Last Thursday, 4 new bike parking racks were installed at the CARECEN day labor center in the Westlake neighborhood. While the installation of 4 new racks doesn’t seem like much, the installation was both the fruitful end of a long advocacy process and the hopeful beginning of a new parking campaign by the LADOT Bike Program. As always, you can find our other photos of the event at the LADOT Bike Blog Flickr page.
None of this would have been possible without the dedicated efforts of Council Member Ed Reyes and his staff. LADOT Bike Blog had a chance to talk with CM Reyes during the installation.
Covered last week on Streetsblog and the LACBC blog, the installation of new bike racks at the CARECEN day labor center was the culmination of a year-long joint effort by Ciudad de Luces volunteers, the community of the Westlake neighborhood, CM Reyes and his staff, and the LADOT Bike Program. These racks are a commitment to some of Los Angeles’ most invisible riders, immigrant day laborers who desperately need adequate facilities because a bicycle is their only way to get to work.
This installation is only the beginning, however, as the LADOT Bike Program has a list of dozens of other bike rack sites (thanks to scoping efforts by CARECEN and Ciudad de Luces) in the Westlake neighborhood alone. For the rest of the year, the LADOT Bike Program has the goal of installing, on average, 100 new bike racks a month. Other day labor centers, such as the ones in Van Nuys and downtown, are also scheduled to receive new bike racks.
Bike rack installer extraordinaire Richard Prince showed up early at 9:00 to prime the site for the new racks. More and more reporters and onlookers filtered in, leading up to the installation at 9:30. While waiting, LADOT Bike Blog got to spend some time with Allison Mannos, program coordinator for Ciudad de Luces, and Jose Veliz, a long-time organizer at CARECEN. It was the tireless efforts of Allison and Jose that allowed the installation to take place, and LADOT Bike Blog would like to extend our deepest thanks to them.
Interview With CM Reyes
A lion’s share of the credit for this installation also goes to Council Member Ed Reyes and his staff. The council member for District 1 has been a staunch supporter and ally of the bicycling community and has constantly fought to provide needed improvements and infrastructure. LADOT Bike Blog had the honor of speaking with CM Reyes during the installation festivities.
LADOT Bike Blog:
Can you tell us a little bit about your office’s involvement with the bike community?
Our office has been involved in the bike movement for quite some time now. What you see here are different elements unfolding as Los Angeles begins to shift in its culture: How the city addresses bikes and the whole movement of bikes as a viable option for transportation.
LADOT Bike Blog:
How does this translate into the work the City does?
From a big-picture point of view, we’ve been trying to get the culture of our departments and our bureaucracy to start shifting away from car dependency and shifting towards the bicycle as a real option. But what does that really mean? That means that, physically, we have to establish conveniences [for the bicycle]. We need to shift our policies and resources to make it convenient to have a bike. Right now, it’s very inconvenient, and even dangerous in some places, to ride a bicycle. So a big part of this is how we change the structural environment so it becomes automatic that people will think “I can take my bike and not worry about getting hit by a car and not worry about where I can keep it safe and have facilities at my destination”. A lot of other cities have done that and we’re in denial right now.
LADOT Bike Blog:
How does that policy outlook translate into the bike racks being installed today at CARECEN?
CARECEN is an amazing organization. They started as a response to the civil disturbances in Central America, and have really helped immigrants as they moved into this neighborhood. Many of these workers are living at a subsistence level, so the bicycle is a very real option in terms of their survival. Many of them ride for miles and miles to come here to look for a job. Having a bicycle can allow them to save money to help pay for rent or food or utilities; it allows them to survive. So what have we, as a city, done to support the infrastructure they need? Very little. But working with the LACBC and county and the great people involved in this program, we’re demonstrating our ability to create the physical adjustments necessary for people’s survival.
LADOT Bike Blog:
What other kinds of projects do you envision for the Westlake neighborhood?
I’d love to see us create bike boulevards and safe passages for bicyclists along the major thoroughfares in our community. We need to involve the county and state and federal government so we can get greater levels of funding to transform our streets and sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists. We need to work with our Transit Oriented Developments to provide adequate facilities for bicyclists. Each station should have showers and lockers for bicyclists and there should be rental stations or bike share programs for people who can’t keep a bike at home. There are so many planning or policy or physical changes that could occur if the political will were there to make them happen. But I think there is a change going on. A will is being felt, especially with our younger generations, for these changes.
LADOT Bike Blog:
Thank you so much, Council Member Reyes. Do you have anything else to add?
I’m just glad we’re here. I want to thank the LACBC and LADOT for making this project happen. We’re beginning to see a shift in LADOT, but I’ll believe it when we see more funding for the department to add more personnel for bikes.
With the interviews out of the way, everything was set for rack installation. Richard Prince first drilled holes in the pavement for the new racks, followed by hammering in bolts to secure the racks to the pavement. CM Reyes and Allison Mannos also got into the act of securing these new bike racks for the CARECEN center.
More Racks to Come
This installation of new racks at the CARECEN center is only the beginning. The LADOT Bike Program is committed to installing many more racks in the coming months. Even better, LADOT Bike Blog will soon provide a google map of all newly installed bike racks in the coming weeks. Hopefully, this will expand to a map of all installed bicycle racks as the LADOT Bike Program completes its inventory of the 4,000+ existing racks in the City. More information on how you can get bike parking in your neighborhood, and an opportunity to help us inventory the City’s existing racks, will be forthcoming over the new few weeks.
For now, our hats are off to Ciudad de Luces, the LACBC, CARECEN, and Council Member Ed Reyes. Thank you for helping the LADOT Bike Program get racks installed for some of the Angelenos who need them the most.