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Guest opinion: An open letter to users of Menlo Park city streets

Original post made on Jan 31, 2020

I bought an electric bike 18 months ago because the commute from the bay side of town to the Oak Knoll side of town was taking so much time from my life. I would like to share 10 things I've learned.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 31, 2020, 7:47 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by biker and driver
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 31, 2020 at 9:57 am

Thanks for sharing all of these, in particular for explaining why it is important for bikes to always stop at stop signs, so that cars can predict and act accordingly.

With regard to right turns, one issue that will become increasingly prevalent as ebikes proliferate is the narrowing speed gap between cars and bikes. It used to be that if you were driving 25 MPH and you hadn't just passed a bike, you could be fairly confident that there was not one in your blind spot.

But with ebikes, there are many more people riding at a high rate of speed, so we will have to be on the lookout. During this transition period, ebike riders would be wise to understand that they present novel issues and that drivers are not accustomed to having 20 MPH traffic on their right side, with the exception of experienced/skilled cyclists.

Posted by long-time rider
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 31, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Bikers: NEVER pass a car on the "inside" or the passenger side. You are asking for trouble.
California Vehicle Code 21750 and 21754 are probably the most relevant sections, and none allow for a bicycle to pass a car on the right side.
Drivers: For Heaven's sake, please be as aware as possible and avoid bikers. But, if bikers had enough sense to NOT pass on the inside then this wouldn't be an issue.
The roads are there for all of us - not only cars and trucks - we need to share them, safely!

Posted by Exasperated
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 31, 2020 at 12:42 pm

Great piece and may all the cyclists who pedal through Woodside read it. Bikers here ROUTINELY blow through stop signs, ride 2 and 3 abreast, and generally act as if only they own the road. This kind of behavior creates aggravation, aggression, and - most of all - safety concerns.

Posted by MeBlue
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 31, 2020 at 12:52 pm

To: Electric Bike Article and other Bicyclists... please do not use the left edge of the "bike-only Lane marking" as your biking-line, as there are 3' or so to your right that is clear and open ... it puts you handle bars and body more into the vehicle's lane, and any slip by you when you "ride-the-left" line markings is more likely to result in you being in the path of a driver. I bet its fun, but its damagerous, and is done all the time on Alpine Road.

Posted by Hahaha
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Funny comments :)
Proving once again that everyone has advice for the other guy.

Posted by Soccer mom
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 31, 2020 at 1:25 pm

I am writing as a cyclist, driver, and parent.

@biker and driver makes a great point and I thank you for it. We all need to adjust to this new reality where cyclists can go much faster. With that in mind, those of us on traditional bikes should stay as far right as we safely can in our designated lanes because we are going to be passed by electric bikes in those lanes and they need to do so on our left.

@long-time rider: Your point is misleading. If everyone has their own lane, right lanes can pass left lanes. I think you mean to say at an intersection, cyclists should not blindly go straight when a car you pass may turn right?

Finally, to all drivers: When you are on a road with one lane per direction, it is not alright (and possibly illegal) to pass a car on the right, using the bike lane. This is a common occurrence on Valparaiso -- despite signs saying it is not allowed -- where lots of kids are riding to M-A, Menlo, SHP, and Hillview. You are endangering these students and others using the bike lane. Please slow down, be patient, and leave earlier.

Posted by Dawn1234
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 31, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Two things: Great point about being extra cautious when on an e-bike regarding unanticipated speed. Though I should add that I've been passed on my e-bike by non e-bike road bikes. My bike goes about 20 mph - pretty much all the time. I want to make it home everyday, so I take precautions when I see cars near right turns. However, I've had them merge right into me - which tells me they aren't even looking.

Second - aren't bike lanes on the passenger side of cars? Also, that should further reinforce cars to stop passing on the right - dipping into the bike lane - as it's illegal.

Posted by Thomas Welborn
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 31, 2020 at 1:57 pm

I am a pedestrian in the Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose areas. I am surprised how few cyclists there are in the area. I am accustomed to nearly 3x-5x bicycle traffic on residential streets and major thoroughfares.

When I walk in the area between destinations on any given day I am more likely to witness at least 10 of what regional law enforcement refers to as misdemeanor traffic violations committed by vehicles. That means during times I am not commuting by foot between destinations there are likely over 100 in just the 3 mile stretch I frequent. This includes running red lights, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, failure to fully stop at marked intersections, and obvious speeding. The volume of cyclist offenses I see is less than 1/10th of this volume and by far less dangerous.

Posted by @ Thomas Welborn
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2020 at 2:42 pm

Its human nature. People love to point blame on "Those outsiders", in this case, cyclists. They love to hate on them like the red states love to hate on California. What we are seeing in the comments is people pointing blame at the other guy, even though we all know as drivers we run across violations by cars every mile and we're used to it, but then "One time I got flipped off by a cyclist who ran a red light"
From that point onward the person will think bikes are a big problem.

Posted by Right turn guy
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2020 at 8:10 am

More on right turns. The Vehicle code says that a car turning right is SUPPOSED to enter the bike lane 200' from the intersection when turning right. Obviously a car should use the turn signal and be alert and must not do this if it would hit a bike, or if the bike is just about to come along side. But otherwise the biker that is racing down the lane towards the car should slow down and be prepared for a car to enter the lane prior to the intersection. And if you are a bike waiting at a red light at the front, position the bike far enough from the curb to allow a car behind you to turn right on red.

Posted by Dangerous
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Feb 1, 2020 at 10:01 am

Bikers will unfortunately continue to be injured by cars for not following the law, period. Ie they blow through the stop sign at alpine-Portola roads, ride side by side or even three abreast, and create general traffic hazards. Bikes should use trails or sidewalks whenever possible to avoid being hit by cars and minimize risk to the community.

Posted by ...AND
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 2, 2020 at 5:16 am

Car drivers should quit running over people then leaving dead in the streets.
They should also quit driving drunk and killing people.
They should also quit driving on the wrong side of the freeways and killing people.
They should also quit speeding, causing accidents that end up killing people.
They should also quit running the red light left turns which end up killing people.

Posted by Concerned
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2020 at 7:48 am

The promise of technology was that people would work from home eliminating traffic congestion.This was mentioned frequently in media articles from the 19970s to 1990s. If companies really wanted to do good they would allow this. Traffic has made life miserable for everyone - not just workers. Also, homes are empty 12 hors a day while office buildings are empty the other 12 hours as tens of thousands are homeless.

Posted by Demand Comopanies Allow Telecommuting
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2020 at 10:49 am

That helped greatly in the 90's, but the new companies have moved away from it.
Cities should mandate it and impose large fines for not encouraging it.

Posted by Pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 3, 2020 at 1:19 pm

A bicyclist who ran a red light on El Camino crashed into my mother's car at high speed (she has a dashcam, so video proof of the sequence of events) picked himself up and bicycled away, leaving my mother in shock with thousands of dollars damage to her car. Most bicyclists are responsible but a significant percentage think they should be able to do whatever they want.

Posted by @Pedestrian
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2020 at 4:56 am

Wow, quite a story. Shocking how a bike can do thousands of dollars in damage to a car then be able to simply ride away.
Anyway, and thank goodness, that's a very rare thing compared to the near daily hit and run reports I read about drivers committing. Read the post above from "@ Thomas Welborn" It was predicted you would be here ;)

Posted by Where's the danger?
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2020 at 9:00 am

This happened today.
No cyclists were involved, again:
Web Link

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