Friday, July 6, 2012

Proposed Road Safety Improvements on Honolulu in Trouble, Write to the City Council With Your Support

The Glendale City Council is considering abandoning the proposed road diet test project along a small stretch of Honolulu in Montrose despite hundreds of letters from residents in support of the project and traffic counts that show there will be minimal disruption to traffic flow.  The benefits of the project would be: 
  • Create designated bicycle lanes
  • Create a center two-way-left-turn lane at mid-block locations and separate left-turn lanes at major intersections (where currently nonexistent)
  • Reduce vehicular travel speeds
  • Reduce accident severity, frequency, and number
  • Enhance pedestrian safety
If the council kills this project based on a small amount of opposition, it's unlikely that they will move forward with other infrastructure improvements spelled out in the City of Glendale's bicycle master plan.  While the city has been taking small steps forward, Glendale's bicycle amenities lag far, far behind those of Los Angeles, Pasadena and Burbank, to say nothing of Long Beach or Santa Monica.  Everyone knows that Glendale has an abysmal record of speeding, car accidents, and pedestrians being hit and killed on an alarmingly regular basis.  It's time for the city council -- particularly dithering councilman Ara Najarian -- to show some backbone, slow down speeders and create a safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Glendale City Council can be contacted with your support for the project at Councilman Rafi Manoukian can be contacted separately at  I asked my friend Alek Bartrosouf if I could publish this letter he wrote to the Glendale City Council regarding the project.  His letter is printed below.

Dear Mayor Quintero and Members of the Council,

I am contacting you today as a private resident of Glendale and very concerned voter.  My impetus for writing comes after months of discussion since December over the road diet test. 

After a bewildering city council meeting on June 19, 2012 where a decision to move forward on a road diet test was postponed and subjective staff report was made public at the request of one council member, I took it upon myself to retrace the steps of Council to understand how we got to a stalemate over our first bicycle infrastructure investment out of the Bicycle Master Plan.

In reviewing the meetings since December, I have found the following:

December 31, 2011
  • Staff recommends a road diet on La Crescenta Avenue at a cost of $64,000.
  • 8 people speak for the project.
  • 1 person speaks against the project.
  • Quintero expresses an interest in Honolulu.
  • Manoukian expresses support for the plan.
  • Najarian says there are few reasons to have this test on La Crescenta and expresses support for Honolulu due to slower traffic and its bicycle shop.
  • Friedman expresses support for this project, but is willing to look at alternatives.

While the majority is willing to explore a road diet, some express interest in looking at other alternatives and have lukewarm opinions about having the first road diet test on
La Crescenta Avenue.

January 31, 2012
  • 10 people speak for the project (with letters of support). 3 people speak against.
  • Quintero supports Honolulu specifically. “Road Diets make sense, it will not create bumper to bumper traffic,” he says.
  • Manoukian is okay with any of the proposed road diet tests from the report.
  • Najarian supports the road diet system as a test on Honolulu.
  • Friedman is fine with Honolulu and supports all of Honolulu.
  • Council votes 4 to 1 to move forward with Honolulu as its Road Diet Test.

June 19, 2012
  • Staff presents opinions stated by the public both for and against the road diet test.
  • Quintero asks “why Honolulu?” to staff.
  • A petition with 300 signatures, letters from nearby residents, senior living centers, and businesses in favor of the project are presented to the council.
  • 26 people speak for the project
  • 7 people speak against the project
  • 1 person speaks neutrally on the project
  • City Manager Ochoa mentions a special meeting for Whiting Woods residents.
  • Mr. Haghani, Director of Planning, says main streets should be multi-modal and include various forms of transportation.  “Montrose does lend itself to this type of test.”

Based on the dialogue I am hearing from the majority of council members at these meetings, there is a clear and blatant interest in moving forward with a road diet test. My understanding, and please correct me if I am wrong, is that there is increased pressure from a small group of organized residents in the Montrose area who do not want this project to be tested – the type of folks who promise that this will turn out to be a “disaster”.  It is my understanding that some council members, who were initially in support for Honolulu specifically, are now looking for ways to avoid a minority vote in favor of this road diet test.

I would like to think that I have voted for council members who are forward thinking and progressive leaders who can think independently and look at cases before them in an objective manner.  It is true that public opinion is an important piece of the puzzle and it should be taken seriously, especially when hundreds of people who have expressed explicit support for the Honolulu Road Diet.

Equally important, however, is the ability to step back from the opinions of the public and make an objective decision based on what you feel is best for our community.  Many of you have reiterated in the past – this is only a test.  The only way we can move forward with bicycle improvements is to try things we simply have not tried in the past.  Road Diet studies are consistently clear in their findings to reduce speeds and rates of collision.  Implementing a road diet on Honolulu will also give our community what they want – an overwhelming majority of residents on Honolulu agree that speeds are too high and this project would alleviate that serious concern.

I think that City Council should move forward with this test on Honolulu, which is a street with the least amount of daily traffic from the set of streets presented as options to Council on January 31st. 

I encourage you to seriously consider the future of Glendale and its willingness to be innovative, creative, bold, and appealing to those of us who grew up here and are looking for reasons to stay.  Many of us will be disappointed to observe a minority vote for a project we worked hard for since December in our outreach efforts and start the process all over in another part of town because of a few loud opposers.  The reality is there will always be a few folks who will not be interested in improving the level of service on our streets for all users. The question you face is: are you going to buckle to the pressure?

Your opportunity to lead is now.  Please do what is right for this community and adopt a standard that our children will be proud of.


Alek Bartrosouf

Again, The Glendale City Council can be contacted with your support for the project at Councilman Rafi Manoukian can be contacted separately at

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