City Aims to Slow Traffic for Walkers’ Sake

First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

South Pasadena will be moving forward quickly with plans that officials hope will make streets safer for foot traffic after the City Council voted last week to appropriate grant money to the Slow Streets Program.
Grant money originally received through L.A. Metro’s Open Street Grant Program will go toward the project.
The goal of the Slow Streets program is to decrease speeding by motorists and increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists on select streets in South Pasadena. Various demonstration projects will be conducted to determine the best way to make busy streets safer.

“The idea is to test out different types of strategies to help slow the traffic down and see what the impacts would be,” said Margaret Lin, a principal management analyst for the city. “Would it result in an increase in congestion? Would it provide a safer and more walkable environment?”
Demonstration projects could include a variety of traffic control devices. Streets that are close to multifamily housing, transit, key destinations or active transportation infrastructure are candidates for the Slow Streets demonstration projects.
So far, Mission Street and a residential street that hasn’t been identified will be examined. A special meeting of the city’s Mobility and Transportation Infrastructure Commission will be scheduled as soon as possible to determine other streets.
The grant money from Metro has to be spent by Dec. 31, a deadline that created an air of urgency at the council’s Sept. 1 meeting.
“The final list of streets that would be the subject of the Slow Streets Program would ultimately be decided by MTIC,” said Mayor Diana Mahmud. “We don’t really have enough time for that item to come back to City Council without fear of potentially losing use of the grant funds.”
Mahmud identified Meridian Avenue, Oak Street, Grand Avenue, Arroyo Drive, Monterey Road and Garfield Avenue as streets she would recommend for Slow Streets, based on recent complaints from residents.
In 2018, Metro — the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority — awarded $4 million in grant money as part of the Open Street Grant Program, which had the goal of funding car-free events that encouraged people to walk or ride their bicycle.
South Pasadena secured $420,000 and planned to be a part of Arroyo Fest, a celebration that would have shut down the 110 Freeway to usual traffic and allowed people to walk through the road. When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the event in fall 2020, South Pas was allowed to repurpose the grant funds.
The City Council issued a request for proposals in mid-June, prompting the idea of the Slow Streets program.
Alta Planning + Design Inc., a firm that has worked with Glendora, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and Long Beach on similar projects, was awarded the $167,812 contract for Slow Streets.