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In early Feb. 2021, the Metro Board of Directors reportedly approved 16 active transportation projects across the county, including two San Gabriel Valley projects in Monterey Park and South Pasadena for new bike lanes.
Awarded through the Metro Active Transport, Transit and First/Last Mile (MAT) program, which is funded through Measure M, the first round of funding is expected to invest more than $857 million over the next 40 years into active transportation projects. The board approved more than $63.1 million to five active transportation corridor projects and eleven first/last mile projects.
Spread out over the next three years, Monterey Park will receive $6.36 million, and South Pasadena will receive $6.05 million. MAT submittals were not required to have prior planning completed, and the projects will be able to get through an initial scoping phase to arrive at the budget needed to complete the full project.
For the First/Riggin/Portrero Grande Bikeway in Monterey Park, the roughly 5.3-mile project will cross east-west through unincorporated South San Gabriel, including the cities of Monterey Park, Montebello, and Rosemead. The project will connect to the existing Riggin Street bicycle lane (0.5 miles) and sharrows (0.5 miles), and connect to future bike lanes on First Street in East Los Angeles as part of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Access Phase II project.
Riggin Street is proposed to include bike lanes from Atlantic and Garfield (including upgrading some areas that currently have sharrows), and Portero Grande Drive is proposed to include bike lanes, per Metro’s Active Transportation Corridors Project Profiles report.
For the project on Huntington Drive and Fremont Avenue in South Pasadena, it’s divided into two sections: First is on North Fremont Avenue between Alhambra Road and Columbia Street (1.8 miles); and the second is on Huntington Drive between Alhambra Road and Atlantic Boulevard (1.5 miles). The project is proposed to eliminate existing and potential conflict areas by upgrading ADA paths of travel, implementing bike improvements approved in the bike master plan, improving intersection functionality, and providing a safe transition between corridors.
There is a growing need for protected bike lanes throughout cities in Los Angeles. Last year it was reported by the non-profit news organization Crosstown that Sep. marked a record for bike safety in the city. As more cyclists hit the roads, the month had the fewest bicycle-vehicle collisions since the city began releasing data in 2012. Per data from the Los Angeles Police Department, there were 18 bike-vehicle collisions recorded in the city that month, down from 185 during the same period in 2019 — making it the lowest number ever recorded. Consequently, the number of cycling trips in the city logged by Strava Metro, which tracks data on bike usage in urban areas, rose by 52%, to 191,010.
But as traffic levels are going back to pre-pandemic numbers, it’s important to conserve the improvement made — and protected bike lanes could be a step in that direction. California at large, and Los Angeles in particular, are infamous for being bike-unfriendly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California was the second state with the most pedalcyclist deaths in the country in 2018. The year prior, the city of Los Angeles experienced a total of 1,918 bicycle accidents that resulted in 17 fatalities, according to the California Highway Patrol’s Annual Report.