A dangerous crosswalk in front of a school where two children narrowly escaped injury will soon be fixed, according to city officials.
The crosswalk at Barbara Drive and North California Avenue has become increasingly hazardous in the last three years, according to residents. On Feb. 26, a boy was struck on his bicycle in the intersection. On March 5, a girl narrowly missed being hit, they said.
Those incidents heightened the consternation of parents, who said they were but two of many close calls they have witnessed in the last few years. The opening of Stratford School at the old Garland Elementary School site in 2004 added nearly 400 more children to the area. Jordan Middle School, which is just down the street.
In 2005, residents, school and city officials worked for months to come up with a compromise on plans to change the old Garland parking lot and traffic patterns at Stratford, but the crosswalk issue was "unfinished business" according to Annette DeStefano, a Barbara Drive resident.
"To Stratford's credit, they have tried to help with these safety issues, but now it is the city's turn to make this school crosswalk much safer than just repainting the crosswalk in a bolder brighter color. There are probably more accidents and 'near misses' waiting to happen," she said in an e-mail.
Sam Peiris, City of Palo Alto traffic engineer, said a consultant began two weeks ago to analyze the safety issues on North California and to figure out how best to improve safety. Analysis should be completed by May, he said.
To address the Barbara Drive crossing problem in the interim, he has ordered signage and flexible delineators -- bright yellow plastic posts with signs indicating a pedestrian crosswalk -- that will be put in the middle of the road. The markers will probably be installed in two weeks, he said.
"The problem is that it isn't very obvious unless you know the area that there is a crosswalk there," Liz Jones, who has a son in seventh grade at Jordan.
"In addition to kids coming from Jordan, many kids use the fields for sports after school and until dusk," she said. Drivers often don't see the children in the crosswalk in the reduced light.
The problem is compounded by a lack of a sidewalk on one side of the street and parking that interferes with a bike lane. What to do with the bike lane is still a question.
The road is 36 feet wide and cannot accommodate a full-width bike lane and parking on the residential side of the street. Large trees hamper widening, Peiris said.
But he envisions a potential solution: sharrows.
A sharrow is a flexible lane with signage notifying drivers they must share the road when bicyclists are present. He said the portion of the road to be shared is marked.
But before that can happen, the idea must be approved by the City Council. Peiris will ask the council to approve sharrows for all streets less than 40 feet wide, he said.
He expects to bring the issue before the council in the next few months.
Alternately, a speed table or median or a refuge island could be installed in the crosswalk, he said. Traffic safety at all of the schools is being analyzed, he added.