By Ted AYALA
The City of Glendale director of Public Works Roubik Golanian reported to city council on Tuesday afternoon recommendations and plans the city should undertake in order to mitigate the growing problem of vehicular-to-pedestrian safety.
It’s an issue that has become a prominent complaint among residents and visitors to the city, a problem further illustrated by another pedestrian fatality on Sept. 22, bringing Glendale’s total for the year to five.
Golanian said that although Glendale is “not unique” for cities of its size when it comes to pedestrian safety, it is a matter of “grave concern,” especially in light of growing media awareness of the issue.
According to his report, levels of pedestrian accidents have remained consistent for the past eight years. From 2005 to 2013, there were 915 pedestrian accidents, most concentrated in the downtown Glendale area. Of those accidents, 35 of them were fatal.
The report follows another publicized last month by Allstate Insurance that ranked Glendale drivers as being among the worst in the country. In a statewide list, they ranked dead last.
While noting the report, Golanian said it was important to remember that Allstate’s criteria differed from those drawn up by the state and cities. He pointed to a report compiled by the Glendale Police Dept. for the years 2007 through 2011 that ranked the city ahead of Pasadena but behind Burbank in pedestrian deaths by vehicle.
In response, the city has mobilized a Pedestrian Safety Taskforce to oversee and study the problem, as well as identify crisis points and solutions for them. To date, the taskforce has held five meetings, as well as two workshops, for the community and members.
Some of the ideas proposed by the taskforce are curb extensions to make for shorter crossings, diagonal crosswalks such as the one located currently at Brand Boulevard and Harvard Avenue, and expanding the use of high visibility striped crosswalks. Previously, those crosswalks were limited to school zones.
Golanian also suggested the expanded use of digital speed feedback signs in problem areas. According to feedback from residents, the signs tend to slow down traffic, at least initially.
Councilmember Laura Friedman expressed skepticism at the signs’ abilities to curb dangerous driving, adding that it was necessary to obtain solid numbers before investing further in the idea.
“I’d feel more comfortable proving to me this works,” she said. “So far you’re not convincing me.”
She also wondered whether the city’s push via public service announcements will resonate with scofflaws, a line of thought that Councilmember Dave Weaver also agreed with.
“We are not going to solve this problem. The people breaking these laws are not in [school],” he said. “The ones I see driving around are in their 20s and 30s. Those are the ones cutting corners and running red lights. And I guarantee that none of them read the [papers], watch GTV-6, and they’re not going to any community meetings. The people that [do] are the conscientious ones.”
While voting in support of moving forward with the recommendations in Golanian’s report, Weaver added that he was “pessimistic” over their ultimate results.
“There are too many people who don’t care,” he said. “You’re not going to reach those people who break the law.”
But for Tony Dang, who represented California Walks on the dais, the efforts are vital.
“These are all sound recommendations,” he said, “and I urge you to adopt them to improve safety immediately.”