How Soon They Forget….

Looking for the bike valetSunday I rode out in a steady rain to the West Side for a quick morning spin before coming back to Meet wife Gina and pal John Vu back at the ‘hood, for lunch at Black Dog.

After a coffee stop at the Inteliigentsia on Abbot Kinney–fronted by a long row of bike racks!–I headed on to Main street, Santa Monica, since there are always plenty of people out afoot and on bike in al weathers there, and I like the mood.

Sure enough, the people didn’t disappoint–though the rain had just ended, cyclists were pedaling along right and left, on everything from fixies and beach cruisers to road bikes and a very nice Linus city bike. A good many of them were headed to the Santa Monica Farmers Market, a great once-a-week town square that has for several years now offered a free bike valet service every Sunday.

So imagine my disappointment when I saw, instead of a panoply of bikes, a row of dingy vans and SUVs. Right in front of the “Bike Parking Only 7AM–1PM” sign.

And I wasn’t the only one disappointed: the folks in the photo were plaintively asking where they could park their bikes as I passed by. The fellow in the information booth simply shrugged and answered, “Anywhere….”

All the parking meters along the missing bike valet were decorated with bikes, and as I strolled around, pushing my fixie, more and more people rolled up over sodden streets.

The odd things is, that I’ve seen the bike valet operating on rainy days before. What changed? Did the city make a unilateral decision that Santa Monicans don’t own raincoats or have suddenly developed a fear of melting in a sprinkle?

Quite a faux pas for what is often one of the more progressive towns in our county when it comes to cycling.

I hope they figure it out soon. We’re not a county full of nothing but fair-weather riders anymore. We love our bikes, and we love our cities, and we’d love to get a little respect.

Santa Monica, don’t do this again. If residents can’t park their bikes when they get somewhere, they won’t ride there no matter how many bike lanes you build.

Cycling is a part of our lives now. We aren’t just playing around.

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