South Pasadena City Council Directs Staff to Create Monterey Rd. Ad Hoc Committee, Study Options

As previously discussed, the South Pasadena City Council formally considered bicycle and pedestrian improvements to Monterey Rd on its September 7th agenda, as well as a possible anti-harassment ordinance.  Due to a full plate the Council only got to the former before the 11pm cutoff point for agenda items.  This means that the anti-harassment ordinance will be pushed off to the next Council meeting.

In addition to considering potential bike improvements for Monterey Rd. in the Bike Plan, the City was also interested in bringing the sidewalks up to Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] standards.  The Council had started with the idea of fixing all the potholes on Monterey Rd. and had the foresight to realize if they were going to temporarily disrupt things, they might as well consider making major improvements since projects on that scale only get done every other decade or so. The sidewalks were narrowed in the ’70s and consequently it’s difficult for able-bodied pedestrians to get by, much less anyone using a wheelchair.

Several members of the public stuck around until 11pm to comment on this agenda item. Most were in favor of bringing the sidewalk up to ADA standards and adding a bike lane. A number were specifically in favor of a bike lane separated by a small median as they felt a painted bike lane wouldn’t be protective enough. Some highlighted the need to encourage South Pasadena school children to cycle to school but were afraid no parent would let their child ride if they didn’t have the protection of a bike lane separated by a median (or “cycletrack”). Speakers were also in favor of calming the street to deter speeding and cut down on accidents (a number of residents have suffered from hit-and-runs involving their cars parked on Monterey). They felt that a road diet would complement the small town quality of life that is valued in South Pasadena.

One resident spoke against any change whatsoever because she was worried her disabled husband would no longer be able to park directly in front of their residence on Monterey Rd. One resident spoke against change because he feels that the road carries a lot of traffic, people would never change their driving habits to accommodate a changed road, and motorists far outnumber cyclists and should therefore carry the day.

One South Pasadena resident spoke in favor of the aims of the project but worried that it would be mishandled as many feel the major Fair Oaks construction project has been. She wanted some assurance that this would be designed and executed better. The Council responded that they would get a citizen advisory committee together to work with the Council. (It was unclear whether this committee would be comprised only of Monterey Rd. residents or whether it would be open to any South Pasadena resident.)

Wesley Reutimann of WSGVBC spoke in favor of the”road diet” option which would not only make things safer for cyclists, but for motorists by providing a center lane for left turns. He mentioned the CA Complete Streets Act , the draft South Pasadena Bicycle Master Plan, and the need for a holistic approach to transportation. He recommended they consult with road engineers and conduct traffic counts to get a clearer picture of just how much a road diet could help get a handle on the speeding that happens on the 4 lane stretch of Monterey Rd.

Megan Lynch of WSGVBC and South Pasadena resident spoke in favor of widening the sidewalks to make them ADA compliant.  However, she urged the Council not to use the proposed flare-out solution as that would create a wavy sidewalk that could encourage cyclists to ride in and out of traffic rather an in a straight line, placing them at additional risk.  She also spoke in favor of the road diet, feeling that a road that accommodates pedestrians and cyclists better would slow down speeders, make the road safer for all.

After a lengthy discussion that covered everything from the history of Monterey Rd. to cycling infrastructure in China, the Council unanimously passed a motion to do the following:

  • Monterey Rd form the Western City limits to the Monterey Rd/Pasadena Ave intersection (aka the Gold Line crossing area) – develop a Class II Bike Lane as proposed in Bike Plan
  • Monterey from Fair Oaks to Garfield – develop a Class III Bike Route with sharrows
  • The middle, 4-lane section (ADA Improvement corridor)
    • Label recommended road treatment for this section as “pending” in the Bike Plan
    •  Form an Ad Hoc Committee composed of local residents to help the City Council study all the options, including traditional Class II Bike Lanes to protected bike lanes/cycletracks and even protected contra bike lanes
    • Conduct traffic studies along the corridor and adjacent streets to help determine what impact a “road diet” would have on traffic

With this decision made, staff will now be able to finalize the Bike Master Plan and submit it to Metro and Caltrans for approval.  In the meantime WSGVBC members will continue to follow the process as it moves forward, in particular the work of the Ad Hoc Committee.

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