City considers colored bike lanes, markings

A new neon green bike lane and large bicycle symbols like those on Los Angeles and Long Beach streets may also have a place in Glendale.

In preparing the Glendale’s first draft plan in 15 years to increase bicycle amenities, officials looked at other cities to see what worked and what didn’t, said consultant Ryan Snyder. A fresh plan is one way Glendale can get federal transportation funds.

“We hope whatever we do, it’s going to look very classy as it’s the standard in the city of Glendale,” Traffic and Safety Administrator Jano Baghdanian said Wednesday at a Transportation and Parking Commission meeting.

That standard may quash colored bike lanes — a boldly painted path delineating the cyclist’s right-of-way — with Baghdanian and some commissioners skeptical of their long term viability.

The green paint can chip and the city must consider future maintenance costs, Baghdanian said. There are other options, such as mixing paint in road slurry or green tape, but those are either too costly or too experimental.

“We will be monitoring other cities as well as they experiment with these types of ideas,” he told commissioners.

But parts of the draft Bicycle Transportation Plan, released in January, may require the city to do some experimenting of its own.

Snyder mentioned that reverse-angle parking, where motorists back up into a spot, could make Brand Boulevard a safer street on which to bike. Many residents said during public meetings that Brand Boulevard, with its shops and central location, is a street bicyclists want to ride on, but they fear it’s not safe.

But the sheer volume of traffic on Brand and its importance for downtown businesses may keep it out of the experimentation category.

“I hate to take a boulevard such as Brand Boulevard and turn it into an experiment,” Commissioner Aram Sahakian said.

All the improvements could cost $5 million, and about $380,000 for bicycle parking. The city has already approved spending about $320,000 of that on new racks. Dozens have been installed since July.

Since money is limited, Baghdanian said the city could make small improvements along the way, as street construction occurs. Officials also may focus on the least-costly parts of the plan, such as painting more “sharrows,” which designate shared bicycle-vehicle lanes.

Glendale has about $300,000 in transportation funds from a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008. That money could be used for more sharrows and bicycle education, Baghdanian said.

“This is a luxury in a time of great fiscal tightening,” said Commissioner Maro Yacoubian.

During street improvements in June, the city will be slimming down a mile-long stretch of Honolulu Avenue near the Montrose Shopping Park from two lanes to one in each direction to accommodate a bike lane on both sides. The process is the city’s first so-called “road diet” test.

The draft plan, which the City Council is set to review later this month, also calls for more bike routes in the city and eight more miles of striped bike lanes.

The plan comes on the heels of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last week approving more than 800 miles of bike paths in unincorporated areas.

Some Glendale residents complained the bike proposals cater to a small population, since the city is dominated by motorists, but proponents of the plan disagreed.

“We’re not catering to cyclists,” said resident Tomer Gurantz. “We’re creating cyclists.”

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