While acknowledging that more study is necessary in the areas of public outreach and in accommodating the disabled community , the City Council Monday evening approved a Municipal Services Committee recommendation to initiate Metro grant funding for the first phase of a new east-west, two-way protected cycle track to be built along the south side of Union Street, from Wilson Avenue to Arroyo Parkway.
As part of a new “road diet”—a lessening of lanes to include bike lanes—fourteen intersections on Union Street will eventually be upgraded with new bicycle signal heads in both directions from Hill Street to Arroyo Parkway, along with the installation of protected left turn pockets for vehicles, as part of the track. (Despite a request from the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce to move the track to the north side of Union, the plan remained as originally planned.)
Total cost of the track is estimated to be $3.3 million. Metro will reimburse the city for costs up to $2.7 million, and the city will provide matching fund of $684,613.00.
New to the discussion Monday was the effect the new bike track would have on blind and disabled local residents in the area.
According to disabled rights activist Mitchell Pomeranz, the bike track poses a threat to blind and disabled persons.
Said Pomeranz, “There is a danger of bikes and car doors, and of drivers not seeing bikes around curves.” In addition, he said, blind people may not hear a cyclist.
Pomeranz also pointed out that local “dial-a-ride” services which drop off and pick up passengers at curbsides, may no longer be able to, if all parking is eliminated along the bike track.
Resident Michael Kramer also worried about the sudden appearance of painted lanes and new crosswalks and signals, saying, “if we increase the number of bicycles, we need more information to the community. We need to let the public know what’s coming.”
Joel Sheldon, co-owner of Vroman’s Books, concurred with Kramer, saying, “There has not been much discussion with the larger community. Few citizens know this is coming, and community interest is vital.”
Added Sheldon, “We need a conversation, not a presentation.”
Meanwhile, two representatives of the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition, Blair Miller and Colin Bogart, congratulated the Council on the Cycle Track, and read from a letter which asked the council to consider increased funding for bike and pedestrian projects, and to ask the Department of Public Works to complete the project ‘as quickly as possible,” saying, along with Mayor Tornek and other council members, that the proposed 2022 completion date “is much too long to wait for this project.”
Miller and Bogart also asked the council to adopt “Vision Zero,” which aims to eliminate all traffic deaths in the city by 2027, as official policy.
“Let’s not wait until the next fatality to take a systematic, organized approach to the safety of all road users in Pasadena,” said the letter.
In its approval, the council noted to account for the disabled community, more public outreach, as well as a shorter timeline for the project. Any changes to the project in terms of physical additions or modifications, could be accommodated in the projects’ upcoming design phase, said Fred Dock, Pasadena Department of Transportation director.