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Changes to Altadena Bike Boulevard Made at County Hearing Tuesday

At a Board of Supervisors hearing Tuesday, county officials gave their preliminary approval to a 20-year county bike plan, while making changes that will affect a proposed Altadena bike boulevard.

The County Board of Supervisors gave their preliminary approval Tuesday to the county's master bike plan while also making a revision that would ensure a proposed Altadena bike boulevard will have traffic calming measures installed that would be designed to slow car traffic.

The board voted to close the public hearing on the plan, though a version of the plan with amended language will be on the agenda of a future meeting. However, according to Andrew Veis of Supervisor Don Knabe's office, it will appear on the "consent calendar" segment of the meeting, meaning that unless a member of the public specifically request to speak about it, it will be voted on without any further Board discussion.

The key amendment for Altadena residents is a language change that would make it a requirement for a five-mile stretch of Altadena streets carved out as a "bike boulevard" to receive traffic-calming measures designed to slow down car traffic.

The version of the plan presented on Tuesday reads that county designers "can" integrate traffic calming measures into the bike boulevard.  

The new language will read that the measures "shall" be part of the bike boulevard, effectively ensuring that speed bumps, traffic circles or some other form of traffic control measures would be installed along the route in Altadena (for an idea of what other traffic calming measures could be installed, see our ).

County planners have previously been mum on exactly which calming measures they would employ on Altadena streets.  Bike advocates at Tuesday's meeting said without the language changes they would be concerned that planners would simply install signage labeling the roads as bike boulevards and not install any of the measures designed to slow car traffic on the streets.

Bike Plan Details

The bike boulevard would run east to west in Altadena, starting at the intersection of Windsor Avenue and Ventura Steet.  It would run along Ventura, switch north to Calaveras east of Fair Oaks, then later to Mendocino Street, Midwick Drive, Glen Canyon Road and down Roosevelt Avenue (the proposed boulevard route is highlighted in purple on the map on the right). 

The route of that proposal has been changed several times since it was first discussed at a public meeting last year.  The time line for project completion would be some time between 2017 and 2027.

In addition to the bike boulevard, Altadena could also see a bike path that would start from just east of the border of Altadena and Pasadena on New York Drive and run south for 7.8 miles along the Eaton Wash, through East Pasadena and San Gabriel, to connect to the Rio Hondo bike path in El Monte.

The overall bike plan includes 832 miles of bike improvements throughout the county, and more than 60 miles of bike improvements in the West San Gabriel Valley alone.  The current county bike plan dates back to 1975.

Concerns Over Plan's Cost

Altadena's representative at the Board of Supervisors, Michael Antonovich, abstained from the vote to move the plan forward, the sole member of the board not to vote in favor of the motion.

Antonovich cited concerns that the plan's $331 million price tag could result in cuts or delays to road or public transportation projects.

County planners at the meeting said that they anticipated that most of the money for the project will come from state and federal grants, though there is no committed plan for exactly how much funding will come from where.

The plan is intended to be worked on over 20 years in gradual stages, so the money required to complete the entire project would not be allocated immediately.

Final Vote

A date for the final vote of the plan was not set on Tuesday, though it will likely be a formality: A press release sent out by Supervisor Don Knabe lists the plan as already being approved, and several board members suggested at the hearing that they intended to support the plan once several language changes are made.

One of the factors that kept the plan from final approval were concerns over a proposed improvements to a bike path in Venice that some local homeowners say could pose a safety risk to their homes.

The board also asked for language changes that would allow planners to install bike lanes in areas where the plan calls for bike routes.  Bike routes are nothing more than a sign that declares a road as a suggested route for a cyclist to use. The new language would make it clear that designating an area as a bike route would not mean that future planners cannot instead propose upgrading the area to a bike lane.

Editor's note: The original version of this story suggested that the bike plan would still receive a second full hearing.  While the plan will again appear on a Board of Supervisors agenda, the board did vote to close the public hearing, making the final vote likely to be made without any further presentation or public comment.

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