CITY HALL — The City Council this week adopted a long-awaited policy document which advocates hope will serve as a blueprint to making Glendale more progressive in terms of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
The “Safe and Healthy Streets Plan” incorporates more than two years of community outreach and development funded by a $305,000 county grant awarded to the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition in 2008.
The document focuses on five main areas — education, encouragement, enforcement, engineering and evaluation — in which Glendale can improve to the point that more residents may take to walking and biking. It also incorporates potential funding sources and implementation strategies.
“This isn’t something new,” said City Councilman Frank Quintero. “We aren’t reinventing the wheel. This is something being done worldwide.”
Recommendations include: establishing citywide walks and bicycle ride events, a distribution program for bike lights and helmets in lieu of issuing citations, enlarging sidewalks and partnering with local schools to provide bicycle education.
Bicycle advocates filled City Hall Tuesday to push for the adoption of the plan, which they said would help make city streets safer for fellow cyclists and pedestrians in a city plagued by automobile and pedestrian collisions, including several fatal accidents last year.
“I don’t want Glendale to be the city that is known for traffic collisions and having bad drivers,” said Carol Feucht, an employee of the nonprofit Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition who grew up in Glendale. “I want my hometown to be a city I can be proud of.”
Many speakers lauded the city for improvements already put in place during the multi-year development of the plan spearheaded by coalition liaison Colin Bogart.
“As someone who rides a bicycle through the city on a near daily basis, I am well aware of the challenges that cyclists face in the city. I have also seen and taken advantage of the improvements,” said avid cyclist Steve Metser.
Beyond new bike racks throughout the city, the past year has seen the striping of new bike lanes and sharrows — or shared vehicle and bike lanes.
“It makes it clear to the drivers that I belong here, and there is a place for me,” said longtime Glendale resident Booth Hartley.
While he voted to adopt the plan, Councilman Dave Weaver was more skeptical and questioned how the city would pay for it at a time when finances are already strapped.
“I just want everyone to be realistic about it,” he said. “You’re not going to change this city from a car-driven community to a bicycle community. It’s just never going to happen.”
But other council members disagreed, arguing that Glendale can and should commit resources to catch up with other cities.
“It has to be a focus as far as I am concerned. Because we have citizens that are literally being killed out there,” said Mayor Laura Friedman. “It is not enough to have these plans. We also have to find ways of having them become reality.”