Commissioners kick back bike-boulevard plan

Matadero-Margarita proposal lacks bicycle-traffic data, Planning and Transportation commissioners say

Wondering why a plan for a bike boulevard doesn't contain any data about bike trips, the Palo Alto Planning Commission kicked back a proposal from city staff on Wednesday night.

The lack of data related to actual bike trips throughout the city cast doubt among some commissioners about where a bike network should go.

Commissioners split 3-3 on the proposed Matadero Avenue-Margarita Avenue Bicycle Boulevard plan, suggesting instead that city staff return with hard data so they could make an informed decision.

Alex Panelli, Eduardo Martinez and Mark Michael voted against the proposal, and Arthur Keller, Michael Alcheck and Carl King voted in favor. Greg Tanaka was absent.

Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez sought a recommendation from the commission to the City Council for a multistage project to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The bike boulevard would run from Park Boulevard down Margarita Avenue, across El Camino Real and up Matadero to connect with the Bol Park path.

The proposal is part of a network to increase bike connectivity across town to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent over the next seven years.

But Rodriguez said the proposal is not based on any real bicycle data and that no strong data exists regarding bicycle volumes throughout the city.

"We do have a pretty good handle on how many bicyclists are at the schools because we can count them on an annual basis. We are really lacking good tools to help us capture ongoing bicycle and pedestrian data the same way we do for vehicles.

"That's one of our biggest challenges, specifically with our Safe Routes to School program. And so, short of having someone sit on a roadway for 24 hours a day for seven days a week, it's almost impossible to get that data. We're starting to develop those tools," he said.

That revelation concerned some of the commissioners, who questioned how one can design a bicycle network -- and know where and if there is a need -- without a clear understanding of bicycle movements and projected future volumes.

Some commissioners voiced concern that absent hard data, the Matadero bike boulevard might serve a few but inconvenience many.

"I'm disappointed with this presentation. To say it is difficult to get the numbers just doesn't cut it. I want to know the number of bikers coming through these places. Will it result in increases?" Panelli said.

"If you can't get the numbers, figure out a way to estimate the numbers -- the number of bikers that are currently going across these different places. And if you don't have the numbers or don't have a good way of getting the numbers, come up with an estimate and tell us how you did it," he said.

Staff also did not present other alternatives to the bike boulevard, he noted. Panelli was not convinced Matadero is the best place for the arrangement. He wants to see a list of alternatives, he said.

"Building a network just for the sake of connectivity I think is a really poor use of resources because it's effectively guesswork.

"To cite an example, look at the light rail system in L.A. Really expensive. They spent a lot of time on it and nobody rides it. I don't want to see a situation where we build something and nobody uses it -- they just keep using the same streets they're already using," he said.

Michael agreed.

"There is an absence of essential data that should've come here tonight ... I'm not entirely convinced that it's going to be safe, and I think that the expectation that this is actually a formal bike boulevard is going to create an illusion of safety that is probably unwarranted," Michael said.

Matadero "is manifestly not a bike lane," and had "potentially incredibly unsafe conditions," he added.

Rodriguez said that community input over 1 1/2 years created the 2012 Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, which defines routes people want.

The bicycle boulevard is also included in the Safe Routes to Schools program, Rodriguez said.

Keller supported the proposal. The crossing from El Camino to Matadero, is "a very useful connection," he said.

"This is the best way to cross El Camino Real. It is essentially the only way to do it," he said, considering Barron and Los Robles avenues.

"It's not only an issue of bike boulevards as where you want people to go. It's also an issue that we're increasing way-finding. We're making it easier for people to get around the city, and even if people wanted to go that way and they don't know the way, they might get lost. Having clear bike paths with signage in and of itself is a useful thing," he said.

The Matadero boulevard would be designed to double the rate of bicycling to 15 percent for local and 5 percent for work commutes by 2020. Staff held meetings that incorporated public input in May 2012 and September 2013. Rodriguez had hoped to begin the traffic-calming portion by this winter.

But the commission asked staff to return with the bicycle-traffic data and possible alternatives at a future, unspecified date.


Posted by parent, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm

The problem with collecting bicycle commuter data for new routes is that bicycle commuting rates are terrible in this city along routes with poor bicycle safety. In particular, all east-west bike routes in Palo Alto are terrible right now. Either you have to squeeze through some narrow dark tunnel that is congested with pedestrians or you have to squeeze along a narrow road between speeding traffic and rows of parked cars.

I guarantee you that east-west bicycle commuting will increase tremendously if the city builds a safe direct east-west bicycle route across the city (from the Baylands to the Foothills). I bet that bicycle commuting in Mountain View increased 1000X when they built the Stevens Creek Trail, giving bicyclists a safe direct route across Hwy 101, across the Caltrain tracks, and across El Camino Real. That trail was so successful that Mountain View built the Permanente Creek Trail a couple of miles away. Meanwhile, what has Palo Alto really done since the Bryant Bicycle Boulevard was finished in the 1980s?

If you build it, they will come.

Posted by Tool, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2013 at 12:25 am

That gentleman Mr. Rodriguez [portion removed] goes on and on about his plans, but when questioned you find that data was lacking or ignored. Moreover, I always get the sense that he makes no effort to listen - he justs waits for you to stop talking so he can just start making his points again. It comes across as arrogant and bossy - the worst kind of bureaucrat. I'm not confident he will propose a plan that really makes sense, and I'm glad these commissioners were also skeptical.

Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2013 at 2:05 am

It is really a catch 22 situation. How can they count all the bikes that use multiple routes to get to the Bol Park bike path into the Research Park? I know Park Boulevard is used very heavily by bikes every day. I see many riders cut toward El Camino near Matadero Ave from Park Blvd.

I use Strava to track my commute every day. Maybe the City could check for some of that data, but I doubt most commuter cyclists use it to track their commutes.

A dedicated boulevard with proper signage for safer cycling is what is needed. In fact, Park Boulevard/Wilkie Way still needs to be fully established as a proper bike boulevard. There are 2-way stops in the wrong direction along Wilkie Way at James and Carolina Streets. These 2 intersections are very unsafe for cyclists due to the poor visibility (especially at James Street for bikes riding toward West Meadow). They also still need signs that say "bicycles permitted" where "do not enter" signs exist such as at the barrier near Chestnut.

Ellen Fletcher must be rolling in her grave tonight. I'm very disappointed with this Commission.

Posted by Why , a resident of Ventura
on Nov 15, 2013 at 5:34 am

This thing is apparently driven by the availability of a grant, not by a specific need.

It's like buying something because you received a discount coupon in the mail, knowing neither whether you need the thing or not, nor if it's worth its price with or without the coupon.

"Bicycles are good" therefore "spend other people's money on bicycles whenever you can" is not an approach likely to improve our city.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2013 at 5:52 am

That reminds me, it's getting to the time of year when organizations panic to spend all they have by December 31 or they won't get as big a handout in 2014. Perhaps not applicable in this specific case, but amazing how many business and government bureaucracies operate that way.

Posted by commuter, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2013 at 7:26 am

If they build it, I will use it. Right now it is just too complicated and dangerous to bike from Midtown across the train tracks and across El Camino to the Gunn High School area.

Posted by commuter, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2013 at 7:26 am

If they build it, I will use it. Right now it is just too complicated and dangerous to bike from Midtown across the train tracks and across El Camino to the Gunn High School area.

Posted by Bike Commuter, a resident of Ventura
on Nov 15, 2013 at 7:42 am

I concur with the good points made by "parent" and "Bikes2work".

I live on Park and bike to work and often have the delightful challenge of waiting for an opening to merge onto Park due to the heavy bike traffic!

I still see cyclists on El Camino and Alma, so we need MORE SIGNAGE to point to the best bike routes.

To commissioners, you can't always get "perfect" data before making a decision. Where do you think those hundreds of bikes parked at Gunn come from?

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2013 at 8:41 am

The Commission's approach is correct to not just accept what the staff is saying without a rationale, a basis and clear understanding of the impacts of what is being proposed. What we are talking about is using common sense, using data where available and applicable, and just bringing oversight and control to what we are doing to our streets, and in our land use policies.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 15, 2013 at 9:05 am

Well, we are already seeing some good come out of the Maybell fiasco, the City can finally admit the truth about not having bike data. Interesting comments, considering Maybell is just as bad or worse.

Posted by parent, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2013 at 9:11 am

The city badly needs safer and more direct east-west bicycle routes. The city has known this for decades (ever since the north-west Bryant Bicycle Boulevard was built in the 1980s). It is arrogant for the commission to reject this plan because they don't have enough data. They have had the data for decades, but just swept it under the rug. The fact is that most city residents live east of the Caltrain tracks, but all of the city's high schools and half or more of the city's jobs are west of the tracks (HP, Stanford PARC, etc). Just one or two cross-town east-west bike paths can make this commute much safer by bicycle, thus reducing traffic and pollution for everyone.

Posted by Janet L, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2013 at 9:28 am

Do you measure demand for a bridge by how many people are swimming across? No, you look at where you can create a network that suits the transportation needs of people beyond what method they're choosing today.

In the case of bikes, there are many people who are not riding now, even for 1-2 mile cross-town trips, simply because they don't have a route that feels comfortable and safe. So they're choosing to drive instead. That's a big FAIL for the city.

Bike usage data is important and can help guide planning, but it's not the only data needed for creating a bicycle network. Our bike network needs to consider the needs of people who aren't riding now, but would if they had a bike boulevard type route.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 15, 2013 at 10:21 am

There is no data that can inform this decision.

It is a policy question around how to foster more use of bicycles.

More use of bicycles for commuting to work, school or other use is a good objective.

Leadership calls for vision of how things can be, not what they are.

Eisenhower and the interstate highway come to mind.

Posted by Long Time Vision, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 15, 2013 at 10:41 am

The comment that there is short-term grant funding driving the bike boulevard decision is seriously misleading. Creating a bike boulevard network has been city policy for decades, and it is a key priority in the city's recently passed bike and pedestrian plan. If there is some grant funding available, this is staff's effort to help the city fund an initiative that is a long-established priority.

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

Paul Losch wrote: "There is no data that can inform this decision."

Wow, there's a monument to muddy-headed thinking. Sad that in an intelligent place like this that someone is willing to sign his name to such a statement.

If there is really no data, we are in the realm of theology - perhaps Mr. Rodriguez considers himself the high priest of bicycling? As many have said, "in God we trust - all others, bring data."

Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:08 am

If they need data why don't they set up some counters at the two constrictions along Park Blvd. At one location the data won't include cars because they can't get through. It is fair to require some accounting to determine if you have been successful at increasing bike use. In the end I believe the data will help our cause to support bicycle infrastructure.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:10 am

Agree with "Tool". Rodriguez does not even acknowledge any objective correspondence you send to him. He does work for us.

Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

Anyone else get the long and presumably expensive telephone survey about how much we the taxpayer will pay for all these undefined "plans" if they were on the ballot?

They also asked how much RESIDENTS would pay to construct parking garages.

More waste from our fine city when all they're doing is testing price points. If they call, please tell them NO.

Posted by John Galt, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

More puffing Hopium! Wasted money on the alter of pipe dreams.
How many Palo Alto officials ride a bike to work??
Wishing won't make it happen.
Erase the Arastradero debacle before it breeds and spreads!
Put a measure E on the ballot, Reinstate 4 lanes!

Posted by chimalus green belt, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:21 am

There is a better route for this bike path very nearby. There is an existing "green belt" running behind (to the SE of) Cooley LLP and Communications & Power Industries (CPI), and behind (to the NW of) houses on the NW side of Chimalus. It currently has locked gates on both ends.

The existing green belt runs from points A to B on this map: Web Link

We could have a "Chimalus Green Belt Bike Path" connecting the well-used Bol Park Bike Path to El Camino, keeping bikes separate from car traffic on Matadero Ave.

Posted by takeacount, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:22 am

Yes, this is a Catch-22. There are no riders to count because there are no (east-west) routes to ride. I happen to agree that if bikeways were built that usage would significantly increase. But I understand the concern that money will be spent and people/residents inconvenienced, so we want to get it right.
Is there a way to gather data from companies (ask employees who ride and who would ride) and from schools? There are a limited number of CalTrain crossings - could bicycles be counted there over some period that would be statistically significant? Let's see what data can be obtained or derived before we either give up or push blindly ahead.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:31 am

@John Galt,
A very large percentage of kids bike to school. The school district, which works completely independently of the City, is counting on more bike riding in its own planning and construction decisions. There arent alternative routes no one has considered. We have to make the limited routes we have safer. Kids are already on the bikes.

@Paul Losch
You make good points about the need for smarter and more strategic policymaking, but you are wrong about data. The City of Menlo Park has a tool for measuring bike traffic at every intersection, I'm told. Our car traffic has increased significantly in the last two years, and not just on Arastradero (not that I'm defending it, just that increased development with no thought to the impacts on infrastructure are catching up to us). Instead f arguing over opinions, especially where our CC is concerned, we do need information.

Posted by more-data-please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:34 am

> Paul Losch wrote: "There is no data that can inform this decision."

If this is the way most city board/commission members think--it explains a lot about the decision process of the bubble that is palo alto.

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:39 am

My experience on Charleston / Arastadero at rush hour is that people are frustrated by the single lane each way. Especially now that is dark at rush hour. This week people were going down the bike lane on the right - even though I saw bikers also going down that lane. The bikers only had a single light so were at risk of not being seen. The autos created the second lane. This frustration happens when multiple trains are traveling and there is a long wait. People were also turning around in the middle of the street and rushing into the neighborhoods. Major streets should be double lane each way. If you are promoting biker safety then there should be a separate road specific for bikes that is not on a major thoroughfare.
As a planning concept If you are trying to increase housing and business development then you need to provide double lane roads and parking. You can't tell people who are driving in from surrounding cities that they have to have a bike. Even electric cars need a lane to drive in. Bikes are good for local inner city travel but that is not driving the economy for this city. You are trying to build up more business in high rises but cutting off the way people get there. They will simply go somewhere else.

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:43 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

The problem COULD HAVE BEEN SOLVED by having bicyclist licenses and registration. Then you would have a good start on the numbers you need. If bicycles had plates, like other vehicles WHO ARE FORCED TO HAVE THEM, using the present technology used on other vehicles, you could get the rest of your numbers using plate reading technology.

The fees paid ( license, registration and insurance ) would actually pay for this project. A win-win for everybody! TANSTAAFL!

Posted by Janet L, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:43 am

@chimalus green belt How would the people riding the Chimalus path cross El Camino? The traffic signal on El Camino is at Matadero.

P.S. the link you gave was caught by my anti-virus software as suspect.

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:50 am

As a side note to the above Mountain View / Google and Palo Alto / TESLA use buses equipped for Wi-Fi so it is more advantageous than people driving in from the city. Make no mistake - the employees want to live in the city SF - it is the Disneyland for young adults. The people are working on those buses - attending meetings, getting work done with other people not on the bus. They have effectively carved out how to get around the transportation problem. Yes - they ride bikes on their campus but that is a fairly protected campus. You have no giant businesses in PA except Stanford - and they are running their own show.

You are talking about Park Street. I believe you want o build a new police station in that area - a single lane street near a police station is a NON-STARTER. Don't even consider it.

Posted by Julian, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Steve Ludington, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I'm a 70-yr old who commutes by bike to my office (about 5 mi each way, from midtown to Menlo Park and back) most days, and I can guarantee that if you build it, I will come. On a bike, you want 2 things...smoothness (hard to find in this city) and no cars. A little-used residential street is more attractive than a "bike boulevard" that offers nothing except a name and slightly-reduced traffic. If you want to increase cycling, build dedicated bike paths that are not on automobile routes. It's as simple as that. See the comment above about the Stevens Creek Trail. This screwing around designating city streets has very little value.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

> it is just too complicated and dangerous to bike from Midtown
> across the train tracks and across El Camino
> to the Gunn High School area

There are very few vehicle/cycle accidents in this town. Just saying that something is dangerous does not make it so.

Running stop signs and red lights is also dangerous, but that doesn't stop the majority of cyclists in this town from running thru intersections with these control devices present.

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

The Planning Department should be working with the Transportation Department. There should be a published grid of the total city that earmarks where projects are being solicited and what the transit points are to get there and how many people will be concentrated at those projects. It should be a "landscape" view versus a piecemeal view.

I have started watching the Monday nigh CC meetings and am noting that the "staff" is working the issues then providing a total concept to the CC to question and defend. I think the CC is at a disadvantage here - they may be taking the heat for people behind the scenes. A lot of people spoke concerning the business parking in downtown - the staff person said he never saw those people before despite they were actively working with the city on new business ventures. Start paying attention to the sequence of events before an issue gets to the CC meeting and who is working the issues.

We are the stakeholders in this city venture - the taxpayers. We need to exercise stakeholder influence for good, safe outcomes.

Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

If you make Matadero a bike boulevard you better ban automobiles. There is barely enough room for two cars to pass each other on Matadero.

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

People live on residential streets - they have cars and need to use the cars. They have gardeners, support people, etc. You cannot tell them they can't have cars - that comes with the house. You need to have bike trails that are not associated with residential streets. The city needs to publish the most current bike right of ways today and what is projected. PA Weekly - help out here. We need what is available today and what the transportation department is thinking up.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Get one person (Mr. Rodrigues perhaps) to count all bikes crossing Alma at Charleston one Tuesday morning, 7 - 8.30, send him to Meadow on Wednesday at the same time and Churchill on Thursday, same time. 4 1/2 hours in one week and there will be lots of data.

Posted by dismissed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Agree with previous posts. I've witnessed very few interactions with 'Chief Tranportation Official' Jaime Rodriquez but in these limited exchanges he has left an unmistakable and indelible impression as dismissive and unaccountable. Not the characteristics desired of someone holding such a key role but may help explain reasons for the growing traffic problems plaguing the city.

Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

A major misconception is that Palo Alto is *trying* to have bicyclists use the route. The reality is that they already are, and it is because of the road network and where the traffic lights are.

For example, this connector is used by commuters going from Los Altos to locations east of El Camino (Cal Ave, U Ave,...), and vice versa. And it is used by people going from Palo Alto south of Meadow to the Research Park and Stanford University. And ... And it is heavily used by Gunn HS and Terman students -- I live on Matadero and see groups of them.

I have been working on improving Bike & Ped safety on this route since 1998, fighting the strong bureaucratic impulses of Staff.

Matadero is a busier street than first impressions, but the volume is low enough that cars, bikes and pedestrians can easily coexist. The biggest problem is lots of speeding, especially in a blind S-curve. The second biggest problem is that the current limited measure to control speed--a center line that visually narrows the street--has a huge negative side-effect of discouraging drivers from moving to the middle of the street when passing bikes and pedestrians, even when there is no other vehicle in sight (half a mile stretch).

I think that what was proposed was a positive, but thought that more should have been done for pedestrians.

There was a big problem in Staff's presentation of the project and I think that the Commission was justified in not approving it. Ideally, I would have liked the Commission to have approved Phase 1 (a no-brainer) so that construction could have been done on a current contract, and had Staff come back for the other phases.

Posted by bill g, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Lots of opinions and even a "guarantee" that bicyclists will spring up from somewhere and use new bicycle boulevards. How can anyone be so sure when there are no data.

My experience with Mr. Rodriguez is the same as others - he doesn't listen to people but waits until they are through and repeats his mantra. How did our City hire him without some careful vetting?

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2013 at 7:51 am

SteveU is a registered user.

I bike the Matadero Avenue-Margarita Avenue- Park Avenue route to get to Caltrain or to Frys. Waiting on Margarita sensor loop for the light to cross back home and Having a right turn SUV crowd you can be nerve wracking.

But there is no excuse for not counting existing Bike (grid type) usage on surrounding streets to get an idea of what might be funneled onto the proposed path. There are not a whole lot of /good/ paths from Barron Park to the other side of ECR. Make some attempt at counts before making any plans

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 16, 2013 at 9:11 am

"My experience with Mr. Rodriguez is the same as others - he doesn't listen to people but waits until they are through and repeats his mantra. How did our City hire him without some careful vetting?"

City Council hired somene in their own image.

Posted by parent, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2013 at 9:29 am

You folks are missing the point. Athletic young adult male bicyclists may already be using this route, but a bicycle boulevard is for everyday bicyclists, not just the strong and fearless. Studies have shown that bicycle commuting rates (especially by women and families and seniors) increase tremendously as the routes become safer.

How many people bicycled between downtown Mountain View and the north Shoreline area (where Google is now) before they built the Stevens Creek Trail? I'm sure Mountain View has these numbers and I'm sure the increase is tremendous (like 100X or even 1000X). Google may be in north Shoreline now, but they are occupying the same buildings that housed major employers like Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics before the trail was built.

Posted by Wilson, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2013 at 11:48 am

> How did our City hire him without some careful vetting?"

The Council doesn't do the hiring for anyone other than the Council Appointed Officers (City Manager, City Clerk, City Attorney and City Auditor).

While they probably can unofficially give a thumbs-up/thumbs-down to the hiring of these people, it's very unlikely that any one, other than possibly the Mayor, ever had any contact with the applicants for this job.

However, given the difficulties with the previous guy, and now this one, it's clear that whoever is pulling the strings doesn't want Palo Alto to have a good traffic engineering department that wants to work on, and fix, the traffic problems in this town.

Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2013 at 11:54 am

"City Council hired somene in their own image." The City Council did not hire Rodriguez. The only employees the City Council hires are the City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk, and City Auditor. The City Manager is ultimately responsible for hiring all employees in all the other departments that report to the City Manager, including hiring Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm

He was hired by Curtis Williams. His previous experience was with
the City of Milpitas.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm

This isn't about Jaime Rodriquez, or at least it shouldn't be about him. It should be about a project that was in the pedestrian and bike plan that was approved by both the Transportation Commission and the City Council. The bike boulevard network was a prominent piece of that plan, so why are they objecting now?

It is easy to get partial data on bike usage, but it is hard and expensive to get good, complete data.

Posted by parent, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I have only met Mr. Rodriquez, but I think he is doing a great job for the city. The city badly needs better east-west bicycle routes and this project is an obvious first step. I can't believe the NIMBYs are trying to kill it. Who can possibly be opposed to street safety???

Posted by NeedSaferRoads, a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Nov 16, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Make roads safer for bicycling and more will ride their bikes. The Arastradero/Charleston one lane reduction right after El Camino is an incredible dangerous place for kids to ride their bikes to Gunn and Terman so parents drive and that creates horrible traffic. Make it safer and more will ride their bikes.

Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I agree with Donald. This is one of the projects recommend in the almost BRAND NEW 2012 Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan. All this commission is supposed to do is verify that the project meets the objectives of that Master Plan. They aren't supposed to second guess the project necessity based on data that can't be obtained. If they wanted to add something to the recommended action, they could have added that "prior to implementing the plan, staff should do a bicycle count on the route to establish a baseline usage for future comparison". It doesn't matter what that count is now. It shouldn't be holding up the project approval. The project is consistent with the Master Plan.

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm

@Bikes2work - while I understand your perspective, that approach can lead to group-think and cascading errors. If the committe members think the planning is shoddy, they should call "bs" on it and insist it be made better (or that others overrule them).

I sat on an oversight committee once, with a similar "verify projects are within scope" mandate - but in fact, we were the only folks actually reviewing project details carefully enough to detect serious flaws. We found a couple of those and prevented a bone-headed project (as all involved later acknowledged). Some on our committee initially took your view - why were we doing this, it wasn't formally part of the scope. But if you're going to volunteer to vet the city's work, it is just good practice to throw the brakes a bit if the proposals don't seem right.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Agree.Questioning previous assumptions, requiring back-up and sound
analysis is a good idea before we do anything else in this City.

Posted by Domad, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm

PA is too smart for its own good. Nothing ever gets accomplished, too much over thinking.

Living in Portland OR was cool because progressive and experimental urban planning happened everyday! If it worked it stayed, if it didn't it went away.

You Palo Altans are a silly breed, holding onto some weird unknown utopia that you don't even know how to create.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2013 at 5:54 am

The staff was going with a massive reconstructed Newell Bridge, a single
concept, until many residents objected and now a range of alternatives for the bridge are being studied using data as part of the analysis. Any
lessons to be learned here going forward?

Posted by biker_in_PA, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 18, 2013 at 11:18 am

Here's a TED talk posted 10/13.

About 9 min. into this video you'll see the process NY made towards a successful, integrated design for bike riders.

Quite fun and important viewing:
Web Link

Iterate towards a positive vision, peeps.

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Excellent video. Please note that NY has a massive subway system. They are moving massive number of people underground. It also has a massive bus system. That was barely touched on in this video. LA has a great subway system, a metro-link system above ground for moving people from suburb to suburb, as well as a bus system. Portland Oregon has a very good rail system. Palo Alto is very limited in its transportation options - Caltrain or auto/buses for commuters. Bicycles do not contribute to the suburb to suburb commute for the majority of people. That is a discussion taking place in the SJ Mercury - Mr. Roadshow column.

Continuing BART down the peninsula on the western edge to Cupertino and San Jose to close the loop would help alleviate the traffic - and bikers can bring their bikes to put them in proximity of their destinations.
Yes the whole point of this topic is to add more bike lanes but the city is also trying to build high rises so need good parkways to move people in cars. Yes - electric cars need lanes to drive in.

Posted by Matadero Ave. Walker/Biker/Driver, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm

As a resident of Matadero Ave., I was very disappointed that the commission failed to move this proposal forward. I drive, bike, and walk down that street all the time, and it seriously needs improvements to make it more safe. This project would address many of these safety issues. It's a good plan and we, the people who bike, drive, and walk in that area need it.

Furthermore, it appears that someone said that Matadero is not the place for this, and I think that's just ridiculous. Matadero is the BEST street for it. Barron Ave. and Los Robles are not as appropriate as an East-West corridor. There are already many bikers on Matadero Ave., and these changes would really help improve their safety.

Come on, City Hall, lead!!! This project is going to be a good thing! Get it done (or at least started)!

Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Many of the commenters here are making a too simplistic view of what happened at the PTC. As I said above, I am a resident of Matadero and bike, drive and walk its entire length. I have been fighting for 15 years for safety improvements for bike and ped.

The plan sent back was a disappointing one. It ignored most of the safety issues, focusing only on two: speeding (the biggest) and a minority of the safety problems at the blind S-curve (Tippawingo/Josina).

If you watched the Staff presentation, you could be excused for believing that there were minor safety problems, low volumes of bike traffic, no pedestrian safety problems other than at the S-curve,... "Branding", such as having specially colored signs for street names seemed to be as important as safety. You could have believed that the focus of the proposal was to promote bike usage of Matadero (also Staff commented on the existing traffic volumes, the rest of the presentation could easily give the opposite impression).

Should the PTC have forwarded a badly incomplete proposal, with the likelihood that the unaddressed problems would be consigned to the back of the queue and likely wait another 15 years? Or do you believe that given the history of Staff footdragging on this that it is best to take whatever you can get at the time? I don't have a good answer for this.

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