Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 26, 2010

Bike-loan program set to roll into Palo Alto

City to participate in Peninsula program that will allow users to check out bikes near Caltrain stations

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto's residents and workers will soon be able to check out bicycles as easily as they borrow library books, thanks to a new bike-loan program that is scheduled to roll out along the Peninsula in the next two years.

Though the particulars of the program are still being hashed out, the basic premise is simple: Participants would use membership cards to check out bicycles at various spots throughout the city, including the main hub near the Caltrain station on University Avenue. They would then either return these bikes at the Caltrain hub or at one of smaller satellite stations throughout the city, according to Rafael Rius, Palo Alto's traffic engineer.

The bike-loan program will be funded by a grant that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) awarded last month to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Rius said. The agency awarded the project $7.9 million, with about $3 million going to the Santa Clara County portion.

The grant will allow participating cities to purchase 1,000 bicycles, with about 400 expected to go to Santa Clara County. San Francisco and San Mateo County are also taking part in the program.

Though exact allocation of bicycles has yet to be determined, Rius said he expects Palo Alto and Mountain View to each get about 100 bikes, while San Jose would get about 200.

Palo Alto has been planning a local bike-loan program since 2008, with former Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto leading the charge. In December 2008 the council considered and ultimately decided not to pursue a local program featuring 20 bicycles, which would have cost the city $65,000. At that time, the council also directed staff to pursue regional opportunities for a program with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).

Kishimoto, who served on the boards of both the VTA and the air-quality district, was one of the leading proponents of the grant application for the regional bike-loan program an application that the MTC approved last month.

The project, she said, is consistent with the goals of both Palo Alto and the VTA to increase the percentage of commuters who use bikes to get around the city.

"No single program is a panacea, but this is an important step," Kishimoto said. "It alone won't do a huge amount, but it might be part of the culture shift that we're working toward."

Unlike the local program Palo Alto previously considered, the new one specifically targets Caltrain stations at the participating cities. Kishimoto said it aims to provide train riders with a unified message that bikes are a viable option for getting around town. It also aims to solve the problem of the "last mile" by giving commuters a way to get to their ultimate destination once they step off Caltrain, she said.

Kishimoto said she used a similar program when she visited Kyoto, Japan, and found the bike-loan system cheaper and easier than taking a bus or calling a cab.

The program will make its debut at a time when Palo Alto is planning to unveil a host of other improvements to its bicycle infrastructure. City officials are working with local bicyclists and consultants on an ambitious new Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which they hope will transform Palo Alto into one of the nation's top bicycle cities. Improvements are expected to include colored bicycle lanes, reductions in car lanes at some city streets and new signs directing bicyclists to popular destinations.

Cedric de La Beaujardiere, who chairs the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee, welcomed the new bike-loan program and noted that Paris has a similar program that has been highly successful. Palo Alto is particularly well equipped for such a program because it already has a multitude of great bicycle routes, including Bryant Street, Park Boulevard and a bike path between Churchill Avenue and the train tracks, de La Beaujardiere said.

The planned improvements, including new signage, will make it even easier for local residents and out-of-town commuters to get around Palo Alto streets on bicycles, he said.

"We have a lot of cyclists already, but we'd definitely like to increase the load share, in terms of how many people bike," de La Beaujardiere said.

"We'd like to have more people biking instead of driving."

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by cool, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2010 at 9:38 am

This program is so cool. I just hope that they add 100 safe bicycle parking spaces around town so these bicycles don't get stolen.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I hope there is some thought given to having helmets available along with these bikes. While some might be squeamish about using a shared helmet, it is too dangerous not to use one so the benefit far outsweighs the drawbacks.


Posted by A very senior citizen, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Just so they don't use my tax dollars to fund the biggest opportunity to steel a bike ever thought up.


Posted by a person, a resident of University South
on Nov 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Sevilla, Spain has a similar program, it's great and will be great for Palo Alto too...


Posted by Not just Sevilla, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Many cities in Europe have such a program. Paris has had one for quite a few years now. Montreal has had one for several years as well... among other cities.


Posted by cool, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Encouraging people to bicycle around town is way cheaper than cutting up people's yards to widen roads. I'd much rather spend my tax dollars on this program.


Posted by T, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm

hooray! I love this


Posted by Noel, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 25, 2010 at 12:06 am

$7.9 million grant to fund a program of 1000 bicycles...that's $7,900 per bike!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Doesn't anyone realize that we are living in a bankrupt state in the middle of a global financial crisis???


Posted by More-Government-Waste, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2010 at 8:49 am

Palo Alto Bicycle Loan Program

This is another example of the triumph of symbolism over substance. The idea that a hundred bicycles scattered around the city are somehow going to reduce the burden of traffic on the streets is delusional. Yet, here we are—wasting government resources pumping more good money after another bad idea.

People who ride bicycles as their main source of transportation are not likely to use "loaners"—since they already own one (or more) bikes. If they use cars to travel around town -- they're going to continue to use their cars. No one is going to change the way they travel in order to use a "loaner" bicycle.

But there are many, many, questions about this program. Such as:

Who will pick up the bikes that are just dropped here and there, after people have reached their destinations?

How will the program administrators be able to justify this the value of this program in terms of miles-not-driven?

What program metrics have been adopted to demonstrate the effectiveness of this program?

Where is the money coming from to pay for this program? (Remember, California has another $25 billion deficit this year, so money that comes from the State--will most likely be borrowed.)

Can people will be charged with theft for keeping these bicycles on a permanent basis?

Will the cost of this program be tracked, in terms staff time, as well as capital costs?

If someone is injured while riding one of these bikes, will the taxpayers be financially responsible for medical care of those injured?

Who will fix flat tires, etc.?

This kind of idea is so typical of "environments" (like Ms. Kishimoto) who has spent an inordinate amount of her life's energy promoting government programs that produce little in proportion to their cost, and also have the effect of driving local businesses into extinction. Kishimoto claims that "loaner bikers are cheaper than cabs". Well, if she is successful in converting the population into using bikes rather than cabs, sooner or later cabs will disappear from our town. Of course, using a "loaner bike" to go to the airport (rather than a cab) doesn't sound like a very likely course of action for most people. So, perhaps Ms. Kishimoto is not thinking too clearly on this point, at least where life in the Silicon Valley is concerned.

Cars provide a positive contribution to the local economy. It's difficult to see how bicycles contribute very much, if anything, as cars do. Cars generate a lot of sales tax, from their initial purchase, to gasoline sale and use taxes. Bicycles don't generate much in the way of use/sales taxes, no license fees or registration fees--yet still demand some level of infrastructure investment as roads need to be built and maintained.

This program is another of the many "feel-good" government activities that benefits some vocal minority, at the expense of the majority


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2010 at 9:25 am

I think Palo Alto is an excellent location for such a program.

I am of the opinion that this is something that Palo Altans are not likely to use very much but I don't think it is aimed at us. The likelihood is that these bikes will be at the two Caltrain stations and will be used by those stepping off the train to get to Stanford or other business destinations eg HP, Facebook, etc. Their competition will not be cabs (as there are no taxis waiting at the stations) but the shuttles and Marguerites.

For these to work, there needs to be some handlebar maps showing these destinations and obviously the bikes need to be kept in tip top shape.

These programs do work in larger Cities eg Paris, and it isn't the locals but tourists and other visitors who are more likely to use them. For that reason I think visitors to Palo Alto may want to use them. Whether they pay for their upkeep and whether vandalism or other unsociable problems occur is something we will just have to wait and see.

But if there is money out there for grants, then I really don't see why we shouldn't be the guinea pigs.


Posted by Commander McBragg, a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

I have only one problem with this program - the assertion that bikes are a viable option for getting around town. No, actually bikes are not a viable option for getting around town. If they were, most people would already be using bikes to get around town. As it is, only a tiny minority of people who either want the exercise or think they are helping to save the planet or don't have access to motor vehicles are using bikes to get around town.

The plan to get everyone else riding bikes so that I can drive my car with no traffic and cheap gas isn't working, and the reason for that is that bikes are not a viable option for getting around town.


Posted by Adam Selene, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm

What? If at least one person manages to get around town on a bike, then riding a bike around town is viable. Viable does not mean "practiced by the majority."


Posted by Too Much Traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2010 at 5:04 pm

"This is another example of the triumph of symbolism over substance."
No surprise there--as the article states--Yoriko Kishimoto is leading the charge. This is another of her pet projects--she also talks about walkable neighborhoods--another symbolism over substance issue. I thought that the city would no longer be lead around by the nose by her once she left the council, but lo and behold she is still wasting taxpayer money on her "climate change" pipe dreams


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2010 at 7:52 pm

All the questions answered by More-Government-Waste have been dealt with. These will be special bikes and you will be charged by the hour (although there may be no charge for short use). Maintenance, program administration, insurance, billing and bike tracking are all issues that have been worked out in other cities. You can start a workable program just by issuing a contract to one of several experienced operators. In this case the bikes will be located near transit centers and the target audience is commuters who arrive by train or bus and need a bike to get from the station to their destination.

Compared to the $416 million that VTA is planning to spend on Hwy 101 express lanes, or the $27 million at the 101/Trimble Road interchange, or the $35 million for a 530-foot segment of Charcot Ave, this seems like a bargain.


Posted by new walker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Okay

First let me say I love biking and I support out-of-traffic bike paths.

That said, I have for health reasons had to start walking more, and found that Palo Alto isn't very difficult to get around by foot. You do have to leave time, but it's not that much time, and walking is so much easier than taking the bike with the helmet and getting in traffic, etc. I also get good exercise without straining anything (or getting helmet hair).

It's only 30 minutes or less from Gunn HIgh School to walk to California Avenue. The round trip is a good day's exercise.

I wish we had better pedestrian ways. The Arastradero corridor upgrade didn't make it any easier to walk on Arastradero, where it's almost impossible to stroll with a second person and maintain a conversation because of how narrow the sidewalk is with so many obstacles.

Bikes, good. Don't forget to make it easier for people to walk, it turns out to be not that bad in this town.


Posted by Its a good thing, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2010 at 9:44 am

For many years our family only needed one car because one of us bicycled to work.


Posted by More-Government-Waste, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 11:19 am

> the bikes will be used by the tourists ..

Really? It's very difficult to believe that people who actually visit Palo Alto will not be renting a car. And once they do have a car, why would they not use it? So .. where is there to go to in Palo Alto, that a bike becomes a benefit? Given the very small size of downtown, riding a bike rather than walking seems to be difficult to sell.

Riding a bike to Midtown, for some "world-class" shopping seems out of the question. Maybe to Stanford Plaza, but it's such a short walk that it defies the immagination that hundreds of people will use bikes to get there from the Transit Center. Possibly a ride up to Foothills Park? Well, maybe, but that's closed to non-residents. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of unmet demand in Downtown PA for "alternate transportation".

> bikes will be placed at transit centers

Well .. there are only two transit centers in PA. People who use the rail system to get to Stanford already have a nice shuttle system to take them about Campus. And bikes can be rented on Campus (although not 7/24/365) at the Student Union. This does not seem to be a thriving business, however.

And the same goes for the transit center at California Avenue. It's a very short walk to all of the retail areas from where the railroad drops folks off, or the bus lines on El Camino Real.

> All of the questions have been answered ..

Not to my satisfaction. Generally, money issues associated with government-run transportation systems are never answered in a clear, open way.

Denver seems to have started up a program like this in 2009--
Bike Program For City Employees:

Web Link

Free Public Bicycles:
Web Link

Denver Program in Low Gear:
Web Link

Denver Announces City-wide Bike Program:
Web Link

Cities Try Bike Riding Programs:
Web Link

The media does not seem to be following this program's success, or failure, in 2010. It's a shame that the Weekly doesn't do it's job, and possibly investigate this program in a follow-up article to see how popular the program is with Denver City employees, and "tourists".

Maybe the City of Palo Alto should require its employees to use bicycles if they are dealing with issues that are within a five-mile radius of downtown.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 26, 2010 at 11:23 am

The issue of " nerd hats " and liability are real and need to be discussed. Many of the " militant cyclists " tend to blow off red lights and generally make it miserable for people who CHOOSE to be pedestrians or the " cagers " ( their demeaning word for car drivers ).

This system gives many a green light that appears to justify this behavior. I suggest an added level of RESPONSIBILITY added to this " feel good " program. Insurance, and LICENSE PLATES with proper enforcement of ALL traffic laws with PERMANENT revocation for anyone who abuses this bike share system. People must PAY a deposit for the PRIVILEGE of using the share system.

YOU would be responsible for returning the bicycle to DESIGNATED stations located around town, not just dumping the bike on the sidewalk when you are done with it!

This scenario is being tried in other cities, with a resultant crackdown on CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR by various cyclists ( including bike messenger services ) with some success.

With all types of transportation solutions, RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR is required to keep a ( NOT ) free system working.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 26, 2010 at 11:36 am

RE: More-Government-Waste Denver comment.

The earlier statements I made cover how Denver is handling the whole system. That includes the BIKE COPS that ticket CRIMINAL cyclist behavior. There are no traffic stopping Critical M(asses) out here! In fact, in our slice of Berzerkely East ( Boulder ), the county sheriff flagged down and ticketed a HUNDRED AND FIFTY aggressive cyclists that were routinely blowing off ONE particular stop sign, so " safety in numbers " doesn't work when the cops DO THEIR JOB!!

The bike share system isn't that newsworthy and it appears to be working in the manner in which it was set up. With proper stations around town and enforcement of laws the system appears to work.


Posted by More-Government-Waste, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 11:57 am

> the county sheriff flagged down and ticketed a
> HUNDRED AND FIFTY aggressive cyclists

Thank you for this information, but it is really not relevant to this discussion--at least where Palo Alto is concerned, or with the need for this sort of government-backed program in our town.

Bicyclists are the biggest lawbreakers in Palo Alto, as they do not stop for stop signs, and only begrudgingly stop for red lights. The local police rarely ticket cyclists, unless they are involved in a bike/car accident. So, there is really little reason to suggest that the local police will be ticketing people using loaner bikes either.

Downtown Palo Alto is about five blocks long, and three blocks wide. If there are any messenger services here, they don't conduct their business like the messenger services in the larger cities. (Silicon Valley would rather people use broadband to send messages, rather than otherwise unemployable youth on rickety bikes.)

Given the small size of the downtown, and shuttles to/from the Stanford Campus/Hospital, the issue becomes--what's the point of this program, other than to push an "environmentalist" agenda?

> bike share working in the manner it was setup ..

And that is? How about some hard numbers--like number of miles per day, number of people using loaner bikes, residences of these folks, dollars of public subsidy per mile .. can you enlighten us?


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2010 at 2:03 pm

More-government-waste

Your questions and concerns are valid and deserve answers.

I urge you to send them to the city clerk as an official public request for information. Donna.grider@cityofpaloalto.org. Copy Jaime.rodriguez@cityofpaloalto.org . Rodriguez is in charge of traffic, including bikes.

Palo Alto is notorious for making plans based on hopes & wishful thinking. Data and cost analysis is seldom provided.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Before you write a letter you should do some homework to make sure that the letter goes to the right place. This program is being funded primarily by MTC and BAAQMD, with some support from VTA, SamTrans, SF Muni and city governments. Palo Alto is participating in but not managing the program, and was chosen as a site for the trial because the market analysis predicted high demand here.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 26, 2010 at 5:39 pm

No really hard data yet published in the media, however this link provides the basics:

Web Link


NOTE: a fair amount of the site is propaganda with no hard data, just the generalities....

Note the STATION SPONSORSHIP system, this keeps the system from an ongoing requirement for more tax dollars....

Another note: the connection to the LIGHT RAIL ( RTD ) makes the system practical....oh yeah, PA TURNED DOWN light rail...

The comment about LAWBREAKERS does fit the discussion; lawbreakers are not RESPONSIBLE people to begin with...and you shouldn't reward them with the system discussed here....but BIKE COPS WILL cut down on the aggressive cyclists I've seen in the Palo Alto area ( I've lived off & on the Peninsula for over 20 years, hence my interest in my " old stomping grounds ") because the lawbreakers now have moved out to the suburbs & mountains around Denver ( now THAT is another story )...

Bike messengers handle the important documents that cannot be e-mailed; when you need original documents or items like BIG blueprints ( Try C, D and larger ), in a timely fashion, the PROFESSIONAL bike messenger on a bike worth more than the average used car is used. They place nice with cars and peds most of the time and aggressive LAW ENFORCEMENT is the reason why.


Posted by stanhutchings, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2010 at 7:06 pm

This sounds like a good solution for the people who take Caltrain or bus to Palo Alto, then have to go the "last mile(s)" to get to work. I've read many tirades about cyclists being bumped from the train, and totally sympathize with those who try to connect by bus/shuttle. This way, cyclists could leave their own bike at their home station and use a "loaner" (with their own helmet) to get to work. Yes, they could walk, but biking is a faster alternative (even faster than the puny bus service we get). Of course, they could have two cars instead; park one near their home station, and one in a local neighborhood. Then listen to the outrage about cars parked in "my" spot;-)
I do think the costs are MUCH higher than they should be, and this is a valid objection. I seem to remember abandoned/lost/ bikes for sale. They could be fixed up and painted fluorescent yellow or green (as a safety feature, identifier, and theft deterrent). Surely the local bike shops could be contracted to maintain the fleet, and perhaps coordinate administration for a much better cost/benefit ratio.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Using fix-up bikes is a good way to get yourself into a terrible maintenance bind. You would need to stock spare parts for all models of bikes and have highly trained mechanics who can work on them all. The reliability and liability issues with cast-off bikes also makes them unattractive. Look at the photos in some of the newspaper articles. Bike sharing programs use special bikes that have easily adjustable seats, are distinctive so they don't get mixed up with other bikes and are harder to sell if stolen, and most have built-in electronics for tracking and billing. The costs listed for the program include the bikes, the maintenance, the administration, the racks that hold the bikes, the electronics that check them in/out, insurance, marketing, etc. It would not be correct to take VTA's budget and divide it by the number of buses they own to say that they are paying too much per bus, and you can't do the same simple-minded math for this program.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Here's a short video about bike sharing in Paris.

Note the safe bike lanes, no helmets, riders taking responsibility for picking a bike that has air in the tires, etc. etc.

Web Link


Posted by Gas Guzzling SUV Driver, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

One of the wealthiest cities in the U.S. needs "free" tax payer funded bicycles? Buy your own bikes! C'mon Man!


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Interesting video, but it's not applicable to Palo Alto for the very reasons you cited:

"Note the safe bike lanes, no helmets, riders taking responsibility for picking a bike that has air in the tires, etc. etc."

None of that is ever going to happen here.


Posted by Dumb idea for PA, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Only in Palo Alto where we give Enron's creditors $21 Million could they dream up a bicycle give away like this. Folks, another big tax payer give away; when is it going to stop?

Are they going to employ someone to keep the tires pumped up, repair the breaks, look after the bicycle helmets etc?

What works in Europe doesn't translate to the U.S.

What amazes me is the naivete of our City staff and Council.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

"What works in Europe doesn't translate to the U.S.". And you know this how?


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2010 at 11:37 am

Donald, You are correct that "This program is being funded primarily by MTC and BAAQMD, with some support from VTA, SamTrans, SF Muni and city governments."

But Palo Alto must have had to agree to the program and to know if/what it will cost the city.

Jaime Rodriguez is the person in charge of the traffic plan and the bicycle and pedestrian plan. And he's the guy who works for Palo Alto taxpayers. That's why I think he's the one who should have answers to all the questions posed here.

BTW, where do all those other entities get their funding? From taxpayers! Whether or not it comes out of Palo Alto's budget, we're all still paying for this.


Posted by More-Government-Waste, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm

> "What works in Europe doesn't translate to the U.S.".
> And you know this how?

Well .. let's see ..

Monarchy works in Europe .. but not in the US.

Socialism and Communism work in Europe, but not in the US.

A willingness to go to war at the drop of a hat seems to have worked in Europe, but not the US.

A desire for multiple languages seems to work in Europe, but not in the US.

A willingness to "follow orders" seems to work in Europe, but not so much in the US.

Hypocracy seems to work in Europe, but not so much in the US.

Small houses, apartments and cars seem to work in Europe, but not so much in the US.

So .. we know this by simple observation.


Posted by More-Government-Waste, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm

> Bike messengers handle the important documents that cannot be
> e-mailed; when you need original documents or items like BIG
> blueprints ( Try C, D and larger ), in a timely fashion, the
> PROFESSIONAL bike messenger on a bike worth more than the
> average used car is used. They place nice with cars and peds
> most of the time and aggressive LAW ENFORCEMENT is the reason why.

While digital distribution of documents requires compatible software on both the originator's, and receiver's end, there is nothing that can not be digitized and transmitted more quickly (and more cheaply) than by broadband.

There are no bicycle messenger services here in Palo Alto, so any concerns about this issue are not relevant.

> but BIKE COPS WILL cut down on the aggressive cyclists
> I've seen in the Palo Alto area

Not going to happen in PA. One of the budget suggestions this year by the City Manager was to take the "traffic team" off the streets to save $$$. That suggestion did not pass muster this year, but it will in the future. The idea that we are going to spend money to cut down on "aggressive bicycle operators" is not very likely. Again, this point does not have any clear relevance in this discussion about loaner bikes that will be used by "tourists".


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm

"While digital distribution of documents requires compatible software on both the originator's, and receiver's end,"

Not with Adobe's Acrobat. "Portable Document Format (PDF) is the global standard for capturing and reviewing rich information from almost any application on any computer system and sharing it with virtually anyone, anywhere."

No bike messengers required.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Tweet! Fifteen yard penalty for willful ignoring of the stated facts on the part of More-Government-Waste. This program is not for "tourists" as has been stated over and over.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2010 at 8:46 pm

pat, you are right that this is taxpayer money and we are all (meaning all Californians) are paying for it. We spend tens of millions of dollars on individual interchanges and hundreds of millions of dollars on each of various freeway projects throughout the county. This program is small potatoes compared to them. Overall we spend only a couple of percent of our transportation money on bicycle and pedestrian projects. If you want to cut spending and waste you need to go after the big game, not small stuff like this. If, on the other hand, you want to get the most bang for your buck in terms of reducing congestion and pollution, you are better off funding bike and ped programs which are much less costly than highway projects. That is why the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has kicked in a sizable portion of the funding.


Posted by More-Government-Waste, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2010 at 9:17 pm

> This program is not for "tourists" as has been
> stated over and over.

Well .. stated over and over by whom? The following was posted in this thread by someone in support of this white elephant of a program:

> These programs do work in larger Cities eg Paris,
> and it isn't the locals but tourists and other visitors who
> are more likely to use them.

Perhaps this poster was suggesting, as most opposed to this idea, that Palo Alto is just too small to attract many "tourists" (as we have seen with the debacle called "Destination Palo Alto". So .. if "tourists" are not the target users .. who is? The shuttles are not full, and certainly the VTA buses (Route 35 and the Community Buses that roam around town) are never full. Who, then, are the candidates for this service? Where is the "crying need" for the service.

Perhaps the people promoting this program might be the ones operating in "ignorance" of the facts of daily life in this town.

> Not with Adobe's Acrobat. "

Presumably a copy of Adobe needs to be on both ends of a document transmission? (And aren't two copies of Adobe "compatible"?) I suspect that architectural software would rather transmit to another copy of the same software, than not.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2010 at 10:39 am

"If, on the other hand, you want to get the most bang for your buck in terms of reducing congestion and pollution, you are better off funding bike and ped programs which are much less costly than highway projects."

Yes, they are much less costly. But do they work? How many cars are removed from the roads? And how is traffic affected? How much is traffic flow constricted – or is that part of the plan to get people out of their cars?

Palo Alto keeps touting the benefits, but I have not seen any data.

For example, the old (undated, but presumably written in the '90s) 1998-2010 traffic plan on the city website says, "It is hoped that individuals will reduce their automobile trips by 10 percent by 2010, as alternative transportation methods are implemented."
Web Link

Has that "hope" been realized? Public transit has been reduced since 1998, and I'm not aware of any "alternative transportation."

And, what is the word "hope" doing in a plan?


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

>" Presumably a copy of Adobe needs to be on both ends of a document transmission?"

You have to buy Acrobat to create a PDF file, though there are some free programs to do this.

The Acrobat reader is free, downloadable from the Adobe website for Macs, PCs, etc. This allows you to view a document on your computer exactly as it was created, even if it was created on a computer with a different operating system.

The whole idea of Acrobat is to enable users on different platforms to share documents, thus Portable Document Format.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2010 at 10:45 am

Correction: Link to the city's transportation plan is at
Web Link.


Posted by Evan, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm

This is awesome. As someone who takes Caltrain to Palo Alto 5+ days a week, this would make it much easier to get around.


Posted by More-Government-Waste, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2010 at 10:12 am

> This is awesome. As someone who takes Caltrain to Palo Alto 5+
> days a week, this would make it much easier to get around.

So, what's to keep you from buying an old bike, and renting a locker at the train station?

Why should the taxpayers be on the hook for your "getting around Palo Alto" to the tune of $8,000, when they have already contributed perhaps $40 getting you to/from Palo Alto?


Posted by Tried It, a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2010 at 5:40 am

"So, what's to keep you from buying an old bike, and renting a locker at the train station?"

Aaaah, it's always nice to hear advice from someone who hasn't tried something. What's wrong with bike lockers? Long waiting lists, poor management and inefficient utilization, insecure and poorly maintained lockers, homeless people living in them.....


Posted by Mike, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 30, 2010 at 9:42 am

The problem with Bike programs is that sooner or later you run out of other people's bikes-or any bikes at all for that matter.


Posted by Jake, a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I would like to know what the City Of Palo Alto's risk/liability is going to be if somebody is injured or killed while riding one of these bikes?? If somebody is injured or killed I wouldnt be surprised if some lawyer does the sue everyone deep pocket thing, ie the brakes were not adjusted properly, no instructions, etc. The bottom line these days is people do file lawsuits and either settle or win for thousands of dollars at the drop of a dime.


Posted by Sonny, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Jake,
You are right on point. This deal hasn't been thought through carefully. The city attorney should look into it before they make any concrete plans. Seems like there are too many loose ends.


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2010 at 9:07 pm

City Attorney? You mean acting City Attorney Donald Larkin who can't even win a case against Victor Frost?

Good luck with that one....


Posted by Tried It, a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2010 at 4:20 am

The liability issue is real, but the solution is well known. How do car rental companies manage it? You will have to sign a waiver when you register with the program.


Posted by Sonny, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 1, 2010 at 8:41 am

so, more paperwork? Who is going to administer it? Sounds like a nice cushy job...Bicycle Czar.


Posted by Short person, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm

How will they be able to accommodate persons of varying heights? I find it unsafe to try to ride a bicycle with too large a frame size. On the other hand, I can usually adjust a car seat so that I can drive safely and comfortably.


Posted by Jake, a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm

"tried it"

I know it's sad but people sign waivers all the time and then turn right around and sue for everything. Ski resorts will tell you a big portion of the ticket price is used for insurance.
In regard to the bike issue, I can see somebody getting hurt and then turning around and saying, yes I signed a waiver but I assumed the City did not loan/rent me a bike with mechanical issues, etc.
Waivers do not release companies or Cities from being taken to Court.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm

This is such an interesting proposal and it reflects well on our city on the bay in general that they are gearing up to such a bike-friendly idea.

I've just read an article in Paly's Verde, one of the school's many prize-winning publications, and I think that it shows just how much biking initiatives are important to the city.

Web Link

I completely agree with it and think that it's great that Palo Alto is doing all of these things. Kudos!


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

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields