The so-called “road diet” is the first step to making Glendale streets safer for bicyclists, City Council members said as they approved the change Tuesday.
The road diet will cut two lanes out of the four-lane Honolulu Avenue between Ramsdell and Orangedale avenues and replace them with a designated bicycle lane next to the parking section of the street, followed by one lane in each direction and a shared left-turn lane in the middle.
As Honolulu Avenue gets closer to the shopping park, the road is too narrow for a bike lane, so it will instead get street signs denoting that bicyclists and cars must share the road.
While several in City Council Chambers supported the project, others thought it was misguided.
“To try and dedicate a lane and mix cars with bicycles, I think it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Councilman Dave Weaver.
But residents who want safer bicycle routes say that giving them a designated lane will reduce traffic collisions. According to a city report, a road diet may reduce vehicle speeds, which could mean fewer vehicle-to-vehicle collisions.
About 13,000 vehicles per day currently use the one-mile stretch slated for the bike lanes, which currently has a speed limit of 35 mph.
“The reason a lot of people don’t ride is people don’t feel safe,” said Montrose resident Rye Baerg, who supported the bike lanes.
The $125,000-project is set to be tacked onto a citywide road slurry program that will begin in June, said Public Works Director Steve Zurn.
City officials plan to study the traffic patterns on the new slimmed-down road for one year to gauge its impact on traffic and cyclists. That information will be used to determine if the program should be expanded.
Finding additional money to expand, though, will be a separate challenge. The money for road diets ebbs and flows with sales taxes, making the program largely dependent on the state of the economy. Federal support for bicycle and pedestrian projects has also waned, Zurn said.
“It’ll be challenging for us to try to secure outside funding, but that’s not going to stop us from trying,” he said.
-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News
Photo: A bicyclist rides near the Glendale-Los Angeles border. Credit: Times Community News