News

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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Comments

18 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


13 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.


12 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


9 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.


17 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.


13 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


9 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!

Seriously?
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!

Ugly!


9 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.....


8 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


6 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


5 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?


6 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.


38 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.


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