News


Tonight: Are bike lanes in El Camino Real's future?

 

Each day, as many as 45,000 cars make the slow, jolting traverse through Menlo Park along El Camino Real.

How to make that traverse less excruciating, more safe and more friendly to alternative modes of transit were questions that resulted in a $459,713 study by traffic engineering consultant group W-Trans.

On Tuesday night, May 3, the Menlo Park City Council could decide which option it favors for El Camino Real.

The study yielded four options:

● Do nothing.

● Remove street parking and have three continuous vehicle lanes going each way.

● Remove street parking and install bike lanes, with buffers painted on the road.

● Remove street parking and install bike lanes, which would be buffered by the physical separation of 3-foot wide curbs or planters.

Converting the street to three car lanes each direction would be expected to increase traffic demand by 64 percent in the morning and 47 percent in the evening. Pedestrians would likely be less comfortable having to cross additional traffic lanes.

Eighty-eight street parking spots, all north of Roble Avenue, would be removed, according to the consultants' analysis of each alternative.

Creating bike lanes between Sand Hill Road and Encinal Avenue in both directions with a painted buffer would not increase traffic demand, the consultants say. Pedestrians would have increased comfort. Street parking – a total of 156 spots – would be removed throughout the entire stretch of El Camino in Menlo Park. The average travel time to drive on El Camino Real between Encinal and Roble avenues would be 4.5 to 6 minutes.

Adding a bike lane for the same stretch, only in this scenario using three-foot wide raised curb or planter would have the same impact on parking (a loss of 156 street parking spots on El Camino Real), and would yield an average travel time for drivers of 4.7 to 6.9 minutes, consultants say.

Past meetings

In April 2015, the Menlo Park Planning Commission unanimously supported installing buffered bike lanes along El Camino Real, but opposed the plan's proposal to remove 11 heritage trees.

Existing vehicle lanes would be reduced by 1 to 3 feet, street parking would be removed along El Camino Real north of Roble Avenue, and a 3-foot bike buffer between the bike and vehicle lanes would painted on the road.

In August 2015, the report went before the Menlo Park City Council, which asked the staff to gather additional data.

City staff members have contacted ehe Menlo Park Fire Protection District, businesses on El Camino Real, neighboring cities and Caltrans. They have developed metrics to determine what would constitute a "successful" trial of the bike lanes. They have counted bike traffic on nearby streets.

For the May 3 council meeting, the staff recommends that the city postpone a pilot project on El Camino and instead wait until Atherton and Palo Alto have discussed what they plan to do on El Camino Real.

By doing so, the staff says, the city could reallocate money set aside for the pilot program – between $250,000 and $1.2 million – to work on other transportation projects in the city. The city would be able to work on adding bike lanes and pedestrian safety features to improve east-west connectivity in the city.

Early responses

As of the evening of May 2, the council has received four emails favoring buffered bike lanes, and 10 opposed.

One supporter of bike lanes is Janelle London, an employee of Menlo Spark, a nonprofit seeking to make Menlo Park climate neutral by 2025.

In an email to the council, she said: "Please support the safest designs available to protect the hundreds of people walking and bicycling on El Camino Real every day."

Another supporter is Adina Levin, a transportation commissioner. She argues that "Bike lanes on El Camino Real will be valuable even if neighboring cities do not yet provide continuous facilities." Short, one- to two-mile trips within Menlo Park usually done by car on El Camino Real could be switched to bike trips if lanes were added. It could also enable people to go shopping by bike at businesses along El Camino Real.

Another point bike-lane supporters give is that converting the parking lane to a vehicular through-lane would not decrease traffic, according to the W-Trans consultants.

"Your traffic study has already shown that removing parking and adding bike lanes to ECR will not have a significant impact on peak traffic flow," wrote Dave Roise in an email. "Please don't wait for action from our neighboring cities or listen to the dittoheads from Menlo Park's Past. Instead, please direct your staff to move forward as soon as possible."

Those who oppose bike lanes have heated arguments, too. Menlo Park resident J. Barton Phelps emailed the council this message: "I have never, ever read about nor heard anything so wrongheaded, stupid, or worse than the idea to narrow the travelled surface of ECR (already jammed beyond its capacity) to provide bike lanes."

One recurring concern by naysayers is that having bikes along El Camino Real would be unsafe. "If you vote for the Bike Lanes, a bicyclist will probably die because of your votes," said Pat White.

Former council member Lee Duboc proposed that the city consider putting an advisory initiative on the ballot.

To see what happens, go to the Menlo Park City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 3, starting at 7 p.m. at the council chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Menlo Park Civic Center. See the meeting agenda, read the staff report or the consultant report, or watch the meeting online.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Horses
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Bicycles can be fun. Dangerous but fun before the crash. There are at least three other possibilities not presented (1) bring back transportation by horse, (2) admit that the real decisions about El Camino Real have already been made by a "Star Chamber" group calling itself the grand boulevard initiative (GBI) task force with the members controlled by puppeteers, or (3) stop cramming more residents and workers into this transportation corridor.


31 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 3, 2016 at 8:12 am

Street parking makes El Camino more dangerous for pedestrians and car drivers. Get rid of it already.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 9:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It makes as much sense to add bike lanes to ECR as it would to add airplane lanes.

ECR is a critical automobile and emergency response route - it should not be compromised by adding bike lanes and the existing parking should be removed wherever there are less than three thru lanes.


31 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2016 at 9:59 am

Hi Peter, I know it's a common misconception, but airplanes aren't used for traveling short distances – bikes are.


25 people like this
Posted by Bruce
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2016 at 10:12 am

Peter, the emergency vehicles would be able to use the buffered bike lanes, whereas that lane currently is parked cars. This plan would increase access for emergency vehicles, not decrease it.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 10:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" the emergency vehicles would be able to use the buffered bike lanes,"

A safe bike lane would be one that is physically buffered from traffic - paint provides ZERO protection and only the illusion of safety.

Emergency vehicles could NOT use a properly buffered bike lane.


26 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 3, 2016 at 10:48 am

Street parking is a hazard to cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and emergency vehicles. Menlo Parking-lot is already grossly over-parked relative to what's actually used - just get rid of it already!

Buffered bike lanes actually do provide an increase in safety. Ideally, the buffer could be something like a Jersey barrier, but even without that - buffered bike lanes increase the margin of error for both cyclists and drivers, provide cues on where everybody should go, and provide a psychological barrier that says "This is bicycling space"

Don't let perfect get in the way of better!


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 10:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

ECR is a State HIGHWAY.

Here are the State Design Standards:

" Bike paths closer than 1.5 m from the edge of the shoulder shall include a physical barrier to prevent bicyclists from encroaching onto the highway."


18 people like this
Posted by whocares
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 3, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Peter-"- paint provides ZERO protection and only the illusion of safety."

As others have said, this is false. It has been proven false in studies. Removing parked cars and painting bike lanes has been shown to reduce accidents by 50%.


Peter- " Bike paths closer than 1.5 m from the edge of the shoulder shall include a physical barrier to prevent bicyclists from encroaching onto the highway."

I haven't seen detailed designs.
Would the bike paths on ECR be closer than 1.5m from the edge?
Sunnyvale put bike lanes on ECR (A STATE HIGHWAY!!!) with just paint.
Do you have any evidence that the current paint only option doesn't meet state design standards, or are you throwing that out there for no reason but obfuscation?

And, as pointed out, these would actually improve things for emergency response over the existing conditions.

As MP Resident says "Don't let perfect get in the way of better!"

P.S. Where's Dana? There's bike lanes to be railed against!


Like this comment
Posted by COMMUTE
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 3, 2016 at 12:07 pm

3 LANES PLEASE PLEASE


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Removing parked cars and painting bike lanes has been shown to reduce accidents by 50%."

Please provide documentation for this claim.

******************************

"If you are going to be killed by a car while riding a bicycle, there’s a good chance you are male, older than 20 and living in California or Florida."

Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Bike Lanes, Please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Bike lanes on ECR will facilitate getting people out of cars and using bicycles or walking. People who are walking or biking are taking a car off the road = helping traffic and the environment. Take out parking. Put in buffered bike lanes.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"San Mateo County Comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan

Bike and Pedestrian Safety

Between 2004 and 2008, an average of 217 bicyclists and 270 pedestrians were injured in traffic collisions in San Mateo County each year. During this same period, a total of 13 bicyclists and 46 pedestrians were killed in traffic collisions. Fatalities of bicyclists and pedestrians comprise a significant percentage of all traffic fatalities in San Mateo County. Between 2004 and 2008, bicyclist fatalities a
ccounted for 8 percent of all traffic fatalities and pedestrian fatalities accounted for 27 percent. In comparison, these modes comprise only 1.5 and 10 percent of all trips for the Bay Area.
Most collisions are concentrated in urban areas of the county, particularly along the El Camino Real corridor. Bicycle collisions also show a concen
tration at the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 92 and in Montara.
Pedestrian collisions show a concentration along Mission Street in Daly City."

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Do you have any evidence that the current paint only option doesn't meet state design standards,"


Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 3, 2016 at 1:01 pm

As a Oak Grove property owner I have already been told that we will lose all of our street parking (106 spaces) for the new bike boulevard from MA and now the city is proposing to eliminate 156 spaces on El Camino so in total the city is eliminating 262 spaces for bicyclist ? With no parking structures and an existing parking shortage the city council will succeed in driving out all the small businessses as a 40 year retailer I have seen it all and once again no solutions just pandering to certain groups don't count on any new retailers coming to Menlo Park it is already known as the most business unfriendly city in the area congratulations MP on a job well done that took decades to accomplish.


3 people like this
Posted by dana hendickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Bike safety is directly correlated with the number and types of existing conflict points, places where motorists and bicyclists cross paths = public driveways and intersections. The safest are controlled with traffic lights. The spaces between these places are rarely sources of safety problems. The Menlo Park stretch of El Camino Real is 1.6 miles long and has EIGHTY driveways and intersections where bikes and vehicles cross paths and only a few have light signals. Therefore, El Camino is inherently a dangerous place for all riders, certainly much less safe than a nearby north-south bike corridor on Alma and Garwood Way between Encinal and Willow.

So, El Camino bike lanes would be less safe, more stressful (cars traveling 35 to 40 mph nearby), and not significantly more convenient than the best alternative for bike travel to MOST popular destinations inside and outside Menlo Park.

Learn more about ECR bike lanes at Web Link on Re-Imagine Menlo Park.


6 people like this
Posted by CommonSense
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 3, 2016 at 1:25 pm

I bike to work every single weekday. I would NEVER make ECR part of my commute by bicycle. Next we'll be talking about adding bike lanes to 101 or 280. Let the cars have ECR and take advantage of the bike bridges over the creek. Spend the money instead on a new bike bridge over the creek at the end of University into the Shopping Center. Drivers on ECR are not attuned to bikes and they will not be as they are trying to drive 35-45 mph on a state highway. Let's "keep 'em separated"!


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the Governors' Report:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 3, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Peter-"Please provide documentation for this claim."

It has been provided on threads here on the Almanac before:

Web Link

And when asked ""Do you have any evidence that the current paint only option doesn't meet state design standards," you merely provide a link to the standards.

In your third pst, ou implied that paint only would not meet standards. Paint only HAS BEEN implemented in Sunnyvale.

Thanks for the link to the standards. I assume the people who designed and proposed the paint only option were aware of them.

Again, do you have any evidence that the current paint only option doesn't meet state design standards?

If not, don't imply that they won't.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Whatever - Great citation - it is worth actually reading it!

"Results. Of 14 route types, cycle tracks had the lowest risk (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.54), about one ninth the risk of the reference: major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. Risks on major streets were lower without parked cars (adjusted OR = 0.63; 95% CI = 0.41, 0.96) and with bike lanes (adjusted OR = 0.54; 95% CI = 0.29, 1.01). Local streets also had lower risks (adjusted OR = 0.51; 95% CI = 0.31, 0.84). Other infrastructure characteristics were associated with increased risks: streetcar or train tracks (adjusted OR = 3.0; 95% CI = 1.8, 5.1), downhill grades (adjusted OR = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.7, 3.1), and construction (adjusted OR = 1.9; 95% CI = 1.3, 2.9).

Conclusions. The lower risks on quiet streets and with bike-specific infrastructure along busy streets support the route-design approach used in many northern European countries.



Read More: Web Link&

******

The "the route-design approach used in many northern European countries." ALWAYS includes physical barriers and or physical separation of bicycles from automobiles.


2 people like this
Posted by Whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 3, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Yeah, it is a great link.

To highlight my point:

"Risks on major streets were lower without parked cars ... and with bike lanes .. OR = 0.54"

Sure a physically separated cycle track would be great. Ain't gonna happen.
As MP Resident says "Don't let perfect get in the way of better!"

Any evidence the painted bike lanes don't meet those standards to which you linked?


2 people like this
Posted by Biking Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 3, 2016 at 3:05 pm

I'm a driver AND a commuter cyclist. My children both ride their bikes, scooters or skateboards to and from school. I support bike lanes of any kind on ECR. I avoid riding my bike on ECR usually but sometimes I need to get to Menlo Velo or Safeway Shopping Center from the library neighborhood. If some of the proposed development includes a bike/pedestrian tunnel under the train tracks near Middle Rd, I believe increased improvements for bikes and pedestrians around this part of ECR can only enhance the efforts in both projects. I agree with others that more people on bikes reduces the number of cars and makes Menlo a more human friendly place both to live and to drive through. I'm very sympathetic to cars but removing parking spots on ECR and installing bike lanes is not going to worsen that commute. I just visited the Telegraph Avenue project in downtown Oakland the last 2 weekends and they're project includes putting a lane of parking *between* the bike lane and the traffic lane. It takes a little getting used to but it is COOL!! Check it out:

Web Link




2 people like this
Posted by No more parking
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 3:13 pm

So very happy to hear that we might *finally* be getting rid of parking along El Camino and replacing it with dedicated bike lanes.

One of the benefits of being a laggard is that there are now decades of experience on how other countries and major cities have successfully designed shared roads of all types, including those with traffic volumes and speeds consistent with this section of El Camino.

Now, we don't have to figure this out on our own, so to speak. We can adopt best practices and get on with it.


Like this comment
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 3:51 pm

No more parking: I do not believe a professional bike network design firm has actually designed (or evaluated) the "solution" Menlo Park has considered for bike facilities on ECR, assessed its value, nor evaluated the negative impacts. I am confident that the other cities you mentioned actually use professional. For example, most Peninsula cities have used Alta Planning & Design and they have not recommended bike lanes on the other city sections of El Camino. Can you guess why? You can view other city bike network plans on my website. View the Bike Network Design Library at Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm

Peter- " Bike paths closer than 1.5 m from the edge of the shoulder shall include a physical barrier to prevent bicyclists from encroaching onto the highway."

Bike paths are not being proposed for El Camino Real; bike lanes are
being proposed. There is a difference between a bike path and a bike lane.
Check your sources of information, Peter.


4 people like this
Posted by mpcyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on May 3, 2016 at 4:51 pm

The number of businesses along El Camino and El Camino feeders has increased in recent years drawing many more people into the area. As a result, traffic has gotten worse and cycling has become a lot more dangerous in this important corridor as well as throughout San Mateo County. Since we are talking only about El Camino, as a cyclist I am strongly opposed to bike lanes on that road. Find better, safer alternatives. If narrowing the roadway has been shown to reduce the amount of traffic it only means that you've slowed it down, lengthened the commute for many and, in addition, forced a lot of it onto side streets where they also compete with bicyclists seeking safer alternate routes

Our public transportation infrastructure is minimal at best. The bus service along El Camino sucks and there is only one rail service for the entire peninsula with people still having to drive to get to the stations. The best way to improve the traffic situation (imho) is to significantly improve public transportation infrastructure by adding more rail lines, possibly along the 280 corridor, and adding viable transportation options (viable bus or shuttle services) for communities that need access to rail termini all along the peninsula. All this requires vision, planning, coordination and cooperation within and between communities that lie along the El Camino corridor and we’ve had far too little of that except for the loosely constituted and largely ineffective JPB.

This problem has been decades in the making, will require decades more to solve, was entirely foreseeable and now that we have reached a crisis, we are still debating how best to apply band-aids to a situation that, by all accounts, requires major surgery. All I know, at this point, is that adding bicycle lanes to El Camino will only make problems worse, not better. Might as well add bike lanes to 101 and 280 while you’re at it.

Fortunately I am too old to see how this will play out in the next 10 or 20 years but I hope the powers that be will do the right thing for this and future generations. Maybe, by then, single (or dual) occupancy self-driving cars will have solved the problem for us but I’m not gonna hold my breath.


Like this comment
Posted by Bert
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2016 at 8:43 pm

After spending, er, wasting $459,713 on a 'study' and the conclusion is that bikes on El Camino is a good idea? Menlo Park tax payers just got fleeced royally by their city council and/or city staff, whom ever escorted this 'study through the approval process.

Coincidentally, Palo Alto is determined to 'improve' it's very well known and used Bryant bike route by removing cross traffic stop signs and installing traffic circles. The justification? You are more likely to survive the glancing collision with a car in a traffic circle than being T-boned by a car running a stop light. No, I'm not kidding. I am unaware of any such fatalities in Palo Alto, but none the less, Bryant bike path will be 'improved'.

I am willing to bet that none of the players in either MP or PA behind, or 'consulting' for each city bike anywhere, and have no basis for being 'experts' to make such recommendations.


5 people like this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 3, 2016 at 10:22 pm

I have lived in the Willows for almost forty years. During that time I have done almost all my grocery shopping at Safeway, and have of necessity cycled on ECR to get there. There is no alternative. Since bicyclists already ride on ECR and cannot be shunted onto other streets, it would be criminal not to make it safer to ride on ECR by eliminating parking and striping bike lanes. It would also help if the city would get off its backside and construct a bike-pedestrian under- crossing of the railroad tracks with a connection to the intersection of ECR and Middle Av. I can only hope that these projects will be completed in my lifetime.


Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 9:08 am

We already have a safe alternative, parallel to ECR...Laurel Strret, from Encinal through to Willow, then Alma to the bike bridge to Palo Alto!
Save the money & study this no further!


Like this comment
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 6, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Maybe Tom would like to go cycling with me while I do my shopping. He would quickly see that his alternate to El Camino is useless, and bike lanes on El Camino would be a very good idea.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Aaaaannnnndddd the Palo Altofication of Menlo Park is now complete. Inevitable but pathetic.


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

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