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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”