Letter to Sid Tyler about the Rose Bowl Ride

[[image:city_hall.jpg::inline:1]]I'm a resident of district 7, and a dedicated bicycle commuter. I have heard that the city council is in the process of approving a new ordinance prohibiting bicycles from riding more than two abreast on city streets, as the result of dangerous behavior by the Rose Bowl peloton. Note: Attend the upcoming Pasadena City Council meeting this Monday, August 6.


Published August 4, 2007 by C.I.C.L.E.
Contributed by Zane Crawford :: Orginally posted on Ideotrope

C.I.C.L.E. Note: If you care about this issue, take action now! Information about this Monday's public meeting is listed at the bottom of this page.

Hello Councilman Tyler,

I'm a resident of district 7, and a dedicated bicycle commuter. I have heard that the city council is in the process of approving a new ordinance prohibiting bicycles from riding more than two abreast on city streets, as the result of dangerous behavior by the Rose Bowl peloton. I don't do the kind of riding that takes place at the Rose Bowl ride – I ride for transportation – but I have ridden through the Arroyo and by the Rose Bowl hundreds of times on the way up to or back from JPL, frequently in the after-work hours during which the area sees a great deal of recreational use in the summer, by cyclists as well as many, many others.

I don't doubt that the peloton has on occasion (or potentially even on regular basis) been discourteous to other recreational users of the Rose Bowl loop, or that they do sometimes behave unsafely, and I agree that something should be done about it. However, I think that the new ordinance is not the right solution.

I think the right solution involves making the Rose Bowl loop more accommodating of all recreational/fitness uses, at the expense of its convenience to cars. Making the entire Rose Bowl loop one giant roundabout, with cars in the outer lane traveling counterclockwise, and bikes traveling clockwise in a two-thirds width inner lane, with a wide innermost lane dedicated to pedestrians/runners/joggers/dog-walkers/families/roller-bladers/etc, is probably close to being the solution. The pedestrian and bike lanes would need to be separated by a curb, otherwise pedestrians will leak out into the bike lane, and groups of bikes will leak into the supposed "buffer" zone between the lanes.

Cars rule supreme throughout southern California. Even mentioning placing restrictions on them seems to be some kind of taboo. It doesn't have to be that way. Pasadena has plenty of roads for cars. It has precious little in the way of paved multi-use paths. Such non-automotive roads are clearly valued, as evidenced by the throngs of people who use the Rose Bowl loop in the summer for all kinds of different activities. The Rose Bowl loop does not have much value as a part of Pasadena's transportation system, but it does have special value as a recreational destination. I'm sure that some people would complain if the loop were made one way for cars, but are those complaints well founded? How much traffic really flows through the area across the Arroyo? Would the increased traffic on the Holly St. bridge and Woodbury really be that bad? How many people would be inconvenienced, and how inconvenienced would they really be?

I think the real problem is that people feel more justified in complaining that some resource has been removed from the automotive realm, than from a non-automotive realm. The default behavior in SoCal is to defer to the car at all times. I would really like to see Pasadena do something to change that. We seem to like to tout ourselves as being "bike friendly", right up until the point at which some actual resource has to be allocated to bikes (cf. the "Bicycle Master Plan").

Additionally, the 2-abreast rule will probably not completely fix the problems at the Rose Bowl. The diverse uses of the pedestrian space have speeds ranging from 2mph to 10mph, with the faster users ultimately spilling out into the non-pedestrian space, especially when significantly more than half the pedestrians are ignoring the fact that they are supposed to circulate counterclockwise. Dogs on 10' long retractable leashes will still dart out into the lane. Weaving pedestrians listening to iPods will still be startled when a smaller two-bike wide peloton flies by at 25mph (if they continue to walk the wrong direction). The recreational cyclists, instead of all using an informally designated 2 hour block of time in the evening, may diffuse throughout the week into many smaller rides, which may, in aggregate, create even more conflict with pedestrians and drivers.

I think preserving and even enhancing the Rose Bowl loop as a paved multi-use area is worthwhile for Pasadena, and I hope the council will consider taking action towards those ends, even if it means removing some resources from the automotive realm. And who knows, maybe some of the out-of-towners who would be enticed into using the enhanced Rose Bowl loop to recreate would even go shopping or have dinner in Old Pas afterwards, and help foot the bill!

Thanks for taking the time to read all this.
Sorry if I sound irritated, but I guess I am a little.

Zane Crawford

Speak Out!

If you feel compelled to speak out about this issue, attend the Pasadena City Council Meeting, this Monday August 6th at 6:30 PM.

Council Chamber, Pasadena City Hall
100 North Garfield Avenue, Room S249

and/or write your Pasadena City council member!

Find your Pasadena City Council member here: http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/cityclerk/city_officials.asp

Don't know what district you're in? Find out here: http://www.lavote.net/DISTRICT/Default.htm

Download the full text of the RBOC recommendation here: