Menlo Park to gather data on impact of Middle Avenue traffic safety pilot project | November 17, 2023 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - November 17, 2023

Menlo Park to gather data on impact of Middle Avenue traffic safety pilot project

by Cameron Rebosio

Menlo Park's Middle Avenue pilot project is getting a mixed reaction, so commissioners at a Nov. 8 Complete Streets meeting came up with a plan to track its success and conduct outreach.

The City Council voted to remove street parking along sections of Middle Avenue in September. The pilot project aimed to increase street safety, particularly for cyclists who could be injured by a car door opening into the bike lane.

Residents complained about a perceived lack of community outreach, many of whom showed up to council meetings to say they hadn't heard about the parking removal proposal until the last few council meetings held on the topic.

Staffers said they had received several emails from people who use Middle Avenue about the pilot project, with about half positive and half negative. Many of those concerned questioned whether the project was accomplishing anything, and wondering how many cyclists benefited.

The commissioners said that they saw a community survey as an opportunity to also inform residents about Menlo Park's Vision Zero plan, which aims to reduce collision-related fatalities in the city to zero and injuries by 50% by 2040.

The city plans to collect data about the pilot project, including traffic volume, in early 2024m with a focus on February. The timing of data collection was a concern because fewer families use Nealon Park, located on Middle Avenue, in the winter, while fewer children are biking in the summer as school is out.

The commission also set out to survey residents in early 2024, saying that they heard from 700 residents last time. Since a core goal of the pilot project is to protect children who bike to and from school, the commission decided to work with schools to reach them.

The data collected will aid city staff in determining whether the changes to Middle Avenue should become permanent.

City staff will also evaluate parking occupancy to ensure that the removal of parking isn't overly detrimental to residents and users of Middle Avenue. City staff are also planning two community meetings for early 2024, one in-person and one online.

The Middle Avenue pilot project is currently in effect for a minimum of six months, but does not have a specific end date. n


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