First published in the Oct. 22 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
The city will install a dedicated bike lane along La Crescenta Avenue as part of the road’s rehabilitation project due to begin soon.
To accommodate the bike lanes, one travel lane in each direction will be removed, and a center left-turn lane will be added to the street. On-street parking will be retained using this plan, according to the city. The City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to pick this plan, with Councilman Ara Najarian voting against after earlier indicating support for an alternative plan to install “sharrows” — shared lanes — along the road.
Council members viewed the project as both opening doors for Glendale’s cyclists and also potentially slowing down traffic on La Crescenta Avenue.
“We need to deliver on these fine words that come out of our mouths by actually putting some money down, doing the work and making the community safer,” Councilman Dan Brotman said. “I believe very much that this will reduce accidents. I don’t think, given the low traffic counts on this road, that we will see much impact on congestion.”
The lanes are expected to run the full 1.6 miles of the work to be done on La Crescenta Avenue, running from Verdugo Road to Montrose Avenue. Per council direction, planners will explore making the lanes positioning in between street parking and the curb, as an added layer of protection from motorists. The other alternative would have essentially preserved the current layout, while adding demarcations and signage to the outer lanes indicating the motorists were to share the lane with cyclists.
Most council members were of the opinions that these “sharrows” were too risky.
“I prefer to see actual physically separated bike lanes for bicyclists anywhere, because quite honestly I think that paint doesn’t stop cars,” Mayor Ardy Kassakhian said. “It may be nice for optics but I don’t think it will be necessarily effective for safety.
“We have to do something to slow people down,” he added.
Many residents along the corridor entered public comments this week urging the council to commit to one of the two proposals, in light of the reckless driving they said is a regular occurrence there. The road, which links North Glendale to the central part of the city and also serves as the primary freeway path for residents, is also filled with many risky turns that would benefit from slower traffic.
“I don’t think that this is just for building a bike-friendly city, but this is also in line with our pedestrian safety plan, with the Vision Zero that we want to implement,” Councilwoman Elen Asatryan said.
Najarian was more hopeful for the other option, which he saw as better for keeping motorists from cutting through residential neighborhoods and making dangerous decisions.
“La Crescenta is just not your average road,” he said. “We’re going from a two-lane road in each direction to a one-lane, and I think that’s a problem. I think we’re going to see a lot of traffic congestion, a lot of cut-through traffic whether we like it or not, whether we put signs or not. I think we’re going to see an increase in accidents because we’re going to have drivers who are impatient and doing unusual passing maneuvers.”