Adaptive Reuse: Parking Meters to Bike Racks

I'm in the midst of preparing some posts about the Expanding Vision of Sustainable Mobility summit hosted this week by the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. In doing so, I'm semi-procrastinating by skimming long-ago bookmarked blog entries and websites I set aside for reference in my master's project exploring the possibility of a transit revolution in the Los Angeles area. This might be a bit late, but I was impressed by this January post  from StreetsBlog LA about the Los Angeles Department of Transportation's (LADOT) plans to convert old parking meters to bike racks.

Some readers may know I'm working on a magazine-length news feature exploring the opportunities to change transit behaviors, policies and infrastructure in Los Angeles given the constraints of current resources,  technology and politics. I'm most interested in what steps can be taken to permanently change how people move about the region. One thing I'm learning and hearing from others is that a crucial reaction to our economic and environmental crises is to effectively reuse, redeploy and repurpose the infrastructure and materials we already have available to us.

Although the piece is already drafted and I’m just putting some finishing touches on a rewrite,  it seemed the Pasadena conference would be a tremendous opportunity to either augment my reporting or begin thinking about further stories on the topic.

Overall, the energy and motivation at the conference was inspiring. Yet, I was struck that the visions at the conference were not largely expansive. Perhaps it’s because Art Center’s industrial design programs feed the automotive industry, but there really seemed to be a focus on redesigning the automobile, rather than transportation infrastructure as a whole.

This effort by LADOT is a great example of simple creative thought. When it begins, it could be a model for how institutions can participate in adaptive reuse and the department is worthy of at least a brief note of recognition for this project.