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Burbank study aims to create safer streets for pedestrians, bicyclists

A bicyclist makes her way through traffic near the Glendale/Burbank/Griffith Park border Thursday Ju
Burbank is looking to have a Complete Streets Plan to increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as improve connectivity in the city.
(File Photo)

As modes of transportation continue to evolve, Burbank officials have been studying ways bicyclist and pedestrian safety can be improved throughout the city.

At their June 25 meeting, City Council members received an update on the city’s Complete Streets Plan, a policy that aims to improve connectivity issues between transit hubs to home or work, enhance the infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians and increase safety for people of all ages and abilities.

The areas that require the most attention are downtown Burbank, Hollywood Way near Hollywood Burbank Airport, Magnolia Park and the Media District, according to data presented to the council by Hannah Woo, associate planner of transportation for Burbank.

These areas are heavily trafficked by vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.

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Because Burbank is a commuter city, Woo said it is the city’s responsibility to ensure the safety of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. She noted in her presentation that between June 2013 and June 2018, Burbank Police reported 6,512 vehicle collisions, with 2,037 resulting in injuries.

Woo said 307 of the traffic collisions during that period were between a vehicle and a pedestrian, and nine of those resulted in fatalities.

“More than half the time, [the pedestrian] was walking at a crosswalk,” Woo said. She added that the driver was making a left or a right turn during the collision.

Of the nine pedestrian fatalities that occurred during that five-year span, four of them occurred in downtown Burbank.

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Data show there were 265 collisions between a vehicle and someone riding a bike, according to Woo’s report. Of those, two in the last five years involved fatalities, one of which occurred within a bicycle lane last year.

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy and Councilman Tim Murphy asked city staff to research the feasibility of switching bicycle lanes with the curbside where vehicles park. This practice, which is being used in cities like Long Beach and Chicago, uses parked vehicles as a type of barrier between moving vehicles and bicyclists.

“I guess you could still open your door from the passenger side and clip somebody, but it might be a little bit safer,” Murphy said. “Whenever we can separate bicycles from cars, we’re doing a good thing.”

Gabel-Luddy said city staff should look at “quick and dirty” solutions — ways to immediately increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists without having to engineer something complicated.

As an example, Gabel-Luddy pointed to areas of downtown Los Angeles where that city has installed bollards to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from traffic instead of engineering and constructing curb extensions or protected bike lanes with elaborate barriers that would accomplish the same goals.

“I would like to ask that you all consider a quick and dirty [solution] that would accelerate the construction of our Bike Master Plan in the next two years,” Gabel-Luddy said.

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