Even Strip Malls Aren’t Safe

PHoto of bikes at Burger KingSeems as though even strip malls aren’t safe…from the benefits of bicycle infrastructure, that is.

Despite the form factor being pretty distant from the Main Street type development that most people who care about such things associate with the social economics of bicycling, people will still ride to them if given the chance.

The strip mall in the photo is a typically dreary one at the corner of Fletcher and San Fernando in NE Los Angeles—not far, in fact, from one of the Pigeon’s favorite brewery Ride destinations, Eagle Rock Brewery. The intersection and most of the buildings around it lean towards the shabby, and there is both a roaring freeway and a busy railroad track nearby. One might say the area is on the wrong side of the latter.

Motor traffic is heavy on San Fernando, but I nevertheless see a number of cyclists pedaling about every time I pass through there, which is typically at least once a week. It’s a heavily populated area, the LA River bike path is nearby, and adjacent Atwater just received some bike lanes along its stretch of Glendale Boulevard. Every time I rode through, I noticed a few bikes parked alongside the Burger King, locked to signposts and the guy wires of the telephone pole.

So I called in a couple of bike racks using LADOT’s Rack Request Form.

For a long time nothing happened. After a while I emailed a reminder to one of my contacts in LADOT, but still nothing happened. I thought about it rather wistfully each week as I pedaled through. Then a couple of months ago the racks appeared. Maybe someone else had also called in a request‐the are is part of Walk Eagle Rock‘s beat too.

And in just a short while the number of bikes parking there has increased, to the point that the two new bike racks aren’t enough!

Whether the bikes locked there belong to employees or customers, the fact remains that the racks are benefiting even this least bike-friendly sort of development, in an area structurally hostile to cycling.

Imagine…if the mall could eventually give up some car parking, by nurturing better access for bikes, they could put in more shops. Maybe even a plaza with bike racks, tables, plants, amenities that would encourage people to linger, get to know each other, and spend a little more than they would have rushing in and out by car. Better for business, and better for the neighborhood, as well.

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