Glendale officials plan to take a new approach in addressing pedestrian safety issues following a recent string of collisions and fatalities in the city.
They are forming a subcommittee of the Transportation and Parking Commission to look into safety concerns, discuss issues and make recommendations to address them, which will then be presented to the City Council.
“I believe that is definitely an ongoing necessity — something that has to be done continually and usually the best people are the eyes and ears of the community when they can see things,” Commissioner Maro Yacoubian said at the commission's meeting this week.
The idea to create a subcommittee came after the advocacy group Walk Bike Glendale sent a letter to the city to request formation of a traffic safety task force to look into pedestrian safety issues, said Roubik Golanian, the city's deputy director of public works and city engineer.
The subcommittee will include city staff, commissioners and school officials as well as school, police and business district representatives and bicycle and community activists.
Commissioner Alek Bartrosouf, a Walk Bike Glendale member, said at the meeting the group recommended the subcommittee set a 90-day limit to come up with goals and timelines as to how it will proceed.
With more than 100 pedestrian-involved collisions in Glendale last year, Walk Bike Glendale chair Rye Baerg said the group has been asking for the formation of a committee for a long time.
Several issues contribute to the city's traffic safety problem, including the driving culture in Glendale, street design and public education, he said.
“There is a lot of education that needs to happen,” Baerg said.
Just last month, three women — Bekzad Shahbazian, 69, Serpouhi Gharapetian, 74, and 75-year-old Leleh Issakhanian — were struck and severely injured in two hit-and-run collisions only one day apart. Gharapetian died days later from her injuries.
The collisions came shortly after another Glendale woman — Balasan Mirzabegianliwasgan, 88 — was struck and fatally injured when she stepped out from between two parked cars and was hit by another car.
Traffic safety is not just a driver, cyclist or pedestrian issue, Yacoubian said. The issue also involves police, infrastructure and top city officials working together with the community to properly address it, she added.
“The problem that Glendale seems to be facing is not a problem Glendale seems to be facing alone,” Yacoubian said. “It's a nationwide problem and it's a problem that has to be addressed on many different levels.”
Any groups interested in joining the pedestrian safety subcommittee can call Golanian at (818) 548-3945.