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Everyone’s Business:

Street medians don’t fit on Olive Avenue

October 21, 2009|By ROBERT PHIPPS

If the City Council wants to make the sidewalks and surrounding areas of Olive Avenue more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians, that’s fine, but it should leave the street alone. Adding obtrusive medians would only be detrimental to the city’s residents and business owners.

A street is for one purpose only: the safe, efficient movement of traffic. It’s not an obstacle course, art gallery or botanical garden. Nothing should ever be put into a street that detracts from the safe, efficient flow of traffic (except perhaps to slow speeders).

Traffic medians also serve one aim: to keep oncoming and left-turning vehicles from hitting each other. Their purpose, too, is safety, not beautification or creative fancy.

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Why, when we are experiencing the harm created by inappropriate medians on Burbank Boulevard, would anyone consider duplicating them on Olive Avenue? There’s an “Olive Avenue Streetscape Project” in which “landscaped medians, trees, benches, bicycle racks, public art and gathering places” are proposed for between Lake Street and Lakeside Avenue, and the City Council has already allocated $265,000 to fund the beginning stages.

Burbank Boulevard has 12 unsuitable medians between Victory Boulevard, and Rose Street. I drove that stretch the other day, and this is what I learned: Heading west, medians block left turns into a strip mall and two other businesses. Heading east from Rose, left turns are blocked into six businesses. And it’s questionable whether a left turn into the Corral Cafe’s lot is legal, let alone safe.

That’s 15 small businesses for which the city has made it more difficult for their customers to patronize them. And it’s not simply that it’s harder to access the businesses; these out-of-place medians have actually made it more difficult to find the businesses, because their customers can’t see them on the other side of the street through the trees.

I doubt anyone shops in Burbank just because there are pretty vegetation-filled medians on Burbank Boulevard. But I do believe there are people who want to go to a particular business, but because they can’t find it, or can’t easily get to it, drive on to another.

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