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Pasadena's Going To Walk More, Here's How

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Pasadena ARTS Bus/Gold Line Map

We are not all drivers, we are not all cyclists, we are not all transit riders, but we are all pedestrians. Every trip we take starts and ends with a walking trip. And no matter what part of the Los Angeles area you're in, walking can be, well, no walk in the park. There's always something: a bad sidewalk, ditzy drivers, driveways, the lack of a sidewalk, zero street activity and endless sights of shadeless boulevards.

Downtown Pasadena, by all counts, is a very nice place to walk. The problem is, people are still parking, doing their business, and driving to their next destination within downtown. To that, a group of residents, businesses, city officials, residents, architects, environmentalists and maybe even you will be participating in this Saturday's Downtown Pasadena Walkabout. It's a quest to make the four areas of downtown, Old Town, South Lake, Playhouse District, Paseo/Civic, connectable by walking.

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"Pasadena is blessed with the fact that it is already has wonderful walkable neighborhood," Carla Winnetka, a Playhouse District board member who came up with the walkabout idea, explained in a phone interview. "We would like to make Pasadena more of a walker's paradise."

Winnetka, who is also chairing the Downtown Pasadena Walkabout Committee was sitting on another committee when a variety of other people wanted to improve the way people move around the district. "They stole Eric Garcetti's idea!?" one Los Angeles city employee scoffed at when hearing about this. And yes, Pasadena got their ideas from previous walkabouts done in Hollywood and Glassell Park/Cypress Park. "It's different from the other ones. This one's very tailored to Pasadena," Winnetka said.

And if "stealing" an idea is one thing, Pasadena went and hired the same person who led the Los Angeles walkabouts, Deborah Murphy of Deborah Murphy Urban Design + Planning. This time, the challenge is different from LA's. "Although Pasadena is more walkable now... There are not as many transit dependent people here. People tend to stick in one district and then come back a week later go to another one." She explains that the nationally accepted length and distance of a walk is 10-15 minutes, or a quarter to half mile. People are willing to walk further for theatre or films.

The problem is, much of Pasadena's districts are within that accepted range, yet people are not taking the walk. Perceived notions of how far places are apart play into this, but also street activity. In Pasadena, where each district has its own street life, leaving one for another sometimes forces you to go through the wasteland of commercial buildings where there is nothing. Even with the same distance between, street activity, whether that be more first floor retail or street vendors can encourage the walk commute.

Downtown Pasadena has three gold line stops in addition to ARTS busses (cute, they actually stand for Area Rapid Transit System). Saturday, volunteers will be testing and evaluating transit to walk mode in addition to teams of volunteers, 25 in all, walking a total of 29 miles, clip boards in hand, ideas ready to write down. For Pasadena, this is not just a technical transportation adventure, but a cultural and experiential one as well.

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The goal of all this is to come up with a plan of action, fix any physical problems, make the parking supply go further by driving a "park once" culture and get downtown as a whole moving again.

For Winettka this Saturday is where it's at. "We know we're starting with something really good and we're looking to make it better."

INFO: This Saturday, 8:00 am until 2:00 pm at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church, 585 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, with one goal in mind to make the city more walker-friendly in the Downtown Pasadena Walkabout. Rain date is planned just in case.