Glendale City Council delays decision on controversial bike lane project

Bicycle lane advocates and residents who’d prefer to keep the status quo packed City Council chambers Tuesday night for the latest scrimmage over a plan to put a one-mile stretch of Honolulu Avenue on a so-called “road diet.”

In January, the council approved the road diet — cutting one traffic lane in each direction from Honolulu Avenue between Ramsdell and Sunset avenues to make way for designated bike paths — with little opposition.

But opposition to the plan since then has mounted, with many residents contending the project will cause traffic delays and headaches.

Proponents say it’s only a pilot project and that it will increase safety cyclists and calm traffic.

The City Council can still stop the project from happening, but with two members absent from the dais on Tuesday, a final decision on the matter was pushed to July 10.

Of the 85 people who attended two public outreach meetings at Sparr Heights Community Center earlier this year, 80% opposed the road diet, according to a city report.

Traffic and Transportation Administrator Jano Baghdanian said he has never seen so many negative comments about a project in his 20 years in Glendale.

Some of those opponents used the City Council meeting to reiterate their opinions.

“This proposed test case will be a disaster in my opinion,” Leann Warner said.

Other opponents echoed her sentiments, but many bicycle advocates — who made up the majority of the crowd at the meeting Tuesday — countered that naysayers were exaggerating.

Those who don’t want bike lanes believe “their expedience is more important than the bicyclists’ health and safety,” said Scott Peer, a proponent of the project.

The city plans to implement the road diet for six to nine months and then study its effects before deciding whether to keep the new bicycle lanes or revert back to the four lanes.

Opponents said they wanted the city to set clear metrics for analyzing the road diet, but Baghdanian said those are difficult to pin down as results have differed in many communities.

“Each site has its unique characteristics,” he said.

In Burbank, a road diet on Verdugo Road reduced car speeds by a few miles per hour, but did not increase bicycle numbers, Baghdanian noted.

On average, about 13,000 cars and between 40 to 60 bicyclists travel along the one-mile stretch of Honolulu Avenue proposed for the diet. Originally, the city planned to extend the project area to Orangedale Avenue, but due to increased traffic at Trader Joe’s, the lane revisions may be stopped one block away at Sunset Avenue.

The project is expected to cost $125,000, paid for by money that is restricted to transportation projects.

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