Cyclists Cry Foul, Question City Manager’s Involvement in Rose Bowl Loop Safety Actions

Published : Tuesday, March 26, 2019 | 5:28 PM

Peloton cyclists Mark Rich (left) and Lon Bender (middle) addressed Pasadena City Council on Monday, March 25, 2019. Pictured at right is the exact moment a Rose Bowl recreation loop peloton bicyclist struck a safety cone, resulting in a fall which reportedly broke his arm in two places and cracked several ribs.

The plan for reordering Rose Bowl recreation loop traffic to enhance safety may be in place, but the debate still simmers as “peloton” cyclists blamed the new configuration for an accident endured by one of their number and questioned the City Manager’s impartiality.

Their critique came during the public comments period of Monday’s Pasadena City Council meeting, one week after a Rose Bowl loop peloton rider rode over the base of a safety cone and was pitched to the asphalt, suffering injuries.

Cones slow down the tightly packed group ride dramatically at the corner of Seco Street and Rosemont Avenue, funneling the bikers into a column through the right-hand turn lane, a move which can be difficult when there are tens of cyclists in a group.

Longtime peloton cyclist Lon Bender specifically criticized City Manager Steve Mermell’s decision regarding the placement of plastic traffic cones and delineators, which Bender said were originally placed safely at the southwest corner of Rosemont and Seco the first week of the cycling season.

However, said Bender, during the second week of the cycling season, on March 19, the cones were in a different configuration and “were not set up in a safe manner.”

Bender, by his own account, is an unofficial spokesman for the loosely affiliated group that meets for the weekly loop ride.

On the cyclists’ second lap that evening, he said, a rider hit a cone placed in the middle of the lane, lost control and was thrown from his bicycle. He suffered an arm broken in two places and cracked ribs.

“This was caused by the new setup of the delineators, which were set up more aggressively the second week,” said Bender, who added, “I asked Mr. Mermell to move the cones to a safer location, but he said he could not do so, because they were placed there by an engineer, and only an engineer could move them.”

Bender said he and many members of the peloton group believe Mermell wants to eliminate the peloton cycling in the Rose Bowl loop altogether.

“I’d like to raise the question,” said Bender, “whether the City Manager should hand over the oversight of peloton management to someone who is not so personally invested in the outcome of stopping the ride.”

The City of Pasadena responded to Bender’s remarks through spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.

The rearrangement of the delineators, “minor modifications,” was done by transportation staff “based on real-world scenarios,” said Derderian. “They were not ‘aggressive.’”

Derderian confirmed that some riders expressed concerns about the cones being “a bit tight.” The City Manager, she said, “empowers his staff, in this case, transportation engineers, to rely on their expertise.”

As to the charge Mermell is personally invested in the peloton’s demise, Derderian responded: “We appreciate the opinions of the peloton riders. Staff’s actions are driven solely out of concern for the safety of the many users of the Rose Bowl loop.”

The safety of the entire variety of recreational loop users has been a recurring theme of the City’s efforts.

Standing at the corner of Rosemont Ave. and Seco St. earlier this month, Mermell told Pasadena Now Community Editor Eddie Rivera “one of the issues here is the confluence of uses. Down here at the Rose Bowl, thousands of people come here to recreate. We want it to be a safe and inviting environment for everybody. And we shouldn’t have any one particular activity that displaces other users.”