Pasadena Bicycle Master Plan Workshop #2

Update August 4th, 2009: The BMP revision is taking longer than initially planned. See this post and the comments from Rich Dilluvio for more information.

After voting to bankrupt California, Michelle (here’s her take on the workshop) and I headed over to the Pasadena High School cafeteria for our second civic duty of the day: the 2nd Pasadena Bicycle Master Plan Workshop.  Ryan Snyder (the consultant drafting the plan) and Rich Dilluvio (Pasadena DoT) claimed that at some future date a revision of the BMP “Goals, Objectives and Actions” document (which I have transcribed below) would be posted on the web somewhere, but no timeline for that was suggested, and given that in February they said we’d have 4 public meetings before the draft plan was finalized in June, and we’ve only just now had the first one, and the first bicycle traffic counts were promised 6 years ago and still haven’t happened, I’m not going to wait on them.

The Pasadena Bicycle Illuminati

To begin with, Ryan Snyder gave a short presentation which was mostly a repeat of what he said at the first workshop in February.  He did have a little new information though, mostly on the preliminary results from the bicycling survey that Pasadena has been running for the last several weeks (just closed yesterday unfortunately).  More than 1100 people have responded to the survey (closing in on 1% of Pasadena’s total population, impressively).  Two thirds of respondents said they biked between 1 and 6 times per week (there was no option on the survey for more than 6 times a week… I think I make about 3 trips per day on average).  78% of respondents said their top priority was safer riding conditions.  More people said they ride for recreation than any utilitarian reason, but at the same time, the most popular response as to why people ride was “environmental reasons”, which seems odd.  If most people are riding for recreation, then is their cycling having any positive environmental impact?  Is it really displacing some less environmentally friendly form of recreation, like driving around in traffic?

Another disconcerting piece of the survey results was the fact that the streets on which people most frequently requested improved cycling facilities were the biggest, fastest, busiest automobile arterials: Colorado, Lake, Walnut, etc.  Exactly the roads that are best avoided by cyclists.  Regardless of whether we have a right to use them (which we do), they are, and will likely continue to be, optimized for cars, whereas bicycles can very pleasantly and efficiently utilize residential side streets that are slower, narrower, and safer, without having a significant impact on the overall flow of motorized traffic (and engendering the political opposition that follows from those impacts).  I suggest that these cyclist desires be ignored, and suspect that they were largely voiced either by relatively inexperienced cyclists (it took me years to realize that side streets were better for biking — I’m not faulting anyone else for not realizing it) or spandex-clad roadies, who want to get up into the mountains, or down into the Arroyo, as quickly as possible.  I think the former group is an important (perhaps the most important) constituency, but that the right way to deal with this desire is to show them how much nicer not riding on Colorado is, and to thereby try and semi-segregate bike and car traffic.  The latter group is I think not really the target of the BMP, which is primarily a transportation document, and not a parks and recreation document.  They are related, but have different foci.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the document which we were invited to comment on with the members of the Bicycle Advisory Commission.  I’ll interleave my comments in italics.

Goals, Objectives and Actions

Goals set context for planning objectives and actions to carry out the Bicycle Master Plan.  They provide long-term vision and serve as the foundation of the plan.  Goals are broad statements of purpose.  Objectives are more specific statements of purpose, and actions describe actions the City can take to meet the goals and objectives.

Goals:

  1. Create an environment where people can circulate without a car.
  2. Increase the number of bicyclists in Pasadena by encouraging people to use their bicycles instead of driving.
  3. Increase the safety of bicycling in Pasadena.
  4. Promote the health of Pasadena residents by providing opportunities to bicycle for commuting, recreating, shopping and visiting.
  5. Facilitate the economic viability of Pasadena by making Pasadena an attractive place to live, shop, and operate a business.

The first goal is superfluous.  Pasadena is already an environment where people can circulate without a car — I’ve been doing it since 1993.  The real task here is make it not only possible, but so safe and convenient that people actually choose to do it.

I think the middle three goals are absolutely on track.

The last one is a little bit confusing.  Within it is the implicit assumption that making Pasadena a better place to bike also makes it a more attractive place to live, shop, and do business.  I emphatically agree!  However, I think it’s far from clear that your average Pasadena resident would.  Ryan was questioned about this, and trotted out the “cyclists as indicator species” analogy, which is (among other things) a logical fallacy: just because you see more people biking in places that are nice to live does not imply that getting more people to bike actually makes places nicer to live.  For instance, rich and/or educated people are more likely to bike than poor/uneducated people, and are also more likely to have the money to live in nice places.  How many times do we have to say it: correlation is not causation!

Another set of related goals which are not mentioned at all but which I think should be, is to encourage the use of bicycles as transportation in order to displace more costly expenditures on automobile infrastructure.  Per unit transportation utility, especially in our fair climate, a dollar spent on bikes goes a lot further than a dollar spent on cars.  Parking for bikes is cheap and compact: a few hundred dollars per 2-bike rack, 10 of which can be put in the same area as an automotive parking space costing $20k-$30k if it’s in a parking garage.  Cars also require much more road area for the same transportation utility.  Effectively encouraging the use of bikes also mitigates traffic congestion, which is economically costly, in that it wastes peoples’ time and discourages people from going to popular destinations.  Those of us who choose not to own a car at all also tend to be much more local shoppers, spending more of our money in Pasadena, and having more disposable income to throw around, because we’re not wasting a few hundred dollars a month on automobile related expenses.

This absent goal seems to me one that would potentially transcend broader ideological boundaries if SoCal weren’t so culturally wedded to the car.  From a purely practical, budgetary point of view, it should also be compelling to the City.

Objectives and Actions:

Objective: Increase the proportion of (bicycle) commute trips in Pasadena to 5%.

Actions:

  • Implement planned citywide network of bikeways.
  • Recognize that bicyclists ride on all streets and that all streets need to accommodate bicyclists.
  • Improve technology to ensure that bicyclists can activate traffic signals at vehicle-activated intersections.
  • Require bicycle parking, showers and clothing lockers in new commercial developments for commuters.
  • Encourage existing employers and commercial landowners to provide bicycle parking, showers and clothing lockers for commuters.
  • Maintain bikeway and roadway system.
  • Conduct periodic bicycle counts at various locations and upgrade the bikeway network.
  • Assist employers with promotional campaigns to encourage bicycle commuting.
  • Coordinate with the Pasadena Transportation Demand Management ordinance enforcement and monitoring to ensure that employers and land owners of commercial property carry out bicycle commuter incentive programs.
  • Initiate a program for employers to contribute to valet bicycle parking, attendant bicycle parking, or automated bicycle parking.

This objective sounds good at first, but there’s a catch, which is that we actually have no idea what the current proportion of commute trips made by bike is, because the only data we have comes from the US Census, and you only get counted as a cyclist if you claim to commute by bike all the time.  Additionally, that data is almost a decade old at this point.  In order for this to be a meaningful goal, we need a baseline measurement, taken using the same methodology which is going to be used for the post-implementation measurement. Once we have that baseline measurement, the objective should be an increase in the proportion of bike trips by a fixed amount, for instance baseline+5%.

This objective also needs a firm timeline associated with it.  Are they saying that they want to get it up to 5% by 2029… which is when the BMP is supposed to have been completely implemented?  If so, they are being so ludicrously unambitious as to make even having a plan seem pointless.  The objective should be baseline+5% in 5 years (when the plan has to be revised in order to maintain our eligibility for Caltrans BTA funding).  On the same topic, the “periodic bicycle counts” have to have a fixed frequency associated with them.  It should happen once per year, and it can utilize enthusiastic volunteer manpower if need be.  I’m sure there would be no shortage of willing clickers.

Another important point here, is that in order for us to be able to determine whether we’ve met this objective, we actually have to be able to make these measurements accurately enough that our error is significantly smaller than the 5% we’re trying to detect.  It will matter what time of year the counts are done, and what the weather was like on the day they were done (if it’s only one day), and what the gas prices were at the time, etc.  If we can’t effectively correct for those influences, we’ll have no idea whether the change in bicycle ridership is a result of the BMP.

Objective: Increase the proportion of utilitarian trips to schools, stores, parks and other destinations to 5% of the total.

Actions:

  • Implement planned citywide network of bikeways.  Ensure that these bikeways serve children, intermediate cyclists, experienced cyclists and various recreational cyclists.
  • Maintain bikeway and roadway system.
  • Add bicycle parking to parks, schools, libraries, civic buildings, and along commercial streets.
  • Work with existing stores and offices to provide convenient bicycle parking for visitors.
  • Conduct periodic bicycle counts at various locations and upgrade the bikeway network.
  • Carry out promotional efforts to encourage bicycle use.
  • Work with the schools to implement Safe Routes to Schools programs.  Maintain bike racks on ARTS buses.  Replace racks with new 3-bicycle racks if needed.

This objective has all the same problems as the first one.  It’s unclear to me why any distinction is made between recreational and commuter cycling.  I understand that the distinction is being made by Caltrans, and trickling down to the City, but, so far as I know, there is no other form of transportation whose funding depends on whether you’re commuting, shopping, recreating, visiting friends, etc.  Ultimately, a bike is just like any other means of transportation, and it should be treated that way.

Objective: Reduce by 30% the bicycle-involved crash rate.

Actions:

  • Implement planned citywide network of bikeways.
  • Calm motor vehicle traffic on Pasadena streets.
  • Provide bicycle safety education in schools, at worksites and public venues for local cyclists.
  • Provide safety education for motorists to learn to interact with bicyclists.
  • Publish safe bicycle-riding tips.
  • Provide information on the City website regarding safe bicycle riding.
  • Work with the Police Department to ensure that traffic laws are enforced.
  • Work with the schools to implement Safe Routes to Schools Programs.

And again, this concrete goal is absolutely the right thing to do, but without appropriate measurements, prior to implementation, the 30% number is completely vapid and meaningless.  Before we can meaningfully attack this objective, we have to have a functional mechanism for collecting bike crash statistics, which we do not have now.  If you call after an incident, my experience has been that usually the officer on the other end tries actively to discourage you from making any kind of official report, sometimes to the point of claiming that actually, you cannot do so.  This is unacceptable.  Reporting this kind of threat to our lives so that the city can effectively take action to mitigate it should not require superhuman dedication on the part of the injured party.

Worse than that, the gross underreporting that we have right now means that adopting this goal will potentially create an incentive not to improve the reporting system, because in the official statistics, it would create an apparent increase in the crash rate (if the current “rate” is taken as the baseline).  Also, the “rate”, by which I believe they mean the number of accidents per miles cycled, or perhaps per bicycle trip taken, can only be meaningful if we have accurate estimates of how many bicycle trips are being taken (see the above two objectives).

To get any of this objective to work, the police department needs to really change its attitude toward cyclists.  If we can’t get that change, then it’s meaningless.  One way I think we might effect that change of attitude is to require that all bicycle mounted police (and there are at least a few) ride their bikes on the roads, in accordance with the League of American Cyclists best practices recommendations, and the “safe cycling” tips that the City expounds.  Of course, having POLICE written across your back will probably get you some respect from drivers… but it would be a start.  Failing that someone on Council needs to crack a whip at them, or we need to set up an alternative reporting scheme for incidents… say, an option in their online police report filing system.

Objective: Make bicycle parking available, secure and convenient throughout Pasadena.

Actions:

  • Initiate and carry out bicycle parking program to install quality bicycle racks in parks, schools, libraries, civic buildings, and along commercial streets.
  • Require bicycle parking in new commercial and residential development.
  • Create a program that provides bicycle lockers for existing commercial property owners that are willing to install them on their property.
  • Provide bicycle parking at local bus stops.
  • Work with Metro to provide bicycle lockers and racks at Gold Line stations.

Great objective, but it needs some more specific deliverables.  We need a definition of what “secure and conveneint” consists of.  The wheel-bender racks at the Paseo do not count.  Inverted-U racks which are so close together that you can’t get two bikes in bewteen them do not count.  Bike racks, no matter how well spaced and designed, which are in an isolated location in which thieves can easily operate out of sight, do not count.  We also need some way of deciding how much bike parking is required.  Our methodology for doing this with cars is so catastrophically flawed as to provide no help.  However, I think it’s useful to point out that for the same $30,000 it costs to put a single car parking space beneath a mall, you can pay for 100 bike racks! Obviously, 100 bike racks (parking for 200 bikes) will take up more space than even a Hummer-compatible parking space (probably about 10 parking spaces), but if those racks are full, and have displaced car parking demand, you have saved your developer roughly 100 x $30,000 = $3,000,000!

Objective: Create a network of bikeways so that every neighborhood is within 0.25 miles of an effective bicycling route in the north-south and east-west directions.

Actions:

  • Recognize that bicyclists ride on all streets and that all streets need to accommodate bicyclists.
  • Maintain bikeway and roadway system.
  • Implement a complete network of bike paths, bike lanes, enhanced sign bike routes and bicycle  boulevards using the bikeway type appropriate for each street or corridor.
  • Implement traffic calming techniques to create suitable bikeways.
  • Restripe appropriate multi-lane streets with road diets to create space for bike lanes.
  • Install roundabouts, mini-roundabouts, mini-traffic circles, and other treatments to reduce the need for bicycles to stop.
  • Link Pasadena’s bikeway network with bikeways in surrounding jurisdictions.
  • Promote a bikeway along Arroyo Seco to link with downtown Los Angeles.

Another absolutely great objective, however many of the action items simply have no plausible funding source at the moment.  BTA funds just can’t pay for this kind of stuff without significant local investment (or some kind of miraculous bicycle money machine from the Federal government).  All of the traffic calming measures mentioned are expensive, but they do work.  They also all require the assent of the neighborhood into which they are being placed, which is difficult to get, and that difficulty can certainly impede the creation of a connected citywide network.  Additionally, it is unclear whether any of the cheap options: improved signage, sharrows, or road-stripes (on the “enhanced” class-III bikeways),  actually make biking any safer.  Having more cyclists makes cycling safer, and having slower traffic makes cycling safer.  The former is a social engineering project, the latter can only reliably be achieved with road engineering, which tends to be expensive, and to oppose SoCal’s insane notion that transportation consists of moving as many cars as fast as possible on every available roadway.

Objective: Implement measures throughout Pasadena to improve recreational opportunities.

Actions:

  • Implement planned improvements to the Rose Bowl area to create better coordination among various user types.
  • Implement a complete network of bike lanes, enhanced sign bike routes and bicycle boulevards using the bikeway type appropriate to each corridor.
  • Install bike paths along waterways, utility corridors and other available rights-of-way.
  • Install quality bicycle racks at parks in Pasadena.
  • Seek open space to establish a dedicated BMX track.

Objective: Complete this Bicycle Master Plan within 20 years.

Actions:

  • Create a tiered priority project list based on immediate needs and available funds.
  • Aggressively pursue all federal, state, and local funding options; leverage funds to maximize matching opportunities.
  • Seek opportunities to piggyback bikeway projects onto new development, road resurfacing, restriping and others.

As I mentioned above, 20 years is an appropriate timescale for some of these objectives (the extensive network of bikeways).  I think it is clearly inappropriate for some of the other objectives (5% of all trips by bikes, good bike parking).  Different parts of this plan are going to be more difficult politically, and more expensive than others.  Some parts are more ambitious than others.  I think we need to have very clearly defined criteria for success on each objective: a prioritization, an individual timeline, and a quantitative deliverable which is measured accurately before and after implementation.  I don’t want the City to be able to say (as they do now) that they “implemented the plan” without substansively changing the quality and quantity of cycling in Pasadena.  In this business, as in physics, I think it is better to be wrong, than vague.

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17 Responses to Pasadena Bicycle Master Plan Workshop #2

  1. Andrew says:

    Zane,
    Thanks for posting the notes. First, i am a little disappointed that i did not hear about the meeting before hand (I went to the first meeting and even sent an email to Ryan..). I agree completely with your assertion that the best way to feel safe while biking is to reduce both the speed and volume of the traffic that you are riding with (I also think a bike lane on Colorado would be unwise). I find it frustrating that a city that is committed to being environmentally friendly spends none of their transportation budget on cycling infrastructure, correct me if I am wrong but i read that in a Pasadena dept. of transportation report.

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks for the thorough report. I am also disappointed not to have heard about the meeting until after the fact.

    I would like to recommend to Pasadena cyclists to call/email your city council reps. We need to keep the political pressure on this issue throughout the process. Make sure that they understand that this is a priority. You should be able to find the contact info here: http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/citycouncil.asp
    I’ve found my rep, Terry Tornek, to be receptive.

  3. Zane Selvans says:

    Yeah, I have to imagine that they are being conscientiously opaque about the meetings, which is really irritating. We know they have that e-mail list because they used it to send out the survey announcement. If they really cared about getting public input on this stuff, they would have e-mailed out this draft document to the list a week ahead of time, and let people know that this is what they were going to be commenting on, allowing us to discuss and formulate our thoughts before showing up to the workshop. I should have sent out a message to all the cycling lists too — I feel lame for not doing that — but the only reason I knew there was a meeting with any kind of advance notice (so I could, you know, plan my schedule around it…) was because I ran into Diane Trout on campus, and she mentioned the date and time to me… though the location was still Top Secret (or TBD).

  4. Anonymous says:

    very useful, I missed it due to the short notice given (I only found out on Tuesday itself)!

    I think your numbers could be considered wrong in the “Make bicycle parking available, secure and convenient throughout Pasadena” section though. You are actually only saving the developer 10 x $30,000, because that’s how many car spaces got eaten up. I know what you intended though, because in theory that’s 100 people who are now not using cars. The problem from a developer point of view however is that they can charge for car parking, while people are presently unlikely to respond well to a similar scheme for bike parking…

  5. Zane Selvans says:

    @Anonymous, re: parking costs,

    This is actually a well-researched pet-peeve of mine. See my post The Cost of Parking at Caltech for more information than you ever wanted on the subject.

    My estimate of cost savings is based on the assumption that a given number of people are going to be coming to the mall (or whatever the destination is) and that there is some cost associated with providing space for them to store their vehicles while they are there. To be really accurate, I’d have to account for the cost of the 10 parking spaces worth of real estate and construction ($300,000), and subtract that from the savings realized by not needing to build an additional 100 parking spaces ($3,000,000), resulting in a net cost reduction of $2,700,000.

    In reality (at least in SoCal’s version of it), how much parking is provided ultimately has nothing to do with how much parking costs to build, how much people are willing to pay for it, or how much the developer would like to provide. It’s mandated arbitrarily by the City, generally in such a way as to require much more parking than anybody is actually willing to pay for under a normal supply and demand scenario.

    Requiring ample, secure and convenient bicycle parking would be a great way to mitigate these parking requirements, the costs of which are ultimately borne by everyone, but the benefits of which accrue only to those who choose to drive.

  6. michelle says:

    Rich Dilluvio (of the Pas DOT) mentioned to me last night that he has ~ $80,000 annually to spend on bike projects, but that all of that is spent “just maintaining the infrastructure we have.” Rich specifically mentioned maintaining striping for bike lanes, but when i pressed him for more examples of what gets maintained with that much money every year, i didn’t get any other specifics. it would be great to know how this funding has been spent for the last several years! (especially since we have very few bike-lane miles and i haven’t noticed any repainting in the last 4 years that i’ve been using them…)

  7. Ben says:

    Zane,

    Thanks for staying involved, keeping us posted, and your thoughtful analysis. Like the others, I’m disappointed that the organizers of the workshop did not make any attempt to inform the cycling community of the meeting. I’m especially disappointed that they made no effort to include individuals such you and Michelle who have already gone out of your way to provide helpful input.

    I agree with most everything you said, but want to point out that riding on some of the main “automobile arterials” does have some advantages even if you’re not the type to wear a spandex clown suit while trying to draft a truck at 35mph. Most notably, these would include less waiting at traffic lights and riding on streets with 2 lanes each way, which allows motorists an opportunity to pass before their road rage replaces common courtesy. Certain busy roads such as Del Mar and Walnut aren’t really that bad to ride on outside of rush hour, though they could be made much better. Lake and Colorado are another story. Personally, I don’t find the busiest commuting roads to be nearly as dangerous as the roads lined with businesses (e.g., Colorado and Lake) where motorists are turning more frequently.

    I bring this up because I can’t imagine what the city can realistically do to make some of the lighter traveled roads more bike friendly (other than stop replacing timed lights with lights with sensors that aren’t sensitive to bikes – they just put a new one up at Del Mar and Oak Knoll, grrr). Will they ever have the money to make bike-friendly traffic barriers, add bike-friendly speed bumps, or add roundabouts? What roads are we talking about anyway?

    Another option would be to take a street like Del Mar, eliminate all parking, and put in bike lanes on both sides ALL the way from Orange grove to Rosemead. It shouldn’t be that expensive or controversial to implement this since the road is already plenty wide enough and the city does it’s best to make parking on such streets a hassle at certain times of the day. Similar routes could be chosen north of the highway (maybe Orange Grove or Mountain?) and on a few continuous north-south routes. One example of a road that is already like this is Sierra Madre, and it is quite nice to ride on despite the heavy, fast traffic.

  8. Zane Selvans says:

    If we were willing to put California or Del Mar, and Orange Grove or Mountain on road diets, or make other similarly significant changes to the physical engineering of the roadways, then I completely agree — lots of the wide, fast streets we have could be made pleasant and safe for cycling. As of yet though, I see no indication that these relatively expensive and politically difficult options are actually on the table. They might look good on paper, or with 20-years-in-the-future glasses on, but I’ll be bummed if they end up in the plan and make a bunch of bicycle advocates happy because they are visionary and the computer renderings look great, and then “mysteriously” don’t happen because of a lack of funding (which will be blamed on the State of California) or neighborhood opposition (which will be blamed on the car-centric residents).

    These limitations are, I think, foreseeable. They’re not insurmountable — Portland and Copenhagen were both very bike-unfriendly 40+ years ago — but if we put them in the plan, and then focus on them at the expense of implementing completely doable things like regular bicycle counts, aggressive signage, and a change in the Police department’s attitude, then I think we will have failed.

  9. Ben says:

    I completely agree. Getting the data is a key first step as is improving signage and awareness (of both cops and motorists). My only point was that I thought it would be more feasible to convert certain streets like Del Mar than it would be to improve smaller streets with roundabouts, speed bumps, etc…

    But I imagine I’m completely underestimating the task of putting in bike lanes. If Pasadena manages to squander 80K/year to maintain our current level of signage and paint, I guess making 10-20 miles of new bike lanes would likely cost tens of millions.

  10. Michelle W says:

    Is it true that rich/educated people are more likely to bike than poor/uneducated people? Undoubtedly, I live in a poor part of town, but I see equal numbers of well-helmeted, REI-bike-pants wearing, panniered commuters (appearing to be lawyers or at least students) and jeans-wearing, non-helmeted, cheap bike, grocery bags over the handle bars (appearing to be under-employed) bikers heading somewhere. I think here it may be pretty equal – those who ride because of economic necessity and those who ride for ideology etc. In the winter, I think I actually see more of the necessity type. As attractive as it is to say that having a bike friendly community with more riders will make it a nicer community, my feeling is that it will make it a more fair community. Everyone should have a chance to get where they are going easily, especially those who are limited to bike/bus/foot. Gentrification be damned.

  11. Zane Selvans says:

    I can’t immediately find the study that I was remembering when I made the assertion that wealth and education had been shown to be correlated with cycling, but I did run across an interesting study entitled Automobile Dependency and Economic Development by Todd Litman and Felix L’aube from 2002. (download the PDF here).

    I agree that at the very lowest end of the economic spectrum, cycling appears to go up (as does walking), and actually, this connotation of cycling is a problem in getting middle and lower-middle income people to bike – they sometimes see it as a sign of poverty. I probably came across the study on Streetsblog or Copenhagenize if anyone else feels like searching for it.

    I also came across this blog post at the NY Times mentioning the cycling targets that other cities are setting: Brussels, Milan, Munich, Seville, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Portland, Oregon have all committed to getting 15% of all trips to be by bike by 2020, with other cities hopefully signing on as well. I see no (good) reason why we should keep comparing ourselves to the rest of the US. If nothing else this provides a nice point of reference for what kinds of goals other people think are attainable (in comparison to our apparent goal of 5% by 2029)

    Regarding the social-justice argument for cycling, I agree that a community which is more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists is more fair to all parts of the economic spectrum. However, for political reason, I don’t think that this is the right argument to make. The people who will be swayed by social-justice are by-and-large already more likely to be supportive of cycling infrastructure. The people who really need convincing are conservatives and independents, which is the main reason I was sad to see that the goal I outlined above (displacing expensive car infrastructure with equally functional, much cheaper bike infrastructure) had been left out of the plan.

    Here’s a nice long list of reasons why we should be giving people the option of biking safely and conveniently, with references to the studies which attempt to back them up.

  12. Zane Selvans says:

    Regarding the $80,000/yr which is reportedly spent on bike infrastructure maintenance, I think it’s good to have a scale in mind for the City: overall, the Pasadena DoT budget is approximately $25,000,000/yr (see below). Which means that bikes are currently getting about 0.3% of the Pasadena transportation budget. Now wouldn’t it be great to see the City commit to giving bikes that proportion of the DoT budget which we make up in daily trips? If we were 5% of the daily trips, then we’d be getting on the order of $1M/yr, and that would be enough money to put in real physical infrastructure over the next 20 years.

    (For details on the City DoT budget, see the 2008 annual financial report, which is provided as an almost useless 311 page, 60MB PDF file composed exclusively of images of the pages in the paper report, and which is therefore unsearchable — we wouldn’t want to make it too easy for anyone to find out what’s in the report after all — actually, I wonder if this is illegal for accessibility reasons under the Americans with Disabilities Act?. The DoT budget is on page 199, and is listed as about $10M, but the supplemental information last year’s annual report combined “Public Works and Transportation” into one item at $25M, and the press release which was made when Fred Dock was hired as director of the DoT said $28M… so that’s the number I’m using.)

  13. SoapboxLA says:

    Great review of the Pasadena Bike Plan process. Perhaps the reality show of the future could be something along the lines of “Oh yeah? My City’s Bike Plan is worse than yours!”

    I’m impressed by the number of respondents to the survey. In LA they’re referred to as “despondents” and there are not many of them.

    I think you missed the mark when you take Ryan to task for the “indicator species” comment. This is not a claim of causality. We would not claim that canaries cause oxygen or healthy coal-miners but we watch the canary and when they drop, we run.

    Likewise, a community with no cyclists is an unhealthy community that has streets unsuitable for people. (So goes the claim!)

    I’d also like to point out that the arterial vs. local debate is a huge distraction that fails to take into consideration simple need and public safety. When I’m riding local, I can take side streets and be creative with my route but when I need to cover some distance I’m taking Santa Monica to the Westside, Ventura to the mid valley, Van Nuys to PC and Colorado to Temple City etc. I can’t meander through unfamiliar neighborhoods hoping that the streets connect. As for the safety issue, at night, when riding alone, my wife stays to the arterials simply because of the eyes on the street. Quiet dim local streets aren’t attractive to a woman riding alone.

    In other words, I hate to see us polarize over preferences and hope that we can lay down a standard of all roadways are bikeways. Our Federal and State standards are moving faster than our local. I sometimes think it’s because we debate the details before the standards or principles.

    Anyway, great work, I’ll keep working on it!

  14. Zane Selvans says:

    Yes, I agree the arterial vs. side-street debate is certainly not the main show here. I suspect however that while some of us do choose to ride all the way across the city (and that should absolutely be encouraged behavior!) that we’re currently a small portion of the bike traffic overall. I do the same thing: bigger through streets when I’m in unfamiliar territory, quiet routes for repeated destinations.

    And I agree that if we create a livable city which is optimized for people (instead of cars) there will be lots of bicycles. It’s less clear to me that just creating bicycle infrastructure would necessarily result in a livable city. There are a lot of other things that make livable cities livable… greenery, good public spaces, safe (and complete) streets, mixed use developments, moderate to high density, etc.

    I guess the reason I feel relatively unenthusiastic, or discouraged, about trying to make the bigger, busier streets friendly to bikes is because of the political opposition, and the lack of funding for serious engineering. I really don’t want to have a beautiful plan on paper that can’t be implemented, and that potentially impedes the implementation of perhaps less beautiful, but more accessible options. We need the long term vision as something to aim for, but we also need the concrete short-term progress in order to boot-strap the bicycle constituency to where those bigger projects become politically tenable.

  15. kyle k says:

    do you know when the next meeting will be held regarding the new Mater Plan? Are there any other new developments regarding pasadena’s bicycle master plan, bicycling in general, and transportation in the city? thank you

  16. Zane Selvans says:

    Unfortunately no, I still haven’t heard anything about the next meeting. They do tend to post information (maybe 2 days ahead of time) on the Pasadena DoT web pages, but that’s not guaranteed, and the site isn’t particularly well organized…. there’s still a big, bold announcement of the first meeting up on the site, and that was in February. If/when I hear about the next meeting, I’ll send it out to the Caltech/JPL/Foothill Cities bike lists, and tweet it, and tell LA Streetsblog, and everyone else I an think of.

  17. Zane,

    Thanks for staying involved, keeping us posted, and your thoughtful analysis. Like the others, I’m disappointed that the organizers of the workshop did not make any attempt to inform the cycling community of the meeting. I’m especially disappointed that they made no effort to include individuals such you and Michelle who have already gone out of your way to provide helpful input.

    I agree with most everything you said, but want to point out that riding on some of the main “automobile arterials” does have some advantages even if you’re not the type to wear a spandex clown suit while trying to draft a truck at 35mph. Most notably, these would include less waiting at traffic lights and riding on streets with 2 lanes each way, which allows motorists an opportunity to pass before their road rage replaces common courtesy. Certain busy roads such as Del Mar and Walnut aren’t really that bad to ride on outside of rush hour, though they could be made much better. Lake and Colorado are another story. Personally, I don’t find the busiest commuting roads to be nearly as dangerous as the roads lined with businesses (e.g., Colorado and Lake) where motorists are turning more frequently.

    I bring this up because I can’t imagine what the city can realistically do to make some of the lighter traveled roads more bike friendly (other than stop replacing timed lights with lights with sensors that aren’t sensitive to bikes – they just put a new one up at Del Mar and Oak Knoll, grrr). Will they ever have the money to make bike-friendly traffic barriers, add bike-friendly speed bumps, or add roundabouts? What roads are we talking about anyway?

    Another option would be to take a street like Del Mar, eliminate all parking, and put in bike lanes on both sides ALL the way from Orange grove to Rosemead. It shouldn’t be that expensive or controversial to implement this since the road is already plenty wide enough and the city does it’s best to make parking on such streets a hassle at certain times of the day. Similar routes could be chosen north of the highway (maybe Orange Grove or Mountain?) and on a few continuous north-south routes. One example of a road that is already like this is Sierra Madre, and it is quite nice to ride on despite the heavy, fast traffic.

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