Business Owner, Bike Advocates Disagree on York Lanes

Galco's Old World Grocery owner John Neese has stirred debate with his comments about York Boulevard's bike lanes.

Are new York Boulevard's bike lanes bad for business? That's the contention of Galco's Old World Grocery Owner John Nese, who told the Boulevard Sentinnel last week that "bike lanes are nice, but they're not good for business. You're not going to see anyone buying a boxes of soda pop or anything sizable on a bicycle."

The comments prompted a lengthy response from the pedestrian/cyclist-centric bloggers at Walk Eagle Rock, who took issue Nese's contention.

From Galco’s and Bike Lanes

... how can one evaluate the effects of a bike lane within mere days of its installation?

Also, Nese neglects to mention that the public requested bike racks at Galco’s and that he personally rejected the installation of free bike racks by the city. That’s right, someone requested bike racks in front of Galco’s– presumably because they shop there and arrive by bicycle.

Sure, most cyclists may not purchase “cases of soda pop”, but why does one have to buy only in bulk? A person arriving by bike (or foot, or transit) can easily pop in and buy a couple sodas and some candy, I know I have personally done this on a number of occasions.

Nese wasn't done commenting on bike lanes, though. In a post published on Galco's web-site, Nese wrote that he was not only dubious of the positive business impact of the bike lanes, he also considered them a safety risk.

From Safety on York Boulevard

... my overall issue with bikes is about safety.

I know there are safer routes for bikes, residential streets without the traffic we have on York.  I wish that officials would have put the bike lane up one street away from York, say on Meridian, a street that connects four schools – Occidental, Aladma, Yorkdale and Luther Burbank. Right now it’s labeled a Bike Route. Why couldn’t that have been a bike lane?


I worry that cyclists will think that bike lane line means that they are magically safe from two-ton cars that swish by at top speeds. I also can’t tell you the number of times I see cyclists riding without helmets or not adhering to simple laws of the road – like stopping for stop lights, signaling when they want to turn. For every biker with a helmet, I see 7 others without lights, reflectors or helmets.

Walk Eagle Rock responded to Nese's commentary with a two-part blog-post, which offers a paragraph-by-paragraph critique. You can read it in full, here.

In the post's closing comments, the authors accuse Nese of embellishing information about cyclists to support the "biases he has against cyclists."

"Based on his article, we feel he is using the argument of safety to justify anti-bike measures and biases he has against cyclists. As our analysis of his article shows, he repeatedly makes generalizations about cyclists based on his personal experience as a means to argue against bicycle infrastructure."

Patch Asks: What do you think of Nese's comments? Are bike lanes on York Boulevard unsafe and bad for business? Or do you agree with the responses offered by Walk Eagle Rock?

ManSky October 16, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Correction: while in some cities in LA County it is illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, it is not illegal in the City of LA.
David Fonseca (Editor) October 16, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Here's the law: "Sidewalk Riding (LAMC 56.15) Prohibits the riding of bicycles (or other human power devices) on sidewalks (bikeways or boardwalks) with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Disallows the riding of bicycles on Ocean Front Walk in Venice." It is lawful to ride on the sidewalk, just not with a "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property."
Baird Martin October 16, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I don't think that Galco's problem are the bike lines. As my 6 year old once said when we walked in to the store, "daddy, why does it smell so bad in here?" EXACTLY! Galcos is a dump, smells like the 1940s and probably is still selling inventory from back then. Other than the old farts that go there to buy lotto tickets, do we really need a place that smells like an old gym and sells high sugar and fructose drinks to people that are already a little on the heavy side?
Riley October 16, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Good to know the letter of the law. Thanks. I should know better than to simply parrot what's previously posted!
David Fonseca (Editor) October 16, 2012 at 09:26 PM
I wasn't aware of the law either, Riley. However, I HATE riding my bike on the sidewalk and avoid it all costs, anyway. It's just annoying.
HLP Frenchy October 16, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Oh my god Baird, that's exactly how I see Galco's. I live so close to it but one time was enough...I can't believe the place actually sells "fresh" sandwiches..
Nimby pimp October 16, 2012 at 11:00 PM
The place works better on Huell Howser's show than in person. I made the mistake of eating a sandwich there once. Gruesome.
carol van beek October 16, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I agree, it's no better now that the construction is finished. I started avoiding York and Fig. during that time and I still am. By the way, Tom Topping, of Blvd. Sentinel, did a count on Fig.. During the time he did the count, 10 bikes passed and something like 620 cars. That's more than a 60 to 1 ratio. The bike lanes don't make any sense to me. Also, I've never seen a bicyclist stop at a stop sign and only 1 time have I seen one use a hand signal. That's a problem.
Cerro Gordo October 17, 2012 at 01:15 AM
But where will I park my bike when I feel like massively overpaying for soda? (Seriously, my brother in law once bought a case of Mexican Coke from Galco's for 50 bucks! 50 BUCKS! He could have walked a couple blocks down the street and bought the exact same thing from El Super for less than half that.)
El Cid October 17, 2012 at 05:14 AM
It's so refreshing to see bicyclists! Slowing down traffic on the boulevard has made me much more aware of the local businesses. The boulevard use to be more of an expressway connecting travelers from South Pasadena to the 2 freeway. Now many of these commuters are stopping by and checking out local businesses. It's a small town feeling! And, I welcome it!
Jason October 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM
"Slowing down traffic on the boulevard has made me much more aware of the local businesses." Which business have you become more aware of recently because of "slowed-down" traffic?" "Now many of these commuters are stopping by and checking out local businesses." You're basing this statement on what, exactly? If you read the study that Richard posted, the author's conclusion was that there was little evidence that the bike lanes had affected businesses one way or the other.
The MOG October 17, 2012 at 01:26 PM
ALL, Highland Park: re: @Baird(LOL), Nimby Pimp,& HLP, Do you see why I tried to keep some of these peeps off the HHPNC? (Frenchy, that's HHPNC, NOT HHLPNC) They so casually refer to Galco's as selling barfable food, smelling like gym socks,& it's customers as old farts. This is my 2 cents: If you light in the loafer types, who'd rather swallow wheat grass by the bucketfull, than sip good old fashion American Soda Pop, do not like our people, or it's institutions, than for the sake of decency get the H back to wherever the H you came from! Truth is you'd rather live on the West Side, but your weak cash flow position won't allow it. These are the people who want to transform York Blvd., er I mean "newYork", into The Tour Duh France, on their way to & from Silver Lake & Pasadena, in their tight fitting girly man spandex, wearing those useless brain buckets they call helmets! LOL They get into so many accidents because a) they're going way to fast b) they insist fighting for right away w/ automobiles. They aren't out on shopping trips! They're indulging a hobby. They're also indulging a fantasy, because this is Los Angeles. Where people are married to their cars, not bikes. One more thing, better to be a little on the heavy side, than to look like a malnurished metero-sexual, Q Eye For The Straight Guy Reject! Eat some damn meat once in awhile, you'll feel better. These jokers really get on my last nerve!& stop refering to our neighborhood as a "burg." This isn't the East Coast!
mark October 17, 2012 at 05:56 PM
How can somebody be concerned about other's health and safety when they sell soda. Have they heard of diabetes? Sadly I'm not a bike rider but still I recognize it is actually a very healthy activity, that might just counter the effects of drinking soda and eating one of those sandwiches.
scox October 17, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I bought a box of soda and some beers at Galco's last week (on my bicycle), but he's right--he shouldn't expect any cyclists arriving to buy anything anymore now that we know about this.
Chica October 17, 2012 at 09:10 PM
What's better for our environment and humanity; riding a bike as transportation or drinking Casas of soda?
John Huan Vu October 18, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I love Galco's, but if Neese is really concerned for the safety of bike riders, shouldn't he be advocating for more bike lanes and urging motorists to be more mindful?
John Huan Vu October 18, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Maybe, but it's all about the great beer and soda selections, not the sandwiches.
John Huan Vu October 18, 2012 at 02:31 AM
I don't notice York being any worse when I drive there. I think it's actually smoother now that there's center lane for left turns.
Hooper Humperdink October 18, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Jason, have you ever found Schodorff's Luncheonette in a car?! I missed it the first three times I tried to find it until I happened to be riding by one day on a bike. There is stage behind Johnnies and behind the Verdugo Pet Store on 2nd Saturdays - two things I never heard about or knew about until I got off my bike and followed what sounded like the distant sound of live music.
Hooper Humperdink October 18, 2012 at 03:26 AM
After I read the Blvd Sentinel article last Tuesday, I rode by Galco's in my cargo bike and wish that I had followed through on the desire I had to walk in and buy multiple cases of whatever I could just to prove a point about bikes, commerce, and what is possible. Too bad I was mostly broke that day. It would have been an awesome picture in front of the place with my bike all loaded up. Who wants to do a money bomb at Galcos on our bikes? I am in for at least $100 worth of bevvies. I can carry other peoples stuff. I have some cargo bikes I can loan out. Let's do this!!!
Jason October 18, 2012 at 04:18 AM
"Jason, have you ever found Schodorff's Luncheonette in a car?!" Yes, actually. That's how I first noticed it.
Albert Mason October 18, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I have a hard time with bicycles, especially on the York Blvd. corridor. I avoid it like the plague. There are so many snobs moving in with an attitude. This is Los Angeles? Not Seattle or New York or China. If you want to ride your bike, go to the beach or the mountains there's plenty of room. I've yet to see one single rider stop for a red light or a stop sign. Just this morning at Avenue 40 and Eagle Rock Blvd. a man on a bike slowed down but never stopped for the red light he just kept going. Why do the rules only apply to car drivers and not cyclists? He wasn't wearing a helmet and didn't have reflectors or lights or anything related to safety on his bike. I constantly see angry, aggressive bike riders al over town yelling profanities and catching up to drivers at intersections because they feel that drivers are trying to hurt them. The truth is there is very little room out there for cars, much less for bicycles that we can barely see. It's either hit the person on the bike or hit the car next to us to avoid hitting the bikers. So, wear helmets, follow the rules of the road like the rest of us, stop verbally attacking car drivers on the road and value your life- get on the sidewalk, the LAW allows you to do it. Thanks
mark October 18, 2012 at 03:59 PM
OMG! I can only assume you are trying to get a rise out of all those bike riders out there. I don't ride a bike. I would like to, but don't have the time or necessary child seats. However bikes are not solely the product of gentrification. They have long been popular with Angelenos that don't have money to afford cars, gas, and insurance. So it's unfair to make it seem like it is just a luxury of the new York blvd. crowd or in any way un-Los Angeleno. Also in the morning people are not required to have lights on their bikes and nobody over 18 is required to wear a helmet. Odd that you are so into bicyclists following all the laws governing riding, but yet seem a bit ignorant in regards to these. Oh and yes, I hate agressive riders and those shouting profanities all over town. However I don't like the people who run around doing that in cars either. I suspect it's the same people doing this, regardless of what vehicle they are driving. Maybe you should try riding a bike around town. I bet if you did it for a week, you'd like it.
frank van neutra lautner October 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I have a hard time with motor vehicles, especially on the York Blvd. corridor. I avoid it like the plague. There are so many old cranks here with a bad attitude. This is Los Angeles, not Orange County. If you want to drive your car where there is plenty of room, perhaps try the 5, 10 or 405. I've yet to see one single driver make proper full stop and correctly yield right of way on a left turn at a red light or a stop sign. Just this morning at Avenue 57 and Monte Vista St. a huge tow truck from Palmer Tire/Universal Towing barely slowed down let alone make a full stop at the four way stop sign. The driver of the truck just kept going. Why do people think the rules only apply to cyclists and pedestrians and not motor vehicles? He wasn't wearing his seat belt, didn't have his lights on and he was texting on his cell phone.
frank van neutra lautner October 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I constantly see angry, aggressive drivers all over town yelling profanities and catching up to and passing cyclists just short of right turns then cutting them off at intersections because they feel that because they are encased in a ton of metal, plastic and rubber they are entitled and thus never need to slow down and exercise patience. The truth is there is very little room out there for any vehicles, especially behemoth SUV's, jacked up monster trucks, and utterly ugly and banal Toyotas and Hondas. It's either be a patience and decent member of society or a be a sociopath that thinks the only two real options is to hit the person on the bike or hit the car next to them. So, put down your phone, your book, breakfast, electric shaver or whatever other distraction follow the rules of the road like the rest of us, stop philosophically assaulting and intimating others have a right to be on the road and value everyone's life. Get a clue and get it programed through dense skull that you don't own or rule the roads or Highland Park.
frank van neutra lautner October 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
BTW, No, riding or driving on the sidewalk is NOT LEGAL in the state of California or in Los Angeles more specifically. Tax paying members of society AKA as cyclists have a right to use the road. Look it up and commit it to memory or be prepared to explain the law to the judge when your cited for reckless driving.
mark October 18, 2012 at 05:14 PM
http://www.bicyclela.org/Law.htm You can ride on the sidewalk. You can't wear headphone is both ears though. Who knew? Oh and what about these bicycle showers? Has anybody ever seen/used one of these?
frank van neutra lautner October 18, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I stand corrected. Thank you. Anyone's suggestion that cyclist should ride on the sidewalk or that it's safer is still nonetheless ludicrous. The bottom line is that bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicle drivers (CVC 21200).
Bob Bailey October 19, 2012 at 12:51 AM
No but they should make you guys have license to ride your bikes As long as the majority of you refuse to stop at red lights and stop signs you continue to be a danger to yourselves and those of us use the roads.
E.P. October 19, 2012 at 05:38 PM
hmmm, this is upsetting on many fronts. I too am a driver AND a cyclist, I questioned the move of making one direction a single lane to make space for a bike lane. I can't see how any study came to the conclusion that it wouldn't make a negative impact on vehicular congestion. I like to see the data. I was also upset to read Mr. Galco's statements and opinions on cyclists, i bike there and buy beers and soda, but lately a lot of my favorite corner stores and grocery stores have been stocking the same beers and a fraction of the cost. I respect a lot of Mr. Galco's stances politically, but to say 'no thanks' to a FREE bike rack from the city? that's a statement. I harbor some ill feelings towards ignorant cyclists, but they are fewer than the ignorant drivers. sounds like there maybe room for some friendly consumer competition in the soda department?


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