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Letter: Bike tunnel idea a waste of money

Original post made on Jun 4, 2008

It is a shameful waste of the city of Menlo Park's money to pay a consultant $41,000 to study the feasibility and placement for a bike tunnel under the Caltrain tracks.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 4, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (7)

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Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 4, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Letter writer Pat White needs to develop empathy for those who are concerned about the safety of school children and their parents who would like to be free of their cars for trips to Hillview or MA or Burgess Park.

Mr. White needs to venture east of El Camino Real where he will discover that it is 3/4 of a mile from Ravenswood to the Alma Bridge over San Francisquito Creek, not 1/2 of a mile. This is even more significant to pedestrians than to cyclists. While he is there he will discover that there are no crosswalks across the tracks between the Alma Bridge and Sand Hill Road and in fact the tracks are crossed only by taking a unofficial dirt path or taking your chances with cars that have a flying right turn to travel north. In addition, the pedestrian gates near the Caltrain Station are too easily avoided by those unfamiliar with the dangers of mixing trains with pedestrians.

There is no good reason why Menlo Park residents who want access by foot or bike to destinations in their own city should have to go far out of their way to reach their Menlo Park destinations safely.

Steve Schmidt

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Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Steve is absolutely right. The train tracks are a huge barrier to bicyclists and especially pedestrians. Those who always travel in cars have no concept of what is involved in the detours to find a safe crossing. The many unsanctioned and dangerous crossings attest to the number of people unwilling to travel far out of their way to find a crossing. If we really want to help people to travel safely without a car, we need to give them frequent and safe ways to cross the tracks (and freeways, too).

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Posted by Steve Shaw
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 9, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Pat White is right, the city doesn't need to spend $41K to study the issue; the city should just build the tunnel. I am sorry that Mr. White feels there is no need, but one who transports himself by pressing an accelerator in a 3 ton vehicle should not set policy on local transportation issues. Any reasonable steps that will take automobiles off the road should be explored.

Menlo Park is a horribly unfriendly environment for cyclists and pedestrians. This is one of the few positive ideas on bicycle transportation I have heard from the city in 14 years of living here. Building such a tunnel is not just for riders wanting to go west, it would connect Central Menlo and other points west of ECR with the Burgess center. It would allow residents from Linfield, Vintage, and Menlo Oaks to get downtown in a reasonable manner. Travelling an extra mile out of the way because of poor thoroughfare design may not be an issue in a car, but it is for pedestrians and cyclists, particularly when children are involved.

Build the tunnel. The most obvious place for it is connecting Burgess Dr. to Middle Ave, alternatively connect Willow to Cambridge. Stop talking, stop consulting, start digging.

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Posted by Ms. B
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Sure, Steve, as soon as YOU start paying for it.
Let Steve pay, and they will come.
Have you forgotten about the High Speed Rail that is being pushed on us?
Are you willing to spend YOUR money on a bike tunnel that could become null and void if that neighborhood-ruining high speed rail gets put through?
By the way, here's some facts and opinions:
- I live east of El Camino.
- I have kids.
- I like to walk and bike around town.
- I do NOT want the Bike Tunnel built(yet)!
- I do NOT want the High Speed Rail, even if it means a bike tunnel is part of the construction.
There are numerous areas around Menlo Park that need to be more pedestrian and bike friendly. A bike tunnel near Burgess sounds nice, but given the shortage of funds, it's not even near the top of my wish list.
$41,000 on a consultant IS a "shameful waste".
And before you start casting stones at Mr. White for "pressing an accelerator" make sure you are not pressing ANY accelerators except on the pedals of a BIKE!

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Posted by nimby
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 9, 2008 at 7:27 pm

We need more "Dog and Pony" shows here in Menlo!

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Posted by The Historian
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2008 at 11:28 am

... and the MP taxpayers ought to see how the $41K is being spent! At some of the consultant's dog and pony shows the arial view maps handed out showed the civic center at Kepler's, Sand Hill Rd was labelled Creek Drive, Willow Rd. from Middlefield to Alma was labelled Linfield.

At no time has the consultant given the participants detailed information for each of the possible sites such as the difference in cost, level of difficulty to construct or the potential complications regarding the leaseholders of the parcels on El Camino Real who would have to approve the path that would take users of the undercrossing through their property. There has been no rating system that would enable the participants and the commissions to rank the 3 alternatives.

Tis process began by catering to the opponents in Linfield Oaks by inviting only these residents. If this approach was to be used, then the consultants should have had separate meetings for the Belle Haven, Willows, Downtown, Allied Arts, West Menlo, Sharon Heights and Felton Gables. The Consultant needs to hear from each of these neighborhoods how its residents would use the undercrossing.

This undercrossing needs to be built before a child is killed bicycling to or from Hillview using Ravenswood or Oak Grove. We need to stop paying mediocre consultants and get our highly paid staff to do their jobs.

The meetings have produced preferences for siting the undercrossing based on mere popularity and within a process that is tinged with a neighborhood (Linfield) that is famous for opposing not only this project but every project near the civic center. Does anyone recall Linfield Oaks' opposition to the renovation of the swimming pool, the Children's Center, the Skate Board Park, the closing of Alma to create larger soccer fields and the construction of Classic Communities residential project on laurel, the two residential projects on Linfield and the one on Willow.

That the city continues to pander to Linfield Oaks regarding improvements that could and should serve the entire city is a political shame that should stop.

Not re-electing Andy Cohen would be a start.

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Posted by Same old rant
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm

That you, Steve?

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