Bryan Mahoney

Bryan Mahoney (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer )

Last weekend, a group of bicyclists gathered around a coffee-shop table and solidified a new era for Burbank’s bike and pedestrian paths.

“Walk Bike Burbank” was borne more or less as a response to the City Council’s June 10 meeting in which plans for a pedestrian and bike path were shelved until further notice. That night, the council called for more staff input regarding the development of the second phase of the Western Channel Bike Path after neighbors questioned the safety of the new public space going into their yards.

“A few naysayers are really trashing on the bicycle lanes,” said Mary Dickson, secretary/treasurer of Walk Bike Burbank. “A couple neighbors adjacent to the path spoke out and I think they’re not appreciating how beneficial the path is going to be.”

The path, if/when completed, would extend the trail that exists along a tributary of the L.A. River that runs from South Victory Boulevard near Linden Avenue northwest to Alameda Avenue. The path would continue north through neighborhoods and commercial areas until it reaches the downtown Burbank Metrolink station.

On Sunday, the group gathered at Romancing the Bean on Magnolia Boulevard and signed the paperwork to become a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

The move signifies a much broader implication for future trails through Burbank.

“A bicycle is the perfect design for our neighborhood needs, and when we set up routes and people learn those routes, it’s amazing what can change,” said Kreigh Hampel, the group’s chairman.

The city already has a bicycle master plan on the books. Developed in 2009, it lays out policy guidelines for linking Burbank’s bike routes to those in other cities, Metrolink stations and to other routes within Burbank’s borders.

Hampel said the Walk Bike Burbank group will serve several functions — to help educate people about bike safety, raise awareness about upcoming projects and help the city fulfill its master plan.

“The big picture is very exciting — it begins to look like a very different Los Angeles,” Hampel said.

Hampel and Dickson believe these linked paths will make traveling and commuting by bike much easier. Bike lanes such as those on West Verdugo Avenue will become more important as more connecting trails end at actual destinations.

“It [the Verdugo bike lane] ends at Olive — until that connects to the channel bikeway or at the other end, it doesn’t get you many places you want to go,” Dickson said.

Hampel said a complete network of bike paths would give most Burbank neighborhoods access to public transportation without always having to drive to it. It may be a slower ride, Hampel and Dickson said, but it’s worth the trip.

“If you want to make a superhighway on Verdugo so cars can get to the highway faster and get out of Burbank … that’s not a city I want to live in,” Dickson said.

The city plans to use a Metro grant for roughly $2.7 million to help fund the second phase of the Western Channel Bike Path. To make up the difference of the project’s estimated $4.4 million cost, it will spent about $680,000 from the city’s public improvements/development impact fees for a required 20% local match to the Metro grant and a little more than $982,000 in Proposition 84 funding. A June deadline for that latter funding was extended until later in the year.

Meanwhile, Walk Bike Burbank is planning to attend or assist with several community events next month, including supplying a bike valet service at Magnolia Park Movie Night at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 at UME Credit Union, 3000 W. Magnolia Blvd.

To learn more about Walk Bike Burbank, visit www.walkbikeburbank.org or follow the group at @BikeBurbank on Twitter.

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BRYAN MAHONEY writes about Burbank neighbors and the place they call home. He can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter: @818NewGuy.