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.