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Menlo Park council: Remove street parking along Middle Avenue

A pilot project would also add a new four-way stop and close Middle's Blake Street intersection

Bicyclist safety was top of mind for the Menlo Park City Council, which directed staff to draft a pilot project removing street parking from nearly the entire length of Middle Avenue. File photo by Michelle Le.

The Menlo Park City Council, at its Sept. 13 meeting, signaled it wants to remove street parking from both sides of Middle Avenue.

Amid increased worry about the safety of bicyclists, Menlo Park city staff proposed making changes to Middle Avenue to prevent accidents, including those caused by people in parked cars suddenly opening their doors. Staff asked the council for direction on adding several safety measures for bikers and pedestrians to Middle Avenue, and to adopt a resolution that would remove parking from one side of Middle Avenue, install a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Middle Avenue and San Mateo Drive and temporarily close Blake Street to vehicle traffic at Middle Avenue.

The council elected not to pass the resolution and instead directed city staff to return with a new resolution that creates a pilot program removing parking from both sides of the entire length of Middle Avenue, with the exception of some parallel parking in front of Nealon Park.

Maia Wolff, a resident of Middle Avenue, voiced concerns that residents weren't being listened to.

"Only three people who actually live on (Middle Avenue) were aware enough to get involved in the discussion, and everybody who lives on the street who commented is very clearly against elimination of parking," Wolff said. "(This) tells you that there's some sort of mismatch of desires here. It would affect us greatly ... Essentially making us bear the brunt of the rest of this project is probably worth considering."

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Council member Drew Combs shared the concerns about hearing from residents, suggesting that staff could go door-to-door on Middle Avenue to ask their opinions.

Council member Jen Wolosin said she went out and took pictures of children on bikes down Middle Avenue and the way that car doors and oncoming traffic posed a threat to kids riding to school, especially those who ride side-by-side.

Oak Knoll fifth graders practice bicycle safety during the school's Bicycle Rodeo on Sept. 19, 2008. File photo by Veronica Weber.

In the end, the council opted for a pilot program, giving the city the opportunity to gauge the effect on residents and on bicyclists before making any permanent changes.

"There should be opportunities for observation and measurement of what's going on on the side streets, the people living on Middle (Avenue), if it's really and going from an inconvenience to a hardship," Wolosin said.

City staff was directed to return with a new resolution that would authorize a pilot program removing parking from both sides of Middle Avenue, except for parallel parking in the area in front of Nealon Park. The new resolution would also close Blake Street at Middle Avenue, add a four-way stop sign at Middle Avenue and San Mateo Drive, and put adding a sidewalk on the south of Middle Avenue into the city's five-year Capital Improvement Program.

The new bike lanes on Middle Avenue are expected to be wider, with buffer zones separating them from traffic. Details about the bike lanes and pilot program won't be available until city staff returns with a resolution. A date for that has not yet been set.

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Cameron Rebosio
 
Cameron Rebosio joined the Almanac in 2022 as the Menlo Park reporter. She previously wrote for the Daily Californian and the Palo Alto Weekly. Read more >>

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Menlo Park council: Remove street parking along Middle Avenue

A pilot project would also add a new four-way stop and close Middle's Blake Street intersection

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Sep 15, 2022, 11:19 am

The Menlo Park City Council, at its Sept. 13 meeting, signaled it wants to remove street parking from both sides of Middle Avenue.

Amid increased worry about the safety of bicyclists, Menlo Park city staff proposed making changes to Middle Avenue to prevent accidents, including those caused by people in parked cars suddenly opening their doors. Staff asked the council for direction on adding several safety measures for bikers and pedestrians to Middle Avenue, and to adopt a resolution that would remove parking from one side of Middle Avenue, install a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Middle Avenue and San Mateo Drive and temporarily close Blake Street to vehicle traffic at Middle Avenue.

The council elected not to pass the resolution and instead directed city staff to return with a new resolution that creates a pilot program removing parking from both sides of the entire length of Middle Avenue, with the exception of some parallel parking in front of Nealon Park.

Maia Wolff, a resident of Middle Avenue, voiced concerns that residents weren't being listened to.

"Only three people who actually live on (Middle Avenue) were aware enough to get involved in the discussion, and everybody who lives on the street who commented is very clearly against elimination of parking," Wolff said. "(This) tells you that there's some sort of mismatch of desires here. It would affect us greatly ... Essentially making us bear the brunt of the rest of this project is probably worth considering."

Council member Drew Combs shared the concerns about hearing from residents, suggesting that staff could go door-to-door on Middle Avenue to ask their opinions.

Council member Jen Wolosin said she went out and took pictures of children on bikes down Middle Avenue and the way that car doors and oncoming traffic posed a threat to kids riding to school, especially those who ride side-by-side.

In the end, the council opted for a pilot program, giving the city the opportunity to gauge the effect on residents and on bicyclists before making any permanent changes.

"There should be opportunities for observation and measurement of what's going on on the side streets, the people living on Middle (Avenue), if it's really and going from an inconvenience to a hardship," Wolosin said.

City staff was directed to return with a new resolution that would authorize a pilot program removing parking from both sides of Middle Avenue, except for parallel parking in the area in front of Nealon Park. The new resolution would also close Blake Street at Middle Avenue, add a four-way stop sign at Middle Avenue and San Mateo Drive, and put adding a sidewalk on the south of Middle Avenue into the city's five-year Capital Improvement Program.

The new bike lanes on Middle Avenue are expected to be wider, with buffer zones separating them from traffic. Details about the bike lanes and pilot program won't be available until city staff returns with a resolution. A date for that has not yet been set.

Comments

Misha
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 15, 2022 at 12:31 pm
Misha, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2022 at 12:31 pm

This article does not seem well balanced or researched. I went to multiple community meetings regarding this project and there were many residents who commented in favor of these changes, including residents who live on Middle Ave. During the city council meeting on Tuesday there were at least two commenters who lived on Middle Ave who supported removing parking on both sides. And I have heard at least 10 commenters from Middle Ave at all the different meetings, not just "three people". There have been multiple community meetings as well as meetings with Complete Streets commission. There were signs on Middle Ave informing people of the meeting times and locations, plenty of opportunity to weigh in. I encourage the reporter of this story to do a little more research on this topic rather than quoting one upset resident.

As for me - as someone that bikes or walks down Middle almost daily, I'm happy to see that council is supporting bike and pedestrian safety and I'm looking forward to piloting some of these changes.


magster
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2022 at 12:46 pm
magster, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2022 at 12:46 pm

One thing that jumped out to me from this article is the comment from Jen Wolosin that cyclists ride side-by-side were posed a greater threat from cars (opening doors or oncoming traffic). In what world is it OK for cyclists to be riding two abreast on these streets? Are they not being taught in the bicycle safety classes to ride single file in the bike lanes? Why are they riding two abreast? So that they can chat, rather than paying attention to their cycling and road safety?


Iris
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 18, 2022 at 8:16 am
Iris, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2022 at 8:16 am

Some children are biking side by side every school day on Santa Cruz Ave. That does not make it right but it's a fact to take into account when making plans for safe streets.


Brendan
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 18, 2022 at 12:31 pm
Brendan , Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2022 at 12:31 pm

I'm a little disappointed with this article and surprised that the Almanac didn't fact check before publishing... There has been a great deal of discussion on this topic. The mayor and city council members specifically have reached out to the neighborhood. Many local residents (including many who live on Middle) participated in an in-person discussion on 9/3 that Mayor Nash and Ray Mueller hosted at Lyle Park. This is only one of a number of in-person and virtual discussions that have occurred involving the neighborhood. The single neighbour interviewed seems to have not been aware despite much neighborhood outreach and engagement.

Perhaps the reporter who authored this hadn't had the opportunity to actually listen in to the city council meeting to hear the many neighbors who spoke in favor of removing parking? Despite what the neighbor quoted in the article said, I DID speak at the meeting as a Middle resident in favor of removing parking. Our family has lived on Middle Ave for the past 13 years and we have children at Oak Knoll and Hillview. We prioritize safety and are in favor of eliminating parking on both sides to have the safest bike lanes, particularly with the surge in traffic (auto and bike) that will occur with the opening of the development on El Camino Real.

@Almanac: This seems to be a one-sided article that does not reflect the bulk of the community comment at the city council meeting and multiple forums. And when you're printing an article about bike safety, perhaps it makes sense to choose a picture of cyclists wearing helmets?


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