News

Today: Board meets on bike lane, traffic lights

A proposal to redesign a bike lane on Alpine Road near Interstate 280 where a cyclist was killed in 2010 is on the agenda of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors this week.

The board on Tuesday, July 10, will consider approving a request to the county Transportation Authority to spend $175,000 on that project plus $500,000 to install traffic lights at Alpine Road intersections with La Mesa and La Cuesta drives in Ladera, effectively bracketing the Ladera Country Shopper mall with traffic signals.

If approved by the Transportation Authority, the money would come from the county's Measure A half-cent sales tax revenues for transportation projects.

Click here for the Board of Supervisors agenda. The supervisors meet at 9 a.m. in the board chambers in the Hall of Justice at 400 County Center in Redwood City.

Bike lane

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The $175,000 would be spent on improving an ill-defined bike lane on westbound Alpine Road as it passes under Interstate 280. In November 2010, Los Altos Hills cyclist Lauren Ward died in this stretch of road after a collision with a tractor-trailer.

The westbound bike lane on Alpine Road "suddenly disappear(s)" as it heads under I-280. Restriping it has the support of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and the California Department of Transportation "to better define the movements of the cyclist and the motorist in order to minimize potential conflicts," according to the staff report to the supervisors.

Caltrans and the county Public Works Department have had four plans to consider, each of which inserts a bike lane between the lane for I-280-bound traffic and the westbound lane into Ladera. The differences lie in where bikes weave into traffic and the markings that indicate the bike lane.

Click here for a look at the four designs.

Traffic lights

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The $500,000 traffic light proposal is a response by the county public works department to concerns of the Ladera Homeowners Association about congestion at the Alpine Road intersections with La Cuesta and La Mesa drives.

The public works department concluded that "both intersections warrant traffic signals in order to improve traffic flowing onto Alpine Road at peak hours and to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety."

Between 2004 and 2011, the staff report says, there were six collisions with four injuries in and around La Cuesta, and nine collisions with seven injuries around La Mesa.

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Today: Board meets on bike lane, traffic lights

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Sat, Jul 7, 2012, 11:54 am
Updated: Mon, Jul 9, 2012, 9:24 am

A proposal to redesign a bike lane on Alpine Road near Interstate 280 where a cyclist was killed in 2010 is on the agenda of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors this week.

The board on Tuesday, July 10, will consider approving a request to the county Transportation Authority to spend $175,000 on that project plus $500,000 to install traffic lights at Alpine Road intersections with La Mesa and La Cuesta drives in Ladera, effectively bracketing the Ladera Country Shopper mall with traffic signals.

If approved by the Transportation Authority, the money would come from the county's Measure A half-cent sales tax revenues for transportation projects.

Click here for the Board of Supervisors agenda. The supervisors meet at 9 a.m. in the board chambers in the Hall of Justice at 400 County Center in Redwood City.

Bike lane

The $175,000 would be spent on improving an ill-defined bike lane on westbound Alpine Road as it passes under Interstate 280. In November 2010, Los Altos Hills cyclist Lauren Ward died in this stretch of road after a collision with a tractor-trailer.

The westbound bike lane on Alpine Road "suddenly disappear(s)" as it heads under I-280. Restriping it has the support of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and the California Department of Transportation "to better define the movements of the cyclist and the motorist in order to minimize potential conflicts," according to the staff report to the supervisors.

Caltrans and the county Public Works Department have had four plans to consider, each of which inserts a bike lane between the lane for I-280-bound traffic and the westbound lane into Ladera. The differences lie in where bikes weave into traffic and the markings that indicate the bike lane.

Click here for a look at the four designs.

Traffic lights

The $500,000 traffic light proposal is a response by the county public works department to concerns of the Ladera Homeowners Association about congestion at the Alpine Road intersections with La Cuesta and La Mesa drives.

The public works department concluded that "both intersections warrant traffic signals in order to improve traffic flowing onto Alpine Road at peak hours and to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety."

Between 2004 and 2011, the staff report says, there were six collisions with four injuries in and around La Cuesta, and nine collisions with seven injuries around La Mesa.

Comments

not the only dangerous interchange
Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm
not the only dangerous interchange, Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm
Like this comment

I'm glad that the county is finally fixing this interchange.

However, the I-280 & Page Mill Road interchange is even more dangerous. Frankly, I am surprised that no one has been killed there, yet (or maybe I haven't heard). I've been hearing about plans to install traffic lights there for many years. Is that ever going to happen? Is the Stanford trail project holding up safety improvements?


Richard
another community
on Jul 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm
Richard, another community
on Jul 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm
Like this comment

The Page Mill/I-280 interchange is in Santa Clara County, not San Mateo County. There has been a feasibility study, and the results are being presented to the County BPAC this week. You can find the agenda item and attachements at:

Web Link

You may be disappointed in the recommendations, though...


not the only dangerous interchange
Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 7, 2012 at 8:44 pm
not the only dangerous interchange, Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 7, 2012 at 8:44 pm
Like this comment

Did I read your report wrong? Sounds like they are considering traffic lights at Page Mill Road & I-280. What is the likelihood and timeline for this happening? Judging by the millions and millions of dollars they are pouring in to Hwy 101 right now, they must have tons of money for work like this.

How do ordinary citizens learn about reports like this and comment on them?


Richard
another community
on Jul 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm
Richard, another community
on Jul 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm
Like this comment

The traffic light on Page Mill at the 280 off-ramp seems to be the only part of the project that everyone agrees on right now. No final decisions have been made on scope or schedule, but it seems as if the consultants are recommending that the scope be kept small: modest bike improvements and the traffic lights for now because the other options are extensive and expensive. The 101 project was planned years ago, so the funding for that has nothing to do with funding availability for a project in planning now. Stimulus funding paid for a lot of road and highway projects in the last few years but that is gone now and the new federal transportation bill looks pretty lean.


Rick
Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:42 am
Rick, Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:42 am
Like this comment

$500,000 for two stoplights when we are running at a deficit budget seems unwise. I live in Ladera and there is not enough traffic to warrant the installation of two new stoplights. One fender bender per intersection per year (~) is insufficient reason.


Lee
Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jul 9, 2012 at 10:09 am
Lee, Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jul 9, 2012 at 10:09 am
Like this comment

I think traffic lights at Ladera are totally ridiculous! If there does seem to be overwhelming support in addressing this issue I think my first choice would be a roundabout.They seem to work every where else and act to slow traffic and not add to it.


cyclist
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm
cyclist, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm
Like this comment

I'm glad that they're finally going to do something about the lack of bike lane on Alpine at 280. However, I really hope they don't do something stupid like choosing option D-1 (or even D-3 or D-4), in which cars getting on 280 south would cross the bike lane beneath the overpass, at the point of least visibility and at the stage where the driver is thinking more about getting on the freeway than watching for bikes. D-2 is a much better option, since the bike lane is established before the stop sign to the left of interstate traffic. The right lane of southbound Alpine before and after the stop is already effectively a right-turn only lane onto southbound 280, with few cars merging back into the left lane. As a cyclist, I have found that the safest route currently through the intersection is to take the right lane, such that no cars can pass me on the left and cut in front of me in order to get on 280.


Jack
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Jack , Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Like this comment

This stuff doesn't come cheap. I think I'm in the wrong line of work.


Whoa!
another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm
Whoa!, another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm
Like this comment

2 traffic signals for Alpine Rd around Ladera is ridiculous! How about just 1 stop sign on Alpine at La Mesa? Or 1 signal at the Ladera Shopping Center main entrance?

The southbound ramp @ 280 & Page Mill already has a 4-way stop which seems to work well, except for the cyclists who blow through it as they tear down Page Mill.


Bob
Portola Valley: other
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm
Bob, Portola Valley: other
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm
Like this comment

If they put a traffic light at Cuesta west-bound traffic will back up and clog the off-ramp from 280, creating another accident-waiting-to-happen. Alpine has a merge lane for traffic from Cuesta heading East, although many motorists ignore it. A light is not needed; what is needed is better behavior by motorists.


alpine
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm
alpine, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm
Like this comment

175K to restripe a bike lane?.... Pay me 10K and I'll hire a company for 1/2 that! Let's sharpen the pencils on this one and start out with one traffic lite at the ladera center and see if that solves our issues.. I'm an avid cyclist and I frequent this area and appreciate the improvement... but 175k? IDK..


Las Lomitas District parent
Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm
Las Lomitas District parent, Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm
Like this comment

Totally agree with Bob. I live in Ladera and oppose stop lights at La Cuesta and La Mesa. The only time these intersections back up is during school mornings when Woodland parents are leaving Ladera and this does not warrant a stop light. However, there is a need to create safer crossing for pedestrians. With a little education and community support, along with informing others who frequent our community (Woodland parents and service providers) the following could solve these issues:

1) Everyone on Alpine should slow down to 35 MPH. Between the church and the gas station there should be a safety zone of 25-30 MPH.
2) We should have the Alpine speed limit signs correct and consistent.
3) People coming out of Ladera should use the middle turn/merge lanes. These are not for passing or driving a long way; they are for pulling out onto Alpine and merging into traffic or making a left turn into the shopper.
4) People traveling east on Alpine should slow down and not freak out or change anything you do when people are using those turn lanes. Do not stop to allow someone in because you disrupt the flow of traffic.
5) Everyone on Alpine MUST STOP for pedestrians crossing at La Cuesta and La Mesa. Perhaps we should get those crossing flags for pedestrians to make themselves seen.
6) Everyone leaving Ladera in the morning should time their drive properly to avoid becoming frustrated by having to stop behind Woodland parent traffic.
7) Everyone should use their right turn indicators to show your intent to turn right on La Cuesta and La Mesa.
8) The Shell station should upgrade the sign at their exit to discourage people from turning (illegally) in to the exit.


alpine 2
Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm
alpine 2, Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm
Like this comment

Since they are willing to spend so much money, could they manage to grind up the current absolutely useless sidewalk on the north side of Alpine Road underneath 280 that might have made sense in some master scheme or booklette of "How to build an overpass," but makes absolutely no sense where it is. Any person walking on that side of Alpine Road needs their head examined. Grind out that sidewalk and you get more room for the second plan that seems to be favored by bikers AND paint the bike lane a different color.

When they are done painting that bike lane, they can come paint out the bike lanes in front of Ladera as was suggested at meetings the county had about the Alpine Trail. Let's do some simple traffic ideas to slow the traffic before we waste $500,000 for a light that isn't needed.


tom turner
another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm
tom turner, another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm
Like this comment

A light at intersection under 280 that would permit west bound traffic to not have to stop every time. There is not much traffic east bound during rush hour but west bound has to stop. You have people stopping in both straight ahead lanes and southbound lanes and then racing to the right to take 280 south. A light would give the busier lanes more traffic flow depending on time of day.


Long time Laderan
Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm
Long time Laderan, Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm
Like this comment

I'd insert Rigorously enforce the existing speed limit" as number 3 under Las Lomitas District parent's comment. No one needs to go 40 -5- mph on Alpine through Ladera. 35 mph significantly eases all turns from Ladera.


cb
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm
cb, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm
Like this comment

Portola Valley is unique in this area as it does not have any traffic lights. Why do we need to spend this much to install them so that people who do not live here may ride their bicycles on Alpine Road, which is not designed for bicycles.


PV Lover
Encinal School
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:19 pm
PV Lover, Encinal School
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:19 pm
Like this comment

Definitely sad to see the idea of traffic lights west of 280 on Alpine Road. It almost feels like sacrilege.


Peter Carpenter
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm
Like this comment

Regardless of the legality mixing automobiles and bicycles on the same roadway is both stupid will result in needless injury and death.


Donald
another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm
Donald, another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm
Like this comment

cb, the people from out of town are the ones whose taxes pay for your roads. If you aren't willing to make them safe for public use, buy them back and make them private.


Doh
Oak Knoll School
on Jul 10, 2012 at 7:42 am
Doh, Oak Knoll School
on Jul 10, 2012 at 7:42 am
Like this comment

Peter implies that drivers are hopelessly incompetent and can't avoid injuring bicyclists. If true the obvious and safest solution is to eliminate the cars.


Lovinda
Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 10, 2012 at 8:04 am
Lovinda, Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 10, 2012 at 8:04 am
Like this comment

IF the speed limit allowed safe crossing of the street for people of all ages, IF the speed limit was followed by drivers,
IF the speed limit was enforced, even enough of the time for people to know not to speed through Ladera much the way people have been taught not to speed in Portola Valley because you know you'll get a ticket,
there would be no need for traffic mitigation.

However, people drive too fast, they ignore pedestrians attempting to cross Alpine Road, and past performance suggests that speed enforcement between Portola Valley and Menlo Park is not a priority of local law enforcement. Our county area simply has less budget for such things than the Town of Portola Valley.

Having spent many hours on this topic some ten years ago, including meetings with the Traffic Committee in Portola Valley, the folks at San Mateo County, and the San Mateo County Sheriff's office, among the things I learned is that local law enforcement is reluctant to step up speed enforcement because they know that locals are the ones who will be getting the tickets.

In 2001, I tried to arrange for a speed trailer to be put into use on either edge of Ladera. At that time I was told that the one in Portola Valley belongs to the Town of Portola Valley and was not available for loan. The one that San Mateo County should have had available had been loaned to Oakland and damaged beyond repair.

When a speed trailer finally showed up near Ladera a few months ago,
it puzzled many as it seemed to be placed so as to monitor the speed of vehicles accelerating to get onto southbound Highway 280, and another time it appeared to monitor traffic going into Ladera from Alpine onto La Mesa Drive. It confused many, and later we were told that it wasn't really a speed trailer; it was there for some other purpose.

Although the Ladera Shopper is frequented by Highway Patrol officers and Sheriffs pretty much every day, I can count on one hand the number of times in almost 20 years that I have seen a law enforcement officer in conversation with someone along the Ladera section of the Alpine Road corridor.

Please, let the experts to their job. If the experts are recommending mitigation, it is for a reason. We are all caring, educated folks.
We want the best for our families and our neighbors. Most of us are resistant to change. Very few of us are traffic or safety experts.

Improve the bike lanes under Highway 280.

As for stoplights? Maybe. I am not convinced. I for one would prefer a slightly lower speed limit, one that is enforced vigorously, or roundabouts, or maybe gentle "speed tables" at either edge of Ladera.

Many of you probably remember when the stop sign appeared on Alpine at 280. It seemed to be quite a surprise to all, and people did not like it. They didn't need it! It backed up traffic and wasted their time!
Now can you even imagine how unsafe things would be without that "Stop"!?!

Fortunately, despite numerous accidents, there have been no fatalities. Odds are, traffic light or no traffic light(s), the volume of traffic puts us all at risk even in our gentle country community. We enjoy a beautiful, peaceful area. I defer to the traffic and safety experts to recommend mitigation to improve the safety of the corridor for all.

One minute, two minutes....inconvenience for some may be life breath for another.

/Lovinda

Lovinda Beal
Ladera resident
& local businessperson since 1986

p.s. For those who mentioned in previous postings that they'd lost track of the Stanford funds that might have been used to improve the Lower Alpine Road trail (like the nice trail you now have in PV). the San Mateo County Supervisors gave approximately $10,300,000 back to Santa Clara County. Supervisors Horsely & Pine voted to find a way to use the money, the others gave the funds away.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 10, 2012 at 9:18 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 10, 2012 at 9:18 am
Like this comment

"Peter implies that drivers are hopelessly incompetent and can't avoid injuring bicyclis"

No, I just think it is stupid to place totally unprotected bicycles in the same roadway as 2 ton vehicles. Just as we don't have people walking in the roadway except at right angle crosswalks and traffic lights.


Bob
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm
Bob, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm
Like this comment

I think any supervisor who votes to spend half a million dollars putting in two stop lights that few want on Alpine Road should be opposed by voters in the next election. Was there a survey taken to determine the voters' opinions on this expensive waste of the taxpayers' money? Was this proposal made by a handful of residents who are "inconvenienced" at rush hour? If the Supervisors took a moment to read the comments left on this forum in the past 24 hours they may have decided to postpone the lights, but I bet that never happened. What can we do if this is now a fait accompli?


Michael G Stogner
another community
on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm
Michael G Stogner, another community
on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm
Like this comment

Bob has a good idea, but there is a slight problem in San Mateo County.

"I think any supervisor who votes to spend half a million dollars putting in two stop lights that few want on Alpine Road should be opposed by voters in the next election."

In the last election we had 3 Supervisor seats on the ballot. Adreinne Tissier and Dave Pine ran unopposed because they were the incumbents and we currently elect by at-large elections which puts the organized voter base at a HUGE advantage.


jackrabbit
Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm
jackrabbit, Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm
Like this comment

Fortunately the "overkill" traffic signals recommendation for Alpine Road was "killed". Cooler heads prevailed. A truly insane, impractical and ineffective proposal and waste of taxpayer dollars. Is this what we pay the "bureaucratic experts" to recommend? Let's start by 'thinning out' the staff "experts" at the County level.


NOTE
Menlo Park: other
on Jul 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm
NOTE, Menlo Park: other
on Jul 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm
Like this comment

The traffic lights have absolutely NOTHING to do with the bike lanes. For people to say that bikes and cars can't exist on the same road in the same space that said we didn't need a safe hiking/riding/biking trail is really really amusing.

The traffic light idea is to allow traffic OUT of Ladera and to make the crosswalks safe.

Just obey the speed limits!! Hell, lower the limit in front of Ladera to 25mph so you can enjoy your little trip to the country! Portola Valley wants a say in Ladera's safety? SLOW DOWN!

Love the idea that pedestrians don't even have the right to walk next to roads according to some. I didn't realize that all our roads are now sacred freeways for just cars. Please remember the next time you are on a road with a pedestrian walking toward you on the shoulder, they are in the RIGHT PLACE!


poster
another community
on Jul 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm
poster , another community
on Jul 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm
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Story update: Supes give red light to Ladera traffic lights Web Link


Peter Carpenter
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm
Like this comment

I have the right to walk on certain roadways , to free climb Half Dome, jump out of an airplane without a reserve chute and to engage in other high risk behavior - that does not make it wise to do these things nor am I guaranteed a safe outcome.


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