Pasadena Thinking of Taking a Car-Lane for Bikes and Peds. at Rose Bowl

7_27_09_pasadena3.jpgPasadena proposes turning the Rose Bowl Circle which currently has two car lanes into one that is friendlier for cyclists, pedestrians and people that want to be outside.

A couple of years ago, the City of Pasadena considered banning bicycles from what they’re now calling the "Rose Bowl Recreation Loop" because of the conflict being created between cyclists and car drivers.  At the time the city sided with the drivers citing their "commutes" as more important than the cyclists and pedestrians using the loop as a public space.  Pasadena’s plan was hotly debated, but eventually shelved.

What a difference two years make.  After last year’s hugely popular "Car Free Rose Bowl" event, attended by just about every planner and member of the Pasadena DOT on payroll, the city decided to take a second look at their plan and the change could barely be more drastic.  Pasadena is now proposing two plans that would increase access for cyclists and pedestrians in two different plans that will be presented at a community meeting tomorrow between 5 and
7:30 p.m. at the
Brookside Golf Club and Lot K.  For more information please call

For those of you unfamiliar with the Rose Bowl Circle, it’s a three-mile loop around the stadium that provides access to the parking lots and a handful of local roads.  The loop is popular with recreational and racing cyclists from around the region and beyond because of the well-maintained roads, flat area and scenic and easy-to-access location.  In addition, the area is also popular with residents who use the walkway for exercise or just to spend some time outside.

Let’s take a look at the three options outlined for Pasadena by their consultants at Crain & Associates.


The first option is to leave things as they are.  Pasadena is well aware that there are serious problems with the current plan, and lists them in the report available on the project website.

  • Pavement markings and signs specify one-way pedestrian flow, but are disregarded by many.
  • Four-foot striped buffer is intended to separate pedestrians from bicyclists. However, pedestrians use the buffer as additional walkway, and often encroach into the bicycle and vehicle lane.
7_27_09_pasadena2.jpgEnhanced Two-Way Walkway Proposal

However, they seem much happier with the other proposed alignments.  The second proposed alignment, entitled the "Enhanced Two-Way Walkway" alignment widens the pedestrian area at the expense of street parking.  Note the change in tone when the city’s presentation outlines the "features" of this proposal versus that of the "leave it alone" option.

  • Walkway is widened to 13 feet, allowing 2-way travel “Wrong Way” signs will be removed.
  • Walkway is on colored asphalt rather than a separate sidewalk, to allow motorist use during special events.
  • Flexible delineator posts separate pedestrians from bicyclists and vehicular traffic.
  • Some parking restrictions may apply.

While the "Enhanced Two-Way Walkway" proposal is a modest improvement, by far the most progressive proposal is the "Enhanced Walkway, with Bike Lane
and One-Way Vehicle Travel" pictured above.  This time the plan actually removes a car-travel lane for the benefit of all other road users. 

  • Wow – I remember going to those hearings in Pasadena City Hall. In fact, I’ve still got city council footage sitting on my hard drive of those meetings. There were a lot of pissed off bike riders, and it’s good to see that something productive is peeking its head out of what was initially a very one-sided and poorly thought out plan to prohibit cyclists from riding ’round the Rose Bowl.

    Hats off to those who worked hard to get things to this point. I like the widened pedestrian walkway and the removal of two-way car traffic. The real hazard at the Rose Bowl is the multi-ton vehicles blazing through the area – not people riding bikes and certainly not normal folks out for a healthy evening stroll.

  • angle

    I’m not actually familiar with the loop in question, but I’m wondering why motor vehicles would need two lanes in opposing directions, since even when traveling at a fairly low speed it would only take them a few minutes to “commute” around the entire loop.

  • As I recall the problem with bicycles cited by the council was collisions with pedestrians and not a conflict with automobiles. I ride and run the loop frequently and have never noticed a real problem with cars (except maybe when they try to park in the middle of the pedestrian zone). The real problem is that many of the pedestrians will walk right in front of bicycles or cars because they are not looking where they are going and they are not aware of their surroundings because they are using iPods. The so called “buffer zone” has just made this worse because many pedestrians just feel this is an extension of the pedestrian zone and many cyclists think it is a bike lane. None of the proposed solutions addresses this critical issue.

    If pedestrians are going to be allowed to walk in the same direction as vehicular traffic then there should be some sort of physical barrier between the pedestrians and vehicles so that pedestrians don’t walk out in front of bikes or cars. Simple “flexible delineator posts” won’t stop a walker with a stroller moving out into traffic to pass someone.

    Another possible solution is to paint a stripe down the center of the pedestrian zone and add indicators showing that the outside lane goes against vehicular traffic. People can then go with traffic if they want to but it would be on the inside lane away from bikes and cars. I have my doubts that people would follow this since people prefer the flatter asphalt on the outside, but it would be worth a try.

  • Spokker

    Bikes rule!!!

  • I think that the upgrades suggested by city staff address your concerns Paulie.

  • Spokker

    God I love bikes. It’s great when everybody comes together as one.

    When they blocked the intersection I really felt like LA was coming together to embrace cycling as a serious commuting option. I really wish the city just did away with signals altogether. Clearly they are not needed in LA Biking Utopia! Silly transportation planners.


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