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Santa Monica's Bike Center Rolls in New Era  

By Jason Islas
Lookout Staff

November 21, 2011 -- Santa Monicans got a guided tour of the nation's largest full-service bike center – and one last chance to weigh in on the Bike Action Plan – Saturday.

Partnering with Santa Monica Spoke, the local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bike Commission, Director of Special Projects Lucy Dyke and other city staff introduced a crowd of local bike enthusiasts to the brand new facility.

Bike enthusiasts get their first peek at the inside of members-only
section of the bike center at Fourth Street and Broadway Avenue.

Dyke also went over the latest version of the bike plan with the crowd for some last-minute comments before it goes in front of the council for final approval Tuesday.

“In order for the bike center to be successful, it has to be more than just bike parking,” Dyke said.

Bike parking is just the beginning of what the center offers.

In addition to more than 350 secure bike parking spaces, the center also has showers, lockers, bike rentals and tours, as well as a staffed repair center.

The bike center offers lockers, elevated bike
racks and showers for members 24 hours a day.

Most of the parking is members only, however, and behind secure doors where the bikes are monitored by cameras.

Membership runs between $15 and $50 a month depending on the package, but all members have 24-hour access to the secure parking rooms.

“It's a community hub for cycling,” said Josh Squire, founder of Bike & Park, the company that runs the center.

Despite providing more spaces than any bike center in the country, Squire cautioned that memberships might go fast.

Rental bikes all in a row outside the bike center
at Second Street and Colorado Avenue

“If you don't sign up this week, you might not get a spot,” he said.

The bike center is a harbinger of the dramatic changes that will be brought about by the Bike Action Plan.

The latest version of the plan – a 400-page compendium of statistics, goals, maps and ideas for the future of biking in Santa Monica – has been updated to reflect the comments made by the Planning Commission earlier this month, as well as the projects already funded by the City.

Ribbon-cutting at the bike center.
Photo by Frank Gruber

Dyke said that she would recommend that the council adopt the plan Tuesday with the commission's notes. They includes adding a cycle track around Santa Monica Airport to the 20-year plan, as well as giving greater priority to a bike share program and to working with Safe Routes to Schools.

One recommendation that did not come from the Commission received special attention from the crowd -- adding to the 20-year plan a better network of north-south and east-west bike paths, physically separate from the streets.

Several members insisted that there needs to be a route that runs through the middle of the city for cyclists who do not feel comfortable riding in the streets.

Dyke said that Saturday was an opportunity for staff to ask residents, “Is [the plan] good enough to go forward?”

The response was an enthusiastic yes.

It remains to be seen if the Council will agree.

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