News

Video: Willows resident captures cut-through traffic

 

Recent video recorded in the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park captures cut-through traffic in action, with cars whooshing through a left turn without caution.

The videos were recorded by resident Amar Murugan, who lives on Baywood Avenue, and who has seen an increase in cut-through traffic on his street in the last year, since the Willow Road/Middlefield Road intersection was redone.

He said some drivers on northbound Middlefield Road, waiting to turn right onto Willow Road, attempt to bypass traffic congestion by taking a right on Woodland Avenue to Bayland Avenue and then a left on Clover Lane to get to Willow Road.

"Everyone knows that traffic's become a bigger problem in Menlo Park," he said in an interview. "We've asked the city to address (it)."

He and several other residents of the neighborhood presented the video in a PowerPoint presentation they gave to Councilman Ray Mueller, who has since contacted the transportation and bicycle commissions and Police Chief Bob Jonsen.

The bypass route is a common entry point to the Willows for kids on bikes, and seeing "vehicles flying through there with no purpose but to get through traffic is a significant problem," Mr. Mueller said.

Go to YouTube to watch the videos:

Video 1

Video 2

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by East Bay Commuter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm

I travel the stretch of Bayshore road past Facebook daily. There are similar cut through issues there as well. The traffic seems to have increased exponentially over the past 2 to 3 years. I understand the cutting through from a commuter's standpoint, but if I lived in the cut through neighborhood I would be very upset. Aside from the obvious increase in traffic volume and the subsequent driver frustration causing this issue, you can also point to the crowd-sourced traffic app Waze. I ignore its advice to cut through the neighborhood to save a few minutes, but obviously a lot of drivers are taking the shortcut. It's a complicated problem that's exacerbated by a lack of any realistic public transit options to and from the east bay.


4 people like this
Posted by Laurie
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Sounds like a very similar scenario to Fair Oaks Ave. and Palmer. We have extensive cut through traffic off of Marsh trying to get to Middlefield North. With very little sidewalks, pedestrians and bikes are subject to intense traffic issues during commute hours. It used to be Fair Oaks and 17th, but the residents on 17th were able to get a "no right turn" from 7 am - 9 am sign installed. All this did was divert that same traffic to the next through street, Palmer, transferring the problem.


2 people like this
Posted by MEMBERONE
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Really ? (no not you member Really...)

Welcome to our world where not only do people cut through Lindenwood on Frederick, Edge, Laurel, and Toyon to bypass Ringwood to Middlefield but they're speeding while doing it.

Recent APD study over a 4 weekday period showed that from 7-9am, nearly 50% the drivers were speeding (over 31mph in a 25 zone), and nearly 9% were blowing through at over 36mph. In raw numbers, 1900+ occurrences over 31mph and 352+ occurrences in excess of 36mph.

That boils down to 90+ speeders cutting through Lindenwood.

We need this behavior stopped - as do you in the Willows neighborhood.

Kate, how about a story on Lindenwood traffic and speeding ?


20 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 25, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Traffic has been an issue in MP since the 1970s. The city has only moved to make it worse. The intersection at willow and Middlefield is a great example, it is an egregiously long light and traffic is exasperated by Middlefield narrowing at the creek.

MP reaction will be to cut off access to other roads and making traffic even worse.

This is a text book example of a city sticking it's head in the sand and doing nothing. MP/Penn's attitude towards growth has been "DO NOTHING" for decades and now the consequences are being felt.



6 people like this
Posted by marmona/ mckendry
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 25, 2016 at 1:07 pm

The also cut down Marmona and McKendry at 35-40 mph - I'd be happy to see a few cruisers set up to ticket them, pull them out of their cars and rough em up a little bit maybe. My children cant play on our street after school on weekdays, it's too dangerous.... used to be a nice quiet street.

That new intersection at Middlefield and Willow is HORRIBLE, but only slightly to blame for the speeders on our street


7 people like this
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 25, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Oh, man. There are people that drive down my street too that don't live in my neighborhood. This has got to stop. How can we keep cars off "our" street.

funny stuff people. and the videos show less cars during rush hour than on mine.


Like this comment
Posted by Count me in
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 25, 2016 at 1:17 pm

I think it's clear that some kind of comprehensive strategy is appropriate. As Laurie noted, one-off "solutions" just tend to push the problems to neighboring areas.

Let's make sure the kids coming and going to our schools are safe. I find the traffic situations around Encinal, Laurel, and M-A quite worrisome (might be just as bad near Oak Knoll and Hillview, I have no idea).


5 people like this
Posted by Count me in
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 25, 2016 at 1:23 pm

@new guy, I think it is the speeding driving that bothers people, not the fact that cars are cutting through. Speaking for myself at least. I think people assume that the non-residents are the ones primarily responsible for the dangerous driving (because non-residents are not aware of the neighborhood impact or do not care about it), and that is why cut-throughs were mentioned.


17 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 25, 2016 at 2:26 pm

@newguy

It is not your street! It is not there for your private use.

The road belongs to the taxpayers who maintain it. I pay taxes in MP and will use the public roads to get where I need to go, even through "your" neighborhood. I will obey the rules of the road, while doing so. The main issue here is that people do not obey the rules of the road.

Of course, we could get crazy and actually build sidewalks in MP, but I was told that this would unpopular as it costs money. I will bet that the majority of property owners complaining that cut through traffic is so dangerous that their kids can't play in the street would not want to pay the costs to have sidewalks installed on those very streets.

Also, when was it ever safe for kids to play in an active street??? We have a ton of parks, can't kids play there?


23 people like this
Posted by LongTimer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 2:47 pm

While it's true that cut-thru traffic all over town continues to grow, it's not because of the "city" doing nothing. Quite the contrary. The "city" took steps decades ago to block the planned Willows Expressway which would have been four lanes (think Woodside Road or Oregon Expressway) all the way from 101 to 280, combining and connecting Willow Road to Sand Hill Road. Yes, the thought of an "expressway" is not what many of us want, especially those who live directly on Willow Road. But that lack of a true East-West significant road in Menlo Park is the real cause of all the cut-thru traffic. Palo Alto to our south would have the same issue if Oregon Expressway didn't exist. Redwood City to our north would have the same if Woodside Road didn't exist. WE blocked it. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that when you eliminate the option of an obvious cross-town route, the traffic finds other routes. It always will. Our growth is far less than our neighbors (Palo Alto or Redwood City). The growth isn't the problem, it's the lack of the right infrastructure (in this case a good cross-town road). The neighborhoods that blocked the Willow Expressway are the very same ones who now are impacted by the "neighborhood cut-thru" traffic.


2 people like this
Posted by Count me in
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 25, 2016 at 3:52 pm

I was curious about LongTimer's mention of the "Willows Expressway" so did some looking. If anyone else is interested you might check out some of the following links:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 25, 2016 at 3:58 pm

@LongTimer

You are right doing nothing is doing something. The city chose to do nothing and has fought growth for 40+ years. However, we both agree that doing nothing is what has caused the traffic mess we have today.


3 people like this
Posted by Martin
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 25, 2016 at 9:48 pm

North-South traffic is going to get much worse if the suggested bike and/or bus lanes on El Camino happen, and as more people get intelligent navigation like Waze or Google Maps.

Menlo Park's mindless bottlenecking of El Camino at Santa Cruz will just force everyone through our residential streets.

imho much better to structure El Camino as the major artery it is, like Central Expressway, and then protect our residential and retail streets.


9 people like this
Posted by menlo resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:52 am

Non-resident cut-throughs in the Willows to the East Bay are not MP's only traffic circulation problem. Many of us need to drive through other residential areas because there are few passable routes enabling movement from East to West during rush hour - particularly during school drop off/pick-up. The commute to Hillview and back from the East side is hellacious - for everyone: bikers, cars, peds - everyone.






4 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:00 am

Traffic seems to be the number 1 problem in the Bay Area, and it has only gotten and will continue to get worse. With cities up and down the Peninsula adding more housing, especially, multiple story building, the number of cars on the road increases. Couple that with people living outside the Bay Area where housing is "more" affordable and then driving in just makes matters that much worse.

So articles like this one don't surprise me; one solution -- stop adding more housing, the infrastructure can't support all these people. Adding more people has a trickle down effect. We're already seeing one of the consequences. Most cities have their heads in the sand; they're just looking at the revenue that more people bring without addressing the effect to the area.


4 people like this
Posted by Willows Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:16 am

@newguy,

The commuters cutting through neighborhoods in the Willows are not taxpayers in Menlo Park. They are Palo Alto residents attempting to access Willow/101/Dumbarton or residents of other cities that work in Palo Alto and are attempting to access Willow/101/Dumbarton.

They drive at high rates of speed and are often on their phones as they zip through the neighborhood. There have been many close calls where pedestrians and bicyclists have almost been hit by these careless drivers.

The safety of Menlo Park residents needs to be prioritized by the City over the convenience of commuters who don't live or work in Menlo Park.


6 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2016 at 9:03 am

Streets aren't intended for children to play on. Streets are intended for vehicles and pedestrian movement. This ridiculous complaint about kids not being able to okay in the street has been in okay since I was a kid. That's what yards and parks are for.

Assuming all "cut through" traffic is cut through to places well beyond Menlo is garbage. Many of us locals don't want to or need to take main thoroughfares to get where we're going. We know how to avoid contributing to the heaviest traffic by avoiding main arteries as much as possible. If I head to MP library from the Willows, why would I take Willow Rd. To Middlefield, etc. To get there, especially in traffic? I'll take an efficient but leisurely route. I did the same thing as a cyclist.

Another part of the garbage about cut through traffic criticism is that the complaining residents act like they never break traffic laws. It's simply not true. I see many hyper-local speeders racing down their own street, slam on the brakes, then turn hurriedly into their own driveways. Streets are for moving through, not being blocked so that residents look out the windows at no vehicles.

Locals should focus on working with the police on enforcement issues and more traffic signs, not blocking access from public streets. Why do you want to force locals into highly congested streets in which your neighbors live? Your street isn't private, it's a public street.


1 person likes this
Posted by Count me in
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 26, 2016 at 9:42 am

I would be willing pay to fund sidewalks, especially in the vicinity of the schools.


8 people like this
Posted by simple
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 26, 2016 at 10:05 am

The solution to Amar's traffic problem is simple. We need fewer people in single occupancy vehicles during commute time. We can fix this problem by increasing taxes to modernize Caltrain and extend BART from Millbrae to Fremont.


10 people like this
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 26, 2016 at 10:24 am

Just remember this result when considering a reduction in the number of lanes on El Camino Real.

The number of cars isn't going down. Drivers are going to find a way to get where they want to go if the main streets are clogged. If our few arterial streets - which are INTENDED to move large numbers of cars - are artificially constrained, frustrated drivers will simply start taking backroads through your neighborhoods.

It's called unintended consequences.


6 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2016 at 10:32 am

Cutting through neighborhoods is not illegal. So put your camera way and go inside....


2 people like this
Posted by Baywood neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 26, 2016 at 10:49 am

While walking my dog the other day at rush hour, I saw a motorcycle cop sitting at the intersection of Clover and Willow looking for the cut-throughs we neighbors complained about, so I went over to thank her for being there. She seemed to be expecting an argument rather than thanks, but when I thanked her, her response was "They're not speeding!" which she repeated several times. Since Clover is only one block long, they probably can't technically get up to "speed" after turning around the corner from Baywood, but they are tearing down Baywood before the turn.


1 person likes this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2016 at 12:40 pm

@Williows resident

How do you know that cars using the streets in your neighborhood all belong to Palo Alto residents? Have you asked them? Are they not allowed to use the public streets? When you drive to PA do you use their streets? Qid pro quo


1 person likes this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm

@bob

Good idea. Let's close the borders! No one else can live here or drive here. That way you can enjoy your high housing value and keep it going up while your property taxes are subsidized by new buyers.

500,000 people have moved here since 2010 and more are coming.
Since we don't live is a dictatorship, people are allowed to move where they want. We need to build infrastructure to move people around. This is done in cities far more populated and dense than Bay Area.

It is the let's just not do anything attitude that has us in the mess.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm

@MPer

Yeah -- it's called LA and what a mess it is to drive through that area, even if you're a resident. If it's not traffic, it's the on-going construction to "improve" the flow that drags on and on.

I'm glad you have such a "positive" outlook on the situation. It's called lack of long term planning on government's part.


4 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Cut-through traffic is not illegal, but if drivers are speeding, running stop signs, and not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, then residents are right to demand increased police enforcement.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I noticed in the video that their were no pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, or oncoming traffic. In that context, speeding was not an issue.


2 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:46 pm

And as usual, Hickey, you miss the point.

Just because there were no pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, or oncoming traffic in the video *at that moment* does NOT mean that they would not be in danger otherwise.

Consider that for a second.


1 person likes this
Posted by Speed & Safety
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Menlo Oaks is experiencing the same problem, but we have it twice a day because of the high school. The issue isn't about cars using neighborhood roads -- the issue is about speed and safety. Like Lindenwood and Fair Oaks, the roads here aren't in a straight grid, and where they curve around some old-growth trees they narrow down to one lane. That doesn't stop through traffic from going faster than the 25 mph residential speed limit. It's harrowing, but these communities were never built to accommodate the level of development and population we have now so it's up to the Police and Sheriff to patrol during commuter hours and protect the safety of pedestrians.


Like this comment
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm

@Bob

What is called LA? LA? That city is actually building light rail and has improved public transit considerably in the past 10 years.

I agree it is lack of planning and action that has us in this mess.


1 person likes this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Kate Bradshaw did you look at the same video that are posted in the article?

The 2 videos show a total of 8 cars going one direction and 1 car going the other. Maybe one of them appears to speeding, but hard to tell. None are running stops signs or driving dangerously and all slow down to make the left turn.
We don't know where those cars came from nor where they are going.

So the videos prove nothing. Good reporting. You can always count on Ray Mueller to jump in for a sounds bite.


1 person likes this
Posted by JC
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 26, 2016 at 3:06 pm

I don't think speeding on Baywood is the issue, based on both what I see in the video and my own personal experience. Or at least not in the sense of exceeding 25 mph. But you can see that truck is taking the corner too fast and is cutting it in its hurry. Where I think there's a bigger issue with that is the intersection with Blackburn. I see a lot of people haring across it and onto Marmona, or vice versa, without looking for cross traffic or for pedestrians crossing Blackburn. I think the rounded corners encourage that; I would like to see them squared off and perhaps stop signs at the ends of Baywood and of Marmona to slow those people down.


7 people like this
Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 26, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Greetings all,

First, I met with Amar and a group of his neighbors. They are good people who are legitimately worried someone is going to get hurt in their neighborhood. I don't like to see them disparaged here for being engaged in the civic process. I agree with their assessment there is an issue to be addressed. That's why I referred the matter to the Chief, for increased enforcement, and to the Transportation Commission and Bike Commission, to vet whether mitigations are appropriate.

Second, Kate Bradshaw is a good reporter, who is reporting a fairly straight forward story.

MPer and others, feel free to focus your disdain at me. I am just fine with people throwing stones at me under the cover of anonymity. I signed up for the job.

Best,
Ray


1 person likes this
Posted by MPeeer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 28, 2016 at 5:45 pm

@Ray

Good reporting can be substantiated. The videos do not support the headline.

It is just a video of cars driving straight and a few turning left.

Mr. Murugan's assertion that this is non-resident cut through traffic is his opinion, not a fact. The reporter treats this as a fact and uses it as the headline.

Did the reporter attempt to interview any drivers? no.

She did interview you, Ray and your quote is also not supported by the video.

To say this is good reporting is a stretch.

I can take the same video on my street. Some cars speed, some cut corners too close over here as well.

Now I am not saying that there is not increased traffic, nor am I saying that commuters cut through neighborhoods. My point is that this videos presented do not back up the headline, nor the premise of the article.

Also, Ray, if you and the city council were truly concerned about the safety of kids, we'd have a sidewalk on Santa Cruz by now.

We still do not.


1 person likes this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 28, 2016 at 5:47 pm

@Ray

No one is disparaging these people. I am merely saying that the videos do not support the claim.


7 people like this
Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 28, 2016 at 9:10 pm

MPer,
I will respond once, though I am hesitant to do so.

First, a map reveals that the streets in question are at the corner of Middlefield and Willow. A car entering this street and turning in this manner is cuting the corner to avoid having to wait to turn right onto Willow from Middlefiled. Recently a no right turn on red sign was installed at the intersection. Moreover the accounts of the residents also support that this is the traffic flow in question. Having viewed the map, and spoken to the residents, I believe there is enough evidence to warrant increased enforcement and the referral to the transportation commission. While, I appreciate your opinion regarding what you believe you see in the video, I feel confident the weight of all the evidence supports the residents concerns.

Second, over the last four years I have worked very hard towards the installation of sidewalks on Santa Cruz Ave, working out a design between residents and the City. That design work is in final stages, and has been approved by the City Council. The budget has already been set aside for installation of the sidewalk this year. I believe we all will celebrate the installation of the sidewalks. It is disheartening you would imply that somehow as sidewalks don't presently exist on Santa Cruz Ave, that I and my colleagues on the City Council don't care about children. We are all in fact parents. Moreover we have designated the installation of sidewalks this year at the highest level of importance for staff. We didn't create this problem. It existed before I was elected. It is my expectation it will be solved before my term is over.




Like this comment
Posted by Rational
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:05 am

It seems to me ones right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of your home and neighborhood outweighs a commuters right to save some time.

We should force our elected officials (or elect new ones) to find robust ways to keep the neighborhood streets quiet. That probably means things like closing streets, no turn signs, and increased enforcement.


1 person likes this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:17 am

@Ray

1) Thank you for your update on the SC sidewalks. When that is completed it will be a great day for MP.
2) In you comment you present evidence that is NOT provided in the article. The only evidence in the article is the video which to someone reading the article and viewing the video proves nothing. The "reporter" could have used presented this info as she spoke with you about this. She did not. Good reporting would have made the case and left little ambiguity in support of the head line. This article does not do this hence your need to further explain in the comments and present more evidence.

So you missed the point. It is not that the residents of the street have concerns, they do. My point is that the article/video did not support the claim made in the head line.


2 people like this
Posted by The rest of us
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:21 am

I appreciate that the no turn on red has resulted in new cut-through through traffic. I hope the city also addresses the problems with existing cut-through traffic. I have no problem with drivers using public streets. But the fact is that commuters tend to drive at unsafe speeds, ignore pedestrians in crosswalk, and otherwise endanger residents. There is no enforcement. The police are never in our neighborhood to stop speeders, and they themselves violate pedestrians' right to cross in crosswalks. This is a city-wide problem that will only get worse as traffic increases.


1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:05 pm

The rest of us - how do you know that commuters drive as you described and that residents don't? Where is your proof? What's your definition of a commuter?

Gosh, it's a good thing that you don't mind people driving on public streets, because that's their intended use.

MPer - you brought up important points, thank you.


7 people like this
Posted by Safe Driver
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm

"The rest of us" makes the sensible point. If this is about speeding or reckless driving, then let's figure out how to address that. If it's simply about not wanting cars on a road where cars previously weren't usually there, then it's harder to be sympathetic.

For example, I quite often cut through Lindenwood to avoid traffic and intersections. I do this legally and at or below the posted speed limit. I also laugh a bit at the yellow "No Through Traffic" sign that I see near Menlo Atherton High School and Oak Grove Avenue. I'm sorry, but as long as it's a public road and I'm obeying all traffic laws, I don't for one minute think that a neighborhood can simply decide who gets to use a road.

Find ways to enforce the speed limits or other infractions. That's the real answer.


5 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:52 pm

A little speed limit enforcement would do Menlo Park some good. You can't ban people from driving on public roads, but you can choose to strictly enforce traffic laws on those roads.


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

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