By Ted AYALA
Proponents for alternate modes of transportation secured a victory on Tuesday. Glendale City Council passed a bicycle transportation plan that will enable Glendale to accommodate its growing demographic of bicyclists on city roads along with motorists. The plan – costing an estimated $5.8 million – may see the city doubling the amount of bicycle lanes and roads within a year of being enacted. Councilmember Rafi Manoukian vowed that the city would implement the plan “sooner than later.”
Half of the plan can be fulfilled within a year, noted outgoing Traffic and Safety Administrator Jano Baghdanian, because of approximately $680,000 already available in grant funding. Grant funding will continue to be an important source for the city to rely on in order to offset the costs of the plan.
Council also approved a state grant application totaling $650,000 for bicycle amenities, which would require a match of 10% from the local community.
Local bicyclists and their supporters expressed their satisfaction over the plan to the Council.
“It’s an investment in the future of the city of Glendale as gas prices get higher and higher,” said Bill Weisman.
Deflecting criticisms that bicycle lanes won’t lead to a safer environment on the road, Ry Berg said that the lanes would be an aid for bicyclists as well as motorists.
“We live our lives by the little white lines on our streets,“ he said, “and they actually do matter to a lot of us.”
Councilmember Laura Friedman firmly supported the plan, noting that the benefits of the plan weren’t only for bicyclists.
“When I ran for city council, I had a vision for the kind of city I wanted to live in,” she said. “That vision includes a city that offers people choices for mobility and offers safe streets for everybody. This plan is very big step in that direction.”
However, not everyone was pleased by the decision, including long-standing bicycling opponent, Councilmember Dave Weaver.
“I don’t get it,” he said. “I just don’t see how we’re going to get people out of their cars and into the blazing sun to ride bicycles. … It’s my take as an old man.”
He also cited the controversy over the recent proposal for a bicycle lane on Honolulu Avenue as a foreshadowing of future problems, saying that public outreach will have to be aggressive.
Mayor Frank Quintero, however, expressed optimism over the plan, recounting a recent visit to Seville, Spain.
“That city went from having no bike culture to having thousands of bike trips a day when the local government and state decided to do bike paths and facilitate bicycle movement,” he said. “It transformed the city. It’s [success] is not isolated to Spain, [but is] spreading to large cities like Chicago, and medium-sized cities. This is the best thing the city can do. The key is to coordinate with public transportation.”
“This isn’t pie-in-the-sky,” he added. “This is something that makes a lot of sense.”