News

Menlo Park to remove right-turn barriers on Ravenswood Avenue by next week

City found some changes made crossing less safe

The results of a trial of roadway changes intended to make the Ravenswood Avenue railroad crossing in Menlo Park safer have shown that some of the changes may have actually made the crossing more dangerous. Those changes will be ended by Sept. 15, according to Menlo Park Transportation Manager Nicole Nagaya.

The barriers blocking eastbound Ravenswood Avenue traffic from turning right and heading south on Alma Street, will be removed by the end of the day on Tuesday, Sept. 15, she said. The left-turn barriers, from northbound Alma Street onto westbound Ravenswood Avenue, will remain for the rest of the six-month trial, she said.

Many users of Ravenswood Avenue near Alma Street have been fuming about the trial changes the city of Menlo Park began in June, in response to a fatal accident on the tracks in February. But other residents have said the changes have cleared cut-through traffic from their streets.

After evaluating the results of the first phase of the trial, Ms. Nagaya said the city found "the congestion during the evening has increased (the) risk of a vehicle getting stuck on the tracks." She said the city found some traffic improvements in the non-peak travel times, but said the increase in congestion offset that benefit.

"We will continue to evaluate the changes and make adjustments as needed," Ms. Nagaya said.

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The trial, which cost about $20,000, was approved by the City Council in May. Mayor Catherine Carlton and Councilman Ray Mueller have asked that the subject be put on the agenda for the City Council's Sept. 29 meeting. An email from Mr. Mueller asks for "all available information to date, to determine whether the pilot should continue."

Mayor Carlton said that as soon as she heard that the number of vehicles stranded on the train tracks had actually increased during the trial, she asked to have it ended. "When I found out it was making things worse, I said pull it," she said.

Ms. Nagaya said the city has been paying close attention to the number of vehicles that end up stopped on the tracks, whether or not a train is coming. The city has figures from Caltrain from December 2013 and compiled its own counts in April of this year and monthly after the trial began. Those counts were made by video surveillance of the rail crossing. Both the figures from December 2013 and from April of this year (before the trial started) showed 13 cars or pedestrians had been stuck on the tracks at least temporarily in the eastbound direction during the afternoon rush hour (4 to 6 p.m.). The count in July, after the trial was installed, rose to 40.

Other numbers improved, however. In the mornings (7 to 9 a.m.), the number of eastbound strandings were reduced from seven in December 2013, and from 16 in April 2015, to four in July 2015. In the afternoons, the number of westbound stranded vehicles was reduced dramatically; from 15 in December 2013 to zero in July 2015.

Mr. Mueller said he would like the see the right-turn barriers come down even earlier if possible. "The only concern I have now is that they're going to wait until next week," he said.

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Menlo Park to remove right-turn barriers on Ravenswood Avenue by next week

City found some changes made crossing less safe

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 11:35 am
Updated: Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 5:02 pm

The results of a trial of roadway changes intended to make the Ravenswood Avenue railroad crossing in Menlo Park safer have shown that some of the changes may have actually made the crossing more dangerous. Those changes will be ended by Sept. 15, according to Menlo Park Transportation Manager Nicole Nagaya.

The barriers blocking eastbound Ravenswood Avenue traffic from turning right and heading south on Alma Street, will be removed by the end of the day on Tuesday, Sept. 15, she said. The left-turn barriers, from northbound Alma Street onto westbound Ravenswood Avenue, will remain for the rest of the six-month trial, she said.

Many users of Ravenswood Avenue near Alma Street have been fuming about the trial changes the city of Menlo Park began in June, in response to a fatal accident on the tracks in February. But other residents have said the changes have cleared cut-through traffic from their streets.

After evaluating the results of the first phase of the trial, Ms. Nagaya said the city found "the congestion during the evening has increased (the) risk of a vehicle getting stuck on the tracks." She said the city found some traffic improvements in the non-peak travel times, but said the increase in congestion offset that benefit.

"We will continue to evaluate the changes and make adjustments as needed," Ms. Nagaya said.

The trial, which cost about $20,000, was approved by the City Council in May. Mayor Catherine Carlton and Councilman Ray Mueller have asked that the subject be put on the agenda for the City Council's Sept. 29 meeting. An email from Mr. Mueller asks for "all available information to date, to determine whether the pilot should continue."

Mayor Carlton said that as soon as she heard that the number of vehicles stranded on the train tracks had actually increased during the trial, she asked to have it ended. "When I found out it was making things worse, I said pull it," she said.

Ms. Nagaya said the city has been paying close attention to the number of vehicles that end up stopped on the tracks, whether or not a train is coming. The city has figures from Caltrain from December 2013 and compiled its own counts in April of this year and monthly after the trial began. Those counts were made by video surveillance of the rail crossing. Both the figures from December 2013 and from April of this year (before the trial started) showed 13 cars or pedestrians had been stuck on the tracks at least temporarily in the eastbound direction during the afternoon rush hour (4 to 6 p.m.). The count in July, after the trial was installed, rose to 40.

Other numbers improved, however. In the mornings (7 to 9 a.m.), the number of eastbound strandings were reduced from seven in December 2013, and from 16 in April 2015, to four in July 2015. In the afternoons, the number of westbound stranded vehicles was reduced dramatically; from 15 in December 2013 to zero in July 2015.

Mr. Mueller said he would like the see the right-turn barriers come down even earlier if possible. "The only concern I have now is that they're going to wait until next week," he said.

See an earlier Almanac article here.

Comments

Bob
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:18 pm
Bob, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:18 pm
14 people like this

YAY!!!!


bike rider
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:19 pm
bike rider, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:19 pm
28 people like this

the fact that blocking the right turn lane on to south bound alma was dangerous to the flow of traffic and causing more traffic issues was obvious before this experiment even started. this was a NO BRAINER right from the start. Not sure why we ALL had to endure this stupidity--the cops had a field day trying to give everyone tickets during this experiment.

Congratulations on finally coming to your senses to remove this unwarranted blockade!!


James Madison
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:19 pm
James Madison, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:19 pm
27 people like this

Removing the barrier preventing right turns from Ravenswood onto Alma? Good decision. Keeping the barriers against left turns onto Alma and crossing
Alma? Equally good decision. The next step should be to install a flashing light to warn drivers of pedestrians crossing Alma and maybe "wait-walk" lights to limit predestrians crossing both Alma and Ravenswood at Alma.


Margo
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm
Margo, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm
23 people like this

I would argue that at no time was congestion relieved by the right turn barrier. Whoever dreamed that one up had not evaluated the area at all! In the meantime all of the residents of the area between Ravenswood and the creek, Alma and Laurel were greatly inconvenienced by this "trial". Anyone from west of El Camino was REALLY inconvenienced when heading for the library, rec center or playing fields of Burgess Park. Please, city council listen to the folks who are most impacted before you make any more such ill-advised decisions. We all wrote to tell you it was a dumb idea. Why didn't you respect our experience as residents most affected?


Joseph E. Davis
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:24 pm
Joseph E. Davis, Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:24 pm
19 people like this

My opinion of traffic planners and city council members is so low that I'm surprised that they had enough sense to make a change here eventually.


cyclist
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:26 pm
cyclist, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:26 pm
19 people like this

I've enjoyed the decrease in traffic on Alma during this period, but agree that it should be removed if it is making the RR xing problem worse. Kudos to the city for being open-minded, experimenting and using a data-driven approach to find the best solution to this issue.


Bob
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm
Bob, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm
26 people like this

I'm glad they ran the experiment, and glad they're willing to change it based on what they're actually seeing.

I only wish people cared about the convenience of pedestrians and cyclists as much as the care about the convenience of drivers. In transportation discussions, I regularly see people say that it's reasonable to ask cyclists or pedestrians to go an extra half-mile or mile, but somehow when we ask drivers to do the same thing, it's outrageous.


Thanks Ray
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:37 pm
Thanks Ray, Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:37 pm
16 people like this

Thank you Ray Mueller and Cat Carlton for pushing for the review. I have often wondered whether the no right turn at Alma would have even proceeded if Ray Mueller had been at the City Council meeting the night the Council approved the test.


ALAN
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:46 pm
ALAN, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:46 pm
2 people like this

It would be a wonderful thing if these road planners would keep their hands off the roads....all they do is add congestion and confusion.

Next I guess they will screw up El Camino!


Mike
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:06 pm
Mike, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:06 pm
Like this comment

Allowt right turn onto Alma? You obviously don't live there they use the neiborhood as a exit ramp to 101! i'm not buying it that it is is more dangerous not allowing the right turn on Alme. The decrees in crosstown traffic through the nieborhoods has brought back safety to these streets of Menlo. Everybody threading the needle at high rates of speed on a blind turn on Waverley St. is just a lawsuit waiting to happen. If you do not like the back up on Ravenswood the let Stanford and Arriaga go through with there plans and we can all enjoy the congestion everywhere.


Menlo driver
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm
Menlo driver, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm
4 people like this

Woo Hoo!


con$ultant$
Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm
con$ultant$, Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm
10 people like this

It was clear to most of us who use the intersection that the right turn closure was an ill-conceived move by a non-local consultant who was unfamiliar with the area.

Too bad that, as usual, the council chose to ignore public input, preferring to listen only to consultants. Perhaps they feel the need to justify the money spent?

Meanwhile, nothing has been done to mitigate the problems that resulted in the tragedy that occurred when a westbound motorist was stuck on the tracks. Maybe the consultants got their directions confused?


Uh, yeah
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:26 pm
Uh, yeah, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:26 pm
8 people like this

I am glad to see some responsiveness to the results of the experiment. I share the common thought in these comments that the right turn block was a bad idea from the beginning. But now we've tested it and confirmed.

Now can we talk about real solutions? It seems to me that we should be evaluating the following:

New light installed on Alma and Ravenswood. This light MUST by coordinated with both the RR gates and preferably the El Camino/Ravenswood light. This is done throughout Palo Alto where a coming train trips the gates and the adjacent intersections react accordingly to clear the intersection and open traffic to non-conflicting flow.

Benefits:

1) When a train comes, the lights would work to HELP clear inattentive/foolish drivers from the danger zone.

2) Pedestrians and cyclists crossing Ravenswood would be able to do so more safely

3) Pedestrians would no longer be able to exert their right of way at inopportune times that result in sudden backups toward/across the tracks. Today, a pedestrian can merely wander near the crosswalk and properly behaving drivers MUST stop regardless of the flow. This will catch far too many drivers 100m back surprised while still in the RR danger zone. Yes, it is the basic right of Peds and yes it is the obligation of drivers to look ahead. But let's look at reality. Taking turns in a measured fashion would be better for all.

4) Such a configuration COULD be set up to allow normal crossing behavior at Alma/Ravenswood with both cars and bikes being allowed to proceed N/S on Alma or turn left onto Ravenswood at all hours. They would simply have to wait for a green light which may be delayed by prioritized traffic on Ravenswood and RR crossing gate activity.


Hugh_Jorgan
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:41 pm
Hugh_Jorgan, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 10, 2015 at 1:41 pm
4 people like this

Now, if they can just remove the left turn restrictions from eastbound Ravenswood traffic onto Noel, we Noel denizens would be much obliged.


bike rider
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 2:09 pm
bike rider, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 2:09 pm
2 people like this

the message from Bob-- i am both a driver, bike rider, and walker--avid in walking and at no point, did closing the right turn lane on to alma make any sense to me. rarely does anyone cross alma directly at that corner--walker or biker-- and if anyone does, they need to take the normal precautions that are required to be safe--that is look both ways before crossing, maybe giving yourself more room to cross alma, take the damn headphones or cell phone out of your ears, and use common sense. closing alma made no one safer--in fact, both pedestrian and biker had to step around and over barriers that were a hindrance rather than a help. i wonder how many people tripped on those barriers?

walkers going across ravenswood are bad enough--many, many feel that just because they push the button to cross that gives them the right to cross immediately and without looking. use common sense. wait for a pause in the traffic, push and then look both ways before crossing and keep looking while crossing to make sure cars are stopping for you. again, headphones and cell phones don't make you safe. Look both ways. wait your turn. be courteous. use common sense. we all will be safer for taking a little caution. the problem with the ravenswood push and cross button, is that cars (especially those who are new to the area) don't see the yellow lights light up on the street that indicate someone wants to cross the street--that is the main problem with cars stopping on the tracks--they are expecting the cars in front to be flowing normally and all of a sudden the cars in front stop. there is no warning for those cars who have yet to cross over the tracks. that issue must be fixed. there are a couple of ways of doing that--but that is a separate issue for another day.


Elizabeth
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm
Elizabeth, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm
4 people like this

Thank you. It will make life easier getting to the Library. The next thing to consider is moving the crosswalk at Alma and Ravenswood. Causes backups especially during times of high traffic.


lessons learned
Registered user
Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 10, 2015 at 2:26 pm
lessons learned, Menlo Park: Felton Gables
Registered user
on Sep 10, 2015 at 2:26 pm
21 people like this

Those of you advocating for a removal of the crosswalk are apparently not aware of the California Vehicle Code section that reads:

21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to
a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or
within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection

***
So, drivers, as long as an intersection exists -- marked crosswalk or not -- you need to yield to pedestrians. Removing the markings would not remove pedestrians' legal right to cross.

As an aside, when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, try to keep your brakes engaged. It's pretty rude if not downright dangerous to creep up slowly on people crossing the street, especially when kids or babes in strollers are in the party. Just remain at a complete stop for an extra second and don't be a jerk.


👍
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 3:55 pm
👍, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 10, 2015 at 3:55 pm
17 people like this

YAY! The only positive out of this trial so far is putting the left turn arrows at Laurel and Ravenswood. It's a much safer intersection now. In my opinion that should have been done years ago.


Tillie
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm
Tillie, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm
10 people like this

As a disabled driver I am so glad to be able to easily access the library and gym again from Alma Street, this blockade was a major inconvenience for me and my colleagues. Please consider wheelchair bound citizens in future endeavors of this kind.


Tunbridge Wells
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 4:15 pm
Tunbridge Wells, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 4:15 pm
1 person likes this

A traffic light is only a temporary solution. The real solution is grade separation. Which is coming, inevitably, with the blended solution for Caltrain and HSR.

Now the choices for grade separation just got a lot clearer for city council- any of the alternatives that require closing the turn from eastbound Ravenswood to Alma are now off the table, given the neighborhood outcry and the traffic impacts of re-routing all those cars. That means that the tracks will have to be elevated, at least partially. The alternatives that allowed keeping the train at grade all required closing the connection between Ravenswood and Alma, so now that people have made it so abundantly clear that they want to be able to turn right from Ravenswood onto Alma, the city can benefit from the knowledge gleaned during this test and eliminate the at-grade alternatives.

Before anyone suggests dropping the train tracks below-grade, there isn't enough room to get back up to grade to cross the bridge at San Francisquito creek. That option is also a lot more expensive. If the tracks stay at grade, Ravenswood has to go up or down, but either way it can't intersect Alma anymore. The only way to keep the intersection open is to raise the tracks halfway up, drop Ravenswood halfway down.

It's a good thing we figured out how much we hated closing off the right turn before any concrete was poured.


No Easy Solutions
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 11:28 pm
No Easy Solutions, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2015 at 11:28 pm
Like this comment

Agree that grade separation is the best option, but that could take years.

In the interim, time traffic lights would be the best solution to provide safety and convenience for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.


C'mon
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:52 am
C'mon, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:52 am
10 people like this

All: This was a test after a tragedy at this crossing. It was and remains the right thing to evaluate and test alternatives to make the crossing safer. Doing nothing is not an option. With tests, the key is to know what you are looking for and to evaluate the results and act. The city did just that. Tests should continue. So much easier to critique than to take thoughtful action.


SaraMP
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 11, 2015 at 9:04 am
SaraMP, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 11, 2015 at 9:04 am
2 people like this

@James Madison: Agreed, a lighted crosswalk is desperately needed for Alma. It would go a long way toward alerting drivers of the need to stop.

Moving the crosswalk slightly back from the Ravenswood intersection to the driveway that leads to the library's service entrance might make it even safer, as it would give cars turning right off of Ravenswood a little space to queue up while pedestrians are crossing Alma.


marie
Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Sep 11, 2015 at 12:22 pm
marie, Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Sep 11, 2015 at 12:22 pm
2 people like this

This whole trial thing was stupid in the first place. You had to go more then 6 blocks down Laurel street to Burgess street. And after all that [part removed] you would be lucky if you found a place to park at the library which would have been a hell of alot sooner being able to turn right on Alma Street which we could have done in the first place.


lessons learned
Registered user
Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 11, 2015 at 3:27 pm
lessons learned, Menlo Park: Felton Gables
Registered user
on Sep 11, 2015 at 3:27 pm
2 people like this

This was not a "test" in any legitimate sense of the word. Your fourth-grader's science teacher would give a D- to any child who concocted such an experiment. And your fourth grader would tell you that:

* You need to change only one variable at a time (eliminate right turns, or left turns, or add a turn signal, but not all of the above at once)

* You need to measure broad impacts. Can the consultants provide the traffic counts on Laurel (both north and south of Ravenswood), Alma (both sides) Burgess Drive, and the streets parallel to Ravenswood, especially Oak Grove, before and after the changes were made? What good is an experiment when you don't have hard data?

It seems as though the consultants sat down, brainstormed a few ideas, and then decided to implement everything that didn't cost too much money -- without bothering to do the extra legwork required to produce a real analysis.

No wonder everyone jokes about Menlo Park staff and their consultants.


the voice
Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:20 pm
the voice, Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:20 pm
6 people like this

Extend willow to el camino. that's the solution


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm
4 people like this

lessons:

as I've said before this was a solution in search of a problem compounded by politicians trying to "do something." Doing nothing is what was necessary. Drivers following the law, using common sense and paying attention is what is required.


Licensed Driver
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 11, 2015 at 5:11 pm
Licensed Driver, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 11, 2015 at 5:11 pm
2 people like this

Next trial they should give driving lessons to the people that stupidly stop on the tracks.
A lady died, sad, yes-- but it was nobody's fault but her own. And every day more bad drivers make the exact same mistake as her.

There is no solution to the traffic congestion in Menlo Park or throughout the Bay Area- short of martial law which I am sure nobody will like.

Drive safely everyone


C'mon
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm
C'mon, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm
7 people like this

Licensed: How dare you judge that poor woman. You have no clue about the circumstances. You are apparently clueless when it comes to approaches to public safety and how a community needs to meet the needs of an array of citizens and visitors. That is a dangerous intersection that is very congested at the same time 80 mph trains blast through. Do you not need need fire hydrants because people should not start fires? no partitions on freeways because people should just drive on their side of the road? no bike helmets because you should not fall down? Best to give it more thought.


Licensed Driver
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 11, 2015 at 6:44 pm
Licensed Driver, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 11, 2015 at 6:44 pm
4 people like this

There are guard rails that drop when a train is coming. There are traffic laws that say Do Not Stop On Tracks. I know the intersection well, I see people who for whatever reason stop on the tracks because they are too impatient to wait for the intersection ahead clear up. Your fire hydrants bike helmets and freeway partitions are invalid nonsense comparisons.

Pay attention to the road, obey traffic laws and THIS type of accident is very preventable.

It is a very dangerous intersection- if we need to NannyState it, then a blinking red light before the tracks so people stop and look would work. The Alma shut off was a horrible idea that have drivers no outlet in case they did screw up - happy they're opening it up- annoyed that everyone needs their hands held at every turn.


C'mon
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm
C'mon, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm
2 people like this

They are spot on. Do you think the arms that come down are guardrails? Lets all pause for enormous laughter. You do not have any idea to what standard public safety needs to be managed. None at all. Not worthy of debate further.


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm
3 people like this

c'mon:

you are apparently clueless as to witness statements about the incident. The woman was seen sitting on the tracks looking down in her lap as a train blasting a 110 decibel horn was bearing down on her. Logic says either she wasn't paying attention or she committed suicide.

You're right, the crossing arms aren't guardrails. They are designed to be broken. Had the unfortunate woman chosen to she could have easily crashed the gates and removed herself from the tracks. Of course, she would have to have been paying attention to the oncoming train, not looking in her lap.


Jenson
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:34 pm
Jenson, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:34 pm
1 person likes this

Bad idea- blocked turn onto Alma St. Good idea- This intersection needs a street light to protect the pedestrians. Alma and Ravanswood must be one of the mostactive and dangerous intersections in Menlo park. Car drivers, bicyclists and those walking all have to be extremely cautious. The street light is the best option


C'mon
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:42 pm
C'mon, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2015 at 7:42 pm
Like this comment

Voter: Don't count on my vote. Have you ever read what happens to people in these stressed situations? It is not like they are in their living room deciding what channel to select. Like you buddy licensed, it is easy to judge, just as you would an elderly person who mis-judged or distracted student caught with an 80 mile per hour train coming down the path. You too are just clueless on the role of public safety. Let me help you: you do not manage safety to the standard of the highest skill and most able. You do not manage under the assumption that everyone will always make the right decision or not be forced into a bad spot. This the guardrail analogy. If a foreign visitor is on that road, do you hold them to the standard of great and insightful citizens such as you and licensed? I feel sorry for them if that is the case. The city was smart to test and to continue to do so.


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2015 at 8:02 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 11, 2015 at 8:02 pm
5 people like this

c'mon:

I spent 10 years in public safety. I have an idea of what's involved. There's a reason police write tickets when people violate the traffic laws. Sorry, but if we're going to work public safety to the lowest common denominator as you suggest we'll all be locked in little bubbles so none of us can do anything stupid. What you suggest is nanny state thinking.

As to this case, don't you think it highly unlikely someone would sit there staring at their lap with a train blasting its horn unless they weren't paying attention or they were suicidal? Inattention was the problem here and no amount of nanny state nonsense is going to prevent that in the future.

Simple fix; post signage that says "don't stop on railroad tracks."


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 11, 2015 at 8:07 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Sep 11, 2015 at 8:07 pm
Like this comment

post signage that says "don't stop on railroad tracks."

It is already there and was there before this death.


EasyDoesIt
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm
EasyDoesIt, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm
Like this comment

How refreshing to have something to thank our City Council for!
Even if it is only to undo one of their bad ideas...

Regarding the woman who was killed on the tracks not long ago: If she was looking in her lap she might have been looking at a GPS on her iphone, such as Siri. I've known people who do that.
Of course it was a crazy time and place to be doing so, but if she was absorbed in looking at her iphone, she might have forgotten where she was. Or perhaps she was reading a message on her phone.
Or, as people have pointed out, it may have been a suicide.
But there have been other deaths at that dangerous intersection.
One woman some time back had left her car which was caught on the tracks, but then went back, probably to fetch her purse, and was killed by the oncoming train.

I agree with those who believe that intersection should have a traffic light. And I like the idea of moving the crosswalk a little east of the actual corner. The close proximity of the tracks to that corner is the heart of the problem.


Fact Check
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2015 at 4:49 am
Fact Check, Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2015 at 4:49 am
4 people like this

@easydoesit, you claim the lane closure was the City Council's bad idea? I went back and checked your allegation.

That just doesn't match the history of the Alma lane closure. The idea came from City staff, City Councilmembers were skeptical of the idea, not even the whole City Council voted for it. It seems unfair to blame the Councilmembers who did vote for the test for following professional advice intended to make the intersection safer.

According to the Almanac article below, the plan came City staff and only 3 Councilmembers voted for it:
Mayor Carlton and Councilmembers Keith and Ohtaki - but Mayor Carlton and Councilmember Ohtaki did say they were skeptical of the plan at the time of their vote.

Councilmembers Mueller and Cline were unable to attend the City Council meeting that night and didn't vote for the lane closure.

See the Alamanac article cited below.

Web Link

"The council voted 3-0 on Tuesday, May 5, to let the trial proceed. The changes, temporary for now, will use physical barriers to prohibit left turns from Alma Street and right turns from Ravenswood Avenue at that intersection in hopes of improving the safety of the at-grade railroad crossing.

Council members said they were worried about possible unintended consequences of the shift in traffic patterns that eliminating the turns will create.

"I think we are going to get a lot of flak over that," Councilman Peter Ohtaki said, particularly with regard to blocking right turns from Ravenswood Avenue.

Mayor Catherine Carlton asked how, if the city's data shows that 200 to 300 cars make that right turn during peak hours, all those cars are expected to squeeze onto Ravenswood Avenue instead. "They won't fit," she said.

Transportation Director Nikki Nagaya said it was a great question, and that the trial installation will determine how traffic patterns adjust. The trial will also provide data to help the staff determine whether moving the pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection is necessary; at the moment, no decision has been made to relocate it...

Council members Rich Cline and Ray Mueller were unable to attend Tuesday night's meeting."




C'mon
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2015 at 7:25 am
C'mon, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2015 at 7:25 am
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C'mon: If that is your solution, then we all thank you for not being involved in public safety any longer. Unbelievable. Not really worth it but one more bit of blazing insight for you. No one said you go to the lowest common denominator. You just don't manage to the highest. There is a difference that matters. Not worth trying to explain the relevance though.


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2015 at 7:33 am
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2015 at 7:33 am
2 people like this

c'mon:

how is using crossing gates and signage managing to the highest common denominator. Managing to the high common denominator would assume all people would follow the law and not stop on the tracks. But we don't. We have crossing gates, signage and a 110 decibel horn on the train. Putting barriers all over the place may not be the lowest common denominator but it's close.


Anandakos
another community
on Sep 12, 2015 at 11:11 am
Anandakos, another community
on Sep 12, 2015 at 11:11 am
7 people like this

You know, folks, if the problem is people "getting stuck on the tracks" there is a pretty simple solution: don't cross the tracks until there is sufficient room on the other side to hold your car.

Oh, I know, the jerks behind you will be honking to beat the band. But you're not responsible for their happiness.

To deal with such entitled scum, get one of those hand-held signs that football fans use with the pointing finger and move the big extended digit one place to the left, then wave it out your window when they honk.


C'mon
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm
C'mon, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm
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Voter: Are you that naive? The horn is not of value when the train is on you at 80 mph and your windows may be up. You can continue to suggest that the current set up is the safest possible if you want. The rest of us will consider ways to make it safer for all drivers. I just crossed this intersection and guess what, the traffic was flowing until a pedestrian popped out and waved the orange flag (which they were entitled to do). all cars stopped suddenly, including those near the rear. Not a visible threat at all for that line up of cars. In your world, that is just aok. Nice.

The rest of us will work on real world solutions.


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2015 at 2:17 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2015 at 2:17 pm
2 people like this

c'mon:

knock yourself out. In the mean time I'll continue to drive defensively with my head on a swivel, expecting the unexpected. Just as I was trained to do. If others did the same this conversation would be unnecessary.

Bottom line: drivers pull their heads out of their derrieres and follow the traffic laws and don't stop on the tracks and the current set up will be fine.


Veteran Of Many Crossings
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 12, 2015 at 3:49 pm
Veteran Of Many Crossings, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 12, 2015 at 3:49 pm
Like this comment

"don't stop on the tracks and the current set up will be fine."

Facile pontification from the hammock notwithstanding, there may be no other option when the traffic unexpectedly jams in front of you and the crossing gate comes down behind you.

This incredibly bad setup simultaneously encourages those jams in front and cuts off the possibility of escaping via a right turn onto Alma (unless you drive over the barrier and thru the stanctions, vandalizing city property to save your life).

Let's all be grateful nobody had to die here to wake up our city government.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm
4 people like this

"there may be no other option when the traffic unexpectedly jams in front of you and the crossing gate comes down behind you."

But there are other options:
1 - backup through the gate - it was designed to break away
2 - push the car in front of you forward - most stopped cars are not in Park and can be easily shoved ahead.

It is a matter of life and death so don't just sit there and say "Woe is Me".


close to home
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 12, 2015 at 10:05 pm
close to home, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 12, 2015 at 10:05 pm
2 people like this

I enjoyed biking eastbound on Ravenswood without fear of getting cut off and brake checked by right-turning drivers, and the traffic didn't really seem worse to me, but I bow to the evidence.

Surely part of what this shows is that the Ravenswood bottleneck is a problem. Can we get rid of the lane reduction on eastbound Ravenswood, widening the street if necessary? Though I bike more than I drive, I would support removing the half-hearted bike lanes on Ravenswood between Alma and Laurel if that'd help. Too many lanes of car/bike traffic appear and disappear in this area.


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 13, 2015 at 7:35 am
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2015 at 7:35 am
2 people like this

veteran:

I'm not "pontificating from the hammock." I go through that intersection every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I have NEVER even come close to being stuck on the tracks because I don't drive with my head up my rear end like most drivers around here.

I drive between 25 and 30 thousand miles a year. I can't begin to tell you of the stupidity I witness every day. Much of it wouldn't happen if people were paying attention to what they are doing. So let's make sure they can continue to drive distracted and stupid by putting up all manner of traffic control devices that prevent them from injuring themselves via their own stupidity. Can you say "nanny state?"


Aaron
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 13, 2015 at 2:59 pm
Aaron, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2015 at 2:59 pm
Like this comment

I think this is a good move, and I hope the left turn barriers remain.

Long term solutions:

1) Willow needs to be extended underneath CalTrain and connected to El Camino Real. This will result in more traffic to Linfield Oaks, but less congestion on Ravenswood/ECR as well. If the worry is that traffic overload through Linfield Oaks will be too great, then make the extension a one-way street going "east"bound.

2) Crosswalk for Ravenswood at Alma needs to be put underground. There's plenty of space for a ramp if the termini are in the parking lot (Axis Gym) and the library's shrubbery on the other side. Yes, the ramp would be a long one down and back up to allow bikes and wheelchairs through, but then all pedestrians could cross here without holding up any traffic. Fence off the crossing with a guardrail to guide people down the ramp/tunnel.


IRVIN DAWID
another community
on Sep 13, 2015 at 4:41 pm
IRVIN DAWID, another community
on Sep 13, 2015 at 4:41 pm
Like this comment

Consider automated traffic enforcement at crossing to remind drivers there are consequences (other than being hit by train) for stopping on tracks).

According to California Vehicle Code 21362.5, “Railroad and rail transit grade crossings may be equipped with an automated rail crossing enforcement system if the system is identified by signs clearly indicating the system’s presence and visible to traffic approaching from each direction.”
Web Link

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “automated enforcement systems have reduced highway-rail crossing violations by 78 to 92 percent along two corridors in Los Angeles, California.”
Web Link


Veteran Of Many Crossings
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm
Veteran Of Many Crossings, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm
Like this comment

"But there are other options:
1 - backup through the gate - it was designed to break away"

There will be a vehicle right behind that gate, with another vehicle right behind it, with ... . Nobody can move far enough fast enough.


"2 - push the car in front of you forward - most stopped cars are not in Park and can be easily shoved ahead."

There will be a vehicle right in front of that vehicle, with another vehicle right in front of that, with ... . Nobody can move far enough fast enough. Besides, what's your first reaction if your stopped car suddenly begins to move? Stomp on the brake pedal, right?


"It is a matter of life and death so don't just sit there and say "Woe is Me"."

Agreed, absolutely get out of the car and run away from the track if you have the time and ability.

Bottom line: well-conceived traffic flow schemes can minimize risk. What we got here is the diametrical opposite. Eyes have been rolling. Heads ought to roll ASAP.

Bottom bottom line: cross at a less dangerous crossing.


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 13, 2015 at 8:32 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2015 at 8:32 pm
1 person likes this

"Agreed, absolutely get out of the car and run away from the track if you have the time and ability."

That requires the driver be AWARE of their surroundings. In other words, paying attention. If they are paying attention while operating a 3000 pound piece of equipment they are unlikely to end up on the tracks in the first place.

Eyes are rolling at the stupidity of trying to prevent stupid, inattentive people from hurting themselves.


Licensed Driver
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 16, 2015 at 8:44 am
Licensed Driver, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 16, 2015 at 8:44 am
Like this comment

C'mon -- you are defending a person who stopped on the train tracks. That is a very poor decision. Do you defend drunk drivers as well?

Dont stop on the tracks, Dont drive drunk -- if you do, it's likely someone else's fault.


really?
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 16, 2015 at 9:03 am
really?, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2015 at 9:03 am
2 people like this

Barrier is gone. Nothing to see. Move along now.


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