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01/13/2012: "Parking in Style"
Probably the most successful, if small, bicycle-friendly neighborhood in Southern California is the boomerang-shaped district that follows Abbot Kinney in Venice from Venice Boulevard to Main Street, and continues on into Santa Monica's shopping street. Both Los Angeles and Santa Monica have put pretty intensive (for here) bicycle infrastructure into place: lots and lots of bike racks in both places, sharrows on Abbot Kinney, and bike lanes on Santa Monica's portion of Main Street, to be followed soon by bike lanes on LA's portion of Main, plus some rumored improvements to the street markings on Abbot Kinney.

And it works! Both streets were swarming with cyclists when I passed through earlier today, and I locked up to the last open spot on the bike racks in front of Intelligentsia Coffee in Venice, pictured below. (There are six racks, if I recall correctly.)

Bikes parked in front of Intelligentsia Coffee, Venice

The coffeehouse itself was full to bursting with customers, of course--as were the other establishments fronted by bike racks on both streets. This was in the middle of the day of a Friday; Sundays are much more crowded, with many more bikes.

In fact, Santa Monica offers permanent Sunday morning bike valet service in front of the weekly farmers' market on Main. I've seen it full even on cold and rainy days!

In other words, bicycle infrastructure isn't a "handout" to cyclists, as some bitter nags would claim--it's an investment in your local businesses and and your neighborhood culture.

And puts much less of a burden on the taxpayer than pandering to cars!

How much expensive street space would have been required had the riders of those bikes all driven there alone in cars, as drivers usually do? Of course, we could knock down some of the businesses to build a parking lot or structure...but that wouldn't help much, would it?

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