Bike Rack Hack Back on Track

I am notorious for calling in bike rack requests using the LADOT’s online form. Although the DOT claims not to keep track of who requested what and whether it was installed, they have told me I’ve gotten about two hundred racks put in on sidewalks all over town. About twenty of these have been, naturally, in the Miracle Mile, since I live here. Though I haven’t actually used any of these racks, since they are all within walking distance of home! As the photo shows, though, they get plenty of use without my patronage. In fact, we could use more.

There are over twenty racks on the Mile; some were here before I developed my obsession with bike parking, some were called in by others, and some LADOT put in of their own initiative. There are a very few privately-installed sidewalk racks as well, plus a large and well-used private bike corral at the Wilshire Courtyard building. That private corral is well watched by security via video cameras and proximity sensors, as a curious guard explained to me one day when he felt compelled to inquire why I was staring at the parked bikes. (There was a nice vintage roadster there that morning.)

However, not a single rack has been installed for about a year now. I haven’t stopped calling them in, and the need has certainly not diminished—more and more people are riding, and parking, bikes every day in our city. But two unfortunate happenstances coincided:

First, about a year ago, the city ran out of bike racks, and it took forever for the various interlaced bureaucracies to approve the purchase of new racks to replenish the inventory.

And second, just as the new racks came in, the rack installer retired.

Yes, there was just one man who put in bike racks—and he had to install the single-pole parking meters as well. He was a sinewy little old man named Richard, whom I met when he was installing one of “my” racks on Wilshire. I can understand that at seventy-two he might have lost his enthusiasm for manhandling a concrete drill and then swinging a heavy mallet to pound in bike rack mounting spikes.

Unfortunately, the procedure for applying for the position requires negotiating an intricate bureaucratic labyrinth, and even finding the web page listing the job so you can start is two steps short of impossible. I suggested to my neighbor, who is a mason, that he might apply, and to make it easier on him, slogged through the maze myself—which was a surrealistic experience indeed! My neighbor declined to apply in the end, but someone must have, for a day or two ago, when I wrote to what may have been the only person who actually knew what was going on (thanks to Senior Bicycle Program Coordinator Michelle Mowery, who gave me his email), I heard the good news: someone had actually applied and qualified, and the candidate is being reviewed by higher-ups right now.

It’s rather bizarre that a supposedly “progressive” (ha!) city such as Los Angeles could drop the ball on something as simple as installing bike racks for nearly a year, but it looks like the program will be re-started soon.

So put in your requests for sidewalk bike parking while you can, folks; who knows how long it’ll sputter along…before it stalls again.

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