Deaths prompt calls for bike committee

Fears of bicycle and pedestrian safety sparked by three recent deaths in the region pushed residents this week to call for a new committee in Glendale to which locals could air concerns about street dangers. But some officials are worried that another layer of bureaucracy will unnecessarily burden an already thin transportation staff.

A pedestrian fatality in Glendale and two recent bicycle deaths in Pasadena have renewed calls for a fresh approach to public safety outreach, but that could be difficult, some say, since local resources already are stretched thin.

Transportation and Parking Commissioner Maro Yacoubian said during a meeting this week that she was against adding to the burden.

“I don’t want to create another committee to tax the city’s resources,” she said.

The city already has a Bicycle Advisory Committee charged with creating a Bicycle Master Plan to lay out guidelines for how Glendale will address bicyclists’ needs in the future. Some commissioners feared the two groups would be duplicating efforts.

But proponents pointed out that a City Council-approved plan drafted by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition as a means to enhance bicycling throughout the county recommended formation of another group.

The proposed committee could be called the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee and would include community members and city officials.

Despite the concerns about committee overload, the Transportation and Parking Commission agreed to create a new committee this week, tasking staff with figuring out how the group would work.

“We do have a serious safety problem here,” said commission Chairman Bill Weisman. “It could be a matter of life and death, depending on how fast we deal with this.”

However, residents and one member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee said they felt the group didn’t meet frequently enough and didn’t provide a place for the community to express concerns about specific unsafe roads, crossings or other issues on an ongoing basis. The Bicycle Advisory Committee is scheduled to cease once it finishes the Bicycle Master Plan.

Erik Yesayan, a planning commissioner and Bicycle Advisory Committee member, said the group meets just once every five months and members come and go. Several residents said that type of loose committee structure wouldn’t help solve specific concerns.

“I certainly would not want to look a mother in the eye who’s lost her son or her daughter and say: ‘I’m sorry we just didn’t have the ability to do another committee and that resulted in your son or daughter’s death,’” said resident Chris Welch, former chairman of the commission.

Traffic and Safety Administrator Jano Baghdanian said his staff would iron out the kinks of what the new committee will look like and how it will mesh with the current bike group. He said he’ll present that report in November.

“So we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’ll do what we can,” he said.

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