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Bike Safety at Laurel Elementary School

Original post made by Manfred Kopisch, Laurel School, on Feb 9, 2007

Is bike safety for children really an issue? To many people it is not, because they feel it is not safe for children to bike in our streets and thus they don't bike with them. To me that is part of the bigger issue, that we accept unsafe streets for our children as a given and then use our cars to bring them everywhere. In my opinion we as a community should provide a safe traffic environment for all modes of transportation, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Especially the routes to our schools deserve our undivided attention to ensure that all our children make it safely to school.

My youngest daughter and I bike every day to Laurel Elementary School. Parking on the first 0.4 miles of shoulder along Ringwood Ave, starting at Middlefield Ave, is not allowed. For reasons beyond me parking is allowed on the last 300 feet before the guarded crosswalk at Edge Rd. That makes biking on these last 300 feet very dangerous as you can see in this video:

Web Link

I thought it would be a no-brainer to extend the existing no-parking zone by roughly 300 feet to make it safe for our children. But I was wrong. I'm dealing with the County of San Mateo since September and as a last effort wrote the following email to the President of the Board of Supervisors and included the video you just saw. So far I didn't receive an answer - which is a common experience for me in my dealings with the County. No one at the County of San Mateo is willing to answer the very simple yes-no-question whether this situation is safe for our children.

After doing this on my own for several months I'm now reaching out to our Laurel Community as well as the extended Menlo Park and Atherton Communities in the hope that bigger community support helps to convince the authorities to act - and act fast. I certainly don't want them to wait until a child gets hurt in an accident. Do you think this situation is safe for walking and biking children? Do you think extending the no-parking zone along Ringwood by another 300 feet - so that it stretches from Middlefield Ave all the way to Laurel School at Edge Rd - can easily be done to allow our children to reach their school safely?

Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 8:15 PM
Subject: Safe Routes to School - Bike Safety along Ringwood Ave near Laurel Elementary School

Dear President of the Board of Supervisors,

I write this letter to you as a last effort to get an answer to a couple of questions I’m asking the Department of Public Works for several months without getting answers.

Please find attached a 35 second video (that can be played on any Windows computer) to understand the situation I’m daily confronted with, when I bike with my daughter to her elementary school.

The very simple question I have is whether this situation along Ringwood Avenue near Laurel Elementary School is safe for 5-7 year old children who bike to their K-2 elementary school. Neil Cullen, the former director of the Department of Public Works refused repeatedly to answer that question and instead responded on 12/11: “I believe the more appropriate question is whether or not a 5 to 7 year old should be biking on Ringwood Avenue”

You can imagine how upsetting such an answer can be for a parent who is concerned for the safety of school children during their commute to school and who looks to the County to provide safe routes to schools. I believe the Public Department of Works is responsible to provide safety for all modes of transportation throughout the county – including pedestrian and bicycle safety. I further believe that the highest standards for safety have to be applied around schools and along routes to schools.

Based on this belief that the engineers at the Department of Public Works do their outmost to ensure the safety of our children in the streets that are designed and maintained by them I find it hard to believe that they not only wouldn’t answer such questions but would respond in such an unbelievable way.

In the course of my interactions with the Department of Public Works more and more questions have come up that were not answered despite repeated reminders to please answer them. The current situation at Ringwood Ave is in my daily experience dangerous for our children and it is hard to understand that the existing parking restriction that stretches for 0.4 miles along Ringwood Ave can not be extended by roughly 300 feet to make it safer for our children to reach the marked and guarded crosswalk that leads into the school property.

So why does the Department of Public Works that wrote “…there is a short section of shoulder suitable for pedestrian use that starts at the intersection of Coleman and extends easterly along Ringwood approximately 60 feet …” not answer my question why the remaining 240 feet (that look the same to me) wouldn’t be suitable? I find this behavior unacceptable and feel it is their duty to the public to answer such questions in a timely manner and to act swiftly when made aware of safety issues that involve little children on their way to school.

This has been a very frustrating experience and I look to you to intervene and make this particular stretch of road safer for our children. It is my understanding – based on an email from Neil Cullen who pointed me to you, the President of the Board of Supervisors, – that you and the Board of Supervisors can vote on extending the existing 0.4 mile long parking restriction by the final 300 feet that are needed to reach the school more safely.

Thanks for you support in this matter,

Manfred Kopisch

Comments (70)

Posted by Gilbert Ave Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 10, 2007 at 10:28 am

The video by Manfred brings to light the need for no parking along Ringwood until the crosswalk at Laurel. I hope it doesn't take an accident or a life in order to get the county of San Mateo's attention!

I, too, bike with my child and would like to see the no parking extended to the cross walk as soon as possible in order to ensure a safe ride for my daughter to Laurel school.

Posted by Biking Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 10, 2007 at 12:10 pm

I totally agree with this article. We try to teach our children to ride a bike to get some exercise and to think about environment, but who is thinking about our kids? It's just not safe to ride the last 300 feet to Laurel school. It would be an easy fix to extend the no parking ristiction on Ringwood. I'm sure, all the bike riders would highly apprechiate the non parking ristriction. Thinking about a kid, getting hurt by a car (or even more) it's not only easy it's a very cheap fix as well.

Posted by HillviewStudent
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Feb 10, 2007 at 3:27 pm

I too bike everyday to school. Now it is Hillview. It used to be Encinal and before that Laurel. I don't understand why this wasn't fixed years ago when I rode my bike to Laurel School. Does no one care about kids' safety? I'm so glad I can now ride my bike alone to school and that my parents took the time to ride with me every day when I was at Laurel. It is important that kids learn how to bike as early as possible in the street. Please make the streets safe for us. Fix Ringwood, free the shoulder of parking cars.

Posted by Dumbfounded
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 10, 2007 at 5:33 pm

I am really pleased to see that the folks in San Mateo county, the City and the Schools have come to the logical conclusion to skip dealing with this now and can afford to wait for a child to be killed or injured along this stretch of road. At least they can start planning now to stand up and say it wasn't really their fault in the end. I'm excited to see that county budgets can now afford the litigation that will surely follow. Who knew that not dealing with things could save so much in the end. I'm glad that no one in the transportation department has to put up with uncomfortable questions or anything else that might disrupt their routine way of doing business. Luckily bicyling, daily car trips, and attendance at Laurel are all on the decline so this is surely an issue that will just solve itself.

Posted by Roberto
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2007 at 10:04 pm

Neil Cullen has a long history of animosity towards bicyclists. His department posted illegal anti-bicycling signs along County roads many years ago. He would not remove the signs even when told by Caltrans that the signs were illegal to post on a public road in California. The signs were only removed when a lawsuit against the County was imminent. I wouldn't expect him to change; we must get someone else in his position if we are to make any progress.

a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 10, 2007 at 11:06 pm

This is an accident waiting to happen throughout Menlo-Atherton. Seems like neither the county(SM), the city(MP), the town(Ath) have any concern until one of their own kids gets injured or worse. Time to turn the heat up on Menlo School Board to accept some responsibility for this and not pass it off as a city/county/town problem. You should c.c. the video and text to the Menlo School Board Members and Menlo City Council Members. Don't expect much from Menlo Park city, since the "lame Duck" Menlo city mgr. is jumping ship to be asst. county mgr. with comensurate compensation boost. You should get the local press to put this issue on the front page so more people complain about city/county official negligence. Come to the MP Transportation Comm. mtg. 2/14 city council chambers as we in the Oak Knoll School neighborhood have the same problem as Laurel, and are forced to plea to a bunch of old farts about our children's safety. Be prepared to 'get in their face" if you want anything done soon. Otherwise, they'll just suggest another lengthy study of "options" and it will be put off until this summer when school is out and tempers subside.

Posted by Unincorporated?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 11, 2007 at 12:09 am

Is the county involved because this one of the many "unincorporated" parts of local cities where no one want to do a damn thing about public safety? If so isn't it time to stop pretending that any part of Menlo Park or Atherton is the "country" and that it's time to incorporate these areas?

Posted by Sad
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 11, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Too bad residents will have to raise hell to get local goverment to do the right thing or for that matter anything.

Posted by WillowsKid
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 11, 2007 at 1:42 pm

I used to bike to Laurel every day - down Santa Monica, then down Coleman and then Ringwood to Laurel School. The last stretch on Ringwood was always the worst. Sometimes cars that were parked on the shoulder would all of a sudden open their door in front of me. I guess I'm lucky than nothing ever happened. Now I bike Santa Monica everyday in the other direction to get to Hillview. The crosswalk at the fire station over the four lanes of Middlefield is something else that needs to be fixed ASAP. My friends and I risk our lives every day there. The cars just don't stop. Even if one car stops the others go around it on the other lane whie we are crossing the street. Why don't the adults care for us school children on our way to school? Why don't they make it safe for us to get to school on our bikes? It is really stupid that the last 300 feet along Ringwood allows parking on the shoulder. That should be changed immediately! And then give us flashing lights across Middlefield at the fire station like on Ravenswood before the train tracks. And there is so much more. Why doesn't anyone listen to the kids who bike every day?

Posted by Spotting unincorporated areas
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 12, 2007 at 11:32 am

Yes, that stretch of Ringwood is unincorporated, and that's why the county is involved.

If you ever wonder where the unincorporated parts of Menlo Park are, just check for cars parked on the street overnight. The city doesn't allow it on their streets (without special permits) and the county does. The unincorporated areas bear the brunt of Menlo Park's restrictive parking rules.

Posted by Repeating Past Mistakes
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 12, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Most of you seem unaware of the fact that this issue comes up every few years, and that many talented parents have invested considerable amounts of energy in trying to create safer routes to school. For various reasons, all have failed. Parents who want to undertake this task anew might consider consulting with those who have led similar efforts in the past.

As one who was injured by a high school student who lost control of his vehicle on Ringwood (and somehow managed not to kill anyone), I personally don't understand why any parent would allow a child to ride a bicycle there. Yes, bicycles have a "right" to share the road, but is it really worth risking your child's life to make a statement? Even if cars didn't park on the shoulder in the county area, that street would be dangerous.

I also think it's absurd that the road is co-managed by three entities, but that's not going to change. Given that, I doubt anyone is going to make much headway in improving safety on Ringwood.

Posted by Chicken or the egg?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 12, 2007 at 2:06 pm

If more kids biked to school, there wouldn't be such unholy traffic jams around schools making things so dangerous.

But kids don't ride bikes to school because there is so much traffic that it's unsafe.

So the solution is to ... have everyone stop riding bikes?

Biking to school is not just a "statement" -- for some families, it's a necessity.

Posted by Daniel B.
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 12, 2007 at 4:05 pm

Wow, a teen driver loses control of his car and you criticize the people who might have been in his way! This is really a twisted view. What about the parents who let unskilled drivers out onto the roads, endangering everyone? Now, imagine if that high school student had been riding a bike and lost control on a road full of other bikers. The danger to himself and others would have been minimal. You would not consider it surprising that nobody was killed. People die when cars crash, not when bikes crash. We would all be a lot safer, and a lot healthier, if more people biked and fewer people drove.

Posted by Laure Laprais/bike commission
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 12, 2007 at 4:42 pm

This video shows the dramatic unsafe environment at a Menlo Park elementary school. The City has taken steps to fix the situation by financing a Transportation study of Laurel. We're bringing all the parties involved: (School district, Menlo Park, Atherton, County of San Mateo, Menlo Oaks Neighborhood association)around the same table. We all need to show our support and come together to find solutions.
For more infos on the Laurel Safe Route to School project, contact the Menlo Park bike commission. Write to the Almanac, contact the County of San Mateo, talk to your neighbors, we need your input.

Posted by Mistakes
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 12, 2007 at 6:14 pm

Excuse me, Daniel B? Where did I criticize people who "get in the way" of bad drivers? I was one of them! Some of you need to wake up from your fantasies. Teens are not going to stop driving their cars to M-A. Other drivers--not just teens -routinely drive on the wrong side of Ringwood to get around other cars and bicycles. And most people will continue to drive their kids to school because they have to get to work or take other children to other schools. There used to be public bus service to Laurel, but that ended over 15 years ago.

Ringwood is a dangerous street, not because I said so. But there are people who refuse to accept that reality and insist on putting their children in a precarious situation. Around here, we call it natural selection.

Posted by Safety First
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 12, 2007 at 9:34 pm

Ringwood *is* unsafe. "Repeating Past Mistakes" was a victim at one time, and clearly the city/county did not respond then or since. This person should be pulled into the loop to *help* protest that this stretch of Ringwood is ridiculously unsuited to the current elementary school traffic - cars loading/unloading kids (I've watched three kids be unloaded onto the road side there) as well as bikes and pedestrians. No one should be in the position of "making a statement" about road safety when they wish to walk or bike to their neighborhood school. Our number one mission should be to make things as safe as possible for everyone. Pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and passengers all need this assurance as they navigate amongst each other. And it is not a mistake to raise the issue until it is resolved. This 300-foot stretch Manfred mentions can become safer with civil handshakes and a few "no parking" signs. Furthermore, symbolically it would bring long-overdue public recognition to larger safety measures.

Posted by Laurel Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 12, 2007 at 11:13 pm

Parents should feel safe bringing their kids to school – whatever form of transportation they chose. The fact that this last 300 ft section of Ringwood continues to be a problem – despite having been repeatedly brought to the attention of those who could fix it – is more than frustrating. In fact, it’s sickening. Especially due to it’s immediate proximity to the school grounds, the county’s refusal to act clearly puts children in danger. For Neil Cullen to try and place blame on a parent who wants nothing more than to bike his daughter to school, is particularly disgusting. The county, cities and school district are beholden to provide a safe routing for children to walk and bike to all our schools. Once they do this, here’s what we’ll find:

- Many more kids – and parents - will be walking and biking to school
- The kids that walk and bike will arrive at school more ready to learn
- These kids – and parents – will be a little healthier
- There’ll be less traffic congestion on our roads
-We’ll all be breathing in less pollution (with less cars on the road)
-We’re all contributing to the Cool Cities pledge

These all sound like positive results that EVERYONE would like to see, regardless of whether you drive, bike or walk to school! We, as a community, have to demand that our officials do a better job safeguarding our children and planning our streets.

If you’re reading this, leave a comment and tell your friends to do the same! The only reason a situation like this continues to exist is because people throw up their hands and declare, “There’s nothing I/we can do about it.”

I hope you're all as tired as I am with this attitude.

Posted by Manfred Kopisch
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 13, 2007 at 12:12 am

Manfred Kopisch is a registered user.

Thank you to everyone who commented so far. Everyone agrees that safety at Ringwood can and should be improved. I think we have an opportunity to improve this particular stretch of road considerably at no time and basically no cost by restricting parking on these 300 feet. Have a look at this video to see how much of a difference it makes when there are no cars parked on the shoulder before the marked crosswalk into the school property: Web Link

The County of San Mateo wrote me a letter in November stating that only the first 60 feet of these 300 feet of shoulder are "suitable". I personally don't see a difference to the last 240 feet in the video. Since November the County refused to answer what the difference is. Do you see a difference? Do you think it would be way safer the way you saw it in this video compared to the first video with parking? You can email Lisa Ekers at the Department of Public Works at and let her know what you think.

Posted by Nicole
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 13, 2007 at 10:43 am

I drive on Ringwood every day and there have been many times when I have seen kids leaving MA who do not stop and look for on coming traffic and basically "floor it" leaving the school parking lot. I have almost been hit in my car and cannot imagine what would happen if they hit a person.

Posted by Laurel Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 13, 2007 at 11:23 am

To start, I want to preface my comments: I agree our streets are not safe for children under 10 to ride bicycles on and I would love it if they were.

I would also like to point out a couple of issues with the suggested solution of making the Ringwood area a no parking area. To begin with the sides of Ringwood are officially considered NOT a bicycle lane. This can certainly be changed, but this is not currently being questioned - that I know of. Next, when there are no cars parked on the side of Ringwood, moving cars use the side as a passing lane - I have seen it happen many times while walking my child to Laurel. Taking away the parked cars, in its self, will NOT make the street safer for bicycles or walkers – in fact it will likely make matters worse. The CHP has made similar comments to the County’s and others asking this same question.

Other factors which I don’t see being addressed:

- Laurel has about twice the number of children at it than it was designed for. It was also designed for busing, not for 500 families dropping off and picking up their children in their cars. To have a proper solution, this also needs to be addressed. For example, a new campus in the Linfield area instead of more houses (i.e more children in the over-crowded schools).
- If you notice in the video, there are a couple of UAVs (also known as very big SUVs) the child needed to navigate around, maybe they should not be allowed on our streets. These vehicles are only safe for the people inside, but totally lethal to everyone else – including our planet.
- If no parking is done on Ringwood, then what will be done to make the street actually safe for our children? My personal opinion is that a burm will be needed to divide the cars from the bicycles.
- The legal speed of cars on Ringwood is 25 MPH. When there are bicycles and pedestrians, this is WAY TOO FAST. As a father who walks his child to Laurel, I welcome the mornings when there is a high level of traffic, because these are the days when the cars are traveling at about 2 MPH. It is hard to get hit by a car, when they are not moving.

The bottom line, is that if you want the streets safe for young children to ride their bicycles or walk, then the number, size, and speed of motorized vehicle traffic all must be addressed. Creating a No Parking zone does none of this. From what I have read in this letter and all of the comments, everyone wants the streets safer for their children - GREAT, so lets address the bigger issues and actually make our streets safe.

Posted by Laurel Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 13, 2007 at 1:07 pm

I agree that this stretch of road is not safe right now. But making the side free of parked cars might encourage cars to pass on the right. I saw one doing that just yesterday. I would like to see some physical barrier such as the yellow paddles that were used to protect the bike lane at the corner of Bay and Ringwood. With a physical barrier, parking would not be possible, and passing on the right wouldn't be either.

Posted by Another Laurel Mom
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 13, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Did anyone look at the second video Manfred posted in his comment? It really is an eye-opener that shows the difference it makes if no cars are allowed on the shoulder. May be we can make Ringwood and other streets even safer in the long run, but the process to get us there will take years. Restricting parking on this shoulder can literally be done tomorrow and it will immediately improve the situation on that stretch by an order of magnitude. So let's do it! And let's do it now! I too bike from time to time with my daughter and think the County owes us to do this immediately.

Posted by Mistake
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 13, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Another Laurel Mom, please read the posts above yours. Eliminating parking will not improve safety. Ringwood is actually safest, as Laurel Parent noted, when the street is most congested. Eliminating parking may improve the perception of safety, but that is a dangerous illusion.

Just out of curiosity, did you bikers speak up a few months ago when the district was talking about school buses? And if not, why not? Replacing dozens of cars with a few buses would contribute significantly to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. I also wonder if the cyclists support more enforcement of traffic laws by the Atherton and MP police (who have been woefully derelict in this regard for years). The last time that topic came up on this board, I saw very little support for increased enforcement.

Bicycling (and walking) in this city feels less safe all the time, and there are dangerous spots all over the city (check out the bike routes to Encinal if you want to see some harrowing stretches of road and scary intersections).

Any approach has to be global: bandaid solutions won't work. Oh, you could remove all vehicular traffic from that stretch of Ringwood tomorrow, but you'd have cars zipping through Atherton on side streets and colliding on Oak Grove, which has much poorer visibility than Ringwood does. And what about that blind intersection at Coleman and Ringwood? Don't kid yourself: if there were an easy fix, we wouldn't be talking about this today.

Posted by Another Laurel Mom
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 13, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Mistake, did you actually watch both videos Manfred put out there? I think they speak for themselves.

I'm not kidding myself. There is an easy fix for this particular stretch that can be implemented right away.

Let's not dilute the discussion by bringing up all sorts of other topics - busses, Encinal, etc.

And let's also not repeat myths claiming that it is less safe to bike in a "bike lane" that is free of cars because some car might use it to pass waiting traffic.

So let's first focus on the doable. Let's fix this particular hotspot which can literally be done today by putting up two signs. After that I'm more than happy to have a discussion with you about safe routes to Laurel - or Encinal for that matter. We can then work together to work on a big plan to make all routes to school safe for children who walk or bike to school.

But for now please stay with the topic. Manfred was just talking about 300 feet of shoulder that are adjacent to 0.4 miles of shoulder that already have a parking restriction. Extending that existing parking restriction by 300 feet will make it safer for our children - and his two videos show clearly how much of a difference it makes.

Posted by Menlo Park Kid
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 13, 2007 at 4:44 pm

I remember biking to laurel. I remember having to squeeze between the cars. It was very hard, and sometimes drivers got too close to the bikelane, cutting me off. I think that this is important, and I don't want other kids to have to go through this.

Posted by A Future Kinder's Mom
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2007 at 5:46 pm

To begin discussing the “bigger picture” is to begin the periling cycle of inaction. The process is easily recognized by seemingly endless meetings, discussions, and studies. It is clear that 300 feet of no shoulder parking is the immediate action required. People are motivated out of either fear or love. After reading this message board it is evident that some community members are motivated by fear and others are motivated by the love they have for their children. In the week of Lincoln’s birthday, let us remember his words, “and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” or in Menlo Park or Atherton for that matter.

Posted by Not Mistaken
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 13, 2007 at 7:27 pm

And as Albert Einstein said, "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

I'm sure you people are well-intended, but you are hopelessly naive. May I posit an alternate scenario: that the children are actually safer because of the parking on the shoulder? Those parked cars block speeders or reckless drivers from dodging onto the shoulder, and because the parkers are parents, they tend to be exceedingly cautious.

And a question for those of you who believe that simply banning parking is a panacea: where ARE all those parents going to park? Or do you believe that banning parking will engender a cosmic shift in social reality, and that parents will thereafter decide to leave their cars at home and walk/bike to school? Alas, the law of unintended consequences is waiting in the wings.

Posted by Laurel Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 13, 2007 at 8:18 pm

Dear Not Mistaken - What a talent you have for taking a simple action that could fix a very obvious problem and blowing it completely out of proportion. You must be very proud of yourself.
Perhaps you're already employed at the County?

No one here is suggesting that parking be banned from Ringwood. The suggestion is that the cars that currently park between Coleman and the crosswalk, (and on only ONE side of the street)simply pull forward of the crosswalk thereby leaving this stretch of the bikelane(which so obviously leads to a school crosswalk) free of cars, and able to be used by children and their parents biking to school.

The area suggested only has 3-4 legal parking spots - as recently measured by the county itself - the majority of cars that currently park here are doing so illegally. (This is due to the fire hydrant, bus stop and the area that must be kept clear surrounding both.

So what many here on this forum are proposing is that 3 or 4 cars pull forward another 150-250 ft - doesn't sound like much of a hardship to me. In fact, they're even closer to the school that way.

If you've looked at both the videos posted - you can SEE what a difference this would make.

By the way, those parents you claim are so careful - are the same ones that open their doors into cyclists and pedestrians without looking. They're the same ones who drive to school with a cell phone in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Which, I believe, leads us back to your Einstein quote.

Posted by Current Laurel, Encinal, & Hillview Father / 10 years Menlo Oaks Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 13, 2007 at 8:39 pm

I believe your view to be PREJUDICED, NARROW SITED, and MISDIRECTED.

PREJUDICED because your child uses the Coleman to Ringwood route.

NARROW SITED because it doesn't consider the safety of the children that use other congested routes to Laurel School, such as Bay to Ringwood, Colby to Ringwood, Fredrick to Ringwood, etc. -- all you'll be doing is pushing more parked cars into their biking and walking paths.

MISDIRECTED because the real problem at hand is the school. The parking problem and increased danger to school children only exists on school days, during school drop-off and pick-up times; as the parked cars in question are exclusively of the parents and/or caretakers of the school children. Why not disallow the parking of all cars, on all of Ringwood during these peak hours? - for example. But to permanently punish the neighborhood by eliminating its parking - which stems from a problem created by the school alone - is, to say the least, unfair. The school should consider creating and/or be required to build additional off-street parking spaces to accommodate the needs of its pupils/parents/teachers -- just as every other residence and business in San Mateo County is required to maintain a viable level of off-street parking for its users. If there was sufficient off-street parking -- there wouldn't be a problem.

I've chosen strong words - not to criticize - but because I am also very concerned. There is a serious safety issue for our children -- but to permanently limit parking on 300 ft. of pavement, doesn't go far enough, and only "pushes" the problem to other walking/biking children. The "bigger picture", real problem, and focus should be on the school and/or school system itself. The overcrowding and lack of infrastructure within our schools creates the problem -- not the pavement outside.

Posted by Biker Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 14, 2007 at 10:11 am

Why not restrict the parking in the 300-feet between Coleman and the crosswalk ONLY DURING THE 30 MINUTES BEFORE SCHOOL? That way the neighbors get their parking throughout the day and the kids get a safe route to school. I biked that route with my child and it is harrowing. Manfred Kopisch has suggested an easy fix. Let's get behind him on this and address the other issues later.

Posted by Manfred Kopisch
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 14, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Manfred Kopisch is a registered user.

It seems to be hard to find the second video in the comments because it just shows up in the text as Web Link
Thus I added it now as a "Video Response" to my first video. So now everyone, who clicks to see the first video Web Link that shows the dangerous situation that is created by cars that park on the shoulder along these 300 feet of Ringwood, can now see in the same place the video that clearly shows how much safer the very same stretch is without the parked cars. All you have to do is look on YouTube for "Comments & Responses" and select the only available video response. I hope that helps everyone who wants to learn more about the situation.
Thanks again to everyone who is taking the time to look into this, comment on this forum, email the County of San Mateo, and have encouraging words for me in the morning at school :) It feels great to be part of this community.

Posted by Laurel Father
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 14, 2007 at 9:16 pm

Maybe we shouldn't do what Mr Kopisch suggest, because the CHP says it will make the situation worse.

Do we really want to take steps backwards and then maybe think about talking about real fixes?

Posted by Laurel Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 15, 2007 at 10:33 am

Biker Mom has it absolutely right! Let's restrict parking on this small section of Ringwood for 30-45 minutes - twice a day. This would just be during drop in the morning and pickup in the afternoon. That way, the neighborhood can park there almost whenever they want, and kids get a clear route on which to walk and bike during the times of day when they need it!

I'd also support just extending the no parking zone as it seems the most simple and logical thing to do. This would enable some orange cones to be erected - just like the ones at the corner of Bay and Ringwood - to teach drivers that this section of the road was to be used for walking and biking only.

There are several solutions from which to choose, and all would work - so let's get together, pick the most supportable one and make a change for better safety around the school!

Posted by Another Laurel Mom
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 15, 2007 at 10:44 am

Laurel Father,

So you think going from here Web Link">Web Link">Web Link to here Web Link">Web Link is a step backwards? Are there any possible steps backwards from a street with no bike lane and no sidewalk that leads to an elementary school?

And you claim that the CHP says this Web Link">Web Link is less safe than this Web Link">Web Link">Web Link Looking at these movies I would have to conclude - if it were true what you say - that every bike lane in our city should be removed because without it it would be safer. So do you think the CHP will go on public record and state that the current situation is safe as it is and doesn't need to be improved ASAP? And will the person at the CHP then also go on public record and state with name and rank that reserving the shoulder for pedestrians and bikes will make the current situation less safe?

I continue to believe that these particular 300 feet of road will be way safer by extending the existing no-parking zone to the crosswalk so that children and their parents can get there safely on foot or on bike. And I believe that this can and should be done ASAP. Let' not wait until a child is hurt. Let's put up two signs now and then move on to discuss the bigger picture so that all children have a safe route to school they can walk or bike without having to go through something similar to this Web Link">Web Link">Web Link

Posted by Status Quo
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 26, 2007 at 10:43 am

It's nice to see that the best the police, the city, and the county, can manage is to hold on to the status quo with a fierce deathgrip. Too bad asking for a small smatterering of common sense and forward thinking and action from the county is just too much to ask for. This part of the valley is flat as a board and is an ideal place to bike. Some simple common sense improvements to the saftey of children who are forced to commute to school by the giveaway of our neighborhood schools to EPA and the German American School are not too much to ask for.

Posted by Future Mistakes
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 26, 2007 at 10:50 am

I have to agree heartily with "Repeating Past Mistakes". Since Ringwood is such a great spot to drag race after tossing a few drinks back I think you should keep all those kids out of the way. Those little bikes can do thousands of dollars of damage to a cars suspension.

Posted by Biking Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 27, 2007 at 6:22 am

Has there been any reply from the President of the Board of Supervisors? The situation along this particuar stretch of Ringwood needs to be fixed - and soon. Does anyone beside me think it is a scandal if Manfred's letter didn't get any reply in over a month? How can the County sit there without doing anything for years and then ignore concerns of residents who not only bring that unsafe situation to their attention but also suggest a very doable, easy and quick fix? When I went to school this morning I looked very carefully at the 300 feet of shoulder before the crosswalk and I can't see why the first 60 feet are suitable and the rest is not. Why did the County say that and why didn't they answer Manfred's question about the difference? This whole thing is a scandal in my eyes.

Posted by mary dumont
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 27, 2007 at 11:51 am

I have read with interest the many thoughtful and articulate comments and suggestions about bike saftey, but I return to one issue: why are very young children riding their bikes in such dangerous conditions. I hope the parents whose children are riding are not intending a statement about the importance of alternative transportation and making their children the unwitting spokespersons for their cause. In case those parents were unaware, you should know that two young children riding their bikes to school in Palo Alto were hit by a PALY student on her way to school (the children were accompanied by an adult); one child died. A high price to pay to advertise the importance of not driving cars.

Posted by Biking Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 28, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I totally share Mary's concern. Why do children have to ride their bikes in such dangerous conditions? I think it is a scandal that the county is not fixing this dangerous stretch of our children's commute ASAP. And please remember that lots of us biking parents have their children on half-bikes or in trailers that are connected to our bike. When can we safely ride our bikes along Ringwood to Laurel School? When will the county answer the questions that were asked? Or does the county intend not to do anything hoping that then noone dares to bike or walk and thus by their definition no problem exists? That too would be a scandal!

Posted by Concerned Mommy
a resident of Laurel School
on Mar 1, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Since when has simply, walking or riding a bike to school become a "statement on alternate transportation" or a "cause"? I both walked and rode my bike to school when I was a kid - I had no idea that I was making a political statement. My mom would have laughed at me if had I suggested that I get a ride everyday!

Posted by Old-timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 1, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Thank you, Concerned Mommy!

I walked or rode my bike to school from kindergarten through high school. As far as I know, the only political statement I was making was, "I come from a family of three kids who all go to different schools and my mom is busy driving my brother because it's too far for him to walk."

Apparently, any family that doesn't chauffer a kid to school in an SUV is some sort of militant alternative transportation weirdo. Things sure have changed around here since the 1980s!

Posted by Laurel Alumni Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 1, 2007 at 11:12 pm

There is a related problem at Laurel--jaywatching. K-2s are too small to be seen over the hood of a car, but many parents teach them to jaywalk accross Ringwood, rather than use the crosswalk and crossing guard at Edge and Ringwood. I have even seen what appear to be walking carpools with more than one family. I can't tell whether the absent parents know about the jaywalking training, but they risk learning about it at Stanford Hospital.

Posted by mary dumont
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 2, 2007 at 7:33 am

I too am an old timer and walked to school (family of five kids), and rode my bike all through college, but times have changed. Cars are bigger and there is tons more traffic. It is naive to pretend that our kids don't face a different environment than we did.

Posted by Menlo Oaks parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 4, 2007 at 9:51 pm

I am not offering a solution but I do want to point out a couple of additional considerations.

1. No parking signs on Ringwood (and Oak Grove) by the town of Atherton make is very difficult for parents and students at Menlo Ahterton HS to park for school, meetings, sports, volunteer work, evening performances/events. There simply is not enough parking, and kids are forced into the neighborhood(s), which upsets some neighbors. Or, high school parents drive them to school as there are no busses, public or otherwise. Some parents wish that Atherton would remove these signs-- Ringwood "seems" wide -- and let kids/parents/visitors park along Ringwood near the high school. It's just up the street from Laurel, so I thought this migh be a relevant consideration.

For a solution to the MA parking problem, the county (unincorporated Menlo Oaks, on one side of Ringwood), Atherton, Menlo Park, local busineses (such as the church and SRI) that might have parking places all need to be involved.

2. Someone wrote that the current driving/parking problem and lack of infrastucture are the school's problems . I think that we all, as a community, are responsible for our schools. The Menlo Park City Schools are in some ways a victim of their own success. When my husband and I moved into Menlo Park in 1984, there were 20,000 residents. Now there are 30,000 or more. The schools (built years ago in a smaller community, when rules about the size required for public schools was different) have gotten better and better, partially due to strong parent involvement. Thus, more and more families want to live in Menlo Park. And Menlo Park allows more and more homes to be built. Why is this the schools' fault? And what can they do about it? We could all decide to fund more bonds buy more land for the schools(expensive Atherton homes) and make parking lots. Give the schools the land they need relative to the size of the population that wants to use them.

Population growth is a big problem for the schools. And our planet.

Another thing to consider-- carpools. When my kids were at Laurel (I have 3, one is now at Hillview, one at MA) there were many carpools.There many fewer cars picking up at Laurel (and Encinal) than there are now. Perhaps there could be special privileges for carpools, with single-kid-cars having a less convenient drop off and pick up process. But where that might happen, I don't know. Not realy room for 2 lanes at the school.

By the way, I often walked to Laurel with my 3 kids, and we always felt safe. Biking may be a different issue, I don't know.

I hope we can work together to find some reasonable(if not ideal) solutions.

Posted by Steve Shaw
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 9, 2007 at 10:07 am

I just saw this forum, having been referred by the Menlo Oaks newsletter. Manfred, thanks for raising this issue and pursuing a solution with the county. I would point out that this is not only a problem with the Ringwood approach from Middlefield to Laurel, but also with the approach from Bay Road towards Laurel. I also find it interesting that there is not one parking authority over the whole street (and I would have thought that authority to be the city of Menlo Park). For example, Bay Road is under the maintenance of the city of Menlo Park, even though one side is either unincorporated county or city of Atherton.

I am dumbfounded by the suggestion made in a couple of posts that parents are voluntarily exposing their children to risks by allowing them to ride their bikes to school. Biking should not be a major risk to any qualified cyclist, and in particular near an elementary school.

There are simply too many cars being driven to Laurel, whether being parked or passing through the "carpool" lane. I include myself among the guilty. I have a PM kindergartener who I typically bike to school, but she is picked up in the afternoon by our child care provider who drives to campus and parks. Unless the number of cars is drastically reduced the approaches to the school are going to remain congested.

Posted by n
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 13, 2007 at 9:54 am

For those who are riding with their children to Laurel on their bicycles, I have posted a video Web Link . In this discussion, there are a lot of requests to make our streets safer for riding bicycles; however, this video demonstrates that most of the bicycle riders ignore existing safety laws - don't stop for the stop sign at Coleman and Menlo Oaks. Maybe the first step to having safe streets is to obey the existing laws...

- This was shot last fall, early November at Menlo Oaks and Coleman.
- I was out from 7:30 to 8:25 am that day.
- NO walkers or bikers headed toward Ringwood were edited out. This is the complete record of anyone walking or biking that day.
- All bikers headed away from Laurel have been cut. None had children with them, and none stopped at the stop street.

Posted by Another Laurel Mom
a resident of Laurel School
on Mar 13, 2007 at 8:06 pm


And your point is? That there are not that many bikers on a visibly cold November day? Or that bikes seem to make the same rolling stops as cars? Or ...??

Let's stay with the topic at hand!

Or are you disputing that the 300 feet of Ringwood, Manfred is talking about, can be made considerably safer by extending the existing no-parking by 300 feet?

It is about time that our children have a safe choice for walking or biking to school. Let's all work together to first make the 300 feet of Ringwood before the crosswalk safe and then let's discuss everything else.

Posted by Shortsighted
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 13, 2007 at 11:17 pm

Yes, that stretch of Ringwood MIGHT be safer if Manfred's recommendations are implemented.

But if cars are banned from that 300-foot segment, the cars that would have parked in that stretch of Ringwood will move to other segments of Ringwood or other streets, thereby making those paths less safe for the cyclists and pedestrians who travel a different route from Manfred and his child.

See, making public policy isn't so easy when you have to consider the best interests of everyone, not just your own best interests.

Posted by Vicky
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 13, 2007 at 11:48 pm

Come on... let's be real. How many cars are really going to be displaced by restricting parking between Coleman and the cross walk at Laurel School? With global warming, the high cost of our dependence on fossil fuels, and America's growing problem with childhood obesity, we should be talking about how to reward families/staff who bike to school, not arguing about whether to make a small stretch of extremely dangerous and heavily traveled road a little bit safer for them.

Posted by Shortsided
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 14, 2007 at 8:33 am

Vicky, I agree that the community should be offering incentives to cyclists and pedestrians, and maybe with the new Menlo Park green cities initiative that will happen.

Meanwhile, it's a social engineering fantasy to imagine that the cars displaced on Ringwood will not park elsewhere, thereby blocking other cyclists.

That 300-stretch of Ringwood is not the most dangerous part of the road, by the way. Almost all accidents occur in the stretch between Coleman and Middlefield. Can a stretch of road truly be deemed "extremely dangerous" and worthy of immediate attention if no one ever gets involved in an accident there?

Posted by 20/20 Vision
a resident of Laurel School
on Mar 14, 2007 at 11:53 am

Ok. My vision is still perfectly fine and when I look at this video with no cars parked Web Link I see that that situation is way safer than when cars are parked on the shoulder as in this video Web Link

I think there can be no dispute about the difference in safety - even for shortsighted people.

My perfectly fine vision also allows me to see the driveways and the fire hydrant along that 300 feet of street and I see that at most a handful of cars can legally park there. Your argument is that these 4 or may be 5 cars would block other kids who try to get safely to school. You totally ignore that these cars could just drop of their kids at the school or park in the school parking lot and would not block anyone. But let's assume for a second they don't do that and park somewhere else on Ringwood (i.e. after the guarded crosswalk). According to shortsighted people they would block kids on their way to school. But let me tell you: The kids use the crosswalk, get to school and don't continue along Ringwood to Bay Rd. May be it's time to get glasses? Once you got them you might see that extending the existing 0.4 miles of no-parking by 300 feet would make it way safer for the kids who walk and bike to school. And by the way - all it takes is two street signs that can be put up in a day. This is not a major engineering project - not even a social engineering project. Although it might result in a handful of parents who feel they can now safely walk or bike to school. That way their cars would be out of the picture and certainly wouldn't block other kids on their way to school.

Posted by Social Engineering Fails
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 14, 2007 at 7:34 pm

"The kids use the crosswalk, get to school and don't continue along Ringwood to Bay Rd."

Yes. The kids who are coming from Menlo Oaks. But the kids who are coming from Suburban Park or other areas east of Bay do travel from Bay to Ringwood and would be affected by having more cars parked in their path. Many high schoolers traveling to M-A from East Menlo walk
the Bay->Ringwood route.

Or do those kids not count because they come from less affluent families than those living in Menlo Oaks?

Posted by Vicky
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 14, 2007 at 11:26 pm

Social Engineering Fails, I agree that the kids coming from your direction deserve a safe route to school too. I used to live in Lindenwood and the bike ride from that side of the school is pretty frightening also. If you step up like Manfred has done and suggest a solution to the problem for kids in your neighborhood, I will very likely support you. (It might make sense, for instance, to make a similarly sized no-parking zone on the west bound side of Ringwood east of the eastern-most entrance to the school.) I agree with short-sighted also that there are more dangerous areas to ride a bike or walk in Menlo Park. What I don't get is why that makes a difference in this discussion. Why does the fact that there are multiple dangerous spots in MP mean we can't address one of them that happens to be right outside a school attended by 5-7 year olds?

Posted by 20/20 Vision
a resident of Laurel School
on Mar 19, 2007 at 11:19 am

Social Engineering,

Your logic is wrong. If all 3-4 cars that right now park on the shoulder between Coleman and the crosswalk move beyond the crosswalk before they park, there will be not one single additional car in the way of the kids who walk to MA. There will be the exact same number of cars parked on the shoulder between Bay Rd and Coleman. So there is no negative impact for highschool students who walk to MA, but there is a crucial difference in safety for the children who walk and bike to Laurel. Why do some people make this sound like a really hard problem? Having no-parking on these 300 feet of Ringwood between Coleman and the crosswalk doesn't have any negative impact anywhere else that can even closely compare to the positive impact it has on the safety of the children who try to get to Laurel. This is problem that can be fixes easily and immediately. Don't wait until a child is hurt. Do it now!

Posted by But note
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 19, 2007 at 11:50 am

There will not be an additional car in the way of kids walking to M-A but there will be additional cars in the way of kids coming from the east to Laurel. They are from less privileged socioeconomic groups so possibly considered more expendable to those of you approaching from the more affluent neighborhoods south or west of Laurel.

Posted by 20/20 Vision
a resident of Laurel School
on Mar 19, 2007 at 11:59 pm

But Note,

You are right IF these children are walking on the south side of Ringwood. In my experience the children are walking on the north side of Ringwood due to two reasons

1) Unlike the south side the north side has a dirt strip next to the shoulder that is wide enough to allow parking without blocking the shoulder for bikes or pedestrians
2) The children don't have to cross Ringwood, because they are already on the same side of the street as Laurel.

I feel exactly like Vicky already wrote before: "If you step up like Manfred has done and suggest a solution to the problem for kids in your neighborhood, I will very likely support you. (It might make sense, for instance, to make a similarly sized no-parking zone on the west bound side of Ringwood east of the eastern-most entrance to the school.)"

So why don't you support Manfred to make the 300 feet of Ringwood safer (and I still believe with no impact on other children)? I'm sure he and everyone else will support you to make it safer for children from other neighborhoods who use other routes.

Posted by Steve Shaw
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 20, 2007 at 12:31 pm

I agree that Mannfred's suggestion should be implemented. But I believe that Vicky and 20/20 are missing the point about access from the other direction on Ringwood.

Implementing Mannfred's suggestion would probably force the cars that park in that location on Ringwood to park north of the Laurel crosswalk (FYI, Ringwood runs more N-S than E-W) on the same side of the road. This would be out of the path for Laurel students and is not the side of the road used by most pedestrians or cyclists coming from Suburban Park or Belle Haven or other points in those directions. Great - quick and easy fix for cyclists coming from Coleman.

But implementing "a similarly sized no-parking zone on the west (south) bound side of Ringwood east (North) of the eastern (northern)-most entrance to the school" does not solve the problem for residents of Suburban Park, Flood Triangle, and Lorelei Manor. First, it is a much larger parking area and there are dozens of cars parked along this path. Secondly, placing No Parking signs on that side of Ringwood from Edge Road to Altree Ct. would probably only displace the cars back up (north) Ringwood where they would still be in the way of cyclists and pedestrians coming from those neighborhoods. It can be just as tight to ride a bicycle on that side of the road between parked and moving cars, and the distance travelled through this "squeezed" space is much longer. Additionally this is the path and side of the road used by high school students walking to MA from East Menlo.

I point this out to support the points made by Social and But Note, and because I have biked that route myself. I also point it out because whatever public authority examines this issue, they need to look at both sides of Ringwood.

Posted by Tim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 20, 2007 at 9:35 pm

Bottom line: If you consider the situation unsafe, then YOU as a parent are responsible for the consequences of letting your children ride there.

By the way, since when is riding a bicycle a "necessity" in one of the most expensive areas of the world?

Posted by Manfred Kopisch
a resident of Laurel School
on Mar 22, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Manfred Kopisch is a registered user.

This morning I saw three children bike to Laurel Elementary School whom I have not seen before. May be it is due to the beginning of Spring or may be it is due to the raised awareness that came with the recent article in the Almanac. Matter of fact is that this mornng we had three cars less on the road - which is roughly the number of cars that can legally park along the 300 feet of Ringwood before the crosswalk. Imagine another three children or six or nine would bike or walk if we make that stretch of road safer for them. Not only would we make biking and walking safer for them, but also for everyone else who subsequently is confronted with less cars and less congestion around the school. I have read with interest all the comments that were talking about moving a problem - to me it seems we would not only remove a problem wihtout moving it somewhere else but also diminish other problems. Thus, this seems to be a case where everyone wins. So please send emails to the county and let them know that you would like to see this particular stretch of road fixed immediately without further delay.

Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2007 at 5:45 pm

Tim asserts that bicyclists must accept the responsibility for the danger created by motorists and their cars. He seems to have things a bit backwards! Manfred is doing the right thing: he has identified a problem and a solution and is working to get it implemented. Pedestrians and bicyclists should be safely accomodated on EVERY city street, with no exceptions. If drivers create unsafe conditions, then the City and County should act to make the conditions safe. Nothing less is acceptable.

Posted by Tim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 23, 2007 at 1:12 am

Well, you almost understood what I meant Richard.

First off, drivers are not creating a dangerous situation here. The road's traffic lanes and parking situation is the dangerous situation. Did you notice the video where the girl was trying to maneuver between the parked car and the car that was stopped in traffic? You can't blame those 2 stationary cars for being in the way, it's just the way the road is setup.

Of course bicyclists must accept the responsibility for putting themselves into dangerous situations! There are plenty of safe places to ride bicycles and there are unsafe places. When put effort into fixing the situation if it's possible. But when you know that a situation is dangerous then you're taking a risk. Sure the law may be on your side, but safety isn't an issue about what's legal or not legal, it's about what's wise or unwise.

Also, pedestrians and bicyclists do not need to be safetly accommodated on every street. I have seen way too many bicyclists trying to ride southbound on Alma in rush hour. Isn't Bryant St. a reasonable alternative for those bicyclists?

Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2007 at 6:26 am

Tim, I said danger created by drivers and their cars. The parked cars didn't grow there, they were parked there by drivers.

Note that federal, state, county (for me in Santa Clara County) and city (for me in Palo Alto) transportation policies require accomodating pedestrians and bicyclists in all transportation projects.

Personally, I have seen way too many drivers in their cars on southbound Alma during rush hour. Isn't Hwy 101 a better alternative for them?

We're getting off the subject here. The point is that you apparently believe that bicyclists are second-class citizens who should suffer for the convenience of motorists. That philosophy has created a huge mess on our streets and in our air and water, and needs to be eliminated.

Posted by Manfred Kopisch
a resident of Laurel School
on Mar 23, 2007 at 7:45 am

Manfred Kopisch is a registered user.


Please have a look at this link Web Link where you will find the text I also copied below.

I think we all agree that the county has a mandate to design streets that promote all modes of transportation - including walking and biking. I would think that this mandate applies especially along a road that is the only access to an elementary school. The majority of children for this K-2 school lives within a walkable and bikable distance. My children have no choice but to use Ringwood to get to Laurel school. I firmly believe the County has the responsibilty to make Ringwood Ave - the only available street - safe for them.

Traffic Services

Road Operations-Traffic Services is responsible for designing, directing and managing all traffic engineering functions within the County, including placement of signs, traffic stripping, parking zones and maintenance of signals to promote the safe and efficient movement for all modes of transportation throughout the County. If you have any suggestions or concerns about traffic including pedestrian and bicycle safety, street parking, school safety, please call (650) 363-4103, or write to:

Lisa Ekers
Road Operations Manager
Department of Public Works-Road Services Division
752 Chestnut Street
Redwood City, California 94063

BTW: You can reach Lisa Ekers also via email:

Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2007 at 8:43 pm

Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration (yes, the GEORGE W BUSH administration!), gave a speech in 2004 calling for every street to be walkable and bikeable.

Web Link
From the article cited above:

begin quote
Thompson urged public health advocates “to convince city planners to provide safe streets for children to bicycle on and safe streets for people to walk on” and won applause when he declared, “Every road being built — you should be able to walk on it or ride a bike on it.”

He added, “Go to Congress and the city council and state legislatures and start getting them to buy into” the idea of improving the “built environment.”

end quote

Manfred is doing exactly what Secretary Thompson called on every citizen to do.

Posted by Tim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 24, 2007 at 12:41 am

Well Richard, at least you came out with how you really feel about cars.

1. Should one knowingly put their child in a dangerous situation when there is another alternative? Yes/No

2. If a parent puts their child into a dangerous situation knowingly, should the parent blame the situation instead of themselves? Yes/No

I hope you said No to both questions. That said, it behooves parents to be wise while the situation is dangerous.

Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2007 at 7:24 am

Putting your children in a car does not make them safe. In fact, the leading cause of death for ages 3-33 is motor vehicle crashes.

Web Link

So I guess Tim's first question is asking whether people would knowingly put their children in cars knowing that it is dangerous and that there are safer alternatives available.

Posted by Vicky
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 25, 2007 at 9:14 pm

Thank you Steve, for pointing out the flaw in my thinking. I see that the kids coming from the Suburban Park, Flood Triangle, and Lorelei Manor need a different solution, perhaps a no parking zone on that side of the street that extends from Bay to the northern-most entrance to the school. And by northern-most I meant the fire road, which means that a significant number of parking spaces on the street next to the school could be preserved. Perhaps the people who live on that side of Ringwood could allow the county to build a path on a few feet of their property. Not sure what the laws are, but I believe that when I lived in Lindenwood, the city had the right to use about 10ft of my property to build a walkway if one was called for. Before a bunch of people start ranting at me for even mentioning such an idea, I want to make clear that I am not trying to suggest a particular solution for the folks living in the affected neighborhoods - I'm saying I believe there is at least one reasonable, if not perfect, solution for those kids and I will support anyone who steps up proposes one.

Posted by MPworkingMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 12:12 pm

I think a theme has revealed itself in these posts. At the heart of the matter are two very different ideas about who is entitled to use the roads.

Clearly, some people believe bicycle riding is a recreational sport that should be pursued at limited times, in limited areas, and should never, ever inconvience auto traffic.

Everyone else here believes that bicycles are a form of transportation that is entitled to equal use of the roads.

Posted by Biking Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Apr 13, 2007 at 10:01 am

I read the recent letter to the editor by C.D. Randall and agree that this important public issue needs attention. I can not understand that this simple measure of extending the existing no-parking zone by 300 feet has still not been done between September and now. With all the public attention I wonder whether Manfred got answers to his questions from the county. Did Mrs. Jacobs Gibson reply to Manfred's email? What steps have been taken by the county to make that 300 foot stretch of Ringwood safe?

Posted by Manfred Kopisch
a resident of Laurel School
on Jun 14, 2007 at 9:57 pm

Manfred Kopisch is a registered user.

Today on the last school day we had again a car open the door in front of us in the 300 feet of shoulder on Ringwood. How long will it take the County of San Mateo to fix this situation?

Mrs. Jacobs Gibson still didn't answer my email. Isn't she the representative for Menlo Park? Don't our representatives answer our emails. Orl is the safety of our children on their way to school not important enough?

A full school year was wasted. Now during the summer the County of San Mateo has the chance to make at least this bit of road safer for our children on their way to school.

Do we really want to wait until we have an accident? Does a child have to be hurt or worse before the county steps up and makes this major route to Laurel School safe for our children?

I still want to believe that we are one community - independent of different jurisdictions - that strives to provide a safe environment for our children. Making streets safe for children who walk and bike to school is a major part of that.

This particular stretch of road can be made considerably safer with minimal effort. All it takes is extending the existing non-parking zone by 300 feet. Let's just do it!

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