News

Menlo Park: Changes underway at Ravenswood and Alma intersection

City launches six-month trial

A six-month trial of changes to the Alma Street-Ravenswood Avenue intersection starts this week, according to the city of Menlo Park. The changes are being put in place in an attempt to improve safety at the street-level railroad crossing where a woman in an SUV was struck and killed by a train in February.

This week work crews are scheduled to begin installing temporary medians from the Ravenswood Avenue railroad crossing to Noel Drive, along with a curb extension to block left turns from northbound Alma Street onto Ravenswood Avenue, according to Transportation Manager Nikki Nagaya. Right turns from Ravenswood to head south on Alma Street will also be blocked. The installations are expected to be finished within three days.

The council voted 3-0 on May 5 to let the trial proceed, while granting staff the flexibility to adjust the temporary installations as needed. The city is also studying options for creating a separation between the road and the railroad tracks; the study is expected to take at least 18 months.

Navigating around the trial changes will entail making a left turn from northbound Laurel Street instead of Alma Street onto Ravenswood Avenue, Ms. Nagaya said, or using a combination of Laurel Street and Oak Grove Avenue.

She acknowledged that the changes will take some getting used to. "All city employees use those intersections, so it affects us as well," she said.

Ms. Nagaya told the Almanac that the city will compare collision rates and near-accidents before and after the installation at the intersection and railroad crossing to assess how well the changes are working. The city will also record video of the crossing to track how often vehicles get stuck on the railroad tracks.

There's also community feedback to consider. She said anyone wishing to comment should call the transportation division at 650-330-6770 or email transportation@menlopark.org.

"We're sure it's going to be a learning experience," Ms. Nagaya said. "We'll try to make it as painless as possible."

Comments

24 people like this
Posted by Jonathan
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:20 pm

I can see how a median to prohibit left turns from northbound Alma to westbound Ravenswood will help, but what is the logic in blocking right turns from eastbound Ravenswood to southbound Alma? I've never seen backups with folks making this turn. I'd think that prohibiting LEFT turns from WESTbound Ravenswood would be much more helpful.


24 people like this
Posted by Library patron
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Can anyone explain to me the logic of the no-right-turn onto Alma from Ravenswood heading east? So many people turn right there currently, and it seems to me that keeps Ravenswood from backing up onto the train tracks. Yes pedestrians sometimes prevent cars from being able to turn right, but it is not that frequent an occurrence. If the timing on the light at Laurel is adjusted to allow the large increase in the number of cars turning left to head toward El Camino, won't that just cause an even greater back-up on Ravenswood heading east?


11 people like this
Posted by Bad decision
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 1:25 pm

So left turns FROM Ravenswood onto Alma and from southbound Alma onto Ravenwood will still be allowed? Did anyone actually go to this intersection or think about the consequences of this maneuver? It's not going to facilitate smooth travel over the tracks eastbound. On the contrary, by forcing more cars onto Ravenswood -- and continuing to allow left turns in three directions -- it will exacerbate track issues.


11 people like this
Posted by gunste
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 2, 2015 at 1:43 pm

So how does one get to the library from west of ElCamino???
It sounds that there has been a lack of logical thinking by the designers of this scheme.
Right run blocked, but left turn onto Alma allowed???


10 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

No- if you look at the diagram, there will be a barrier in the intersection, only right turns from westbound Ravenswood onto northbound Alma will be possible. No left turns in any direction will be possible during this trial.


11 people like this
Posted by SaraMP
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 2, 2015 at 2:03 pm

I predict that banning right turns from Ravenswood onto Alma are going to create worse back-ups on Ravenswood and make the Laurel crosswalks even more dangerous for pedestrians than they are currently.


12 people like this
Posted by Agenda X
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm

This has Kirsten Keith and her radical, anti-car agenda written all over it! First, the Ravenswood-Alma interchange; next, removing all street parking from Santa Cruz Avenue; and finally, the installation of bike lanes on El Camino Real. Hopeless.


5 people like this
Posted by johngslater
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm

In drivers ed I was told never to put yourself in the position of having your car standing on RR tracks.

The February accident was caused by a person sitting in their SUV and not moving off the tracks when the lights, horns, and gates started doing things.

So some people might be annoyed by this study.


21 people like this
Posted by Perplexed
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 2, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Thank you Menlo Park for "correcting" a problem that didn't exist. Right turns on Alma from Ravenswood did not cause the accident. Pedestrians using the cross walks did not cause the accident. What caused the accident was poor timing of the lights and distracted, impatient drivers. The intersection of Ravenswood and Laurel, which is already terrible, will now become more dangerous. The intersection of Ravenswood and Middlefield, soon to become worse now that all traffic is forced onto those streets. How about trying some traffic enforcement? Tickets for drivers who block intersections, drivers who were turning left from Alma onto Ravenswood from 4-6, speeding traffic, traffic that didn't stop for pedestrians. MP has plenty of traffic enforcement to ticket residents that patronize downtown stores/businesses as well as residents in front of their own homes. Deploy some of that to areas that need traffic enforcement. You just keep making it easier and easier to take business to Palo Alto.


7 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Preventing a right turn onto southbound Alma from eastbound Ravenswood is to keep traffic flowing on Ravenswood as much as possible. There is a crosswalk across Alma. If you need to make a right turn onto southbound Alma, you have to wait for pedestrians in the crosswalk, increasing backups on Ravenswood.


14 people like this
Posted by Perplexed
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

The point is that traffic will NOT be flowing. Today, traffic was completely backed up ONTO the tracks from Laurel and Ravenswood because of no right turn. Oh and the keep clear was blocked solid too at 1:30 during non-commute hours.


14 people like this
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 2, 2015 at 3:45 pm

lessons learned is a registered user.

Well, if the logic in prevent right turns onto Alma is to "keep traffic flowing" then why allow traffic on Ravenswood at all? The crosswalk on Ravenswood gets 100x as many pedestrians as the one on Alma, so cars still have to stop on Ravenswood at Alma for those people. (Although just in the last few days I've seen cars -- westbound on Ravenswood turning left onto southbound Alma -- violating the law and zigzagging around pedestrians as the crosswalk lights were flashing.)

The eastbound merge on Ravenswood, with two lanes becoming one after the tracks, is going to be gridlocked more often because the escape valve onto Alma is gone. The dangerous intersection at Laurel and Ravenswood will become even more hazardous.

Is it so hard for someone who's theoretically a professional traffic planner to consider the entire area, not just the space within 100 feet of the train tracks? Note also that the tragedy occurred with a driver who was headed west. NONE of these changes would have helped her avoid the accident.


15 people like this
Posted by Confused
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 2, 2015 at 3:53 pm

This is insane. They are driving all the traffic to Laurel street? The intersection at Laurel and Raveswood is already bad enough. Why are they adding more cars to this street? With the ability to right turn onto Alma, there is more chance to get stuck on the track if the traffic does not move on Ravenswood on Laurel. Who passed this stupid trail? Where can we complain to reverse this?


7 people like this
Posted by Allen Moench
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 2, 2015 at 4:16 pm

In my opinion the best part of this "trial" is the removal of signs just east of the RR crossing that prohibit a left turn from eastbound Ravenswood onto northbound Alma between the hours of 4:00 - 6:00 PM. Such left turns should NEVER be permitted.


15 people like this
Posted by Margo
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 2, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Does anyone on the city council live in this area? Drive this direction (needing to get to Willow Road)? Read the letters to the Almanac, which are 100% against the ban on a right turn at Alma. Has anyone on the city council even THOUGHT about it? Well, those of us who use this right turn regularly, either to get to Willow Road, to the Library, the Rec Center, or who lives south of Ravenswood---ALL of us have thought about it and pointed out that it's a DUMB IDEA! Wake up city council. This would be enough to cost you MY VOTE and I'm betting a lot of others!


22 people like this
Posted by MP Historian
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 2, 2015 at 4:38 pm

The article says that on May 5th three councilmembers voted for the right turn ban. They are Councilmembers Keith, Carlton, and Ohtaki. If you are against the right turn ban from Ravenswood to Alma you should contact them and let them know they should repeal their votes.


15 people like this
Posted by Peggy
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Congratulations coming up with a traffic plan on Ravenswood that does absolutely no good. This will only result in increased vehicular problems.
What is next. Bicycle lanes on El Camino Real. How long before someone gets hurt on their bicycle. Another bad decision. The city council is out of touch with reality and its citizens. Enough is Enough.


7 people like this
Posted by Thank You
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 2, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Thank you for finally preventing the left hand turns at this intersection. The signs were not working and it will make a big improvement to the safety of this intersection. I applaud Menlo Park for implementing some changes so quickly. Ultimately, I hope the right turns onto Alma will be allowed, but this is a big improvement.


7 people like this
Posted by BeResponsible
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 2, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Sorry, this is just a dumb, knee jerk reaction. Today, today there were people stopping on the tracks, and it was not due to people turning too or from Alma!

It was due to people not paying attention, not taking responsibility for their own poor decisions and impatience trying to save 5 seconds, trying to be a car length ahead of the next person, for no return.

What are you going to do when someone else is struck, with these barriers in place? What is your plan for that?


6 people like this
Posted by George C. Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 6:10 pm

This is an unsafe intersection. Both adjoining cities, Palo alto and Redwood City have at least two roadways under tracks. Menlo park has none. We need a better roadway on Ravenswood, changed to include pedestrians and bicycle lanes and underground. All possible safety measures at Ravenswood and Alma should be undertaken to reduce probability of train accidents in the meantime..


11 people like this
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Preventing right hand turn onto alma is a bone head move. Would test the other changes first to see if it improves the situation. If not then remove the right hand turn to see if it improves.

Contact your council members and the transportation dept to share your thoughts. transportation@menlopark.org


3 people like this
Posted by Pamela S
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 9:26 pm

I am going to agree with all the comments about the right turn onto alma heading from el camino- how does that help anything? The foot traffic across alma is not nearly as heavy there as it is on ravenswood. Also the tracks tragedy was westbound- all this eastbound restrictions will increase traffic and problems.


4 people like this
Posted by Merging Lanes
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2015 at 1:01 am

The schematic which the City of Menlo Park apparently used to design this traffic plan is flawed. It shows two eastbound lanes extending from Alma to Laurel when in fact the two lanes merge into one lane which I believe is a major cause of the backup.


5 people like this
Posted by some good some bad
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 3, 2015 at 6:44 am

Left turns bad (backs up traffic) in all directions at this intersection; right turns good (speeds traffic, even waiting for pedestrians).
Doesn't that apply to all intersections?

@merging lanes - I believe eastbound Ravenswood between Alma and Noel is two lanes, and the merge takes place between Noel and Laurel to create one through lane and one left turn lane.

What about moving the Ravenswood crosswalk down to Alma Lane from Alma? This would allow about 4-5 cars to stop on eastbound Ravenswood (between Alma and Alma Lane) to help clear the train tracks. It's not too much farther for pedestrians to walk to cross Ravenswood. This could also make the prohibition of right turns onto southbound Alma unnecessary.

Like I said, there's some good some bad in this overall plan.


4 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 3, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Ultimately, the real problem here is the boneheaded drivers who are not paying attention and park on the tracks.

Except for continuously ticketing these drivers, there's probably no ideal modification for this intersection short of grade separation.


4 people like this
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2015 at 5:30 pm

@some good some bad: if you check the transportation dept's original proposal, they plan is to move the ped cross walk to Noel Drive. They are holding off on that move for now. This also impacts cyclists too and may lead to more jay walkers.

@Mike: A less expensive option than grade separation but more expensive than what is now being tested is to installed timed traffic lights at the intersection and have them synchronized with ECR and Caltrains. Works well for Palo Alto and Mountain View.


9 people like this
Posted by New and Dangerous
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 3, 2015 at 5:46 pm

OMG! Just arrived home alive after driving east on Ravenswood during rush hour. Who were the geniuses behind the the new equal opportunity accident zone??? A fine example of how to leap from the frying pan into the fire! In the time it took me to turn right onto Ravenswood from the light at El Camino Real and clear the intersection, I saw not one but TWO cars make right-hand turns onto Alma around the new barriers into oncoming traffic!!! Has the city ever heard of traffic engineers? Hiring one might be a good idea. At least they could have posted a police officer in that intersection for two weeks to direct the pedestrian crossings and through traffic. Actual experience in controlling traffic manually beats bureaucrats sitting around a table making guesses.


2 people like this
Posted by some good some bad
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 3, 2015 at 6:05 pm

@No Easy Solutions: you wrote "@some good some bad: if you check the transportation dept's original proposal, they plan is to move the ped cross walk to Noel Drive. They are holding off on that move for now. This also impacts cyclists too and may lead to more jay walkers."

My thought was that the farther you move the crosswalk, the more likely you have lazy pedestrians who will jaywalk. That's why I thought Alma Lane would be better than Noel Drive. It's enough distance for several eastbound cars to clear the intersection yet not too far for pedestrians to use the new crosswalk. And of course, you would place sidewalk railing and signs at the current crosswalk location to direct people.


Like this comment
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2015 at 7:18 pm

I guess the city forgot to roll out those electronic signs warning people of new traffic patterns.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The purpose of experiments is to learn. If we already knew the outcome it would not be an experiment.

I am confident that an intersection exactly like this has not been studied before.

So experiment, gather information, make changes, experiment some more and thereby find something that works.

And so much better to experiment than to do nothing.


5 people like this
Posted by TheProblemIs
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 4, 2015 at 7:06 am

No one has studied the problem.

"they", the council members have only reacted. It's like putting more/higher fences around railroad crossings to "prevent" suicides.




9 people like this
Posted by Fail Fast?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 8:46 am

Yes, trials are really good. It's the Valley way to try something and get quick feedback and then adjust. Fail Fast approach.

But those trials are not based on politicians making the decisions, but rather the people who create products for a living. To my knowledge, there weren't traffic professionals involved in designing this trial or looking at the bigger picture of impacts at Laurel, El Camino, Burgess, Oak Grove. Staff, yes, but not traffic professionals.


4 people like this
Posted by Fail Fast?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 8:53 am

I suspect this trial won't work well. The merge on east-bound Ravenswood and backups to turn left from Laurel onto west-bound Ravenswood already appear highly problematic.

Another trial to consider would be to make Ravenswood one-way west-bound from Laurel, and Oak Grove one-way east-bound, possibly extending the one-ways to University. These might help synchronize lights on El Camino and east-bound one-way of Ravenswood would remove the problems related to the pedestrian crosswalk (it's in the right place) catching east-bound drivers at the tracks.

Grade separation by undergrounding CalTrain is the absolute best long-term solution.


4 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 9:30 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

"To my knowledge, there weren't traffic professionals involved in designing this trial"

Menlo Park employs actual traffic engineers in the Department of Public Works. This trial was in fact designed by traffic professionals. That the desires of council may have influenced some of their choices is highly likely, but don't blame the engineers for political decisions.

There is no question that grade separation is the real solution. That will take time and money.

Any changes that hamper pedestrian and bicycle access to Caltrain are unlikely to be implemented. The last thing the city wants it to make people who are currently walking or biking to Caltrain to get back in their cars because of barriers or detours across Ravenswood.


6 people like this
Posted by Astonished
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 11:01 am

Has anyone verified that our traffic experts have bona fide credentials? The lack of big picture thinking is mind blowing.

My prediction: a serious accident either in the crosswalk or at Laurel very soon. Cars will continue to stop on the tracks. Everyone happy?


10 people like this
Posted by cross walker
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 4, 2015 at 12:27 pm

4 hours ago

Here,the issue is the cross walks and pedestrians. it is not the cars turning right onto Alma. i agree strongly with one commenter--the cross walks need to be adjusted. the one on Alma could be moved farther south on Alma--there is no need to have a cross walk exactly at the intersection of alma and Ravenswood. Move it two or three car lengths farther south on Alma. i also a agree that a red light flashing before the tracks if someone is in the cross walk crossing Ravenswood would be a great idea. this generally is the real issue. this cross walk is used a lot by pedestrians. pedestrians often times push the button and walk--without realizing what the cars are doing, which causes sudden stops by cars unsuspecting of pedestrians crossing. this seems to be dangerous to me. either put in a "wait your turn" light for crossing, or at least put in an indicator that someone is in the cross walk before cars approach the tracks. often times cars see the lane ahead is open and so start to cross the tracks and all of a sudden someone steps into the cross walk causing immediate stoppages--whether on the tracks or not. that is the crosswalk that causes the real issue--it isn't the one that crosses alma street. taking away this right turn, seems to be a waste of time, gas, causing much more traffic on Laurel and streets surrounding the park as cars try to get to the library, city hall, recreational facilities, and homes. there are a lot of cars that use Alma street. this situation could be handled pretty easily without taking away the right hand turn onto Alma Street. And, it wouldn't take 18 months to figure this one out. (someone at the City has entirely too much time on their hands and too much money to waste on an 18 month study.)


5 people like this
Posted by Conscience
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 4, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Here's one for the record books: Last evening, I witnessed an auto (southbound on Alma) turn right on to westbound Ravenswood, cut over two lanes and then do a U-turn over the railroad tracks in order to go east on Ravenswood. Is this person nuts? Such antics not only puts the driver in jeopardy, but others who are walking or driving! AND, it was Off the Grid night, with even more people around. It seems some people won't be deterred, not matter the potential disaster.


6 people like this
Posted by Moving the crosswalk
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 4, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Those of you in favor of moving the crosswalk: bad idea.

Remember, the crosswalk was installed at that location because people, especially city employees, were crossing there even without a crosswalk. Many people will not walk 20 yards out of their way but will continue to cross at Alma.

Try to envision the traffic flow. Cars can still turn right onto Ravenswood from northbound Alma. Currently, a car stopped on Alma can easily see pedestrians crossing in the crosswalk. If you move the crosswalk, those same cars will be looking left, waiting for a gap in the traffic, and when there is one, will accelerate to the right, not expecting to encounter a pedestrian crossing halfway down the block.


3 people like this
Posted by Annoyed
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 4, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Excellent timing as well (sarcasm!).. with the Sunset celebration closing Willow, those of us in the Linfield oaks/ East creek dr area only have Laurel to get out of the area. I really do hope they open the right turn onto Alma.

This really is adding unnecessary time into all my commutes and also just everyday grocery runs and really any trip to el camino. You're also going to see far more traffic on Burgess Dr, as people loop in and out.. Not ideal. I agree the left turn into westbound ravens wood was not the safest scenario, but many of us who live in the area use it in off peak hours and it's really fine. Ravenswood can be quite quiet and it's a shame that this option no longer exists. As far as I remember the particular accident that triggered all this didn't have to do with turning left from Alma.


1 person likes this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm

really? is a registered user.

Perhaps everyone should go back and re-read all the hue and cry a few months ago in the comments section after the car fatality happened. How much of those suggestions and complaints align with the 39 ones above?


5 people like this
Posted by Alternatives?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I am hoping this clooge will encourage inconvenienced drivers to reassess alternative transportation --- walk, bike, skateboard?


5 people like this
Posted by fail fast
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm

@crosswalker - Move the Alma crosswalk south from the intersection with Ravenswood? Where do pedestrians start and end their passage across Alma? There aren't sidewalks there!

The hue and cry was to avoid another accident like the tragic death. That drive was WESTbound on Ravenswood and stopped on the tracks. What in the world do these changes have to do with that? Yes, there has been a problem of EASTbound traffic stopping suddenly to either turn left onto Alma or to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk on Ravenswood. The current trial addresses the former, but will only make the backups worse for EASTbound traffic, not from the crosswalk now, but from adding cars that formerly turned right onto Alma into the group of cars that must merge before Laurel. Changing the position of the Ravenswood crosswalk to be farther east might make that even worse than it will be.
I am not at all impressed by city transportation staff; there are too many examples of bad design decisions (remember the big dip on Santa Cruz near San Mateo Drive? And how about all the new handicap-friendly curbs that now end in huge pools of water when it does rain?)


3 people like this
Posted by JudyC
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 4, 2015 at 4:27 pm

This new plan is a disaster for cyclists heading north/(east) on Ravenswood and is an accident waiting to happen. Yesterday at 5:15, cycling home from Stanford, I was nearly hit by a pickup truck who wanted to move from the narrowing left lane just east/north of the tracks to the right straight-through. This in spite of my front lights, tail light, OMG-yellow jacket, and bright yellow cycling gloves.

And today, at 3:30, coming from the library, turning right onto Ravenswood, the same squeeze of traffic along the curb. I'm a very experienced cyclist and am used to navigating heavy traffic. This however, made me feel as if I were taking my life in my hands.

Why isn't there some protection for cyclists on the stretch from the tracks and across Laurel? Through this whole stretch, the cars are jockeying for which one can be the closest to the curb to turn right on Laurel, cyclists be damned.

As I say, there are accidents waiting to happen to cyclists.


11 people like this
Posted by MP resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 4, 2015 at 6:18 pm

I walked over to the train tracks today to see how things were moving (or not). I saw a bicyclist in very perilous conditions because of the traffic. I saw many pedestrians crossing Ravenswood at the crosswalk. I saw a car go past Alma to Alma Lane and then make a U turn to go back to El Camino. I saw traffic backed up once from Laurel past the train tracks. Fortunately, no one was stopped on the tracks. I stood there about 10 minutes. This is a disaster waiting to happen.


4 people like this
Posted by Confused
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 4, 2015 at 6:40 pm

JudyC, if you're cycling from Stanford, why on earth are you heading north on Ravenswood, crossing the tracks? Why not ride down Sandhill Road, cross El Camino, and then turn left on the pedestrian/bike trail just after the tracks? And if you're leaving the Library, why not ride on the paths through the community center to Laurel, and then proceed to a safer stretch of Ravenswood? It seems to me you're not taking the safest route.


7 people like this
Posted by Moving the crosswalk
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 4, 2015 at 8:03 pm

I don't think Judy was looking for commute advice but pointing out a major problem with this new configuration. She may be able to find a new route, but cyclists whose trips originate in downtown Menlo Park are not going to bike to Palo Alto to avoid crossing the tracks at Ravenswood.

How long is going to take the city to figure out that prohibiting left turns is great and preventing right turns is idiocy? Or will they just deem this whole experiment a failure well before the 6 mos is up, throwing out the good with the bad?


10 people like this
Posted by JudyC
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 4, 2015 at 8:17 pm

There are safe ways to get home from SU, and east on Sandhill isn't one of them. Coming the back way through MP is. And with a stop at Trader Joe's, the choice is Ravenswood. And although I may have alternatives, bike commuters to SRI and kids going to the high school may not. If Menlo Park is trying to encourage cycling, cyclists shouldn't have to wander all over Menlo Park to have a convenient and safe route.


4 people like this
Posted by Confused
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 5, 2015 at 12:33 am

Moving the Crosswalk: Judy's route (from her original post) originated at Stanford University, not downtown MP.

Complaining won't always bring change. I offered suggestions for safer routes so the cyclist can make it safely home.




4 people like this
Posted by cross walker
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 9:05 am

my point is -- it is NOT the cross walk that crosses Alma that is an issue. it is the cross walk that crosses Ravenswood is the issue. Rarely after several years of turning R onto Alma have i ever seen anyone crossing Alma right at the intersection. i do however, see people crossing Alma to get to the library from farther south on Alma--i suppose walking from Palo Alto because they are walking on the west side of Alma closer to the tracks. But, it never has been a problem for back-ups and it never takes longer than just a few seconds. the real issue is the cross-walk across ravesnsood. Pedestrians don't wait--some don't even push the button to make the yellow lights light up. they just get to the corner and cross like all cars are going to know what their intent is and they all should wait for them (the pedestrian) i equate it to a snow boarder and a skier. the snow boarder jumps up after sitting on the snow and goes whenever it wants and without warning. a skier is graceful and its path is very predictable. how many skate boarders get clipped by their sudden motions--or how many skiers take an ungraceful spill trying to avoid the oblivious skate boarder. put in a crossing light that tells both pedestrians and cars when it is their turn to go. put the east bound car light in prior to the tracks. make it on an "as need" light, but allow cars a chance to stop in a timely manner. And, don't make the light so long that it backs up all the way down El Camino from Palo Alto. yesterday while driving from PA down the R) lane of El Camino, i was backed up all the way from the Middle Avenue. First time that has happened. All because of a problem, that really doesn't exist--the dangers of turning R) onto Alma Street. Seriously?? Must be the same traffic flow designer who put together the Oregon Expressway fiasco --and, no doubt cost millions to do so.


11 people like this
Posted by Waverleyst
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 5, 2015 at 9:44 am

I agree that the "no right turn" part is ridiculous, and just want to point out that I have seen MANY people in the past few days going around the barricade and making that right turn anyway. Not that that kind of person would even be reading this, but it is endangering pedestrians, bikers, cars, and yourself by doing this. I hope they post an officer there, at least for a little while, to start pulling people over for doing this. And while I think the right turn ban is stupid, I have noticed a huge decrease in traffic through my street (waverley) where cars normally would zip through from Alma instead of taking Willow.


1 person likes this
Posted by MEMBERONE
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 5, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Waverleyst
JUST AS YOU ASKED !!!
7:20 am MPPD pulled over a driver doing exactly what you said was happening (At Alma, "MANY people in the past few days going around the barricade and making that right turn anyway.").

Everyone else.
I agree moving the crosswalk at Alma & Ravenswood would help. Pedestrians can still cause backups across the track. Move the signal.


3 people like this
Posted by Why?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 12:59 pm

I would like to hear from the MP Transportation Department what was the rationale for eliminating the eastbound right turn onto Alma. I applaud the no left turns on Ravenswood at Alma but that eastbound no right turn doesn't make any sense (given actual usage). Perhaps the Almanac can followup with this question.


6 people like this
Posted by anonymouse
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Yesterday I saw a huge line of cars, not able to turn left from eastbound Ravenswood onto Alma, instead proceed 20 yards further down \Ravenswood to turn left into the tiny Alma Lane. These cars then proceeded down Alma Lane to exit near the 7-11 shop and Hawaiian BBQ to get back on Alma near Oak Grove. I am sure the residents on Alma Lane don't appreciate the increased traffic in front of their driveways.


Like this comment
Posted by Why?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 2:08 pm

I would also like to know if/how the Transportation Department can determine the success of this trial and whether the no left turn works, no right turn works, both work.


7 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 5, 2015 at 2:18 pm

MP probably has the most ineffective, inefficient & wasteful city government on the mid-Peninsula. Before spending months & tens of thousands of dollars on more mostly useless studies, slap up signs, put signals at crosswalks & post cops to ticket violators, including bikers, skateboarders, & jaywalking peds.

I do see lots of multi-child strollers pushed by groups of females crossing Alma from east to west, maybe coming from story time @ the library? They're out in the middle of the day, not so much during commute times, so leave that crosswalk where it is. There's no sidewalk on Alma opposite the rec dept & library so stroller pushers can't safely go 2 abreast with their triple-wides, which is what I see between 11am-2pm.

Allow right turns onto Alma from both directions on Ravenswood. The Ravenswood ped crossing is the problem. Cars backing up briefly between Alma & Noel because a west-bound driver turns north on Alma isn't the problem. The left turns to anywhere from both Alma & Ravenswood are the issue & must not be allowed.

How many pals must i-n-l-h-e* McIntyre hire to tell him & the mostly incompetent council members what everyone else already knows? Use that money instead to add to the grade separation fund. Maybe i-n-l-h-e will be a real sport & donate his salary increase back to the City coffers to help pay for signals? There're precedents in many communities for public officials to work for a dollar a year or donate raises.

Above all, realize that traffic volume on our streets has tripled & quadrupled since the roads were laid out. How much more new housing will it take to create total gridlock? We're getting close. Trains need to run & traffic needs to flow unimpeded by the trains. If San Carlos, Belmont, San Mateo, and Redwood City can deal with this better than MP, just go look & take notes & find out how they did it.

*it's not like he embezzled


6 people like this
Posted by downtownperson
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 6, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Yesterday evening (June 5), I stood near the Alma-Ravenswood intersection to see how drivers were dealing with the new barriers. One driver heading west on Ravenswood apparently had planned to make a left turn on Alma. When the driver saw that he could not, he proceeded to the railroad tracks and made a U-turn...on top of the railroad tracks.

On Alma, nearby was an unmarked communications vehicle. Perhaps we will be seeing footage on TV or at a City Council meeting.


2 people like this
Posted by Good test
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 7, 2015 at 1:28 pm

This test by the city is a smart first step. Not permitting right turns onto Alma is critical since that intersection can be a source of unexpected back up. Imagine believing that the right turn is imminent yet a pedestrian or cyclist appears. The car waits and there can be an unexpected back up. The key here is to test and learn, observe behavior.

Lots of folks, from the comfort of their armchair suggest, essentially, that no changes are needed because you should just "not be on the tracks". Of course. However, drivers are not equally skilled or familiar with the flow here and judgements at a point in time can leave them vulnerable. It just IS folks, so help to work on a solution. Trains blast through the middle of a densely populated town at 70 miles an hour. If you are in a compromised position, time is just too short to adjust so we need to take actions to minimize the likelihood that someone winds up in that situation.

Just the way it is.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 7, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"drivers are not equally skilled or familiar with the flow here and judgements at a point in time can leave them vulnerable."

So we should play to the lowest common detonator instead of demanding people drive according to the law? People that haven't got the skill or wherewithal to keep themselves off the tracks ought not to be driving.


4 people like this
Posted by Good test
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 8, 2015 at 5:01 am

Menlo voter: really? Umm, yes, in most public safety issues like this the standard is not to align with most skilled drivers and then just hope for the best. What about new drivers, non local drivers, senior drivers? You have to consider a range of drivers and consider an intersection like this accordingly. Too silly to even debate.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 8, 2015 at 7:20 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

good:

if we were going to pander to the lowest common denominator the vehicle code would be very different in deed. Drivers are bad enough as it is. Let's not encourage them to be worse.

How many people have been killed or injured at this intersection? One? And there is a question as to whether or not she was paying attention to what she was doing. Shall we place a traffic cop there so that he can tap on the windows of those foolish enough to sit on the tracks when a train is coming too?

The fact is that if people exercise caution and drive defensively they are unlikely to be caught on the tracks. In the rare instance that they are, the crossing arms are designed to break away so someone can crash through them. All of this other stuff is unnecessary.


3 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 8, 2015 at 11:51 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Actually, Menlo Voter, road design is heavily influenced by designing roads that are more forgiving of driver error. This is why freeway lanes are as wide as they are. Unfortunately, by carrying that idea of nice wide lanes for cars over to city streets, many places have inadvertently made roads less friendly to people walking. I'm not arguing for lowering the bar, and I agree that everyone should understand never to stop on railroad tracks. But the fact remains that roads are engineered with the understanding that the operators of motor vehicles are human and prone to human error.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 8, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Turnbridge:

I understand your points, however, again though, how many train vs car wrecks at that intersection. I've lived here 22 years and can only recall the recent one. There may be more, but I don't recall them if there were (could be aging memory, I don't know). If there haven't been any accidents other than the one in 22 years it seems to me this is a solution in search of a problem.


Like this comment
Posted by anonymouse
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Menlo,

I think that sometime in just the past few recent years a car was clipped by a train at that intersection though it suffered only minor damage with no injuries.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

anonymouse:

ok, so two accidents in 22 years. Still a solution in search of a problem.

I compare it to the red light cameras that the city installed at intersections that had no history of red light accidents. Then they wanted us to believe it was for safety. Everyone knows it's for revenue and NOT safety.

In this case we have an intersection with a history of two accidents in 22 years and the city is taking these actions so they can be seen as "doing something." Never mind the fact it doesn't really need doing.


Like this comment
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 8, 2015 at 3:43 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

This even made the 10'oclock News Friday. Police are issuing warnings and citations.


Like this comment
Posted by its a test!
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 9, 2015 at 7:01 pm

This test is the right next step. know what you are testing for, learn, and adjust. Menlo Voter -- if there were two more accidents in the next month, would you say 4 accidents in 22 years? We are in the here and now and trends suggest that this dangerous intersection get modified. Thus, the test. lets move on.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 9, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

it's a test:

two accidents hardly makes a "trend." Especially when it appears the fatal one was caused by the driver's own inattention. The changes at this intersection would not have changed that driver's inattention. Getting one's head out of their electronic devices and paying attention to what you're doing while maneuvering two tons of steel is what prevents those types of accidents.

and by the way, if there are two more accidents at this intersection, will you blame it on the changes that are being tested?


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 10, 2015 at 7:28 am

I drove through this area last night about 6 pm to and from picking up a pizza and noticed the new changes. And having lived here for many years, I must say that turns are not as problematic as the people crossing Ravenswood Ave. Even with the new changes, there were still cars "paused" on the RR tracks because of people walking across Ravenswood.

I do like the no left turn from Ravenswood to Alma in both directions. But finding an alternative way for people to cross Ravenswood seems to be the more immediate issue. Of course drivers should always be mindful not to even "pause" on the tracks. If there's not room for ALL of your car on the other side, don't risk it.

On a different note -- MA had their graduation last night. Congrats to those seniors. However, I noticed how inconsiderate people were when leaving thinking they could cross Ringwood wherever they pleased without regard to cars driving on the street. Disappointed that I didn't see one Atherton PD officer to assist with traffic flow/control. There were lots of people and cars.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 10, 2015 at 7:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Disappointed that I didn't see one Atherton PD officer to assist with traffic flow/control"

Did MA pay for having a special event traffic officer? I doubt it.


2 people like this
Posted by Jeanie
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 13, 2015 at 11:58 am

intersection of ravenswood and alma

have you people heard of stoplights? this is the single most dangerous intersection i have to navigate on a daily basis.
i've seen all these lame attempts for many years now, no 4-6? light up crosswalk? orange flags? now this barrier nonsense?
these new barriers are doing more harm than good.
they force a huge amount of traffic down laurel street. there are tons of little kids around the pool and playground, and leaving these barriers will turn this quiet street into a dangerous disaster.
seriously, we all know the answer. so many years, still no
stoplight. let's not wait for more casualties.


2 people like this
Posted by Now I Get It
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 13, 2015 at 7:00 pm

The MP traffic department has wisely undertaken what is known as "hazard balancing" at this crossing, to rectify the numerical assymetry between train-auto collisions in the westbound and eastbound directions. The enhanced traffic congestion created by these measures will trap more eastbound autos on the tracks where trains can get at them more readily, hopefully achieving the desired balance, and possibly earning our city a traffic engineering award.


8 people like this
Posted by MP Commuter
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2015 at 10:51 am

Did any of the commenters here actually read the article or headline? This is a 6 month trial. They're looking to see what works and what doesn't work. Give it some time. I either drive, bike or walk through that intersection on a daily basis. The changes they've made seem to be a positive first step but I'm sure there will be some tweaking. What's a little inconvenience when safety's involved?


Like this comment
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2015 at 4:36 pm

I typically drive through this intersection twice a day and the main congestion that I see now is at Laurel and Ravenswood intersection. Not looking to when school is back in session, when traffic is much higher.


Like this comment
Posted by concerned resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 25, 2015 at 11:54 am

This new traffic pattern appears to be creating more dangerous situations than it prevents. Residents of Menlo Park are concerned with the negative impact on neighborhood streets and the safety of the pedestrians and bikers around the park now. A petition has been started to express these concerns. Consider signing it if you too wish to voice your opinion. It can be found at: change.org/alma


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

Couples: Drop Your Keyboard!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 5,437 views

Coffeebar to expand to Redwood City
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,607 views

A Concrete Joy: The Life and Love of Charlie Foley-Hughes
By Aldis Petriceks | 0 comments | 625 views