The idea of bikeway that links Pasadena and Los Angeles has fascinated bicyclists and planner for more then one hundred years. It's eminently doable -- only ten miles and spectacular scenery. It would be fun, healthy and a great transporation alternative.
Horace Dobbins, the visionary Pasadena mayor, incorporated the California Cycleway Company on August 23, 1897 to develop a bicycle tollway from the Green Hotel in Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. Although everything pointed to a successful venture, Dobbins' plans for an elevated wooden bike turnpike were rudely interrupted by the unexpected invention of the automobile. Constructed in an era known for thinking big, the Cycleway was nevertheless considered an engineering feat of the times. The Cycleway fell into disuse and the right-of-way subsequently became the Arroyo Seco/Pasadena Freeway, Dobbins became known as the father of the modern freeway, and the Cycleway was forgotten for decades.
In 1990 another visionary Pasadena Mayor, Jess Hughston, formed a task force to make Pasadena bicycle-friendly. One of the recommendations of that group was to build a bikeway between Pasadena and Los Angeles. Dennis Crowley, an energetic member of the task force, became the most enthusiastic advocate of the bikeway concept, even reincorporating the old Californaia Cycleway Corporation. You can read more about that at the California Cycleway site.
In the 1980s the County of Los Angeles built a path in the bottom of the cement-lined Arroyo Seco stream. It travels for almost two miles between the York Street Bridge and the Montecito Heights Community Center near Avenue 43. A plan to continue that bike path, proposed by the County in 2005, has now been withdrawn because of community concerns about safety and the impact of pouring more concrete in a stream that should be restored.
The Arroyo Seco Greenway Project takes Dobbins' idea into the 21st century. The Greenway is being developed by the Arroyo Seco Foundation together with local agenies along the Arroyo Seco, connecting Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. The bikeway, an integral part of the Greenway, is envisioned to provide a serious alternative to motorized commuting, designed to attract people of all ages and abilities. The Greenway will also include a pedestrian path and lots of landscaping appropriate to the riparian character of the Arroyo Seco.
Support from cyclists and communities along the route has been strong. The Arroyo Seco Bikeway, envisioned as the core of an extended bicycle transportation network, will link up to the Los Angeles River Bike Trail near Avenue 19 and proceed into downtown Los Angeles. At a time when we should be working to reduce our carbon footprint and provide transportation options, the Arroyo Seco Bikeway offers a low cost, low impact, healthy alternative. It can transport bicycle commuters and recreational cyclists along a scenic corridor, relieving congestion and carbon emissions.
Clearly the Arroyo Seco Bikeway is an idea whose time has arrived!