Portola Valley greenlights pursuit of pedestrian, bicyclist safety plan


Portola Valley's public works department received the go-ahead from the Town Council on Aug. 14 to proceed with a plan for a series of safety improvements to make its semi-rural streets and roads, which were mainly designed for cars, safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The recommendations for the improvements come from a study by San Mateo-based consultant Paul Krupka, which was based on input from three community meetings and a study session with council members over the past eight months, according to town Public Works Director Howard Young.

Because there are no traffic lights in town, vehicles can build up momentum, and drivers need more warning that a pedestrian crossing is ahead, accounting for the need for more visible crosswalks, signs and warning beacons, according to the study.

In many instances, pedestrian trails are used by schoolchildren to cross Alpine and Portola roads.

"The town was not built for traditional sidewalks," Young said.

The study recommends spending an estimated $285,000 on improvements at 15 locations, and sets three levels of urgency to help determine which projects should be completed first.

The council approved a budget of $295,000 for the project, and the town is applying for a grant from the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County to cover some or all of the costs, Young said.

One of the highest priority projects, and the most expensive at an estimated $92,000, is to relocate a crosswalk that is now on Portola Road near Brookside Drive and install road markings at the intersection of Portola and Corte Madera roads. The town would also install rapid-flashing warning beacons to alert drivers as they approach the new crosswalk.

A second high-priority project calls for installing a crosswalk sign, markings and flashing beacons at the intersection of Alpine Road and Golden Oak Drive at a cost of $55,000.

Other high priorities identified in the study include school signs and markings at Ormondale, Windmill, Woodside Priory and Corte Madera schools, which would cost a total of $28,000, and installing crosswalk signs and markings at the intersection of Portola and Alpine roads at a cost of $15,000.

Lower-priority items include vehicle speed monitors at the entrances to town on Portola and Alpine roads, and sets of crosswalk signs and markings where Portola Road intersects with Wyndham Drive, Farm Road, Westridge Drive and Grove Drive.

"The priorities were determined by the consultant from input from the (community) meetings," Young said. "The determination was systematic, with the schools being a priority."

Drivers routinely exceed the speed limit by an average of 5 miles per hour particularly on the main arteries of Alpine Road and Portola Road and the town had 43 collisions between 2014 and 2018, with 17 of them involving vehicles and bicycles, Krupka told the council.

There is limited advance notice or local visibility of crosswalks and traffic controls, according to the study.

Council members unanimously, though reluctantly, supported the need for flashing beacons at the two critical intersections of Portola, Brookside and Corte Madera, and at Alpine and Golden Oak.

"I don't like the flashing beacons, but they're needed," Mayor Ann Wengert said.

"I accept the flashing beacons, but they're a tough thing to swallow," added Councilman John Richards.

The council also agreed to use California Department of Transportation-approved signs, although they may not be the size and color the community might prefer to coordinate with the semi-rural landscape, according to the study.

The Caltrans signs are familiar to California drivers, making them easier to read and recognize. Familiarity with the signs might also reduce drivers' perception and reaction time, according to the study.

The town will finalize project plans and await word about whether it receives grant funding before moving forward with improvements.

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24 people like this
Posted by Bikes!
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Aug 22, 2019 at 3:36 pm

How about doing something about the bikers. They always ride side by side and create a big hazard when cars need to go around, often veering into opposing lanes of traffic. I’ve seen giant groups of bikers nearly run over people waiting to cross at stop signs, they think the law doesn’t apply to them

15 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Aug 22, 2019 at 7:42 pm

The title of the article says "bicyclist safety", but I do not see anything in the article related to bicyclists. Is that just click-bait to attract the anti-bicyclist trolls (like the previous comment)?

Regarding pedestrian safety, the easiest way to do that is to lower the speed limit and aggressively enforce it. Speed kills.

17 people like this
Posted by Bikes kill, too
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Aug 22, 2019 at 10:19 pm

Speed does kill. But it’s not limited to cars. A biker traveling at 15mph could do some serious damage or even kill a child or elderly person. Let’s be objective and look at *all* road users, not just pointing fingers at cars

12 people like this
Posted by Yes
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 23, 2019 at 6:11 am

After we look at the users who have been killing thousands upon thousands on our roads we'll look at the other far less worrisome users, but first we need to control those doing the most harm wrt causing the most personal injuries, property damage and death. Death upon death upon death.
Mindless bike haters are so 1990.

22 people like this
Posted by BikeGuy
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Aug 23, 2019 at 8:31 am

Do some cyclists speed? ✅ Do some cyclists approaching stop signs not stop? ✅ Do some cyclists approaching pedestrian occupied crosswalks not yield? ✅ Do some cyclists routinely violate California Vehicle Code throughout Portola Valley and the surrounding unincorporated county roads? ✅

I am a cyclist but advocate safe riding. So before the keyboard warriors lay waste and places me in the troll category, do realize there is a systemic bidirectional safety issue in the Portola Valley Area. This issue isn’t exclusive to automobiles or the lack of painted safety controls on the roads. Los Altos places Bicycles Must Stop on their stop signs. I have personally witnessed deputies who sit at Alpine and Portola Roads waiting for vehicles to violate VC 22450(a) watch as cyclists speed through the same stop sign, yet do absolutely no enforcement actions.

The Portola Valley council has a duty to keep all citizens safe, not exclusively cyclists. Anything less is in my opinion a dereliction of their duties.

12 people like this
Posted by Actually, it's prioritizing based on harm done
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 23, 2019 at 9:03 am

Based on the history of harm done, it's logical and smart to first try to protect people from cars on the road since they are the (by far) largest taker of lives of any road user. That does not mean we ignore the lesser offender. The checklist above is a great example of offenses cars do as well, esp speeding and rolling stops, but the difference is that we have documented history of those offenders taking exponentially greater numbers of lives compared to cyclists. The numbers aren't even in the same ballpark. In fact I cannot remember a local story about a cyclist taking a life except for years ago in SF. To be sure, if it has happened around here, it was a rarity.

Look at it this way: It's like a dam that has a giant gushing leak and 2 smaller trickles. When the crew goes to fix the giant leak I think it would be silly to suggest they not make it a priority and help with the trickles.
The trickles cannot be ignored, but logic states you first address the biggest leak.

Same thing for protection against road deaths. Protect from the greatest harm first.
That's what this is about, protecting those on the road.

18 people like this
Posted by Crazy biker
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Aug 23, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Yesterday near Alpine Hills I saw a biker randomly decide to turn into oncoming traffic. This caused a car to swerve and nearly an accident. So I see how bikes can be just as dangerous. What if there had been people walking on the sidewalk? Bikers pose a great hazard and can’t be overlooked, and I agree with the commenter above the sheriff needs to do more bike enforcement for traffic violations

15 people like this
Posted by law abiding citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:47 pm

To: Actually, it's prioritizing based on harm done:

Now we get to the bottom of the twisted mind of cyclists who think they are entitled to ignore common courtesy and the CVC!

That is the rules you decide to apply?

So now Cyclists, with the lame excuse that they are more vulnerable, can make up new laws and break the existing vehicular code at will?

Meaning, I am at liberty to make up the law as I see fit?

Shame on you who treat public roads as your personal racetrack!


13 people like this
Posted by Yep, ugly
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 24, 2019 at 12:09 am

Nice, law abiding citizen!

Finally somebody who actually says it how it is!

I have a dash cam in my car, and actually cyclists are not as anonymous as they think they are (thanks to their desire to stand out as exceptional).

I dressed down a Woodside neighbor who ran (+10mph) a STOP and blatantly ignored my right of way in front of my kids the other day.

Unapologetic Pr%$ without children and social ties to the community.
Seems to be the norm around PV and Woodside nowadays.....

12 people like this
Posted by Action needed
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Aug 24, 2019 at 9:05 am

So after reading the article and the comments here, and also the Pv forum, it’s clear residents want something to be done. I think I will start petitioning the sheriff for bike enforcement esp. on weekends. I will make the petition and share it here

9 people like this
Posted by Petition
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Aug 24, 2019 at 2:12 pm

Hi all,
We’ve created this petition and wanted to disseminate it to the community. The petition urges the San Mateo county sheriff to enforce all laws of the road for all users to keep our communities safe. Please sign

Web Link

7 people like this
Posted by Little green checkmarks
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 24, 2019 at 11:21 pm

I agree that cyclists need to be much better about obeying the laws of the road. And I am a cyclist!

By the way, how did BikeGuy get little green checkmarks into the comment?

8 people like this
Posted by Speed bumps
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Aug 25, 2019 at 9:28 pm

Signage does nothing to slow drivers down.
You can decorate these roads up and down with Christmas lights and flashing billboards, and after a certain 'training period', everything will be back to the same old habits.

Only thing that works are physical speed limiters that make people worry about their cars. Rumble strips or a couple of humps would do the trick.
Alternatively, cities could just wait for the big potholes to show up (cheapest).

No, I am only half kidding, sadly.

16 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 12:54 pm

The below link to local traffic fatalities in just ONE WEEK(!) reads like a horrors story. Every death also affects the families and loved ones left behind. It's so sad.
Web Link

Protection is very welcome and obviously needed. Now, get those dozers growling and full steam ahead with implementation.
Thank you!

18 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 2:08 pm

One more Bay area life taken. One more bay area family devastated.
Web Link

It's not making the headlines, but it's like having mass casualty shootings going on every week on our roads. This doesn't even take into account the injuries and property damage caused. Protections are long over due. I know the cops are doing their best, but with so many yahoos behind the wheel, physical protections from them are needed.

43 people like this
Posted by Dog Walker
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Aug 26, 2019 at 4:08 pm

High time for that crosswalk at Alpine and Golden oak. It's like a nightly game of Frogger that I have to play to get myself and my lab across Alpine without some speeding car trying to kill one or both of us.
Honey and I can't wait to see the finished product.

Like this comment
Posted by Slow change
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Aug 27, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Having gone to a number of the meetings preceding this plan, I was hopeful about the consensus that measures should be done to avoid even one more injury (car drive, biker, pedestrian). Unfortunately I fear that the measures that have been adopted won’t even come close to addressing the real issues including cars driving at speed that are just too high. Automatic ticketing or traffic circles are probably the only things that would really work over time but there’s no way that would happen - the least restrictive solution will always win. It’s a shame because as soon as these measures are in place, victory will be declared and it will likely have no real impact on accident outcomes. I guess we’ll wait another 4 years to look at the stats and find out. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

4 people like this
Posted by Diane
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 27, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Perhaps some signage for bicyclists to stay in their bike lane would be useful. A lot of us veer around bicyclists to protect them as well as ourselves.

2 people like this
Posted by Speed bumps
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2019 at 6:10 pm


Do yourself and others a favor and reread the vehicular code as it pertains to all vehicles sharing a road safely, especially where it says "to the right AS FAR AS SAFELY POSSIBLE".

Some of your roads "bicycle lanes" ("" = left of the fog line) are neither safe for two of four wheeled vehicles.

Sad to see that nothing effective will be done.
That flashing light on Alpine NB at Ladera Oaks showing over 90% of drivers speeding, months after installation. But it is a really cool feature.
So much money wasted on a nice sign just showing motorists how far they og over the speed limit (all do speed


Like this comment
Posted by Nothing beats cops with radar
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 28, 2019 at 4:13 pm

You want people to slow down? Put cops on the streets with radar guns.
That's the only thing that gets me to reign the old 'Rati in a bit.

7 people like this
Posted by 85th percentile
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 31, 2019 at 3:19 pm

It is the law in California that speed limits must be set at the 85th percentile. I believe that alpine and Portola roads in particular have dangerously low speed limits and thus encouraging speeding when in reality the speed limit should be higher. If you look at the speed data, some of the speed limits are way below the 85th percentile and therefore not enforceable. I hope the town does raise the speed limit to at least 40 in all areas to match the flow of traffic, because currently the speed limits are not enforceable so any tickets are thrown out in court.

4 people like this
Posted by PV Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Nov 1, 2019 at 3:15 pm

The crosswalk beacons are GREAT news, especially for the one at Alpine and Golden Oak. Even driving slowly, carefully, and looking for waiting pedestrians, it's still super easy to miss seeing a person waiting. I'm SO glad they are finally addressing this!

As for cyclists, I don't think this is a "cyclist hating" community, but it is a community that values safety. I've had several cyclists do a sudden swerve or U-turn in front of me (both while I'm on a bike, and while I'm in a car) and it's just complete stupidity and egocentrism on their part. They could be injured/killed, and so could I, or people crossing the street, or people also driving in the opposite direction. That's what inspires the anger and resentment---we want to be safe here. Nobody wants to get hurt, or injure someone else, and when the cyclists put us all at risk, we get angry.

4 people like this
Posted by Bike trails
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Nov 2, 2019 at 3:22 pm

We should pass a law banning bikes from using alpine and Portola roads. We have designated trails for bikes along the entire stretch of both these roads, the bikers just choose not to utilize them. It’s a safety issue from my point of view and something needs to be done

14 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 3, 2019 at 8:11 am

kbehroozi is a registered user.

@bike trails, actually, you don't.

You have horse/hiking trails and a long paved multi-use trail between Arastradero and 280. But the dirt trails along the Portola Valley "loop" (along with the rest of the PV trail network) are not open to bikes.

It is perfectly legal to bike on the road in Portola Valley. Off-road, with a few notable exceptions? Notsomuch.

8 people like this
Posted by The Fixer
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2019 at 1:16 pm

I fixed the post, 2 posts above this one:

We should pass a law banning bikes from using alpine and Portola roads. I get irritated when I see them and I'd like to completely ban them so I do not encounter them. Even though the actual accident rates on this section of road show no increased danger, I'm going to claim it’s a safety issue from my point of view and say that something needs to be done to fix this issue that does not exist...because bike personally bother me. That's why I want them banned. Rap music is next on my list.

There, fixed it!

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

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