Traveling along Union when you are riding a bicycle has long been considered risky behavior, but that is all about to change, thanks to a $3 million grant from Metro. This grant is to be used to create a new and safer way to bike across Pasadena. The only problem with this new bicycle track is that those who live in Pasadena are going to end up losing a large section of parking along this one-way street.
The Pasadena City Council
The council has agreed to take the $2.7 million grant from Metro for this new two-way bike track with the proviso that the city’s Department of Transportation provides them with a report explaining how those with disabilities will be able to park along the street after the project is completed and how the plans mitigate the dangers posed by the huge volumes of motor traffic that make use of the many parking lots along Union Street.
The project is still in the early stages of planning and according to the City staff, construction of the new bike track is not expected to start until at least 2021. Once started, the project will remove one lane of travel from Union Street, at the same time it will also permanently remove 21 parking spaces from the section of Union St. between Los Robles and Wilson Ave.
Currently, the plans call for the bicycle track to be on the south side of Union and will include separate traffic lights for cyclists and for vehicles that are turning left. Officials are hopeful that this new project will also create a safer environment for the Metro Bike Share program that is scheduled to come to Pasadena in 2017. In general, cyclists have expressed high praise for this much-needed route running east to west across the city.
Business Owners Not Happy
While the new bike track has been met with approval by the area’s many cyclists, business owners along Union Street are worried that it will make it harder for those in cars to find places to park so that they can frequent their businesses. They are also worried that the new track is going to create several dangerous turns into the remaining parking lots. Current estimates show there are approximately 2,500 off-street parking spots in the area.
According to Ilona Linden, owner of Linden Optometry, “The last thing anyone wants to do is hit a cyclist while driving. ” Linden reports that over 150 patients come into her business daily, seven days a week. Linden goes on to say that an increase in the volume of bike traffic and the many curves on the street will increase the likelihood of serious accidents occurring.
Linden is not the only unhappy business owner, Joel Sheldon, chairman of the board for Vroman’s Bookstore says he feels that enough effort was put into finding other alternatives. Sheldon also stated he felt information about the meetings regarding the proposal were poorly advertised. Many in the business community want the track to be placed on the north side of the street. Transportation Director Fred Dock says that doing so would require the city to block “right turn on red” at 14 intersections and would eliminate 35 parking spaces, which is why the south side was chosen.