Peloton Rep Says City Plan for Rose Bowl Loop Threatens Cyclers, Is Unsafe

City is trying to eliminate peloton cyclists and their twice-weekly ride, while not offering enough safety to walkers and joggers, says group’s spokesman

Published : Monday, March 18, 2019 | 5:02 AM

City officials called last week’s traffic control test on the crowded 3-mile long Rose Bowl loop a “success,” but a spokesman for a large group of peloton cyclists said the new layout could not only finish off their historic twice-weekly rides but also end the fun for recreational cyclists as well.

Peloton cycling creates a large pack of fast-moving bicyclists, similar in respects to birds flying in formation. The Rose Bowl group sometimes numbers as many as 100 cyclists, moving at speeds exceeding 20 mph.

Lon Bender, who began riding with the loosely-organized Rose Bowl pelotoners as a teenager in the 1970s, said in an interview with Pasadena Now last week that the City would be a lot happier without the ride, which he thinks the City considers dangerous.

Lon Bender is a spokesman for a group of Rose Bowl peloton bicyclists who fear the City has marked their activity for extinction.

It is an all-too-familiar story in a crowded world.

The Rose Bowl peloton is an activity born six decades ago of open space, a smaller population and the absence of regulation, all of which are now threatened by crowding, rules, and litigation.

Bender doesn’t dispute that aggressive peloton riders have caused problems in the past. But he says the group for which he speaks and brokers before City Hall, has cleaned up its act and formalized its exercises.

Not only has the City marked the peloton for extinction, Bender claims, but that the new safety features at Rosemont Avenue and Seco Street designed to slow automobile traffic but maintain bicycle flow, could actually be unsafe.

Last Tuesday’s test saw City crews set up a series of orange plastic barricades at the southwest corner of Seco Street and Rosemont Avenue, to shut off vehicular traffic at a right-turn lane at that corner.

The barricades prevent cars from entering the lane but not cyclists, walkers, and joggers, or Moms with baby strollers.

Cyclists may enter the lane, but may also proceed straight on Rosemont to a stop sign at Seco, where they may then turn right.

City Manager Steve Mermell, along with City engineers and more than a dozen motorcycle officers stood watch as the cyclists approached the new safety barriers carefully, before being motioned through the lane by officers and city staff.

Bender said the entire construct is the first step in a series of steps to eliminate the historic ride and its riders.

The cones slow down the ride dramatically at the corner, funneling the group into a straight line, a move which can be difficult when there are more than 50 riders in a pack, which is common. All are moving with speed.

According to Bender, the City seems to have few concerns about the pedestrians who also frequent the Rose Bowl loop which is often packed with riders of all levels, walkers, joggers, and moms, on early evenings.

“The City has not taken a strong view on the pedestrians who are walking around the loop,” said Bender, who pointed out that the pedestrians, for the most part, walk clockwise, in the same direction as the cyclists.

“That means their backs are to the traffic,” said Bender. “Their backs are to oncoming cyclists and cars, and it’s very dangerous, yet the City doesn’t do anything to try and stop that.”

Added Bender, “ I think part of education and creating safety here, is to develop a program where the walkers know they are a part of all of this. Many of the walkers will walk counter-clockwise, but many don’t. The City has yet to take a big stance to get them to do something, with signage and public outreach.”

City Manager Mermell said last week, that while the change in the traffic pattern will be permanent, the City is still working out the various actual solutions.

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