Letter: Caltrans paved the road to higher rates

How can Burbank, with its much coveted village-like small town atmosphere, be “one of the most dangerous places to live in California if you are a pedestrian or a bicyclist?”

The recent Leader editorial, “Could the cost of insurance drive more awareness?” suggests that a lack of responsible driver behavior here leads to Burbank’s sky-high auto insurance rates, which are sixth highest in California.

But a closer look reveals something more insidious than simply irresponsible behavior by local motorists. In reality, we are now paying the deep, genuine and compounded costs of deficient 20th-century automobile-focused I-5 and Caltrans planning throughout Burbank.

When Caltrans built the I-5 through Burbank some 50 years ago, they destroyed many of the existing community-connecting local streets for local pedestrians, bicyclists and cars. And as most motorists and bicyclists in Burbank still glaringly know, those existing few routes remain extremely treacherous today — choked ever more tightly with local pedestrians, bicycles, buses, railroads and motorists.

Over the past several decades, Burbank has made real progress in local transportation planning by developing the Downtown Metrolink station, Chandler Bike Path, creating dedicated bicycle and pedestrian master planning, and implementing a Burbank Bus system for increased local transportation options.

To positively address our disturbingly high and ever-increasing automobile insurance rates in Burbank, insist that Caltrans include wider, more accessible sidewalks and protected bike lanes in their new I-5 plans for Burbank — at a minimum meeting approved Burbank Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan recommendations.

It will be a long, long time before we ever get the opportunity to do this over. Don’t allow Caltrans to continue making driving more dangerous and expensive for Burbank residents.

Patrick Dickson

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