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Cyclists, Walkers to Take Over Pasadena Freeway

The scenic byway will close Sunday morning for an event to raise awareness of the issues facing communities along the Arroyo Seco.

June 14, 2003|Tina Daunt | Times Staff Writer

As part of a campaign to focus attention on the rich resources of the Arroyo Seco, a group of community activists on Sunday will take the extreme step of closing down the Pasadena Freeway so people can bike or walk on the scenic byway.

Anyone trying to get to Pasadena, South Pasadena, Highland Park or other communities along the north Pasadena Freeway is advised to either take surface streets or loop around the area via the Ventura, Glendale or Golden State freeways from 6 to 10 a.m.

The one-day ArroyoFest, which has been in the planning for more than two years, is intended to raise awareness about important environmental, transportation and economic issues facing the diverse communities along the Arroyo Seco, or "dry riverbed."

The arroyo, which stretches 22 miles from Mt. Wilson to the Los Angeles River just north of downtown, was considered Los Angeles' first suburb. It served as the center of the Arts and Crafts movement, and is home to many cultural institutions. Today, the arroyo includes some of the region's richest and poorest communities.

"Some people are asking, 'Why do this?' " said Robert Gottlieb, a professor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College, who is helping coordinate the event. "We are trying to give people a real sense of the possibilities in terms of this corridor, in terms of what you can do."

ArroyoFest will get underway at 7 a.m. with a bike ride. A walk will start at 8:30 a.m. in Pasadena and at 9 a.m. from various locations in the Highland Park area. Participants will have the opportunity to enter the freeway at four locations: Glenarm Street, Avenue 64 at Marmion Way, Via Marisol and Avenue 26.

A traditional festival, with food, music, crafts and information booths, will be held at Sycamore Grove Park until 1:30 p.m. A shuttle service will be offered for people to return to their cars at designated parking lots along the route.

"Back in 1915, these neighborhoods around the arroyo grew for a reason: They were a great place to live," said Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes. "Over the years, we have managed to lose this sense of community. We want to demonstrate that we can bring neighborhoods together again."

In addition to raising community awareness, event organizers hope that participants will take time to notice the lush parkway, the oldest in the West. Last year, the freeway was declared a National Scenic Byway, a status that aids in its preservation and protection.

Event supporters say they are looking forward to hearing laughter, the whirling of bicycle wheels and footsteps instead of the drone of car engines.

"If there is one thing I want to hear," said Pasadena City Councilman Sid Tyler, "it's no noise out of the freeway, for at least a period of time."

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