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Pasadena Plans Union Street 2-Way Protected Bikeway, Meeting Tonight

1:26 PM PDT on August 16, 2016

Before/after images of Pasadena's planned Union Street two-way protected bikeway. Images via Pasadena DOT
Before/after images of Pasadena's planned Union Street two-way protected bikeway. Images via Pasadena DOT

The city of Pasadena is hosting two meetings today to present and discuss plans for a two-way protected bikeway, or cycle track, on Union Street. The planned protected bikeway would extend 1.5 miles from Arroyo Parkway to Hill Street. Streetsblog L.A. attended the first meeting which took place this morning. The second meeting takes place tonight from 5 to 6 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church's Gamble Lounge at 585 E. Colorado Boulevard.

For background on the project, listen to last week's BikeSGV interview on the DamienTalksSGV podcast.

Union Street is a westbound one-way street that parallels Colorado Boulevard (Pasadena's main drag) a block north. Union Street and Green Street, a block south of Colorado, form a one-way couplet. Both Union and Green have been engineered to maximize automobile through traffic, resulting in excessive speeds and a general lack of character.

The roughly $6 million project would include new signalized intersections, including bike signal phasing, and new raised-curb medians. The city has a $2.7 million grant from the Metro Call for Projects. Pasadena is seeking an additional $3 million, likely from the state Active Transportation Program. Roughly half of the funding would go to traffic signal costs, including bicycle signals, some of which face backwards in relation to existing westbound car and bike traffic.

Union Street's configuration varies somewhat, but is three westbound lanes throughout. Toward the west end of the planned bikeway there are just the three westbound travel lanes, with no parking. Toward the east end, there are three travel lanes and on-street parking on both sides of the street. The protected bikeway project would reduce travel lanes from three to two, and add a parking-protected two-way bike lane on the south side of the street. 

Before/after images of Pasadena's planned Union Street parking-protected bikeway. Images via Pasadena DOT
Before/after images of Pasadena's planned Union Street parking-protected bikeway. Images via Pasadena DOT

At this morning's meeting, city of Pasadena Department of Transportation's Rich Diluvio presented traffic volume studies showing that two lanes are projected to be more than enough to handle existing traffic volumes.

The meeting was attended by a handful of vocal critics of the project, some of whom identified themselves as business owners in the project area. Some critics appeared to adhere to the outdated notion that cars equal customers. One critic described the planned bikeway as "a total nightmare" and went on to suggest that bike facilities should not be built because "bicyclists do not adhere to stop signs." Another critic expressed frustration that, according to a parking lot manager, Union Street already sees a car vs. car "accident" every week.

The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition's Colin Bogart expressed support for the project, stressing that bicyclists are customers who shop and dine in Pasadena. Bogart pointed out the double standard in not supporting bicycle facilities because many bicyclists break laws, as many drivers also break laws and this has not resulted in a lack of support for expanding driving facilities.

The city's project schedule for the project is surprisingly slow, with the city targeting opening the protected bikeway in 2022. This fall, the project would seek approval from the Pasadena City Council. Environmental clearance, expected to be a Mitigated Negative Declaration, would extend from April 2017 to April 2018. Design and Engineering would take until August 2018. Three years later, in early 2021, the project would go to bid. Construction is expected to start in June 2021.

Streetsblog L.A.'s San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

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