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‘Mission to Mission’ Connects Neighboring Communities

By Eric Licas
The Review

Volunteer Cynthia Ly poses for a photo in South Pasadena with medals handed out to runners at the finish line of a 5K run

Hundreds of runners, skaters and cyclists took over the lanes of main thoroughfares connecting South Pasadena, Alhambra and San Gabriel during “Active Streets: Mission to Mission” on Sunday, April 28.
For one day, cars are restricted from a 5-mile route along Mission Street, Marengo Avenue, Alhambra Road, Main Street and Mission Drive, allowing pedestrians, e-bikes and sweat-powered vehicles to freely and safely travel along major corridors.
The event was formerly called “626 Golden Streets,” but officials dropped that title after what had been the Metro Gold Line was reorganized into the Metro L Line and A Line.
“As somebody who drives freeways all the time, it is nice to be able to just walk the street and be low energy and relaxed,” attendee Mitchell Kander, of Sherman Oaks, said. “Everybody is having a good time. You definitely cannot say that about the 405.”
Kander was among dozens of runners who participated in the 5K event that kicked off festivities in South Pasadena on Sunday. People of all ages and skill levels were invited to take part in the race and fun run.
Darby Green of Santa Monica was the first woman to cross the finish line. Currently preparing for a 10K in New York City in June, Green said Sunday’s run was a training event for her.
Runner Bosun Oshunluyi ended up trailing Green in order to set pace for himself. Pleased with his performance, Oshunluyi wound up finishing in the top 10 — a much higher rank than he anticipated.
“I didn’t expect to do this well,” Oshunluyi said. “I usually run on the treadmill … and I know it’s a lot harder to run outdoors, especially with the sun out.”
Cynthia Clark of Monrovia finished in the middle of the pack and was cheered on at the home stretch by her sister, 10-year-old niece and best friend.
“They were my motivation. I was like ‘I have to finish because they’re here cheering me on,’” she said, laughing.
Having trained by running a mile every day for the past year, Clark said Sunday was her first attempt at a 5K. She hopes to run another in August and then hopefully a 10K in October.
Sunday’s festivities were designed to show Southern Californians what a life without driving might feel like, and that it might be possible. But for some, the event served as a reminder of how complicated it can be to get around without an automobile in a city that was designed to accommodate them.
“For me, I run early in the morning so there’s very little traffic, but you always have to be aware of your surroundings,” Kander said.
Event volunteer Catelyn Higashya, who recently moved to the San Gabriel Valley, said she likes the idea of using alternative methods of transportation. She used to be able to take Metro rail to work, but had to start driving when her workplace moved deeper into the Los Angeles Arts District and further away from convenient stops. Now Higashya, like most of her coworkers, drives up to two hours to get to work each day.
And, even more concerning, Higashya said she has had first-hand experiences that have led her to feel unsafe while taking public transportation in L.A. County.
“I’ve been partially assaulted on a train before here in California on the Metro,” Higashya said. “I didn’t have that experience anywhere else that I’ve taken public transportation, so unfortunately that has impacted my perception of the county’s transportation.”
Higashya said she decided to help out at the Active Streets event because a relative was also participating. She was there to show support and helped facilitate the dismount rules in the event’s activities centers.
Meanwhile, Dinosaur Farm co-owner Taylor Plenn told the Review how much the event means to small businesses like his, adding that the additional cycle and foot traffic brings in many new customers. He said his store welcomed many new, curious shoppers on Sunday.
“I’m happy to see an influx of families that we normally wouldn’t see here,” Plenn said. “It’s huge for us.”

A yeti in the front passenger seat of a two person tricycle rides down Mission Street in South Pasadena
Bicyclists pedal across the intersection of Mission Street and Fremont Avenue during Active Streets Mission to Mission on Sunday April 28

First published in the May 3 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

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