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Grants hinge on bike plan

As region becomes more bike friendly, city hopes to keep up with neighbors.

February 19, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

CITY HALL — Glendale will continue to be out of the running for millions in state grant funding until city officials update a 15-year-old bicycle master plan.

Pasadena recently announced an updated bicycle master plan that includes nearly 20 more miles to a bikeway network that already covers more than 50 miles. Long Beach is on a quest to become one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in nation. Los Angeles is reviewing a proposal to add nearly 700 miles of dedicated bike paths, although the plan has been stuck in discussions for years.

The Burbank City Council approved a bike plan update last year to accommodate thousands more cyclists.

“Top-class communities see biking as just another amenity that makes people want to live there and have just a good quality of life,” said Dave Kriske, principal planner for the city of Burbank.

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The plans allow the cities to compete for nearly $8 million in grants awarded annually by the California Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, Glendale hasn’t updated its bike plan since it was created, in 1995, when the city had three miles of dedicated bike lanes. In order to qualify for the state funds, cities must have created or updated a dedicated bike plan within the past five years.

In the 15 years since the Glendale plan was created, no major bike improvements have been added outside of bike racks downtown and painted “sharrows,” which designate shared vehicle-bicycle lanes, on a portion of Grandview Avenue.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who often bikes to City Hall, said the lack of infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians was one of the issues that motivated her to run for City Council.

Friedman said she was alarmed to hear about the potential funding the city was missing out on and planned to push for an updated bike plan.

“It’s shameful that we are in the situation where we are losing grant money because no one cared enough about bikes in the city to update the master plan,” Friedman said. “There is a lot of catching up to do.”

Public Works Director Steve Zurn said other improvements are in the works, and that there are tentative plans to begin updating the city’s bike plan this summer, a process that takes most cities at least a year.

In the meantime, public works officials will work to incorporate bike improvements — such as adding bike routes, censors and bike parking — into regular street maintenance projects, Zurn said.

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