LocationAlhambra , CA United States
After a slow start due to a cold, rainy morning, 626 Golden Streets drew around 20,000 cyclists and pedestrians on Sunday who traversed its 5-mile route from Mission Street in South Pasadena through Main Street in Alhambra and then to the San Gabriel Mission, and stopped to eat, shop and partake in various activities at each city’s route hub.
State and local leaders kicked off the event in the morning at the intersection of Mission Street and Fairview Street in South Pasadena, while vendors set up their tents and racers finished a 626 5k that coincided with the opening of the day’s activities.
“This is one of my favorite days, one where families will be able to walk, bike, skate, roll across the cities of South Pasadena, Alhambra and San Gabriel,” said David Diaz, executive director of Active SGV, which organized the event to promote active transportation and environmental sustainability.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino, (D-La Cañada), representing the 25th District, which includes South Pasadena, praised the cities, regional organizations and nonprofits for working together to organize this event. “It’s great to see local governments working together, [and] it’s great to see so many people out here,” he said.
Portantino also expressed optimism about the rain. “I just think it’s the heavens smiling upon us with a little sprinkle, anointing this great day,” he said.
Alhambra City Councilmember Jeff Maloney represented the city of Alhambra at the event launch, and was serving as mayor when Active SGV reached out to ask for Alhambra’s participation.
“I think my answer was yes before they could even finish the question,” he said, sharing how open streets events like this are important to his family. Maloney rode the route on his bicycle multiple times, while current Alhambra Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler mingled with attendees at the Alhambra hub, which was located on Main Street between 4th Street and Garfield Avenue.
Maloney and other leaders also lauded 626 Golden Streets for raising awareness of active transportation options and their connection to environmental sustainability. “This is part of our transportation revolution, which directly results in cleaner air [and] reduced pollution,” said Michael A. Cacciotti, a South Pasadena city councilmember who is also a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s governing board.
Assemblyman Chris Holden, whose 41st Assembly district includes South Pasadena also applauded the notion of environmental sustainability. “This is important as we address the issues of the environment, and we’re going to continue to make sure that good ideas and sound planning are part of our thinking going forward,” he said.
Both Holden and Portantino presented certificates of recognition to Diaz and Active SGV, while Enrique Robles presented a Certificate of Congressional Recognition on behalf of U.S. Rep Judy Chu. San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments 3rd Vice President Tim Hepburn; South Pasadena Mayor Marina Khubesrian; San Gabriel Mayor Jason Pu and Vice Mayor Denise Menchaca; and Frank Chang, a representative for Los Angeles Metro, which funded 626 Golden Streets.
Gabe the Sasquatch, the “mayor of the San Gabriel Mountains” and official mascot of 626 Golden Streets, also shared a celebratory grunt to open the event.
Crowds were sparse at first along the Mission-to-Mission route, as well as at the South Pasadena, Alhambra and San Gabriel hubs as the rain fell. At the San Gabriel Mission hub, which was the end of the 626 Golden Streets route, the crowd was small but steady. Three blocks at the end the route were closed off for booths sponsored by various groups.
Most participants arrived on bikes but roller blades, scooters, skate boards and a few walkers were also in view. The San Gabriel High School Matador band was playing on a bandstand in front of the playhouse. Officers from the California Highway Patrol manned a booth and helped fit kids with bike helmets.
Proponents of clean energy including SoCal Edison passed out materials and Plug-In America offered test drives of electric cars. Other organizations present included the Chinatown Service Center and the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center.
The only cars in view were in the nearby parking lot for the San Gabriel Mission, which was completely full around 1 p.m., with plenty of participants still arriving.
Crowds also swelled at one in the afternoon at the Alhambra hub, especially after the sun came out again. Cyclists were instructed to dismount their bikes while going through the Alhambra hub, which featured booths from local civic groups like the Alhambra Preservation Group, Grassroots Alhambra, and the Alhambra Educational Foundation, which also had a presence at the San Gabriel Mission hub. Active SGV had a presence at all three hubs.
There was no shortage of things to do at the Alhambra hub, with participants lining up to climb a rock wall, play carnival games, make paintings, watch local bands and dance troupes perform, and visit various vendor booths. Alhambra’s Sunday Farmer’s Market was also open in conjunction with 626 Golden Streets, featuring extended hours.
People at the Alhambra hub also had the opportunity to learn more about various electric cars on display, and to test three-wheel Mobo Cruisers.
Many Alhambra vendors promoted environmental sustainability as part of the city’s regular Eco Fair. The Alhambra’s Department of Utilities gave out water bottles and other eco-friendly amenities, while The Alhambra, the city’s office community on South Fremont Avenue featured a smoothie blender that people could power by riding a stationary bike at their booth. Urban planner James Rojas had a “Place It” booth, where participants could use building blocks to imagine their ideal city layout.
Various participants praised 626 Golden Streets for giving them an opportunity to ride their bikes safely through the streets of the San Gabriel Valley, and for bringing the community together. “I think we should have more of these, because that way we get to see the community come out, and it becomes more of a city this way,” said Barbara Aguayo, an Alhambra resident and Alhambra Latino Association board member.
Jon Thurber contributed reporting.
Updated May 28, 2019 to reflect estimated numbers of event attendees.