The recent tragic death of cyclist Phillip O’Neill in Pasadena reinforced for me the idea that Pasadena needs bike lanes on more of its streets, especially on at least one of the key east-west routes near Pasadena City College and Caltech. This area already has a significant amount of bicycle traffic due to its proximity to these colleges, but the proximity to transit, shops, and jobs in the area means that bike-friendly infrastructure is an essential part of the city’s obligation to provide safe and sustainable mobility options to all its citizens.
As I’ve mentioned before, the wonderful people at Caltech’s Bike Lab have been circulating a petition calling for Pasadena to install bike lanes on one of its east-west streets, and it is high time for the city to act on it (if you haven’t already signed it, please click on the link). Monday, July 1, I’ll be attending a Complete Streets Forum in Pasadena where these issues will be discussed, and preparations will be made to call on Pasadena officials to commit to improving Pasadena’s bike infrastructure.
As you can see from the photo of Del Mar Blvd in Pasadena, above, taken near the intersection of Craig and Del Mar one recent morning rush hour, there is room for bike lanes on Del Mar, either by converting curbside parking lanes to bike lanes or by reducing traffic lanes from four to three (a “road diet”), or a combination of both, depending on location.
I was reminded how important bike lanes and bike-friendly facilities are to a city when I visited a friend in Claremont earlier this week. I took the Foothill Transit 187 bus from Arcadia to Claremont and then rode my bike the rest of the way to my friend’s house, a distance of a little over a mile from the bus stop. My friend recently moved to his new abode, so it was my first time riding this particular route, but I was pleasantly surprised to find bike lanes or sharrows along almost the entire route, and it makes a huge difference to a cyclist, especially on unfamiliar streets. Moreover, there was no apocalyptic traffic jam caused by the bike lanes (as bike lane opponents claim), and I saw lots of people of all ages riding bikes. Lesson to cities about bike lanes: if you build them, they will ride.
Bike lanes not only increase safety, they provide a sense of comfort for the less-confident bicycle rider, and they send a message to all that bicycles belong on our streets. If they are well-designed and if they actually help people get from point A to point B safely, they encourage more people to ride because they increase the feeling of safety and reduce the stress of riding in automobile traffic. Drivers of automobiles never have to think twice about this (or they haven’t at least since the early 1920s when streets were redesigned to accommodate automobiles), but an auto-centric road design says to the pedestrian and bicyclist, “you don’t matter.” It is so refreshing when a city says to you, “you do matter.”