City approves Chandler signs

CITY HALL — Aiming to address conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists who share Chandler Bikeway, the City Council this week unanimously supported placing signs along the route asking cyclists to yield to pedestrians.

But city leaders rejected a proposal that would have renamed the corridor Chandler Pathway, citing potential conflicts with Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which share ownership of the property.

The council on Tuesday voted 3-2 to retain the name Chandler Bikeway for the two-mile passageway that stretches from Mariposa Street to the city border at Clybourn Avenue.

The decision temporarily ends a long-running dialogue between city executives, cyclists and pedestrians that produced five alternatives to the current configuration, which delineates right-of-way by separating cyclists and pedestrians using road striping and signs.

Renaming the path would cost about $2,100, excluding sign installation fees, said David Kriske, a senior planner for the city.

“I certainly appreciate all the discussion and, I got to tell you, I was one that was willing to have the discussion,” said Councilwoman Marsha Ramos, who opposed the rename. “But I am going back to my premise, which is incremental steps. The ‘Yield to Pedestrians’ [signs] are fine. I’ll save the $2,100 for now.”

Still, others believe the money would go far in compelling cyclists to change their attitudes on the pathway.

“Changing the name sounds kind of silly, but calling it Chandler Bikeway implies that its primary, main purpose is for bikes,” said Mayor Dave Golonski. “You could ride your bike on the pathway. You could push strollers on the pathway. You can roller-skate. But it is not exclusive to any particular use. I think changing it to indicate that makes sense.”

Sisters Jane and Sam Malone, who walk the path Thursday mornings, agree.

“I think it’s less a question of safety and more one of courtesy,” said Sam Malone, of Burbank.

Established in 2004, Chandler Bikeway consists of two four-foot bicycle lanes and a six-foot pedestrian lane.

A yellow dashed line separates bike lanes while a solid white stripe divides walkways.

Burbank and Los Angeles together control 41.1% of the property in their jurisdictions, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority owning 58.9%, Kriske said.

Under the agreement, Burbank is required to maintain the path’s designation as a bikeway. Changing the use from a bikeway requires final approval from Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

What’s more, the city would likely have to forfeit $2 million in Metropolitan Transportation Authority grant funds provided for design and construction of the bikeway, Kriske said.

While a name change reflected on signs and plaques does not require outside approval, Vice Mayor Gary Bric said the city could face possible repercussions by tinkering with the agreement.

As another way to suppress potential conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, the council on Tuesday considered five alternative configurations to the bikeway, including additional signs and pavement legends, a defined median, undefined right-of-way rules, bi-directional lanes and no striping at all. The projects range in cost from $13,000 to $35,000.

Despite studies by the police department, which deemed the bikeway as safe, a handful of citizens last year began a steady push for a redesign.

In January, resident Robert Phipps proposed a series of changes, which included widening the pedestrian lane from six to seven feet, imposing a maximum speed limit of 10 mph, renaming the bikeway to something that connotes slower and more leisurely travel and a requirement that cyclists use headlights and other safety equipment.

However, Phipps on Tuesday joined the ranks of organizations, such as Friends of the Chandler Bikeway, who say major changes to the bikeway are unnecessary.

“I’ve done some reading, some listening and some thinking, and I’ve changed my mind,” Phipps said. “Staff says there is no observable danger. I believe there is some, but it’s infrequent, mainly from a few bicyclists who are riding aggressively with an ownership mind set toward the lane they are in.”

Phipps said he called Bric to inform him of the change of heart. As it turned out, Bric had one as well.

“Initially, I supported [Alternative] B,” said Bric, referring to a plan that called for additional signage as well as a more defined walkway. “After reading everything over, and I was picking [Phipps’] brain last night, I am definitely in favor of leaving it the way it is and just putting up signs that say ‘Bicycles Yield to Pedestrians.’”

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