News

Street parking could be removed on stretch of Middle Avenue

 

Members of Menlo Park's Complete Streets Commission voted 6-0 on April 10 to recommend that the City Council permit the removal of more than 100 street parking spaces on both sides of Middle Avenue, between Olive Street and San Mateo Drive.

Among the reasons commissioners gave for the decision are that the current conditions are unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians, especially those who are children, and that "density is coming," in the words of Commissioner Michael Meyer. Stanford University is constructing a large multi-use development on Middle Avenue at El Camino Real.

In public comments, several residents of Middle Avenue said they agreed that the current conditions are unsafe, but asked that some street parking be allowed to remain.

Ultimately, however, the commission went for the safest option for cyclists and pedestrians.

"Our built environment is really lopsided in favor of cars. We don't treat people walking or people biking as if they are as important as someone driving a car, and that needs to change," said Commissioner Bianca Walser.

The commission also recommended that staff look into traffic calming measures at the intersection of Middle Avenue and San Mateo Drive and explore the possibility of lowering the speed limit to 25 miles per hour. As part of a separate project, the city has received grant funding to build a "rectangular rapid flashing beacon" crosswalk at that intersection, according to a staff report.

The city of Menlo Park has a grant to resurface this segment of Middle Avenue and wants to design and plan the striping to include bike lanes.

The commission was tasked with deciding whether to eliminate parking on one side of the road and install narrower bike lanes, or to remove parking on both sides of the roadway and install wider, 8-foot-wide bike lanes with 3-foot-wide buffer areas. Commissioners opted for the latter, which would eliminate 67 parking spots on the north side of Middle Avenue and 51 spots on the south side.

The city could install bike lanes along the remainder of Middle Avenue, with potential construction of other segments running from San Mateo Drive to El Camino Real in 2022, according to the staff report.

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Comments

19 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2019 at 6:32 pm

I take it none of these commissioners live on Middle.
Since the main concern is student safety to and from school how about no parking both sides only during school travel hour Mon -Fri 7-9am and 1-4pm. And only no parking on one side the other hours. We already have Santa Cruz no parking for bike lanes and the impact on Middle residents would be far greater than the impact on Santa Cruz since so many more homes front Middle.


19 people like this
Posted by Safety first
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Safety first. Publicly subsidized car parking should be way down on our list of priorities.


24 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 16, 2019 at 7:59 am

DO you think this is over reacting? What about the people who live on Middle -- where are their guests supposed to park? So parking is eliminated on just this portion of the street what happens on other areas.

Middle Ave is wide enough to accommodate both bikes and cars. Since I live downtown, I don't see this influx of bikes. MP eliminated parking on Oak Grove and realigned the street striping which can be confusing.

I ride my bike plenty and advocate safety. Let's find a workable balance rather than over reacting.


13 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 16, 2019 at 10:07 am

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Middle is definitely wide enough to accommodate bikes and cars. It's just not wide enough to safely accommodate bikes, pedestrians, drivers, and parked cars/trucks.

This stretch of Middle is in many ways similar to Santa Cruz Avenue: it has a higher speed limit (and more speeding vehicles), heavy morning/commute-time traffic, and a lot of single-family homes with driveways. It is an important bike route for kids heading to Oak Knoll and Hillview, as well as for commuters and recreational cyclists. But it is narrower than Santa Cruz Avenue, and it lacks consistent sidewalks for pedestrians, who currently share that generous shoulder with folks on bikes. One of the proposals would have narrowed the space that bikes and pedestrians currently share.

We struggle in this community with congestion but we have limited public right-of-way. These streets aren't going to get wider, even as our population grows–and we need that space to move people places efficiently and safely. Using it to store private vehicles at the expense of mobility is the wrong choice.


4 people like this
Posted by Margo
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 16, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Just FYI, isn't Stanford's project on el Camino at Middle and not on Middle at el Camino. Or have I missed that Safeway is being removed, or the Shell station?


4 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 16, 2019 at 1:17 pm

Dana Hendrickson is a registered user.

I really like the Complete Streets Commission's proposal for bike lanes between University and El Camino as this section of Middle narrows as one rides east of Nealon, and the Safeway Plaza and Shell Station have a steady stream of vehicles entering and exiting their locations. The section between San Mateo and Olive is very different, e.g., more homes, wider lanes and fewer distractions.

One of "Whatever's ideas is worth serious consideration: enable parking in new bike lanes EXCEPT during the hours when students are traveling between home, Oak Knoll and Hillview. The benefits of completely banning parking seems small in comparison to the inconvenience it creates for homeowners and this would likely cause significant resentment. The other cyclists I see every day on Middle appear to have no problems biking on this section of Middle.

(I also think this would have been a better solution on Oak Grove east of El Camino.)


9 people like this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 16, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Robert Cronin is a registered user.

Middle is not really wide enough for cars, bikes and parked cars. You can either remove some parking and stripe bike lanes or paint shared-lane markings and drive your car at the speed of the bicycle in front of you. The competition in this case is not between motorists and cyclists, but between motorists and residents who don't want to use their driveways.


17 people like this
Posted by Jenna
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 16, 2019 at 2:07 pm

For many years, I have thought the City should have a Golden (senior) Citizen commission to also review recommendations to remove parking and give input regarding other issues that directly impact older residents. There seems to be a lack of understanding as to the needs of those who are unable to ride bikes or even walk a few blocks. Parking spaces are extremely important to those who have caregivers, relatives, friends, housekeepers, who participate in helping many 'age in place'. I hope the City Council and residents will consider a new commission to help address and give input when it comes to issues that will negatively impact a significant and important group of people who also live in Menlo Park.


5 people like this
Posted by sjtaffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 16, 2019 at 4:12 pm

sjtaffee is a registered user.

In my view, a higher priority for eliminating parking is along Menlpo Avenue between El Camino Real and University.

Talk about taking your life into your hands as a bike rider! The area by TJ's is particularly fraught.

But overall, we need to make cyclists safer. Unfortunately, it might take a serios incident for some people to be convinced.

steve taffee


12 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2019 at 8:00 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

This is ridiculous. For everyone that rides a bike, there are at least ten that drive a car. Let's not go down the same moronic road as San Francisco trying to force everyone out of their cars. If there was actually public transportation that served the needs of this community this might make sense. Since it doesn't, it doesn't. You going to ride your bike in the rain? Duh, NO. If you have to drive for your employment are you going to ride a bike. Uh, NO.


5 people like this
Posted by Compromise
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 8:07 am

Can’t 2 bike lanes fit with parking on one side for at least a portion of this section of Middle? Did the discussions consider the city setbacks on Middle properties?

Complete removal disrupts safe and easy access for senior/disabled visitors who can’t easily navigate being parked down a long block and around the corner, and for workers and delivery vehicles, including USPS.

The complete elimination of parking on Santa Cruz has created problems with the above and pushed parking of trucks and cars onto even narrower side streets. For example, San Mateo/Wallea Dr is a designated bike route with odd intersections very near Middle and Santa Cruz. That route can’t safely take extra parked vehicles, especially trucks, for that route to be safe. The safety in the section near Santa Cruz Ave. has been adversely affected by the parking ban on Santa Cruz, with little visibility when vehicles are parked, also forcing bikes and vehicles going both directions into a single lane.
Don't make the same mistake.


3 people like this
Posted by Averagel Adult Bicyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:53 am

I agree with sjtaffee. Bike lanes would he much more beneficial on Menlo Avenue. I bet two-way "protected" bike lanes could be installed on the south side Menlo opposite TJ's. There are very few crossing intersections, e.g., Evelyn and Crane so minimal potential conflicts with vehicles. Parking would remain on the north side. The lost parking currently has no time limits so it is essentially FREE daily permit parking.


15 people like this
Posted by Jen Wolosin
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Apr 17, 2019 at 2:22 pm

Jen Wolosin is a registered user.

Unfortunately, this article failed to capture the extremely low utilization rates of parking along the two streets. As stated by the Staff and Consultant at the meeting, approximately 3-5 cars are typically parked on each side of the stretch of Middle at any time, and even fewer, about 2 or 3, on Santa Cruz Avenue. The problem with allowing these few cars to remain is that they require cyclists to swerve into the street to avoid the "door zone". 9 year olds on bikes + swerving + 30mph (even 25mph) vehicular speeds = bad.

As stated at the Complete Streets meeting, there are approximately 55 kids ages 10 and under who ride along Middle every day to and from school. The number of kids riding on Middle will increase drastically once the Middle Avenue Undercrossing is built (current timeline is 2022) and Hillview students from the Willows, Linfield Oaks and other areas will be able to go from one side of town to the other via this route. And with the Stanford project at 500 El Camino Real coming online, there will also be increased adult cycling to/from Stanford and increased car traffic.

The commission was absolutely justified in coming up their recommendation to build the highest quality/safest bike infrastructure possible.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Boomer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:21 pm

Fellow Automotive-Americans: Do NOT worry that this Council is going to make a "tough call" for "safety". With the red light cameras, they could've turned that down for any number of focused reasons, but they basically rejected the idea of ANY traffic enforcement! Drew Combs and Ray Mueller are not going to have the courage to take away subsidized private automobile storage, c'mon. Worst case scenario, they call for ~more studies~, which is code for "status quo wins".


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Menlo Boomer:

The council rejected red light cameras because there is ZERO evidence that they work. If you can come up with any evidence that they do, please enlighten us.


6 people like this
Posted by Average Adult Bicyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Bicyclists riding on the section of Middle currently do NOT need to swerve into the vehicle lanes to avoid the door zone of parked cars. There is plenty of room on the eastbound side and while the passing zone on the westbound side is narrower, It is easy to see whether there is a driver a car. Remember ALL bicyclists should cautiously pass parked cars. (This problem is REAL on Menlo Avenue.) 3-5 parked cars on each side at one time may seem like a small number, the bigger concern is how many motorists would be inconvenienced by lost parking during an entire day including evenings if parking was banned at all hours. Why penalize homeowners, their guests, gardeners, other service personnel to provide a questionable increase in bike safety during the short time that elementary and Middle School students travel to and from school. Hillview students are more skilled at riding bikes than many adults. Must be the experience gained from riding skateboards!


5 people like this
Posted by Political
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:03 pm

@menloboomer spare us the political grudges.

Combs won. Mueller endorsed him. Get over it.


4 people like this
Posted by Middle Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:46 pm

I ride my bike regularly on Santa Cruz, University and Middle.

Yes, I commute to work Rain or Shine and during rush hours.

I have the authority to comment on this from a cyclist perspective.

Just removing parking and striping silly lanes nobody observes is NOT going to make pedestrians and cyclists on said roads safer.

In fact cars, will then go even FASTER on these streets as sight lines are unobstructed and the road is "wide open".

I very often clock cars on all 3 streets already going 10+ over the speed limit.
Not that I have ever seen enforcement in this area in over 10 years.

We need more functional furniture (stop-signs, speed bumps) on these streets.
This way cyclists and cars can co-exist at similar speeds, and not being opponents with a large speed differential that kills the weak.

So do first a pedestrian or cyclist needs to die on Santa Cruz, University or Middle?

I rarely use the I word, but what the city bureaucrats do under the mantle of bike-friendliness, really borders on that diocy.

Or is there a totally different hidden agenda?


1 person likes this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Jenna, thank you for your comments. Problem-specific or topic-specific planning eforts, however well-intentioned, seem to often have unintended consequences such as the problems for seniors and their caregivers that you write about. I'd love to see a community-led overall strategic plan for our City, or at least this kind of planning effort at the neighborhood level. We also need a robust and inclusive community engagement process. While everyone might not be happy with the end result, we've got to do a better job of including the voices of all concerned parties in the decision-making process.

I mainly write to say that the World Health Organization has an Age Friendly Cities and Communities Initiative due to the general aging of the world's population. Web Link Your idea of a MP commission focused on the "golden" adults is an excellent idea! I hope that you will put your idea into a formal proposal to Council! Santa Clara County made a commitment to have each of its cities become designated Age Friendly Cities and I believe that all have now done so. Web Link Last I checked, San Mateo County did not have a similar goal. However, Menlo Park could commit to becoming an Age Friendly City and this would help us to become a more progressive city. Web Link At the WHO's broader website on the topic, you will also see links to more information including a link to the Age Friendly World website Web Link That might give you ideas. Thanks again for your comment.


Like this comment
Posted by compromise
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2019 at 3:10 pm

One of the problems Menlo Park has is trying to address safe circulation for bikes and peds in separate chunks rather than comprehensively. This results in whack-a-mole solutions that cause problems elsewhere such as removing parking one place to help bikes, rather than widen a street into the CITY's setback, pushing cars to other places where bikes go. Or by removing parking on both sides of the street rather than on only one side of the street, again pushing parked vehicles onto other streets where bikes go. The San Mateo bike route is heavily used every day of the week. Additional parking pushed onto that is a recipe for unsafe conditions for those bikers. If you don't use this route, you don't understand the problem.

Our population is aging, and the makeup of neighborhoods will change. Decisions like this must consider more than a snapshot of today and more than tunnelvision on only a piece of the overall circulation needs.


1 person likes this
Posted by ol' Homeboy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 19, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Average Adult Cyclist and Middle Cyclist have it right. The current striped lanes on both sides of Middle are wide enough for parked cars and cyclists or pedestrians to share. Our three children rode their bikes to Oak Knoll and Hillview everyday, rain or shine, and never had a problem negotiating parked cars while enroute to and from school.
Believe me, when the multiple-use compound gets built on the old car dealership property, traffic on Middle will be at a gridlock standstill in the morning. The parking lot will be in the middle of Middle, not on the perimeter. Already cars are backed up 10 deep at University and Middle every morning - diverting traffic through Allied Arts residential streets. Kids on bikes are more likely to get hit by these "diverting" drivers on their own street than on Middle! This proposal is about as absurd as the circle barriers that the town installed on Santa Cruz Ave., then had to remove at the cost of about $600,000. Stop the unnecessary madness. Make Menlo Park Great Again.


4 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 19, 2019 at 5:33 pm

Is there room for parking on one side and protected bike lanes in one direction? We don't have great enforcement. If there is no parking on either side, I bed there will always be at least one car for the cyclists to go around.

Also, will they consider the garbage placement before building this time? On garbage day, the Hillview students on Santa Cruz are often dangerously weaving to avoid hitting the barrels.


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