The Butterfly Effect: Privileging Form (and Speedy Implementation) over Function Yields Semi-Obsolete Street Furniture in Boyle Heights
When the butterflies, flowers, and decorative benches first started popping up along 1st Street in Boyle Heights last year, reviews were mixed.
That’s not really true — the reviews I heard were largely not that great.
Particularly from business owners that had been given some advance notice — but no choice and no recourse — about what would be appearing outside their front doors.
After the large ficus trees that had destroyed the street’s sidewalks had been ripped out, the sidewalks repaired, and new trees planted, the colorful bike racks that appeared soon after were a bit incongruous with the new landscape.
The reference to the natural world served to point out just how devoid of greenery the street now was.
And while complaints did tend to highlight how garish the yellow butterflies were, the kicker, for many, was that the new racks and furniture were poorly placed and not particularly functional.
Some people didn’t know what they were or preferred relying on parking signs.
Others (myself included) found the racks hard to use — the awkward shape of the butterfly and the shortness of the flower coupled with the roundness of its center make them both complicated to lock up against, depending on the type of bike you have, how you lock your bike (I take off my back wheel), or whether another bike is already locked to it.
But the thing that made the least sense was the placement of the furniture. Read more…