Tag Archives: Chandler Bike Path

Community Rallies For Local Resident Facing Homophobic Harassment

On Saturday, June 6, a group of Burbank community members gathered along the Chandler Bikeway to show support for a fellow resident who has been the target of repeated prejudiced behavior in the neighborhood.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Burbank local David Aaron moved to town four years ago from Portland, Maine, and quickly found a new residence on the bikeway along Chandler Blvd. Although Aaron generally loves the area, he says that continued homophobic harassment from one neighbor has made his living situation a very distressing ordeal. 

“She knows that I am an openly gay male, and she quotes Bible verses as I walked by her house,” Aaron said. “She tells me that I’m going to hell. She swore at me one time as I was on the sidewalk and sprayed me with her garden hose…And this one time she was standing right at the gate and she said, ‘Get away from me. I don’t want to catch AIDS.’”

Beyond harassment aimed at himself, Aaron says that there have been additional accounts of the neighbor yelling threatening insults at people of color around the neighborhood.

“She’s taken it to a different level where she hones in on someone’s identity, whether it be the young man of color…who had gotten off his bike to rest in the shade of a tree on the bike path and she screamed at him to go home… or the Indian family that had parked in front of the block to unload their bicycle to ride on the bike path,” Aaron explained. “She just screamed at them to go back to their country.”

(Photo Courtesy of Facebook)

Aaron has attempted to work with the Burbank Police Department (BPD) regarding the verbal attacks since January of 2019. He follows their advice of avoiding the neighbor as much as possible, but, in spite of this, there have still been attacks in one form or another.

“[The cops] came and knocked on my door one day because she said that I had thrown a cigarette butt into her yard,” Aaron recalled. “I don’t smoke. I said to the officer… ‘Anytime anything happens to her, she blames that on me because I seem to be the most visible target for her.’ She doesn’t like me. She doesn’t approve of my, quote, ‘lifestyle.’ So if anything goes wrong, she blames me.”

Last Wednesday the harassment intensified when Aaron found that someone vandalized his car by twice inscribing the word pedophile (misspelled as “pedofile”) on the side and roof of the vehicle.

(Photo Courtesy of Facebook)

“She often calls me a pedophile,” Aaron said. “So that’s why [when] I came out of my house last Wednesday and saw “pedofile” carved into my car I knew immediately that it was her because no one else has ever called me that in my entire 56 years of age.”

Amidst the hardships brought about by the COVID-19 epidemic, this encounter with hateful vandalism left Aaron feeling devastated. 

“Like many people affected by COVID, I haven’t been working,” Aaron said. “I’ve been worried about money, stress and anxiety is my daily routine. So when I saw that on my car on Wednesday, it literally ruined me. I just was a mess.”

The crime is currently under investigation with the BPD as a felony charge, but local officers have told Aaron that it doesn’t classify as a hate crime.

Following this series of events, Aaron reached out to a local friend of his, Laura Adler, who sent a message out to the community in hopes of finding some video evidence or witnesses to move the case along faster. Community member Kate Crandall responded to speak in support of Aaron, and together the three came up with the idea for a show of support for equal rights.

Entitled “Show of Love,” they planned for a meeting “to show solidarity in the belief that love is stronger than hate, that communities of color, gender identity, or sexual orientation will not be intimidated.” The gathering took place on June 6 and had over 125 attendees along the Chandler bike path standing in solidarity with the belief that Burbank is “No Place for Hate.”

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

“The message was really loud and clear,” Aaron said “Don’t intimidate our neighbors or our friends because we will show up for them. That’s what we’re seeing kind of worldwide right now. Don’t intimidate our friends of color because we are going to show up for them. So it’s kind of a universal message right now. We obviously covered everyone saying we’re all in this together.”

Aaron has a background working in nonprofit organizations specifically related to public service, and says that in spite of difficult experiences he remains dedicated to human rights with the belief that the future will place emphasis on individual character.

“My hope is that we just look beyond the labels and judge people by their character and their morality and what they contributed to society,” Aaron said. “It’s like being a human being. Being the best possible human being is all that matters.”

Walk Bike Burbank and City Officials Throw Party to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of the Chandler Bikeway

Walk Bike Burbank and city officials throw party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Chandler Bikeway; cyclists use it for pleasure riding and commuting.

Chandler Bike Path Party-1

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Supporters of the Chandler Bikeway took the right path when they came out to celebrate the 10th anniversary of “an urban jewel” on Wednesday night.

The two mile stretch of recreation area for cyclists and walkers, which reaches from Mariposa Street to Clybourn Avenue, opened on Aug. 20, 2004. It was formerly a railroad right-of-way.

Members of the newly formed Walk Bike Burbank, a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, joined city officials and path users in a cake reception at the intersection of California Street.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“This is a chance to recognize all the good work that has been done on the bike path and the success of the last 10 years and we just love it!” said Kreigh Hampel, recycling coordinator at the Burbank Recycle Center and chairman of Walk Bike Burbank.

“I’m a bike commuter. I actually don’t ride a lot just to go on rides but I ride to work each day,” Hampel said. “I live near Stevenson School and I work at the recycling center so I ride down Verdugo and that’s a nice shot for me because we have bike lanes on a good portion of that street.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Also attending was former mayor Marsha Ramos, who remembers when the idea was first discussed while she was serving on the Park and Recreation Board in the early 1990s.

“I’m excited that the community has embraced this bike path walkway and more excited that the community continues to support it and come out and discover it,” she said.

It took seven years of planning to bring the bike path to fruition, said Janet Diel, who served on the original Burbank Chandler Bikeway Citizens Advisory Committee.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We were doing reports, we talked with the police department about safety and groups like Safe Moves for bicycle safety,” she said. “We talked about trees and [concrete] and whether we would score the concrete and make it bumpy on one side and smooth on the other side of the path and whether the path should be straight or meander and whether it would be safe to meander.”

The bike path was well on its way when David Kriske, deputy city planner, transportation, came on board with the city of Burbank in 2002, he said.

“I remember seeing the transition from the railroad ties and oleanders to the planting and the community ground breaking,” he said. “I use it all the time now. I live in Burbank. I use it if I’m going to North Hollywood or, if I’m going to visit friends and take the rail line, Chandler is the conduit. I try to ride my bike instead of using my car on the weekends. I’m a user and helping to extend the system.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The bikeway is now a highlight of the city of Burbank, said Cory Wilkerson, assistant transportation planner with the city, who worked on the bike master plan in 2009. The city secured a grant to add to the local dollars budgeted for the project. Joy Forbes, Community Development director, managed the project and worked with the residents to make sure the design was something that would meet the needs.

Residents were concerned about the project, but the City Council was bold, Wilkerson said, and approved it.

“And now the people who live here love it,” he said, adding that along with the landscaping, the design includes several pieces of public art.

This path is intended to connect to additional paths — the path that goes up to the Empire Center and continues to the city of Los Angeles and the path that goes to the Downtown Burbank Metrolink Station and a path along the Los Angeles River.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The purpose is to provide residents with access to anywhere they want to go whether it’s just for recreation or commuting to and from work or school or just getting out and enjoying the city,” he said.

The next step of the network is the South Channel Bikeway, a one-mile bike path that runs along the Burbank-Western Flood Control Channel, a tributary of the Los Angeles River. Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2011 and extends from Alameda Avenue to Victory Boulevard. The city of Burbank has just begun the design for Phase 2 of this project, which would extend the path from Alameda Avenue to the Downtown Burbank Metrolink Station.

“There are a lot of residents that are in support of it and there are a few residents who have a lot of concerns and they’re not in support of it and we are trying to work with everybody and trying to see that everybody’s needs get met,” Wilkerson said.

The city has a consultant on board and there have been several options proposed on the design, he said. City representatives have gone door-to-door and talked to residents to get their feedback on such points as which side of the channel would be best for the bike path. The findings were presented to City Council a few weeks ago and the council asked planners to go back and look at alternatives to avoid having the bike path run so close to the residents’ back fences.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We are trying to work with them to come up with some solutions — it’s not going to be perfect — but it serves to benefit a significant amount of people that could be able to use it, so our goal is to mitigate the section causing concern to residents,” he said.

City planners will take their findings to council and it will be the council’s decision to proceed or terminate the project, he added.

In planning the connectivity throughout the city, there has to be sensitivity to homeowners living near the bike path’s proposed areas, said Joy Forbes, Community Development director.

“But in a place like this, you can see how it works and how it helps, not only has it improved property values but it’s created a community here,” she said, adding that the before pictures showed the old railroad rails and surrounding area cluttered with trash and overgrown brush. “It was a big divider in the community and now it’s brought it together. So I hope that future paths can do the same thing.”

Cyclist Doug Weiskopf has logged countless miles on the Chandler path.

“I’ve been riding it almost since it was built. I’m a regular here and every chance I get I come up here,” he said. It’s such a nice safe place — well lit — you can come anytime — you can come after dark — and I would say it’s an urban jewel.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Chandler Bike Path Celebrates 10th Anniversary and You’re Invited

Chandler Bike Path -1

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Chandler Bike Path was dedicated 10 years ago today- August 20, 2004, and there is going to be a celebration tonight from 6:30 till 8:30 p.m. at the intersection of Chandler and California Street to mark the day.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Thousands have walked, biked, skated, enjoyed conversations, loss weight, and even met new friends on the stretch of endless concrete.

The path that runs end-to-end from Mariposa Street to Clybourn Street is 1.91 miles long and continues into North Hollywood all the way to Vineland Avenue.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Burbank Bike Coalition of Walk Bike Burbank will be hosting the cake cutting event at 7:00 p.m. and members of the organization will be on hand to answer questions and encourage guests to use the Chandler Bike Path and others in the city.

Some of Burbank’s former City Council members from 2004 will be on hand for the celebration. Please join the fun!