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Ara Najarian

The Problem(s) with Westlake MacArthur Park

Last week, Metro Chair Ara Najarian penned a piece for The Source announcing that bicycle parking is coming to the Westlake/MacArthur Park T.O.D. at some point in the future.  It's not everyday that the Metro Board Chair responds to something written on Streetsblog (although Stephen Box and I are debating which one of us he actually responded to); so Streetsblog owes a response.

First, The Source, had previously understated Streetsblog's position on the MacArthur Park Development.  In their April 15 transportation headlines, it summarizes the complaints with Westlake/MacArthur Park by only mentioning one complaint: the total lack of bike parking.

The lack of bicycle parking is one issue, but Streetsblog also raised red flags about the large amount of car parking and the lack of promotion of the sites eight bus stops surrounding the development in favor of the train station.

Najarian's piece did little to debunk the non-bicycle related concerns.  Even though it spends a lot of time on the bike parking issue, it still doesn't do much to clear up that picture.  Najarian writes:

Contrary to some blog reports, the fact is that bicycle parking will beincluded in this development and implemented in a manner that is mostconvenient and accessible to our bicycle customers.

That's great!  It would have been nice if Metro had put that in any of their press releases on the development, but nobody's perfect.  I guess we'll just pat Metro on the back and go our separate ways. But...

MTA staff reports that bicycle facilities for the public were alwaysintended at the development. Bicycle parking for the public alreadyexists on the portal.  This project will be built in two phases,however.  The first phase is planned one block east of theWestlake/MacArthur Park Red/Purple Line Station. The first phase of theproject was not chosen as the preferred site for bicycle parkingbecause it will be located one block away from the portal, which is notconvenient for bicyclists who use the Metro system.

Oh, wow.  Is it too late to take back everything i typed two minutes ago?  There's a couple of big issues with what Najarian wrote here.

The most obvious one, and one already hammered and hammered by Box, is that we're not just talking about bike commuters who are going to use the train station; but also the residents who will live, and the shoppers who will shop, at the development.  Metro and the City of Los Angeles have a duty to make certain that developments that happen on government-controlled land provide access for all users and residents.

The second issue is that there's no real timeline for Phase II of the project.  Najarian might as well have said that, "Metro is going to insure that parking goes in as part of Metro's 30/10 Plan." And is this Phase II parking supposed to work for the residents and shoppers for "Phase I?" What are they supposed to do in the meantime?  Take their bikes into the store?

As Najarian is wrapping up his piece, he throws this bone to the bicycling community:

I’m personally heartened that MTA has now established a quarterlyseries of Bicycle Roundtable meetings that provide the forum for publicinput on these and other bicycle-related issues within the agency’spurview. In fact, the next roundtable coming up May 12 will discussbicycle parking issues.

No offense to the roundtable, but Los Angeles' cycling community deserves transportation agencies that know how to do proper bicycle planning.  A roundtable should be addressing special amenities, not spend their time telling professionals "don't forget to require bike parking as part of your "T.O.D.'"  But I guess relying on volunteers is better than relying on magic.

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