The Unsung Story of How a Sidewalk Bike Rack is Born

This year, LADOT’s Sidewalk Bike Parking Program is turning 20! What better way to celebrate two decades of bike parking than by telling you the story of how this indispensable end-of-trip bike amenity in our City came to be.

Sidewalk Bike Parking 20th Birthday

Our beloved end-of-trip facility is leaving behind its teenage years!

Where It Started At

It all started in 1995, when our Senior Project Coordinator Michelle Mowery spearheaded our Department’s efforts to provide ample amounts of sidewalk bike parking in the City. Initially, the Sidewalk Bike Parking Program was introduced as a “pilot” and was made possible by funds from a Metro Call for Projects grant. During its pilot phase, the Program purchased and installed approximately 1,700 inverted-U bike racks citywide. This momentous investment marked the beginning of the Department’s growing endeavors to encourage and facilitate active transportation in the City. Two years later, in 1997, the L.A. region began experimenting with the first generation of bike racks on buses, as a way to provide greater multi-modal connectivity to people traveling throughout the region.

Since its origin, the Sidewalk Bike Parking Program has relied heavily on the work and dedication of graduate students, including Ben Ortiz, Jose Elias, Kathleen King, Austin Sos, Jose Tchopourian, and others, working part-time at the LADOT Bike Program. Over the years, these bike parking mavens have nurtured hundreds of requests for bike parking, from being a data entry stored in a server to being a bike rack on the sidewalk.

This Is How We Do It

Our Sidewalk Bike Parking Program installs inverted-U bike racks at the request of business owners or any other member of the public, which definitely includes you. Each rack is 36″ tall, 24″ wide and can hold up to two bikes. The rack is designed to provide great support for bicycles, allowing the person parking the bike to lock both wheels and the bike frame to the inverted-U bike rack without worrying about the bike falling over. The City of Los Angeles assumes responsibility for the rack but not for bikes parked on it.  Although there is no fee to request a bike rack and installation is free, all racks are City property.

Bike parking installed through the Program can only be placed in the public right-of-way (primarily sidewalks) within the City of Los Angeles. Racks are situated on sidewalks to avoid conflicts with people walking or rolling and people exiting or entering parked motor vehicles or buses. You will find that racks are usually parallel but sometimes perpendicular to the curb and not directly next to building entrances and crosswalks.

Our City’s sidewalk bike parking has been turning heads since 1995.

Won’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Two decades have passed since some of the first sidewalk bike racks were introduced in LA and now we have over 6,000 bike racks on the ground. Much of our public right-of-way has been accessorized with bike parking, allowing Angelenos to ride and park their bikes at locations convenient to shopping, dining, playing, and most other spontaneous activities you can think of. The Sidewalk Bike Parking Program aims to provide highly visible and convenient short-term bike parking near office buildings and retail destinations near public sidewalks.

Now that you know where all the sidewalk bike parking in our City comes from, it’s your turn to tell us where people in your community want bike parking. To request a bike rack, complete an online Bicycle Parking Request Form. To determine if a location you would love to have bike parking qualifies for one of our program’s bike racks, please review our bicycle rack location criteria here. You can email bike rack coordinator extraordinaire Jose Tchopourian, if you have additional questions or notice a rack has become loose or damaged.

Today, our Department’s Sidewalk Bike Parking Program keeps expanding into new places within the City and upgrading inadequate parking equipment along the way. The Program could not be successful without your requests and feedback. Thank you! Now, walk, ride, or roll to your favorite destination near a sidewalk bike rack to celebrate.

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  1. […] Bike Blog celebrates the 20th anniversary of the city’s successful sidewalk bike rack program; you can request a bike rack at your favorite location by filling out this form. I’m requesting […]

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