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City plan would expand bicycling options for Pasadena residents

The Pasadena Star-News: City plan would expand bicycling options for Pasadena residents

By Dan Abendschein Staff Writer
Posted: 02/15/2010 12:22:12 PM PST

PASADENA - A plan to make Pasadena more bicycle-friendly by building 16 new miles of bike lanes, a new biking path, "emphasized bikeways" and other improvements is set to go to residents next week.

It would add 16.3 miles of new bike lanes to 18.6 miles of existing lanes that run along the sides of several major roads - nearly doubling current bike lanes by adding long stretches to Union Street, Arroyo Boulevard, Sierra Madre Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue.

"We're very supportive of the plan," said Joe Linton, an advocate for C.I.C.L.E., a county biking advocacy group. "It is going to really improve the city for cyclists."

The plan, which has an estimated implementation cost of $6.2 million to $7.9 million, also calls for a 2-mile bike path along the Eaton Wash in the eastern part of the city. It would go from the Eaton Canyon Natural Area south along a concrete river channel that is now off limits to people.

More bicycle parking, new bike lockers, directional signs for bicyclists and 18.5 miles of marked bike routes are also included in the bike plan, which took about a year to develop and is expected to be unveiled at a public hearing Feb. 23.

City officials hope to see a final plan approved by the City Council by this summer. There is not yet a schedule for implementation.

Councilman and avid bicyclist Steve Haderlein, who has been following the planning process, said he expects one part of the plan calling for limiting vehicle traffic by erecting traffic diversion barriers on 11.1 miles of small neighborhood streets could meet with opposition.

The barriers would block cars from entering the streets at most intersections, but would let bikes pass through. Local drivers would be able to access the streets, but it would be impossible to drive for more than a half-mile without running into a barrier, which would eliminate through-traffic.

That would make the streets what planners call "emphasized bikeways," where low car traffic makes it easier for bikes to use the streets.

The city's plan calls for an east-west bikeway on Mountain Street, between Marengo Avenue and Sierra Bonita Avenue. It also proposes north-south bikeways on Marengo, Sierra Bonita, El Molino, Wilson Avenue and Craig Avenue.

While there could be some community resistance to limiting car traffic in those areas, Haderlein said he believes it's a good idea.

"It's not too radical for me... The more bike-friendly we make the plan, the better," he said, noting that attitudes toward bicyclists have changed since he was first elected in 1999.

"I remember at the time the idea of bike lanes was viewed as being way out there," said Haderlein. "In 10 years, who knows what people might think is normal?"

There could be changes to the plan in a final draft, and Linton hopes the city considers even stronger measures, like putting bike lanes along Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena and other heavy commercial areas.

He cited a city survey of 1,138 bikers that showed that, after recreation and exercise, doing chores is the most popular use for the bike in the city, with more respondents using their bikes for that than to commute to work.

Pasadena should also consider imitating Long Beach, which has designated traffic lanes where cars must yield to bikes, he said.

"In comparison, it is a pretty mild plan," said Linton.