Freeway Opens to Different Sort of Traffic
|June 16, 2003 - Here's how they covered ArroyoFest in Canton, Ohio.|
|LA Times Service|
|Canton (Ohio) Repository|
|LOS ANGELES — Thousands of people rousted themselves from bed early Sunday for a rare opportunity: touching the pavement of a Southern California freeway closed to auto traffic.|
The event was ArroyoFest, which was billed by organizers as a chance to bike or walk along about a six-mile section of the Pasadena Freeway. The purpose was to give people a chance to take in the sights and sounds of a stream and canyon area, the Arroyo Seco, from its main thoroughfare.
At 7 a.m., a wave of about 3,000 bikers hit the southbound lanes of the road, with many riders holding up their cameras as they pedaled. Following the cyclists was an even larger throng of walkers, a few of whom plopped down on the oily pavement to pose for photos.
“Echo,” screamed Paul Murphy, 63, standing under the bridge that carries Via Marisol over the freeway. His voice answered four times, leaving him impressed.
“I had a real urge to take the exit to the 5 (Golden State Freeway),” said Steve Edberg, 50, of nearby La Canada, as he sat on his bike. “If I had 200 or 300 riders with me, I think we could have taken over that one, too.”
The event had been in the planning stages in one form or another for 10 years. That is the amount of time it took organizers to convince the California Department of Transportation that the sheer novelty of navigating a freeway outside a car would be a big draw — and not cause massive regional gridlock.
“I knew there was all this pent-up demand for something like this,” said Dennis Crowley, a longtime Pasadena bike path advocate who said he dreamed up the idea. “It’s such a beautiful location, and you can’t see it all from a car.”
The Pasadena Freeway was completed in 1940 and is known as the West’s first freeway. It was recently named a National Scenic Byway by the federal government.
Sunday’s event was certainly a rare one. During the bike ride, the freeway was quiet except for the click of gears and a few conversations on cell phones of the “guess where I am” variety. Traffic moved along at a steady clip.
By 10 a.m., however, it was all over. The California Highway Patrol, playing the role of party-pooper, began ushering people off the road. A few minutes later the familiar drone of engines could be heard, and the old freeway wheezed back to its usual form.
Arroyo Seco Foundation, 570 W. Avenue 26 #450, Los Angeles, CA 90065-1011
PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622 (323) 405-7326 firstname.lastname@example.org