Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Loop Re-Opens to Walking and Bicycling

Mayor Tornek: "if the social distancing doesn’t work, then we’re going to be back to ground zero on this.”

2008 photo by Damien Newton/Flickr. 2020 photo by Wes Reutimann
2008 photo by Damien Newton/Flickr. 2020 photo by Wes Reutimann

Nearly a dozen years after Pasadena piloted a “car-free Rose Bowl” event on a cool September evening, the city re-opens the Rose Bowl Loop and surrounding trails to bicyclists and pedestrians today. The city is calling the re-opening a “month long trial run” and comes days after L.A. County re-opened many of its trails and golf courses over the weekend.

While the Loop and surrounding trails are open, there are still distancing restrictions in place. In areas where people congregate, everyone is required to wear a face covering (although it can be removed when exercising and where there is adequate space.) Group activities are banned, in fact folks can still legally only interact with people with whom you are already sheltering in place.

To also control the crowds, only one parking lot, Lot I, is open. Pasadena plans to have staffers on site to enforce social distancing from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

No peloton or group rides at this moment in time, but the Loop has been a popular place for people to exercise in groups or by themselves for years. Photo: Damien Newton/Flickr
No peloton or group rides at this moment in time, but the Loop has been a popular place for people to exercise in groups or by themselves for years. 2008 photo by Damien Newton/Flickr

The opening of the Rose Bowl Loop follows a campaign by the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition which urged the City Council to act. At this Monday’s meeting, the Council heard a plan to re-open the route. The Council quickly approved the plan.

“Many cities across the state and the country have already rolled out similar, temporary programs. Now Pasadena has the opportunity to do so for our health and fitness heart, the Central Arroyo,” wrote the Coalition in a Change.Org petition.

The loop will seem familiar with anyone who has run a 5k or half-marathon around the Rose Bowl.
The loop will seem familiar with anyone who has run a 5k or half-marathon around the Rose Bowl. Pre-COVID-19 photo of author Damien Newton

While neighboring cities such as Glendale and even Los Angeles dither and delay Healthy Streets pilots, Pasadena was able to move quickly on the popular Rose Bowl project, in part because it already had well-tested operational plans to close the route to car traffic. The Rose Bowl Loop serves as a route for 5k runs throughout the year, and brings in thousands of runners for events such as the Pasadena Half Marathon and 5k.

In March, City Manager Steve Mermell closed the Loop to any pedestrian and bicycle activities (even on the sidewalk) after crowds seeking space outside didn’t adhere to distancing guidelines. However, as PCSC members and other residents asked for more space outside, the city began the process of re-opening. However, if the crowds return and the city feels the loop has become unsafe, the ciyy could change the program or even close it again.

“We’re all on board, and we know this is going to change over time,” Mayor Terry Tornek said to his colleagues at Monday’s Council Meeting as reported in the Star-News. “Not to be the bad guy on this, but if the social distancing doesn’t work, then we’re going to be back to ground zero on this.”

For more on the re-opening, visit Pasadena Now and KTLA 5.

Streetsblog L.A.’s coverage of the San Gabriel Valley 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. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

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