Letters | What You Dub a “Livable Orange Grove” is Not Livable for Anyone I Know

Published : Thursday, March 1, 2018 | 7:35 PM

I am writing about the proposed lane reduction on Orange Grove Blvd. what you dub a “Livable Orange Grove” is not livable for anyone I know.  I believe the lane reduction effects the whole city, not just people who live close to the street you are proposing to change. Pretty much everyone in Pasadena uses Orange Grove Blvd. , so they all should have a say. The city shouldn’t just be allowed to notify people within 500 feet of the affected area. If you polled all of your citizens, I don’t think you’d find many in favor. I encourage all Pasadena City Council People to conduct polling of their constituents like Rep. Adam Schiff does in his email blasts. I know that the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition shows up in force at every meeting, and some cycling activists, but a vocal minority should not be mistaken as support for a project. Some residents of Orange Grove might like a few less cars on their street, but Orange Grove Blvd. has been a major road my entire forty seven years here. Those choosing to live on it that want it to behave like a small residential street are akin to people moving next to the Hospital and getting exercised over the sound of Ambulance sirens. Speaking of the hospital, Orange Grove is a major route to the Huntington Hospital. It is even more so now that Cal Trans has temporarily closed the California off ramp (a move that I discovered some officials in this city want to be made permanent). The Orange Grove traffic diet combined with the off-ramp closure could easily slow traffic to the hospital to life threatening levels. How is the city going to handle wrongful death lawsuits in the event of patients not getting to the hospital on time? It is all connected. The reason the Department of transportation often gives for its traffic calming measures is that people in certain neighborhoods request it. I do believe everyone has the right to fight for [what] they want for their neighborhood. I believe everyone deserves a safe neighborhood. I also believe that everyone should recognize we are not just a collection of neighborhoods, we are an ever-growing city of 140,000 or so people and things in one neighborhood affect those in other neighborhoods. The needs of everyone should be balanced. The path chosen should be what is the fairest to the most people.

I believe the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers are equal. I do not believe putting bike lanes on major roads helps cyclists. Most cyclists I talk to and observe prefer to bike on less trafficked streets and feel lane reductions on major roads just leads to traffic on the smaller streets they prefer, endangering their safety even more. I know that if Orange Grove is congested, I will move to adjacent streets. In the age of Waze and Google Navigator, I will not be the only one. I believe that a piecemeal plan with a bike lane on one street or even one block (like Sierra Madre Villa) that does not connect to another bike lane doesn’t improve safety. We need a comprehensive plan for bike routes both east and west, north and south, across the whole city, on streets that are safer for cyclists. For pedestrians, we need to put sidewalks in where they are lacking (like on Altadena Drive between the 210 and Victory Park), repair existing sidewalks and add some handicapped ramps and crosswalks. For motorists, we need to grant them some streets where traffic flows rather than crawls. These things take time, effort and money, where a restriping gets us state funds instead you might reply. Well, a restriping may give the city a bit of money now, but the traffic nightmare will cost the city far more in the long run. A few years ago, Temple City refused funds to reconfigure Las Tunas. All three suggested traffic calming/beautification projects were refused as residents agreed any increase in beauty would be negated by the destruction of livability caused by the suggested projects’ ensuing road congestion. The city listened to the concerns of its residents and acted appropriately.

If you want to increase bike, pedestrian and automobile safety, then enforce existing traffic laws. Write more tickets for speeding, red lights running, Cellphone use, not signaling, etc. And do it for not just cars, but cyclists as well. While many cyclists stay to the right of the road, I hardly ever see any signaling or stopping at reds or stop signs. I’ve even seen cyclists texting. I know the project points to a study showing how state law prevents them from using the tool of reducing speed limits to make things safer. It appears there is now a bill to change this. From a Curbed LA article “State Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) wants to address that in a bill she has proposed that, if passed, would give cities more control over speed limits on their streets. ‘If you’ve got a street anywhere in the state that is demonstrably unsafe at the speed limits that are already set, it’s just unconscionable that we would raise them.’ Friedman’s bill would allow cities to take into account collision information when setting speed limits. Under her bill, if data indicated a certain street were particularly dangerous, a city could lower the speed limit.” Actions like these could actually help safety. Also, those flashing radar speed signs really help me to see when I’m going too fast. I always slow down when I approach them. There’s more things besides speeding to write tickets for — how about some more texting tickets? Much has been made of traffic deaths on Orange Grove. Two of those, a mother and child, were unfortunately due to the mother’s texting and not speeding. I’ve witnessed that people drive more slowly and generally more safely in the neighboring cities of Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, San Gabriel, Arcadia and San Marino. I believe this is because I constantly see people either getting tickets there or police cars waiting at dangerous road areas waiting to write tickets. Enforcement works, word gets out. Neighbors tell neighbors – don’t speed or text in San Marino, etc., I got a ticket. Let’s also keep thinking of other ways we can improve safety. Ask people what they think.

Also, don’t use the argument that if it’s harder to drive, then people will use their cars less and bike and take public transport more. It does not compute. We are not there yet. If you want people to use more public transport, then make public transport better and don’t expect it will be an either/or scenario – people will not give up their cars, they will just be pissed off sitting in traffic, they will continue to find other paths through smaller residential streets, they will run more red lights, etc. I know that myself and others use public transport whenever it is convenient, but it is not convenient enough for most purposes yet. And unfortunately, will probably not be in my lifetime. Trying to get people to stop buying cars is a losing proposition, but getting people to ride the trains, buses, and use their bikes part of the time is achievable. The biggest ways to increase transit use is to create free/or much cheaper than driving parking near Metro stops (people can’t always find the time or are unable to walk/bike to stops), coordinate bus and metro lines so that you can pick up the necessary bus right outside your metro bus, make the buses more comfortable (the seats are extremely uncomfortable), make sure the buses and trains are going where people want to go, and make sure there’s enough train cars (many trains only have 2 cars and it’s standing room only much of the day), and keep the prices low so people don’t think, I might as well drive. I know these are not entirely things in Pasadena City control, but these suggestions can be made to Metro on our behalf, and the Pasadena ARTS bus routes could possibly be adjusted to achieve some of this.

Lots of people in support of projects like Complete Streets act as if people opposed to their plans are backward hysterics who need to learn to change with the times. They say it won’t be as bad as they think, ignoring the fact that these people have witnessed the congestion these sorts of projects create first hand. They probably have no idea how condescending and lacking in compassion their attitude towards this issue is – We all just need to adjust to this change? – Well, try putting yourself in the shoes of someone who is disabled and can’t ride a bike, or someone who runs a business that needs to transport a lot of equipment, or someone who lives in a place that is miles away from a bus or Metro stop, or someone that needs to take kids to school, or someone who already has an hour and a half commute to somewhere there’s no public transportation, or someone that has saved up to get a used car so they don’t have to ride the bus 4 hours a day on seats that cause back pain and have less time to spend with their family. Many of the people most adversely affected by traffic calming measures are the people so busy working just to keep a roof over their heads that they don’t have time to argue this stuff on Next Door. They might not even find out about this until it’s too late. I totally support increased Public transit use, but Public transport needs to be greatly expanded and improved to be a sole option for most residents — we are not London — we are not NYC — both cities with well-established public transport that provides reasonable options for much of its residents. I totally support creating a complete path of bike lanes throughout the city but on streets with less traffic that are safer for cyclists. To basically be shouting that if everyone could get a bike and live in a condo next to a metro stop everything would be great is not just naive, but cruel to the vast majority of people that can’t afford to do that. Are you going to tell the guy in a wheelchair living on a disability check and his elderly mom who barely make rent that since they can’t ride bikes, all they need is to buy a million dollar condo next to the Metro? We need real solutions that work for most people, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Sabrina Kaleta

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