I saw something last Sunday in our little neighbor to the west that impressed me mightily…. I was in Santa Monica hunting down a couple of bags of Caffe Luxxe coffee beans as a gift for my wife when I passed by a Breeze bikeshare doc.
This is not an uncommon occurrence in SaMo—the docks are everywhere—but what particularly impressed me was that this dock was in the middle of a purely residential area, surrounded by blocks of low-rise apartment buildings. Right at 4th and Washington; that’s it in the photo above.
This makes sense—if you want to make bikeshare a viable replacement to car trips, users have to be able to start from home, or at least a short walk from home. (In my neighborhood, the Miracle Mile, drivers often park their cars a ten-minute trot from the front door. How about bikeshare, here, to help folks transition to transit?)
I haven’t yet seen too much of that from Metro Bike Share, the system serving the City of Los Angeles. There is one very large dock in front of the glitzy Promenade Towers complex at 2nd and Figueroa, just outside the famous tunnel, and it seems to be well-used, but it also seems to be an exception. I hope I am wrong, but I haven’t yet seen much attention to purely residential placements of bikeshare racks.
SaMo’s homely Breeze dock in front of the sort of places everyday folks can afford is exactly what all bikeshare systems need. SaMo’s are on a street with bike lanes—but that seems to be about half the streets in that city. The Promenade’s dock is also on a street with bikelanes, though if you’re heading west on 2nd they disappear within less than a mile. In the other direction, the tunnel takes you to the busy and very crowded center city, as well as Grand Central Market and loads of other destinations, so what we have here would be a good model for other, high-density but not wealthy parts of LA. I will dare to feel optimistic.
Even more so because this morning I saw a Metro Bike Share dock across the street from Evans Adult School—another good placement. At last bikeshare is getting away from the parks-and-offices-only placement paradigm.
Who knows? Given a few more progressive City Council members, and LA, the region’s 800-pound gorilla, might be able to lead the change to a cleaner and more equitable future…instead of always playing catch-up.