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In memory of our friend, Alan Deane

Posted by Colin Bogart on Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Alan Deane was a passionate environmentalist and activist. He lived his beliefs, and preferred to ride his bike rather than drive. In September of 2011, Alan was intentionally living houseless - sleeping in his car at night - a choice he had made to save money and live more simply. A talented musician, inquisitive mind, and friend to many, he was an active supporter of and volunteer for numerous advocacy groups, including CICLE, LACBC, BikeSGV (now ActiveSGV), and Walk Bike Glendale.

While riding his bike to KPCC to attend a live event (as he often did), Alan’s life was cut short by a driver who turned left immediately in front of him at Colorado Blvd. and Terrace Drive. It was Alan’s 61st birthday: September 22, 2011.

It was initially reported that Alan might have been riding on the sidewalk, surprising the driver when he rode into the street (across Terrace Drive). However, video footage from the car dealership across the street from the crash site showed that Alan had done nothing wrong. The footage contradicted statements made by the driver about his own actions, as well as Alan’s. This prompted the District Attorney to charge the driver for Vehicular Manslaughter.

The driver, Siddhartha Misra, was eventually sentenced for Reckless Driving when he took a plea bargain from the original Vehicular Manslaughter charge. When Misra was sentenced in November of 2012, Judge Steven Monette gave Misra 3 years of probation, 10 days of community labor, 400 hours of community service, and $4000 in restitution and other fines. At no point was Misra’s license suspended (not even temporarily), despite this request from Alan’s father. In his final statements, Judge Monette told Alan’s family and friends that nothing would bring Alan back - completely missing the point that Misra was being allowed to continue driving a motor vehicle despite being convicted of Reckless Driving.

It’s unlikely that anyone wanted a sentence with jail time. Jail is a terrible place, and would have done nothing to redeem Misra. However, when the court declined to even temporarily revoke Misra’s driving privileges despite evidence that this privilege had been misused, our court system perversely failed to protect society – those of us who continue to walk, bike, or drive on the same streets as people who drive dangerously.

When the court declined to even temporarily revoke Misra's driving privileges despite evidence that this privilege had been misused, our court system perversely failed to protect society.

Ultimately, Alan’s death was one of several deaths that prompted the formation of Pasadena CSC. KPCC posted a lovely recollection of Alan shortly after his death that can still be read or streamed here.

We want people to be held appropriately accountable when they cause fatal or serious collisions. We also want systemic changes in the form of proven infrastructural interventions that can reduce speeds, the severity of collisions, and save lives, because we recognize that our present car-first infrastructure and weak legal penalties promote unsafe driving. We want everyone to feel safe and valued, no matter how they choose to get around.

Join us at 7:00 pm on Sunday, September 22, 2019 at Colorado & Terrace Drive as we hold a memorial service for Alan. RSVPs not required.

Tags: memorials, why we work

Thoughts on a Future BRT: An open letter to Tom Wait

Posted by Talia on Sunday, July 28, 2019

Metro is proposing a new 18-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) line from North Hollywood to Pasadena, with 10 minute frequencies between Pasadena, Eagle Rock, Glendale, Burbank, and North Hollywood. With dedicated lanes to facilitate better bus service, Metro expects the BRT to travel at speeds 30 percent faster and attract 30,000 daily boardings. Metro staff hosted a series of community engagement meetings in each of the affected communities this past month, evoking impassioned responses from residents.

We need to ask ourselves whose voices are missing because of the way input is collected.

When we think about community engagement, however, we need to ask ourselves whose voices are missing because of the way input is collected. Often underrepresented in Pasadena’s transportation-related community meetings are English-language learners, people of color, people with disabilities, working-class and lower-income people, and those younger than 18.

Similarly, when media outlets report on the results of community meetings, we should ask: Are some voices amplified because of the way the story is framed?

CBS’s report on the July 10, 2019 Metro meeting held in Pasadena is a good example of how this happens, and how the media plays a role in exacerbating community conflict. By our count, twelve people spoke in favor of the BRT project, five spoke against, and three gave mixed input (@ActiveSGV live-tweeted a selection here.) While CBS could have honestly reported that BRT supporters outnumbered transit antagonists in delivering public comments by a wide margin, they chose to maintain the status quo by playing up a narrative of conflict and framing the story around the antagonists.

We think it is important to name this dynamic when we see it. Below is a letter sent by a CSC member to Tom Wait of CBS.

Dear Tom Wait,

We met briefly at Metro’s scoping meeting in Pasadena on the NoHo to Pasadena BRT, and I am writing in response to your coverage.

Your story overstates the opposition to the BRT while downplaying its support. Jeff Michael begins by stating that “a lot of residents were upset” about the proposed BRT. Since you sat next to me for the entirety of the meeting, I know you know that the overwhelming majority of people who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting support the project. Limited transportation options impeded transit-dependent Eagle Rock residents from attending a meeting in Pasadena about public transit, underscoring the need for the BRT.

Most of us take cataclysmic climate change seriously and applaud any opportunity to transition away from auto-dependency to a sustainable and equitable future by investing in public transit along with bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Furthermore, over 1075 people (updated) have signed a petition to demand a sustainable transportation future by endorsing the BRT through Eagle Rock with dedicated lanes on Colorado Boulevard. This is where the story lies.

Selectively amplifying a NIMBY message undermines journalistic independence and integrity. I sincerely hope that you, a reporter who cares deeply about accuracy and the journalistic craft, will correct the story.

Talia C.

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, August 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Samuelson Pavilion at Occidental College in Eagle Rock. Visit our Action page to learn more about the project and ways to participate.

Tags: BRT, Eagle Rock, media, Pasadena, transit

Only as good as its weakest link: thoughts on Pasadena's Roseways

Posted by John on Friday, July 12, 2019

The City-branded sign used to mark a Roseway

Editor’s Note: Pasadena has designated a network of traffic-calmed streets, branded as “Roseways”, as official Class III bicycle routes. This program has been slowly emerging from its shell since ~2014, when it was born in response to our first campaign for a better bicycle network.

If you’re not aware of the Roseways program, don’t feel bad - we’ve been waiting for this critter to come out for a long time. CSC member John Lloyd shares his recent experiences riding the Wilson Ave. Roseway and on the bike lanes on Glenarm St., below.

This morning I had an opportunity to bike with my daughter to PCC from a home in southwest Pasadena where she is house-sitting. The ride gave me an opportunity to explore a part of Pasadena I don’t often ride, and I have some thoughts.

I always do a bit of research on Google Maps before riding an area I haven’t biked before to see what the safest routes are (something car drivers don’t need to worry about). I took the Gold Line to the Fillmore Station, rode my bike south on Raymond to Glenarm, and then took Glenarm east to Oakland, since Glenarm shows up as having bike lanes on Google Maps.

…Well, it does, but only for about 2 blocks and, during morning rush hour the rest of it is terrible. There’s no way anyone who’s not super confident is going to ride that street. The sharrows the city has painted on Glenarm do nothing to protect cyclists, and impatient drivers often pass too close. It was super stressful, and the thought that this was billed as a bike route had me thinking, seriously, Pasadena?

The Google Maps satellite view of Glenarm shows that while buffered bike lanes are present on Glenarm for five blocks east of Marengo, there are no bike facilities on the block between Marengo and Arroyo Parkway, and only sharrows between Arroyo and Fair Oaks. The portion of Glenarm between Fair Oaks to Marengo is adjacent to the 110 freeway terminus, and is usually busy as people rush to get on or off the freeway.

A photo of E. Glenarm St. just west of Marengo

A ground view of E. Glenarm St. between S. Marengo Ave. and Arroyo Parkway. Here, bicyclists are required to take the lane, which can be scary and stressful for most riders.

Once I turned south down Oakland, however, it was chill the rest of the way to my destination.

After I picked up my daughter, we avoided Glenarm and stayed on Oakland north to Fillmore. Much better. We then rode Fillmore east to Arden, and, while it was not bad, I was surprised at how fast much of the morning automobile traffic was on those narrow curves on Arden. The pavement on Arden is terrible, and it needs repaving. Speed humps, anyone?

We then turned north on Wilson because it is one of Pasadena’s much ballyhooed “Roseways”, which would have been a delight to bike on a quiet Sunday morning. On a weekday morning, however, parked cars force you into the travel lane, and my daughter felt uncomfortable as a couple of drivers, including one in an oversized pickup truck, roared past us too close for comfort.

If only we could use the space along the curb for a real bike lane. Hey, I get it, free street space for cars that sit empty all day trumps green mobility in Pasadena.

A bit stressed from the Wilson “Roseway”, we decided to ride through the Caltech campus rather than continuing north on Wilson to Cordova. From there, we took San Pasqual east to Sierra Bonita. This last part was very comfortable and low stress because of light traffic. We made it to PCC in a respectable 15 minutes. It is not too hilly and is easily doable for a confident cyclist. It could–and should–be doable for so many more, however.

The best parts of the ride were the low-traffic areas of Oakland, Fillmore, San Pasqual, and Sierra Bonita. These streets are wide, or have very low traffic volumes. However, the full route illustrates gaping holes in Pasadena’s bike plan. The unprotected door zone bike lanes on Glenarm and Wilson last for a couple of blocks, and the rest of the way leave people on bikes utterly at the mercy of the goodwill of drivers. Which means, zilch. Just because you call something a “Roseway” and paint a sharrow does not mean you’ve done anything to protect people on bikes.

A bike network is only as good as its weakest link. If 80% is "bike-friendly" but 20% is stressful, it doesn't matter.

Bottom line? This part of town is super close to the Metro and is easily connected to PCC, Art Center, and Caltech, as well as many other businesses and destinations. But a bike network is only as good as its weakest link, and this route has 2 or 3 weak links that will dissuade all but the most confident and experienced of cyclists. If 80 percent is “bike-friendly” but 20 percent is stressful, it doesn’t matter. People who don’t normally bike won’t do it, even if they’d like to.

My daughter is perfectly capable of riding by herself – if she feels comfortable. 80 percent of the way is not enough to make her comfortable enough to ride it alone during weekday rush hour. It’s a shame, too, because so much of Pasadena is potentially bike-friendly, but still falls short.

My daughter does not currently own a car. She’d like to ride to school. If she and other students like her need to get to school, should they essentially be forced to buy a car and drive? Is this how we should “keep Pasadena moving” in the 21st century?

Until people like my daughter feel comfortable riding to school, we still have much work to do.

Have you ridden the city's bike network and found it lacking? We've been talking to the city about the need for improvements, and part of that conversation is getting them to understand what problems people face while biking. You can share your feedback by weighing in here.

Tags: criticism, infrastructure, Pasadena, Roseways

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