Menlo Park report on El Camino study now available


Menlo Park has released the final version of a report on the El Camino Real corridor, which is scheduled to be the topic of an Aug. 25 City Council study session.

The full report plus all its appendices and a one-page summary are on the city's website.

The study looks at a 1.3-mile stretch of El Camino between Sand Hill Road and Encinal Avenue within the city of Menlo Park.

The study lists a number of changes that could make El Camino Real safer, and considers three alternatives for the street: six vehicle lanes; four lanes with bike lanes buffered by painted lines; and four lanes with bike lanes protected by 3-foot-wide curbs or planters.

The study looks at what effects the three alternatives would have on the amount of traffic and the amount of time it takes to get through Menlo Park, as well as their effects on traffic at nine intersections on El Camino. It also considers how each alternative would affect bicyclists, pedestrians, aesthetics, parking and trees.

One of the more interesting results in the report is the conclusion of traffic studies that adding a third traffic lane to parts of El Camino that now have only two lanes for autos would actually increase travel times.

Public Works Director Jesse Quirion said that "adding additional travel lanes does not mean more capacity." Instead, he said, making it appear easier to get through Menlo Park would attract more traffic.

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7 people like this
Posted by Bob McGrew
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:10 am

On the one hand, expanding El Camino will make things slower. On the other hand, it's a lot to invest in concrete barriers for a separated bike way when we don't know how many bikers it will attract. I know a number of people who do a bike commute from RWC to PA, but it's unclear whether a separated bike lane will make it more popular or just safer.

I wonder if we could do the second option, which just requires paint, as a way to test it out for a year and see if a lot of people start using it. If it's popular, we could expand to the concrete separator idea that costs more money.

Generally, I'd like to see the city do things more based more on data and demonstrated success in a pilot program. This is Silicon Valley - we make decisions based on data and tests for everything but what our tax dollars pay for!

6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the second option, which just requires paint"

That is the fatal flaw in Option 2 - paint provides zero physical protection for bicyclists while creating an illusion of safety.

"test it out for a year and see if a lot of people start using it"

To do an experiment requires that the participants explicitly agree that they understand and accept any risks involved in that experiment and Option 2 provides zero physical protection. And the level of usage of an unprotected bikeway would tell us nothing about what would be the level of usage of a properly protected bikeway.

5 people like this
Posted by another option
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:53 am

There are temporary barriers that provide a physical separation. These range from the ugly things on Ravenswood to movable concrete barriers that Caltrans uses when doing freeway work.
A well-designed trial is a good idea!

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Posted by cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 12, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Peter Carpenter wrote, "paint provides zero physical protection for bicyclists while creating an illusion of safety."

We understand and appreciate your concern. The current situation is far more dangerous because of the double threat of being run over from behind or getting "doored" by a parked car. Providing six lanes for vehicle traffic with sharows in the rightmost lanes would be preferable to the current "dooring" threat, but this will just end up a six lane parking lot for several hours a day, requiring bikes to ride in the gutter.

9 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I would NEVER support additional bike access on El Camino until basic traffic instruction is required of ALL people riding bikes. I cannot count the number of stoplights and stop signs I have seen idiot ADULT bikers run, endangering themselves and the drivers who would be blamed in an accident. No more access for bikers until they learn to be safe.

4 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm

6 lanes for cars is the only thing that makes sense to me. If it attracts any more cars, they'll only be the ones currently zigzagging through residential neighborhoods (as I do now) to avoid the constant jams on El Camino.
Separated bike lanes will be more hazardous for cyclists & peds at intersections unless you also prohibit vehicular right turns on red lights. I shudder at the cars on eastbound Santa Cruz turning right, oblivious to peds, while they try to jump into the southbound ECR traffic when their lights are red.
What will separated bike lanes do to jaywalkers? Will they climb over the barriers & fall into traffic? Where do skaters & boarders roll - with the bikes or with the cars?
Cutting ECR to 4 lanes will make things worse, not better. Downtown merchants & restaurants want more business, but iff you make it too troublesome to get there because of super congestion, people will just go elsewhere. If we have to divert to Middlefield to get through MP, it's easier to just continue on to Palo Alto for a meal.
Maybe there needs to be a high-end grocery east of Middlefield so Menlo Oaks & Willows residents can avoid the hassle of getting into downtown. Or put one in Redwood City, south of Woodside Rd, so Athertonians won't need to use ECR to get to Draegers or Safeway?

3 people like this
Posted by another option
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Two more options - underground caltrain (and HSR) and allow biking and walking along that route above ground. The ground level development potential is extremely valuable! El Camino is gridlocked now, and the train crossings are part of the problem. Just imagine the years of new problems from doing anything above ground. Below ground mostly needs an entrance and exit, south Palo Alto and north of Atherton. Expensive yes, but so is the current situation when all costs are counted up, and undergrounding provides ongoing offsetting revenue. Many of us would pay something to help accomplish that, too.

Another option in the interim - put bike path along El Camino next to sidewalks, or along Caltrain path like in Palo Alto.

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Posted by Michael
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Take a look at this:

Web Link

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Posted by Bus-Only Lanes Planned
a resident of another community
on Aug 12, 2015 at 7:04 pm

The Grand Boulevard Initiative contemplates a very different El Camino from South San Francisco to San Jose. For starters, the plan is to get people out of their personal vehicles. County transit agencies are part of the group of special interests (sometimes called "stakeholders"). They want to secure their own future employment, higher pay, benefits and pensions. The idea is to expand El Camino to 3 lanes in each direction and then take away a lane in each direction (nearest the center) for public transit buses only. The remaining lanes will be packed. Left turns and crossing El Camino will be delayed. Drivers will give up and the next phase of stealing El Camino will kick in. If you don't believe me, just watch.

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Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2015 at 12:18 am

Anyone noticed the cyclist and car collision this past Tuesday on the Alma St merge onto southbound El Camino? Cyclist was lying in the middle of ECR with bystanders acting as shields to direct cars around cyclist. Bike was mangled up.

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Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

@ N.E.S. -didn't see this but sad for both cyclist & driver. I often see bikes cutting across 3 traffic lanes to go left @ Alma. The safe cycle route is to wait in the bike lane & use the crosswalk when it's cleared for peds. Unfortunately, that interferes with "momentum." Hope the injury isn't serious.

4 people like this
Posted by Lily
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 13, 2015 at 12:50 pm

As one who cycles to work each day, I would never ride along El Camino, it is far too dangerous. After a couple close calls and a few friends getting hit (yes, hit and run in Menlo Park) I zigzag through residential communities to get to work.
Right now the Elk is a bottleneck for all, motorists and cyclists alike.

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