With gas prices at more than $4 a gallon ($1 more than they were a year ago) and finding parking in Hermosa Beach a nightmare, the free bicycle parking service offered by the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce to visitors at the recent was hugely popular.
Just last year, at the 2010 Memorial Day weekend Fiesta, in a small alleyway space.
Then after the success of the larger, on-the-beach location during , bicyclists were counting on using it again for this year's Memorial Day weekend.
Staffed by volunteer crews from Hermosa Cyclery, Beach Cities Cycling Club and the South Bay Bicycle Coalition, the bike lot operated like a newly lubed chain from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Bikes were tagged and claim tickets issued to owners as they checked in and then self-parked their bicycles on the racks. Claim tickets were checked against the ticket attached to the bicycles as riders checked out.
I volunteered Sunday and Monday, and what a difference a day made. Sunday was cold and windy with sand whipping off the beach providing a free dermabrasion treatment for all of us brave enough to be standing in the windstorm.
But it didn't stop 1,200 bicycles from being parked that day. And bike riders were especially appreciative that so many volunteers were there to help them.
Monday was the quintessential spring beach day: calm, sunny, warm and a pleasure to be on the sand soaking up the vitamin D. Once again we successfully checked in and out more than 1,000 bicycles for more grateful Fiesta-goers.
I also spent time talking to bike riders about the new and the upcoming community workshops that will present the draft plan to the public for their first review and comments.
Support for adding the necessary bike lanes to interconnect the first seven cities of the South Bay—Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Torrance, Gardena and Lawndale—was universal. So was the idea that it should be safe, easy and friendlier to bicycle around the Beach Cities and the rest of the South Bay.
I was impressed with the wide age range of local people who parked their bikes with us. We had lots of kids riding their own bikes and even younger children in bike carriers and bike seats on bicycles pedaled by their parents or grandparents.
Teenagers, young adults, middle-aged, senior citizens—they all checked bikes of every variety in and out from the time the lot opened at 10 each morning until we closed the lot at six each evening.
This was a true representation of the typical South Bay bike riders and I was happy to be able to talk with so many of them.
You may think that the spandex-clad packs of riders who speed through our towns and blow by stop signs and red lights represent the average South Bay cyclist, because they get most of the media and police attention and motivate the majority of citizen complaints. But despite their high visibility they’re just the sore thumbs who stick out.
As the free Fiesta Hermosa bike parking lot keeps proving, the average bike rider here in the South Bay is a kid going to school or a family riding the Strand on the weekend, or a retired couple taking advantage of our great weather and the chance to leave the car in the garage while getting some exercise.
Many just want to be able to ride in our neighborhoods and throughout the South Bay safely and easily while sharing the road with our fellow neighbors who are driving their cars in a bike-friendly atmosphere. They’re thousands of people like you and me.