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06/11/2014: "Do It Right"
Bike corral at LACMA

This bike corral at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is most often, sad to say, nearly empty. But one can see why: it is just inside the gate from Sixth Street, in a typically deserted corner of the park behind the museum. The museum itself is far off in the distance near Wilshire, and so, of course, are most of its patrons. So the rack stands by itself, out of sight of guards and art lovers…but not of thieves. I have seen stripped bikes there all too many times.

But Sundays are different! Every Sunday through most of the year the museum sponsors Latin jazz concerts at a usually-deserted amphitheater a minute's walk from the Sixth Street gate and the bike parking. A good crowd always shows up, and a good portion of the crowd shows up on bicycles. With music lovers and nattily-dressed but very serious guards milling about, it becomes a safe place to park a bike…and people do just that.

A wonderful test of what makes a good bike parking location: not the hidden, out-of-the-way corner traditionally designated for the storage of two-wheelers, but someplace giving access to facilities close at hand, and one with plenty of foot traffic to keep things civilized.

The intentional architectural equivalent of a dark alley does not fit those criteria.

The modern cliché of "Build it, and they will come" is only half true. "Build it right, and they will come."

Sooner or later even America will figure that one out.

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