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Today: Board meets on bike lane, traffic lights

Original post made on Jul 7, 2012

==B Tuesday:== The Board of Supervisors will consider on Tuesday, July 10, two proposals, one for an Alpine Road bike lane redesign near I-280 and another to install traffic lights at two Ladera intersections.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, July 7, 2012, 11:54 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by not the only dangerous interchange, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I'm glad that the county is finally fixing this interchange.

However, the I-280 & Page Mill Road interchange is even more dangerous. Frankly, I am surprised that no one has been killed there, yet (or maybe I haven't heard). I've been hearing about plans to install traffic lights there for many years. Is that ever going to happen? Is the Stanford trail project holding up safety improvements?

Posted by Richard, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

The Page Mill/I-280 interchange is in Santa Clara County, not San Mateo County. There has been a feasibility study, and the results are being presented to the County BPAC this week. You can find the agenda item and attachements at:

Web Link

You may be disappointed in the recommendations, though...

Posted by not the only dangerous interchange, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 7, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Did I read your report wrong? Sounds like they are considering traffic lights at Page Mill Road & I-280. What is the likelihood and timeline for this happening? Judging by the millions and millions of dollars they are pouring in to Hwy 101 right now, they must have tons of money for work like this.

How do ordinary citizens learn about reports like this and comment on them?

Posted by Richard, a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm

The traffic light on Page Mill at the 280 off-ramp seems to be the only part of the project that everyone agrees on right now. No final decisions have been made on scope or schedule, but it seems as if the consultants are recommending that the scope be kept small: modest bike improvements and the traffic lights for now because the other options are extensive and expensive. The 101 project was planned years ago, so the funding for that has nothing to do with funding availability for a project in planning now. Stimulus funding paid for a lot of road and highway projects in the last few years but that is gone now and the new federal transportation bill looks pretty lean.

Posted by Rick, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

$500,000 for two stoplights when we are running at a deficit budget seems unwise. I live in Ladera and there is not enough traffic to warrant the installation of two new stoplights. One fender bender per intersection per year (~) is insufficient reason.

Posted by Lee, a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jul 9, 2012 at 10:09 am

I think traffic lights at Ladera are totally ridiculous! If there does seem to be overwhelming support in addressing this issue I think my first choice would be a roundabout.They seem to work every where else and act to slow traffic and not add to it.

Posted by cyclist, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I'm glad that they're finally going to do something about the lack of bike lane on Alpine at 280. However, I really hope they don't do something stupid like choosing option D-1 (or even D-3 or D-4), in which cars getting on 280 south would cross the bike lane beneath the overpass, at the point of least visibility and at the stage where the driver is thinking more about getting on the freeway than watching for bikes. D-2 is a much better option, since the bike lane is established before the stop sign to the left of interstate traffic. The right lane of southbound Alpine before and after the stop is already effectively a right-turn only lane onto southbound 280, with few cars merging back into the left lane. As a cyclist, I have found that the safest route currently through the intersection is to take the right lane, such that no cars can pass me on the left and cut in front of me in order to get on 280.

Posted by Jack , a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm

This stuff doesn't come cheap. I think I'm in the wrong line of work.

Posted by Whoa!, a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm

2 traffic signals for Alpine Rd around Ladera is ridiculous! How about just 1 stop sign on Alpine at La Mesa? Or 1 signal at the Ladera Shopping Center main entrance?

The southbound ramp @ 280 & Page Mill already has a 4-way stop which seems to work well, except for the cyclists who blow through it as they tear down Page Mill.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

If they put a traffic light at Cuesta west-bound traffic will back up and clog the off-ramp from 280, creating another accident-waiting-to-happen. Alpine has a merge lane for traffic from Cuesta heading East, although many motorists ignore it. A light is not needed; what is needed is better behavior by motorists.

Posted by alpine, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm

175K to restripe a bike lane?.... Pay me 10K and I'll hire a company for 1/2 that! Let's sharpen the pencils on this one and start out with one traffic lite at the ladera center and see if that solves our issues.. I'm an avid cyclist and I frequent this area and appreciate the improvement... but 175k? IDK..

Posted by Las Lomitas District parent, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Totally agree with Bob. I live in Ladera and oppose stop lights at La Cuesta and La Mesa. The only time these intersections back up is during school mornings when Woodland parents are leaving Ladera and this does not warrant a stop light. However, there is a need to create safer crossing for pedestrians. With a little education and community support, along with informing others who frequent our community (Woodland parents and service providers) the following could solve these issues:

1) Everyone on Alpine should slow down to 35 MPH. Between the church and the gas station there should be a safety zone of 25-30 MPH.
2) We should have the Alpine speed limit signs correct and consistent.
3) People coming out of Ladera should use the middle turn/merge lanes. These are not for passing or driving a long way; they are for pulling out onto Alpine and merging into traffic or making a left turn into the shopper.
4) People traveling east on Alpine should slow down and not freak out or change anything you do when people are using those turn lanes. Do not stop to allow someone in because you disrupt the flow of traffic.
5) Everyone on Alpine MUST STOP for pedestrians crossing at La Cuesta and La Mesa. Perhaps we should get those crossing flags for pedestrians to make themselves seen.
6) Everyone leaving Ladera in the morning should time their drive properly to avoid becoming frustrated by having to stop behind Woodland parent traffic.
7) Everyone should use their right turn indicators to show your intent to turn right on La Cuesta and La Mesa.
8) The Shell station should upgrade the sign at their exit to discourage people from turning (illegally) in to the exit.

Posted by alpine 2, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Since they are willing to spend so much money, could they manage to grind up the current absolutely useless sidewalk on the north side of Alpine Road underneath 280 that might have made sense in some master scheme or booklette of "How to build an overpass," but makes absolutely no sense where it is. Any person walking on that side of Alpine Road needs their head examined. Grind out that sidewalk and you get more room for the second plan that seems to be favored by bikers AND paint the bike lane a different color.

When they are done painting that bike lane, they can come paint out the bike lanes in front of Ladera as was suggested at meetings the county had about the Alpine Trail. Let's do some simple traffic ideas to slow the traffic before we waste $500,000 for a light that isn't needed.

Posted by tom turner, a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm

A light at intersection under 280 that would permit west bound traffic to not have to stop every time. There is not much traffic east bound during rush hour but west bound has to stop. You have people stopping in both straight ahead lanes and southbound lanes and then racing to the right to take 280 south. A light would give the busier lanes more traffic flow depending on time of day.

Posted by Long time Laderan, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I'd insert Rigorously enforce the existing speed limit" as number 3 under Las Lomitas District parent's comment. No one needs to go 40 -5- mph on Alpine through Ladera. 35 mph significantly eases all turns from Ladera.

Posted by cb, a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Portola Valley is unique in this area as it does not have any traffic lights. Why do we need to spend this much to install them so that people who do not live here may ride their bicycles on Alpine Road, which is not designed for bicycles.

Posted by PV Lover, a resident of Encinal School
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Definitely sad to see the idea of traffic lights west of 280 on Alpine Road. It almost feels like sacrilege.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Regardless of the legality mixing automobiles and bicycles on the same roadway is both stupid will result in needless injury and death.

Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm

cb, the people from out of town are the ones whose taxes pay for your roads. If you aren't willing to make them safe for public use, buy them back and make them private.

Posted by Doh, a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Jul 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

Peter implies that drivers are hopelessly incompetent and can't avoid injuring bicyclists. If true the obvious and safest solution is to eliminate the cars.

Posted by Lovinda, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

IF the speed limit allowed safe crossing of the street for people of all ages, IF the speed limit was followed by drivers,
IF the speed limit was enforced, even enough of the time for people to know not to speed through Ladera much the way people have been taught not to speed in Portola Valley because you know you'll get a ticket,
there would be no need for traffic mitigation.

However, people drive too fast, they ignore pedestrians attempting to cross Alpine Road, and past performance suggests that speed enforcement between Portola Valley and Menlo Park is not a priority of local law enforcement. Our county area simply has less budget for such things than the Town of Portola Valley.

Having spent many hours on this topic some ten years ago, including meetings with the Traffic Committee in Portola Valley, the folks at San Mateo County, and the San Mateo County Sheriff's office, among the things I learned is that local law enforcement is reluctant to step up speed enforcement because they know that locals are the ones who will be getting the tickets.

In 2001, I tried to arrange for a speed trailer to be put into use on either edge of Ladera. At that time I was told that the one in Portola Valley belongs to the Town of Portola Valley and was not available for loan. The one that San Mateo County should have had available had been loaned to Oakland and damaged beyond repair.

When a speed trailer finally showed up near Ladera a few months ago,
it puzzled many as it seemed to be placed so as to monitor the speed of vehicles accelerating to get onto southbound Highway 280, and another time it appeared to monitor traffic going into Ladera from Alpine onto La Mesa Drive. It confused many, and later we were told that it wasn't really a speed trailer; it was there for some other purpose.

Although the Ladera Shopper is frequented by Highway Patrol officers and Sheriffs pretty much every day, I can count on one hand the number of times in almost 20 years that I have seen a law enforcement officer in conversation with someone along the Ladera section of the Alpine Road corridor.

Please, let the experts to their job. If the experts are recommending mitigation, it is for a reason. We are all caring, educated folks.
We want the best for our families and our neighbors. Most of us are resistant to change. Very few of us are traffic or safety experts.

Improve the bike lanes under Highway 280.

As for stoplights? Maybe. I am not convinced. I for one would prefer a slightly lower speed limit, one that is enforced vigorously, or roundabouts, or maybe gentle "speed tables" at either edge of Ladera.

Many of you probably remember when the stop sign appeared on Alpine at 280. It seemed to be quite a surprise to all, and people did not like it. They didn't need it! It backed up traffic and wasted their time!
Now can you even imagine how unsafe things would be without that "Stop"!?!

Fortunately, despite numerous accidents, there have been no fatalities. Odds are, traffic light or no traffic light(s), the volume of traffic puts us all at risk even in our gentle country community. We enjoy a beautiful, peaceful area. I defer to the traffic and safety experts to recommend mitigation to improve the safety of the corridor for all.

One minute, two minutes....inconvenience for some may be life breath for another.


Lovinda Beal
Ladera resident
& local businessperson since 1986

p.s. For those who mentioned in previous postings that they'd lost track of the Stanford funds that might have been used to improve the Lower Alpine Road trail (like the nice trail you now have in PV). the San Mateo County Supervisors gave approximately $10,300,000 back to Santa Clara County. Supervisors Horsely & Pine voted to find a way to use the money, the others gave the funds away.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 10, 2012 at 9:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter implies that drivers are hopelessly incompetent and can't avoid injuring bicyclis"

No, I just think it is stupid to place totally unprotected bicycles in the same roadway as 2 ton vehicles. Just as we don't have people walking in the roadway except at right angle crosswalks and traffic lights.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I think any supervisor who votes to spend half a million dollars putting in two stop lights that few want on Alpine Road should be opposed by voters in the next election. Was there a survey taken to determine the voters' opinions on this expensive waste of the taxpayers' money? Was this proposal made by a handful of residents who are "inconvenienced" at rush hour? If the Supervisors took a moment to read the comments left on this forum in the past 24 hours they may have decided to postpone the lights, but I bet that never happened. What can we do if this is now a fait accompli?

Posted by Michael G Stogner, a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Bob has a good idea, but there is a slight problem in San Mateo County.

"I think any supervisor who votes to spend half a million dollars putting in two stop lights that few want on Alpine Road should be opposed by voters in the next election."

In the last election we had 3 Supervisor seats on the ballot. Adreinne Tissier and Dave Pine ran unopposed because they were the incumbents and we currently elect by at-large elections which puts the organized voter base at a HUGE advantage.

Posted by jackrabbit, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Fortunately the "overkill" traffic signals recommendation for Alpine Road was "killed". Cooler heads prevailed. A truly insane, impractical and ineffective proposal and waste of taxpayer dollars. Is this what we pay the "bureaucratic experts" to recommend? Let's start by 'thinning out' the staff "experts" at the County level.

Posted by NOTE, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

The traffic lights have absolutely NOTHING to do with the bike lanes. For people to say that bikes and cars can't exist on the same road in the same space that said we didn't need a safe hiking/riding/biking trail is really really amusing.

The traffic light idea is to allow traffic OUT of Ladera and to make the crosswalks safe.

Just obey the speed limits!! Hell, lower the limit in front of Ladera to 25mph so you can enjoy your little trip to the country! Portola Valley wants a say in Ladera's safety? SLOW DOWN!

Love the idea that pedestrians don't even have the right to walk next to roads according to some. I didn't realize that all our roads are now sacred freeways for just cars. Please remember the next time you are on a road with a pedestrian walking toward you on the shoulder, they are in the RIGHT PLACE!

Posted by poster , a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Story update: Supes give red light to Ladera traffic lights Web Link

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I have the right to walk on certain roadways , to free climb Half Dome, jump out of an airplane without a reserve chute and to engage in other high risk behavior - that does not make it wise to do these things nor am I guaranteed a safe outcome.

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