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Completed section of turn of 20th century Pasadena-to-LA Cycleway
Completed section of turn of 20th century Pasadena-to-LA Cycleway

Pasadena's Elevated Cycleway: A Turn of the Century Dream

The plan was to link Los Angeles with Pasadena by an elevated cycleway that would be a safe, convenient way to commute between the two southern California cities.

Horace Dobbins had a really bright idea. The nation was caught up in a cycling craze and it seemed no better time to create the nation's first cycleway. With a maximum grade of just 3 degrees, the elevated 'freeway' (actually, there was a 10ยข toll to use it) would link Pasadena, where Dobbins was mayor, and Los Angeles. The nine-mile project, at points elevated 50 feet above the ground, would ensure cycling between the two cities would be safe and convenient.

So, with an initial $200,000 investment, construction began on the project using Oregon pine. Painted green, a railing and netting protected riders in a fall. The route ran down the dry river bed of Arroyo Seca, and on New Year's Day, 1900, the His Honor opened the first 1.25 mile segment, which linked Pasadena's two top tourist hotels, the Green and the Raymond.

Nathan Masters, the project sadly was short-lived as additional investment funds failed to materialize and as automobiles began to pollute the LA basin, the Arroyo Seca Parkway was build, essentially, along the route of the old cycleway.

More than a century later, Los Angeles' love affair with the car, if not entirely abated, has certainly run its course. Now the city is reconsidering the role of the bicycle in a new cycling the city plan. Mayor Dobbins had the right idea, he was just 100 years ahead of his time.

Source: LA Magazine

Posted By: Bill Moore [24-Mar-2013]