South Pasadena plans car-centric remake of Fair Oaks Ave, and anti-growth email scandal in car-centric Redondo Beach

It looks like South Pasadena is going the wrong way.

The town of just 26,000 people sandwiched between Los Angeles and Pasadena is proposing a plan to remove bulb-outs on Fair Oaks Ave, optimizing the street for motor vehicles while making it less safe for everyone else — particularly bike riders and pedestrians.

Here’s what Streets For All had to say.

THIS TUESDAY (today), the City of South Pasadena’s Mobility and Transportation Infrastructure Commission has an item on its agenda(item #3 – staff report here) to consider how to implement over $11M in federal funds for road safety improvements. Unbelievably, city staff seem to think that removing pedestrian bulb outs are a safety improvement (for whom!?). Additionally, the vast majority goes to car infrastructure – new signals, new lanes, and new cameras to monitor congestion.

It’s 2022 and we know the cost of traffic violence all too well in the Los Angeles area. There is no room for 1990s thinking using 2022 dollars. Make your voice heard.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Grace Peng offered her thoughts, including sharing her open letter to the South Pasadena city council.

Dear South Pasadena Mobility and Transportation Infrastructure Commission –

I oppose your staff’s recommendation to use federal dollars to make Fair Oaks Ave less safe.

Fair Oaks is a very wide and busy street. Crossing it within the allotted pedestrian signal time is already difficult for the mobility-impaired. Bulb outs reduce the distance, and make vulnerable road users safer.

The proof is right in front of us. I looked up South Pasadena in the Transportation Injury Mapping System.

The bulb outs were installed around 2010. Between 2011 and 2021, Fair Oaks Ave has seen fewer pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths than the narrower Mission St. This is a good indication that traffic calming elements on Fair Oaks are working. Stay the course.

Since Covid, there has been an increase in injuries on Fair Oaks, and in the whole region.  Do not allow cars to pick up speed while making right turns. This only increases the severity of injury and the risk of death to pedestrians. 

I live in Redondo Beach, where the death of a 13 year old girl at an unsafe intersection cost our city $33 Million in a wrongful death lawsuit. No amount of money will make that family whole again. And our city coffers suffer as well due to sharply increased insurance premiums. As a mother and daughter (to a mobility-impaired senior), I am begging you to improve, not remove pedestrian safety infrastructure. 

The $11 M in Caltrans funding could pay for pedestrian scramble signal timing changes. This would temporally separate vulnerable road users and cars/trucks in the intersections.  This would facilitate vehicle turns and improve safety.  Do this instead.

Grace Peng, PhD

PS I concur with the Streets For All recommendations below:

The ~$11M is coming from the canceled 710 North project; instead, the funds should be used to improve transportation for all modes in South Pasadena.

The vast majority of funds are proposed to be spent on cars – new signals, new turn lanes, new traffic monitoring cameras – none of these expensive items will help the residents of South Pasadena get out of cars, which are the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California!

Most egregiously, staff is proposing to REMOVE pedestrian bulb outs on Fair Oaks Ave – pedestrian bulb outs are a proven safety element that help save lives by enabling pedestrians to spend less time in the street when crossing. Removing them is contrary to every possible best safety practice.

I ask that you throw out these staff recommendations and start over. Build a true multi modal street. Add protected bike lanes (implement your own bike plan!) and more pedestrian improvements. Consider bus-only lanes in the city. With an average trip of only 3 miles, if you build safe alternatives to the car, many residents will use them, improving traffic, air quality, safety, and helping fight climate change.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Photo by Aayush Srivastava from Pexels.

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At least it’s not as bad as the recently released recording of racist and otherwise offensive comments by three LA city councilmembers, two of whom still refuse to do the right thing and resign.

But emails between the mayor of Redondo Beach and various councilmembers and supporters sure as hell ain’t pretty.

The emails center on the majority-white city’s efforts to block housing projects, particularly those offering housing for low-income residents, as well as offensive racial “banter” in private conversations.

The emails were released as part of a freedom of information request filed by attorneys for a developer looking to redevelop the city’s pier, which was blocked by a public vote.

Redondo resident Dr. Peng says officials purposely undermine transit and active transportation projects to create anti-housing furor.

It’s also worth noting that local officials are insisting that ebike riders obey the law; drivers, not so much.

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Streets For All continues a strong run in this election cycle, as two more candidates endorsed by the transportation PAC claimed victory, including new LA County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath; a click on the lower right panel reveals 15 candidates and propositions who’ve won with their endorsements, with no losses — yet.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

Ann Arbor, Michigan goes back to the drawing board after local residents insist on keeping their on-street parking instead of a new bike lane, even though the homes appear to have fully functional driveways. And bizarrely argue that street parking improves safety, while bike lanes don’t — exactly the opposite of the actual effects.

An English bike rider suffered a broken leg after he was knocked off his bike by a road raging pedestrian following an argument between the two men.

It was evidently a bad weekend for people on bikes in the UK, as a second bike rider was hospitalized with serious head injuries when he was viciously attacked by a road raging driver.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

Police in the UK are looking for a pair of hooded teenagers who rode up on bikes before demanding money and belongings from two 17-year old boys, but ended up riding off empty handed.

………

Local

No surprise here. The Los Angeles Daily News reports Metro’s proposal to “simplify” it’s fare structure, which masks a dramatic fare increase, came in for overwhelming criticism during yesterday’s problem-plagued virtual meeting.

Santa Monica collected over $5 million in Development Impact Fees in 2022, adding to a pot of $11.4 million set aside for transportation projects, including $3.4 million for bikeways in 2024; the city spent nearly $1 million of the fund for active transportation projects this year.

 

State 

Petaluma announced plans for a bicycle boulevard on the city’s west side.

San Francisco safe streets advocates celebrate after last week’s election resulted in a victory to keep JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park permanently carfree.

A Tulare County woman faces up to four years behind bars for the hit-and-run that killed a man walking his bicycle earlier this month; Shay Dejonge is being held without bail after entering a not guilty plea.

 

National

The Bike League is now offering an online Bicycle Friendly Drive Training course. Which most drivers will undoubtedly rush to take.

No surprise here, either. A new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health shows that bike lanes may be the most cost-effective way to improve public health.

Bicycling reports on the Bike League’s latest list of Bicycle Friendly Universities; congratulations to SoCal’s Santa Monica College, UC San Diego and the University of San Diego. As usual, read it on Yahoo if the magazine blocks you.

Wired reports that the pandemic bike boom is still going strong in cities that invested in bike infrastructure, but faltering in those that didn’t — like Los Angeles, for instance. Meanwhile, the magazine also recommends the best ebikes for elderly riders, only one of which is an adult tricycle.

Cycling Weekly says it’s been a rough year for Seattle’s Rad Power Bikes, after the company has faced lawsuits, layoffs and a recent recall.

A 67-year old Washington woman has set a Guinness world record as the oldest woman to ride across the US from coast-to-coast.

Three men face charges for recklessly riding their bikes in Salem, New Hampshire, after they were stopped as part of a rideout group weaving in and out of traffic.

The Guardian reports “everyone is scared” after ebike batteries are alleged to have caused 200 fires in New York, resulting in six deaths. Although other reports suggest that the problem stems from delivery riders using low-cost refurbished lithium ion batteries with mismatched chargers. 

New York could get another large pedestrian plaza before Los Angeles gets its first, as the city starts the process of removing cars from Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, after previously making Times Square carfree.

You can now ride your bike between Hoboken and Jersey City on a new curb and plastic bendy post-protected two-way bike lane.

 

International

A Vancouver writer calls on the city to keep the bike lanes through the city’s Stanley Park, which the city council recently voted to remove.

Tesla insists a crash that killed a Chinese motorcyclist and a high school student on a bicycle wasn’t its fault, despite data taken from the vehicle that failed to show the Model Y SUV applied its brakes before the crash.

Melbourne, Australia officials were urged to rip out a series of popup bike lanes, after an independent review found they either offered limited benefit, or actually increased the risk to bike riders.

 

Competitive Cycling

Hats off to American Hannah Roberts, as the 21-year old Olympic silver medalist won her third consecutive BMX Freestyle world title.

A 31-year old former pro cyclist from the Isle of Man will spend four years behind bars after he was busted for dealing coke; Christopher Whorrall blamed his downfall on hitting rock-bottom after an injury ended his career.

 

Finally…

Apparently, its against the law to fix an illegally obscured license plate. When you’re already the most wanted man in town, put some damn lights on your bike.

And when is a bike lane not a bike lane? When horn-honking drivers use it to bypass traffic, while insisting people on bikes get the hell out of their way.

Thanks to Tim Rutt for the heads-up.

………

Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Oh, and fuck Putin, too.

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