News

Menlo Park commission recommends bike lanes, no third lane on El Camino Real

Given a choice of three options or leaving El Camino Real alone, the Menlo Park Planning Commission gave a unanimous thumbs up to one design that would create buffered bike lanes along the city's main corridor – as long as trees at its intersection with Ravenswood Avenue are left alone.

Consultant W-Trans has been carrying out a $459,713 contract to analyze ways to improve travel along El Camino Real for bicyclists, pedestrians and vehicles. During a study session on Monday, April 6, the seven planning commissioners supported the second option given in the staff report. With that design, bike lanes would be added on El Camino Real in both directions by narrowing the existing vehicle lanes by 1 to 3 feet, and getting rid of street parking along the road north of Roble Avenue. An additional 3-foot bike buffer would be created with paint.

While that option also called for removing 11 heritage trees and seven street trees to widen Ravenswood Avenue, the commissioners nixed that idea, noting that the trees provide a key visual landmark. Commissioner John Kadvany said it's "one of the best-looking places we have on El Camino Real," even though he's "not a tree hugger."

Chair Ben Eiref noted that the chosen design would not reduce the road's capacity to handle traffic flow; instead, capacity would be shifted away from parking. Travel times are estimated to increase going north on El Camino from 4.1 minutes to 4.6 minutes under the recommended option even though capacity would increase, according to the report -- a finding that "kind of blows my mind," Mr. Eiref said.

Not everyone was thrilled about the commission's recommendation. Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman spoke during public comment about the potential impacts on emergency response, which he pointed out were not analyzed as part of the W-Trans study. The district, given the lack of data, prefers the option of creating three vehicle lanes in each direction on El Camino between Encinal and Roble avenues.

He also raised safety concerns about encouraging bicyclists to travel along El Camino. "I know you could do it; the question is why would you do it?" Chief Schapelhouman said, adding that towns such as Los Altos have created a network of bike paths through parks, school grounds and other routes that see less vehicle traffic than busy streets.

Commissioner John Onken, who said he bikes along El Camino every night, suggested that the real danger to cyclists is not speeding cars, but cars turning in front of the bike or a door of a parked car opening. Therefore he didn't support the option for three vehicle lanes in each direction.

The City Council will make the final choice of a design option after considering the recommendations of the planning, bicycle and transportation commissions.

Comments

23 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:02 am

Street parking on El Camino is so scary that it is pretty much worthless. Street parking also blocks car drivers visibility of pedestrians in crosswalks. Much better to use that space for bike lanes and/or wider sidewalks.

I just wish that all the cities along El Camino would do the same. What are bicyclists supposed to do when they get to the city limit and the bike lane disappears? Merge into El Camino traffic?


23 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:05 am

Regarding bike lanes on busy streets vs bike paths through schools and parks, bike paths through schools and parks are great if you are going to school or the park. However, they don't help you much if your are heading to a business along El Camino or downtown (which is where most of the businesses in Menlo Park are located). Bike paths and bike lanes need to connect people to where they are really trying to go.


7 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:03 pm

really? is a registered user.

Putting children in bike lanes with the false sense of security while not addressing the hazard of cars turning in and out of driveways is highly negligent. Alternative 3 is just that.


12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

El Camino may not be a good route for small children, but for adults commuting to work or shopping, it can be a good choice (or the only choice). Parents need to teach their children which streets are safe to bicycle on, whether or not there are bike lanes.


17 people like this
Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm

A bike lane on ECR would be similar to Sand Hill Road, which has even higher speed limits in places. Parts of Sand Hill Road also have volumes comparable to ECR at peak hours. I assume children would not be expected to use these bike lanes. Even though there are now only a few bike riders on ECR they should have improvements of some kind. The merge to neighbor cities (PA and Atherton) is important and should be part of the design. All the options presented apparently include intersection improvements to make east-west crossings better for pedestrians and bicyclists. I'd make these changes a top city priority, maybe in some pilot project versions. While I don't want to make things significantly worse for auto travel, it's time MP recognized we cannot build our way out of congestion and to support alternative transit options in a big way.


20 people like this
Posted by Boardermom
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:47 pm

I believe a bike lane along the length of El Camino Real on the peninsula could be a game changer for reducing traffic. It would allow adults to travel to and from work on bikes, as opposed to using cars. It would provide an efficient pathway for commuters in general and encourage others to get out of their cars.


6 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Bicycles should not be on the El Camino or any main streets period. This is the safest way to insure riders', drivers'& pedestrian safety. While riding bikes is a healthy mode of transportation for cyclists, a bike lane on 4 lane thoroughfares puts everyone else at risk.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Eventually everyone will realize that putting non-protected Class II or Class III bike lanes on ECR will lead to tragedies.

Hopefully it won't take a tragedy to prove the obvious.


12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Most car vs bicycle collisions occur at intersections, especially when one or both are turning. The safest bicycle route is generally the straightest route with few or no turns. That is why Sand Hill Road is a very safe bicycle route, despite the high car speeds. In downtown areas, the bike lanes can be made safer by making them wider and not allowing car parking on the right side of the bike lane.


10 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Unfortunately, encouraging bike riders to use El Camino Real will endanger them, motorists and pedestrians. Yes, very experienced cyclists can and do ride on this highway today in hopes of shaving off a few minutes of travel times but this is an extremely bad idea for other riders. El Camino offers little if any additional convenience and much less safety than the other bike routes on the Menlo Park Bike Network and other nearby residential streets. What should residents expect to happen when riders must share lanes at ALL intersections and cross vehicles at 60 public driveways? Accidents, collisions and angry exchanges. And a line of motorists will be sitting still when one driver tries to either merge at intersections or cross bike lanes at public driveways. Just think what it will be like if there is a steady stream of bikes. And of course even cyclists will be delayed by highway traffic and red lights. The Chief of The Menlo Park Fire District said he expects more medical emergencies due to bike-vehicle incident casualties, and he really does not want more customers. I can already anticipate the cries to remove bike lanes after a couple of serious injury accidents. A number of well-suited cyclists will gain a little; everyone else will suffer a lot. All residents should oppose bike lanes and bike paths on El Camino. There are good reasons other cities have not gone down this road. Residents can learn more at Re-Imagine Menlo Park. Make sure your voice is heard and tell the City Council what you think about this recommendation. Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Aaron is a registered user.

Alternative 3 seems the safest for cyclists (though perhaps not helpful for emergency response).

The proposed bike corridor map is a bit silly in that it doesn't have a fourth route that goes along route B but continues on University to Creek Drive and then loops back to El Camino (this is a de-facto route taken by many in the area that's the west ECR equivalent to a ECR parallel), nor does it have safe bike routes that go to the local schools.

Just tossing an probably flawed idea out there, but would it be completely nuts to consider a fourth option: tear up the median strips on ECR and turn it into a barrier-walled two-way bike road complete with traffic signals synchronized with the automobiles and crosswalks that enable bike to turn right and left off the median bike path when traffic is stopped?


9 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:27 pm

I really appreciate the comparison to Sand Hill Road, although that street has many fewer small side streets for bikes to contend with. The most dangerous places for cyclists are the places where drivers don't expect them or can't see them. Putting a wide, visible bike lane on a straight thoroughfare should not be an issue. Sure, separating it would be ideal–but this is a great first step.

Also, for what it's worth, this is not just about kids or lycra-clad enthusiasts or fringe environmentalists with hippie ideals. I also see a lot of guys, typically Latino, riding to and from work on what I imagine is the most affordable means of transportation available to them. I will be so happy to see safety improvements on El Camino for their sake as well as my own.


19 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:36 pm

@Dana, as with all your previous posts on this topic, I can't disagree with you more.

Thank you Planning Commission for this well thought-out and quite reasonable recommendation.


3 people like this
Posted by dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Mike, I actually sat through the four+ hour planning commission meeting this past Monday and I an assure you there was no serious discussion about the need for bike lanes or paths on ECR nor was there a serious discussion about safety concerns re: bikers, motorists and pedestrians. The only one who raise a serious concern was the Chief of the Menlo Park Fire District and he said bikes on ECR was a terrible idea and would hamper emergency vehicles of all kinds. Did you knot hear him? I do not expect to change your opinions nor position. I am interested in engaging as many residents as possible and encouraging them to form their own position and voice it to the City Council. I believe that is how our democratic process works best. Peace.


4 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 3:51 pm

Parent, bike lanes and paths provide no REAL protection at either intersections and public driveways. See my prior comment and the illustrations on my website. Bike riders will NOT be in a bike lane at these spots. They must share the vehicle lanes.


Like this comment
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Peter Carpenter: Were you ever able to go look at the University Ave underpass north bound in Palo Alto to confirm that there are three lanes, one of which is a mandatory left turn onto Quarry Road?

North bound traffic into Menlo Park is thus restricted to two lanes where the traffic would meet what will hopefully be two lanes in Menlo Park.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Frugal - The question was the number of through lanes at the County line. The answer is THREE.


5 people like this
Posted by Pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 5:50 pm

For pedestrian safety, please don't encourage bikes to ride on El Camino. I've noticed that bikers treat red lights like stop signs - they plow through them without stopping if they think there's no danger of being hit. They especially do this when turning right on a red light. Several times I've come really close to being run over by a bike plowing through a red light when I was crossing in a crosswalk on a green light. Many bikers don't look out for pedestrians.


7 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

If you are concerned about pedestrian safety the last thing you want is three lanes of vehicle traffic on El Camino Real.

Please don't paint all people on bicycles with a broad brush, unless you are going to apply the same standards to folks driving cars. (Often the same people.) Cars kill thousands of pedestrians every year. Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:59 am

Turnbridge: If all cars on El Camino were replaced with bicycles I wouldn't feel any safer as a pedestrian. Maybe my chances of survival would be better if I'm hit, but a speeding bicycle can also kill a pedestrian. The problem is that bicyclists don't like to stop when they've got a good momentum going, which is why I rarely see them stop when turning right on a red light or at an intersection where they have a red light but there are no cars. I rarely see them stop at stop signs.

I walk across ECR every day and bicyclists routinely ride through (in) the crosswalks expecting pedestrians to jump out of their way. I see them speed through red lights to make right turns without stopping. I've yelled at several of them who just about ran me down as I was stepping in the crosswalk. Sure, some obey the rules, but many do not. Some also ride on the downtown sidewalks expecting pedestrians to move out of their way.

I did not say that cars are always careful and do not cause fatalities. I'm just saying that most of the bicyclists that I observe do not obey the rules. Increasing the number of bicyclists on ECR will not decrease automobile traffic or improve pedestrian safety - it will just increase the mayhem. Pedestrians will have a lot more to look out for.


8 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 7:49 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Pedestrian, I understand that you may not feel safer if people on bicycles make you anxious, but statistically you would be safer, and studies have shown that adding bike lanes makes streets safer for everyone: Web Link more here: Web Link

Dutch traffic engineers have famously observed that when bicycles aren't following the rules, it's often because the infrastructure is at fault. When bicyclists are given better infrastructure, they usually use it correctly. I'm not excusing bad behavior from bicyclists, just explaining why I believe that making El Camino a complete street that better serves all the people who use it will benefit everyone.


4 people like this
Posted by Bob McGrew
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:00 am

@Pedestrian, I bike from the Willows to downtown Palo Alto most days, and I have to bike on streets with lights for a good bit of that. While I and other bicyclists will definitely go through stop signs without stopping if there's no one coming, I would never go through a red light and I have never seen a bicyclist going through a red light.

If both the planning and transportation commissions have unanimously voted for bike lanes, I think it's probably well thought out.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 11:49 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" studies have shown that adding bike lanes makes streets safer for everyone"

Actually that is ONLY true for PROTECTED bike lanes, i.e. Class I bicycle lanes.

Note the above cited study is actually titled:
"New DOT Report: Protected Bike Lanes Improve Safety for Everyone"

Alternatives 2 and 3 are attempting to add bike lanes in the cheapest possible way - and the result would be more accidents, probably deaths and increased congestion.


4 people like this
Posted by Pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:04 pm

"When bicycles are given better infrastructure, they usually use it correctly." Really? I learned to not drive down Junipero Serra during certain times of day because bicyclists out on their joy ride (they're not commuters) will spill out of the bike lane and into the only driving lane. If you dare honk you'll get flipped off or sometimes have water bottles flung at you. If they ride en-masse down ECR in a nice bike lane, I can guarantee that they will spill into the other lanes and blatantly break traffic rules if they think they can safely get away with it - just like critical mass in SF. They're like an angry mob when their numbers increase.

I've never lived in the Netherlands or ridden a bike over there. I think the attitude of entitlement in Menlo Park is a huge problem with everyone who share the roads. I believe the Dutch are more tolerant and have been educated to be more mindful of each other when sharing the road. In addition to infrastructure improvements, we need attitude adjustments and better education in safety practices so that we can all safely share the roads. We also need to acknowledge that some roads, like ECR, are simply not safe for bicyclists.


3 people like this
Posted by Bike friendly?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:09 pm

I was not at the meeting so likely am missing much context but this recommendation does not see prudent or logical. Very odd that this would be a unanimous vote.......for such a controversial issue.

1) ECR is nothing like Sand Hill. Far more turns to make, more stop and start (fast) traffic and often distracted driving on ECR. I get the concern about emergency preparedness too -- we should listen to that expert opinion.

2) Unless a bike lane is fully protected by a barrier, it will not be safe enough for bikers and those who would use it are so limited. I'd never ride on ECR and will never let my kids do it either. If there is not connection to neighboring cities then the benefit is very local and there are ample options using side streets. I'm not going to head out to ECR for a leisurely ride to the Stanford Mall, when it is easy to get there other ways.

3) We can wish away the burden of ECR but the reality is it will only get more busy and traffic is going to need to flow more freely and it can't function with big differences from town to town.

4) Unless it is separated by a barricade, this will not prove to be a safe or viable option, unfortunately.

5) lets encourage safe routes on local streets, more bike bridges, easy to read signs, not biking on a highway.


5 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 11, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Are you people really saying you want El Camino Real to be a highway? Think carefully about what that would mean for our town.

Peter, let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. A separated bike lane would be amazing but is unlikely to happen. I'll take a regulation-width, clearly painted/signaled lane over the current situation any day.

Pedestrian, I bike every day, both for recreation and transportation. I stop at stop signs, at red lights, and at crosswalks that have neither stop signs nor red lights. I even signal, which is more than I can say for some of the drivers I see on the road. I'm always wondering, as I consider the cars around me, whether they see me at all. My guess, given the sorts of comments I see on this and other threads, is that they don't. They probably don't see you, either. Honestly, we should be allies in this quest to make our roads safer for non-drivers. If you're really concerned about your own safety while walking, I hope you advocate for much better bike lanes in Menlo Park–because the current situation unfortunately incentivizes people to ride on the sidewalks in certain parts of town (e.g. on El Camino). And that's really much worse for everyone.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I'll take a regulation-width, clearly painted/signaled lane over the current situation any day. "

And that would increase the accident rate and increase congestion - bad choice.

See Dana Hendrickson's very cogent analysis:

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 11, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Bob, the times I was almost mangled by bicyclists was when they were turning right on a red light without stopping and I was just stepping into a crosswalk on a green light. Do you always stop at a red light when turning right like you're supposed to? I know cars don't and since you admitted that bikes don't usually stop at stop sighs when the coast is clear I don't see why they would bother to stop or slow down to turn right on a red light.

CCB, I both congratulate you and thank you for being a considerate bicyclist. If everyone (cars, bikes, peds) were like you we would all be a lot safer.

Yes, I agree - we need better infrastructure. Ideally for bikes it would be an unobstructed ride with over/under passes at all unsafe crossings. Perhaps with grade separation that is hopefully coming to all at railroad crossings in MPK, bike crossings can be incorporated into the design along with safer routes near the tracks.

I want all of you bicyclists to know that I do my part, as a pedestrian, to increase your safety. When I walk on the sidewalk or in the street when there is no sidewalk, I always pick up sticks and other debris so that bicycles won't get hurt.

I'll shut up now.


10 people like this
Posted by John Onken
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:23 pm

I'm one of the planning commissioners who voted and there seems to be alot of sound and fury around this issue. There is also a huge guld between the alturist view leading certain cycling ideas and the true reality of safe cycling.

Unlike most everyone else in the argument, I cycle down ECR every night (but I don't tell my wife!). It's the quickest way from the station to the Atherton border. I'm also one of those petulant lycra-clad racing bike individuals on the weekends who get up the noses of people in Woodside, even when I'm not trying to.

The danger of ECR for cyclists is not the speeding traffic on your left shoulder, but the opening car doors of vehicles parked along the right. All of the alternatives eliminate the parked cars, so good start there. But the greatest danger for any cyclist is a car crossing their path, specifically trying to turn right into one the many many driveways and kerb cuts along ECR. And these cars come often and dangerously, as people nose out of their favorite Sushi place or Car Wash looking to merge on to ECR. These are driveways used frequently and are not going to go away.

So alternative 2 (just painting a bike lane where the parked cars used to be) is not for the faint hearted as ECR will still be a busy road. But as it's just paint, it still allows for good emergency access as the cars can use it as a shoulder to let an appliance past. Thanks to the Chief for highlighting this.

Alternative 3, with it's hard landscaped division and better feeling of a safe bike lane cannot be used as a shoulder for cars pulling off. More importantly though, the right turning cars and cars pulling out onto ECR is neither eliminated nor reduced. And much worse than either a residential road or a road with few shop frontages on them (like Middlefield). But by making the bike lane have the appearance of safety without removing the clear hazard, I believe it would have been both irresponsible and negligent to support Alternative 3. The minute you invite 10 year olds on bikes going to Encinal down ECR with the false guise of safety, that's when we really loose the plot.

Stay safe.


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Posted by Joseph Baloney
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Removing parking and adding unprotected bikes lanes (Alternative 2, which removes no traffic lanes, Dana) has been shown to reduce accidents by about 50%.

Web Link

Again, this is for plain bike lanes, not protected bike lanes. Protected bike lanes reduce accidents by 90%.


Like this comment
Posted by joseph Baloney
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Just curious.
As a state highway, I though ECR was under control of the state.
Is this just a pie-in-the-sky recommendation, like wishing for a pony?
What is the likelihood of a physical outcome regardless of which alternative is recommended?
Anybody know?


4 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

El Camino Real is under the jurisdiction of Caltrans, but Caltrans is sensitive to the wishes of the local municipalities and has also embraced the concept of Complete Streets, even on State Highways like El Camino. Sunnyvale has already installed bike lanes on El Camino Real, and there is serious consideration in Mountain View and San Mateo as well. This is not a pie in sky thing. It's also politically savvy, as millenials are less interested in driving and want alternatives.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The first bike lanes installed on El Camino Real, in Sunnyvale, are six feet wide and run unprotected next to 14-foot wide traffic lanes. "

First, these are unprotected bike lanes.

Second, Sunnyvale still has THREE traffic lanes in each direction each 14 ft wide.

Therefore the Sunnyvale solution would not fit in the Menlo Park right of way and it still provides no protection for the bicycles.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bike friendly?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2015 at 7:23 pm

CCB: News flash -- ECR is a highway

Baloney: Umm, removing parking should reduce bike accidents for obvious reasons -- bikes are not as close to moving cars. This does not change the issue.

John: Not for the faint of heart. have we even surveyed how many people would even bike here? I suspect it is essentially the handful of people who do so now and they may like it better. Sorry, but it is not compelling. No families, no kids, no seniors will be riding. just the folks who assume the risk today? Is that progress?

Most importantly, we've contracted for $500,000 to give us these three options?


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

You'd have to provide a bike lane protected by a K rail for me to let a child ride a bike down ECR.


2 people like this
Posted by separate bike path
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 12, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Why can't we start with what would help Menlo Park residents, and especially children and those who use cars for very short distances, to get around within Menlo Park. I think that's a fully separated pathway along the train tracks from the stanford park hotel to Ravenswood. At least to start.
I mean on the "west" side (El Camino side) of the train tracks.
Coupled with a grade separated crossing ANYWHERE between Ravenswood and the creek, this would allow most of us to avoid the really unsafe Menlo-Ravenswood east-west crossing and allow most of us to get downtown and to safeway and Hillview from east, and to get to the library and Burgess (and M-A) from the west.
A very similar pathway works very well in Palo Alto behind the hotels and PAMF. There is room NOW to do this.


4 people like this
Posted by color coding bike lanes?
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2015 at 10:37 am

I drive on ECR often. If a bike lane is put in, I hope it's painted green like on Alpine (or some other color). I find the delineation helps - I notice fewer bikes veering into the car lanes and I'm much more aware of the edge of the bike lane. It's not the most attractive, but it seems safer to me. I find it particularly helpful when teaching my teens to drive.

Do the bike riders out there think the color coding would help? Has there been discussion of that?


3 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 13, 2015 at 11:42 am

Joseph: Your comment about bike lane and path safety is misleading. It is not realistic to assume that bike lanes would provide a 50% safety improvement on El Camino Real. First, it is not a typical road. It has a high concentration of intersections and busy public driveways where vehicles cross the paths of bikes. Secondly, bike lanes will attract less skilled bike riders who have higher accident rates than the more skilled ones who currently brave El Camino.
So if bike lanes were added, less experienced riders with higher accident rates would outweigh the number of experienced cyclists, and Menlo Park would end up with having BOTH higher average accident rates and more accidents. This is bad for bike riders and motorists (and others who care about them). I provide more details on my website at Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Joseph Baloney
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 13, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Dana- I don't think there is any basis to assume that ECR or the potential cyclist are different from the average in the study.

The study made no attempt to control for only experienced cyclists. Why would you assume the typical ECR cyclist would be less experienced than in the study? With bike lanes, they may be less experienced than they are on average now, by why would they be less than in the study? Do you have any basis for this claim?

I would also argue that ECR does not have a "high concentration of intersections and busy public driveways" as you claim. The blocks are rather typical in length, and the driveways are actually somewhat limited. For example, I can drive N from Middle to Roble and only cross one driveway. South from Oak Grove to Live Oak (3 blocks) with only one driveway....


3 people like this
Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2015 at 1:38 pm

I don't agree that ECR attracts more skilled riders, in my experience it is the opposite. More skilled riders are more adept at negotiating alternate more strenuous routes like Alameda De Las Pulgas and decide not to bother with ECR. The riders I see on ECR - and there are plenty of exceptions - tend to be less experienced riders.


8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 13, 2015 at 5:11 pm

People bicycling on El Camino Real are mostly heading to a destination on El Camino Real. That is why directing them miles out of their way to Alameda or Middlefield is really foolish.


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Posted by separate bike path
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 13, 2015 at 6:02 pm

@ resident - yes, it is foolish to send bikers many blocks away from where they need to go. This is especially true for those bikers who tend to drive or ride in cars to run errands right now. I again suggest we can do something right now by installing a pathway behind the stores and offices and empty car dealerships between the Stanford Park Hotel and Ravenswood. It works in other cities, there is room for it. Whenever a bike/pedestrian under/over crossing is added, it can be placed wherever it makes the most sense, and connect to something that can work right now to make north/south bike travel safer in Menlo Park


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 14, 2015 at 8:54 am

A separated bike path would be great if it traveled all the way through town and was close to popular destinations. A short path that requires complex zig-zagging to get to access is questionable.


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Posted by separate bike path
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 14, 2015 at 12:39 pm

The path I propose on the "hills" side of the train tracks between Stanford Park Hotel is easily accessed through parking lots and existing intersections with lights (Cambridge, Middle, Roble, Ravenswood). It is not a compex zig zag.
It is this part of El Camino that has no north-south alternative within a block of this proposed path that also allows east-west connections. Alma flunks that test.


2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm

really? is a registered user.

@separate

And what happens at the end of Stanford Park Hotel? Fall into the creek? Turn back to ECR and realize you're going the wrong way? This idea is for a bike path assumes starting going Northbound on ECR- is there any bike traffic at all. Any North-bound cyclists are already on Alma in PA, and have their own bike/ped bridge into Menlo Park which works well.


2 people like this
Posted by Pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 14, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I wasn't going to comment further, but yesterday while crossing (on foot) El Camino at Glenwood, a bicyclist, who had a red light, looked right at me but proceeded to cut me off anyway to turn right on red. This happens too often.

Most of the near misses I've had lately while out walking have been from reckless bicyclists.

Bicyclists: if you want better infrastructure, learn to obey traffic rules. I'm fed up with you whining about unsafe riding conditions when you break more traffic rules than cars. If you want to travel safely down ECR, take the bus. Both VTA and Sam Trans come equipped with bike racks.


2 people like this
Posted by separate bike path
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 15, 2015 at 7:34 am

@ really - No Alma does not work well at all for those who want to get to parts of Allied Arts, the Oasis, Yoghurt stop, Safeway, Cooks, etc. From PA, one has to navigate Ravenswood/train/El Camino intersections and then backtrack ON El Camino to get to any of these.

From PA, or from Willow backtracking across the existing bike bridge,a north-bound biker would need to be on El Camino past the hotel -- for now -- where it is very wide. Apparently a grade-separated crossing is planned between the creek and Ravenswood, making this proposed path more easily accessible.

I am attempting to broaden thinking to consider more options, and to put front and center the needs of Menlo Park residents to navigate within our own town. That is the only way to get residents out of cars.


10 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 15, 2015 at 9:20 am

Alma is all too typical of bikeways in Menlo Park–it's great for about a mile (between Ravenswood and the Palo Alto train station)–and then becomes untenable.

The crossing at Alma/Ravenswood is a nightmare for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists. Turning left onto Ravenswood from Alma, one has to compete with three lanes of anxious cars, jockeying for position to get across the tracks and cross El Camino. There's no bike lane, nor are there sharrows.

We really need (as I suspect the Bike Commission is trying to provide) a comprehensive plan for safe bike commuting through and across Menlo Park, on both sides of El Camino, and, dare I say, across 101.

Chiding cyclists for bad behavior is about as pointless a distraction to this conversation as my regularly bringing up drivers who don't signal or insist on texting. A hallmark of our day is the general obliviousness of people to the world around them and their impact on others. This goes for all of us, I'm sorry to say (and it starts with our kids, but that, again, is a separate post).

If I were to list priorities for our bike commission and their partners, I'd suggest (in no particular order, beyond the top priority a):

a) create at least one, preferably three safe bike crossing routes across El Camino between the Palo Alto border and Valparaiso. The tunnel should be an important priority (Burgess to Middle makes sense–imagine how many more people would be able to bike to their soccer and baseball games!) but we really also need a safe crossing closer to downtown, at either Glenwood or Ravenswood.

b) create a relatively safe, efficient North-South route close to El Camino. It doesn't *have* to be El Camino, but if cyclists are regularly attempting to get to multiple destinations along El Camino then I don't see much point in building it on Alma or along the train tracks.

c) fix downtown Menlo Park. Dream scenario: Santa Cruz Ave on-street parking goes away and we get bike lanes instead. With ample bike parking, maybe more shoppers would consider leaving their cars at home.

d) Add sidewalks to Santa Cruz Ave between Hillview and downtown–so that people with strollers and kids on scooters and joggers all have somewhere to be.

e) figure out how to make the Willow Road-101 crossing safer.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

CCB - Great ideas - thanks.


4 people like this
Posted by Pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2015 at 5:29 pm

CCB:

Good luck with your bike tunnel pipe dream. It's a great idea but I don't think it will happen for many, many years - if at all. It's better, for now, to educate people how to share the roads and obey traffic rules.

Instead of a study that just examines ECR as a bike route (bad idea), why not look at other options. There are many designated bike routes in Palo Alto (none on ECR) - - for example Park Blvd. along the ECR side of the tracks. There are barricades in place so cars can't drive through. I don't know of any such bike routes in Menlo Park.

Like "separate bike path" posted, it makes a lot of sense to have a bike path just next to the tracks on the ECR side where there is actually room for a path - although I'm not sure how it could happen with the many property owners needing to give approval. It wouldn't need to take up too much space though, and if incorporated with the grade separated railroad crossings hopefully coming to MPK in the near future, it could work. The railroad tracks running through MPK are very close to ECR, so no need for a dangerous bike lane along ECR. Probably just another pipe dream though.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2015 at 6:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This recommendation of the Planning Commission has been placed on the April 20 Planning Commission for possible reconsideration.

Commissioner Kadvany stated in his request for reconsideration that "in thinking about the options since our last meeting I’ve seen some nuances which I think are worth stating for the record."

Perhaps there is some recognition that the previous decision was based on faulty and biased information.


6 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 15, 2015 at 8:33 pm

A bike lane on El Camino makes no sense, and is simply unsafe. This what W-Trans offers for $459,713? I would ask for a refund, seriously. Monkeys flogging a type writer could have come up with something as good.

Unless existing bike lanes have changed, Alma and Laurel, both of which are very close to, and parallel El Camino, are already designated as Class II bike lanes Web Link Has this designation been changed, are they no longer bike lanes?

Does Menlo Park still think that pinching El Camino down to two lanes through town reduces traffic?


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Posted by Sal
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 4, 2015 at 4:29 pm

State law says you have to give bikes a extra wide berth- so the car lanes are narrowed ? How many more accidents will this produce?

How many hours at a reasonable 50 per for a civil engineer did it take this consultant.

Think how long El Camino is in menlo. Then think if you need to drive it - that FIVE minutes will be taken up driving( crawling ) through it.

And a bike lane is the answer?

Streets are to move the most people safely, quickly.

This is another failed plan.


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