Blog: Honolulu Road Diet: Why or Why Not?

A Montrose resident responds to the pro's and con's of the Honolulu Avenue Road Diet.

I'm pretty passionate about this topic, its been covered ad-nausea by local news outlets including Montrose-La Cresenta Patch (, , etc).

I fully support road diets in general and particularly this specific project slated for Honolulu. But the intention of writing this isn't to tell you why I support the project but to address some of the arguments both for and against this project.

I've commented on a number of articles and I keep coming back to the same comments from the same people. And for the life of me I cannot understand why they don't get it. Hopefully the following will help them get it!

Common concerns and questions:

- Why are we spending tax payers money on something they don't support?

First, the money that is being spent on this test case is not local money. It does not come from or affect local budgets. It is from State and Federal grants to develop alternative transportation. Specifically for the enhancement of bike and pedestrian mobility.  

My opinion is that if you have a problem with how these funds are spent, don't whine on the articles or to Glendale City Council, contact your local State and Federal representative and complain there. That is how this country works!

- Nobody asked me first, why wasn't the community first approached?

That isn't how city government works. The project is proposed, then the community is asked to weigh in. It would have worked exactly the same for any of the other proposed project sites. The exception is that Glendale City Council decided on Honolulu independent of the initial project proposal sites. So the community couldn't voice their concern initially at that City Council meeting where Honolulu was picked. The community, subsequently, had plenty of opportunity to . 

- This will slow traffic to a crawl. 

Probably not. First, most of all implemented road diets have improved traffic flow, increased safety for all modes of travel and created an inviting atmosphere encouraging more community activity out of doors. Second, by calming traffic, it could slow enough to the point where people that would normally use Honolulu as their own personal super highway to get to the 210 or 2 Freeways will now find a faster way. Diverting traffic away from your beloved community to higher volume streets. Thereby further increasing safety since mostly locals will be travelling and respecting their fellow neighbors.

- This only affects Whiting Woods and only Whiting Woods residents should be consulted to the efficacy of this project.

The last time I checked Whiting Woods is outside of the project area which is slated to be Honolulu between Ramsdell and Orangedale. There is more than one way to get out of the neighborhood. You can go east towards Montrose or West to Pennsylvania. Those residents should not restrict opinions to only those that live in the project area. I live outside of it, yet I use the project area frequently. Just like the Whiting Woods Residents.

- Cars have more right to the road because they pay a (fill in the blank fee).

This couldn't be further from the truth. Most cyclists own vehicles and drive them regularly. The only person that doesn't contribute to the construction and maintenance of roads is someone totally off the grid that purchases nothing, owns/rents no property and does not own a car. Otherwise, we all pay Fed/State income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, vehicle license fees etc etc used to build/maintain the roadways. The only "fee" that gives exclusive access to cars on a roadway is called a toll and we only have a handful of those in all of southern California. So let's put this particular argument to rest, shall we?

- Will this test case be for good or will it be removed after the test period? 

From the information provided by the Transportation Bureau, this test case will be observed for about a year. During that time, traffic patterns, speeds, bottlenecks, etc., will be observed to see if this will work. They have yet to set any thresholds as to what is considered success of the project but if the change is so drastic and the delays are so inconvenient, I would imagine the locals will begin complaining directly to city council. As is their right. It has been indicated if the re-striping road diet project is not successful, the street is scheduled for resurfacing anyway and will be re-striped pending that project.

- We have the most pedestrian accidents in the country. Until we clean up our act and learn to drive cars without hitting someone, we have no business increasing bike traffic. This is just another accident waiting to happen... especially in the incline areas of north Glendale.

To solve the problem of pedestrian safety we must not educate, re-educate, enforce or otherwise alter the behavior of drivers. Rather we must discourage bike traffic while, hopefully, magically, the drivers of Glendale will wake up one day and decide to actually pay attention and drive responsibly? Only then should bikes have a share of the road? 

Fortunately for the cyclists and pedestrians in the community the state of California disagrees with you since the vehicle code (the law governing vehicles driven over the road including bicycles) says all vehicles have equal access to the road (high speed highways excluded). 

Further, what do inclines have to do with either pedestrian or bicycle safety?Is there a report I'm not aware of that says the likelihood of being struck by a vehicle is greater when on an incline? Drivers in Glendale need to change. The fastest and easiest way to do that is to convert them to cyclists and pedestrians. Then they will know how important a margin of safety and paying attention is to the safety of the those SHARING the roadways in Glendale. And then they will begin to drive their cars with the responsibility and courtesy they prefer when they don't have the shelter of 3,000 pounds of metal surrounding them.


Common reasons in support:

- The community actually supports this project. 

If you had the opportunity to attend the City Council meeting June 19, you will have seen overwhelming support from the community at large. The Glendale News Press, citing city reports, indicated that the community did not support the project despite Walk Bike Glendale securing over 300 signatures and messages of support from the community surrounding the project. This includes most of the Senior homes and Assisted living communities on Honolulu. And just to note, about 80 percent in attendance that had something to say about this road diet at June 19 city council were vehemently in support of the project.

- Pedestrians will feel safer by not having to cross four active lanes of traffic to cross the street. 

The traffic calming effect will be realized immediately, particularly for pedestrians. Because the striping will physically change the streets layout, they will only have to cross three lanes (two active lanes) of traffic rather than four active lanes. Increasing the margin of safety through physical proximity and change in velocity.

- Why did Glendale pick Honolulu Avenue?

This is really a question of why didn't Glendale pick other streets. First, this street is ideal, it's a fairly long stretch and has less than 11,000 vehicles per day that travel over it. Second, it is an ideal mixture of commercial, residential and business. The other streets didn't have this mix. The city wanted this mix because this particular test case was to see how the changes would effect all of these entities. Personally, I wouldn't have picked Honolulu first, but it's still a good pick!

- People that don't bicycle will be encouraged to bicycle in a safer environment. 

Numerous residents of the area have voiced their concern that they currently don't ride bikes down Honolulu because they don't feel its safe. With the project, the bike lane and possible buffer will create a space of perceived safety where parents can ride with their children along Honolulu. Where students can safely ride to and from school. Where residents can go about their daily routine with a marginally safer ride on their bike.

- Greater sense of community through activity. 

When you get out of your house, you will see your neighbors. You will frequent local businesses more, you will get around more easily and without the use of fossil fuels. The side benefit is that you could become more healthy, lose a few pounds. Enjoy the breeze, the sun, the wind in your hair. I've found that I get the opportunity to enjoy my surroundings more on a bike than in a car. I've had wildly different experiences cycling mountain roads than driving those same roads.

This is by far not a complete list, but compiled from feedback and questions from attending community meetings, city council and reading lots of articles. If you are against this project, try to take a minute and be reasonable and ask yourself, what really about this project makes you not want to support it?  

Grab a bike or throw on some sneakers and go down the street and tell us if you still don't want something like this. Nobody is happy seeing people driving 50 mph down a mixed use street marked 35. This is a benefit to the community at large, not just one segment or to one mode of transportation.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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