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Eyes on the Street: Slow Streets in South Pasadena

The city has a sampler platter of quick-build temporary traffic calming installations to experience for the rest of the year

A Slow Streets installation at Oak Street and Milan Avenue, facing east, in South Pasadena. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

South Pasadenans have until the winter to enjoy the first phase of some temporary Slow Streets installations along Oak Street in the east and Grand Avenue in the west. These include high-visibility crosswalks, curb extensions, and bike lanes - all to reduce speeding and reckless driving - plus a few Slow Street signs to spell it out for some motorists.

Residents nominated Oak, Grand, and Hermosa Avenue for the Slow Streets demos to South Pasadena’s Mobility and Transportation Infrastructure Commission, and the project is one of 5 sets of demos funded by Metro’s Cycle 4 grant of the Open Streets Program. Others have been implemented this year in Baldwin Park, Montebello, El Monte, and Glendora. The project was submitted to Metro by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the mobility non-profit ActiveSGV

Why only a temporary installation for now? ActiveSGV’s Special Programs Director Wes Reutimann tells SBLA it’s about giving people something hands-on, rather than just a rendering to consider. 

“When something has been a certain way for decades, it can be very difficult for someone to envision a different design, or how street users would react to it.” says Reutimann. “Long-term demonstration projects are great at sparking a conversation within a community -- more so than a series of public meetings -- and providing people with enough time to not only react but respond to the change. By using temporary materials the South Pasadena Slow Streets program is a cost-effective manner of showcasing design options before making more permanent decisions." 

The project area for South Pasadena's Slow Streets installations on Oak Street.
The project area for South Pasadena's Slow Streets installations on Grand Avenue and Hermosa Avenue.

The project areas are along Oak (east/west) from Meridian Avenue to Garfield Avenue, Grand (north/south) from Mission Street to Columbia Street, and the east-to-north curve of Hermosa from Grand to Columbia.  

South Pasadena's Slow Streets installation on Fremont Avenue and Oak Street, featuring four curb extensions. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

On Oak, there are three intersections demoing a mix of traffic safety strategies endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration. Starting in the west, Oak and Fremont Avenue is the simplest arrangement. Curb extensions with temporary bollards flank the signalized intersection and narrow the amount of time pedestrians spend in high visibility crosswalks.

South Pasadena's Slow Streets installation at Oak Street and Marengo Avenue, including curb extensions, and high visibility crosswalks with one set of flashers, pictured below. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
The in-pavement flashers mentioned above. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

Moving east, past busy Fair Oaks Avenue, the corner of Oak and Marengo Avenue has a bit more going for it (though this is a residential four-way stop). An existing bike lane on Marengo has had green conflict-striping added through the middle of the intersection, and the high visibility crosswalk on the eastern side of Oak here has a crossing button and pedestrian flashers. Also, there are curb extensions here too. This feels like the most thoughtful addition of the bunch, considering it’s near South Pasadena Middle School and Garfield Park.

A temporary median installed on Milan Avenue in South Pasadena. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

Rounding out the Oak installations, the nexus of Oak and Milan Avenue has temporary bollards placed in the middle of Oak approaching both sides of the intersection. This median area narrows the travel lanes, slowing drivers slightly, and hopefully preventing sideswiping from sloppy turns. It also provides a refuge area for pedestrians crossing the street.

A temporary bike lane installed on South Pasadena's Grand Avenue. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
Temporary curb extensions installed on the corner of Grand Avenue and Hermosa Avenue in South Pasadena. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
More temporary curb extensions on Hermosa Avenue in South Pasadena. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
A cyclist rides onto the temporary uphill bike lane on Hermosa Avenue in South Pasadena. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
The temporary uphill only bike lane on Hermosa Avenue in South Pasadena offers scenic views. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

On the city’s northwest side, the intersection of Hermosa and Grand has, you guessed it, curb extensions. But enough about those; Grand features bike lanes running on both sides of 0.6 miles from Mission to Columbia. The curving Hermosa also features a short uphill-only bike lane running from Hillside Road to Columbia. 

Though these demonstrations will remain in place into early 2024, residents should have until late October 2023 to fill out a response survey, according to Reutimann.

Streetsblog’s San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the 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.”Sign-up for our SGV Connect Newsletter, coming to your inbox on Fridays!

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