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Mailbag: Changing from the polluting norm

Burbank Leader

It amazes me when I hear a few residents of Burbank whine about how they do not want to adopt change in their city (“Remove bike lanes from busy streets,” June 12) because they don’t want to be like other cities and like things the way they are.

Things are not great the way they are, though, and other cities and towns have shown how adopting a few well-thought changes can increase quality of life, while keeping things as they are can hurt us — socially, financially and environmentally.

Burbank has one of the worst air-quality ratings in the country, exacerbated by large parking lots devoid of trees , along with black roofing, asphalt paving, and streetscape missing tree cover. Simple fixes could reduce our daytime temperatures by a few crucial degrees, and nighttime temperatures by as much as 20 degrees. The measures would reduce smog, lower utility bills and improve our quality of life, without imposing restrictive regulations.

As more and more people move into urban areas, population density adds cars to roads. The simplest, and our current, response is to widen streets, add more cars to the roads, increase pollution, traffic, accidents and reduce exercise. A simple fix is rarely the best fix, as many other cities have demonstrated, to their cost. But, hey, we don’t want to observe or even discuss what other cities have done, right or wrong, because it is apparently preferable to exist in a vacuum of ignorance than to evaluate urban programming elsewhere in an effort to adopt best practices here.


The recent Verdugo Avenue re-striping — which inserted a center turning lane, added some additional street parking and introduced some very welcome bike lanes — was warmly welcomed by residents along Verdugo, as they saw an almost immediate calming of previously dangerous traffic. School students at John Burroughs High School are now able to commute on their bikes with greater protection, and families are able to cross Verdugo in safety on their way to and from the library.

There are no documented community benefits to increasing vehicular traffic on city streets, but there are proven gains to traffic calming, complete streets, public transportation, bicycle networks and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes: Stores get more customer traffic, property values go up dramatically, accidents go down, crime levels drop, and people tend to be nicer to one another.

Instead of succumbing to the angry and illogical invective of a few stick-in-the-muds, I urge the City Council to not only consider programs for improving the quality of life in Burbank, but to actively learn from the best and worst of other municipalities.




Colony’s ‘Grace and Glorie’ a must-see

My wife and I have been season subscribers to the Colony Theatre for many years, but seldom have we seen a play with the emotional impact of “Grace and Glorie.”

The Colony has won several Ovation Awards in past years, and this wonderful play should win another. Beth Grant’s performance as a 90-year-old woman about to die was one of the most moving and memorable we have ever seen.

Thank you to artistic director Barbara Beckley for continuing to provide Burbank with world-class theater.



See review, A8

Don’t blame traffic woes on bike lanes

West Verdugo Avenue bike lanes have recently become targeted as a scapegoat by a small group of Burbank drivers who claim it slows their ability to maneuver quickly and efficiently through the city (“Remove bike lanes from busy streets,” June 12).

Their arguments directed against the Verdugo bike lanes all depend on the notion that more automobile lanes and faster traffic makes “Burbank more livable.”


Recent letters to the Burbank Leader typify this “more and faster traffic” mentality of motorists who mistakenly blame the bike lanes for their inability to get through Burbank “faster” while using Verdugo Avenue.

In reality, traversing Burbank from one end to the other is about six miles and takes about 20 minutes on average. Let’s suppose that Verdugo bike lanes were eliminated, all stop signs and stop lights were removed and the speed limit was increased to 65 mph along the entire two miles of Verdugo Avenue currently marked with bike lanes. This would indeed benefit a motorist’s drive time through Burbank by about an additional 3.5 minutes!

But, if the argument here is about excessive waiting times at red lights on West Verdugo Avenue due to specific configurations of intersections and excessive automobile traffic, then that’s a signal timing, physical intersection configuration and overburdened car-dependence issue, not a bike-lane issue.

If this is indeed the source of motorists’ complaints, then it would naturally seem advisable for them to simply choose a more efficient route, rather than repeatedly suffer and complain about the consequences of their repeated choices.

It is glaringly apparent that the Verdugo Avenue bike lanes are not the source of these angry motorists’ problems!