About three weeks ago I wrote here about Larchmont’s Last Stand, wherein the LADOT, which had a while before installed paystations for the diagonal car parking and retrofitted the old meter poles with bike racks, reversed its decision. Out came the paystatyions—too complicated for Larchmont’s visitors, though I’ve heard of no similar issues elsewhere—and away went thirty three bike rack as the old-school meters on sticks were reinstalled.
Now Larchmont was a secret little success story for bicycling in LA: dozens of people rode their bikes there every day, to judge from how thoroughly the converted racks and the few inverted-U racks were used. Employees, shoppers, diners—everyone, it seemed, was riding their bikes to the boulevard. Old folks, little kids with their parents, Hancock Park matrons, movie folk from the surrounding neighborhoods, hipsters…people were happy not to have to strap themselves into SUVs and struggle over for a cup of coffee, a sandwich, a haircut, or a dress or a necklace.
Now, it’s not so easy. The area’s council member, Tom LaBonge, quashed LADOT’s suggestion to try retrofitting the new meters with rings for bikes, which would have required a variance of some sort. The city’s municipal code forbids locking a bike to a parking meter (although the LAPD’s website advises cyclists to do so!), but many other cities do combine parking meters and bike racks without the slightest problem, and there’s a number of commercial retrofits available to make it easy.
Now, in the name of “easier” parking, the city has removed sixty-six parking spots from Larchmont Boulevard! So either the folks who were riding their bikes there up till now will go somewhere else, taking their money with them, or they will drive in, making for more congestion and depressing the street’s ambience—or, they’ll just follow the LADPs advice and lock to meters anyway, but in a casual and cluttered way.
And in fact I recently saw three bikes locked to a single meter there.
Meanwhile, the email dance between me, LADOT, and the council office continues. (Thirty emails so far.)
The latest word is that the powers-that-be are considering a bike corral or two on the boulevard (a suggestion I’d made years ago, for what that’s worth), but…that there is no money for implementation.
Though there was plenty of money to pay to rip out the paystations and install a bunch of meters on sticks, and separately rip out the old meter poles that had had bike parking rings on them.
In other words, any amount of money to pander to motorists too lazy to read the instructions for a paystation, but not a dime to accommodate people who choose to ride a bicycle to Larchmont. When fourteen bicycles could fit into the space of the typical, bloated single-occupant SUV. And the street’s merchants are whining for more customers.
This city will never see the light, so long as it keeps its head in a place where the sun don’t shine.