Looking for Bike Parking at L.A. Live

Los Angeles Eco-Village has a whole room set aside for residents’ bikes, and we’re looking at doing additional visitor bike parking out front. This post isn’t so much about eco-village’s bikes, but about the lack of accomodations for Los Angeles’ bicyclists in our public and private spaces. This, of course, is not really news. L.A. bicyclists know that our streets and our destinations rarely are designed and built with us in mind. Various other spaces in L.A., from our new police headquarters to our concert hall have huge accomodations for car parking, but little to nothing for bicycles.

I found myself downtown last week, after a Green L.A. Transportation Working Group meeting with Mayor Villaraigosa’s  environmental and transportation deputies. I decided to chill by watching a movie. I used to frequent the old Laemmle Theaters in the basement of the Marriott Hotel, but they closed last year, due to low attendance and competition from new theaters at L.A. Live – a new upscale mega-redevelopment ajacent to L.A.’s sports and convention centers. LAL just opened up a year or two ago, so you might think that they would be up-to-the-moment on trendy new things like bike parking.

Flashing crosswalks visible behind the no-ped crossing signs

I actually was initially somewhat impressed that LAL had the only city of Los Angeles installations (that I am aware of) of a couple of pedestrian-friendly features: a leading pedestrian interval and a flashing crosswalk.

At the corner of Georgia Street and Olympic Boulevard, pedestrians actually get their green light (actually their flashing hand) while the cars are still waiting at a red light.  This leading pedestrian interval gives folks on a foot a head start, hence keeping them a bit more visible and safer. The flashing crosswalks, which I first heard of and saw locally installed in the city of Glendale, contain blinking in-pavement bright lights which warn drivers that folks are crossing in the crosswalk. These are both worthwhile pedestrian safety features. It’s good that their use at LAL can serve as a precedent for their use in various places in the city. The reason that I say I was only “somewhat” impressed is that, at LAL these features seem to be less in the service of stitching together a livable city fabric than they are in the service of connecting parking areas with shopping areas. There were dozens of “no pedestrian” signs, which outweighed any initial sense I had that this place was ped-friendly. As is common in L.A., intersections were missing crosswalks (ie: a 4-way car intersection would have only 3 crosswalks.) At these locations, despite lots of contrary signage, pedestrians continued to cross at the unmarked leg – an activity that is likely safer and less time-consuming than crossing three times to get to the same destination.

There was a conspicuous lack of street furniture at LAL – no bus stops or no-parking signs – to which one typically locks one’s bike to. I cruised around, and ultimately found a no-ped crossing sign which was pretty-well suited for locking my bike to – though I did worry a little that I might emerge from the movie to find it missing, removed by security:

This medium-sized bike parking rack could have parked more bikes on both sides of it, had it not been placed so close to the curb.

I was a little early for the movie, so I figured I’d walk around and find the bike parking that hadn’t been initially obvious. There’s actually plenty of places that cyclists had found to park… but none of appears to be deliberately created as bike parking. There’re rails in the parking garage:

Fancy fixed-gear bike and lower-end suspension bike seem to indicate a diverse bike rider base using LAL.

Bicyclists seemed to find lots of these rails – this one in the main shopping area:

Another urban fixie parked (apologies for the blurry photo - I was a little worried that taking photos might not be allowed)

Panasonic utilizes bike images to sell their wares at L.A. Live: (and the LA Live website even promotes bike racing events.)

Bike are hip enough to sell Panasonics... but apparently not quite hip enough to actually park

Along the street there were a couple bikes. There were actually very few poles along the street that would fit a U-lock. This cyclist locked up with a long chain to get around the base of a street light:

Chained melody

I never did find anything that resembled designated bike parking at L.A. Live… which is unfortunate, because it means I am a lot less likely to patronize these these theaters and shopping areas in the future. It’s sad that the urban design isn’t better – this location is two-blocks from the Metro Blue Line Pico station. Locals and tourists come here, by bike and by foot…

If you L.A. Live folks happen to be out there reading this: please advise. Where is the bike parking? Was it accidentally overlooked?  (I think that would be unlikely, given that there are actual city requirements for bike parking in large developments.) Or is it hidden there somewhere and just difficult to find? Could you find a spot and install some U-racks? or are you just telling bicyclists to go spend our money somewhere else? There are clearly multi-millions of dollars worth of car-parking infrastructure, but bikes are left to catch as catch can.

18 thoughts on “Looking for Bike Parking at L.A. Live

  1. I was at LA Live for a Kings game recently. As I rode to the ticket counter at Staples I was told to dismount by a security guard. (Actually he just yelled, ‘Hey, no biking!’) Dismount zones are a sore subject in my heart due to one being recently implemented at UCLA; but I also realize that the people who have to enforce them aren’t the ones who made up the stupid rules. Anyway I went back to the security guard and had a little discussion with him about the reasons there’s no biking allowed in Staples / LA Live. He was pretty nice. At the end I asked him where the bike parking was. He seemed happy to give me this consolation and pointed me to an underground garage across the street from Staples. It’s the one the commenter above identified.

    Now this thing is totally HIDDEN underground, and its pretty far removed from some of the destinations at LA Live, like Staples, but there is in fact a plethora of bike parking down there. And a bunch of it was being used.

    Still doesn’t really explain why they wouldn’t put racks on the wide sidewalks on Olympic, or in the middle of the enormous empty concrete plazas the LA Live Design so seems to favor.

  2. LA live and other public installations downtown LA should really put parking front and center, well visible from street, like you see in many European cities, just seeing couple hundred bikes up front would encourage more people ride and would ultimately make more money for LA Live in more visitors, as well as reduce the need to build more expensive car parking.

    There are also many studies to show that 18% savings average person’s income in not owning a car leaves them more money for shopping, shows and other entertainment options, this is specifically the demographic LA live should want to attract.

  3. Pingback: Create a car-free Sunday in the capital of car culture — without spending a dime. « BikingInLA

  4. The incomplete crosswalks in california blow my mind. By this I mean intersections with only three crosswalks. A sign isn’t going to stop anyone from crossing one street when the alternative is to cross three and wait longer. I dont understand why those things are allowed.

    And yeah, hiding bike parking seems to be a trend. “Hidden” car garages always have a bunch of signs advertising them, why doesnt the bike parking?

    Some street racks with a sign saying “additional covered parking available at x” would be a huge help.

  5. I had locked my bike to one of the fences outside a restaurant last year and had my kryptonite lock cut and my bike impounded by the private security forces. While it’s true that bike parking instructions can be found on their website, not many people would think to consult there before heading out. I wrote a letter to LA Live, Jan Perry’s office, and Eric Garcetti’s office since I see this as emblematic of current thinking on “public” space – namely, outdoor malls with “urban experiences” pre-packaged for normative and conventional aesthetic tastes, actively seeking to exclude any of the unpredictability of cities not exclusively owned by development consortia.
    To whom it may concern:
    On October 7, 2009, I attended the Star Wars concert at LA Live along with my 11 year old son and some friends. We ate beforehand at Trader Vic’s. I arrived by bicycle and locked my bike to the permanent railing outside. There were no signs or other pavement markings to indicate that it was illegal, either by LA City laws or by LA Live laws, to lock my bike there. There were no signs indicating where LA Live’s official bike parking was located. When we got out of the concert, I found that my bike was gone. The lock, a $63 (list) item, (http://www.amazon.com/Kryptonite-Evolution-U-Lock-x-5-5/dp/B000AMPRG0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1255468476&sr=8-2) was cut by LA Live’s private security personnel, and my bike was impounded. While I recovered my bike, my lock was of course permanently damaged.

    Since in any normal city, bikes are allowed everywhere pedestrians are allowed, I had no reason to think that I should check with any official personnel to confirm the legality of my bike parking location. LA Live touts itself as an “urban” environment on its website, yet bikes cannot be locked anywhere except in the middle of a parking garage, which is certainly not an “urban” concept – no city to my knowledge has any such laws. LA Live’s website does not mention that bike parking is prohibited anywhere except for in designated places, which is unfortunately consistent with the lack of on-site signage. Furthermore, there is no indication, visual or otherwise, of the limits of LA Live’s jurisdiction. This makes it impossible to ascertain where, in what appears to be public space, such as the sidewalk, it might be legal or lock and where it is illegal to lock a bicycle.

    The new Ritz-Carleton hotel is, I understand to be a LEED silver building; LA City ordinances only require LEED Certified, so LA Live has demonstrated in this case a commitment to environmental sustainablilty above and beyond what is the minimum required by Code. Cycling is one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and LA Live should, consistent with the environmental goals of the Ritz, seek to treat cyclists equally.

    With the increase in “outdoor mall” concepts such as the Grove, the Century City mall, and LA Live, there is an unfortunate accompanying confusion between urban public space and private space which is open to consumers drawn from the urban public. In the interest of constructing an aesthetically predictable shopping/dining experience for its patrons, the management of outdoor malls such as LA Live tend to heavily regulate those unpredictable bits of authentic urban experience such as bicycles. Apart from diminishing the richness of authentic urban interaction, which has always drawn in large part from precisely its unpredictability, this has the unfortunate effect of marginalizing anything that is not part of conventional mainstream consumerism, which very often cannot be reconciled with larger environmental sustainability goals. Other states such as Colorado, Ohio, Maine, Hawaii, and Vermont, are acting to limit the aesthetic restrictions that private businesses can place on clients and patrons when those restrictions conflict with the public good (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/us/11clothesline.html?_r=2&em=&th=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1255471656-OhdPZ51TDVP92zw9TDiwvA). I believe that California, especially with regards to large public-private partnerships such as LA Live, has a similar right, and indeed responsibility, when private rules do not square with the public interest.

    In light of the lack of signage or other information indicating that bikes are not allowed to be locked to permanent LA Live structures, I would like to request reimbursement for my destroyed lock. LA Live should clarify its bike locking policies with on-site signage as well as an update to the parking page of its website. I would also like to suggest that, consistent with its commitment to LEED Silver for its latest phase of construction, LA Live seek to take the lead in environmental sustainability measures in its design as well as operations phases.

    I am sending a copy of this to the council offices of both Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry as well as to the LA County Bike Coalition (where I am a member) because, while it is in itself a minor incident, it points to a larger planning problem that is increasingly common in LA City.
    Erik Mar, AIA, LEED AP
    Adjunct Assistant Professor
    School of Architecture
    University of Southern California

  6. JJ, those crosswalks are closed because our streets are designed like sewer pipes for moving cars and pedestrians only hold up the waste stream. Gotta keep that s**t moving LADOT!

  7. @Erik – Did you get any responses from anyone regarding your letter?

    While I watched the movie, I actually found that I was occasionally thinking that a zealous security guard could be going to work on my bike.

    @Justin and Herbie – I will have to go check out the designated bike parking… now that I’ve heard where it is. Clearly I wasn’t the only cyclist that didn’t find it.

  8. While the developer of L.A. Live is AEG, the landscape architect for the plaza was a local firm, Rios Clementi Hale Studios. I believe Rios Clementi Hale participated in Park(ing) Day 2009. They seem like a pretty forward-thinking office, and I’m sure they could come up with an add-alt to put friendlier bike facilities in.

  9. Joe,
    I never heard anything from Garcetti, Perry or LA Live itself. Kryptonite replaced my lock, though. The Grove is very similar to LA Live vis-a-vis cyclists. I once rode there with my son to look for a book, and as we started to lock our bikes outside of the bookstore, within 10 seconds, private security guards appeared telling us that it was illegal to lock there. We had to go to the middle of the parking garage to the designated areas. In these types of places, it may be that cyclists are marginalized as compared to fossil fuel based means of transport, but that’s hardly the main problem. In my opinion, we ought to be taking on the trend towards the impoverishment of public space and the public sphere in general. Disneyfied versions of urban space such as the Grove or LA Live are completely antithetical to the spirit and potential of urban cycling and urban life in general!

  10. Joe,

    Colin and I went on a search for the LA Live bike parking last year. And we found it! It’s in the garage on the top level. Here’s the funny thing–they used a strange mechanism I’ve never seen before, which is probably why you didn’t see it. Of course, the bike parking should be at ground level, not hidden in the garage.

    And damn, I’m sorry to hear that the downtown Laemmle closed. I loved that place for it’s picturesque state of disrepair. It was kind of post-apocalyptic, plus you’d often have the entire theater to yourself. LA live will look like this in fifteen years after the zombies take over. Don’t let Jan Perry bite ya, zombification is contagious!

  11. thanks to joe for the post and to everyone else for their comments.

    i want to add dodger stadium to the list of unfriendly-to-bikes places. although i haven’t been there in a few years, i biked with friends to a game one night, whizzing by the backed up car traffic only to be told we couldn’t lock up on the only rails we could find. we ended up locking up to the only other thing we could find, disabled parking poles, which were far enough away from those directing traffic and monitoring us.

    when we got to the gate to go in, they told us we couldn’t bring in our bags. “they’re too big” they said, “so you’ll have to go put them in your trunk during the game”. trunk? one friend risked it and locked his backpack to his bike. the rest of us folded up our bags as small as we could and luckily made it passed the gates.

    instead of all the billions of dollars going to freeway projects, a small fraction of that going to bike, ped, and public transportation infrastructure could solve many problems and make our cities more livable and more just.

    my 2 cents.

  12. Pingback: More Bike Parking coming to L.A. Live « LADOT Bike Blog

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  14. Pingback: BicycleLA | More Bike Parking coming to L.A. Live

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