Hollywood Charged Up for E-Bikes
8:05 AM PDT on May 5, 2010
year at the Alternative Car Expo (to most known as the AltCar Expo),
there was much excitement about all the motor vehicles that were trying
to be sold as the new alternative to cars. Huh? There was a small area
in a room off to the side and hidden from through traffic that was set
up for the real alternatives and the Greensters had their own "park" set up, demonstrating
that one can carry lots of stuff on a good bike without having to waste
the resources that manufacturing a car does. Unfortunately their
excitement was drowned out by the oohs and aahs coming from the big
room as the "green" crowd clamored around dozens of motor vehicles
(Alt-Car?) that ran on batteries, good wishes, great intentions, and a
continued commitment to the misuse of large amounts of public space.
a difference six months makes! Now, the real crowd pleaser, the
attention getter, the main draw at Hollywood Rent A Car on Hollywood
Boulevard is not a motor vehicle but a bicycle! Huh? Who would have
Bechir Blagui from Hollywood Rent a Car, who is committed to bringing electric
car rental to Hollywood but gets no support from the city, somehow got
turned on by the idea of bringing electric bikes to his shop and
renting them out. The idea came to fruition very quickly and one day as
I passed his shop, I saw the bikes in the front window and I squealed.
Bechir came out, smiled up to his ears and said "Here, take it for a
My husband, Stephen Box, and I test rode the bikes and while Stephen interviewed Bechir
people from all walks, young and old, came into the rental place,
smiling, excited and curious about the bike rental options. The air was
A week later, which was yesterday,
representatives of iRoll Bikes came to
Bechir's store to show him their models and the excitement was felt
around the block. People eating at restaurants near by came out to see
what the bikes were about. Kids stood on the curb with their parents.
Cyclists who rode by did a double take. Young women's faces lit up as
they passed us on the sidewalk, looking over the bikes, their features
and their ease of use.
Bechir's Hollywood Rent a Bike business
is the first one of its kind in Hollywood. The City of Los Angeles had
the opportunity to engage in the Bike Share program years ago when
CBS/Decaux brought its street furniture/billboard program to LA.
Demonstrating the vision (or lack thereof) that is part of LA's DNA,
our leadership passed on the opportunity to get a funded Bike Share
program and selected the current bus bench/kiosk program as the payoff
for giving up advertising rights to CBS/Decaux. Mayor Villaraigosa, who
Bechir approached for charging stations on Hollywood Blvd. for his
electric cars, passed on the opportunity to work with Bechir on a
fantastic sustainable business solution when he turned his back on
Bechir's plea for help. City Council President Eric Garcetti was no
help and Councilman Tom LaBonge was only able to think of obstacles to
But Bechir plugs away (no pun intended). The
electric bikes are available for rental for the hour, day, overnight,
week, and month. People can ride the bikes up to the Observatory with
ease, they can go shopping at Hollywood & Highland or go to the
Kodak Theatre or Barnsdall Art Park for a Sunday afternoon art show.
These bikes are super easy to use, anybody could get on them and not
break a sweat during the hot summer months.
committed and he is an inspiration. He understands the struggle as a
small business owner and maybe that makes him sympathize more with
cyclists because now he understands the struggle that non-motorists
deal with on a daily basis.
The excitement over the bikes is a
big step forward in Hollywoods car centric culture and now I know for
sure that individuals can lead by example, that one can change car
culture with simple acts and dreams that might be a struggle but the
victory is always sweeter.
Check out Bechir's bike rental and
let your friends know when they come to LA that they don't need to rent
a car because Bechir is here to serve them
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