Life beyond the automobile in Southern California

Pasadena: Clean up your act.

Bike Lane Debris

This week, as I was riding in the bike lane on Sierra Madre Blvd in Pasadena, I noticed a distinct difference between the condition of the pavement in the car lanes and the bike lane.  As the City of Pasadena readied this street for the annual Rose Parade, it had apparently swept the gravel and debris from the automobile lanes, no doubt making it easier for parade floats and marching bands, but it had left the bike lanes on both sides of the street a mess of sand, gravel, rocks, and other road debris.  At first I thought this might simply have been a case of the sand blowing to the side of the road from the turbulence of car traffic, but two observations convinced me this was an intentional failure of the city to clean the bike lanes.  First, the traffic lanes were completely free of any road debris whatsoever.  Second, the line of heavy debris coincided exactly with the edge of the bike lane the entire length of the street, as shown in the photo (above).  The unmistakeable pattern of debris strongly indicates that the city swept the streets and intentionally avoided sweeping the bike lanes.

This is more than just an aesthetic issue, it is a safety issue and an economic issue as well.  Trying to avoid slipping on loose sand or getting a flat tire on a rock or broken glass on debris like this may force bicyclists to swerve into the fast-moving automobile traffic.  I also question the economic wisdom of avoiding sweeping the entire street.  Why only sweep part of the street, leaving the rest of it loaded with debris?  Doesn’t the city just make more work for itself with a job half-done?

Whether the city’s public works department realizes it or not, they sent bicyclists an unambiguous message:  you don’t matter.  Despite paying taxes for public services like everyone else, bicyclists get the back side of the city’s hand when it comes to the maintenance of bike lanes and other bicycle infrastructure.

Pasadena: clean up your act.


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8 thoughts on “Pasadena: Clean up your act.

  1. Jacques on said:

    Agreed, Pasadena needs to show a little love to the bike lanes. I ride the Pasadena Ave bike lane (all two blocks or so of it) regularly and due to the construction going on at the Westgate development (north of Del Mar), the lanes are routinely covered in debris and blocked with construction equipment, cones, or vehicles.

    While we’re at it, Pasadena, bike week is great and all that but can we put it some more bike lanes?

  2. There aren’t any bike lane markings in the photo. Are there some elsewhere in the lane? Otherwise, this looks like a shoulder instead.

  3. I don’t think it was sweeping. I noticed this after some rain last week washed some gravel off the shoulder area and into the gutter/bike lane. I think the debris line is just from cars slowly clearing it back toward the shoulder as they pass.

    • This is possible, but usually with rain there is some gravel in the traffic lanes as well. Even if this is the case, the city should sweep the bike lanes regularly for safety.

  4. Pingback: Tonight’s post, in which I say goodbye to a friend, and your pre-New Year’s weekend links « BikingInLA

  5. I agree with Leon. This looks like the freeway, where all the debris is on the shoulder and none of it is on the road. Cars travel super fast on this stretch of the road and it rained all week up until Christmas. I think the culprit is the rain and the road.

    I’ve ridden on that stretch of Sierra Madre Blvd many times, but I’ve never seen that much debris in the bike lanes.

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