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Tensions resurface over bike/pedestrian bridge

Original post made on Apr 14, 2009

Long-simmering tensions surrounding a bike/pedestrian bridge over U.S. 101 at Ringwood Avenue in Menlo Park are boiling over again, as Caltrans evaluates design options for a new bridge.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (20)

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 14, 2009 at 1:44 pm

The last time I checked Belle Haven was a part of Menlo Park. Why do people want to isolate Belle Haven from the rest of the city? The bridge should be built.

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Posted by Condi
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm

More walking and less gas-guzzling can help end global warming. Melo Park needs more safe pedestrian routes around town, not fewer. Sign this petition to save the pedestrian bridge:
Web Link

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Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2009 at 3:04 am

So in one part of town Menlo NIMBYs are screaming that HSR/Caltrain grade separations may "divide" the city ... and yet here you have another set of NIMBYs seeking to further exacerbate the very real and more serious division of the city by Hwy 101 by having a bike/ped bridge torn down. It doesn't get much better than this!

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Posted by MoJo
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 15, 2009 at 9:50 am

East Menlo has always been separated because of the freeway. It will always be that way.

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Posted by David Gross
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 15, 2009 at 1:09 pm

As a Belle Haven homeowner, taxpayer and father of two young chirdren, it frustrates me to no end to have to fight for basic city services like safe throughways.

At first I though the opposition to rebuild was a joke. Councilman Andy Cohen and the others who oppose it should be ashamed of themselves, both for shortsighted civic planning and for the implicit undertones about race and class.

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 15, 2009 at 3:10 pm

The sad truth is that the crime concerns are real. Different color people live in the Ringwood Area also. Please do not play the race card. THIS IS NOT ABOUT RACE. It's simply based on historical concerns about crimes brought to the area via that overpass.

It makes better sense if they make the Willow passing saving for bikes and pedestrians. And more robust shuttle or bus transportation would actually be much better for the M-A students as well.

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Posted by please compromise
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Moving the bridge to either Willow or Marsh does not make sense for those using it, as that would result in a far less direct route between communities, schools, recreation, etc. I hope the city pressures Caltrans to work with residents on both sides of 101 to identify a viable option at or near the current site.
We ALSO need safer passageways for bikes and pedestrians at Willow and Marsh.

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Posted by J
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 15, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Web Link

I think it's interesting to look at the actual facts of reported crime in various areas of MP - note this refers to year 2008. To me it appears there is a disconnect between actual and perceived crime levels putting the Flood Triangle+ area on par with Sharon Heights.

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 15, 2009 at 4:12 pm


Thanks for the link. I actually have been monitoring that reporting by Menlo Park police over the years.

I also have been monitoring the actually "Police Calls" reporting by the Almanac. It is more laborious to search for that data but if you look at the actual police calls, you will see the burglary and so on happens mostly around areas close to the Ringwood overpass and near Willow. This week, for example, this is a residential burglary on Van Buren Road right near the overpass. The Ringwood neighborhood people will tell you that the crime concerns are real.

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Posted by Anti Neighbor Control
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2009 at 4:27 pm

The blatantly self serving position of the flood triangle residents is just more evidence of why neighbors should have limited influence in municipal decision making.

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Posted by Menlo park resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 15, 2009 at 9:00 pm

"ALSO need safer passageways for bikes and pedestrians at Willow and Marsh" -quoted from an earlier comment. I ditto this comment. There are many cars on the road. We need alternatives to the personal car. Also could use a good bus service between the two communities -east and west of 101. What public (Samtrans?) go between the two? Are there any?

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Posted by Mr
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Andy Cohen should be recalled from the Council. He lies i thought he supported Bellhaven and the Green Environment Movement? By his comments about shuttle buses you can't tell. Why are politicians so afraid to speak the truth?

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Posted by Smith
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Caltrans is funding the POC Project from GAS tax money that has been programmed for the 101 project including POC. so please dont use the excuse about my property taxes being wasted its a shame Cohen deosnt understand that!

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Posted by Believe
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Get a dog, gun, alarm system or move to a gated community and stop being selfish look up the word "Public" and "Private" in the dictionary.

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Posted by MLK nightmare
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2009 at 10:17 pm

i bet there was no discussion like this when the original POC was built 50 some years ago WOW are we going back in time Seperate but equal em em em!

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Posted by JT
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2009 at 1:05 am

So Believe is asking people to arm themselves with guns? Good grief. Is this Texas?

Personally, I think this is a matter between the two neighborhoods. May be some kine of cooperative neighborhood watch between Belle Haven and the Ringwood people? Some sort of video surveillance on the overpass as deterrence?

Can the money be redirect to make the Marsh and Willow passes more bike friendly? That actually seems to benefit a much larger set of residences...

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Posted by Believe
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2009 at 9:21 am

i see JT does not understand how Caltrans funds its projects, Marsh and Willow are seperate projects both funded by gas tax money both will be improved in the future, if would be great if Caltrans could do all the improvements to all three crossings at the same time even in great economic times with surplus of fundings but that is unrealistic

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Posted by The Truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 3, 2009 at 7:35 pm

This article represents the least biased view written to date on this subject, so I'll acknowledge that at least the Almanac tried to present some truth, unlike the PA Daily News recently. However, it's unfortunate that the Almanac's article still manages to completely whiff on the background for WHY the petition was about stopping the rebuild AND the primary reasons for a majority of Flood Triangle residents who signed the petition.

We ARE NOT against access, the bridge, or a rebuild of that bridge. We ARE against a rebuild of a structure that is currently proposed to be 5 times the size of the current overcrossing, and having a large visual impact to a much broader group of residents in the community. Our issue is a matter of public record, as stated and can be seen on video for the Apr 14 City Council meeting on the city of Menlo Park's website. If you have a problem with this simple statement, then we'll have to agree to disagree. But coming on here and elsewhere and making statements about racism and segregation only divide the community further, and are just a sign of people being too lazy to understand the issue, or too ideal to consider that the IMPLEMENTATION of such a bridge should be sensitive to Menlo Park residents on BOTH sides of Highway 101.

The city of Menlo Park and CalTrans have done a very poor job of informing residents of the community about the existence of this project, the scope, and the options. Many of us only found out about the plans a little over a month ago, in late March. In spite of yet another failure to adequately notify the community by Menlo Park's transportation manager and CalTrans, thankfully word got out through some neighborhood email groups, and we were able to scramble up some reasonable attendance for the 2nd of two sessions called to review build options for the overcrossing.

In finding out that night that all the options are 5x or more the size of the current structure, all the current proposals were seen as unacceptable by the vast majority of attendees, and there were no conclusive designs that stood out above the others, both in terms of voting and polling based on design criteria and impact. What also stood out was how little preparation and follow through has happened since the original meetings that decisions were made 16 months ago. There is little creativity or thought provided towards the goal of an implementation with a similar footprint and impact to the neighborhood as the existing structure. And with no minutes taken, there is little communication, little accountability for what was discussed, or what was decided. It is very unfortunate that this is a recurring theme with the City of Menlo Park and CalTrans on this issue.

With that in mind, we were told at this meeting on 3/25 that the decision to rebuild was already made, that these were the only options under consideration, and our only recourse at this point to force other alternatives was to petition to stop the rebuild. Hence the petition and its title.

CalTrans doesn't give a **** about neighborhood impact. Large, "cookie cutter" designs that are more suitable to commercial zones are what they are focused on at this point, along with lobbying from bicycle commissions for structures that are more "bicycle friendly", which seems to translate to long and wide and low grade inclines, conveniently disguised under the umbrella of building to American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. It's almost comical, because people should be walking their bikes across these overcrossings, as most have signs posted to this effect for the safety of pedestrians who share the use of this bridge, but these design encourage opposite behavior.

The city of Menlo Park made the decision that the bridge should be rebuilt and, in making that decision, they should also take responsibility for an implementation that is neighborhood friendly. The current overcrossing was build 50 years ago, and essentially all the residents on both sides of Hwy 101 bought/rented their residences with the knowledge that the overcrossing was there. However, changing it's shape and size and impacting many more residences directly is a valid concern, just as providing reasonable accessibility across the highway is a legitimate concern.

I support a decision to maintain continuity of access between the two Menlo Park communities. However, I don't do so blindly, and this issue has been handled to date in a VERY ONE-SIDED manner, much like these posts here, and on other sites discussing this topic. Just because CalTrans will foot the bill for the rebuild doesn't mean the city can wash it's hands of the effects and implementation, ALTHOUGH THIS IS CURRENTLY THEIR STATED POSITION. The city has responsibility for design impact, as part of their initial decision to OK the rebuild. The city needs to act equitably on this issue, else its decision making is nothing short of irresponsible. This call to action translates to PROACTIVE and much more aggressive demands on CalTrans to provide more palatable design options.

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Posted by finally
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 4, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Finally someone reporting the facts and not propaganda.

This is not about NIBY or race or crime or bikes or anything tawdry. This is simply about a big, huge, ugly,concrete monstrosity dumping into a small, sleepy, neighborhood. Caltrans proposed bridge designs are all heinous and ruin the view and ambiance of several houses who will be directly affected by the new - huge - footprint.

Would you buy a house that had a pedestrian bridge overlooking your backyard?

Give us a realistic, attractive design and stop calling us elitist simply for trying to preserve our home values.

Maybe the Almanac could do some real reporting and post the proposed designs so that perhaps the MP community might see for themselves why the Flood Triangle is up in arms.

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Posted by Safety First
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2009 at 11:12 am

The old pedestrian / bike overpass on 101 that was recently removed in San Mateo was dangerous and invited crime because it was too narrow and didn't offer a clear view of the ramp ways. As a result Thugs would follow you on from one side and alert their cohorts to approach from the other side, trapping you. Muggings were frequent on it at night. That is why Menlo Parks' is designed the way it is. It's about basic safety - while you're on it.

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