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Projects aim to improve pedestrian, traffic safety in Glendale

Projects aim to improve pedestrian, traffic safety in Glendale
Pedestrians make their way across Brand Blvd. in Glendale Monday afternoon October 1, 2007. (File Photo)

Public works employees will start looking into implementing a new series of safety-improvement projects on local streets as well as education campaigns after an ongoing number of pedestrian-related fatalities that local officials have called unacceptable.

Since 2005, 35 pedestrians have been fatally struck by vehicles in the community, while five fatalities have occurred so far this year, according to a presentation given by Public Works Director Roubik Golanian during a City Council meeting on Tuesday.

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In addition to past safety-improvement projects and workshops on crosswalk safety, the city’s Transportation & Parking Commission’s Pedestrian Task Force has worked since last October to develop a series of engineering, enforcement and education recommendations to initiate over the next few years.

The 15 or so proposed recommendations include extending sidewalks so pedestrians have to spend less time crossing the street as well as a prioritization process for restriping crosswalks, according to a staff report.

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On the enforcement side, one suggestion calls for the purchase of additional speed-feedback signs. Four of them are currently in place throughout the city and display the speed of cars passing by.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman asked Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro if he had enough officers out patrolling the streets.

Castro said his officers have issued about 3,000 traffic tickets in the past two months, an amount he said was right in the middle of a traffic index, an average of the number of issued citations and accidents.

“We’re not victimizing our drivers, but we’re also not lenient on it. We do a lot of enforcement,” Castro said.

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Proposed outreach efforts would entail continuing to create pedestrian-safety campaigns as well as recruit the Glendale Unified School District, Glendale Community College and local businesses to help get information out to the public.

in English and Armenian about pedestrian safety.

Friedman said she thought that if city officials want to make more video messages, they could consider hiring an advertising agency — that may also work for free — to produce a more effective product because they would have more expertise than someone working in-house.

“Not to rain on anyone’s parade. I just don’t know that a PSA that says be careful is really being watched, really being absorbed, really selling the message to anyone,” she said. “I hate to see us spending time and money on an ad that may be ignored.”

Friedman added there should also be some form of metric to demonstrate an announcement’s effectiveness.

But Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, who appeared in the public service announcements, said the videos produced so far serve a purpose because they were produced with Armenian Americans in mind, since they made up about 80% to 90% of the pedestrian fatalities.

“I would never consider doing the PSA unless it was calculated to reach a very specific demographic which was identified by our police department as the main target of the PSAs,” he said.

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Each of the recommended construction projects will be brought back to council members once design plans have been drawn up, Golanian said. Pedestrian task force members would work on education efforts to be funded by $1.5 million in Active Transportation Program grant money, he said.

Golanian added there would be quarterly meetings between city staffers and task force members to go over progress.

Councilman Dave Weaver said he was pessimistic about the proposed infrastructure improvements because most of the drivers who speed and are involved in accidents tend to be in their 20s and 30s and don’t watch city meetings or attend pedestrian-safety workshops.

“These things are going to happen. People are creatures of habit,” he said.

Friedman said she agreed with Weaver’s thoughts on what can and can’t be done to reduce pedestrian-related accidents, but did notice more and more people are becoming concerned about pedestrian safety in Glendale.

“I see, really for the first time in the past few years, the tide changing in terms of community attitude,” she said.

“I think to the average person in Glendale, it’s probably one of — if not the — biggest issue.”

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