Guest opinion: How to make Menlo Park truly bike-friendly soon | August 19, 2015 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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Viewpoint - August 19, 2015

Guest opinion: How to make Menlo Park truly bike-friendly soon

by Dana Hendrickson

Most Menlo Park residents recognize the recreational, health and environmental benefits of bike riding, and our city has repeatedly declared its desire to build an excellent community bike network, one that encourages both greater bike usage and fewer car trips. Unfortunately, the major gaps in our bike network remain, and I sense closing them is not a high priority for our City Council.

Residents now have a great opportunity to tell council members we have waited too long, and it's time to act. If they do, major improvements could be in place as early as next year.

Both the Comprehensive Bike Development Plan (2004) and Specific Plan (2012) clearly document the major shortcomings of the existing Menlo Park bike network: poor east-west connectivity and limited access to downtown. Yet 10 years later our city has not committed funds to eliminate these fundamental problems.

We continue to have two separate bike networks, one on each side of El Camino Real, and the very limited connections between them severely restrict cyclists of all ages, experience, and skills.

Most bike riders are younger than 16 years old, and few parents want them crossing El Camino to reach schools, downtown, and the library, gym, pool, and playing fields at Burgess Park. So, children are regularly driven to local destinations. Why? There are no bike lanes on the convenient approaches to El Camino Real — for example, Menlo and Oak Grove avenues — nor a safe crossing. Yes, there are technical and political challenges to making these roads safe, but all are manageable.

On Aug. 25, the City Council will hold a study session to review the interim results of the current El Camino Real Corridor Study that is considering the possible addition of either bike lanes or physically separate bike paths on this multi-lane state highway The study has determined that either is feasible, and now the council must decide whether or not to spend additional funds to estimate potential bike usage, prepare an environmental report, and develop plans and a budget for the implementation of one of the bike facility alternatives.

At the end of this second phase, the council would decide whether to fund the actual implementation, likely sharing the costs with Caltrans. I oppose this spending and recommend the city shift already budgeted and unspent funds for the corridor study to a solution that provides safe, convenient and less-stressful bike connectivity between the east and west sides of Menlo Park. I encourage residents to understand why this community investment is far superior to the ones now being considered, and have outlined a potential solution in a proposal sent to our City Council and Bicycle Commission and published on Re-Imagine Menlo Park.

Building on ideas in the Specific Plan, this solution would connect Middle Avenue, University Drive, and Santa Cruz, Menlo and Ravenswood avenues in ways that would benefit many more cyclists than bike facilities on El Camino. It could be implemented much sooner; would depend less on Caltrans' support, budgets and schedules; and would likely attract greater community support and less resistance.

I have also published information to help residents better understand the important factors that influence contemporary bike network design and the likely appeal of El Camino Real bike facilities. I believe El Camino would be used by only a small percentage of cyclists, "the strong and fearless," and would not be suitable for elementary and middle school age children.

Now is the time for residents to insist our City Council soon make the critically needed investments in the Menlo Park bike network rather than one of highly questionable value that would not produce results for at least another three years. Please take the time to become informed, participate in the public discussions starting on Aug. 25, and more importantly, express your preferences and concerns in writing.

Unless residents act now, our waiting will continue indefinitely. We all deserve better.

Dana Hendrickson is a 30-year resident of Menlo Park, an avid cyclist and the editor of the Re-Imagine Menlo Park website and forum.

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Thank you Dana for a thoughtful piece.

Hopefully the Council will realize that green paint on the pavement provides zero protection for bicyclists and that 4000 lb plus vehicles and 200+/- lb bicyclists are incompatible.

As for the "fewer lanes means less traffic" claim just carry this mistaken mantra to its extreme and see what happens:

No lanes on ECR = No traffic on ECR.

No traffic on ECR = Huge amounts of new traffic on every other available street.


17 people like this
Posted by Freedom to Choose
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:24 pm

If Dana doesn't feel safe riding on ECR, with or with our bike lanes, then he should not do so. However, I do use ECR, especially when riding from MP to Atherton or Redwood City. Atherton is aware of the number of people using ECR to travel north and south by bicyclists.

The overall bicycle plan Menlo Park needs to carry out can be done along with adding bike lanes to ECR. These are not mutually exclusive tasks.


6 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Freedom-to-choose, you are right the two alternatives are not mutually exclusive but one is essential (east-west connectivity) and the value of the other (ECR) is questionable. If neither consumed time, money nor the resources of our transportation department staff, volunteer commissions, and City Council we could do BOTH. But that is clearly not the case. By the way, the questionable value of ECR bike lanes would be reduced by the lack of safe, convenient and low-stress approaches to ECR. The existing "sharrow" pavement markings on Menlo and University Avenues provide NO protection, whatsoever. Thanks for your feedback.


1 person likes this
Posted by mike demoss
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:10 pm

signing up


10 people like this
Posted by 21st Century
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 19, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Peter Carpenter repeats the lie that vehicle travel lanes would be lost with bicycle paths- some on-street parking would go away, but all of the through lanes would remain the same. Let's build a new future by encouraging low-carbon mobility, not double down on a 1950s traffic engineer's dream.


1 person likes this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Dana:

Please provide the basis for these statements, "and I sense closing them is not a high priority for our City Council."

"Unless residents act now, our waiting will continue indefinitely. We all deserve better."






10 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 20, 2015 at 3:08 am

Let's put CalTrain underground (along with HSR). Use the surface for wonderful bike and pedestrian lanes from SF to SJ. Also no more trains hitting cars and pedestrians and no more suicides. The peaceful quiet will astound the neighboring properties (except for the occasional forced air vents). The cost - hmm lets see. How about a transportation tax on all the tech businesses which have made and are making the the area into the most extensive gridlocked property in the land. Only fitting and fair.
More fairy tales to come, as needed.


2 people like this
Posted by OldGuy
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 20, 2015 at 8:11 am

Putting HSR underground was estimated to cost seven times as much as the basic grade separated plan. Equitably that cost increase should be born by the communities that want the underground route. If you can get the neighboring communities to fund the difference, then perhaps it will happen. Remember that you have to get every community. Because the train unlike a roller coaster, can't be jumping up and down at each border.

As far as biking on El Camino, I avoid it.


2 people like this
Posted by think
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:43 am

Dear @whatever and @OldGuy, please think about it, this is not like burring a giant water main or sewer pipe. If Caltrain was underground, you'd need underground train stations at University in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton. If you've ever used the BART stations along Market Street in San Francisco, then you may have noticed that these underground stations double as homeless shelters and the walkways become ad-hoc public restrooms. We just don't have enough people in the suburbs for this to pencil out.

Also, the only way to get cars off the road is to make is more expensive to use a single occupant vehicle. We can use those fees and taxes to invest in modernizing Caltrain and extending BART.


4 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:46 am

Really?,

The basis for my opinion:

1. Nothing has been done since the last Menlo Park Comprehensive Bike Network Plan (2004)
2. There is no funding for east-west bike network connections in the city's 2015-2016 Capital Investment Plan.
3. I am unaware of any city progress whatsoever.

Please point out something I have missed. I would welcome the good news!


3 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm

really? is a registered user.

On ECR:

Don't allow full separation as there's no slack for emergency services to get by. And don't think that it's made anything safer because you still have just as many ins and outs for cars turning in and out of commercial driveways.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 20, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Option 2 would turn ECR into a bowling alley with the bicyclists being the human bowling pins.


4 people like this
Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 20, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Making Menlo Park more bike friendly means making it less automobile friendly. We did have a round of 'traffic calming' on Santa Cruz which was no more than another 'bike friendly' effort that cost about $2m before it was rooted out. I hope that the new bike friendly changes on our streets are better thought out or else the city officials who approve this will be thrown out like the last group.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 20, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Norman: Today bike riders and drivers share single vehicle lanes on both Menlo Avenue and University Avenues, a solution neither driver nor bicyclist-friendly. Separating them would benefit BOTH types of users. Thanks for the feedback.


7 people like this
Posted by Pat
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 20, 2015 at 7:48 pm

What are the plans to ensure accessibility for those of us unable to ride a bike? I'm a senior who needs to drive my car to appointments and to stores. I also pay gas tax and vehicle registration, both of which contribute to the upkeep of our roads, including bicycle lanes. Do I and others with disabilities no longer have a place in our bike focused society? It's beginning to feel like that.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 21, 2015 at 7:47 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Pat - The dynamics of Menlo Park Politics are that special interests groups can and do easily take over any city wide policy issue simply be shouting out everyone else. In this case the bicyclists have turned what should have been a City wide Circulation Element of the General Plan into a bicycle centric discussion on ECR.

Here is some of the input provided on this issue to the Planning Commission by the Fire Chief and two of the Fire Board members:
"Chief Harold Schapelhouman, Menlo Park Fire District, said he was pleased they were reconsidering the recommendation. He said his letter which they just received this evening listed reasons why the Fire District thought this was something that needed to be tabled or looked at as part of the General Plan circulation element. He said the study never acknowledged the designated emergency routes for the Fire District, noting that El Camino Real was one of those. He said it made no mention that Stanford Hospital was a primary medical emergency facility and Class 1 trauma center. He said no one really looked at the emergency aid agreements among the District, Palo Alto and Redwood City. He said he spoke with the County’s ambulance service and they were completely unaware of this study. He said this item should be tabled and research should be done on alternatives for bicycle routes.

Mr. Rex Ianson, Menlo Park resident and member of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board, said the Commission should take a look at a comprehensive bicycle plan. He said he was a bicyclist who would not use El Camino Real.

Mr. Peter Carpenter said he also was on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board but was not representing the Board. He said he previously served on the Planning Commission for the City of Palo Alto, and that during his tenure they rewrote the General Plan. He said the two things he learned was that a General Plan update was a challenge to do but once it was done it provided a framework to make decisions in a structured and reasonable way. He said the state law on general plans had changed to require that the circulation element include the complete street perspective, and part of that language was very clear about having City bike routes. He said if there was an updated circulation element to the City’s General Plan the conversation being held tonight would be much easier. He said that this bicycle lane goal was mentioned in the Specific Plan was to a large degree irrelevant as General Plan required you go to the outermost geographical boundaries. He suggested the Commission recommend tabling the action, finish the General Plan circulation element update, and then start looking at specific issues. "

The response to these comments to the Planning Commission was a very personal attack on the three speakers by a Planning Commissioner who was so sucked in by the bicycle special interest group that he felt compelled to castigate anyone who raised public safety issues and to question their motives.

It is interesting to note that the City Council Study Session is schedule at exactly the same time as the Fire Board's meeting - another nice way to exclude input from outside the special interest group.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 21, 2015 at 11:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Pat - Here is the California guidance on what constitutes a "complete streets play":

"The circulation system is a primary determinant of the pattern of human settlement. It has a
major impact on the areas and activities it serves because of its potential to both provide accessibility
and act as a barrier. The circulation system should be accessible to all segments of the population,
including the disadvantaged, the young, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled. Transportation systems
and facilities should not serve as barriers to community resources."

By not first dealing with the legally required Circulation Element of an updated General Plan the City is both ignoring the law and catering to a special interest group that has shown ZERO interest in access for the disabled.


5 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm

There's nothing new here. Without an El Camino component, this plan is useful mainly for weekend cyclists and occasional riders, not for commuters
or those who want a transportation alternative to the automobile.


10 people like this
Posted by biker
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 21, 2015 at 2:17 pm

while we are at this craziness--let's make all the freeways bike friendly, too.

a much better solution is for all bikers to use common sense and to obey the traffic laws.


Like this comment
Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 21, 2015 at 2:31 pm

I appreciate the civil conversation that is taking place around this issue.

Looking at transportation in a large context of a complex systems problem with multiple inputs feedback processes suggests that everyone shares responsibility for the problems generated by our traffic system. However, not everyone has the same amount of leverage in changing the system. Saying that A causes B in a complex system is far too simple a way of looking at things.

It has taken decades for us to get this point and no single solution (number of lanes, lane markings, public transportation, encouraging biking and discouraging single car use) is going to get us out of our predicament.

What I'd like to see if a discussion and planning process that takes a look at timeframes of five, ten, and twenty years.

steve


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Steve is exactly correct and that is why this ECR specific project should have been done AFTER the General Plan, long out of date, including the General Plan's Circulation Element are updated.

To show how this entire process was biased by and catered to the bicyclists' special interest group look at the word search of that 630 page study:

fire = zero mentions
emergency = 1 mention
disabled = 1 mention
wheelchair = 1 mention

From its inception this project was driven by and captured by a small special interest group that has no interest in any other users of ECR.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

To show how horribly out of date Menl Park's General Plan here is what the ECR Study states:

"The Menlo Park General Plan adopted in 1994
provides the framework for transportation
planning within the city. The General Plan
established goals that are concerned with the safe
and efficient movement of people and goods in
and around the city, while promoting alternative
modes of transportation."

1994 !!!

State law requires that a General Plan should have be updated at least every ten years.

If you don't know where you are going any road will get you there.

And if you don't know where you are going then it is very easy to be hijacked by a special interest group.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Mike, you are simply wrong. Look at the table on my website that illustrates the difficulty bike riders currently have reaching the most popular bike destinations in Menlo Park. Most weekday cyclists are children under 16 who ride their bikes to schools. Those who live on the same side of El Camino as their schools have many safe and convenient options. However, parents living on the WEST side generally drive them to destinations on the east side: the library, gym, Burgess playing fields, swimming pools and M-A. And parents on the east side drive them to Hillview, downtown and to after-school extracurricular activities on the west side. So, crossing El Camino with suitable bike facilities on the approaches is essential. Like most supporters of bike lanes on El Camino you claim these are valuable without data, solid assumptions and sound analysis to support your claims. East-west connectivity is far more important than north-south bike lanes on El Camino Real, and the latter has LITTLE value without suitable and convenient bike lanes on the approaches to El Camino. These approaches would also serve adults who are NOT comfortable sharing vehicle lanes on University and Menlo Avenue.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 21, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Steve, I agree 100% with you about the need for a long term multi-modal transportation policy and plan for our city but we cannot wait another 3-5 years before we fix obvious existing problems. Sadly, we have already waited more than seven years to address a much simpler challenge - effectively connecting our two virtually separate bike networks. The bike lanes on El Camino concern is distracting us from the big picture. Thanks for your feedback.


4 people like this
Posted by Say What?
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2015 at 8:11 pm

Bike makes right? What about walkers - and runners? Maybe skakeboaders should be given top priority - not counting guide dogs. How about housing on El Camino - right down the center? Uber only? Taxi only? Buses only? Rich people only? City employees only? Park? Not parking. One big park. With lots of wildlife - including crows carrying West Nile virus. But really. The future of El Camino has already been determined. It will be the GRAND BOULEVARD. Look it up online. A little vague, of course. But locals really have no say. Bury your heads in the sand. You will feel better.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 21, 2015 at 10:47 pm

Here's a well-written, relevant article from today's Palo Alto Daily News:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by ECR biking
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2015 at 6:06 am

Firstly, the notion that ECR should allow/facilitate bike traffic because it is a "retail corridor" is total nonsense and a misread of any survey. Because one drives down ECR to get to another town or perhaps a stand-alone business on ECR in Menlo Park does not suggest that ECR is a retail destination worthy of upending the reality of a busy road. It isn't. Because I drive to SF for some of the stores, is 280 a retail corridor worthy of bike riding? This is a disappointing point of view for a transportation commissioner to take.

I bike more that the average transportation commissioner and simply will not ride on ECR. Proponents are trying to turn back the clock and the notion that ECR will become a slower, calmer roadway when the trend suggests just the opposite. This area will become more congested with more hurried traffic. It just will.

Time is better spent focusing on the interior roadways and how we socialize and mark the routes. By doing this, we will have a slower and calmer environment for bikes and cars to co-mingle. Years of this coexistence, along with the community support of signs, road markings and bikes as part of the transportation fabric will create a truly "bike friendly" community. Powering through the system a way for a handful of bikers to ride on a dangerous road does not make Menlo Park more bike friendly. Amsterdam is not bike friendly because the busiest roadways might accommodate bikes. No, it is friendly because the "interior" social fabric has accepted and welcomed the coexistence of bikes and cars (and, yes, pedestrians and skateboarders). They know in advance, as members of the community, that the day to day roads are for sharing and they do so willingly and in the right spirit of cooperation. This is reinforced day in and day out. Busier roads are like railroad tracks -- moving more people quickly -- and should not be confused with calmer interior community roads. Lets go down the path of building a true bike-friendly culture and foundation.


Like this comment
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2015 at 9:13 am

ECR Biking, thanks for contributing a clear, rational and logically sound comment. (and refreshingly constructive). I also believe that bike riders who want to reach retail destinations on El Camino could easily do so via a well-designed "interior" bike network that provides safe, convenient and low-stress access to the nearest point on this highway. These riders then could simply walk their bikes on a sidewalk for at most a half block to their destination. This is not a big inconvenience for either cyclists or pedestrians. Again, thanks.


2 people like this
Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm

The lack of attention to other interests as Peter Carpenter has pointed out (fire, handicapped people, emergency) in the 620 page report is reminiscent of the 'traffic calming' fiasco on Santa Cruz Ave. which eventually cost $2M for nothing.

In that fiasco the 'planners' did not take into account that fire trucks could not make turns onto some streets, they did not know how many parking places had been destroyed (it was over 50), many Santa Cruz Ave. residents could not turn left onto Santa Cruz Ave, they did not know how narrow the new traffic lanes were and how close cars would now be to children walking there, and on and on. I was at a couple of meetings and I was appalled.

I bet the reason these issues were not addressed in this massive report was because of the biking interests. For if they were actually addressed the infeasibility of the program would come to light.

Further, I would like to see some data on how many bicyclists we have versus the number of automobiles and pedestrians. We need to get some proportionality here based on actual usage. Let us be rational not emotional.


2 people like this
Posted by ECR Biking
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Thanks Dana. I forgot to add one thing about unintended consequences of actions on ECR. To some degree, bike accommodations on ECR will also reduce the steady flow of traffic along the thoroughfare. When this happens, what do hurried drivers do? They cut through residential streets. They find an alternate route, which then places faster than average car traffic smack dab where residents are and should be cycling -- families, kids our riding. This presents an additional consideration.


2 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2015 at 2:03 pm

NORMAN:

The transportation consultant has included 2014 vehicle and bike usage data for El Camino and residents can view summaries at Web Link.

There were about 34,000 vehicle trips north of the Ravenswood intersection and 45,000 on the south side.

There were 125 bike trips north of Ravenswood and 175 on the south side. (This contrasts with Middlefield where the numbers were 871 on the north side and 856 on the south side - more than 4X higher.)


ECR BIKING: Yes, too little attention has been given to the impact of bike lanes on vehicle traffic both on and near El Camino Real. For example, there are 8 intersections and 60 public driveways where vehicles must either merge with bikes or cross their paths. (Note: right hand vehicle turns are the most dangerous situations for bike riders as few motorists and cyclists understand how to properly negotiate them.) The effectiveness of all bike lane varies widely depending on the setting and road design. The more crossing points, the lesser the effectiveness. Traditional bike lanes in general increase the PERCEPTION of safety rather than ACTUAL safety and that can give some riders a false sense of security.

Again, thanks for the questions and constructive ideas.


7 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 22, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Dana, I agree with a lot of what you are saying and appreciate your civil and productive tone. Peter, I often agree with you but find your rants about those lobbying for better bike options to be truly alienating and beside the point. And I'm really tired of the Lee Duboc poison filling my inbox. Could we please stop making this about us vs. them?

We do need better East-West bike routes in Menlo Park, and we need them soon. Currently, Willows residents attempting to send their kids to Hillview are resorting to sketchy maneuvers like riding on El Camino sidewalks up to the Middle crossing. As a Menlo Park resident who would really rather not hop into the car every time I take my kid to a swimming lesson or school, I strongly support the following ideas, albeit incorporated into a larger plan (and yes, one that takes into account diverse needs, although I do think that motorists claiming to be victimized by this discussion is a bit rich.)

1) Bike tunnel under Caltrain +/- El Camino. It makes sense to do it at Middle, which brings people straight to Burgess Park on one side and to Safeway on the other. Right now if I want to bike to Safeway, I have to ride either on sidewalks (probably illegal and certainly not safe) or on the sketchiest part of El Camino. No thanks.

2) A well-marked, clearly delineated bikeway through downtown. I'd suggest Santa Cruz Avenue but that street parking seems to be valued by our retail community. Menlo would be a great alternative if we could ditch the parallel parking on either side. The current scenario is terrifying: there are cars jockeying for spots in and out of Trader Joe's, doors opening, and people making sudden right turns without signaling. And yet if I "take the lane" with my son (which we should technically be able to do, given the sharrows), I know I'm holding up traffic and/or incentivizing drivers to make unsafe/illegal passes.

3) Clean, well-marked bike lanes on Ravenswood. It's super sketchy when the lanes disappear. And the pavement in the current lanes (eastbound) is not in great shape.

I do also think it's worth evaluating El Camino options for bikes and I'm not persuaded by the data that say that people don't currently bike there. Why would they, given the lack of bike lanes? Middlefield probably feels safer. I used to bike commute to San Mateo from Menlo Park. It was the only way I could sneak in exercise with a full-time job and an infant at home and I remember feeling grateful for those 45 minutes of clearing my head each morning and evening. Most of the time I took the longer, hillier Alameda route (or Middlefield to Old County Road). But when I was running late and needed to get there fast, El Camino did the trick. Huge parts of El Camino are actually not that busy. A lot of the retail isn't the kind that generates tons of traffic and the road is straight and flat so visibility is actually pretty good. Consistent bike lanes throughout would have been amazing. Has anyone done any real research of how many cyclists or non-cyclists *might* bike on El Camino for short or long distances if it had bike lanes?

Finally, our kids learn what we teach them. If you're tired of seeing scofflaw/clueless cyclists on the streets, one option is to get out there on a bike with your kids and show them how to do it right. It's not just the infrastructure in other countries that enables people to ride safely–it's also that riding is a fact of life from a very early age. The separated lanes that we rode upon in Copenhagen didn't actually feel much more separate than the bike lanes we have around here–they were raised from the street slightly (less than a sidewalk) but there weren't barriers between us and the vehicles. But the busiest streets were almost empty of motorists in the summer evenings. It was really quite something.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 22, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Chuck - I looked carefully and could not find a single rant.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2015 at 7:09 pm

CCB: Thanks for your constructive contribution to this discussion thread.

1. I believe Stanford has agreed to fund the creation of a bike/pedestrian tunnel under the tracks across from Middle Avenue. so this could provide excellent east-west connectivity at the south end of El Camino. However, it might not be available for at least another 5 years as Menlo, Stanford and Caltrain need to approve it and the actual construction would take time. Also, train electrification and hi-speed rail plans could push schedule out even further. So, a "Middle Street/Alma tunnel is a promising long term solution.

2. The alternative I am proposing removes street parking on University between Middle and Oak Grove and on Menlo Avenue between Crane and Doyle and installs protected 2-way bike lanes. You can view my detailed proposal at Web Link. This would eliminate vehicle lane sharing.

3. I also recommend a better bike crossing where Ravenswood crosses El Camino Real and continuous well designed bike lanes al the way to Laurel Street. Menlo & Ravenswood are vital as it is near both downtown and the mid-point of El Camino.

4. Re: north-south bike network connectivity, Greenheart (1300 ECR) has agreed to include bike lanes on their property between Oak Grove and Garwood Way. When this is done there will be a safe and convenient route between Willow and Encinal consisting of Alma and this new connection. Also, Laurel street currently provides a bike network route between Laurel and Encinal and is very popular with bike riders.

Finally, I have completed a study of the likely appeal of bike lanes on El Camino using the most widely used methodology for designing bike networks and was assisted by one of its authors. A copy is available at Web Link.

Again, thanks for highlighting these issues!


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Posted by ECR
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2015 at 8:41 am

CCB. good thoughts. A couple of observations:

1) As to more bike lanes, remember that true bike lanes require a specific width, which often becomes the challenge, give the need for proper dimensions in the middle for car traffic. Signs, sharrows, and instructive markings help.

2) on ECR, it is a state highway, I believe, and may limit what individual towns can do. Others will no better. The bigger issue is just that it is mostly a non-local thoroughfare and, as such, essentially a more convenient or desirable option than the freeways. Tends to be shorter hops to places like redwood city or quick use to get around town. It's fast paced with lots of turns and lane changes. It will only get worse as population density increases. Of course, with a fully protected lane, cyclists will like it more, but volumes won't be much higher than today. More importantly, this marginal additional car congestion forces thus rushed traffic to side streets. Pretty intractable. I'd stick with your view on side street improvements and specific routes in town and a tunnel at middle. Much more important priority for the town.


2 people like this
Posted by wanna be biker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 23, 2015 at 2:09 pm

The transportation experts say traffic will increase with a 3rd lane. Everyone else is saying their personal opinion.

The Menlo Park bike "plan" is a joke. It is a discontinuous set of segments. That is not a plan that accomplishes in a defined time period a well-connected set of bike routes so we wanna be bikers (and our kids) can stay out of cars for nearly all the things we need to do within our town. The plan needs to prioritize menlo park residents' needs first

While I agree that east-west connectivity is a higher priority in time, we do also need to make El Camino safer for bicyclists unless and until there is some other easily accessible, safe way to go north-south within Menlo Park. Alma, as some have suggested as an alternative only works for those on the east side of the tracks. It isn't usable for biking on the west side of the tracks where there is no other north-south option in the middle of town. it's high time to revisit a path along the tracks. And it's way overdue for fixing this problem. We should throw the entire Council out if they ignore these issues during their review of the El Camino options and their review of the downtown plan.

I am tired of hearing arguments that information provided in 2008 is trustworthy. It has been proven not to be. We need to revisit undergrounding trains, and maybe even through traffic on el camino. looking only at costs misses offsetting revenue opportunities. An El Camino bypass could charge Fast Track fees. An undergrounded train (and HSR) need only work with Palo Alto and Atherton, both of which oppose HSR. Menlo Park needs to join them actively to create an undergrounded business plan and implementation. Many of us would pay to improve safer quieter neighborhoods and the chance to end up with a great downtown. Many of us will fight as hard as we can the false promises of HSR and sleazy "business plan" we're supposed to believe.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 23, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is what I posted earlier on another thread:

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm
"One thought is the put the trains underground, use the surface rights above it for housing in the stretches between stations and use the surface above the stations for transit connections and parking. The surface area of the current right of way is very valuable land - particularly in Atherton - and could generate a lot of the needed capital.

Why not take this as an opportunity to design a multi-dimensional, multi-purpose system that uses the existing right-of-way that includes CalTrain, HSR, utility conduits for telephone and internet cables, surface housing with high density housing around each station. And add a pedestrian path and a separate bicycle path on the surface along the entire right of way. And include 3 or 4 12" conduits for the technology of the future.

We should think of this right of way as an integrated multi-modal communications spine for the peninsula."

Do it once and do it right.


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Posted by Dream on!
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2015 at 4:39 pm

@ Dana some of your comments aren't quite accurate
1.Stanford has not promised to pay for an under crossing. They have agreed to help pay. Big difference.
There is no plan for the strip between Stanford's property and the tracks. There will be costs to cross that [I heard the city is negotiating to acquire it Why on earth? We taxpayers shouldn't pay for it! That property has no value to the owner once Stanford builds its project. ]
2. There isn't room for dedicated 2-way bike lanes on university between Menlo and Santa Cruz. There is no parking there to remove.
3. The city needs to declare eminent domain for part of the Menlo properties at El Camino to make this better. The city can still give equivalent development rights to those properties.
4. Garwood way is a city street perpendicular to oak grove. Greenheart can't give away something it doesn't own


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Dream on:

1. You are more informed than I about who pays for the entire cost of an under-track tunnel opposite Middle Avenue. My primary point is this could become an east-west connector below Ravenswood but is still many years away. Menlo Park also needs a more centrally located connector across El Camino Real way before then.

2. I am recommending PROTECTED 2-way bike lanes ONLY on one side of a section of University and one side of Menlo Avenue where there is adequate , NOT on University between Santa Cruz and Menlo Avenue. My proposal has the bike network completely bypassing this short section of University between Santa Cruz and Menlo Avenue because, as you say, two narrow for any type of facility.

3. Greenheart has agreed to provide a right away for bike lanes between Oak Grove and Garwood Way. This link will enable riders to travel between Encinal and Willow using Garwood, Oak Grove to cross the tracks, and Alma, a nearby route that parallels El Camino Real.

Finally, most of the bike riders I know on the west side of El Camino use north-south neighborhood routes west of University to travel between Creek, Middle, Santa Cruz and Valparaiso. With minor additions my proposal would provide bike facilities on University, Live Oak, and BOTH sections of Crane. This would parallel El Camino between Creek and Valparaiso.

I recommend all residents read several publications at Web Link

1. My detailed proposal for east-west connectivity and downtown access.

2. A primer on designing safe, convenient and low-stress bike networks.

3. An in-depth analysis that shows why few residents would use El Camino Real bike lanes.

Thanks for highlighting several important concerns.


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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2015 at 7:07 pm

Wild guess: 500 bicyclists will get some kind of a benefit and about 40,000 motorists will be inconvenienced. If anyone has real numbers please post them.


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Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 23, 2015 at 8:46 pm

really? is a registered user.

Norman:

The point is that we've taken the attitude of let the 40,000 motorists dominate, and we end up with and LA version of the future. The 'Complete Streets' policy to which we all now hopefully subscribe to looks at all of these issues holistically, no matter the majority/minority issues.

Whether or not putting bike lanes on ECR is a good idea or not is down to tactics, not overall strategy.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 23, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The 'Complete Streets' policy to which we all now hopefully subscribe to looks at all of these issues holistically,"

Correct - and that means we have to look at the entire city circulation plan and not just at one small segment.

The only intelligent and legal process is to update the General Plan, now 20 years old, and include an updated Circulation Element BEFORE dealing with a specific issue.

Strategy does come before tactics.


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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2015 at 11:35 pm

@really? So numbers don't matter? Just someone's feelings about the goodness of one outcome over another? And if more people are vocal about the 'goodness' (take traffic calming on Santa Cruz Ave., for instance) then it gets put in at any cost to the detriment of the vast majority? I wonder how the other commentators on this subject would come down.

So, you want to obviate the "majority/minority" but you want to claim "all"? This would not pass a logic test. But I think the push for bicycles is then not a logical issue.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 10:47 am

Really? and Norman:

Your comments illustrate the difficult challenge of reaching a consensus on how to best use El Camino for travel. Competing values, beliefs and biases. Insufficient knowledge of various subjects including vehicle and bike network design. And different expectations as to how various types of users will react to changes. This is a small sample of the elements that add complexity and will divide residents. A well designed 20-year city transportation policy and plan would address these consideration and make it a whole lot easier (and less painful) to decide what changes to make to El Camino. But even without it, we still need to carefully move forward now and make pragmatic decisions that address critical community needs but do not severely constrain future ones. This process WILL be difficult and painful, but less so, and more effective if a broad cross-section of residents become well-informed and actively participate. If the influence of a non-representative sub-group dominates the debate most residents will later regret the outcomes.


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Posted by Big picture?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 12:24 pm

How many lanes are Redwood City, Atherton and Palo Alto planning longer term on El Camino?


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Big Picture, Here is what I believe is the current status:

PALO ALTO - it's comprehensive bike network plan shows a possible bike laneS on El Camino but it does NOT appear in the city's list of bike investment priorities. See plan at Web Link

ATHERTON - has adopted a "wait and see" approach re: what Menlo Park will do. Keep in mind that its stretch of El Camino has striped areas along El Camino Real that a small number of bike riders already use. View plan at Web Link

REDWOOD CITY: I have not found a bike network plan for this city.

FYI: I believe only Sunnyvale has actually made a commitment to add bike lanes to El Camino and this only on a short section of their 8-mile stretch of this highway.

I hope this helps. Thanks for raising this question.


11 people like this
Posted by Bill Kirsch
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2015 at 3:10 pm

The one point missing here is people that choose bicycles for transportation are just like people that choose cars- we live everywhere in MP and we need to get everywhere,and ECR is the most direct route for many trips around town. I'm guessing that most car trips are local and could be accomplished walking or on bicycle if our infrastructure was friendlier to anything other than an automobile. ECR now is an ugly freeway that chops our City in half- bordered by 60+ retail establishments. It doesn't have to be that way. It's dangerous to walk along, bicycle along, and cross either on foot or by bicycle. Adding more cars on ECR will just make the situation worse for all users in all directions, and make all crossings even more dangerous. ECR should be neighborhood serving as well as regional. I drive ECR and would be happy to share with protected bike lanes. More car lanes on ECR means more single occupant automobiles clogging and polluting our town.


4 people like this
Posted by Good goal = fewer cars
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Los Angeles has just decided to add more lanes for bikes (and buses) to improve safety and lure people out of cars.

LA Times article on 8/11/15:

"Over the decades, Los Angeles has bulldozed homes, paved through tranquil canyons, toppled countless trees and even flattened some hillsides, all in the name of keeping automobile traffic flowing as fast as possible.

On Tuesday, city leaders decided to slow things down.

They endorsed a sweeping policy that would rework some of the city’s mightiest boulevards, adding more lanes for buses and bikes and, in some places, leaving fewer for cars. The goal is to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians while also luring more people out of their cars.

The plan represents a major departure in transportation policy for a city so closely identified with cars, and reflects the view of many planners that the old way of building more road space to address traffic is no longer a viable option.

Known as Mobility Plan 2035, the plan spells out hundreds of miles of new bicycle lanes, bus-only lanes and other road redesigns. It also seeks to cut the fatality rate from traffic collisions to zero within 20 years, in part by keeping cars within the speed limits. And it builds on other changes the city has already made to its streets in recent years.

The mobility plan touches every section of the city..."


Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I drive ECR and would be happy to share with protected bike lanes. "

None of the options being considered includes protected bike lanes - unless you think a bit of green paint will protect a 200 lb bicyclist from a 4000 lb car.


Los Angles did it right - they started with a current General Plan and Circulation Element and then added a well thought out Mobility Plan and only then did they carefully start to implement that Plan.

Menlo Park is doing it all backwards and starting with the only State Highway in the city.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Bill: I understand that users of El Camino have different visions and preferences. The fundamental question is what do the MAJORITY of well-informed residents want. We have spent lots of time and money developing our Specific Plan (SP) and much better east-west connectivity for biker riders (and pedestrians) is one of our 12 central objectives. Also, other recommendations in the SP will provide many north-south alternatives for bike riders that will be near El Camino Real, be safer, convenient and more comfortable for more riders. Bike lanes on El Camino is neither essential nor important in the context of our entire city bike network. It is a DISTRACTION. Unfortunately, too few residents under the impact and trade-offs associated with El Camino Real bike lanes and that enables the voices of a minority to enjoy disproportionate influence on our City Councils decision-making. This should concern ALL residents.

Thanks for sharing your opinions.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Good Goal, I believe fewer cars on El Camino Real is not an objective of our Specific Plan which reflects the majority of residents who elected to participate in this multi-year process. And yes, I agree we do need a well-thought-out transportation policy, plan and a list of priorities (like Los Angeles) for what will remain in Menlo Park a central vehicle artery. Even IF we were to fund this effort starting now we likely would not have a comprehensive transportation plan for several more years. (This work is not currently funded.) Note: the last comprehensive bike plan for Menlo Park was completed over 10 years ago in 2004 and I do not believe the bike network consultant that assisted the city as well as many others, e.g., Palo Alto, has had any input in the current evaluation of El Camino Real lanes. Why not?


7 people like this
Posted by Recap
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 8:16 pm

There are some "creative" views of the facts, so just to bring everyone up to speed:

1) THREE SEPARATE CITIZEN COMMISSIONS ALL RECOMMENDED THE BIKE-FRIENDLY OPTIONS

OK, the Bicycle Commission result was predictable, but the Transportation Commission takes a broader view- if anything they were even more future-thinking, endorsing the protected bike facility! The Planning Commission is probably the "everyperson" role here, and they also voted for bikes. How would the Council overturn all three of them?

2) THE SPECIFIC PLAN ALREADY RECOMMENDS BIKE LANES ON EL CAMINO

What happened to "2013-14 Peter Carpenter", who cut 'n pasted Specific Plan excerpts with messed up formatting, in the service of shutting down the whiners who wanted to keep rehashing settled matters? The only question was "when"- might have to be bike sharrows until parking was figured out, but bike lanes were the clear long-term goal.

3) THE SIX-LANE ALTERNATIVE SUCKS FOR PEDESTRIANS

Remember how making El Camino Real more walkable was something everyone agreed on? Well, it's the only thing no one can say is better with the retro "cars uber alles" scenario- try walking down the street with angry motorists a few feet away and exhaust belching at you. Even doing nothing is better than that, since the parking keeps a texting driver from hopping the curb.

4) INDUCED DEMAND IS REAL, AND CLEARLY EXPLAINED IN THE REPORT

Wanting something to be untrue doesn't make it so.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 24, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The only intelligent and legal process is to update the General Plan, now 20 years old, and include an updated Circulation Element BEFORE dealing with a specific issue.

The Downtown Specific Plan is just that DownTown Specific and it does not meet the legal requirement for an up to date General Plan which includes an up to date Circulation Element.


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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 9:31 pm

Bill Kirsch says: "I'm guessing that most car trips are local and could be accomplished walking or on bicycle if our infrastructure was friendlier to anything other than an automobile."

Sure they could be 'accomplished' but at a cost. The first cost is time which can be used for family and personal enjoyment instead of transporting oneself. The second one is danger. Bikes are dangerous when sharing byways with cars. That's a reason why bicyclists are so hyper and antagonistic as they are in a stage of fright almost all of the time which is of itself another problem with bikes.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 9:53 pm

RECAP, your sarcasm stands out in an otherwise constructive and civil discussion thread.

1. The ECR Corridor Study has simply shown that all the alternatives are feasible and NOT positioned any one as being most desirable.

2. All the commission have expressed their opinions without any expert input on the desirability and possible and likely positive and negative impact the bike lanes could have on bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Safety? Convenience? Stress-levels? I witnessed the planning sessions and the members shared few facts, solid assumptions, and little clear logic, e.g, "there are already cyclists on El Camino so we need to protect them. The discussions were rambling and largely an exchange of personal opinions and antidotes. No one demonstrated an in-depth technical understanding of the challenges of contemporary bike network design. Have you seen a commission report that includes a well-reasoned justification for its preferences? Finally, the commissions are simply advisory, and the City Council is free to do whatever it believes is best for the entire community. So NOT accepting their advice is NOT over-ruling them.

3. I believe that bike lanes on El Camino, just like the other bike network improvements in the Specific Plan, are presented as ideas that warrant comprehensive evaluations; they are NOT city commitments. It should be well understood that each potential city investment must be prioritized and judged on its individual merit.

4. I have been addressing the issues surrounding bike lanes NOT vehicle traffic and pedestrians. However, you offer only opinions with nothing to support them so they are not persuasive.

5. I have not been dealing with induced demand. However, I do understand the concept and believe its real. However, the consultant has not explained where this traffic comes from and this is essential to understanding HOW MUCH induced demand can reasonably be expected.


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Posted by dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Norman and Bill:

I totally support well-founded efforts to make bike riding safe, convenient and less stressful, and believe parents with school age children would be happy to not have to drive them everyday to school and other destinations. That does not mean that bike lanes on El Camino makes sense. These would clearly be unsuitable for this large population of bike riders. It will be great If some adults chose to bike instead of drive for some trips but there are simply too many reasons why most will continue to drive much more often than ride a bike. I recommend reading the analysis I performed that gauges the potential appeal of ECR bike lanes relative to other safer and less stressful alternatives.
It indicates that only a very small percentage of residents would prefer El Camino.


5 people like this
Posted by David Roise
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 25, 2015 at 9:11 am

Dana,

While I appreciate your attempts to provide an objective analysis of current road conditions in Menlo Park and the impact of those conditions on road use by bicyclists, I think everyone should be aware that the “conclusions” you draw in your analysis flow from your personal opinions rather than from the objective evidence. In my view it would be equally valid to conclude from your evidence (e.g., evidence that El Camino Real is a stressful roadway for all but the most fearless bicyclists—evidence I don’t dispute) that we should do everything we can to decrease the stress levels for bicyclists on El Camino Real by making it a more cycle-friendly roadway and thus less of a barrier to the average cyclist.

The proposal under consideration by the city of Menlo Park to remove parking from El Camino Real and to add buffered bike lanes (Alternative 2) is a relatively cheap and easy way to address this problem. In addition, evidence from the traffic study suggests that these changes shouldn’t have much of an impact on motorists using El Camino Real after the changes have been made. With all due respect, your conclusion that bike lanes on El Camino Real would not decrease stress levels for bicyclists and would therefore not be used by them is pure speculation. Sand Hill Road, which has a nearly identical configuration to that proposed for El Camino Real and a higher posted speed limit for much of its length, is one of the most popular bicycling routes in the county.

Your alternative proposals to improve east-west connectivity may have merit in some cases, but they largely address a problem that either doesn’t exist or is significantly less important than the barrier posed by El Camino Real. Indeed, most bicyclists don’t have serious issues getting around on either side of El Camino Real, even with the current conditions. Your statement that “no bike facilities exist on streets that connect to and cross El Camino” suggests that cyclists are incapable of riding on our normally quiet city streets. It also completely ignores the fact that large numbers of bicyclists are already riding on those streets—and even crossing El Camino Real at the major intersections—with relatively little stress. The problem for those bicyclists isn’t that they lack east-west connections, it is that they don’t feel comfortable using what is often the most direct and convenient north-south connector for them – El Camino Real.

The folks who think that mixing cars and bikes is not safe are simply wrong. Most studies have shown that bicycling is at least as safe as almost any other physical activity--including driving a car (see, for example, Web Link). It is unfortunate that those folks continue to spread fear about an activity that is both healthy and environmentally beneficial.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2015 at 9:47 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Sand Hill Road, which has a nearly identical configuration to that proposed for El Camino Real and a higher posted speed limit for much of its length, is one of the most popular bicycling routes in the county. "

Sand Hill is a significantly wider right of way than ECR.

Sand Hill has no retail stores on it.

Sand Hill has no driveways directly connected to it.

Sand Hill has far fewer connecting streets than ECR.

Sand Hill is far different than ECR.


10 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 25, 2015 at 10:10 am

Norman said:

"Sure they could be 'accomplished' but at a cost. The first cost is time which can be used for family and personal enjoyment instead of transporting oneself. The second one is danger. Bikes are dangerous when sharing byways with cars. That's a reason why bicyclists are so hyper and antagonistic as they are in a stage of fright almost all of the time which is of itself another problem with bikes."

I'm sorry, but I couldn't let this one pass. Norman, I bike commute to work almost every day precisely because it *is* faster than driving, as I learn over and over again when I am running late and hop into the car to "save time." And I'm not traveling at super-human speeds or running red lights, either. The fact is, well designed bike routes (e.g. the bridges at Alma and San Mateo) are often more direct than the motor vehicle alternatives. You try getting to Stanford from, say, East Creek or Arbor. And once on campus, parking is a crapshoot. My husband commutes farther but he gets to ride through the Baylands instead of sitting amid frustrated drivers on 101 (speaking of antagonistic!)

It takes maybe 10 minutes for us to bike downtown, compared to 5-7 minutes driving. But once you factor in parking, that's a wash. Depending on traffic (which is getting pretty bad), I can often bike the length of Ravenswood in the same time it takes a driver, thanks to the designated bike lanes that enable me to safely pass the line of traffic. I do bike defensively and I don't like seeing distracted drivers swerving in front of me or turning without signaling. But it doesn't make me hyper or antagonistic. Nor does it make me dangerous. Biking actually helps clear my head, strengthen my legs, and put a smile on my face.

Finally, at Oak Knoll Elementary School this morning, the bike racks were overflowing. There were probably over 200 bikes there, not including those of the parent escorts. These are kids who could probably be biking to swim practice, karate, and friends' houses if there were better, safer routes for them. Remember the days before everyone had to be driven everywhere? We live in a small town full of families, not Manhattan or San Francisco. No one is coming to repossess your car, but in general, people should absolutely be biking places if at all possible. And the people advocating for better bike routes aren't some lycra-clad fringe group with radical opinions–they are your neighbors. We are trying to make this safer for everyone, not just bikes or cars.


4 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 25, 2015 at 10:29 am

David, I share your view that the proposed ECR changes are desirable. That said, I agree with Dana that most of the prime destinations in town are on either side of El Camino and that the existing routes directly on either side really suck and should probably be higher priority. People coming from the west side to Burgess/Library/High School have to contend with the messy Menlo/Ravenswood intersection and a disappearing bike lane, right where two lanes of cars are forced to merge into one. People heading from the east side into downtown or up to Hillview have three terrible options: Menlo has sharrows to indicate cyclists' right to share the lane, but only skilled adults are really good at riding this way. And there are parked cars opening doors, people making unannounced right turns into the Trader Joe's parking lot, etc. Santa Cruz is much worse, with crosswalks, diagonally parked cars, and people coming at you from all sides. Oak Grove is a little calmer but not much. Making any one of these three more bike friendly would be a huge improvement, especially for people biking with kids (and for the older kids biking without adults). In my experience, this is the most urgently needed fix in our community.

Ideally, as Peter suggests, the various commissions and council members would look at these issues comprehensively, taking the needs of all citizens into account and not just approaching each decision in a piecemeal fashion.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2015 at 10:29 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is a professional's input on the ECR proposals:


Date: August 20, 2015

To: Honorable Mayor Carlton and distinguished members of the Menlo Park City Council

From: Harold Schapelhouman, Fire Chief

Regarding: El Camino Real

After thoroughly reviewing the July 2015, El Camino Real Corridor Study submitted by Whitlock & Weinberger Transportation Inc. after listening to their presentation and deliberation before the Planning Commission on March 5, 2015, in advance of your August 25, 2015 study session, I ask that you consider:

1. Creating a fourth option to “do nothing” until a thorough and complete review of the Cities circulation plan is done, or
2. Table this item until a comprehensive public safety analysis is included in the report and recommendations are reviewed by the Fire District, American Medical Response and the City, or
3. Conduct a six month monitored trial program for options 1 and 2
I have many concerns related to the overall safety of the public and the ability of Fire District and others to respond to emergencies given these limited options and incomplete data. In retrospect, it would have been important under the original vision and goals to have included language that stated something to the effect of “To not adversely impact or interrupt critical emergency response to the community” as a balancing point to this study.

This report, like others I have seen similar to it and reviewed related to El Camino and multi-modal transportation, does not consider or include in its “metrics” that El Camino Real is:

1. A designated primary emergency response route for the safety of the entire community based upon the recommendation of the Fire Chief and approved by resolution by the elected Fire Board
2. Needs to accommodate large emergency fire vehicles and private ambulances that operate under a time based performance system where they are fined for delays
3. Is one of only a few direct access routes to Stanford Hospital and it’s Emergency Trauma Center in Palo Alto and Kaiser Hospital and it’s Emergency Trauma Center in Redwood City
4. Helps support emergency automatic aid service agreements between Palo Alto, Redwood City, Woodside and the Fire District that allow the closest fire apparatus to respond to an emergency incident because time is a critical factor to incident escalation and mitigation
For those reasons alone, the Fire Board, in its correspondence to the Planning Commission and City Council, selected Option 1. After listening to the presentation to the Planning Commission, I believe that I need to clarify the Fire Board’s position and add that the limited options presented to the Planning Commission and City Council do NOT fully reflect what I believe the Council could or should responsibly consider because public safety was never included or studied by the consultants.

After analyzing the data and selecting the daily vehicle trips for the Santa Cruz, Ravenswood and Menlo intersections, an average total of 34,300 up to 46,700 vehicles per day on this stretch of El Camino Real, with presumably even higher occupancy counts, are matched against less than one hundred documented daily bicycle riders in the morning and evening in the same corridor, that equals an average of 343 to 467 vehicles for potentially just 1 bicyclist.

With the Alma Street bicycle path running parallel to El Camino Real for most of the length of the City, understanding that El Camino was designed as a State Highway and that the demographics of the community, per the US Census, shows that 14% of the community is over the age of 65 and more than likely will use a vehicle to travel around the community, the cost to benefit ratio is questionable given the acceptable alternatives.

The Fire District responded to 8,223 calls for service in 2014. Roughly 64% of those responses were for medical emergencies. Our data shows that 294 of those incidents occurred on, or along, El Camino Real. Most of those incidents in Menlo Park also involved the response of our partners in public safety, the Menlo Park Police Department and the County Ambulance provider, American Medical Response (AMR).

Until last year, the Fire District, was unaware of this study. Even worse, when I contacted the head of operations for AMR in San Mateo County, he was completely unaware of the study and very concerned because any changes that could potentially increase response times could also potentially compromise patient care, impact deployment and affect performance. This could also result in fines to AMR for time delays based upon its time based performance contract with the County.

In summary, Public safety is only referenced in this document for purposes of a skewed set of limited options associated with vehicle accidents, pedestrian and bicycle safety. We noted the report also references the California Department of Transportation “Complete Streets” document and its Grand Boulevard Initiatives related to “safe mobility for all users”. After researching those Initiatives and guiding principles, one thing I felt was lacking in the overarching Grand Boulevard document was that the design “tool box” does not list emergency response anywhere. There seems to be a significant blind spot associated with this topic and it has been all but ignored in all recent vendor analysis I have found in this community and others.

Some of the guiding points are helpful, such as #8, “Improved safety and public health”, which references designing parallel access routes to separate pedestrian and bike movement. As mentioned, the practical application to this point would be accomplished by using Alma Street as a primary bicycle path, which would also be a far safer and pleasant option rather than using El Camino Real.

The Fire District could also support guiding point #9 “to strengthen pedestrian and bicycle connections in the corridor”, because this will improve connectivity and reduce the distance between corridor crossings with adjacent neighborhoods where appropriate.

The El Camino Corridor Study does not show the Willow Place Bicycle Bridge to Palo Alto and how that bicycle route clearly inter-connects with Willow Road, Middlefield Road, Laurel and Alma Streets. Overall, the existing bicycle route network is understated and poorly represented in the report, perhaps to strengthen the need to emphasize the focus on El Camino Reals importance.

In the June 24, 2015 Guest Opinion portion of the Almanac, Lydia Lee of the Menlo Park Bicycle Commission quoted Architect David Baker who is a described “Urban Thinker” in San Francisco who said “a major commuter arterial in a community is like having an open sewer – it’s the source of many health problems”. No one likes pollution, but this isn’t San Francisco. That “open sewer” helps insure that trucks can deliver goods and services to the community or people’s homes, parents can use it to drive their kids to school and sporting events, the elderly can go shopping or visit friends and emergency responders can use it to save lives and property. The term “arterial” is important because like the human body, arteries that provide blood allow us to live.

In closing, as your Fire Chief, I support bicycles and those who safely wish to use them. I also support improving safe bicycle routes throughout the community that don’t conflict with our primary emergency response routes. I would not recommend the use of El Camino Real in Menlo Park by bicyclists because it is a fairly dangerous route and based upon those safety concerns and the numerous bicycle accidents I have seen over my 35 year career, where vehicles almost always win, I believe other more acceptable and safer bicycle route options exist for this community.























3 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 25, 2015 at 10:57 am

I'm just gonna throw this one out there. I, too, would like to see emergency vehicles able to get where they need to go and the current logjams on roads like ECR and Middlefield make this really tough.

Consider this: an available bike lane, striped but not fully separated by curbs or barriers, would actually function well as an emergency/break-down lane in ways that a third lane of traffic or the current configuration wouldn't. I don't pretend that it would be full of cars, and when I hear an emergency vehicle, my tendency is to hop my bike off the road altogether (an option not available to cars).

What am I missing? Why would three lanes of solid traffic be better in an emergency scenario than two lanes with a third striped for bikes? We aren't pretending that the three lanes would somehow improve flow, right?

(This is not a rhetorical question and I'm not trying to be sassy.)


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Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 25, 2015 at 11:03 am

Oops, hit "submit" without proofreading. I meant that it wouldn't be full of BIKES. I think some cyclists would use the ECR bike lanes but they wouldn't be as full as a car lane–which gives a little more slack to the system than currently exists.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2015 at 11:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" an available bike lane, striped but not fully separated by curbs or barriers, would actually function well as an emergency/break-down lane in ways that a third lane of traffic or the current configuration wouldn't."

No, a fire engine requires a full 12 ft lane to safely proceed and the Option 2 configuration would not provide that width.


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Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 25, 2015 at 11:30 am

But the lane would provide room for a car to move over, no?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2015 at 11:37 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sadly cars seldom yield to emergency vehicles these days.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm

David:

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts. Here are mine.

1. Yes, I am expressing an opinion but it is supported by a sound analysis using the most widely accepted methodology for evaluating the appeal of streets used in bike networks.

2. Neither bike lanes nor a separate path would make much of a difference because (a) there are 60 driveways and intersections where vehicles and bikes would still cross paths, and these are the most dangerous spots for bicyclists and motorists, not the short sections in between that would be protected with short physical dividers.

3. My conclusion about the ineffectiveness of buffered bike lanes is NOT speculation and has been confirmed by the author of the network design methodology that I used. Read my analysis. I note that you have not provided any data or logic that challenges mine. Why?

4. I ride on Sand Hill many times a week and appreciate that it is a much safer and less stressful riding environment than El Camino because it has great visibility, long stretches of bike lanes unbroken by busy private and public driveways and few intersections, especially west of 280. The effectiveness of bike lanes varies a great deal.

5. "evidence from the traffic study suggests that these changes shouldn't have much of an impact on motorists using El Camino Real after the changes have been made." Please provide the evidence you have referenced.

6. "most bicyclists don't have serious issues getting around on either side of El Camino Real, even with the current conditions. Your statement that "no bike facilities exist on streets that connect to and cross El Camino" suggests that cyclists are incapable of riding on our normally quiet city streets. You have missed my point entirely. I believe bike riders have many good options on either side of El Camino but cannot safely, conveniently access and cross this highway. Where do you recommend they do it? Valparaiso????

7. "The folks who think that mixing cars and bikes is not safe are simply wrong." Bike network designers would say that it depends on the riding environment, the type of bike facilities, and the riders. They make a living figuring out where to put bike facilities and what they should be and some places, e.g., 101, El Camino, the section of University between Santa Cruz and Menlo Avenues are not suitable for either the majority or any bike riders.

Again, you offer many opinions and most without any support. Why???


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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm

David Roise: Safety, bikes vs cars. I wish I could remember the attribution (CHP, I think) but it said that in case of deaths when a bike and car collide bicyclists are to blame 67% of the time. For those that scoff at anything the CHP might say it goes further to say when someone was under the influence in these accidents , bicyclists were still ahead by 2:1.


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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2015 at 1:00 pm

CB:

In the watching of crime TV shows they always say that lawyers shouldn't ask questions they don't know the answers to. Not being a lawyer but just very curious I'll ask that type of question of you feeling that you are a truthful person: Have you ever been in an accident while on your bicycle? If so, were you injured?

Also, I have to question that you aren't scared out of your wits many times riding your bicycle in automobile traffic as you watch out for cars not obeying the traffic laws.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

One more example of who loses in a bicycle-car interaction:

"A 65-year-old Portola Valley woman who had been heading east on Alpine Road on a bicycle at about 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19, was taken to Stanford Hospital after colliding with a small westbound station wagon making a left turn at Indian Crossing, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office."


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what California State law requires regarding Complete Streets:

"The circulation system is a primary determinant of the pattern of human settlement. It has a
major impact on the areas and activities it serves because of its potential to both provide accessibility
and act as a barrier. The circulation system should be accessible to all segments of the population,
including the disadvantaged, the young, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled."

And the State guidance makes clear that not every street must be a complete street but rather that the city's total street network accommodate " all segments of the population,including the disadvantaged, the young, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled."

"the statute requires the circulation element be modified to plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation NETWORK that meets the needs of all users of streets, roads, and highways. The statute defines “all users of streets, roads, and highways” as “bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers
of commercial goods, pedestrians, users of public transportation, and seniors.”
Transportation NETWORKS should additionally consider pedestrian, bicycle, and transit
routes, which may not always be located on or along streets, roads, and highways."


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Posted by wanna be biker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 25, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I looked at Dana's website and am troubled that the chart about existing service levels portrays good access from the east to schools on the west side. Isn't it just as bad as going from the west to schools on the east?

East-west connectivity across El Camino and the RR tracks is bad, but there are also horrendous problems getting to destinations north and south from there. It is nuts to have to bike up to University for example in order to get from Ravenswood to the Oasis.

Residents need much better north-south connectivity to get around within Menlo Park. Absent a well-designed FULL network that has all segments connected, the only reasonable solution is lanes on El Camino.

I heartily agree with Carpenter about undergrounding HSR and the train. Maybe even through traffic on El Camino (charge Fast Track for that). The Council needs to think longer term and bigger to improve things.


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Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 25, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Peter, there's no room, no money, and no political will to create the completely separate bike facility that you keep describing. I wish there were but it will never happen and I suspect you know this. Given that people are probably going to keep biking places on the roads, despite being bowling pins lined up for slaughter, I think it is prudent to take steps to make common routes through our town safer. I hope you, a vocal public safety advocate, don't disagree.

Norman, in my 15 years of biking on an almost daily basis, I've had multiple bike crashes, some of them fairly severe, and at least one due to my own incompetence (and that was the one that sold me on helmets). None involved a car, thank God, although I know my luck could change and I am taking a calculated risk every time I hop on my bike. Yes, sometimes it is scary, just as driving on the freeway and having a speeding car almost merge into me is scary. I take comfort in the knowledge that the vast majority of drivers aren't actually trying to kill me and will avoid me as long as I can be seen/heard--so I focus on being a visible and predictable cyclist. Same principle as avoiding driving in someone's blind spot on the freeway.

Provided that you and I both continue to pay attention when we're in/on our respective vehicles, we can do our part to reduce risk.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I think it is prudent to take steps to make common routes through our town safer. I hope you, a vocal public safety advocate, don't disagree."

I agree entirely and defer to the Fire Chief's professional assessment that bicycle lanes on ECR would be unsafe.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2015 at 4:36 pm

wanna be biker, you are right that east-west bike network connectivity is not good in either directions. Most elementary school children ride to public schools that are on their own side of El Camino - think Oak Knoll, Laurel and Encinal as do middle school students who live on the west side who attend Hillview. However, students on the east side must cross El Camino Real to reach Hillview. The exact school location makes a big difference, for example students attending St Raymonds, Sacred Heart and Menlo School can cross El Camino at Glenwood/Valparaiso but this primeter route is not as convenient for those living south of Ravenswood. I am highlighting this situation because young students are the largest group of bike riders. Have I answerer your question?


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Posted by wanna be biker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 25, 2015 at 5:08 pm

@ Dana - I agree that the exact origin and destination locations matter a lot. That's why some of the overall assessments don't make much sense.
BTW - I don't understand why students are going to Encinal or Laurel from west side, and why students from east side are not going to Hillview (THE public middle school in Menlo Park). Also, students going from east to St. Raymond on Santa Cruz are unlikely to go to Valparaiso first. The most direct routes are poor.

A long-term plan that is better than the current bike plan is overdue.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2015 at 5:40 pm

wanna be biker:

1. Per the school district map some students living on the west side are actually in the Encinal district =>attend Encinal and Laurel Schools.

2. You are correct middle school students on the east side DO go to Hillview and the rating should be poor. I will correct this error.

3. Students living on the east can take Laurel to Glenwood and cross to Valparaiso to reach the private schools. If they live north of Ravenswood it is not that inconvenient; if they live south of Ravenswood their choices are poor = > Ravenswood, Oak Grove and Glenwood. So I averaged the rating and assigned a "good". That is subjective.

Thanks for pointing out an error and for the constructive exchange.


3 people like this
Posted by Ram Duriseti
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2015 at 3:00 pm

I say the following as an avid bike commuter and a supporter of many of the pro-biking arguments presented here:

The people of Menlo Park had a choice in the last election and there were clear choices in two of the six candidates for those who cared about improving the livability and increasing the "bikability" of Menlo Park. The majority of voters clearly sent a signal about what mattered most to them.

While I may personally feel that it was a myopic choice, the electorate chose according to their preferences. The city council that was chosen reflects those preferences and is, appropriately, responsive to those expressed preferences.


2 people like this
Posted by maximusgolden
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm

I have high respect for both Peter Carpenter and our FIre Chief.

That said, I don't think their assertion that increasing bikeways (and thereby reducing street space for parking and through traffic) should be taken as a overwhelming rationale to reject bike lanes on El Camino.

We live in a complex world. There are risks everywhere. If one accepts that activities such as bicycle commuting improve health, thereby adding to quality-adjusted health years--the economic criteria that is commonly used to evaluate public health investments--it is reasonable to ask whether society is better off with more convenient (and I assert, higher utilization) bike lanes rather than maintaining more traffic and parking lanes. It is possible that delays for fire or ambulance will lead to higher mortality. But is that higher mortality as measured in quality-adjusted health years greater than the benefit provided by better bike infrastructure.

Just because ambulances and fire personnel may be somewhat delayed does not mean we should reject bike lanes. Civic life is full of tradeoffs.

A similar analysis could be used to determine whether it makes economic sense to install lanes separated by fixed barriers or if space and markings on the street are sufficient.


7 people like this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 26, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Peter Carpenter,

No, bike lanes on ECR would not be unsafe. ECR with no bike lanes IS unsafe.


3 people like this
Posted by Conscience
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 26, 2015 at 5:07 pm

To Maximus,

I do hope that if your home is on fire or you have a medical emergency that the emergency response vehicles are not delayed by reduced vehicle access! We have a responsibility to all citizens of our community: bikers, auto drivers, pedestrians, transit users.


4 people like this
Posted by wanna be biker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 26, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I think the concerns are quite overblown about a bike lane interfering with emergency vehicles. A bike lane is more narrow than the current parking areas. Bikers will pull over when they hear emergency vehicles approaching.

A third vehicle lane, on the other hand, puts large vehicles in all space of El Camino. That leaves little room for cars and trucks to pull out of the way.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I think the concerns are quite overblown about a bike lane interfering with emergency vehicles."

The emergency professionals disagree with you.


18 people like this
Posted by Laurel Mom
a resident of Laurel School
on Aug 26, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Dear Fellow Menlo Park Community Members,

I am a mom of a 5 year old and a 7 year old at Laurel. I am not connected to any biking agenda/special interest group. I have no idea who any of the posters are on this website. I've just been reading along and feel compelled to share my family's experiences with biking in Menlo Park.

When my family moved to Menlo Park 2 1/2 years ago, we purchased two trailer bikes (the little child seat/wheels that connect to an adult-size bike) so that we could take advantage of this beautiful, flat area and ride our kids around. We are not avid bikers but we were excited to move to a town that we thought was full of kids riding bikes in the streets, etc., and we looked forward to riding to the farmers market, school, other activities.

We have taken our kids two times on the bikes to Downtown Menlo Park. The East to West ride consists of riding on Middlefield (relatively safe), traveling up Ravenswood (less safe), dealing with the bike lane disappearing on Ravenswood before the train tracks and getting to El Camino/crossing El Camino (completely unsafe and terrifying) and then traveling up Menlo Avenue past Trader Joe's to get to the middle of Downtown (unsafe). After attempting this harrowing journey twice, and not seeing a convenient/safe alternative, we have not attempted this ride in ages.

Because of the horrible East/West route situation, we have taken our kids, and our business, on a more frequent basis, South to Downtown Palo Alto. We are able to take Middlefield to Willow and then travel over the bike/pedestrian bridge and then bike along Bryant (a bike-friendly street). We would love to patronize our own town and feel part of the Menlo Park community, however, getting there on our bikes isn't safe for us.

I see a lot of discussions on the Almanac about Downtown Menlo Park and how it needs business, needs people, etc. How can we (or anyone who lives here) support Downtown when we can't even get there?

In 4 years my daughter will start at Hillview. There is no way I would let her ride her bike there with the current East/West riding situation.

Thanks for reading,
Laurel Mom

P.S. This might need to be in another thread, but another place we don't bike to because of safety is our elementary school. Laurel Elementary is 0.8 miles away from our house. I wish I could bike my kids to school (today it took me almost 15 minutes to get home from the Laurel parking lot). I'm even nervous to walk my kids to school (and we aren't early enough risers to do so).

Coleman Avenue is a disaster and a major tragedy waiting to happen. The morning traffic going South to North on Coleman and the afternoon traffic going North to South is dangerous. The street is barely wide enough to fit 2 cars, yet there are no sidewalks, trees in the middle of the road (I love trees, but these create such a hazard), bikers (including very young children who are unpredictable when they ride and who swerve all over the place, MA high school students strolling three across, newly licensed high school students driving to MA, construction crews, people parking and getting out of their cars to get to either MA or Laurel and on and on.

My understanding is that this road belongs to the County vs. the City...but someone has to do something about Coleman. One idea I've heard include having Coleman be one way for cars and 2 ways for bikes. Cars would have to take Middlefield or Bay to deal with this inconvenience. I just know that at some point someone is going to get very hurt. Also, the school district will be opening Upper Laurel in the Willows (Grades 3-5; the current Laurel will be Lower Laurel and will be K-2) and families will be using Coleman more than ever to get back and forth between the schools.

I don't know the history of this road and what's been tried, but if there's anything that can be done, please let me know.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 7:47 am

Laurel Mom: Your thoughtful comment is well written and your views well supported with clear logic and facts. Thank you. I wish more parents with school age children would express their views here and to our City Council. Our community leaders need to hear your particular concerns. They also need to make decisions based on solid analysis. So far, neither our city leaders nor residents have seen a comprehensive study of the likely benefits and costs of El Camino bike facilities because none has been performed. The focus should be on cyclist AND motorist safety; vehicle congestion; loss of a large number of parking spaces; cyclist, motorist and pedestrian comfort/convenience; and the impact on El Camino business owners. You can view my assessments of the individual claims supporters of El Camino bike facilities constantly make at Web Link. Again, thanks. Please encourage other parents to get involved as their children are THE largest group of existing and future cyclists in our city.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:05 am

Maximusgolden, Robert Cronin, wanna be biker; I welcome your personal opinions but feel they would be more helpful to other readers if you supported your concerns and claims with credible facts and logic. Our city leaders and residents are all handicapped by the lack of a comprehensive analysis of the likely benefits and negative impacts of El Camino bike faciliities. Hopefully, the City Council will not make any major decisions without one. We deserve better.


8 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:48 am

really? is a registered user.

Toxic Town!

The Bike lanes on ECR debate has now gone down the track of so many other Menlo Park project. Everyone in Menlo park has an interest in less cars, more bikes, and better connectivity. Everyone wants better development, more trees, quieter trains, better shops, etc.

But like so many Menlo Park issues, Bikes have been co-opted by an us vs. them attitude, where everyone is encouraged to choose a side. And then sense flies out the window and we then all get what we deserve.

What is it with Menlo Park? Inferiority complex? Strange demographic? Confused identity? Disparate population groups who don't empathize with each other?

We need some kind of Kum-by-ya moment to realize we're all in this together.


10 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:14 am

As a mother biking to school and camp and martial arts with my young son, I second everything Laurel Mom said. This morning, running late, we took the most direct route to school. It involved hopping on the sidewalk in a couple of places to avoid getting squeezed by giant buses. At one point, crossing El Camino at the Roble intersection (because Menlo in the morning is a disaster waiting to happen) I had to ring my bell loudly and use hand signals to show the left-turning driver that we really were coming across--and she was visibly annoyed. We don't have good established routes in this town. Palo Alto is way ahead in this regard, although biking through downtown PA with a kid is also kind of terrifying. I wish all these people who are annoyed with us for being in the road would speak up in favor of better bike routes. We shouldn't have to resort to the sidewalk, or hold up drivers while we "take the lane" by the train tracks on Ravenswood. And yet if we are in a car, we are contributing to the traffic, the smog, and potentially the drought. We all win when bike routes are clearly delineated.


6 people like this
Posted by Why ECR for Bikes?
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 27, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I think we can all agree that cycling, when safe, is a great activity, that offers many benefits to the rider and the environment, and should be encouraged. That said, we have to ask ourselves, encouraged at what cost?

From everything I've read and experienced as a cyclist, parent of cyclists, and driver, putting bike lanes on ECR is a bad idea. If cyclists need north-south routes, we already have alternatives, To the east, they could go on Alma, Laurel or Middlefield, and to the west, on University, San Mateo or Alameda. Each of these routes is far less busy with cars than ECR, has fewer lights, and some already have bike lanes. Is ECR really needed?

Bike connectivity to/from PA and Atherton/RC on ECR is nonexistent. PA has an extremely effective and popular bike path on Bryant. There are also well-marked and traveled bike lanes to/from Stanford on Sand Hill Rd. Anyone traveling between PA and MP would be better served taking Bryant to the bike bridge to Laurel or Middlefield. Likewise, the best route from Stanford would be the bike bridge to San Mateo Dr. Again, why is ECR needed?

What we really need, as others have noted, are safe routes for east-west passage. Kids traveling to M-A and Hillview need safer ways to get to and from school. Why not put bike transportation dollars towards creating real bike lanes on Valparaiso, Middle, Ravenswood and Encinal? Why not ask Caltrain cede some land by the tracks behind Staples/CVS to create a safe passage so people can get between Middle and Ravenswood?

Limited dollars should go where they serve the greatest need. ECR does not meet that test.


2 people like this
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Today, I made some photocopies at FedEx Kinko, on the corner of ECR and Oak Grove. Then I went (by bike) to the UPS Store on ECR just south of Middle Avenue, using the most direct route, ECR(surprise). How would any of the anti-bike crowd that don't want me to ride my bike on ECR have made this simple trip? And how would they have returned to my home in the Willows?


4 people like this
Posted by Step back
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Dana: The City has conducted a study of the ECR corridor and it was expensive (approximately $500,000). Consequently, the Council and staff now have the facts. If you do not agree with the findings, that is your choice but the time to gather the information and hear from the community is coming to a close. The Council appears to be willing to test the consultant's findings by constructing a bike lane for a period of time.
It is time for you and Mr. Carpenter to step back and see how this test works.


2 people like this
Posted by Water
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Water is a registered user.

Why does Menlo Park have to become "truly-bike friendly"?


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Wanna be biker: If the claim made by the fire chief of the Menlo Park District does not feel right to you then I encourage you to contact him, get an explanation, and then share what you learn with the rest of it. You could also talk to the police department and an ambulance service to understand their positions and rationales. That would be a fine contribution to this discussion.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" The City has conducted a study of the ECR corridor and it was expensive (approximately $500,000). Consequently, the Council and staff now have the facts. "

To show how this entire process was biased by and catered to the bicyclists' special interest group look at the word search of that 630 page study:

fire = zero mentions
emergency = 1 mention
disabled = 1 mention
wheelchair = 1 mention

Sadly the Council and staff did not have the facts but rather the results of a very biased study.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Step back:

1. The city has spent only about half of the study budget to complete what amounts to a feasibility study; it has not done an impact analysis on cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. At the August 25 meeting the consultant claimed they had completed a "cyclist safety and comfort analysis". So where are the results???

2. Why would you want our city to spend the rest (about $200,000) BEFORE a bike network consulting firm has assessed the likely impacts?

Alta design worked on our 2004 comprehensive bike network plan and has been used by many cities on Peninsula who also share El Camino and NONE have made a full commitment to adding bike facilities to their stretch of this highway. I think we should wonder why?

3. A field trial would be incredibly disruptive and should follow an impact analysis ONLY IF the results are encouraging.


1 person likes this
Posted by Why ECR for Bikes?
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 27, 2015 at 7:23 pm

Robert Cronin,
Clearly, the straightest line from one spot on ECR to another on ECR is along ECR. However, it wouldn't have taken you too far out of your way to take Oak Grove to University, and then go south to Cambridge to the UPS store. In fact, with lights on ECR, it might have been faster. As for getting home to the Willows, I'd suggest crossing ECR at Alma, taking the bike bridge back to MP, and then riding down Willow. As the kids say, easy peasy.


2 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:13 pm

Easy Peasy if you are a local, sure. But that is local knowledge that isn't readily obvious to someone not local to Menlo Park. We don't lay out our streets only for the convenience of residents. We understand that the vast majority of cars on El Camino are just passing through Menlo Park. We don't tell them to take some circuitous non-obvious route. Many of the people biking on ECR are also just passing through. We don't hand out maps of bike routes at the city line. Expecting people to have insider knowledge of every municipality they pass through on their commute is not realistic.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Many of the people biking on ECR are also just passing through"

Just what % of bikers on ECR are "just passing through"?


2 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Why does it matter what percentage? And who exactly would you expect to fund that type of data collection, Peter?

What I do know is that Caltrans has set a goal of tripling the mode share for bicycles by 2020. (Web Link) Caltrans, as you know, is the agency that controls ECR.

I do know that I see people biking along ECR in Redwood City, in Atherton, in Menlo Park, in Palo Alto. It is not any sort of leap to understand that some of the people currently riding on El Camino are crossing multiple jurisdictions.


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Posted by Why ECR for Bikes?
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:41 pm

Tunbridge Wells,
Robert Cronin asked how his errand route could be handed by bike. Most people running errands in MP are locals, and know the streets.
However, for non-locals, If MP created dedicated bike lanes, they would be noted on mapping services such as Google Maps. As a specific example, I live in Felton Gables. If I want to drive to downtown PA, Google Maps tells me to take ECR or Middlefield. However, if I specify that I want to bike, it sends me down Laurel, across the creek, and on to Bryant. Your hypothetical bike visitor would be directed to the efficient and safe way to get where she wants to go.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Why does it matter what percentage?'

Simply because you claim that "Many of the people biking on ECR are also just passing through".

It would seem that you must have some basis for your claim.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Mr. Wells.

1. Menlo Park should place a much higher priority on serving the needs of our residents than those users who are just passing thru. Agree? The greatest Menlo Park biking need is enabling school age children to safely, conveniently and comfortably cross Menlo Park.

2. City that are bike-friendly provide convenient wayfarer signs that help non-residents find the best bikes routes to popular destinations. So insider knowledge is unneccessary. And yes, we should have a Mnelo Park bike map on our city website so visitors can access it from their mobile phones. The fact we don't is another indication that the city is not-bike friendly.


3. Just because Caltarn wishes to "triple bike share" on ECR doesn't mean Peninsula cities will support it.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

Maybe it's time for Menlo Park to eliminate sidewalks along El Camino and direct pedestrians to take the same circuitous routes as the bicyclists. This would also free up more room for cars and emergency vehicles on El Camino.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2015 at 10:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Or Menlo Park could eliminate ECR medians and instal Class 1 pedestrian and bicycle pathways on ECR.

"Class I Bikeway (Bike Path). Provides a completely separated right of way for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with crossflow by motorists minimized."

Some relevant guidance from CalTRANS - a source that has been largely ignored in this process even though they own ECR:

"1001.3 The Decision to Develop Bikeways
The decision to develop bikeways should be made with the knowledge that bikeways are not the solution to all bicycle-related problems. Many of the common problems are related to improper bicyclist and motorist behavior and can only be corrected through effective education and enforcement programs. The development of well conceived bikeways can have a positive effect on bicyclist and motorist behavior. Conversely, poorly conceived bikeways can be counterproductive to education and enforcement programs."

Note - Conversely, poorly conceived bikeways can be counterproductive to education and enforcement programs.

Why was the OWNER of ECR not involved in the Council's Study Session?


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Mike Keenly, your familiar sarcasm adds nothing substantive to this otherwise constructive discussion. Why are we not surprised? Are personal attacks next?


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Posted by concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Interesting that almost half (45%) of the 105 comments are made by two people.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I would welcome more participation by others in this Forum so that the "Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."

And I would welcome a broader range of opinions and facts being presented to the City Council.


2 people like this
Posted by dan hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2015 at 1:58 pm

concerned, wow, that's a constructive comment. I wrote the guest opinion so I feel a personal responsibility to answer constructive questions about what I have said. (And NOT anonymously). I'll even answer yours, if they are constructive. Those who resort to challenging ideas they oppose and resort to subtle or personal attacks, generally have nothing substantive to contribute. Rationale individuals of goodwill never need to resort to such tactics. Welcome, to the club. If you measure the substantive content - objectively - of all the comments in this thread you could see that proponents of bike facilities have offered little more than platitudes. Agree?


9 people like this
Posted by David Roise
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 28, 2015 at 6:01 pm

Dana

Despite your claims of seeking a more polite and respectful dialog in this forum, you seem to have adopted the Peter Carpenter tactic of belittling the comments of those who disagree with you as lacking “credible facts and logic”, whereas the comments of those who agree with you are “well written” and “well supported with clear logic and facts". You and Mr. Carpenter also favor repeating the same points over and over again in multiple posts, and never letting anyone who disagrees with you have the last word. No wonder those of us who would like to have a reasonable dialog get tired of this process and simply stop responding.

Since you took the time to respond to my previous post, however, I am going to take the time here to respond to your comments. As you will probably see, I have done my best to wade through your "analysis", so please don't accuse me of not having read it. I am comfortable that my points are based on "credible facts and logic", although I am sure you will try to dodge at least some of them.

Respectfully, here goes...

(numbering below based on your August 25 comments regarding my August 25 post)

1 and 3. You claim that your analysis is "supported by a sound analysis using the most widely accepted methodology for evaluating the appeal of streets used in bike networks". I'm not a traffic engineer (are you?), but I don't see how the Mekuria et al. study, which was just published in May of 2012, could reasonably be viewed as "the most widely accepted methodology" in this field after such a short time. I have done internet searches looking for citations to the Mekuria study in more recent bikeway analyses and have not found any. I have left a telephone message for Maaza Mekuria and am hoping to hear his opinion of your analysis, but he has not yet responded. In the meantime, please let us know the basis for your statement that this study uses "the most widely accepted methodology". In addition, did Maaza Mekuria actually review your analysis and conclusions, and did he agree with them?

2 and 4. I agree that driveways and intersections are objectively the most dangerous places for bicycles and cars to interact, but the Mekuria study doesn't assess objective safety per se, only bicyclists' perception of safety (i.e., "stress"). Your comments and analysis frequently conflate objective danger with subjective stress, so it is often hard to follow which one you are talking about.

That said, I have read your analysis and also the Mekuria study and have some issues with how you have applied the Mekuria criteria to El Camino Real. Specifically, I note that your analysis ranks every segment of El Camino Real as LTS4 (Mekuria scale), in major part because the "multilane including turn lanes" criterion for the segments ranks as LTS4 in each case and is thus the "weakest link". On page 15 of your document "Would Many Cyclists Use New Bike Facilities On El Camino Real in Menlo Park" you provide support for this ranking by cutting and pasting text from page 21 of Mekuria. What you fail to mention is that this section of Mekuria relates to the level of stress when riding in "mixed traffic", which is specifically defined in Mekuria as road segments LACKING bike lanes. In other words, you have assigned stress levels for an El Camino Real WITH bike lanes using stress rankings for an El Camino Real WITHOUT bike lanes.

A better ranking for an El Camino Real with bike lanes is LTS3, since according to Mekuria at page 13, LTS3 stress is "comparable to bike lanes on many American arterials". LTS4 would correspond better to the current El Camino Real configuration, where the stress "corresponds to riding in mixed traffic at 35 mph or more". Id. Although I wouldn't put too much faith in any of these exact numbers, or even in this analysis generally, I think a reasonable application of Mekuria to El Camino Real with bike lanes would put most of the road in the LTS3 category and therefore at least suitable for Geller's "enthused and confident" category of bicyclists. Given that we are already waving our hands, let's say that means 5-10% of Menlo Park residents would consider riding on an El Camino Real with bike lanes. That level is clearly significantly higher than the "less than 1% of Menlo Park residents" you conclude. This was a fairly glaring error in your analysis, so it makes me less confident in your conclusions generally. (See also below.) Did you really not understand this point?

The mistakes in your analysis of El Camino Real make my case stronger that there is relatively little difference between current Sand Hill Road and a future El Camino Real with bike lanes. I agree that the additional driveways on El Camino Real cause additional conflicts, but that shouldn't be the primary consideration. I don't think there can be any dispute that cyclists riding on a future El Camino Real with bike lanes will be significantly less stressed than they are now.

5. My evidence for the lack of an impact on motorists comes from the August 3, 2015 El Camino Real Corridor Study, Chapter 7, Alternatives Analysis showing minimal change in traffic volumes and travel times for Alternatives 2 and 3. OK?

6. You said: "I believe bike riders have many good options on either side of El Camino but cannot safely, conveniently access and cross this highway."

Mekuria says (page 27): "Signalized crossings do not usually present a barrier to cycling and were therefore not part of the criteria applied in this study."

In other words, your own favorite study wouldn't consider any of the signalized intersections on El Camino Real to be stressful or to create barriers to crossing, and those intersections were not even considered in the study. Instead, the barriers to crossing considered by Mekuria were UNsignalized crossings. This goes to my original point that "large numbers of bicyclists are already riding on those streets—and even crossing El Camino Real at the major intersections—with relatively little stress." It would also seem to undercut almost the entire basis for your conclusion that El Camino Real is a huge east-west barrier to connectivity. Although, as noted by other bicyclists above, there could certainly be improvements in accessing El Camino Real at some of the busiest intersections, particularly Menlo/Ravenswood, crossing El Camino Real is not typically a problem at most intersections. For what it's worth, one or the other of my own children have biked from west of El Camino Real to M-A High School nearly every day of the school year for the past five years (as they did nearly every day to Oak Knoll and Hillview Schools for nine years before that), but I am probably just a bad dad.

7. Biking on most city streets is objectively as safe an activity as almost anything we do. Period. Web Link Attempts to scare people about the dangers of bicycling and to make them think they need separated bike facilities everywhere is either misguided or just another way for motorists to try to keep bicyclists out of the way.

I'm sure most people probably won't bother wading through this whole post, as I'm also sure most people haven't read your analysis or even looked at the Mekuria study. I hope they get the point, however, that despite your presumed monopoly on "facts and logic", there are some issues with your conclusions. You may believe what you say, but as Stephen Colbert knows, there is a difference between truth and truthiness.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the Peter Carpenter tactic of belittling the comments of those who disagree with you as lacking "credible facts and logic","

Please give examples of such belittling.

I do have a strong preference for verifiable facts and clear logic but expecting those is no belittling anyone.

If someone claims that "Many of the people biking on ECR are also just passing through" then it would seem reasonable to ask them to for the basis for their claim.

Both Dana and I are willing to put our names and therefore our reputations on the line by posting comments here using our real names yet anonymous posters take no risk of their reputations or of being personally attacked.

.


8 people like this
Posted by wanna be biker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 29, 2015 at 7:56 am

Let's proceed with the trial. There is much to be learned.


1 person likes this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2015 at 1:42 pm

First. ECR for the last number of years, 40 years of crazy traffic and I 51 years old. Riding a bike on El Camino was like a white knuckle ride with the thrills of a one track roller coaster.

Develop north-south routes on either side of El Camino Real.

Second. Identify good places to build bike parking racks within reasonable distance of each other and stores. One could ride from the west on a safe bike route and travel north and south of El Camino with ease.

Third. Bike and pedestrian crossing over El Camino, wide enough, smarter would be to have raised sidewalks for pedestrians to keep bikes separate and in lanes for bikes and skateboarding.

Over or under the tracks. In some cases you need separation of cyclists and non cyclists.

As for emergency vehicles don't cyclists have to yield


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 29, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"As for emergency vehicles don't cyclists have to yield "

Bicylists on the roadway have to obey ALL the same laws as do cars.

"21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application."

"21806. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency
vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted
lamp exhibiting red light that is visible, under normal atmospheric
conditions, from a distance of 1,000 feet to the front of the
vehicle, the surrounding traffic shall, except as otherwise directed
by a traffic officer, do the following:
(a) (1) Except as required under paragraph (2), the driver of
every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall
immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway,
clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain
stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.
(2) A person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use
lane shall exit that lane immediately upon determining that the exit
can be accomplished with reasonable safety.
(b) The operator of every street car shall immediately stop the
street car, clear of any intersection, and remain stopped until the
authorized emergency vehicle has passed.
(c) All pedestrians upon the highway shall proceed to the nearest
curb or place of safety and remain there until the authorized
emergency vehicle has passed."
****


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Posted by Take Away What License?
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2015 at 11:42 pm

So if a bicyclist violates rules of the road, does he lose his license to bicycle? There is no operator's license for a bicycle. How about this: when consultants say jump, you ask HOW HIGH? Then, you get out of your car or truck, get down on all fours and bark like a dog. Dogs are not allowed in public off-leash. So, you will be taken to an animal shelter and "put to sleep." Happy dreams


3 people like this
Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2015 at 11:21 am

OK, let me say it: I think people are nuts for bicycling where there are 2,000 lb cars driving 25-40 mph next to them. Veteran bicyclists have all had the scares of their lives and actual collisions biking; maybe that's why they do it, the danger is a thrill.

This whole process is about some people who think they should get benefits massively out of proportion to their numbers because they are the 'good' ones, ie non-polluting getting exercise etc. We've already gone down that road with the misnamed Traffic Calming Santa Cruz Ave fiasco. Let's put this to rest; it just isn't worth it.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 30, 2015 at 11:28 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are some very wise and pertinent words from one of Palo Alto's most insightful commentaries on the on-going process to do a new Circulation Element in Palo Alto:

"When one looks at the draft Transportation Element, the disparities indicate that one interest group was overwhelmingly dominant: a subset of bicyclists. As I read the various items, I saw instance after instance where there seemed to have been no one to challenge them about practicality, cost-effectiveness and other tradeoffs. For example, Policy RC3.1"Seek to increase the number of east-west pedestrian and bicycle crossing along Alma Street, particularly south of Oregon Expressway." Yes, there are long stretches without crossings, and there have been a couple of times a crossing between Oregon and Meadow would have been convenient to me. However, I have never gotten a responsive answer to the practical question "What is the actual need? That is, where would people be coming from and going to, and how many such people are there?" Tunnels and overpasses are ridiculously expensive, and there are so many more cost-effective things you can do for bicyclists and pedestrians. Oh, I forgot—for some, Palo Alto is a "Cost is no object" zone. "

"Policy T5.1 "… Prioritize pedestrian, bicycle, automobile safety and transit accessibility over vehicle Level-Of-Service at intersections." Unless you have been in a bunch of meetings on bike safety, you probably don't realize how counter-productive, even dangerous, this policy is (it is inherited from the current CompPlan). You are at a meeting and a lone bicyclist or pedestrian claims that a particular feature of an intersection makes them "feel" unsafe, and request/demand substantial changes, often ones that are likely to increase congestion (decrease LOS). Since these are personal feelings, they cannot be subjected to considerations of facts, logic or risk-assessment. That person will reject simple work-arounds with little more than "I shouldn't have to." For pedestrians, this may mean refusing to detour tens of feet (crossing elsewhere in the intersection); for bicyclists, refusing to take an established bike route 1-2 blocks away. Even though these people make only a modest attempt to cover their self-absorption with a thin veil of ideology, this policy makes it hard for Staff to tell them "No". Recognize that caving in to such people isn't simply a matter of inconveniencing thousands of others, reduced LOS (increased congestion) pushes traffic onto residential streets, creating a disproportionate danger. This policy fails both in how it makes tradeoffs at the intersection in question and in failing to consider the ripple effects of reduced LOS. "


Doug's full comments cab be seen here:
Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:16 am

I don't think that Menlo Park's current plans are enough to make El Camino "bike-friendly" unless you twist the definition. If you want to make it a place where people from ages 8 to 80 feel comfortable riding their bikes, then you need to go a lot farther than anything that has been proposed. Separated or protected bike lanes, a.k.a. cycletracks, can only work if you also:
1) eliminate on-street parking
2) eliminate all driveways and mid-block crossings, leaving them fully protected except at intersections
3) modify all the intersections to be protected or Dutch-style intersections to mitigate the crossing dangers that the cycletracks introduce. Davis is installing one, and you can find more about them at Web Link

This would require a major re-design of all the buildings, putting parking lots in the back or underground with no access from El Camino. I don't think Menlo Park (or any other city except Davis) has the courage to go that far, but anything short of that is a bit of a sham and unlikely to be truly safe for all bicyclists.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Donald - I agree and thanks for the great article on Protected Bicycle Intersections.


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