Burbank bicyclists will have at least another six months of designated bike paths and left-turn lanes along Verdugo Avenue between Olive Avenue and Hollywood Way.
Verdugo Avenue was restriped in May to allow for bicycle lanes in both directions, as well as designated left-turn lanes at intersections. The addition of the bicycle lanes resulted in a change of two traffic lanes in each direction down to one each way, much to the chagrin of some critics who said the bike paths weren’t worth the intrusions to motorists.
After a lengthy public comment period Tuesday at the Burbank City Council meeting, where the majority of speakers supported keeping the change, the council voted to extend the trial period for the bicycle and left-turn traffic lanes for another six months.
Without direction to make the changes permanent, Burbank must wait to apply for grant money to further improve the thoroughfare.
Sharon Springer, a member of the Sustainable Burbank Task Force who spoke Tuesday evening, was disappointed with the decision to wait another six months.
“It is disappointment that in spite of all the evidence and overwhelming support of bike lanes, it was not passed,” she said.
Traffic counts and surveys on the flow of vehicles in the affected area showed that travel times on Verdugo Avenue were unchanged during afternoon rush hour.
The Planning and Transportation Division of the Community Development Department also found that the number of cars traveling on Verdugo Avenue increased. Although officials said it was an unexpected result, they attributed the increase to the re-opening of the Pass Avenue bridge over the Ventura (134) Freeway and opening of a Fresh and Easy Market.
Other residents also voiced concerns on bicycle safety, citing the city report that showed a slight decline in accidents along the corridor since the changes were put in place.
Mayor Anja Reinke and Councilman Dave Golonski supported making the changes permanent, but the remaining three council members refused to give the project a final stamp of approval without further study.
Councilman David Gordon said he was concerned about additional traffic along Verdugo Avenue when nearby projects are completed, as well as the method the city used to account for bicycle traffic.
The city counted 200 bicyclists per day along Verdugo Avenue during two days of surveying, making up 1.5% to 2% of total traffic.
Others saw the data in a different light.
“The data was very positive,” said Ken Lewis, another Sustainable Burbank Task Force member. “It’s surprising that there are 200 people a day on the paths for what is still a disconnected network.”
Lewis said he was expecting only 20 to 50 people a day along the path.
“The Bicycle Master Plan is not complete and has a lot of discontinuity,” he said. “When it becomes continuous and residents are able to ride across town, that’s when the usage will really jump.”