News

Tonight in Atherton: Stoplights or fewer lanes on El Camino?

 

Atherton's City Council will hear a progress report on attempts to make El Camino Real safer for pedestrians and bicyclists when it meets Wednesday, Feb. 18, starting at 7 p.m. in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

The council plans to consider whether it should go ahead with a study of narrowing El Camino from six travel lanes to four or, instead, concentrate on making improvements to five intersection on the state highway. In October, the council approved funding for the lane-reduction study.

Among the suggested intersection improvements are to add a pedestrian-operated stoplight, called a hybrid pedestrian beacon, at Stockbridge Avenue and El Camino and add a conventional stoplight at Selby Lane and El Camino.

The death of a pedestrian on El Camino Real in Atherton in late July prompted local officials, already worried about conditions on the state highway bisecting the town, to work even harder to make it safer. Town officials have been meeting with Caltrans since late in 2012, when two women were struck and badly injured in a crosswalk on El Camino at Isabella Avenue.

The pedestrian-operated stoplights are already scheduled to be installed on El Camino at Alejandra and Isabella avenues, with completion expected by spring 2017, a town's staff report says.

New civic center

In other business, the council will consider an agreement with the nonprofit Atherton Now organization, authorizing the group to raise funds for the new civic center. A report from City Attorney Bill Conners and City Manager George Rodericks says: "It is important to have an intermediate nonprofit to handle donations that (the donor) may wish to be kept anonymous. ... If the donation were to be made directly to the Town, that information would be subject to public disclosure -- this could discourage some potential contributors from giving to this important cause."

A separate report from Mr. Rodericks on the progress of the civic center project says the council is expected to approve in March a contract with an architect for the design of the civic center, but that "it is anticipated that the contract for services will be a phased contract," which would allow more money to be raised as the project is designed.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by mamma knows best
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2015 at 12:28 pm

My mamma told me to look both ways before crossing the street. She did not allow her children to bike or play on the State Highway.


Like this comment
Posted by EasyDoesIt
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 18, 2015 at 12:35 pm

The idea of removing two lanes of El Camino can only come from people who don't drive on our main artery.
El Camino is vital for residents driving up and down the Peninsula, as well as for ambulances, fire trucks, police and other emergency vehicles.
The tragic accident at Stockbridge could have been prevented by a traffic signal, stop sign, or pedestrian-operated stoplight.

Removing two lanes on El Camino in Atherton would increase rush-hour gridlock in Menlo Park and Redwood City, at the very least.
This option ought never to have been put on the table. It is a lose-lose proposition.

Athertonians, please attend your City Council meeting and stop this bad idea in its tracks.


2 people like this
Posted by Tricia
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 18, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Pedestrian operated flashing crosswalk lights are the only answer... Middlefield Rd has them and it works well there. To narrow El Camino is ludicrous.


8 people like this
Posted by Driving in Menlo
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Easy Does It- How do get through Menlo with only 2 lanes or Redwood City with 2 lanes? You will be fine with 2 lanes in Atherton. Relax


Like this comment
Posted by JC
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 18, 2015 at 1:50 pm

"Pedestrian operated flashing crosswalk lights are the only answer... Middlefield Rd has them and it works well there."

Not in Menlo Park, I believe, unless I have overlooked one. There are two unprotected crosswalks that come to my mind: one at St Pat's, and another at Santa Monica, and there is a desperate need (exacerbated by the recent remodel of the Willow intersection) for one at Woodland for both pedestrians and bikes coming from PA Ave, also very dangerous (and ironic, given the "bike-friendly" self-congratulatory placards that face in both MP and PA directions). With or without lights, these crossings would also IMO benefit from central refuges to allow pedestrians some chance of finding a gap in traffic in at least one direction at a time.




Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire District has and will continue to oppose reducing the number of lanes on ECR.
ECR is a Primary Response Route for the Fire District and it is essential to providing timely responses.


2 people like this
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2015 at 3:16 pm

North bound traffic from Palo Alto is only two lanes. And El Camino at Woodside Road is 2 lanes. Menlo Park is considering 2 lanes. 2 lanes sounds like a good idea to me.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 18, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

You think traffic is bad on ECR now? Try it after the lanes are reduced.


6 people like this
Posted by BK in Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Lane reductions are a great idea. 6 lanes- a strategy stuck in the 1960's and 70's- encourages higher speeds and together with little or no pedestrian or bicycle accommodation, makes this a highly dangerous road for all but automobiles, which btw, generally have only one occupant. Is this the behavior we should be encouraging?


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"North bound traffic from Palo Alto is only two lanes. "

Really?


4 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 18, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Road diets are a well understood method of improving pedestrian safety and reducing the number of accidents. I am glad that Atherton is looking at it. It does not need to negatively impact emergency response times, and before automatically opposing it I sincerely hope the Fire District would look at how road diets have improved safety and reduced accidents. Finally, flashing crosswalks may be appropriate for smaller streets, but they are not a good fit for El Camino- traffic is too fast and cars are on top of the crosswalk before they have time to slow down.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 6:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Road diets" may have some positive aspects but they INCREASE EMERGENCY RESPONSE TIMES.

Recently the Fire District had to send an engine through Palo Alto and East on University Ave to respond to a fire in East Palo Alto because Willow Road, with its "Road Diet" bulb outs and parking, was impassable.

Are YOU willing to wait an extra ten minutes when you have a fire or heart attack?


Like this comment
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2015 at 7:23 pm

North bound El Camino from Palo Alto two lanes?

Peter, I believe it is. There's a requisite left turn lane just before entering Menlo Park. I'm not in town to confirm but if you will do that and correct me by responding to this Forum I apologize.

What get's my attention is how Stanford was able to have only two lanes on San Hill road as it approaches El Camino. This is critical hospital access road. Where was the MP Fire District when this was permitted?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"This is critical hospital access road. Where was the MP Fire District when this was permitted?"

The hospital is in Santa Clara County and the MPFPD has no jurisdiction there.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the satellite view of ECR at county line:

Web Link

one left turn lane
three straight lane
one right turn lane


Like this comment
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Peter,

Thanks, I didn't think to look at a satellite view.

How about Quarry Road at El Camino?

As to jurisdiction; Atherton can sue Caltrans about electrification. Can the MP Fire District sue the Santa Clara County?


Like this comment
Posted by El Camino Traveler
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 18, 2015 at 8:50 pm

You cannot get anywhere without using El Camino at some time or another. Pedestrian lights are way past due. In the article above, it says that lights will be put in by spring 2017...are you kidding? Two years?? Crosswalk markings on the road would also be helpful.

Reducing El Camino to two lanes is counter productive and the only thing it will serve to do is cause road rage in an already overburdened area. Spending money on a lane reduction study is a waste...cannot believe the city did that.


2 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2015 at 9:39 pm

"Reducing El Camino to two lanes is counter productive"

Exactly. So why is Menlo Park so hell bent on 5 story buildings on El Camino? Can we live two or three?


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2015 at 7:48 am

Reducing the number of lanes -- not a good idea.

We keep adding more housing; more housing = more people = more road traffic.

While there are a number of people who ride Caltrain, most wouldn't take the train to go from MP or Atherton to San Mateo for example. We get in our cars and drive.


8 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 19, 2015 at 11:01 pm

There are 2 major issues with pedestrians and traffic on El Camino in Atherton:

1) Vehicles speeding.
It's very tempting to do that through Atherton since the there's a grand total of 1 stoplight between 5th Ave in Redwood City and Encinal Ave in Menlo Park/Atherton. It's one of the few stretches between San Carlos and Palo Alto with so few traffic lights.

(and yes, I think the APD would make a killing if they more strictly enforced the speed limit on El Camino, and agree with those that think that should be done at well. But not at the expense of a significant reduction in neighborhood patrols).

2) 1 protected pedestrian crossing.
In the same 5th Ave<->Encinal Ave, there's just 1 protected crossing for pedestrians (Atherton Ave/Fair Oaks Ave).


Stoplights solve both issues. It's a no-brainer to install a couple more traffic lights.


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

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