News

Facebook unveils bike plan

Click on photos to enlarge and see captions.

By Sandy Brundage

Almanac Staff Writer

Making the streets of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto safer for bicyclists has hit the top of Facebook's community "to do" list as the company settles into its new headquarters on Willow Road in Menlo Park.

The social networking giant announced plans on Monday, Jan. 30, to collaborate with local municipalities to create safe, continuous routes through the community to and from its campus at 1 Hacker Way.

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John Tenanes, Facebook's real estate director, said the company is making a "significant investment" in the effort, which depends on East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Caltrans to help it figure how and where to spend the money.

Some improvements are already under way. The company got approval from Caltrans to restripe bike lanes from Newbridge Street at Willow Road to the Bayfront Expressway. University Avenue will also get a makeover within the next few weeks. Portions of Willow Road, Middlefield Road, and Hamilton Avenue may be next.

The pedestrian tunnel passing under the freeway also got a boost, with accelerated plans to reopen the path this year.

"Cycling on the east side of Menlo Park is going to be a whole new experience," Mr. Tenanes said, and emphasized that the idea is to work hand-in-hand with local agencies to see that happen. The exact budget for the project depends on what changes partnering agencies will support.

The initiative was developed with plenty of help from Adina Levin and Andrew Boone of the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition. Earlier this year they spotted several trouble spots for bicyclists while riding to Facebook, including the bike lane on Willow Road ending on Okeefe Street before it widens to two lanes, and the cloverleaf interchange at Willow Road and U.S. 101.

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With their input, Facebook has designed a survey that will soon go out to its workforce to help focus its efforts by identifying where clusters of cyclists are riding from, Mr. Tenanes said.

About 47 percent of Facebook employees use alternative transportation to get to work, said Jessica Herrera, Facebook's transportation coordinator. Six percent bike; she'd like to see that number reach 10 to 12 percent.

Terry Barton, who often bikes to his job at Facebook, said changes the company has made on campus have already shaved about 15 minutes off his home-to-desk travel time by grouping indoor bike racks, lockers, and showers close together in each building.

Employees began spotting bike herds after Facebook bought 60 bikes for anyone to use around campus. "They're so popular that people are riding them to the cafeteria, then coming back out to find there aren't any left," Mr. Barton said.

Eventually the herd will expand to include a variety of bikes that workers can take out the gate on to local trails or into downtown Menlo Park, according to Ms. Herrera. An on-campus bike shop in Building 4, complete with mechanic, will let riders fix their bikes or build their own.

"The message is we're really serious about our (transportation demand management) program," Mr. Tenanes said.

The Menlo Park City Council meets on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. to study the draft environmental impact report for Facebook's planned campus expansion. The company has asked the city to let it bring 9,400 employees to work in Menlo Park in exchange for implementing caps on the number of vehicular trips.

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Facebook unveils bike plan

Uploaded: Tue, Jan 31, 2012, 10:32 am
Updated: Tue, Jan 31, 2012, 10:55 am

Click on photos to enlarge and see captions.

By Sandy Brundage

Almanac Staff Writer

Making the streets of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto safer for bicyclists has hit the top of Facebook's community "to do" list as the company settles into its new headquarters on Willow Road in Menlo Park.

The social networking giant announced plans on Monday, Jan. 30, to collaborate with local municipalities to create safe, continuous routes through the community to and from its campus at 1 Hacker Way.

John Tenanes, Facebook's real estate director, said the company is making a "significant investment" in the effort, which depends on East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Caltrans to help it figure how and where to spend the money.

Some improvements are already under way. The company got approval from Caltrans to restripe bike lanes from Newbridge Street at Willow Road to the Bayfront Expressway. University Avenue will also get a makeover within the next few weeks. Portions of Willow Road, Middlefield Road, and Hamilton Avenue may be next.

The pedestrian tunnel passing under the freeway also got a boost, with accelerated plans to reopen the path this year.

"Cycling on the east side of Menlo Park is going to be a whole new experience," Mr. Tenanes said, and emphasized that the idea is to work hand-in-hand with local agencies to see that happen. The exact budget for the project depends on what changes partnering agencies will support.

The initiative was developed with plenty of help from Adina Levin and Andrew Boone of the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition. Earlier this year they spotted several trouble spots for bicyclists while riding to Facebook, including the bike lane on Willow Road ending on Okeefe Street before it widens to two lanes, and the cloverleaf interchange at Willow Road and U.S. 101.

With their input, Facebook has designed a survey that will soon go out to its workforce to help focus its efforts by identifying where clusters of cyclists are riding from, Mr. Tenanes said.

About 47 percent of Facebook employees use alternative transportation to get to work, said Jessica Herrera, Facebook's transportation coordinator. Six percent bike; she'd like to see that number reach 10 to 12 percent.

Terry Barton, who often bikes to his job at Facebook, said changes the company has made on campus have already shaved about 15 minutes off his home-to-desk travel time by grouping indoor bike racks, lockers, and showers close together in each building.

Employees began spotting bike herds after Facebook bought 60 bikes for anyone to use around campus. "They're so popular that people are riding them to the cafeteria, then coming back out to find there aren't any left," Mr. Barton said.

Eventually the herd will expand to include a variety of bikes that workers can take out the gate on to local trails or into downtown Menlo Park, according to Ms. Herrera. An on-campus bike shop in Building 4, complete with mechanic, will let riders fix their bikes or build their own.

"The message is we're really serious about our (transportation demand management) program," Mr. Tenanes said.

The Menlo Park City Council meets on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. to study the draft environmental impact report for Facebook's planned campus expansion. The company has asked the city to let it bring 9,400 employees to work in Menlo Park in exchange for implementing caps on the number of vehicular trips.

Comments

map?
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm
map?, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Anyone have a map of where all these improvements are located? Where is the "pedestrian tunnel passing under the freeway"? Is that Hwy 101 near University Ave? Thanks.


Stu Soffer
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm

It should be the closed tunnel on Willow and Bayfront expressway, between the Facebook east and west campusi.


Judy Colwell
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm
Judy Colwell, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm

What about fixing the track crossing on Marsh, both east and west bound? It's awful through there on a bike.


Bike woman
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm
Bike woman, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Someone call spin control. Adina Levin and Andrew Boone have been organizing bike rallies and people for weeks, asking Facebook to complete the Bay Trail. Then they get their names in the paper and a pat on the back, and their big accomplishment is Facebook commiting to doing a survey, and putting the financial burden on the City and Caltrain to make improvements. Thanks for the stellar advocacy guys.


Richard Masoner
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm
Richard Masoner, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm

The tunnel runs underneath Bayfront from the Facebook campus to behind the little trip mall on the corner of Hamilton & Willow. It's fenced off but I've seen homeless people camped out by the tunnel entry.


Adina
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm
Adina, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm

To bike woman:

Facebook said in the story that they plan to make "significant investments" in improving bike routes to Facebook, over and above the existing work that Facebook has *funded* to restripe Willow and reopen the bike/ped tunnel under 84.

Also, on January 12, John Tenanes told the Menlo Park Planning commission that Facebook is issuing a challenge to Silicon Valley employers to join them in contributing financially to filling the gap in the Bay Trail.

I seriously doubt that Facebook would invite a front page story in the newspaper, and have an exec discuss their goal for for the Bay Trail, if all they were going to do was to "create a survey for employees." I believe that Facebook is seriously and sincerely committed to alternative transportation, including cycling, because it helps them achieve their own goals.

When the Facebook campus is built out, they will have parking for only about half their employees. Facebook will face penalties from Menlo Park if they go above the trip cap in the EIR/development agreement. Facebook had over 40% of their employees get to work without driving alone in Palo Alto. They didn't do this just by creating a survey - but by using surveys and many other tools to create and communicate programs that help employees get to work without driving.

Also, with regard to "burden Caltrain" - I have called in public meetings for Facebook to open shuttles to/from Caltrain to the public, much like the stanford Marguerite service. And when Facebook riders take Caltrain, that helps Caltrain's bottom line. Caltrain's ridership has been going up, and their financial performance has been improving.


bike rider
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm
bike rider, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm

"What about fixing the track crossing on Marsh, both east and west bound? It's awful through there on a bike." I ditto this.


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