Valley folk: if you don’t know about Walk Bike Burbank, it’s time to get familiar.
If you’ve ever connected with them, you’ll know that they have a friendly, dedicated core of supporters that are already making a dent in the cycling scene.
As part of the annual “Burbank On Parade and Family Festival”, WBB is hosting the city’s first open streets event this Saturday, called CiclaBurbank. The event will take place on Olive Avenue between Keystone and Lomita from 8:30am to 9:30am.
I spoke with Walk Bike Burbank’s President Mike Hollis about the event and the growing cycling scene in Burbank.
Why do you think Burbank has great potential for cycling?
Burbank’s great potential for cycling lies in our relatively flat topography (west of Interstate 5), and in the
untapped resource of “forgotten” bicycles in garages all over Burbank. There are thousands of unridden bikes in town, sitting idle mainly because their owners don’t feel safe riding in the street, or for lack of simple maintenance and repair knowledge.
What are some of your favorite places to bike in Burbank?
I want to answer this two ways. First, any trip that eliminates a car ride is a good trip. Whether visiting friends and family, going to a restaurant, or running to a home supply store for a needed part, all of these keep one less car off the road. The other is what street or route I like riding. During the daytime, I like riding the residential back streets, which are much quieter and peaceful than any main street in Burbank. After dark, the Chandler Bikeway is the best, as the number of people on it drops, and being off the street means you have less to look out for.
Patti & Mike Hollis ready to roll
Talk a little about the community Walk Bike Burbank has formed in such a short time.
Walk Bike Burbank is a great group of people, coming from a variety of cycling perspectives, but all wanting to see Burbank be a better place to ride bikes. Although the core of active members is a small group, it has a good mix of skills. Being a small group, we are always looking for other interested people to join us. Volunteers make our events successful, whether it is a ride, educational, or advocacy issue.
What are some of the biggest issues facing cycling in Burbank?
The biggest issue facing cycling in Burbank is overcoming the mindset that bicycles are toys, and are recreational in nature. As WBB has advocated for more bicycle infrastructure, a common refrain is “you have the Chandler Bikeway, go ride there.” This assumes that cyclists are only riding for recreation, not as transportation. We need to be seen as having a right to the road, as it is encoded in state law (CVC21202). As cyclists are accepted on the road, more people will feel confident enough to get back on their bikes to commute or run errands.
The Burbank Channel Bikeway
What are people going to see this Saturday at CiclaBurbank?
To people who have experienced CicLAvia, or other open streets events, Saturday’s first edition of CiclaBurbank is going to look small. The route is small (1 mile), the time is short (just over an hour), and I don’t expect many merchants will be interacting with riders. The City of Burbank has put a cap on registrations (250) for this first event, so it’s a wide street with riders spread out across the space.
How will CiclaBurbank make people look at Burbank in a different way?
But for citizens of Burbank, it’s an opportunity to envision what a more extensive open street event could look like in Burbank. The prospect of drawing cyclists from around the region to discover what Burbank has to offer should entice not only local merchants but civic leaders to see the value of a larger, longer CiclaBurbank event in the future. I think that, as we have seen around Los Angeles County, when a community gets the vision of what this sort of event can be, they want one in their own community as well.
The Chandler Bikeway is always a popular place to ride.
Lastly, where do you see Burbank in the next ten years?
Burbank in ten years? I think we will see more people riding bikes, both for transportation and recreation. In 10 years though, we will still need to be advocating for better cycling infrastructure. By 2026, the City of Burbank’s Bicycle Master Plan will be 17 years old, and items identified as top priorities in that document will still be waiting. There will be better access to Griffith Park via a new bike/pedestrian bridge at Bob Hope Drive, and other improvements as well. One critical piece that is not clear if it will be done by 2026 is the extension of the Chandler Bikeway east across Victory Blvd, connecting with the Downtown Metrolink Station. This will connect Chandler with the Channel Bikeway, which should break ground on Phase 2 this summer. Regardless of whether this is complete or not, I expect that Walk Bike Burbank will be there; teaching, encouraging, and working with the community to make Burbank a better place to ride.