LA’s Worst Bike Amenities: Wilshire Crescent

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Three weeks ago, I announced a new Streetsblog feature where "every Friday" we’d examine a particularly bike-unfriendly place to visit. The idea was to show how far we have to go to have the Los Angeles that we all want and that’s it’s not all a political problem.  Many places in Los Angeles can actively discourage bicyclists from visiting by doing the little things wrong, such as not having bike parking or just being rude to people with helmets. While I asked for submissions, I also promised that I would write the first one up on my own. However, if there’s a place you would like to receive the same treatment, please email me at damien@streetsblog.org. If you have pictures to support your story, all the better.

A couple of weeks ago I met my Mom at the new lunch and frozen yogurt hot spot Green Apple in the Wilshire Crescent strip mall located at the corner of Wilshire and McCarty Vista. After meeting and chatting with Mom for a second, I chained my bike to a poll next to the sidewalk and headed inside.

Within moments, the parking staff came into the restaurant and told me that I had to move my bike. Apparently, even though it was completely out of the way, it was some sort of safety hazard and I had to chain it to their bike rack. I hadn’t noticed a bike rack, and this seemed more than reasonable so I went to where they pointed. When I got there I saw a rack that was big enough for four bikes, but it was full. On top of that, two of the bikes had large baskets. When I told them they told me there was plenty of room and picked my bike up and layed it across some of the other bikes. After getting my bike back down I got in a short argument about how they were forcing me out of their establishment. They refused to give me contact information for the parking agency or the strip mall so I could lodge a complaint. When we told this to the folks at Green Apple, they were mortified and apologized profusely.

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So, after eating some takeout with Mom in a bench by her office, I rode home, grabbed my camera and rode back. In addition to getting a quick shot of the bike rack, I also noticed that a car was parked in a handicapped space without a placard. When I asked the lot officials why they weren’t bothering to enforce the law, they informed me it was ok because they were out of space and there weren’t any handicapped people looking to park. Unfortunately as we were arguing the non-handicapped driver sauntered out of one of the restaurants and got in his car before I could get a better picture.

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There Were Twice as Many Bikes When I Tried to Park

When I got to the mini-bike rack, some of the bikes from earlier were gone. The official told me the remaining bikes were actually the people that work the parking lot, a form of the "don’t blame us, we’re cyclists!" defense. What it really told me was that the bike parking was for employees, not people trying to go to one of the shops.

I couldn’t find contact information for the folks who run Wilshire Crescent, but I do have an email address for Green Apple. As I mentioned before, the people running the eatery were nice and sympathetic, so if you choose to drop them a line about bike parking for their restaurant make sure to ask them to forward it on to their landlords.  They can be contacted at: info@greenappleus.com .

Photos: Damien Newton

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