The Hollywood Bowl needs better bike parking

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Using tickets I randomly won in a giveaway last week on Twitter (thanks, KCRW!), I went to a concert on Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl featuring badass Mexican guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela along with DeVotchka and Lord Huron. I decided to try riding my bike there. It was quite fun lane-splitting through gummed-up traffic on Highland and easy enough (for a nimble lad like me, at least) to hoist my bike on my shoulder as I climbed down, then up the stairs to take the tunnel under Highland and onto the Bowl’s property. Once I got there, however, I found the bike parking to be decidedly inadequate. If you’re interested in hearing me go on at length about this, read the following letter I copy/pasted into the Bowl’s ‘Contact Us’ form for all the details of the experience and how they can fix the situation.

UPDATE (7/16/13 5:19 pm): I’m told the Bowl provides a sweet bike rack to its employees and that there’s at least one bike commuter in their marketing department who’s working on improving the bike parking for event patrons, including discussing the possibility of having the LA County Bicycle Coalition coordinate a bike valet. Good to hear things may be getting better!

To whom it may concern:

I strongly encourage the Hollywood Bowl to re-evaluate how it accommodates the parking needs of patrons who choose to arrive by bicycle. I recently rode my bike to an event, and found the designated “bike parking” (i.e., a railing around a tree next to the Main Gate) to be a joke. By the time I arrived 15 minutes before showtime, the entire outside of the railing was occupied by locked bikes, and I had to hoist my bike and clamber over the railing in order to find a space to lock up. Because the height of the railing interfered with my handlebars, it took me several minutes to figure out how to move the frame of my bicycle close enough to the railing to be able to lock it securely. A picture I took of the designated bike parking area — overflowing with locked bikes — may be viewed at http://goo.gl/7cFVA.

I found the whole experience to be undignified and unworthy of the Bowl’s reputation as a world-class live music venue. Beyond this, I am disappointed that the Bowl’s management has yet to see the wisdom of making arriving by bicycle a more convenient experience. Bicycles, after all, take up much less space than automobiles and do not contribute to the pre- and post-event congestion on surrounding streets for which the Bowl has become famous. In a time when the City of Los Angeles is seeking to encourage public transit, bicycling and walking as alternatives to sitting in traffic and making significant investments in improvements for users of these modes, the failure of large destinations like the Bowl to accommodate bicyclists at the end of their trips is holding back the achievement of this worthy policy goal.

This is all very frustrating because it would be remarkably easy for the Bowl to support the proper parking and locking of bicycles. Properly designed bicycle parking can accommodate 8 to 12 bikes in the space it would take to park one car, and standard U-shaped racks accommodating two bikes each can be bought and installed for around $100-200 apiece. Surely there is space somewhere on the Bowl’s property and in its budget for a few dozen of these racks. 

If you require more information about how to provide proper bicycle parking, I recommend consulting the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals’ “Bicycle Parking Guidelines” (available at http://goo.gl/k3KOl), which contains standards for the shape, spacing and siting of bike racks. It would also be a good idea to review the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s guidelines for bike parking (http://goo.gl/vXOBY). It is key that any new bike racks allow for the frame — not just the wheel — of the bicycle to be locked, and that they not require the bicycle to be lifted off the ground.

It is my sincere hope that the management of the Bowl take this problem seriously and work in good faith to address it. I look forward to many more years of riding my bike to events and being treated with the same respect and dignity as any other Bowl patron.