By Mary O’KEEFE
The fourth walking audit of Foothill Boulevard, sponsored by Public Works Los Angeles County, took place on Saturday and started at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd.
The walk audit was an outreach that shared the options available for the Foothill Boulevard improvements as well as a chance to gather opinions on what the community would like to see on the boulevard.
There were several improvements discussed including keeping the Class II bike lanes that are presently along Foothill, which include a dedicated right-of-way for bicyclists along with motorists to changing to a Class III bike lane where bicyclists and motorists share the entire road or to a Class IV bike lane where there is a physical separation between the bike lane and roadway.
In addition there are possible pedestrian improvements including high visibility crosswalks, bulb-outs, flashing crosswalk lights and pedestrian refuge islands. The addition of signage is also being looked at with equipment including “speed feedback signs,” which are lighted signs that reflect the rate of speed of individual vehicles and pedestrian countdowns on signals.
The Foothill Boulevard Active Transportation Plan began in March 2021 and was initiated by Public Works LA County in collaboration with Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge.
“The Plan will evaluate approximately six miles of Foothill Boulevard from Lowell Avenue in the City of Glendale to Oak Grove Drive in the City of La Cañada Flintridge. This corridor connects the two cities with the unincorporated community of La Crescenta-Montrose,” according to the Public Works. “Within a half-mile radius of the study corridor there are a variety of destinations, including 14 schools, four hiking trails, six parks, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), major retail stores and numerous restaurants. Enhanced active transportation infrastructure will improve mobility and accessibility along the corridor, which is also surrounded by both low- and high-density residential dwellings. The Plan will help shape future active transportation improvements along Foothill Boulevard and guide the transformation of the corridor to support all users of the roadway.”
Public Works has held several outreach meetings including at Crescenta Valley Town Council meetings, four walk audits (including Saturday’s walk) that focused on the Glendale portion, La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge, a bike audit and a community outreach workshop.
Sarah Ahmed, civil engineer, and Shirley Lai, associate civil engineer for Transportation Planning and Programs, led Saturday’s audit.
As is common lately at many of the meetings regarding Glendale and La Crescenta roadways and projects, center stage seems to be about biking. At Saturday’s audit there was some talk about bike lanes and what would make it safer for those who bike along Foothill.
Julie Kobie, a mom of an 8-month-old, said she would like to see Foothill become family-friendly for bicyclists. She has an e-bike (electric bike) but feels Foothill, as it is now, is too dangerous to travel.
“I would like a [protective] dedicated lane for biking,” she said.
There was talk of protective bike lanes that have posts that separate the lane from vehicle traffic on the roadway. Another option has parking spaces moved away from the curb, using the cars as protection for the bike lane. It would be the roadway then parked vehicles and, from the cars to the curb, would be the bike lane.
One resident added that he is not certain of the final solution; however, biking, especially e-bikes, is becoming a popular mode of transportation and this plan has to look at the future.
Paul Rabinov, an avid bicyclist and member of the Walk-Bike Glendale board, said he was happy with the marked bike lanes that are presently on Foothill Boulevard but also is in favor of making it safer for bikers.
He shared stories of close calls with motorists along Foothill.
“We want families to feel safe [biking]. From 8 to 80 they should feel safe to walk or ride on the street,” he said.
Resident Stuart Byles advocated not only for more trees along the boulevard but mature, larger trees that will provide shade. He voiced his disappointment with the construction in the 1900 block of Foothill Boulevard, near the YMCA of the Foothills in La Cañada Flintridge.
“The City eliminated parking on the north side of Foothill,” he said.
He added there have been changes to the boulevard throughout the years, including narrowing the lanes, and that although the improvements will take years he thinks there is a constant in LA.
“We are and will still be a car culture in 20 to 30 years,” he said, adding even if those cars are electric.
But Rabinov added that eliminating lanes, like the plan proposed in the La Crescenta Avenue Rehabilitation project in Glendale, won’t impact traffic. Ines Chessum, a resident and member of the Land Use Committee, said she used to bike Foothill but doesn’t now.
“I would be riding with my heart in my mouth,” she said.
There were other concerns brought up to Public Works, including the need for up-to-date bus stops that are well lit, and better markings for bike lanes with possible raised reflective pavement discs.
The main focus for most, though, was how to slow traffic down along the Foothill corridor. Options could include more crosswalks that have signals instead of just the few that are now along the boulevard.
However even at lighted crosswalks traffic is still an issue. As Saturday’s group went to cross the street at Foothill and Glenwood Avenue at the lighted crosswalk a vehicle ignored the signal and drove through the crosswalk as the pedestrians were in the center of the street.
More outreach and audits will be scheduled in the future. Once Public Works releases the dates CVW will post information.