From Barbarism to Civilization

The members of this primitive tribe devote most of their energy to establishing intra-tribal status rank. Indeed, this appears to be a cultural obsession. To this end, they engage in extreme body and face painting; they send male members out in search of transparent rocks that they mount in the women’s body piercings; and they even go so far as to employ ritual scarification to exaggerate favored physical characteristics. They hold themsleves superior to all adjacent tribes, and their violence to outsiders who must pass through their territory is the stuff of legend.

Nevertheless, these fierce savages are exhibiting signs that they may be amenable to the softening graces of civilisation.

Yes, the City of Beverly Hills has actually begun installing sidewalk bike racks!

Not many, it is true—but, considering the city’s reputation for backwardness, anything is cause for hope. The shopping block of South Beverly Drive between Charlevillle and Gregory, for example, now sports four bike racks. They are not particularly well-placed, being at the ends of the block, where office buildings rather than boutiques and restaurants preside, but they exist. And they are used! The photo above is proof.

They are also not used, as the photo below reveals— in part because they are too few, in part because they are mostly far from attractive destinations.

Let’s compare SoBev to Larchmont Village in ritzy Hancock Park. Larchmont is a buzzing little shopping street in a part of Midtown Los Angeles with possibly even more elevated demographics than SoBev. And Larchmont boasts at least fourteen sidewalk racks, plus a newly-installed bike corral. The result? More shoppers on the sidewalk with fewer cars in the street. There’s no reason SoBev couldn’t replicate the successes of its cousin boulevard just five miles off.

Except, perhaps, the city’s legendary cluelessness. Beverly Hills’s knee-jerk reaction to retail slumps is to provide more subsidized parking…which never works. The city’s coffers are draining in part because of parking subsidies.

Yet studies from all over the world have shown that bike parking produces more retail income per square meter than car parking does.

Sure, bikes may not have as much status as a Lexus or Mercedes—at least not today. But it could be that cars are going the way of the Easter Island statues, and becoming quaint holdovers that warn us of the dangers of paying too much attention to your own pride, and not enough to reality.

Will the tribes of Beverly Hills learn to think beyond the delusions of self-aggrandizement in time to save themselves?

Let’s hope so. Why, it might even become a nice place to visit if they do!

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  1. […] Pigeon discovers signs of hope in the form of bike racks adorning the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, none are within walking distance of […]

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