City looks to make riding easier for bicyclists

CITY HALL — Bicyclists in Glendale could soon see improvements to their easements as part of a regional plan to make the Greater Los Angeles area more bikeable, according to a plan presented Tuesday to the City Council.

An in-house liaison through the nonprofit Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has already been gathering information on Glendale’s bikeways in advance of the next phase of the plan, which includes public outreach and city planning to make bicycles a more attractive form of transportation, officials said.

The liaison, Colin Bogart, is working under a three-year, $305,000 grant awarded by the bicycle coalition in March to coordinate a new “Safe and Healthy Street Plan” in Glendale with similar efforts taking place in the county.

According to some bicycle shop owners, Bogart has his work cut out for him.

Glendale has yet to overcome its image as a commuter town, as hilly transitions between urban and residential areas can be challenging, and there are too few bike racks and dedicated lanes on busy streets — discouraging people from pedaling to their destinations, the owners said Tuesday.

“I’m sure the fear of getting crushed is high on their list,” said Jonathan Livesay, owner of Montrose Bike Shop on Honolulu Avenue.

To that end, city officials said implementing a plan to upgrade mobility and safety for bicyclists would improve the riding experience for existing bikers and bring more people into the fold.

“This project is not just about identifying those who are already riding, but to make the city safer to ride, because that’s what really keeps a lot of people from even trying,” Bogart said.

Enticing more people to go riding could also improve the city’s abysmal physical activity rates, bike advocates say.

In the San Fernando Valley Service Planning Area, of which Glendale is a part, 37% of adults are overweight and 15.9% are obese, according to the latest report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Those numbers could come down if city officials can make a dent in the 40% of Glendale residents who are considered totally sedentary, according to the annual assessment.

Bogart told the City Council that a corridor to connect Pacific and Maple parks in south Glendale was already being considered for a $20,000 project by the coalition. Under the project, the group would use a small geographical area to demonstrate new traffic-calming and safety measures before possibly expanding them citywide.

Whatever the project might include has not been finalized, he said, but he cautioned against relying on standard bike lanes as the only option for improving bike-riding conditions on Glendale streets.

“There’s other ways of accommodating bicyclists other than striping,” Bogart said.

City Council members welcomed the plan Tuesday.

“There’s certainly room for this in our transportation planning,” Councilman Frank Quintero said.

Bogart and other city officials plan to come back with periodic progress reports as outreach to business organizations, bicyclists and other groups is completed.

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