Commuters switch to their bicycles on Bike and Walk to Work Day

While most local residents drove their cars to work Thursday morning, several hundred people in and around Burbank decided to ditch their motor vehicles and ride a bicycle or walk.

The Burbank Transportation Management Organization hosted its annual Bike and Walk to Work Day, setting up three pit stops for bicyclists and pedestrians where they could learn about the benefits of using alternative modes of transportation.

A steady stream of people made their way to the Pointe at 2900 W. Alameda Ave., where Walk Bike Burbank, Metro, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and other organizations set up booths to talk about ways to improve their biking or walking experience.

North Hollywood couple Eli and Melissa Selzer, who both work in Burbank, have been riding their bicycles to work for the last 10 years and said it made sense for them to use pedal power when they live not too far from their jobs.

“I feel physically and mentally better, and it usually takes about the same time for me to bike in to work as it does to drive,” Eli Selzer said.

Adam Gilbert, co-chair of the transportation organization’s Clean Air Month Committee and a Walt Disney Co. employee, said the group has been doing its best to convince residents to get out of their cars and try taking a more environmentally-friendly and healthier way to work.

“The vast majority of us drive to work alone and, if we can somehow move the needle a little bit by getting people to take some other form of transit, we’re really going to address not only congestion, but also clean air,” he said. “Cars, although they’re so much more efficient, they’re still a cause of pollution. We know that everyone can’t bike or walk to work every day, but they can try it once or twice.”

Burbank resident Mary Dickson, a member of Walk Bike Burbank, was one of those people. About seven years ago, she tried riding her bike or taking a train to work, and she’s never looked back.

She and Gilbert said they both think the main reason why there are not more people riding their bicycles to work is because of fear. One way to calm people about riding in public is education for both motorists and bicyclists.

Another solution Dickson and Walk Bike Burbank have suggested is to convince the city to provide and improve the infrastructure for those choosing to ride their bicycles.

Recently, the City Council approved several improvements along Verdugo Avenue, which included extending the bike lane on that street.

“They’re not as proactive as we’d like them to be,” Dickson said. “As an advocate, we’d wish they were doing more, but at least they have a plan in place and whenever there’s a new project or a street is repaved, they’re looking at options of making it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.”

Twitter: @acocarpio