Runners, walkers, cyclists and cars in the Arroyo Seco
|February 6, 2018 - It's like a gust of wind blowing through the central Arroyo in Pasadena. Maybe more like a windstorm, when the peleton of top cyclists glides around the Rose Bowl loop on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. But what's the best way to maintain recreational pursuits and public safety?|
The peloton runs the final circuit around the Rose Bowl during stage seven of the Tour of California bicycle race, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008 in Pasadena
I donít have a tire-biting dog in the years-long fight of the professional-level racing cyclists vs. the bureaucratic powers that be on the Rose Bowl loop.
I do know that the 3.1-mile course, clockwise if youíre looking from the south, is the best place to ride a bike for exercise in Southern California. Itís also one of the best places to run, and to walk, for two reasons: Itís hard to find a place in our hilly region that is so relatively flat (it does go quite a bit uphill, from south to north, but itís gradual) and those 3.1 miles are exactly five kilometers ó a 5k race ó so itís great for timing yourself.
Sometimes, under the current striping regime, those uses come into conflict. Still, life is conflict. What with the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center right there, a triathlete could swim, run and cycle in one place for training, and thatís a cultural place.
Iím not triathlete. My old mountain bike sits in the back yard with a flat tire, and I donít get it out but a couple of times a year. My swimming consists of a few strokes back to my surfboard when I wipe out at San Onofre.
My own Arroyo exercise regime consists of running, and weekly golf on the Brookside course, so if anything, by the merely personal, you could say that I am inconvenienced from time to time Tuesdays and Thursdays when some 100 Olympic-caliber cyclists whoosh around the loop in a tightly grouped pack cyclists call a peloton. A walking golfer has to look out for its massive collective force when crossing Washington Boulevard or from parking on the street to the clubhouse.
But so what? Iíve got eyes, and ears. And while itís not my sport, I honestly enjoy witnessing the peloton spectacle twice a week.
But the paved streets of the Arroyo are not only for exercising ó though perhaps they should be, and perhaps will be, in the future. Now the streets are open, both directions, for motorized vehicles. Except on game or event days, thereís no real reason for cars to be down there, except to head to a parking lot. Even if the unmotorized future is some way off, the streets in the loop could all be converted to one-way car traffic very quickly, gaining precious space and safety for those on foot and on fancy Italian bike. Since I live on the Arroyoís edge, I also drive down on the canyon floor, as drivers will, given the chance. If cars were banned, or made to go one-way, it would add a minute or two sometimes to trips into town. What I will never understand are the motorists who under the current configuration honk and shake their fists rather than simply pulling into the other lane to get around the bikes ó traffic is very light, and itís safe and easy to do.
Because, even though the creation of a color-coded runners/walkers lane on the inside of the loop several years back, along with the elimination of unneeded stop signs for the cyclists, has made things better, accidents do happen. A young friend of mine, one of the leading cyclists in the Southland, broke his neck in an accident down there a couple of years ago after flipping off the front of his bike. A young girl who had stepped out into the street was also hurt.
Pasadenan Chris Ziegler, a cyclist for whom the sport has been a tonic that helps him deal with the trauma of serving in the military in the Middle East, has also seen a cyclist suffer serious injuries in a crash with a pedestrian, whose injuries were minor ó though there have been more serious incidents. ďFrom my experiences of cycling around the Rose Bowl, greater than 90 percent of bicycle vs. pedestrian collisions are caused by pedestrians entering the roadway abruptly, without first scanning for bicyclists and yielding when the bicyclist is too close to safely stop/yield the right-of-way (which is one reason why many peloton cyclist erupt when they are criticized as being reckless),Ē Chris writes.
Now thereís a move afoot in Pasadena City Hall to capriciously add back in stop signs, effectively making the peloton illegal. Why not lose a car lane, making everyone safer? That, and adding real buffers between non-motorists and speeding cars ó also one of the city options ó are much more forward-looking and excercise-friendly than putting back the stop signs. Why not listen to the cyclists offering trained traffic escorts to be positioned at the dangerous curves and intersections on peloton days? The Arroyo is a resource for us all, and we can co-exist.
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