Even before a pedestrian was killed crossing El Camino Real in Atherton in July, the town had been working on ways to make the busy state highway that bisects the town safer, especially for pedestrians and bicycles.
On Wednesday, Oct. 15, the City Council is scheduled to take the first step toward possibly changing Atherton's 1.6-mile segment of El Camino Real from six to four lanes. The council will vote on authorizing a study of the lane reduction.
The study would look at how traffic delays and safety would be affected if the road is narrowed. The area studied will stretch from Oak Grove Avenue in Menlo Park to Redwood Avenue in Redwood City.
In a report on the proposed study, Community Services Director Michael Kashiwagi said 31,000 vehicles pass through Atherton on El Camino Real each day, but the town has only one traffic signal. Pedestrians and bicyclists who wish to cross from one side of town to the other must use Atherton Avenue, where the traffic signal is, or one of five other marked crosswalks.
The town wants to make other improvements on El Camino Real, Mr. Kashiwagi reported. They include:
● Widening the existing center median at intersections with marked crosswalks, but no signals, giving pedestrians "a safe refuge" midway across the highway.
● Restricting left turns at some intersections.
● Adding signals at some intersections; either "hybrid pedestrian beacons" controlled by pedestrians or traditional traffic signals.
● Removing vegetation and trees in the medians to improve visibility.
● Adding bike paths if lanes are reduced.
The council will also hold public hearings on:
*Atherton's housing element, a state-mandated plan for providing housing to people of all income levels.
● Making changes to the town's regulations for accessory buildings and structures to allow some structures to be closer together than is now allowed.
● An appeal by the owners of property at 81 Atherton Ave. who ask the council to overturn a ruling by the town planner on how the wall height of a flat-roofed building is measured.