Locking bikes to LA parking meters is illegal but that might change

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The city of Los Angeles could make it easier to park a bike in Westwood by allowing riders to lock them to parking meters, something that is now illegal.

Although seldom enforced, the city law prohibiting the lockups on meters does have reasons behind it, according to Peer Ghent, who administers parking programs with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

"Bicycles get just attached randomly and stacked up against the meter and cause generally an unsightly and chaotic setup on the street," Ghent said.

Bikes could also block the collection of fees from the meters, though that is less of a problem now that they have been converted to accept credit cards.

Westwood Village, a prime biking area, sees thousands of students and UCLA employees cycling through the neighborhood to campus every day. However, the commercial district adjacent to the university only has about 65 legal bike stand spaces.

The shortage of bike parking spots leaves some cyclists with few options so they latch their bikes to parking meters, as UCLA student Ben Kim regularly does. 

"Sometimes when I need it and I can't find a bike rack, I just put it there," he said. He expressed surprise when told the practice is illegal.

Now the city is weighing a plan to install small, circular hitches onto 150 parking meters in Westwood, which would make securing a bike both easier and legal.

 The Los Angeles City Council's Transportation Committee passed a motion last week to move the idea forward. If approved by the full council, the program could be expanded to parking meters on other streets under Mayor Eric Garcetti's Great Streets program, which aims to make travel easier for bicyclists and pedestrians.

 Caption: A bike hitch like this one on a parking meter in San Diego allows bicyclists to lock up their bikes.(Idiolector via Flickr)

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