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Bike, pedestrian safety still a concern

Improved infrastructure, education could help reduce accident numbers.

March 01, 2011|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

CITY HALL — Roughly a third of Glendale’s bicyclists don’t use helmets, while more than 20% ride on sidewalks, according to a recent citywide survey of cyclists and pedestrians.

The count — during which dozens of volunteers manned 26 street corners during a morning and evening weekday commute and a weekend morning — logged more than 2,000 cyclists and more than 15,000 pedestrians.

The findings showed a continued need for public-safety campaigns to curb dangerous behaviors, said Colin Bogart, a liaison with the nonprofit Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition who oversaw the count as part of his work on a Safe and Healthy Streets plan.

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“I think it’s definitely a concern,” he said. “I think it demonstrates that we need to do something.”

The data will help city officials determine what is needed in terms of infrastructure improvements and education efforts for a city long plagued by collisions between vehicles and pedestrians.

From 2004 to 2009, the city saw an increase of nearly 20% in the number of collisions between vehicles and pedestrians, according to a county report. But 134 collisions occurred in 2007, including six fatalities. Last year, three pedestrians died after being struck by vehicles.

During the same period, bicycle-injury collisions remained constant, at approximately 41 per year, only one of which resulted in a fatality, according to the report.

Bogart said that the high number of sidewalk bicyclists likely indicate they are fearful of riding in the streets, even though the practice can increase the chance of being hit because drivers don't expect to encounter cyclists in driveways or crossing from one sidewalk to another.

“I would hope that over time as the city begins to build more infrastructure…that we will over time see those sidewalk numbers go down,” Bogart said.

At a commission-level meeting in January, Glendale resident Hannah Lazarus said education programs could help the fellow cyclists she routinely sees engaging in unsafe behaviors.

“I’m sure they want to be safe about it, and they’re not sure how to do it,” she said.

For the second year in a row, the highest volume of bicyclists — or 299 within three two-hour periods — was at Flower Street and Sonora Avenue, which Bogart said shows it’s a prime spot for bike lanes or markings called “sharrows,” which designate shared right-of-ways with vehicle traffic.

The intersections with the most foot traffic included Central Avenue and Americana Way; Brand Boulevard and Broadway; Glendale and Wilson avenues; and Los Feliz and San Fernando roads.

The total number counted in each survey category was down slightly, most likely due to inclement weather, Bogart said.

To view the report, visit http://la-bike.org/glendale/.

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