Cycling for bike-friendliness

Two-wheelers dominate Foothill Blvd. in an effort to promote riding.

May 17, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

LA CRESCENTA — Cyclists took to a busy stretch of Foothill Boulevard on Saturday in an effort to promote the street as a secure place to ride, walk and shop since the county installed bike lanes.

As communities across the Southland work to make thoroughfares more bicycle-friendly, the inaugural Discover Foothill event began with a pack of balloon-carrying cyclists taking a ride from Briggs Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sponsored by the Crescenta Valley Town Council, the morning of events sought to bring awareness to the roadway improvements, which come as Glendale prepares to extend the bike lanes from Pennsylvania to Lowell avenues. The thrust was part of a larger plan in which officials hope to overcome the area’s image as commuter-centric, chipping away at barriers between urban and residential areas.


For years residents across Glendale and foothill communities voiced concerns about too few bike racks and dedicated lanes on busy streets.

Slowly but surely that’s changing, said Tom Bunn, who regularly commutes 10 miles from his La Crescenta home to work in Pasadena.

“As cyclists, we’ve seen some big improvements,” he said. “You look at the bike lanes on Foothill, I think it’s a relatively safe street to ride.”

Bunn attributed the changes to the swift response of city and county officials, and to the work of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, which is seeking to create a safe and healthy streets plan.

Spearheaded by Colin Bogart, the nonprofit is working to alleviate traffic congestion, minimize brushes between pedestrians and motorists, and improve air pollution.

Bogart said La Cañada is studying an extension of the bicycle lanes from Briggs Avenue to Alta Canyada Road, paving the way for access to Descanso Gardens via Verdugo Boulevard. Another plan by Los Angeles officials would extend the dedicated lanes from Lowell Avenue into Tujunga, Bogart said.

“This is a major corridor, and the idea is to extend it as far as we can in either direction,” he said.

Encouraging residents to get out into their neighborhoods would also help the area address escalating obesity rates, and keep children on a healthy path, said Robbyn Battles, a member of the Crescenta Valley Town Council.

With summer approaching, Battles and her colleagues anticipate a rush of students visiting the library with friends.

Children looked on as authorities from the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department walked through hand-signaling and safety laws, which require all riders 17 years and younger to wear helmets.

The Montrose Bike Shop was among the 40 foothill merchants to open its doors to the event, providing on-site tire and brake checks. And organizers from myriad youth organizations and the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition drummed up support with a cluster of youth cyclists.

“We have to occupy our youth,” Battles said. “When we don’t occupy our youth, that’s when the problems continue.”

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