Parking, Honking, Yelling, Zen.

I felt a little bad about my previous post – almost 1000 words just on a short section of my commute. Then I realized that this sort of post isn’t so bad. This is how the bike bloggers disseminate important information about cycling strategies. I’ve picked up tips from other bike blogs on how to better navigate the roads, so maybe I’m contributing to that knowledge just a little bit. Okay, enough navel gazing. On to one of my favorite topics: Parking!

I’ve referenced Donald Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking before in this blog, but I’ve never read it. All I know about it are the numerous secondary references I’ve picked up from other books and blogs. I was shopping for a few things online the other day and got this close to ordering the book when I realized it was 733 pages long, and I don’t really have time to read all of that and keep up on my important blogging “career.” Luckily, a dedicated reader sent me a link to an NY Times article on the topic. Here’s a short excerpt that pretty much sums it up:

If developers were allowed to face directly the high land costs of providing so much parking, the number of spaces would be a result of a careful economic calculation rather than a matter of satisfying a legal requirement. Parking would be scarcer, and more likely to have a price — or a higher one than it does now — and people would be more careful about when and where they drove.

I can do even better than that. I can summarize the whole book thusly: “Free parking creates many costs to society that are not immediately apparent.” Now you don’t even have to read the book. It’s kind of like that year back in college when you were “totally interested in Buddhism” but would rather watch that one Keanu Reeves movie than read that one big Buddhism book. You know, that one….

I’m happy to report that Recycle-A-Bike had another successful weekend of bike valet service. This was our 4th week at the Lippit Park Farmers’ Market. I think that we parked about 23 bikes and talked to many more people about the good work that Recycle-a-bike does.

We usually have tools there in order to make any minor repairs that people might need. The bike pump is even more important – there are lots of people riding around with under-inflated tires. Spouse has suggested offering a chain cleaning and lube service for bike valet customers for a nominal fee. I hear so many underlubed bikes squeaking down the road and I just want to yell, “LUBE!” at them but I’m afraid that might be misinterpreted. I don’t think we’ll have this service this weekend, but maybe when we figured out the issue of where to dump the cleaner we can do it.

After the farmers’ market, the equipment was rushed to Foo Fest at AS 220 to park even more bikes for the good people who were enjoying the Foo. I’m not sure if they were able to count the number of bikes that were parked, there were so many. Here’s an example:

RAB is actually running out of racks. The ones we have currently aren’t the best design, and they pretty much require the use of a truck, van or hatchback to transport them (or a bike trailer, I guess). I was looking around for alternatives today when I stumbled upon Soapbox LA, a blog about “access and mobility.” This particularly exhaustive post, really gets into the details of bike parking in the authors’ neighborhood. The post also includes this official drawing from LADOT (wasn’t that a girl group in the ’80′s?)

Here’s the story. When the Griffith Observatory reopened after the remodel, we fought to make sure that they installed bike racks. Long fight, long story…they put in a toast rack.

We fought for the inverted U rack, principle based fight, the entire property has great fence but I degress.

The guy from the Observatory has to go to the LADOT to get the inverted U racks. When he asks about the specs for installation, this is what they gave him…along with a bit of eye-rolling and attitude.

Good Times.

As I am wont to do when I find a good blog, I started reading through the other entries and came upon a reference to Park(ing) Day LA. If I learned anything during art school, it’s beware of a title that uses a parentheses to make one word into two words. That and watch out for any artist’s statement that includes the words “domesticity” and/or “embodiment.”

You may have heard of projects similar to [shudder] Park(ing) Day LA from around the world. This is where a group of people takes over a parking place on the street, and turns it into a pocket sized public park. If there is a meter, the occupants dutifully deposit coins into the meter. Here are a couple of examples:

Her future is so smug, she's got to shade her eyes with her hand.

This idea instantly appeals to the former art school student who lurks within me. Ala Barricade! We shall take over the streets and convert the evil drivers’ parking spaces into public parks for all to enjoy! They will feel the fury of our creativity! The squares will be so blown away, they won’t know what to do!

However, I know that in practice that this sort of thing just reinforces the worldview of people who already agree with the basic premise while everyone else thinks you are a d-bag. It’s the old “preaching to the choir” tactic of political activism, except pretend that while preaching to a choir who is already singing along with you, you somehow manage to pee on a bunch of atheists. Kind of like Critical Mass.

Then again those pictures do look pretty cool. And I’m once again angry at motorists due to a….

HONK REPORT

I know, I know, I said that I’d retired the honk report. But let’s just say that I’ve repurposed it. If I were still in grad school, I’d say that I’ve recontextualized it.

I was not literally honked at today, but I was yelled at. I biked down N. Main and approached Branch Ave where I needed to turn left. In preparing to turn, I checked over my shoulder quite a few times until I saw an opening in traffic. I signaled my lane change and moved to the left hand lane (just like I was driving a car). I waited in line at the left turn lane onto Branch (just like I was driving car). On Branch, I rode on the left side of the lane because I was turning in to visit a store on the other side of the street. I signaled left and waited for traffic to clear enough for me to turn (just like I was driving a car). Cars were able to pass me on the right because there was plenty of room (unlike if I’d been driving a car). As I turned, a motorist yelled, “Get off the damned road.” I would define Branch Ave more as “Godforsaken” than “damned”, but I think I know what he was getting at. He even yelled it in a somewhat forlorn way, and not in the super-loud pissed off way that I’ve grown accustomed to.  I gave him no reaction.

I feel like I’m noticing a trend here. I now ride in a much more “legal” manner than I used to. I obey the traffic laws, I ride like a vehicle, I even use turn signals, for god’s sake. It seems like the more “legal” I ride, the more I’m honked/yelled at. And now I’m thinking about that jerk who yelled at me and just getting pissed off! I need to remember what I learned from that Keanu Reeves movie and find my inner Buddha nature.

I retired the Honk Report because I feel like it just emphasizes the negative aspects of urban cycling (and it makes me sweat with rage while I blog, which is bad for the finish of my blogging chair). I should take a page from CommuteOrlando where they often emphasize the positive.

In that spirit, I bring you a

Yawn report:

I’ve been biking down South Main Street several times this week due to a change in morning activities. This is the final sprint for many people on their way to work in the morning. It’s shortly after a major exit from I-195, and it goes past the county courthouse before people can turn to go downtown.  In the several times I was on it, everyone passed me giving me plenty of room, and I was able to execute lane changes with no hassle. Cars stopped to let pedestrians cross at marked crosswalks, and so did I. It was all so uneventful.

There, now I feel better. Who needs the lessons of Keanu?

See you tomorrow at Recycle-A-Bike’s (Lip)pet Bike Park(ing) Va(let) Ser(vice)!

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3 responses to “Parking, Honking, Yelling, Zen.

  1. dear spouse, you should be aware that your derogatory use of the term “d-bag” totally enacts epistemic violence upon my embodied domesticity. love, spouse (at home making vegetable stock from scratch while you volunteer for recycle-a-bike at the farmer’s market)

  2. Pingback: The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Eastside Marketplace | Car-Free in PVD

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