City gets another poor pedestrian safety score

Glendale's 2009 pedestrian safety record among seniors was the worst among similarly sized cities in California, according to figures released this week, despite concerted efforts to clamp down on the ongoing issue.

The California Office of Traffic Safety figures, which were released this week, also ranked Glendale as having the third-worst overall record for pedestrian safety among cities with a population of 100,001 to 250,000.

The city was ranked among 56 cities in 11 categories, which were based on the number of victims injured or killed in collisions involving pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists or alcohol.

"Obviously, there is a problem in Glendale," agency spokesman Chris Cochran said.

In 2008, Glendale was also ranked last in collisions involving senior pedestrians, and came in at eighth from the bottom in the overall category.

The even-worse showing for 2009 came despite highly publicized pedestrian safety workshops and public education campaigns, including enforcement stings and handbills.

That year, 119 pedestrians were injured or killed in traffic collisions, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety, including 36 seniors.

The overall statewide trend that year showed that traffic collisions involving pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and alcohol had decreased, Cochran said.

The decrease was likely because vehicle manufacturing has improved, motorists are traveling less miles due to the recession, and more people are listening to public safety campaigns and driving safely, Cochran said.

In May 2009, city officials and community leaders attended a series of workshops put on by UC Berkeley's Traffic Safety Center, which selected Glendale as one of 12 cities to receive the seminars on pedestrian-safety training due to its poor safety record.

Mayor Ara Najarian, who had requested the center's help, said the latest rankings reflect the city's large senior demographic and busy streets and sidewalks.

"We've got to educate and let the people know that because it's a marked crosswalk doesn't mean you have a protected passage to the other side," he said.

That same year, the Glendale Police Department also tried various public education campaigns, including pedestrian crosswalk stings and handing out brochures with traffic safety tips to residents.

Police and city crews have since bought more high-tech billboard signs for roadways, painted safety messages at intersections and used other measures.

"[Police officers] are out there, and they are aggressively writing tickets to those pedestrians and drivers that don't follow the laws regarding crosswalks and right-aways," Najarian said. "That's all we can do, and we can ratchet it up in each area."

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