Traffic jams a fading memory at Woodside Elementary


This is an expanded version of a previously posted story.

Click on picture to enlarge.

By Dave Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

While the morning routine of dropping off kids at Woodside Elementary School continues, the most annoying aspect of it -- being stuck in traffic -- now appears to be a thing of the past.

In September 2009, arriving in a vehicle around 8:15 a.m. with the intention of traversing the quarter-mile of Woodside Road on either side of the school meant spending the next 10 to 15 minutes in a stop-and-go crawl.

Pedestrians, skateboarders and cyclists had their own troubles on this two-lane stretch, whether going to school or just passing by. On-campus parking was very tight so parents who wanted or needed to walk their toddlers to class tended to park in the only available spaces: bike lanes.

Bike-lane parking, which is illegal, then blocked sight lines for residents trying to leave their driveways. With no sidewalks available, everyone, toddlers included, competed for space in the traffic lanes.

Such tie-ups were not at all in evidence to this reporter on a recent Tuesday morning. Kids pulled along their wheeled backpacks in an uncluttered bike lane. Families on bikes rolled toward the crosswalk at an easy pace. Recreational cyclists heading somewhere else pedaled through unhindered. In the traffic lanes, the crossing guard kept backups to no more than six or seven vehicles at a time, and for less than 30 seconds.

A profound change, apparently brought about by adding some 30 parking spaces to the campus, no-parking signs on the north side of the road, and regulated parking on the south side. The town plans to cover the signs for special events at the school.

The signs are a first step, Public Works Director Paul Nagengast said in a recent e-mail. Staff will be monitoring the situation should problems resurface.

Another key ingredient: cooperation and conversation among the stakeholders, including town staff, deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, and the communities connected with the school, the town library and the Woodside Village Church, said Kevin Bryant, the assistant town manager.

"I don't think we've really had a bad day," Mr. Bryant said, referring to the new school year.

The bad old days

Back in 2008, at least one bicyclist concerned about blocked bike lanes on Woodside Road between Canada and Kings Mountain roads complained to the California Department of Transportation, which then wrote to the town proposing to install no-parking signs.

The Town Council agreed with that proposal and in July 2009 advised irate parents to cooperate with the school in addressing the traffic jams and stop complaining about Caltrans, cyclists, and proposed changes to their tradition of illegal parking in the bike lanes.

"You're not going to hear me say this very often (but) this is not a bicyclists' problem," then-Mayor Peter Mason said at the time. "We've got to come up with ideas that solve the problem. Otherwise, we're all going to keep doing the same stuff."

Advice that has apparently been taken.

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Like this comment
Posted by me
a resident of Woodside School
on Sep 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm

David -

I have to question your objectivity in the writing of this article. It leaves the impression that the no parking signs are a panacea which has suddenly created a plethora of parking, which is simply not the case. I will, however, agree that some of the most dire prophecies concerning the loss of parking have not come to pass and the parking situation has thus far been generally reasonable.

Still, I departed from Woodside Elementart to drive east down the hill at 8:23am on Monday and 84 was backed up not only through the stop sign at Robert's Market but prior to Whiskey Hill Rd. The proximate cause appeared to be the delay resulting from left turners heading into the WES parking lot further up, so I dispute your portrayal as though Woodside traffic now flows freely at school drop off hours.

One note that I would make is that as I have previously predicted, the new overflow parking has turned out to be the spaces directly in front of the school which are not wide enough to accomodate the cars that parallel park in them. By my count about 70% of those parked in those spaces had at least one wheel in the 84 roadway. Sooner or later this will probably result in somebody getting injured.

Also, note that factually speaking the heading on your photo references "illegal parking" in the bike lane in the past, which is NOT correct. Prior to the arrival of the no parking signs, it has always been LEGAL to park in the bike lane since it is considered a class 2 bike path (ie not physically separated from the road) by the California Vehicle code. If you need the precise cite, just ask.

Generally, I think the current situation is tenable but we shall see how things go when wet weather hits and fewer kids walk to school.

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2010 at 6:41 pm

My Gawd...........Just how many children are there going to elementary school to cause such a crisis?
The things that spring up here are just mind boggling.
Frankly, I would worry more about the masses of recharging meters for all the electric cars which will be coming from TESLA at the end of 2012 and even sooner from China and Japan and almost every other Asian country.
Be positive, and think of it as jobs for people, even though I am sure there are not that many parents in Woodside who are worried about that problem.Waiting seems to be the main gripe for our still hurried society....Steve Jobs is the only calm person I know personally from Woodside and have dined with Michelle and David.

Like this comment
Posted by Incredulous
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Gee, Dave (Boyce), you think a one-time drive by qualifies you to pronounce 'problem solved'? Really? Why don't you try going to and from school, everyday for at least one week during drop-off and pick-up times - oh, and bring along a toddler or baby too for some added reality when you park your car and walk to the classrooms.
It's actually much worse now - a nightmare for everyone BUT the cyclists heading west on the north side of Wdsd. Rd. My kids went to Wdsd school, and now my grandkids do, so I'm not one of those fancy rich newbies, whom everyone seems to think populate the Town. And, FYI, it was previously LEGAL to park along both sides of Wdsd Rd., with no problems until the cyclists interfered. Get real.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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