Town Square

Post a New Topic

Woodside: Commuters and weekend through traffic are making roads less safe, parents tell council

Original post made on Jun 14, 2018

Traffic rerouting services for commuters threaten pedestrian safety in Woodside, particularly on roads used by children to get to and from school, residents say. The problems continue on weekends with through traffic, they told the Town Council.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 14, 2018, 11:59 AM

Comments (41)

Posted by resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 12:54 pm

This isn't the 19th century anymore. Woodside needs to install real stop lights that are easier for distracted drivers to see and understand.

Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jun 14, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Blaming the town’s traffic and safety problems on Waze is pathetically brainless and pointless. For one thing, almost all modern GPS devices and mapping programs have real-time traffic-based rerouting, and you are not going to make them all go away.

We have a police service agreement with the county Sheriff’s office, paid for by Woodside. And we have ample laws to cover all the offenses being reported here. What I don’t see much of is people being ticketed, nor for that matter sheriff’s cars patrolling for them. Either we aren’t applying enough pressure to get the enforcement we need, or we need to pay for more enforcement.

Punishing the 99% of us who drive safely by (for example) impeding traffic flow with stop signs is just replacing one stupidity with another.

Deborah Gordon blames all the wrong parties: it’s not Caltrans’ fault, and it’s not Waze’s fault. It’s the drivers’ fault, so let’s go after the problem at it’s source with the tools we have: the police. Deborah Gordon and the rest of the council have the authority to do so right now. What are you all waiting for?

Posted by Hatewaze!
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Waze is the worst. When 280 is clogged they route through Portola Valley from Alpine and then down Arastadero where they have the left turn right away. If you are coming into Portola Valley from Arastadero you have to wait for 20 minutes or more to be able to turn left onto Alpine. Communities should be able to Opt-out of allowing their local traffic routes to be used for these Apps. Not making he world a better place!

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 1:10 pm

I agree that Woodside needs traffic signals especially at Canada and Woodside Roads, Kings Mountain and Woodside Roads, and in front of the school. Paved sidewalks wouldn't be a bad idea either. Also there was much reporting in the article about reckless drivers, but myself and my children have had multiple near misses with cyclists that blow through stop signs, use trails, and behave as if they own the roads.

Posted by No Signals
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jun 14, 2018 at 1:39 pm

Traffic lights and stop signs are outdated. How about roundabouts? That would slow traffic without all the inefficient stops and starts.

Posted by Deep Pockets
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 14, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Woodside has more than enough money to pay for more cops, sidewalks, and traffic lights.

Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jun 14, 2018 at 2:03 pm

To those who expect the town to “get whatever needs to be put down on the roads to make people move slower, to make this town feel like a slow, rural community. That's why we came here."

If you wanted to feel like you live in a slow, rural community, buying a place on a state highway that is an arterial leading to the coast, and right in the middle of the busiest part of Woodside, was not the way to go. Moving to a location with well-known traffic and safety problems and then expecting the rest of us to make it the way you want is at best unreasonable and totally unrealistic.

As for those who still want to blame Waze for all of this: all it takes is a map and an IQ over 90 to figure out how to drive around a jammed freeway. This is not something Waze invented. Waze is also not responsible for the continuing population growth and traffic levels in this area. This has been going on since the ‘50s; in the 70’s 280 was free-flowing at all times. Here is the county’s population history:

Web Link

Posted by Grownup
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Waaaaaa, we moved to an expensive suburb and now we are mad that it’s getting too crowded. I swear every issue of the Almanac has some story titled “Woodside residents voice concerns over “blank”.” Live and let live, NIMBYs.

Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jun 14, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Click on “Resident Population” for the graph of SMC population over time.

Grownup: You’re right, but that’s more a reflection on the Almanac than Woodside. Essentially the only thing about Woodside they report on is Council meetings, and unfortunately there is a small portion of residents that thinks the town council is their Mommy. If the Almanac reporter got out into the community and talked to individuals outside of Council meetings, he would be able to report on Woodside itself, not just a tiny part of the town government. Don’t hold your breath.

Posted by MenloMarge
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 14, 2018 at 3:38 pm

These problems are happening all over the Bay Area due to jobs, tech, and many more people here. If you want to reverse it, go tell tech companies to move out--ooops many tech company execs now live in Woodside! Woodside should go to Palo Alto to see their new traffic calming/protection devices near schools. Also Woodside Road is one of the very few ways to get to the coasts due to the coastal mountains which we all love.

Posted by Sally k
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 4:17 pm

The number of cars traveling east bound are Teslas and other high end cars very likely residents heading to work. West bound traffic is often landscaping trucks, and construction workers doing their jobs rebuilding estates all over town.
Curbing their driving might be difficult.

Posted by Ursula
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jun 14, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Everyone should drive as if they're being dash-cammed. That's what I and a lot of people I know, do. I drive a large SUV and am routinely tailgated on Woodside Road between Portola and Canada; primarily by smaller vehicles. In different sections and roads I'll always pull over. But not on that section because there are no good places to pull over and because I don't want to facilitate someone zooming by the school in particular. I also use a dash cam. The more of us who use them, the more the word will get around, and the more people will drive as if they're being documented. Let's deal with the reality that too many drivers don't care or don't stop to think that they're putting people at risk. And that most of them probably don't want to get caught.

Posted by Kathi
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 8:08 pm

There is a growing problem on Canada Road between the stop sign at The Glens and Jefferson Boulevard. Virtually everyone ignores the speed limit leaving that sign if they are Wazers or through traffic, especially during rush hour. I think a couple more stop signs or speed bumps, or enforcement of existing speed laws, would make bicyclists, runners, local drivers and horses crossing the street much safer.we moved to Woodside just 15 years ago and it truly was rural and enjoyable then; now it’s getting quite suburban.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 8:18 pm

It takes an awfully thick skin to be willing to drive near here at a mere 5 mph OVER the speed limit. Folks seem to be semi-aware that there is speed enforcement on Woodside Rd from Canada to Kings Mtn (especially during school drop off hours), but 84/Woodside turns into every man for himself west of Kings Mtn. You will be run off the road if you have the temerity to drive the 25MPH speed limit from King Mtn to just before Wunderlich. "Everybody" knows there is little to no enforcement, and woe betide you if you aren't willing to cross the double yellow to facilitate passing cyclists in the blind turn west of Why Worry Ln; expect to be honked at and flipped off. Same goes for the blind hill around Oak Hill.

As for the Waze cut through from PV through to Canada, there is a solution that would be way more cost effective than paying for an enforcement officer. The town could pay an electric vehicle driver to simply drive the loop from PV along Canada at precisely the speed limit. WAZE would no longer register the loop as a shortcut and traffic would both subside as well as have a moderating influence.

my $.02

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jun 15, 2018 at 7:40 am


Posted by Not A Nimby
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 15, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Not wanting masses of distracted, hurried drivers flying through your neighborhood does not make you a NIMBY, and I am sick and tired of hearing this condescending term being used for residents of what are now wealthy towns. Wealth has NOTHING to do with wanting your children to be safe, and yourself to continue to be able to walk to the local grocery store. Wealth has NOTHING to do with being annoyed that WAZE and other traffic routing apps are now sending bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic through your formerly quiet town. This is a matter of the right to live in your own town, safely, and not worry that your children are going to get killed in a crosswalk.

I'd like to see a lot more ACTIVE police presence in the areas mentioned, especially during rush hour. Ticket everyone who goes through the stop sign or puts a person at risk. Perhaps these areas will gain a reputation for not being such a fast short cut, after all. Arastradero is a horror show. We see it every day in PV. Canada Road and Albion, of all streets, have become daily highway alternatives.

Last note: Few of us chose to live in these little towns simply for their "cache." There was certainly no cache to living in PV when we bought here---it was just a sweet little town that was a ways off the highway. Woodside has always enjoyed a slightly shinier reputation, but people have traditionally bought there because they liked space, wildlife, quiet, and horses. If they wanted to show off money, they could easily have gone to Palo Alto or Atherton. Stop accusing people of being NIMBYs simply because they want to retain the quiet character of their small towns. I suspect it's out of jealousy. I'm sorry you feel that way. We were lucky to move in before prices skyrocketed. I'm sorry if you are angry because that didn't happen for you, but guess what? There's always going to be someone who has something you want, does something you want, or has more of something than you do. It's a reality for everyone. Make yourself miserable over that, and you are going to have a very unhappy life. If you don't like your life living in this area, there are many other areas of the country that are lovely, and much more affordable.

Posted by CouncilFail
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 15, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Woodside's council always acts as if the public is bringing them news. They don't proactively study and act on any issues. They listen to the loudest voice in the room and if the crowd changes from one meeting to the next, they change their votes too. We certainly don't have Woodside's best with this motley bunch of do-nothings. Hope you are paying attention Woodside and vote them out this fall. Get some advocacy going for issues that matter here, and yes, like safe routes. By the way, don't forget how Tanner voted against a CROSSWALK on Mtn Home!!

Posted by YIMBY
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2018 at 5:21 pm

"Stop accusing people of being NIMBYs simply because they want to retain the quiet character of their small towns."


Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Having grown up in Woodside in the '70's I can attest to the fact that this is nothing new. Many times I was nearly hit walking along Portola, Woodside or Mtn Home Rd. Of course there is much more traffic as there are many more people now.
"The town has been trying to solve this problem for a long time," said Sten Mawson of Romero Road. "I think if horses had to go to school, we would have solved it." Every child living within a mile of school should be able to walk there, he said.
My solution was to walk to school along the horse trails. What should we try now?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jun 17, 2018 at 10:49 am

Not a NIMBY has a good point. Just because Portola Valley wants to retain its character, does not mean that you should name call someone a nimby. Yes, we are a very wealthy town. Home prices average almost 5 million. The reason it is so expensive here is precisely because of the town’s character. If we install traffic signals, etc, then our town’s character is destroyed and therefore our property values. No one here wants that.

I would like to add that opinions from cities like Menlo Park or Redwood City are often slanted because of their paradigm. If you live in a city where traffic lights etc are the norm, it is unfair to push your viewpoint when applied to neighboring towns completely different from your own.

Portola Valley and Woodside enjoy a certain exclusivity and haven that many other communities do not. We are very fortunate for this. Let’s keep our towns characters and not overreact to the problems a few non resident thru traffic is causing.

Posted by resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 17, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Exactly what "character" is Woodside and Portola Valley trying to preserve by not making their streets safe for local children to walk to school? I'm talking about what other cities consider to be common sense: sidewalks, crosswalks, and stop lights. Are these towns supposed to be for retired people only?

Posted by Rick Moen
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jun 17, 2018 at 5:57 pm

Rick Moen is a registered user.

Resident, some of us Menlo Park residents (actually unincorporated land between Menlo Park lobes, as in my case) actually do forebear to advise Woodsideites and Portola Valleyans on the virtues of traffic signals. (Yr. welcome.)

But nonetheless, I wanted to say it's delightful to live in an area where combatants in local squabbles hurl phrases like 'woe betide'. Lesser places cannot compare.

Best Regards,
Rick Moen

Posted by Solution
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 18, 2018 at 9:01 am

Crowd sourced traffic apps are here to stay. Indeed, they are probably going to become more effective over time and not to the liking of those living in residential neighborhoods.

The answer is found in policy, a legislated solution, not voluntary compliance by the app developers. The basis for the new legislation would be in the California Road System Maps which define the network of streets and their purpose: interstate, arterial, collector, and local street. The legislated solution is to prohibit the apps from routing on local streets.

Many of the streets mentioned in the public comments and this discussion are designated at arterials and collectors and they would be legitimate streets for the apps to use. Here's a link to the CRS map for the area in question: Web Link

Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2018 at 11:25 am

Would it help to have a Samtrans bus that went through Woodside and Portola Valley? (not just for students)

Posted by Not A Nimby
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 18, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Cayo, Samtrans already has buses that go through Portola Valley and Woodside.

Resident, the small town character is not at odds with the children and residents being safe from terrible drivers and Waze users. What we need is better policing and discouragement of these small roads being used as highways. I know many people who have had close calls in areas where no speeding car or motorcycle should be, myself included. We have crosswalks, we have four-way stop signs, we have trails alongside the road. The problem is the drivers and the traffic, not the town, and not the children.

Yimby, I really don't see what you think is funny. The term "NIMBY" actually started in reference to people who did not want a prison in their downtown. People have now adapted it to mean anyone who doesn't want massive development in their quiet neighborhoods where they moved to get away from the Palo Alto business. As I stated before, the reason most people live in Woodside and PV is for the quiet, the darkness, the lack of street lights and other development that you find in larger cities. Woodside and PV have historically been horse and child friendly---kids should be able to walk, ride bikes and ride horses without being run down by traffic. We used to be rural, out in the sticks, off the beaten track. Now we are more suburban, but that doesn't mean we are willing to give up our own little towns just because everyone else wants to blow through here on their way to work, or think they deserve to live wherever they want to, just because. I don't think the solution is adding more infrastructure. I think the solution is actively discouraging the traffic.

Interestingly, people who move to PV who don't like or prioritize the quiet, darkness, small town, kid and animal-friendly atmosphere quickly find themselves feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. They don't fit in. They don't have the same values. They want to show off their wealth and success in a public way, and are embarrassed by people who don't feel the need to do that. Palo Alto and Menlo Park are great places to live. They are busier, have active downtowns, and have great schools; it's best to pick a neighborhood and town that fits with the way you like to live. You'll certainly have more friends.

Posted by John
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jun 18, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Not A Nimby:

Your assertion that people who "don't have the same values" or "want to show off their wealth and success in a very public way" should move to other towns is APEX NIMBY.

Who are you to judge why anyone lives here? Those same people are your neighbors, and by the way they have driven up the price of your property by leaps and bounds.


Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2018 at 5:13 pm

Note: The Samtrans buses that go through Woodside and Portola Valley are for school children only. Adults are not allowed, I asked when I worked in Portola Valley. Could we add regular buses or even mini versions? It might alleviate a bit of traffic.

Posted by PORTOLA Valley resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jun 18, 2018 at 7:08 pm

Cayo, the issue is not Resident traffic, but it is commuters who cut through our town!! All the time, they tailgate you on alpine trying to get to Arastradero to bypass 280 traffic. Every time I see this happen I show down an additional 5 mph lol. It frustrates them, but at least delays them. Hopefully they get he message our town roads are not to be used as shortcuts.

Posted by Peter
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 19, 2018 at 12:50 am

Then perhaps property values will drop. Also, there are plenty of horse trails on woodside road where kids can walk safely.

Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jun 19, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Someone made the comment that th Woodside Town Council is always surprised when these subjects come up. It looks to people in thus discussiona are surprised as well. That’s probably because none of us went to the meeting. So if the TC seems apathetic and over-reponsive to small cliques of loudmouths, that’s because nobody else goes to the meetings.

It’s really pretty silly for Woodside residents to debate these issues here; for one thing it always leads to outsiders starting a culture battle and screaming NIMBY.

So here are a couple thoughts, fellow Woodside residents:

1) Go to to the TC meetings. With a representative audience the meeting discussiosn and the TC decisions would be, well, representative.

2). Failing that, let’s at least move the conversation to Nextdoor Woodside so we don’t have to read the resentment and envy-coated comments from the peanut gallery.

Posted by Living in Woodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 19, 2018 at 6:09 pm

@ AWatkins; Great points.

The article made no mention of the TC being "surprised", but it did say that they have been working on it for years - so I'm not sure where the notions raised by another poster came from. The article also says that Woodside will spend money to hire another full-time cop to address the issues - so why the hysteria?

Posted by Nail Biter
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jun 19, 2018 at 10:22 pm

This is the longest set of comments I have ever seen in any Almanac story. Poor grammar all around!! I would expect complete sentence structure and punctuation perfection from those in this highly educated area.

Posted by Slow growth county
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 20, 2018 at 6:38 pm

For those curious about the county growth, it's only grown 5% since 2000. In fact the decade with the highest growth was 1980 to 1990 at 11%

Population each decade from 1970 to 2017

Percent increase each decade

Posted by Slow growth county
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 20, 2018 at 6:45 pm

63,000 moved to San Mateo county from 1980 to 1990.
58,000 moved to San Mateo county from 1990 to 2000.
12,000 moved to San Mateo county from 2000 to 2010.
21,000 moved to San Mateo county from 2010 to 2017.

Total 154,000 moved here from 1980 to 2017.

That's a big number, but most of the growth was 20-30 years ago, not recently.

Posted by Not a Nimby
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 21, 2018 at 2:36 pm

John of Mountain Home Road: Since you clearly have missed the point, I’ll spell it out in simple words, so that you can understand.

There are a lot of other communities that cater to those people who want to show off their wealth. Hillsborough, Atherton, and, of course, parts of Marin. If you are a person who thrives on being surrounded by people who see the trappings of wealth as part of their self worth, then Portola Valley and much of Woodside is going to leave you feeling like you are a fish out of water.

I don’t know why you live in Woodside. Nor do I care. Accusing people of being NIMBYs because they don’t want their small towns with tolerant cultures to be turned into busy, traffic choked areas is the worst kind of egotism. Why should everyone suddenly be forced to do what you want them to do, just because you bought a house here? You’re like the person who builds a house in the middle of the intersection of multiple trails, and then complains that people are walking by. You want total privacy, don’t build a house in the middle of the trail system. You want busy, traffic, lots going on at all times? You want to drive fast and you don’t like horses and don’t want to watch out for kids walking around? Don’t buy a house in Woodside or PV.

Posted by Its the OUTSIDERS!
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jun 22, 2018 at 1:09 pm

You can tell that they don't live in Woodside when they drive by because, um, uh, by their smell, yah that's it, those outsiders....why I've never seen anyone who lives in Woodside speed, especially in their exotic weekend sports's always those horrible Outsiders...they're not like you and me ya know...not one of us...they're filthy lawless commuters and weekenders hell bent of killing our kids! THE OUTSIDERS MUST BE STOPPED!!!

Posted by POrtola Valley Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jun 22, 2018 at 4:33 pm

I agree with the commenter above—generally speaking, most of the people speeding and driving dangerously do not live in the area. Those who live in PV/Woodside have the decency and respect towards their neighbors to not drive badly. And they know if they do, they can end up on Nextdoor/PV Forum, whereas workers/commuters don’t care as much in that regard.

Posted by Same Old Nonsense
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Uh, PV -- you *do* know what satire is, right? Right?

Posted by YIMBY
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2018 at 12:45 pm

@Same Old Nonsense

Poe's Law in action

Posted by Caleb
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jun 25, 2018 at 10:16 pm

"Stop accusing people of being NIMBYs simply because they want to retain the quiet character of their small towns."

Portola Valley's quiet character started changing a long time ago. Perhaps all the dirt and gravel roads should have been left unpaved? We are no longer far from the madding crowd.

The population everywhere the Bay Area has increased tremendously over the last forty years. The great increase in traffic is just one result. The traffic is not going to go away, and Portola Valley, Woodside, and other Hill communities will never return to what they were decades ago. The NIMBY approach is therefore untenable, as change is already in our backyards, and has been for quite some time.

Posted by Caleb
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jun 25, 2018 at 10:26 pm

"Not A Nimby:

Your assertion that people who "don't have the same values" or "want to show off their wealth and success in a very public way" should move to other towns is APEX NIMBY."

At least he/she is not pretentious and uptight.

It's too bad the hills became flooded with people. Woodside and Portola Valley still exist, just not in Woodside and Portola Valley.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Boichik Bagels is opening its newest – and largest – location in Santa Clara this week
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,617 views

Which homes should lose gas service first?
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 1,508 views

I Do I Don't: How to build a better marriage Page 15
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,296 views

By Laura Stec | 14 comments | 1,116 views


Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $300,000.