Atherton's town staff is recommending removing a lane from each side of El Camino Real in town to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, and reduce car accidents, according to a staff report that the City Council will review during a Wednesday, Nov. 6, study session.
The change would make the town's section of El Camino Real consistent with Menlo Park's configuration of the roadway — two lanes in each direction, according to the report, put together by Public Workers Director Robert Ovadia. Nearby cities such as Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City also envision bike lanes along El Camino Real, according to the report.
"The streetscape is auto-oriented and the experience for pedestrians and bicyclists is poor," according to the staff report. El Camino Real "is considered 'incomplete' since it is designated primarily for vehicular travel, with minimal or no facilities to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. There are no designated bicycle lanes, and though there are designated crossings and bus stops, there are no pedestrian facilities on El Camino Real in Atherton."
Providing a contiguous bike path through the town along El Camino will help promote alternative transportation modes, according to the staff report.
El Camino Real consistently ranks among the streets with the highest number of traffic collisions in town annually. From January to the end of September of this year, there have been 18 collisions on the roadway in Atherton. This is down from a high of 46 collisions in 2016 because of safety improvements to the roads by Caltrans, according to the staff report.
The town adopted a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in 2014, which recommended studying a two-way, shared-use trail along the west side of El Camino Real; 8-foot sidewalks with buffered bike lanes on both sides of the roadway; and transit-bicycle priority lanes with sidewalks, according to the staff report.
In 2016, the town approved a contract to develop a Complete Streets Plan for the El Camino to enhance safety and improve mobility, but terminated the project in early 2018 due to lack of funding, according to the staff report.
Council members can't take action on the item during the study session, but will provide feedback on their preferred roadway configuration.
At the same meeting, council members will review proposed changes to the town's heritage tree ordinance in light of a recent increase of dying heritage trees because of home construction and drought, according to a staff report.
The council may discuss amending financial penalties associated with damage and removal of heritage trees. Council members noted at a March meeting that these penalties may need to be higher to deter people from cutting down trees.
At the March meeting, Mayor Bill Widmer and Vice Mayor Rick DeGolia formed an ad-hoc subcommittee to work with staff to fine-tune the ordinance. The committee has asked staff to refine the proposed law for clearer implementation and enforcement, according to the staff report.
Town Planning Commission and Tree Committee members began studying possible changes to the ordinance in 2016.
The full meeting agenda can be viewed here.
The meeting takes place at 5 p.m. in Holbrook-Palmer Park's Pavilion, 150 Watkins Ave. in Atherton.