On Labor Day, Laurie Sobel was just minding her business. A resident of Altschul Avenue between Ashton and Gordon avenues, she had just parked after returning from a shopping trip. Her husband and older son, age 11, had gone inside, but her younger son, age 8, was still buckled in his seat.
Suddenly, while leaning into the car to unload a bag, a car hurtling down the street collided with her parked car with enough force to launch it 20 feet, she said. She got a concussion, but said her son was shaken but uninjured.
After the incident, she made a post on Nextdoor, in which she described what happened and encouraged others to be careful. "Luckily, it was not a school day or there would have been kids on the street," she said.
The post, according to Ms. Sobel's neighbor, Nikki Sokol, was one of the most popular she's seen, with many residents chiming in with their own episodes of dangerously close calls.
To address concerns like Ms. Sobel's and many other parents in West Menlo Park, Menlo Park Councilman Ray Mueller and county Supervisor Don Horsley will host a town hall meeting to gather community feedback and discuss potential solutions to street safety problems. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, in Cano Hall at Las Lomitas School, 299 Alameda de las Pulgas in Atherton.
Representatives from the Menlo Park Police Department, the Menlo Park Transportation Department, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, the county Public Works Department, California Highway Patrol, and Atherton Mayor Rick Degolia are expected to attend.
"It's a rare opportunity to have so many stakeholders together to listen to the public," Mr. Mueller said.
Like Ms. Sobel, Janelle Martin, says unsafe driving around the area gives her cause for concern, and that she often worries about the safety of her 11-year-old daughter, who walks to La Entrada Middle School every day. She says drivers often speed, get distracted by cellphones, lose visibility in the bright morning sun, and even run red lights.
"People driving through aren't treating it like they live here," she said.
Other parents say the problem is not just distracted or rushed drivers, but a lack of safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and continuous bike lanes. Ms. Sokol also has children who go to Las Lomitas and La Entrada schools. "There's no safe way for kids to walk back and forth to school," she said.
She worries in particular about the children who ride their bikes along Altschul Avenue and Sharon Road.
"Concerns have been building up for a long time," she said.
She said she'd like to see the city of Menlo Park coordinate with San Mateo County to ensure that sidewalks and bike lanes continue between city and unincorporated county areas, and that the sidewalks that do exist are adequately maintained.
Anya Hodges, mother of three children, ages 5, 8 and 9, says she's grateful for the bus that can transport her kids to and from school, but she's also trying to teach them that walking or biking to school can be a healthy form of exercise. Unfortunately, she said, "It is very unsafe to do that."
When they do walk to school, she said, they have to wander through side streets rather than take the direct route along Alameda de las Pulgas. Without crosswalks in many intersections, she said, getting from one side of the street to the other can be a nightmare. When she has tried to cross with her kids, she said, "We almost got run over by a car. Two times."