San Gabriel Valley Home to a Vibrant Cycling Scene, But Few Complete Streets

Located east of Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley is home to over 30 cities and 2 million persons.  A strong recreational cycling scene exists in the region, particularly in the northwest and foothill communities where large, long-standing group rides like the seasonal Rose Bowl ride have been a fixture for decades.

Green Sharrow Lanes are being considered for a section of Mission St. in the heart of South Pasadena’s bustling downtown.

Cycling infrastructure, however, remains scarce, varying widely from city to city.  A few communities like Pasadena have a history of bike planning and advocacy, but still have a long way to go when compared with cities like Long Beach; others such as Temple City have just developed their first Bike Master Plan and hope to tap into state/federal funding to realize more complete streets.  The majority, though, has neither invested in nor seriously considered infrastructure that promotes cycling as a viable form of alternative transportation.

Predictably, the result is that most streets in the west San Gabriel Valley – especially regionally significant arterials such as Huntington, Las Tunas/Main, Garvey, Valley, Rosemead, and Atlantic – are traversed on two wheels by only the most intrepid cyclists.  Often traffic-clogged and expressly designed for motorized traffic, too many of the streets that serve our area’s commercial districts are hostile to community members who might otherwise be open to using a bike to venture into town.

A perfect candidate for a road diet/cycletrack: 4 one-way lanes on Green St. adjacent to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Since these corridors cut across numerous cities, improving the situation regionally will be difficult.  A whole host of interests must be coordinated to create a cohesive network of bike infrastructure.  This daunting task is further complicated by the distinct politics of each community.

After coalescing in the Spring of 2010, the West San Gabriel Valley Bike Coalition approached the Cities of Monterey Park, San Gabriel, and Alhambra to pass resolutions for the first time officially declaring May as Bike Month.  While the resolutions were largely symbolic, that initial effort led to meetings with City officials regarding manners of improving bike/pedestrian mobility in these communities.

From right, Monterey Park City Council Members Anthony Wong, Mitchell Ing, David Lau, Teresa Real Sebastian, and Mayor Betty Tom Chu look on as WSGVBC founder Vincent Change addresses the Council for Bike Week. (courtesy Dave Barron)

Now an official chapter of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, the West San Gabriel Valley Bike Coalition seeks to bring Complete Streets to the western half of the region by focusing on the communities where our founding members stem from, including the cities of Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Arcadia, Rosemead, El Monte, Temple City, South Pasadena and Pasadena.  At present, our coalition consists of a small but growing cadre of cyclists and supporters of Complete Street policies.  Our members hail from all walks of life, levels of cycling experience and backgrounds.

If you live/ride in the west San Gabriel Valley, or would just like to support the WSGVBC’s efforts, please email us at wsgvbc at gmail.com or join our listserve (wsgvbc at googlegroups.com)

Local cyclists pose for a picture at the Cascades during the City of Monterey Park’s first Earth Day ride. (courtesy Dave Barron)
  • Bob Davis

    When my wife and I went to a late afternoon meeting at the Brookside Golf clubhouse (north of the Rose Bowl), we had to wait for a swarm (would the proper term be “peloton”?) of bicyclists to pass.  Two thoughts: 1) This is not “practical” or “utility” cycling. 2) What if someone in the middle of the pack has a mechanical failure or physical problem?  Does this mean a streetful of downed cyclists?

    Regarding the article: The terms “cadre” and “coalition” can be “loaded” words to some people.  “Cadre” was a term often used by various national Communist parties (it was also a brand of CB radio) and “coalition” brings to mind various unstable European governments
    in the 1950’s and 60’s.  (yes, I’m showing my age)

  • empanada

    How about some coverage of East San Gabriel Valley?  I think the situation here is even worse than West SGV because we don’t have the equivalent of a city like Pasadena who actually incorporate bicycles into their transportation planning.  I live in Charter Oak and would like to try cycling, but most of the streets here have high speed limits and I’m afraid of accidents.  I see people sometimes using the sidewalks here but I don’t know if the cops are in the habit of giving them citations.

  • Alice Strong

    I agree Bob, racing/athletic/cycling for sport certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Your musing over associations with “coalitions” made me smile. Apropos I suppose considering the sometimes daunting task advocacy groups face as they unify the different kinds of cyclists. Our goals include not only making the streets safer for our children as they bike to school but to also make sure that recreational cyclists have trails to ride and tracks/roads to race on.:)

  • C Keller

    Cycling in a situation such as the Rose Bowl is no more dangerous (and in fact less so) then a single rider on say Fair Oaks, Green, San Gabriel, Rosemead, etc. If you look at actual incidents, most are vehicle/cycle related. The rider in the group you saw are very good technically and situations are not frequent. The fact that they look closer together then a group of cars isn’t really an issue.

    Be sure the next time you see the peloton go by at the bowl to wave! (With your whole hand)

  • C Keller

    As a cyclist who does about 200 miles a week, I see no reason those that ride casually, to commute or for fitness or even racing should be differentiated. Do we differentiate drivers going to work, kid’s soccer, the gym or a car show? This is just another example of how cyclists are given some lover status. I see nothing about this in the vehicle code or elsewhere. I wonder just as much about a single SUV (with 1 occupant) blocking the lane for 40 cyclists because the SUV “deserves the road”? Shouldn’t the road go to those that use it most effectively?

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