed them in the postseason. But just as many people won’t remember this season without a World Series win, the strides towards a multi-modal Dodger Stadium will be forgotten if momentum stops with solid promotion, group bike rides, ticket discounts and some new bicycle racks.

  • Militant Angeleno

    Actually the “Trolley Dodgers” were named in reference to the the trolley yard that was located adjacent to Washington Park, the team’s venue in the early 1890s. The fans had to dodge numerous trolley tracks to reach the stadium. The team moved on to two more ball parks before Ebbets Field was built in 1913.

    And when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, there still were some trolleys left to dodge in Los Angeles. There were a number of Red and Yellow car routes still in operation. The Los Angeles Railway “V” Line ran between Los Angeles City College and Vernon and served the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at Vermont Avenue, which many fans used to get to the games. The “V” line was discontinued in 1963, a year after the team moved to Dodger Stadium.

  • Ryan J

    Great coverage… I personally attended about 10 games this year, walking or biking to every one from Echo Park. I’m always pleasantly surprised to see the scores of people hiking up the hill, and evenly disappointed at the lack of safety provisions for pedestrians just inside the Sunset gate on Elysian Park Ave. We are literally squeezed onto a 5-6 foot wide painted portion of the travel lanes, separated by a couple feet from speeding downhill cars rushing to get home. I’m surprised people aren’t hit after every game. I don’t see any solid reason why the team can’t put up some barricades on the side to protect the dozens or hundreds of fans that decided to walk.

  • Hey M.A., good to see you. Loved the CicLAiva guide.

    Point taken on the trolleys, I made a small change above.

    As for the name…my understanding is that “Trolley Dodger” was actually a derisive term Manhattanites had for Brooklyn residents at the turn of the last century and the “Brooklyn Dodgers” was flipping the negative name into a positive for the community. I didn’t see a need to bring that up :)

  • calwatch

    Of course there have been fits and starts. The special Metrolink trains to Dodger Stadium from the Antelope Valley were essentially unused. As Elson notes we need a bus lane within Dodger Stadium property itself. And sidewalks need to be widened going uphill, and the pedestrian route from downtown through Chinatown needs to be better signed. Often that is the fastest way to hike up to the stadium from that area, but it is poorly described.

  • Frank Gruber

    As Calwatch says, the solution needs to be creating a walkway, people mover system from the Chinatown Gold Line stop — systems like they have in Hong Kong. There is pedestrian bridge over the freeway — I’ve driven under it, but honestly I’ve never tried to find out if it is open. Last time I looked, it didn’t look like anyone was using it. Does anyone know?

  • Ricky Courtney

    The Dodgers and Metro advertise the Dodger Stadium Express as taking “just 15 minutes each way” but on Sunday and again on Monday it took nearly an hour to make the 3 mile trip.

    The bus lane on Sunset have been a *disaster*.

    There are always hundreds of private autos clogging up the lane.
    Compounding the problem… there is very law enforcement to keep the rule-breakers out. (I’ve only seen an officer once in my trips to the
    stadium).

    I agree it would be nice to have a dedicated gate and have the bus only lane extended to Alameda… but a good short term solution would be to extend the bus lane up Elysian Park Avenue to the stadium gates. The buses struggle to climb this hill as it is… and it doesn’t help that they’re dealing with stop-and-go traffic.

    Making changes to law enforcement and the bus only lanes would make the Dodger Stadium Express a more convenient alternative to driving (and that will help with the stated mission to improve air quality).

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Secret Bike Parking at Dodger Stadium?

|
Find the Bike Parking at Chavez Ravine Last week, during a City Council hearing on adding a bus option for travelers to Dodger’s Stadium, Councilmember Tom LaBonge interrupted a Dodger executive to ask if there is bike parking at Dodger Stadium. When the executive replied that there was, LaBonge, an avid baseball fan, commented that he would lead […]

Dodgers Won’t Lift a Finger to Save Dodger Trolley

|
Jackie Robinson could take transit to the stadium in Brooklyn; but these Trolley Dodgers won’t have a trolley. Blogdowntown reports that the chances that transit service comes back to Dodger Stadium are about the same as the Dodgers clearing out parking spaces for helicopter parking.  Despite a verbal commitment to the City Council last year […]

Taking a Bike to Dodger Stadium

|
 See that little circle? That’s where the bike rack is. The New York Mets were in town this week and that means I had a chance to go see some baseball in Dodger Stadium. Being the studious transportation blogger I am, I made sure to take all three available modes, bike, foot and car, to […]