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Creating a Vibrant Downtown

By Dana Hendrickson

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About this blog: My wife and I moved to central Menlo Park in 1985 where we have raised two sons. A retired high-tech executive, I now actively participate in local and national community service programs. I am the founder and director of Rebuil...  (More)

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Menlo Park Bike Network Plans Lack Vision And Boldness

Uploaded: Jan 6, 2019
My friends and family know how much I love to ride my bike, especially when streets are dry and daytime temperatures rise to at least 65 degrees, and many join me on recreational trips here, in New England and Europe. While I do not regularly ride to destinations in Menlo Park, I have a keen interest in our city creating a community bike network that offers other residents much better options for riding to their favorite destinations. This means a network of streets that provide convenient, safe and stress-free riding environments. My interest in this subject has led me to study bike network design standards and methodologies, examine contemporary bike networks built in “bicyclist-friendly” cities, and closely track our city’s efforts to improve our bike network. I have also submitted recommendations to our city council, staff and the former bike commission. You can find them on my Reimagine website



During December I spent considerable time reviewing the bike section of the Transportation Master Plan our city is currently developing, and am disappointed by how few bike lane investments are currently proposed on streets within the boundaries of the Downtown/El Camino Specific Plan and on the main approaches. I recognize it is impossible add bike lanes to streets lined with parked cars but encourage our city to NOT to accept this situation as necessarily permanent. Instead, selectively removing street parking should be part of any city strategy to increase downtown parking. That way both bicyclists and motorists would benefit.

The good news: the Master Plan proposes that the city expand downtown parking. The bad news: it does not show how bike lanes could be added when this is done. More bad news: a downtown parking garage is the only solution Menlo Park is proposing for adding more parking spaces and this might never happen. More good news: There is a superior alternative – Satellite parking.

It’s time for Menlo Park to (a) propose bike lanes on several downtown streets and (b) aggressively investigate satellite parking so these bike lanes can be added in the next two to three years.

Menlo Park Transportation Master Plan view

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Comments

 +   2 people like this
Posted by Other view, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Jan 7, 2019 at 9:45 pm

I have biked in many mayor cities here in the US and abroad where space is at a premium.
In all cases, SHARING the available narrow road-estate has worked the best to keep cyclists safe and "competition for speed" minimal.

Slowing motorized traffic down to the speed of cyclists is the safest option under these conditions, as the speed differential is minimal and motorists are forced to pay constant attention to where they are going.

Note:
Where driving speeds are high, Sharing is the worst option (see Alpine, Sand Hill etc.).
In our city, University Ave is a great example for this:
The speed of motorized vehicular traffic has actually increased since the parking spaces have been removed (yes, I have access to a radar gun), and cyclists and pedestrians are at greater risk to be severely injured.

It just isn't enough to just paint a couple lines and turn a road into a separated racetrack for cyclists and cars. Cars always win.

The Master plan is in general good. It just needs to be amended for measures to slow motorized traffic to the speed appropriate for an inner city space, and we'll all be fine.







 +   2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Jan 8, 2019 at 11:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In Europe sharing is done only when automobile speeds are below 20 mph. Such low speed limits do not exist in Menlo Park except on the VA campus.

Provide dedicated bike lanes by eliminating street parking!

Provide more off-street parking with the DSP mandated parking structure.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendsrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jan 8, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Hi Peter: I do not believe the Specific Plan MANDATES a parking structure; it PROPOSES one.

The DSP identifies problems and a PREFERRED feasible technical solution.

It does not lock the city in to one path.

Do you feel that Menlo Park should ignore potentially better alternatives where...

Better = More flexible, affordable and available sooner!

The idea of more downtown parking is favored by many residents but they have not had the opportunity to compare the true benefits and "costs" of a parking structure and alternatives.

The city council is responsible for ensuring our city makes the best decisions and given the large bond that would be required to fund a $40M + parking structure, a ballot measure is likely. This will ensure the council must PROVE a parking structure is the best solution.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Jan 8, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

How much longer are all of the taxpayers going to be required to subsidize the use of private cars by some taxpayers?

Cars should pay their own way thru parking fees if they park on public property.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Jan 8, 2019 at 2:07 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

I'd love to see our city take a step or two back and think about downtown access holistically, prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable users (pedestrians, handicapped, cyclists, seniors, children). Right now it's dangerous for all of the above, partly because they're trying to share the same spaces and tangling with each other.

It might be the case that we should consolidate most parking into a couple of multi-level buildings (ideally underground but that is a $$$$ solution), freeing the on-street margins for moving people places, and freeing up other space for infill housing and retail.

Before we take that step, however, I think we need to understand what would happen if we actually managed our supply by charging for parking. Right now most of the people who pay for parking are those who can least afford it: the hourly workers staffing our restaurants, nail salons, and boutiques. Of course, those costs are probably eventually finding their way back to consumers via increased prices. Seems like it would be more efficient to just charge me for the 2 hours I use when I go out to lunch. If I'm willing to pay $50 for a steak, I'm probably not going to be too churlish about an extra $4 for parking. And if I am that price-sensitive, I'll probably walk or bike.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by kbehroozi, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Jan 8, 2019 at 2:12 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

I know it's aspirational but I found this article about the Dutch approach to cycling very inspiring.

Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jan 8, 2019 at 3:34 pm

kbehroozi:

I agree that the city needs to better understand current parking usage patterns downtown and the costs.

1. I park downtown 5-7 times a week during the day and seldom park longer than 30 minutes. I am running errands.

2. I expect that most people who do not work downtown park for more than 60 to 90 minutes during the day

3. When I go to a restaurant - usually after 6 PM - I stay longer but usually there are plenty of available spaces.

4. Daily permit users pay less than $500/year => less than $2.00 day; that's pretty cheap! Note:. Caltrain charges $5.00/day

I bet if we had 25-50 more hourly spaces downtown hardly anyone would complain.

Also, likely need another 75-100 spaces in order to replace on-street parking with bike lanes.

So, an additional 100 -150 spaces "somewhere" would make a huge difference.

And these already exist.

What's your experience?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Jan 8, 2019 at 4:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford established a very successful parking and transportation program over 40 years ago and did so by starting with a fundamental policy statement:

"Stanford established a parking and transportation policy
giving first priority in planning, design, regulations, and
expenditures to facilitation of pedestrian and bicycle
travel; second priority to group transit.; and the lowest
priority to private motor vehicle travel."

There is no way to have a comprehensive program without first making a clear priority statement.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Other view, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Jan 9, 2019 at 11:24 pm

At: Kbehroozi, MP is not comparable to Denmark (Kbheroozi) or the Stanford campus (Carpenter). Why?
Different mindset and culture in the former case (they close Downtowns to all motorized vehicular traffic) and more space in the latter (plenty of space to work with before actually developing/building).

Let's be real:

We can't separate pedestrians and cyclists from cars in MP. They will always have to "mingle" as long as cars are there.

Or anybody up to making Downtown a cyclist/pedestrian zone only, or ban pedestrians/cyclists?

I didn't think so.

Building back streets, slowing down traffic works (see Europe). Santa Cruz Ave with its multiple stop signs and crosswalks is a good start.
Now implement that on the other access routes.
Traffic speed is already slow at peak hours, which is great for sharing.
Provide free shuttle services to downtown from lots at the periphery.

It's not rocket science.
The games of political stone-walling, disguised as wanting a perfect unattainable solution is obvious and very tiring.



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