Making it safer to cross El Camino Real

Menlo commission focuses on pedestrian safety in specific plan review

Focusing on the El Camino Real portion of the proposed downtown specific plan for Menlo Park last night, the Planning Commission decided to emphasize the need to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the busy street.

The plan suggests enhancing crosswalks at Oak Grove Avenue, Santa Cruz Avenue, Ravenswood Avenue, and other locations through technology such as countdown signals, and also creating median islands and sidewalk extensions. Grade-separated crossings would also be added over railroad tracks at the Caltrain station and near Middle Avenue.

With disappointment over the options for what the plan describes as "east-west connectivity," the commission voted unanimously to encourage the City Council to look for more creative, aggressive ways to help people get across the street safely through signal timing and modification.

The disappointment may have been expressed during the Aug. 4 meeting, but wasn't expressly included in the recommendation.

"I don't want the word disappointment in there," Commissioner Henry Riggs told his colleagues. "It's our job as the Planning Commission to vet this stuff for the council. As much as we are disappointed, I think it's poor form to say it that way. Maybe 'in order to accomplish more than is proposed.'"

The commission's recommendations will go to the City Council, which ultimately decides the final shape of the specific plan.

Go here to review the specific plan. The Planning Commission continues its review on Monday, Aug. 22, when it's expected to consider aspects of the plan related to senior housing, open space, and fa├žade heights, among other topics. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St.

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Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm

"Disappointed" about El Camino crossing?

Except for El Camino planning, the rest of the planning is one huge disappointment and should be scrapped or certainly deferred for several years.

Like this comment
Posted by Zeke
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Why WAIT? Impossible to please everyone, especially the nay sayers. Put in concrete elevated pedestrian walk way from 2d floor of Keplers to the Bank. Bikes alreay share road with cars.

Like this comment
Posted by Still waiting
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm

There's supposed to be some improved crosswalk on Middlefield at Linfield. Can we get the jobs completed that have already been approved before looking at new ones?

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm

And what about the most dangerous part of El Camino - the intersections between Valpariso and Atherton Ave. In the last year two accidents resulting in pedestrian deaths plus accidents resulting in injuries.

The most recent 10 days ago, in the morning. A woman in the crosswalk at Alejandra and El Camino hit in the northbound side of the street (the Menlo Park side) and taken to Stanford Hospital.

Also folks, don't forget that any changes, improvements with El Camino have to be approved by CalTrans.

Come to think of it all these changes in the PLAN which involve streets and parking throughout the El Camino corridor and downtown - who the heck is going to pay for it? Is the city planning on a bond to tax us in these time of plenty? We end up paying for it so some developers can make loads of money? I think not. What do you think?

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Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm


The Specific Plan doesn't build anything, it is an organized framework into which future projects will fit in a coordinated way. Remember the complaints about "piecemeal planning"?

If and when a building project is proposed on El Camino, there will be fees to the city; having a Specific Plan that the public has been involved in (public hearings and workshops across nearly four years now) can steer those fees to the priorities we are setting for El Camino etc.

If and when the city council determines there is city funding (and public support) to improve intersections prioritized by the Plan, these can get a head start - but I hear we have a lot of other obligations to meet. A more vibrant tax base will eventually help fund the city's projects.

Meanwhile, your best defense at intersections is common sense and caution, for driver or pedestrian.

Like this comment
Posted by careful
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Aug 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm

The most dangerous part of El Camino is not in Menlo Park. Complain to the county. Or Atherton. Not our problem.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 5, 2011 at 3:33 pm

To Henry
It's the drivers on El Camino at Alejandra who insist on racing around other drivers who stop for the peds. As to your statement "your best defense at intersections is common sense and caution." Yeah right Henry, the victim is always at fault and the city has no responsibility to maintain safe streets for peds and bikers..

To Careful
The Alejandra crossing where last week's ped accident occurred is w/i MP city limits.

Also CalTrans not the county is the agency, but they respond to city needs. If the city doesn't participate any corrections, if they happen at all, can be a very lengthy process.

And "not our problem" is an exceedingly lame excuse. MP police and fire respond to the accidents. Technically speaking I guess the accident victim could even include the city as a defendant in a lawsuit. Go ahead try to cross there in the crosswalk and you may very well become lame if the wrong drivers are around.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm


El Camino at Alejandra - the west side is Atherton, the East Menlo Park.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Menlo Park
Actually according to MP Planning Dept. maps MP has both sides of El Camino to 10 feet north of the Alejandra crosswalk.

Like this comment
Posted by Crosswalk studier
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm

All of the Mid-block crosswalks on El Camino are currently hazardous. If we don't want to see any more fatalities and injuries, they should all be turned into the in-pavement flashing light style of crosswalk. Also,many of the crosswalks at signals are dangerous as well to peds due to distracted right hand turners. These crosswalks could benefit from the pedestrian activated flashing lights as well.

Like this comment
Posted by Doh!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Why is there even a crosswalk at Alejandra?

Get rid of it - problem solved!

Like this comment
Posted by you're kidding
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Some people need to cross El Camino for work or pleasure. Not everyone is able or interested in using a car to do so. Would you rather they jaywalk?

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

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