I want to thank Stephen Box for getting bike racks in the new Hollywood Trader Joe’s store. His perseverance, his belief that wrongs have to be made right, and his commitment to make our neighborhoods safe and accessible for everybody paid off not only for cyclists but also for the Hollywood Community. And of course putting bike racks in paid off for Trader Joe’s as well, because me and my friends have been boycotting for weeks and honestly I’ve been missing shopping there.
When Stephen Box got involved with the Hollywood Vine project many years ago, we were excited about the possibilities in creating a bikeable and pedestrian friendly community. When the W Hotel was completed, reality sank in: the W Hotel and the entire Hollywood & Vine development was catering to motorists, not to the neighborhood and not to those who visit via bike or public transportation.
The biggest disappointment for me was though when the Hollywood & Vine Trader Joe’s opened without bike racks. I like to do my shopping on my bike and I love shopping at Trader Joe’s. I was really looking forward to this one in my neighborhood and since this Trader Joe’s was in a Transit Oriented Development, I thought that I will be able to ride my bike there, lock it up safely and do my shopping.
When a store doesn’t have any safe and proper bike parking, I can’t go into the store without worrying if my bike is going to be waiting for me outside or if it’s going to be stripped or stolen or busted. And when I shop and worry about my transportation, I have a bad shopping experience and then I just don’t want to go back to that store.
So a few weeks before TJ’s was about to open and Stephen and I found out that there was no actual bike parking plan, I sent out a twitter blast asking people to call Trader Joe’s and request the racks. Many of my friends called TJ’s, re-tweeted and facebooked my call to action and encouraged others to call in and to boycott Trader Joe’s until the bike racks were installed.
I also got on the phone with the main office in Pasadena, where I asked about bike racks and I left a message with the local manager Christy Hughes, offering to work with her on getting bike racks installed. I left messages several times (my calls were never returned), and I continued to post on facebook and twitter about the boycott for the next several weeks.
I can make lots of noise online and I can encourage others to make lots of noise however I’m not the person who can easily talk to the people who are in charge. Not because they are not available to talk to but mostly because I’m easily discouraged by the bull**it that these people feed me or the public. I’m easily put into submission when I don’t know the law or when people use excuses about their inability to do something. I just don’t have a good response or a good way of helping them help me.
This is where Stephen came in. He can talk to people, he knows the laws and the codes that pertain to the various issues that he works on, he is persistent and he doesn’t let anybody beat him into submission.
Stephen got on the phone and talked to everybody from operations, management, director of construction, to CRA, Legacy Partners, Eric Garcetti, and Metro, and Stephen followed up every other day and kept pushing until the wrong was made right. He visited the site every day, he took pictures and videos, he wrote about it and he talked to the people in charge face to face, in person.
And I want to publicly thank Stephen Box for that! I want to thank him for helping me and the Hollywood Community to be able to ride our bikes to Trader Joe’s, park our bikes safely, so we all can have a pleasant shopping experience. And I want to thank all my friends who called in and boycotted Trader Joe’s and made this change possible! And of course I’d like to thank Trader Joe’s for making the wrong right, and installing those bike racks, welcoming cyclists to their store!
My fridge is empty and so is my stomach so I’m getting the panniers onto my bike and I’m heading down to Hollywood Trader Joe’s at Vine. The boycott is over and I’m planning on cooking something delicious for my husband tonight.