Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 15, 2011

Planners urge another year for Arastradero Road trial

Controversial project includes lane reductions, expanded crosswalk, new traffic signal

by Gennady Sheyner

Depending on who is talking, Palo Alto's experiment on Arastradero Road is either making the busy segment safer for students, pedestrians and bicyclists or saddling morning drivers with hair-raising traffic jams.

The community debate over the year-old Arastradero re-striping project, which has cut the road's lanes from four to three, bubbled up at the Wednesday night meeting of the Planning and Transportation Commission. The commission voted 6-0, with Susan Fineberg absent, to support a staff recommendation to keep the project going until summer 2012 and to re-examine its traffic impacts next June.

The project has been in the works since 2003, when the City Council directed staff to prepare a new plan for the Charleston-Arastradero Road Corridor — a busy stretch that runs between U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate 280 and is used by hundreds of schoolchildren. Lane changes to the segment from Fabian Way to Alma Street were made permanent in 2008.

Alterations between El Camino Real and Gunn High School took effect last August. The city reduced the number of lanes from four to three, with dedicated left-turn lanes in each direction and an expanded crosswalk at Clemo Avenue. A new traffic signal at the intersection of Arastradero and Coulombe Drive was scheduled to go live Thursday (July 14) morning, said Jaime Rodriguez, the city's chief transportation official.

City officials launched the entire project because of a wave of dense new developments that popped up in south Palo Alto over the past decade near the corridor. These include the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life on Charleston Road, Arbor Real on El Camino Real, and several large multi-family developments on East Meadow Drive, including Echelon and Vantage, said Curtis Williams, the city's planning director.

At the same time, city officials hope to make conditions safer for students at Gunn and other schools along and around the corridor, including Terman Middle School and Juana Briones Elementary School.

The project has received a mixed response from the public. Representatives from both camps addressed the commission Wednesday and urged members to halt the experiment immediately, to extend it or to make it permanent.

Barron Park resident Doug Moran criticized the project for not paying sufficient attention to the "road rage" caused by the new lane configuration and told the commission, "Driver problems are worse than before." John Elman, who lives on Hubbartt Drive next to Arastradero, said the new lane configuration has slowed traffic and forced drivers to rely more on residential side streets.

"The darn thing is a mess, and I hope you listen to people who object to this," Elman said.

But the majority of the speakers said they support the new setup and urged the commission to extend the trial. Philip Malese, who lives on Arastradero and whose children attended Gunn and Terman, said the road previously resembled a highway, with drivers regularly exceeding the speed limit. The new configuration is making things safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, he said.

"I found the current configuration has done what it promised — it made Arastradero seem less like a freeway where people from one end or another go as fast as they can and made it more conducive to walking and biking," Melese said.

The commission agreed that it is too soon to determine the impact of the project, particularly given its evolving nature. Gunn High is scheduled to delay its start time from 7:55 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. in the fall, a shift expected to improve traffic conditions by creating staggered starting times at the various schools along the corridor. Rodriguez said he expects Gunn's new bell schedule to have a "significant" impact on traffic conditions. The new traffic signal at Coulombe, which will include a dedicated left-turn arrow, is also expected to make things better for drivers.

"There are some things that still need to be accomplished or finished before we can adequately evaluate this," Vice Chair Lee Lippert said.

Commissioner Daniel Garber also said the road changes reflect the values of the Palo Alto community, which he said is increasingly tilting toward walking and biking.

"This isn't a project that's being foisted on our community," Garber said. "It is a trial and it has errors, and as a result it's structured in a way that we can address these errors, study them further and work to correct them every time."

TALK ABOUT IT

Do you favor the road changes along Arastradero? Share your opinions on Town Square on Palo Alto Online.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I love the current (new) arrangement. I drive along all sections of Arastradero/Charleston all the time. Travel time is about the same at rush hour, maybe slightly longer. Off-peak, it is *so* much better, without the people roaring past at 50 MPH. Good work, traffic engineers!!


Posted by safety first, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Just say no to reckless driving. Keep the road the way it is now. Yes speeds are lower, but that is because people are finally obeying the speed limit. Everyone is a lot safer now.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2011 at 5:07 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

The article doesn't capture the tenor of my comments. The slides I used are available at Web Link

I have two big concerns: Many residents reported an increase in cut-thru traffic. The staff soft-pedaled this and many of the advocates for this project arrogantly dismissed those concerns with "drivers just shouldn't do that": They don't want speeding traffic on the streets they and their children use, but are all too happy to push those very problems onto streets used by other people and their children (Maybell, Los Robles, and even Laguna and Matadero). However, multiple members of the Commission told staff that these issues were important.

Second, many of the advocates are ideologically hostile to vehicles. Current peak hour travel times on this 1-mile stretch have been presented by staff as being 4-6.5 minutes. Advocates talk of being willing to add "5 minutes" to those times, that is, reducing the speeds to 5-7 mph during peak hours.

And when people who drive the stretch point out that better signage and lane markings would reduce the confusion caused by all the lane switches and merges, they are dismissed with "Drivers can't get everything they want". Explicitly citing my slide "Impressions: Disregarding Needs of Drivers" which outlined three _unnecessary_ impediments to smoother, more predictable traffic flow, Commissioner Dan Garber rejected those aspects saying that drivers had to realize that the community values had shifted against them (I disagree about what the community values, but many of our leaders live in bubbles and echo chambers).

I have worked on traffic issues for 15 years, both for my neighborhood and on City citizen advisory groups and am a supporter of the traffic calming _principles_ that have been applied to Arastradero. I worry that the anti-vehicle zealots and ideologues are going to create such a backlash that legitimate, well-thought-out traffic projects will be impossible because the City will have lost credibility with the residents.


Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2011 at 7:02 am

Douglas Moran writes:

"Second, many of the advocates are ideologically hostile to vehicles."

Just for the record, many of us are ideologically opposed to speeding, not vehicles.

"And when people who drive the stretch point out that better signage and lane markings would reduce the confusion caused by all the lane switches and merges"

Unfortunately, before, a large number of vehicles were cutting back and forth between the lanes depending on vehicles turning left, backups at schools, etc., creating much more danger than the merges do now.

"I worry that the anti-vehicle zealots and ideologues are going to create such a backlash that legitimate, well-thought-out traffic projects will be impossible because the City will have lost credibility with the residents."

Those of us who want drivers to obey the 25 MPH speed limit, instead of 40-50 MPH, and not drive recklessly, should not be dismissed as "anti-vehicle zealots". Not to mention those of us who had to turn left off Arastradero and numerous times had vehicles tear up behind, swerve at the last minute to cut in front of a vehicle in the right lane, and then swerve back. Or, ... etc. I could go on for a long time. The fact is, traffic calming was desperately needed. I thank the city for doing the right thing.

I do wonder about the lights at both the train crossings, though. Backups there seem worse since the CalTrain work was finished-- anyone know why?


Posted by Drive90%Bike10%, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2011 at 9:38 am

As a driver AND a cyclist(as most all cyclists are), let me say that I really like the traffic calming. It works on two levels: MUCH safer(like life saving safer) when you're on a bike, and as the name implies, much calmer traffic with less crazed and chronic lane changing from the drivers around me when I'm in my car.
KUDOS! Lets talk about making them permanent!!


Posted by MT, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

The traffic calming is archived only because of the congestion. Instead of driving my kid to school the shortest way on Arastradero, I am talking a detour through Los Altos now. What used to be a 2-mile drive for me became a 4-mile trip. I guess it is one less car in Palo Alto...

Biking the road - don't see any improvements either. I am there at least 3 time a week on my bike and had a number of encounters with cars running out into the bike lane while merging after crossing El Camino.

And don't get me started on the quality of the pavement.


Posted by KP, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I think they really screwed up Arastradero with the lane narrowing. Four lanes kept the traffic moving. It is now so congested that some people stopped using it, and If that was the plan...it somewhat worked. People that live off of and on Arastradero are just stuck dealing with the traffic. I feel for them. I avoid it as much as possible.
I just hope there's nothing that they can come "fix" (more like screw up) over on E Meadow!


Posted by Fireman, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

The goal was to make it safer, not faster.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

To continue this trial makes no sense. It needs to be put back the way it was and move on.


Posted by ellens, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm

at 6:30 pm at night, Arastradero is not safe for cars, bikes or pedestrians. Cars play "chicken" with each other and zoom ahead when the lanes become 2 lanes for a few feet. They then cut off the car they are trying to zoom to get ahead of. When I drive Arastradero, the speed is other at about 5 miles an hour or at 35-40 when there is no traffic. Going west on Arastradero from Foothill to El Camino is an obstacle course.


Posted by Nah, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm

@ellens Sounds like the problem is with the drivers. From what you describe they'll drive unsafely in any situation. Not a reason to open up things to increase the speed.
Yes, drivers will have to adjust to these changes. No you don't have the right to drive as fast as you want and the city is not obliged to make roads to suit such selfish desires. Yes you live in a crowded, congested area at times, that's only going to get worse over time so best get used to it.
If in fact this area IS more dangerous now, we'll see that in the accident stats, so if you turely believe its more dangerous now, you'll have nothing to worry about for the accident stats will tell the real story.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

This comment in response to mine nicely illustrates the extremism of the anti-car zealots that s/he claims not to be, advocating obstructing vehicle traffic under the disguise of being opposed to speeding.

Example: A crucial portion of traffic calming is improving predictability (see my presentation: link in original comment). Replacing four lanes with people stopping in the travel lanes with a layout where there were two thru lanes and dedicated turn lanes is one of the proven techniques for achieving this. Anon dismisses the need to improve predictability in the trial configuration with the non-sequitur that the 4-lane configuration had serious problems. Since Anon opposes improving safety in the current trial configuration, the inference is that s/he has a different agenda and the obvious one is anti-car.

Example: The other crucial part of traffic calming is _smoothing_ the speeds, lowering the peaks and raising the valleys. The trial configuration has introduced congestion when there was none and made it worse in some other periods. Much of this is anecdotal because the City's analysis focused only on a portion of the peak traffic periods. When those of us who are concerned about lack of effort to raise the valleys are misrepresented as wanting to keep the peaks by advocates like Anon, there clearly is another agenda at work.

Although Anon purports to be concerned about speeding, s/he opposes improving traffic safety and opposes improving traffic flow within the speed limit. This certainly sounds to me like someone who wants to make driving inconvenient.

Anon's misrepresentation of others, dismissiveness of their concerns and disingenuous statements are unfortunately representative of many of those who speak at meetings in favor of the trial configuration.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@ellens and Nah

One of the goals of traffic calming is to create street configurations that encourage good driver behavior. It has been pointed out by me and multiple others that there are portions of the trial configuration that do the opposite. The most egregious is at the Terman light where suddenly the ECR-bound side expands briefly to two thru lanes. Others have labeled this segment "the drag strip" -- Because the merge occurs before the two lanes have a chance to establish suitable gaps between cars, the predictable strategy is for drivers to try to get to the merge point first.

The City hasn't offered an explanation of why the obvious fix hasn't been implemented. And the advocates for the trial configuration dismiss those who want to see this invitation to speeding eliminated as being being advocates for speeding.


Posted by Point taken, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I think Mr. Moran is correct to point out that we all need to be respectful of the other's viewpoint. Dismissing concerns that don't agree with one's viewpoint doesn't contribute to problem-solving--which is what the trial period is about. To the same point, It is not helpful for drivers to dismiss bicyclists as zealots either. There are good people on both sides of this issue. All road users want an efficient route, and we all want to arrive at our destinations safely.

Staff has proposed an extension to the trial period to explore some of the concerns raised, to understand the effect of the improvements on crash rates and travel times as well as neighborhood cut-through, and to explore additional improvement. This is sensible, given that the four-lane striping plan was so problematic for all users--uncontrolled stops, turns, lane changing,and high speeds contributed to higher than average crash rates on a heavily used school commute corridor. Safety improvement was badly needed.

For people who live south of the corridor, every trip by car, bike or on foot--must use this corridor. The same is true for our children who have no choice except to use this corridor to get to school. For me, a resident with children who walk and bike to school via this road daily, this really is a very important concern. I also use this road regularly as a driver, so I see it from both perspectives.

Let's see this through. In the meantime, let's all try to share the road safely. Thanks for listening.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Point taken "...It is not helpful for drivers to dismiss bicyclists as zealots either."

This one sentence undermines what would have otherwise been a sensible and welcome comment. In my comments, at no point did I refer to bicyclists, much less characterize that broad group as zealots. Some of the people who I classify as zealots based upon the attitudes revealed by their statements also happen to be bicyclists, but to present this as a condemnation of all bicyclists indicates just how partisan "Point taken" is.

It is this sort of call for "understanding" that casts aspersions on the other side that has been so toxic in the Arastradero public meetings (and other issues) -- as a neighborhood leader I am accustomed to such tactics, but I hear from ordinary residents who are discouraged from participating by such maneuvers.


Posted by Point taken, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Doug, It wasn't my intent to cast aspersions at you personally. It was simply to point out that this sort of accusation gets cast in both directions and we should all be more careful. I think we are in agreement. Reviewing what I wrote, I can see how you might have taken it as you did, but truly, it was not my intent. My apologies for the miscommunication.

My hope is that we'll all work together toward solving our mutual problems as best we can.

Thank you.


Posted by realname, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Please state your real name to prove this


Posted by realname, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 14, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Not everyone likes this kind of changeŁ¬please give up


Posted by parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 14, 2011 at 10:22 pm

If this was a trial, why did they pour concrete barriers in the middle of the road already? Its not a trial, the decision was made from the beginning. The goal was to piss off people that need to drive that road so they would leave.

New flash here. I'm not leaving. In fact, I'm buying my teenager a cheapo piece of junk car so she AND I can drive down that road every day. I NEED to to drive - I have to get on 280 every morning. We used to be able to carpool - but no longer. The drive to Gunn from Charleston center area is more than 1/2 hour now. The drive in the evening (like picking her up from school after an evening activity) is about 5 minutes. That should be a pretty clear measure of how 'successful' they've been on this project. Congratulations on that fabulous success - slowing down traffice flow to a crawl for people that actually need to work for a living. So now, they'll move school hours back so I CANT carpool her any more.

And so now - two cars on that road every morning and every afternoon - in stead of just one. And one of those cars will be a old emmission belching piece of crap, driven by a flippity 16 year old teenager - who will probably start driving that road in the middle of day as well - to go somewhere off campus for lunch now that she'll have a car. GOOD JOB CITY OF PALO ALTO!


Posted by parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 15, 2011 at 6:59 am

Thank you parent of Charleston Gardens the only one who speaks the truth. No one at City Hall, the Mayor's office or the City Counsel has cared about the traffic congestion, the blocked intersections at El Camino Real, or the fact that the police department of Palo Alto has disappeared from Arastadero. I figured they were told to not come and issue tickets which would have had an impact with out of control bicyclist and drivers. The only police I ever saw over on this section of road were the Los Alto Police, I guess we should thank them for trying to make it safer for the people who live in Palo Alto. The decision has been made concrete barriers should tell you that. As I have said before no city official is concerned with the loss of revenue to our city. We must be doing really well as a city if no one thinks we don't need revenue coming in. If you make it harder for people to move around your city in a car, bike or any other way, then guess what they don't come back to spend money. Making it hard to get a cross El Camino is a problem for those people trying to make a living. I know that our Mayor, Chief of Police or anyone in a city office don't understand that because the traffic still blocks El Camino and it DANGEROUS, but what do I know. They have been pushed by a bunch of zealots to do something because they were either screaming the loudest or had there politicial attention. Its a shame that our police department only serves North Palo Alto. As for changing school times that is only a short term fix it does not actually eliminate the problem created by a city engineer and city counsel who only listen to those most willing to scream and make trouble. The majority never wins in this city we all know that. It who you know politically thats what makes things happen even if it bad for the city and for south Palo Alto residents because we all know if they had done this in North Palo Alto it would have ended sooner because they would have screamed so loud the Mayer would have actually heard it.


Posted by notafan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2011 at 9:03 am

If this were truly an improvement, there would not be such an outcry about the problems. The 25 mile speed limit was mostly ignored before and not policed and yes the new way slows everything down. But it is not safer with the constant lane expansions and narrowings, especially right after Terman heading to El Camino. Another bad spot, turning right from El Camino onto Arastradero. Yes, the city improved it with going back to two lanes, BUT, where it narrows to one is a large apartment building complex and often someone slows down to a crawl to turn right into that parking lot, and this is where cars are trying to merge.

Safety for cyclists is very important and this could have been achieved with some turn lanes and policing the speed limit (which would have made more sense to be 30mph) and go back to the way it was keeping some of these turn lanes.

Converting a major corridor into a sleepy street is dreaming of times gone by. By that logic and fairness, then why not convert Oregon or Alma? I don't think north palo altans would stand for this.


Posted by Worked for me, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:55 am

I gave up and started riding my bike...and I gotta admit, I love it, but it clearly won't work for all. I'm


Posted by Frequent User, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

My neighborhood asked staff about the hardscape because we wondered the same thing. They said that the foundations were laid shallow so they could be easily removed if required. Hardscape was necessary at a few locations for safety and installation of speed signs. That made sense to me.

Overall, I'm finding it to be pretty successful. Sometimes there are slightly longer delays getting out of my neigborhood, but I like the way traffic flows better now. I drive, walk and bike the street a lot at all times of day.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Speaking of zealots, what about Commissioner Dan Garber " saying that drivers had to realize that the community values had shifted against them."

Says who? What data does Garber have to prove his point? And how does a guy like that--with such an obvious bias--get to be a commissioner?

Somehow, somewhere, someone(s) wrote a bunch of policies that say Palo Alto had to be more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Nothing wrong with that -- until you realize that drivers are getting the short end of the stick. And Garber's blunt statement makes it pretty clear that it's deliberate.

But WHO are those someone(s) who decided that drivers don't matter? Does ANYONE know? It certainly wasn't the city's Policies and Services Committee?

I think it was the city planners, who have been overly influenced by the bicycle lobby going back to the days of Joe Kott.

Jaime Rodriguez, the city's current transportation official, says, "The city's goal has been improved pedestrian and bicycle safety, not improved traffic flow."

He also says, "The Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Commission (PABAC) is a great resource for the City to solicit input on ideas we come up with directly or proposed through other city groups."

How come the PABAC is "a great resource," but thoughtful, long-time residents like Doug Moran are ignored.

Where's the PA Drivers Advisory Commission?


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Palo Alto's policies of supporting bicyclists date back to the 70s, long before Joe Kott. It would be more correct to say that Joe got his position because of Palo Alto's longstanding policies than to say that he created them. Look at the Comprehensive Plan and all previous versions of it, documents that took a long time to prepare and had massive amounts of community input. The fact is that for many decades the vast majority of Palo Alto residents have been very strong environmentalists, which includes support for biking and walking. Garber is correct on that point, and that community value is reflected in the makeup of the City Council and Transportation Commission. Don't blame the current people in those positions for creating the policies or the public bias. It is the resident's values that have resulted in those people having those positions.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Donald,

It is possibly more accurate to say that those who have the leisure time to promote their causes have proportionally much more weight in the "massive amounts of community input". That is not to say it necessarily reflects the "vast majority" or even the average Palo Alto resident's viewpoint on policy implementation details.


Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Dan,
You are almost exactly right, but it there is more to it than having leisure time. It is really a matter of having the passion about an issue to make it a priority to attend the meetings and get involved in the process (you always have time for that which you consider most important). Many years ago I remember hearing someone ask why bicyclists have so much political power in Palo Alto, and the answer was "They go to meetings". There is no "car driver committee" comparable to PABAC because there aren't enough people who care enough about it to spend their time going to meetings. There are a few who bitch and moan here and there but there is no sustained,productive and coherent organization to give them a credible power base. The City Council can only take action based on what they receive as community input. If you don't care enough to take the time to tell them how you feel, then you have no grounds for complaint afterwards when things don't turn out the way you like.


Posted by othertask, a resident of Southgate
on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

People have other more important tasks to do than going to those boring meetings


Posted by SafetyFirst, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Wow--safety should be the first item!! A few more minutes of time to traverse this road is worth it.


Posted by again, a resident of Southgate
on Jul 15, 2011 at 10:08 pm

new road means less people more safetyŁ¬that will effectively take care of thisŁ¬no need of meetings or efforts


Posted by Give it a good try, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm

I drive, walk and bike on the road at all times of day because I live in a connecting neighborhood. I like it better now. My kids say they like it better. They are extending the trial because they made so many adjustments this year at the request of residents. (many of whom were drivers) so now they need to reevaluate those changes.

I think they said additional adjustment probably would happen this summer. I hope they'll give it this extra time. I am curious about the accident numbers. That will be really important, from my perspective.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:07 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: Donald, Dan, Richard:
It does little or no good for residents to go to meetings because the real deliberations and decisions are too often made at invitation-only meetings between staff and favored advocacy groups. Over the years, I have gone to the public meetings as a measure moved through the process and seen the public input from one stage repeatedly omitted at the next.

Besides, we are supposed to have a representative government, not a direct democracy. Citizens and their interests are supposed to be represented by their elected representatives.

Additional detail: I went to many tens of hours of meetings during the years the Comp Plan was moving forward. On one of these issues, I pointed out that the easement to be used by a proposed bike route did not in fact exist and the bike advocates were routing it through people's homes. As repeatedly occurred for the Comp Plan, reality was not going to intrude on ideology.

Additional detail: As part of the change to the Zoning Ordinance to encourage the replacement of Fry's and nearby businesses with housing, the Ordinance includes putting a signalized pedestrian/bike crosswalk across Oregon/Page Mill at Ash (roughly half way between the underpass and El Camino). This was included with complete disregard for its impact on congestion (I raised this problem at hearings at each stage of the process). Adding a light this close to a major intersection is well known in traffic engineering to greatly exacerbate the congestion, not only on that street, but the cross streets.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:10 am

In Europe, where pedestrian and bicycle travel have always been a priority, the aim is to separate all three modes of transportation. Since there is less space in cities for roadways because of the age of the cities it is much harder to do. But, they manage to innovate new ways to separate the cars from the bikes all the time - not expect them to use the same routes.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:16 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: "SafetyFirst": "A few more minutes of time to traverse this road is worth it."

You are advocating reducing the peak hours speed from roughly 10 mph to 5-7 mph. Do you not realize that this produces even more frustrated, stressed drivers and this in turn LOWERS safety?

Also, there are roughly 1500 cars on this road during peak hours. You are advocating a substantial increase in carbon emissions corresponding to the increased time.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:18 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Correction to previous comment: "roughly 1500 cars" should have been "1500 cars per hour".


Posted by Failure is an option, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:19 am

In regards to public participation, I and others have voiced our concerns and opinions to Mr. Rodriguez who simply dismisses them. It is clear that his mind is already made up and that he will keep pouring money and resources tinkering with this stretch of road and coming up with post-hoc evaluation methods to fit his foregone conclusion.


Posted by Failure is an option, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:24 am

I agree with Doug Moran and find it ironic that a city that prides itself for being green would create a road that increases traffic congestion and idling cars that pollute the environment.

How about we stop expending so much time, money, and energy in this so-called experiment and start fixing the roads that are actually broken.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:37 am

Agree completely with DM's points... thats why I said you generally have to have "leisure time" to follow through on your cause. Many of us just don't have the time to provide input that is likely to be ignored anyway because we can't afford to be persistent enough on something which isn't a main focus in our lives.

For example, I think that the inexplicable lane merges on this road make it more dangerous to drive on as well as slower and less efficient. As a driver, the most dangerous road conditions I see are generally related to lane merges as there is always extra risk when drivers are forced to merge (some fraction of drivers just don't do a good job signaling, checking the blind spot and changing lanes safely ... or being careful enough when a lane reduction causes traffic to abruptly slow). Putting obstacles in any flow leads to turbulence. For me the optimal solution will now be just to try to avoid the road rather than attending meetings over the course of 1+ years that would probably have no significant impact on the outcome. I thank Douglas Moran for at least trying...


Posted by notafan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

Our roads need to serve us all, and many of us not only use cars but bike and walk too. If this really were an improvement, then why not slow El Camino (Oregon, Alma, etc.) down too? Really! We need corridors to help the flow of traffic but now Arastradero-Charleston has been changed to a "small" street. When I drive it now, I do not feel safer with all the mergers. Cars pollute more waiting to get out onto the corridor and need to use more gas too.

If it has to stay this way then at least fix all these mergers--just go to one lane instead of back and forth.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

There is a legitimate reason that the thru lane goes back and forth: At some places, you want to have space for left turns, but at others, right turns predominate. You want the turn lanes to get those cars out of the thru lane, not just so that they don't block it but so to minimize how much they slow the thru traffic when they slow to make their turn.

To make best use of the available pavement, this means that the thru lane will shift. The problem is not in the shifting, but the lack of transparency about which lane thru traffic should be in (the "predictability" that I harped about in earlier messages). From the near-universal complaints from drivers about this (and earlier on the Charleston reconfiguration), this would seem to be something where improvements in this area could provide overall improvements to the trial.


Posted by Directly Impacted, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

My situation: My daily route, in my car, includes Amaranta-Maybell-Coulomb-Arastradero. In the morning I need to go through there at the most traffic intense time, in the afternoon it is much faster. In the morning, yes, it costs me an extra 5-10 minutes now. In the afternoon, the new arrangement has slowed me down somewhat, but that is a good thing. I never ride it on a bike. My own kid rides their bikes to Gunn using Los Robles.

My opinion: The new arrangement works better than the old one for me. It does what it is supposed to do - calm traffic and make it safer for the weaker links in the traffic community - bicylists and pedestrians, children. It was too easy to speed - I am totally guilty, one of those that loose track of their speed and I am thankful to be forced now to slow down. I never witnessed road rage so far. And I have an easy solution if I don't want to spend those extra 5-10 Minutes in traffic in the morning: I leave 10 Minutes early and at that time there is no slow-down whatsoever. The time I save I spend relaxing and having a nice warm hot cocoa before starting my classes.

My suggestion: I totally hear those of you that aren't happy, and understand that the situation isn't equally satisfying for all of us. The new arrangement does have its challenges. But they can be improved, like for example by different bell times of the schools along the way, which will take effect only next month. This project is a trial, and not static - It is evolving and trying to find solutions for the problems you are bringing up. The problems are too complex as to have one single possible solution because they involve people and their needs/behaviors. The extension of the trial is giving the project team the time to explore these.


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