Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pasadena Bike Master Plan

Pasadena is in the process of updating its Bicycle Master Plan. I went to BMP Public Workshop #4 last night at City Hall where “they” unveiled their plans so far. It looks like some pretty good ideas. Mostly what you would expect: more bike lanes and routes and signage and such.

Most exciting was what they are calling Emphasized Bikeways or Bike Blvds. which basically can use any number of traffic calming tools with an eye toward Complete Streets design: 4 lanes into 2, bike lanes or sharrows, bulb-outs at intersections, roundabouts, and occasional sections passable only to bikes and peds (I’m not sure of the name for those.)

Also, really cool was the idea of Green Lanes. These are actually painted lanes in traffic that are shared between autos and bikes but they make it very clear that bikes belong. These are in use in Portland, OR and Long Beach, CA. Long Beach, by the way, is making rapid advancements toward becoming the most bike friendly city in the country – I’ve got to get down there and check it out sometime.

There are separate plans that encompass the Rose Bowl Loop and proposed bike paths in Hahamongna Park but those areas look promising, too.

It was mostly a bicycle crowd at the meeting but as usual with these types of public meetings there were some people there that seemed to just want to be curmudgeonly – mainly a few carists that are terrified that they’ll be losing their right to the road. Which, by the way, they won’t. In fact, most, if not all, of these changes will make it a nicer place to drive, too.

Although, there was a great comment from an Art Center College of Design person who basically said, Look lady, you gotta realize the age of the car is over. What were designing these days (a lot of future car design is done at Art Center) are very small cars and in 25 years we won’t be using the car the way we are today – it will be so much more focused on transit and human power and complete streets/communities so we might as well get with the program here in Pasadena right from the start and be a forerunner for the country.

Things are looking good for an even more bike friendly Pasadena in the near future.

Friday, February 12, 2010

geography of the mind

I did a little elevation running. My go-to spot is still closed – the Brown Mountain area (haven’t even written those two words in a while – I sure do miss it – only 6 more months ‘til it reopens – gahd!) So I went up to Sierra Madre to visit with the Mt Wilson trail (Home of the Mt Wilson Trail Race on Memorial Day Weekend. See you there!)

In my head, the Wilson trailhead is really far away and really high up there in the mountains compared to the Brown trailhead so it always feels like quite a trek to get up there on Mindful Mule. I checked it out on a map, though, and while it’s true that it is further (9.5mi vs. 6.5mi) it’s actually lower in elevation by about 150 feet (1150 vs. 1000). This doesn’t sound like much but it was enough to blow my mind. It just doesn’t seem possible. What’s more, even the top of Devil’s Gate Dam is 50 feet higher (1050) than the Wilson trailhead – crazy! If you’re standing at the bottom of the Devil’s Gate Dam, with your feet soaking in the river, under the 210 overpass (right where I couldn’t cross the high water last week), you’re at the same elevation as Wilson trailhead (1000). In my mind, I’d pegged Wilson trailhead at something like the Top o’ Lake, Echo Mtn trailhead which I now know is at about the 1800 foot elevation. No matter how many different ways I try to phrase this it never makes any sense to me.

On paper, riding to the two trailheads shouldn’t be that different. But the geography of my mind is clearly different from the geography of the topographical map. Still, I think there’s room to say that that doesn’t mean either geography is wrong/right or better/worse. I think they are just two very different ways of understanding the world around us. And while I do like maps (a lot) and knowing mileage to different places around town by heart, and elevations and geographical names of peaks, etc., occasionally putting that way of knowledge aside to sink into place, into earth seems ultimately of higher value.

Spend time with a landscape and you’ll get to know her, as she’ll get to know you. Distance and elevation fade. The four directions become: mountains, sunset, sunrise, downstream, shade, arroyo, cool, exposed, ridgeline, meadow… Journeys themselves start to become a part of the one doing the journeying. You become entrenched, inseparable from the land under your feet. Like going home. And while, as they say, you can never go home again, I think this is a realm in which we might look to find the way.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

it never rains in elay

But three blocks away it sure can pour.

In the past 24 hours we’ve received approximately 10 centimeters of rain. It looks like the next 24 hours will be about the same.

There are drier times, too, of course. For the entire 2006/2007 season we got 16 cm of rain. We’ll likely get more than that this weekend alone.

There are wetter times, too. In the 2004/2005 season we received 144 cm.

Friday, February 5, 2010

barefoot treadmill

So, there’s this treadmill in the garage. It’s been buried for a while under junk. I’ve never used it. Hilary used to use it. Actually, I have tried it a few times but have never been able to get a smooth stride going on it. I always felt like the track would brake for an instant every time my foot touched down resulting in a halting, jerky ride. But that was running in shoes with a heel strike.

Today, given the “rain day,” I thought I’d unbury the treadmill and give it another try. It turns out: one, the treadmill still works; two, running barefoot on the treadmill is a lot smoother. Actually, not entirely barefoot, I wore socks for some reason. But it felt great. Seems like a good place to practice barefoot running.

I didn’t exactly push it. I only went for five minutes. But I think if it’s raining tomorrow I might give it a longer test.

One note about the treadmill, and maybe this was just because I’m not used to it, it seemed like I was running faster than the speedometer was indicating. Maybe just wishful thinking. When I was running at what felt like a normal pace I was going about 1 or 2 mph slower. Maybe it’s just a calibration problem with this particular treadmill. At any rate, I would probably pay more attention to perceived effort and elapsed time to measure a treadmill run.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

the devil's muddy waters

Ran through the Arroyo this morning. My route was cut short just below Devil’s Gate Dam due to the flooded stream crossing. I think they’re releasing water from behind the dam in preparation for the rain expected in the next couple of days. I thought about wading through to practice my fording and wet shoe running skills for Malibu Creek Trail Run on March 7th. I made it about 80 percent of the way across hopping on rocks but couldn’t cross the last little bit. It was a pretty narrow flow. I could have made it across with only stepping one foot down in the water. But the water was thick with mud and junk that’s been breeding behind the dam for months. I couldn’t see through the water to what was below so I’d have had to go slow and it would have been pretty sick. So, no stream crossing practice for me. I just turned around and came home, leaving me just short of the Malibu middle distance. Now I should (but will I?) cram in some elevation gain for my final preparations.