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Does Portola Valley need real bike lanes?

Original post made on Jun 30, 2011

A lone bicyclist is seen pedaling along a rural suburban road. He approaches a stop sign after a long gradual climb, pauses slightly at the empty intersection, then continues along, finally disappearing around a curve. If a group of community volunteers who advise the Town Council on vehicle traffic overlooked the impact of this cyclist to the town's traffic congestion, no one would care. Not even if it happened every day.

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Comments (2)

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Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful reporting about the Town Council meeting and the cycling-related discussion. As a cyclist and motorist living in PV, I have mixed feelings about formal bicycle lanes along Alpine and Portola Roads. I predict that the cost will be prohibitive, since the paving in several areas is not now wide enough to accommodate both a vehicle lane and a full bicycle lane.

One of the benefits I could see for a formal bike lane, though, is the opportunity for Lt. Larry Schumaker and his colleagues to issue citations to drivers violating the bike lanes. Take a look at the "fog line" that defines the right side of the road at any of the curves on these roads and you will see the wear patterns made by drivers who like to use the shoulder as a shortcut around the turn. When that happens right next to me, it sure feels a lot more dangerous than rolling my bike through a deserted intersection at 5mph.

I would like to see the Sheriff's Dept. pay some attention to drivers who routinely create hazardous situations by not obeying traffic laws or through inattention. If I die riding a bicycle, I expect it to be from a collision with a car turning into me, driven by a person who has misjudged my speed and who was too impatient or inconsiderate to wait 10 seconds for me to get by. I seem to get at least one near miss like this on every ride, and sometimes it feels like I'm a target out there.

Maybe a formal bicycle lane would help drivers understand that there is room for cyclists on the roads. But I would rather see the money spent on driver education, outreach to the cycling community and more thoughtful attention by our Sheriff to the truly dangerous conditions. Citing riders who roll through the stop sign at Portola and Alpine is just picking the low-hanging fruit, maybe appeasing some of my irate neighbors but, in my opinion, doing nothing to improve safety.

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Posted by Editor
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jul 1, 2011 at 8:28 am

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