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Are Menlo Park's sidewalks too narrow?

Original post made by Peter Carpenter on Feb 14, 2013

In a response to another question Mom has posted the following:

Posted by mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, 16 hours ago

It is frightening to think of traffic right next to the narrow sidewalks we have in Menlo Park. If the sidewalks were wider, I would not be so fearful. Our children should not be walking, even if we're holding their hands, right next to a lane of traffic. This is our downtown, and it has to be safe and manageable for our families.

In my experience, the terrible traffic is only at certain times of day, and not every day. There are times there is not much traffic congestion at all. The lights to allow cross-traffic are another matter.

*******
I started this new topic in order to stimulate discussion and the presentation of facts and opinions on this issue.

Comments (15)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:19 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Even a wide sidewalk right next to traffic lanes is frightening to a mother."

Then I suggest that you avoid those sidewalks since the only other alternative would be to ban any traffic next to a sidewalk and that, done city wide, would greatly reduce the capacity of the current streets.


Posted by Ms. Walker, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

I'm just not getting the danger of kids walking on a sidewalk near vehicle traffic lanes. Is there a history in this town of cars jumping curbs and hitting people (or trees, or lightposts, etc.)? Is this just another example of overprotected kids?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:16 pm

"Is this just another example of overprotected kids?"

Yes


Posted by pedestrian, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Many streets in town don't have sidewalks, even major streets. That is terrifying.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Posted by mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, 6 minutes ago

Excuse me guys. I don't hold a cellphone. Cheap shot.

You are totally dismissing the legitimate concerns about the fact that traffic and pedestrian safety are related. This is my town not yours.

You seem to want want to increase traffic and don't give a hoot about safety concerns.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"don't give a hoot about safety concerns."

Not true. Is there any data to suggest that there is a problem with cars striking people on sidewalks or is the issue that the children get off the sidewalk and into the roadway.


Posted by pedestrian, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Mountain View has a problem with pedestrians on sidewalks getting hit by cars. In Menlo Park, the bigger problem is pedestrians getting hit on streets with no sidewalks.


Posted by mom, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

If we want people to patronize our downtown businesses on foot, they have to feel safe. Parked cars give a visual and auditory buffer from traffic. That is especially important on El Camino.
Not all children are coddled, but we moms do try to protect them.
Peter and others who don't even live in Menlo Park want to eliminate parked cars along El Camino. I'm just trying to point out that one of a number of issues with that is reduced sense of safety for pedestrians on the narrow sidewalks that would be right next to that traffic.

I agree that we have huge problems where there are no sidewalks at all, such as on Santa Cruz. At least there is a bike lane between traffic and pedestrians.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter and others who don't even live in Menlo Park want to....."

I grow very tired of the proposition that ONLY people who live in a community may either offer comments on issues involving that community or have useful knowledge.

I probably spend more time and money in downtown Menlo Park than does 'mom'.

Please protect your children but I have had NO problem with my 4 young grandsons on the downtown sidewalks of Menlo Park. The key to child safety is adult supervision and control, not paranoia.


Posted by NearElCamino, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Recommended Guidelines/Priorities for Sidewalks and Walkways
See -
Web Link
(U.S. Dept. of Transportation)


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Very informative - no indication that the width of sidewalks is an isse:

"In terms of crash location, 65 percent of crashes involving pedestrians occur at non-intersections. This is particularly true for pedestrians under age 9, primarily because of dart-outs into the street. For ages 45 to 65, pedestrian crashes are approximately equal for intersections and non-intersections. Pedestrians age 65 and older are more likely to be injured or killed at intersections (59 percent) compared to non-intersections (41 percent), since older pedestrians tend to cross at intersections more often than younger ones."


Posted by NearElCamino, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Note also:

Web Link

"Recommended Guidelines/Priorities for Sidewalks and Walkways"


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Again, very helpful:
"Sidewalk Width
The width of a sidewalk depends primarily on the number of pedestrians who are expected to use the sidewalk at a given time — high-use sidewalks should be wider than low-use sidewalks. "Street furniture" and sidewalk cafes require extra width, too. A sidewalk width of 1.5 m (5 ft) is needed for two adult pedestrians to comfortably walk side-by-side, and all sidewalks should be constructed to be at least this width. The minimum sidewalk widths for cities large and small are:

Local or collector streets 1.5 m (5 ft)
Arterial or major streets 1.8 to 2.4 m (6 to 8 ft)
CBD areas 2.4 to 3.7 m (8 to 12 ft)*
Along parks, schools, and other major pedestrian generators 2.4 to 3.0 m (8 to 10 ft)
*2.4-m (8-ft) minimum in commercial areas with a planter strip, 3.7-m (12-ft) minimum in commercial areas with no planter strip."

"If a planting strip is not provided between the sidewalk and roadway, then the sidewalk width should be a minimum of 1.8 m (6 ft)."

I believe that the entire length of ECR in Menlo Park where parking is permitted have sidewalks that meet these specifications - which are, however, only suggestions and not standards. Is there any data to the contrary?


Posted by NearElCamino, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm

See also 2008 Menlo Park Report:

"City of Menlo Park Sidewalk Master Plan"

Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Again, very helpful - thanks

"Standard Sidewalk
Generally, sidewalks shall be provided on at least one side of the
roadway, preferably on both sides wherever possible. Sidewalks
must generally provide four-feet of clear width for pedestrian
circulation. Although the City standard of five feet is
recommended, three feet of clear width is allowed at choke
points where there are obstructions, such as trees or utilities.
On roadways with high vehicle volumes or a preponderance of
obstructions, a buffer zone between the sidewalk and roadway is
recommended. "

Looks like all of the entire length of ECR in Menlo Park where parking is permitted have sidewalks that meet these specifications.


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