Wednesday: Atherton council considers study of Alameda roundabout

El Camino study, Atherton Channel and civic center also on agenda

Would a roundabout on Alameda de las Pulgas at Atherton Avenue in Atherton improve traffic flow in that area?

The Atherton City Council may decide at its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20, whether to spend from $25,000 to $35,000 to study that question.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

The council will also:

● Consider commissioning a study of ways to make El Camino Real safer for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists.

● Decide whether to get bids on a project to rebuild the Atherton Channel along Marsh Road before the town receives the approvals it needs from outside agencies to go ahead with the project. Getting bids now would let the town begin construction as soon as rains stop, once it has the approvals.

● Hear a report about what areas or rooms in the civic center could be named by donors. A report from Atherton Now says that on Jan. 13 it had $5.1 million in pledges and donations from 41 donors for building the new civic center. Four of the donations are for $1 million, the report says.

The council will also hear a report on progress on design of the civic center.

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7 people like this
Posted by Roundabout YES
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:46 am

The town of Truckee has been an early adopter and proponent of roundabouts. Having a 2nd home there for 20+ years, I can attest to the dramatic improvement roundabouts have brought to many troubled intersections where they have been implemented. They just work. Congestion on all feeders is down, traffic flow is improved, accidents are way down, etc, and they are better/safer for bicyclists as well. I really don't know why we don't have more of them here. I encourage the Atherton City Council to contact the appropriate city officials in Truckee to learn from their success.

6 people like this
Posted by Too Efficient?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 19, 2016 at 12:20 pm

This intersection is a nightmare during the morning and afternoon commute. It is long overdue for a change. But, is a round-a-bout the optimal solution?

A virtue of a traffic signal would be the packetizing of groups of cars on Alameda de las Pulgas. This grouping would make it easier to enter that thoroughfare from Walsh Road and other cross streets both north and south. A round-a-about promises a constant stream of cars.

2 people like this
Posted by WP
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jan 19, 2016 at 1:02 pm

I'm not sure if a roundabout or traffic light is the right solution. There are some roundabout's that have been built into Campus Drive at Stanford, and they work well, but at pretty low traffic volumes compared to the Alameda at rush hour. I'm inclined to believe that a regular old stoplight with pressure sensors would be a huge improvement. While they're at it they should fix the botched pavement repair job from several years ago -- it was bumpy from day 1 and has only gotten worse with time.

8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 19, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Why not put up a standard red stop light? Is Atherton opposed to stop lights on aesthetic grounds or something?

I agree that too many cars are running the current stop signs and something must be done.

2 people like this
Posted by Yes on Roundabout
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jan 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Roundabouts are better than stop signs and stoplights from an environmental perspective because they reduce emissions from idling vehicles.

12 people like this
Posted by matt
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jan 19, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Grew up in Massachusetts. We call 'em Rotaries. Terrible solution, causes lots of confusion esp. when drivers aren't used to them. Stop light better.

5 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 19, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Roundabouts are safer, support higher traffic capacity, cheaper to maintain, more environmentally friendly, and more aesthetically pleasing than signlaized intersections
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Don Creswell
a resident of Woodside High School
on Jan 19, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Re traffic on The Alameda: in addition to the horrendous backups at Atherton Avenue, the traffic light one block from Woodside Road on The Alameda often turns red to the major traffic on The Alameda to let one or two cars enter from the side street. The result is long backups of cars awaiting to turn from Woodside Road on to the Alameda. Why is this traffic light so sensitive?

Like this comment
Posted by YES roundabout!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Roundabouts work and are a brilliant solution for those who know how to navigate them (merely requires basic driving skills and an understanding of taking turns). By far, the best solution to long stop sign waits during times of heavy traffic flows in that intersection. Bravo, bring on the study!

1 person likes this
Posted by ScottRAB
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2016 at 11:29 am

ScottRAB is a registered user.

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world (much more so than comparable signals). Visit Web Link for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts. Modern roundabouts, and the pedestrian refuge islands approaching them, are two of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA, Web Link
The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts on Youtube, or check out the IIHS video (iihs dot org).

Web Link
Web Link

Modern, slow and go, roundabout intersections have less delay than a stop light or stop sign, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work (it’s the #2 reason). Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection.

Like this comment
Posted by ScottRAB
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2016 at 11:29 am

ScottRAB is a registered user.

Many people confuse other and older styles of circular intersections with modern roundabouts. East coast rotaries, large multi-lane traffic circles (Arc D’Triomphe, Dupont Circle), and small neighborhood traffic circles are not modern roundabouts. If you want to see the difference between a traffic circle, a rotary (UK roundabout) and a modern roundabout (UK continental roundabout), go to Web Link to see pictures. And here’s another site that shows the difference between an older rotary and a modern roundabout: Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Belle
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 20, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Roundabouts are what urban designers reach for when a real solution is not available. In practice, they simply turn into high speed obstacles for impatient drivers. Few if any drivers yield properly because few know the rules. I predict a new accident hot spot.

2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

Palo Alto has built fake traffic circles in a few locations. There is a circle in the middle of the intersection, but also stop signs, which defeats the purpose of the circle. Did they do this because drivers were too confused by roundabout right-of-way rules? Or were drivers just going too fast for the width of the circle?

Like this comment
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 2:25 pm


Those Palo Alto traffic islands were designed to impede traffic. That's why they have stop signs as well.

With Palo Alto's main streets heavily congested at rush hour, commuters use nearby residential streets as shortcuts. Those Palo Alto traffic islands discourage short cutting (to limited effect), but also get commuters to slow down.

OTOH, the Atherton roundabout is designed to improve traffic flow, as well as provide other benefits earlier commenters have noted.

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

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