Just What Is Going On Here?

I saw something rare and amazing yesterday as I pedaled through Atwater on Glendale Boulevard: a crew actually installing a bike corral!

Yes, right at Glendale and Madera, where the sidewalk bulges out and makes a nice little plaza for customers of the numerous eateries clustered there.

The space had always had a sidewalk bike rack, but it was almost always full. I’d mentioned this to the LADOT (long ago), and eventually heard that the corner was on the list to receive a bike corral. Knowing how the city works, I didn’t hold my breath.

But here it is!

Of course, it’s one of LA’s infamous “low-hanging fruit” installations. (LADOT shamelessly uses the phrase itself in open meetings.) It’s going in at a red curb, next to a plaza, a configuration that’s not available in the vast majority of the city. So far as I know, only the corral at York and Avenue 50 is actually built in a former car parking spot. Of course, almost the entire curb length of LA’s streets is given over to car parking, at below-market rates or even entirely free; there is no way to increase bike parking significantly without giving up a tiny smidgen of those oh-so-holy parking spots. LA resists, still wallowing in the delusion that making room for giant cars carrying one or two little people each is the way to boost business. It keeps failing, and we keep doing it, and it keeps failing.


No doubt the droolers will come out in force if this corral is ever announced in local blogs or papers, claiming that it is “never used.”

They still claim that about the corral at York and 50, which is consistently loaded with bikes when I pedal past it once or twice a week. Below is a photo I snapped yesterday, a Tuesday, at 10:30AM, showing just how little use that corral draws:

I have a growing collection of photos of the corral “not being used” to this extent.

Meanwhile, a thousand miles north, in Portland, the city has installed its 100th bike corral.

When that town began its program, there was the usual knee-jerk opposition, but people there are a bit more open-minded, and a bit less sticks-in-the-mud, than they seem to be in our own burg. They were not afraid to acknowledge the benefits of drawing cyclists to their businesses, and in fact the bike corrals in Portland have all been installed at the request of local businesses, and there’s a waiting list. See a few pix here.

But here in the formerly great city of Los Angeles, we pander to tax-sucking car traffic that makes shopping neighborhoods too unpleasant to spend much time shopping in, then wonder why our economy struggles like an elephant in quicksand. With four million people and over 400 square miles, Los Angeles has 1/33rd the number of bike corrals as 8 x 8 mile Portland.

In fact, the plans for the Glendale/Hyperion bridge, if carried out as presented by the city and its cohorts, would not only reduce bike traffic to Atwater from over the river; they would jam the once-pleasant shopping street with drivers hyped up from speeding down the reconfiguration’s freeway-style lanes, ruining a decade’s worth of streetscape changes (of which the new bike corral is the latest) that have made Atwater Village a place to go to. Not for long, though, if the gray minds of the engineers have their way. The community is fighting back, and strongly.

Let’s hope the bridge becomes a gateway to Atwater, not a wall of shrieking metal dividing the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing the new bike corral filled with bikes, and the adjacent shops and restaurants filled with their riders.

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  1. By Ribbon-Cutting for LA’s 2nd Bike Corral on November 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm

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