Residents learn details, comment on planned Union Street project
Published : Thursday, May 10, 2018 | 4:55 AM
At a public workshop Wednesday night, City officials presented the initial design concept for a reconfiguration of much of Union Street which would reduce the number of automobile traffic lanes and some parking in order to add a protected, two-lane bike lane.
The plan drew mixed reactions from an intent audience of locals, in contrast to the boisterous crowd which turned out to oppose the City’s last automobile-lane-reduction, bicycle-lane-addition plan, for East Orange Grove Boulevard.
“This is a vastly different thing,” said Mayor Terry Tornek. “I think that there is opposition, and I understand that, but we have kind of a chicken-and-egg proposition here, in the sense that people say, ‘You’re spending all this money to accommodate a handful of bikers,’ while bikers would say, ‘We can’t bike because we don’t have a safe environment in which to do it.’ Clearly, if you begin to develop a network that makes sense, it will allow more people to be less fearful.”
The City Council approved moving forward with designing the Union Street reconfiguration between Hill Avenue and South Arroyo Parkway last year. The $5 million cost would be funded through the State’s Active Transportation Program, the primary source for bicycling and walking funding in California. Pasadena is one of 21 cities granted such funding in January, 2017.
“I think the project is good,” said Altadena Town Councilmember and cycling advocate Dorothy Wong, adding, “The transformation that is happening with the light rail, now that that is established, and with Pasadena moving towards higher density housing, along with the connection corridor — there is real potential for Pasadena to really improve.”
But resident Mark Hermsen said he was “very concerned” about the plan.
Hermsen added, “I’m also concerned about the loss of street parking, as density in Pasadena grows, and it’s going to hurt local businesses, and the ability to have people come and spend dollars in Pasadena.”
Much of the evening’s discussion also centered around the capacity and demand of Union Street. Currently, according to the presentation, Union Street’s capacity with three travel lanes is 1,800-2,400 vehicles per hour. The capacity with the new protected lane would be 1,200-1,600 vehicles per hour. Currently, according to the presentation, the peak demand on Union Street is only 961 vehicles per hour.
Following a presentation by Bill Schultheiss, vice-president of Toole Design Group, consultants on the project, the audience gathered over a series of tables on which were spread out large-scale interactive maps of the route, which allowed them to comment on various areas of the projects.
Participants attached various stickers to areas on the approximately ten-foot-long maps, denoting areas in which they felt safe to ride, or felt danger. Participants could also mark out other areas of safety consideration, such as parking entrances and intersections.
The protected lane would be distinctively painted, situated next to the sidewalk and protected by a physical barrier which separates the lane from vehicle traffic.
Parking would be limited on intersection approaches and near driveway crossings for visibility and safety, according to the report, although the report also said that “parking will be retained as much as possible,” and (parking) impacts are not fully known at this stage in the design.”
The new route would also feature bike signals and concrete protections at all intersections, along with parking protection and flex posts between intersections. Busier locations along the route would have raised driveway crossings.
According to the presentation, the new configuration would also create a safer pedestrian experience with new signals at Union Street and Mar Vista, Michigan, Chester, and Holliston, with new or refreshed crosswalks at all intersections, along with raised driveway crossings at busier locations, and new pedestrian signals at Holliston Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, and Green Street.
According to the presentation, the City’s Municipal Services Committee requested the City to create an east-west protected bike network in 2013. A Bikeway Analysis and Feasibility Study was then completed in 2014.
The Pasadena Bicycle Transportation Plan was created in 2015, and Union Street was selected as one of five east-west corridors for protected bikeways.
Holliston Avenue was also selected as one of five north-south corridors for bicycle boulevards.
A digital interactive map of the route is also available at http://wikimapping.com/wikimap/Union-Street-Protected-Bike-Lane.html.