Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 2, 2011

Planned bike bridge called too complex, pricey

Palo Alto planning commissioners urge staff to simplify, scale down or defer proposed overpass at Adobe Creek

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto's dream of a spacious, elegant bike bridge spanning U.S. Highway 101 and connecting residents to the Baylands should be scaled back or deferred, members of the city's Planning and Transportation Commission said Wednesday night.

The commission was reviewing a staff proposal to build an "enhanced overpass" across 101 at Adobe Creek a structure that would give south Palo Alto a major new artery into the Baylands. Residents currently rely on an underpass that typically stays open six months a year and that occasionally has to be closed down because of flooding.

The latest proposal calls for a curvy overpass with a 14-foot-wide travelway with arching fences, a viewpoint area and motion-activated LED lights. The goal is to provide a year-round connection between the residential and commercial areas south and west of 101 and the open space northeast of the highway, city Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez told the commission.

As always, the biggest wildcard is funding. Staff estimates that the enhanced bridge could cost as much as $9.4 million, far more than some of the other alternatives staff was previously considering. These included improving the existing Adobe Creek underpass and building new overcrossings at either Loma Verde Avenue or Matadero Creek.

Staff ultimately decided that the "enhanced overpass" is the alternative most consistent with the city's pro-bicycling values and policies. The city's 2003 Bicycle Master Plan had recommended the new crossing, as does the updated plan the city released earlier this year.

"We know this has ranked high on the city's list for years, and it has also been in city and regional planning for a long time," said Casey Hildreth, a consultant at Alta Planning and Design, who worked with staff to develop the proposal.

The commission voted 4-2, with Samir Tuma and Greg Tanaka dissenting, to support the staff proposal for an "enhanced overpass," but even the supporters of the plan urged staff to think smaller. Commission Chair Eduardo Martinez said the proposed structure is a bit too conspicuous.

"It's a huge structure," Martinez said. "It's creating an identity in a place where we don't want an identity.

"It's not a gateway. It's just a place where we need an overcrossing."

Commissioner Daniel Garber agreed and said the design, while nice looking, is perhaps more than the city needs to meet its mission of connecting residents to nature.

"It's beautiful," Garber said of the proposed structure. "If I wanted to take my bike and hang out some place and look at something that's where I'd go. It's like a Disney ride. There's a little elbow; it's forcing you to look over the Bay that's pretty cool.

"However, if all we want to do is get from one side to another, I don't know why we need to do all that."

Commissioners Susan Fineberg and Arthur Keller both said they support building a new overpass, with Fineberg saying she is "very pleased" to see the project advance.

"It's wonderful to see that we're actually working on something that most if not all of us would like to see move forward," Fineberg said.

Keller also supported the project but suggested that staff reconsider the location of the bridge's ramps to improve access to the residential streets around East Meadow Drive.

Others were less pleased. Commissioner Samir Tuma said he was "very troubled" about the project and proposed shelving it. Staff is hoping to get a grant that would pay for about 80 percent of the project's cost, leaving the city with about $1.5 million in expenditures. But even this cost is too high, Tuma argued.

"I'd rather see us take this $1.5 million and do something that enhances bike network throughout the city in a sure, positive way that's going to happen," Tuma said. "Use it for another project that will give us something that's 100 percent certain."

Tuma's proposal to table the plan failed by a 3-3 vote, with only Garber and Tanaka joining him. Garber then sided with Fineberg, Keller and Martinez in supporting the staff recommendation but urging further analysis of the overpass design. Staff plans to present the new feasibility study to the City Council in October.

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

Comments

Posted by the sooner the better, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 12:18 am

Pick a cheaper design and get it done as soon as possible. The current Adobe Creek path will only be open 4 months this year because of various safety problems. Pedestrians and bicyclists are using San Antonio Road instead, which is 1000 times more dangerous because of rampant reckless driving on that road. Someone is going to get killed pretty soon if a new pedestrian crossing is not built as quickly as possible. We have been talking about this for years. Now is the time to get something done.


Posted by Richard Clark, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 1, 2011 at 7:02 am

OK I know there are holes in this logic but here goes:

Build it and make it pretty. So much of our money disappears anyway towards things I can't figure out, at least we know this would be useful and appreciated.


Posted by What's-The-Point?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 7:17 am

How about "Too Unnecessary?" ..


Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 1, 2011 at 7:34 am

Common sense from the Planning Commission? That's too much of a shock this early in the morning. Way to go PC!!


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:26 am

Finally some logic from the city. Economics times are bad. For months we've been hearing from the city about the unprecedented budget deficit and economic woes. They're still in the process of scaling back personnel and services in the police, fire and utilities, but yet they considered building a luxury item like a bike bridge. Unreal. It never should have even been on the table under the current financial conditions. If people want to access the Baylands, then use the existing bike bridge at the east end of Oregon Expressway.

Many thanks to the planning commission. Sometimes it takes a little courage to say no to a vocal minority with a "niche" special interest.


Posted by sooner the better, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:41 am

Pedestrians are not a "niche special interest". This bridge is not for bicyclists only. Shame on those who are claiming that. The Embarcadero bridge is a detour of at least 3 miles, making it impractical for pedestrians.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:49 am

I am confused by the article when it says that a grant will cover 80% of the cost. Does this mean that the grant will cover 80% of the cost regardless of total cost, or that if there is a cheaper option then 100% will be covered if it is below a certain dollar amount?

This changes perspective considerably. I know that we should be wise with money as it is all taxpayer money regardless of where it comes from, but if the money is sitting in a fund somewhere waiting for a suitable use, then there is no reason why we should not be getting it.

However, this bridge would be a great improvement on the tunnel and enhance the ability for many Palo Altans to reach the Baylands or their office in the Shoreline business park area. At present, for many who work there the Oregon bridge in effect would double the length of their commute in winter or make them use either SanAntonio or Rengstorff bridges, neither of which are ideal for bikes.

Whereas a cheaper, simpler bridge may save us some money, it may be the case that delaying moving forward could (a) cost us more money in the long run as costs always go up the longer a project is delayed and (b) delaying the project makes it a longer wait for those who would use it regularly particularly as a commute route.

I would like to see this project completed in as timely manner as possible and I fear that any delays are just timewasting tactics yet again.

I do not want to be reading about a cyclist's death on San Antonio overpass in the future when it could be prevented by the building of a bridge now.


Posted by Disappointed in Tuma and Tanaka, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:33 am

Tuma doesn't bike commute much in the south, and that was evident in his comments. There is no safe year-round bike/pedestrian connection across the 101 for bicyclists. I have often ridden the San Antonio overpass and felt completely vulnerable going both directions. I generally choose surface streets as a safer alternative...where I have to ride in high volume auto traffic on arterials (in the winter, I do this after dark and in the rain). It's a pretty awful set of options for a bicyclist. For bike commuters going to points south of Palo Alto this would be the ideal way to get off surface streets to off-street baytrails. For recreational users of the baylands, it would eliminate need for our cars.

Cost of this project is a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend on facilities for cars. Drivers complain that we are in their way on the road, and then they complain when the city tries to give us connections to off-road trails. Could we please spend a few of my tax dollars on transportation infrastructure that will serve bicyclists? I rarely drive. This is how I commute.

I am disappointed in Tuma and Tanaka whose votes are inconsistent with stated city priorities and goals. Their votes for recommendation were supposed to be on PLACEMENT of the bridge, not whether or not to build it. They stepped beyond their purview with their votes on this one. Shame on them.


Posted by GougedInMidtown, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:46 am

I am amazed that as a city we cannot seem to comprehend that there is a global recession in progress. I agree with everyone that a bike bridge and connecting to nature are nice to have - but are they a high priority must have in this current environment? Put that money towards our schools or put it away towards a rainy day fund.


Posted by sooner the better, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

I agree that the price of this project is a drop in the bucket compared to the price of many of the auto-only projects around town. Didn't those fancy car parking garages downtown cost city taxpayers $50 million each? And right now, $150 million of your tax dollars are being used to lengthen the Highway 101 on-ramps and off-ramps through Palo Alto. I'm sure there are plenty of better ways to spend $150 million. And no, these big car projects are not paid by gas taxes. The $150 million came from county sales taxes (the type that Amazon is trying to evade).


Posted by No Comprehendo, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:54 am

There is already a bicycle/ped overpass at Oregon Avenue (next to OrEx/Greer) that leads to the Baylands. They want to build another one just 1/4 mile south?


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

To disappointed, if I'm not mistaken, the existing bike bridge at Oregon Expressway provides year-round access to the Baylands area and it's plenty safe. It's also centrally located. Bottom line, there are far too many fiscal priorities to even think about spending a dime on a luxury project such as this. Thanks again to the planning commission for not catering to another vocal MINORITY.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

" Didn't those fancy car parking garages downtown cost city taxpayers $50 million each? And right now, $150 million of your tax dollars are being used to lengthen the Highway 101 on-ramps and off-ramps through Palo Alto. I'm sure there are plenty of better ways to spend $150 million. And no, these big car projects are not paid by gas taxes. The $150 million came from county sales taxes (the type that Amazon is trying to evade)."

Let the bashing of car drivers begin.
Regarding the cost of the garages:
Web Link
"Despite all these concerns, in April 1997, Palo Alto decided to build two enormous sized parking structures. It cost $32 million, bringing the cost-per-space to a stunning $35,476---and the city already owned the land."
You can also read the reason why they were built in the article

"And right now, $150 million of your tax dollars are being used to lengthen the Highway 101 on-ramps and off-ramps through Palo Alto."
This is not just in Palo Alto this is continuing work being done all along 101. The city is not paying for this.
Considering how this area depends on motorized vehicle traffic for it's existence, this might be a good way to spend $150 million or should we allow the roads to decay, like Palo Alto has done with it's streets


"The $150 million came from county sales taxes (the type that Amazon is trying to evade)."
You can read where the funding is coming for part of this project
Web Link
"Capitol Cost / Project Funding
$102 million: $84.9 million in Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA) Funds, $17.3 million in VTA Local Program Reserve Funds."

Finally, Amazon is not evading taxes--it is paying it's taxes. It is not collecting taxes from shoppers--who BTW by law have to reprot these purchases on their taxe forms each year


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:14 am

Very well stated Svatoid! I'm tired of the city always catering to these niche special interest groups. It's about time they just said no in the interest of the greater good. Auto related projects be it roadways or parking structures take priority because that's what the vast majority of people use and need. The greater good prevails. If you are among the small percentage of people that bike or walk to the Baylands from the west side of 101, then use the perfectly good, centrally located bridge that already exists. No brainer, end of discussion already.


Posted by dr doc, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:28 am

What beats me is that in the process of building the JCC on San Antonio the existing San Antonio bike path was completely re-done - that is to say, it was essentially eliminated it - , and the city blew an opportunity to comprehensively re-do the connection from Charleston/San Antonio to the baylands at the same time.


Posted by the sooner the better, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:32 am

"No Comprehendo, a member of the Palo Alto High School", now I understand why our public schools are failing. The distance between Adobe Creek and the Embarcadero bridge is not 1/4 mile like you measured. Google maps says the distance is a 3.6 mile detour. 1/4 mile is a 5 minute walk. 3.6 miles is closer to 2 hours for most pedestrians.

If the distance really was 1/4 mile, why don't they just close the San Antonio Road bridge to cars and let pedestrians use that instead? Car drivers can use the Embarcadero Road interchange, which is only "1/4 mile away", according to you.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:35 am

dr doc -
I'm not sure what you're talking about. The city may have missed an opportunity to create something better, but they certainly didn't eliminate anything. The sidewalk on San Antonio Road adjacent to the JCC is still there - it's slightly wider - and it continues on over the freeway just as it always has. Virtually nothing changed.


Posted by sooner the better, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:35 am

And to those of you who think the $150 million of VTA money that is paying for the Highway 101 off ramps is magic free money, who do you think pays for the VTA? That is your sales tax money money at work (unless you shop at Amazon, in which case it is your neighbor's tax money). BTW - Samtrans (also sales tax money) pitched in big chuck of the cost, in addition to the VTA money that you listed.


Posted by What's-The-Point?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

> I do not want to be reading about a cyclist's death on San Antonio
> overpass in the future when it could be prevented by the building
> of a bridge now.

Very few bicyclists have been killed in Palo Alto over the years. Same is true for motorists.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:56 am

"And to those of you who think the $150 million of VTA money that is paying for the Highway 101 off ramps is magic free money, who do you think pays for the VTA?"
Sooner the better should try checking the facts before making claims that are not supported by the facts.
As I posted previously the money for 101 comes mainly from Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA) Funds

Web Link
Web Link

"The Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006, approved by the voters as Proposition 1B on November 7, 2006, includes a program of funding from $4.5 billion to be deposited in the Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA). The funds in the CMIA are to be available to the California Transportation Commission, upon appropriation in the annual Budget Bill by the Legislature, for allocation for performance improvements on the state highway system or major access routes to the state highway system. The CMIA presents a unique opportunity for the State's transportation community to provide demonstratable congestion relief, enhanced mobility, improved safety, and stronger connectivity to benefit traveling Californians."


"That is your sales tax money money at work (unless you shop at Amazon, in which case it is your neighbor's tax money). "
No one shops exclusively at Amazon, so it would be everyone's tax dollars. Got a bone to pick with Amazon's practices? I would talk to your neighbors and see if they are cheating on their taxes instead of scapegoating Amazon.






Posted by kongjie, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

kongjie is a registered user.

"However, if all we want to do is get from one side to another, I don't know why we need to do all that."

The original proposal may be overdone, excessive, etc. But city, highway and transportation design is more about getting from point a to point b. A beautiful, thoughtful design will be appreciated for decades to come. An eyesore will make 101 look even worse.


Posted by George, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:59 am

A bike bridge is sorely needed. The Bike bridge off oregon expressway is unsatisfactory. The underpass works for a few months, but otherwise there is no good access to baylands. Of course the most economical is best, but a bike bridge needs to be built.


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 11:25 am

kongjie,

I think something that is consistent with the existing bridges would do fine. A look out point from on top of a freeway is still a look out point from on top of a freeway. Noisy with fumes. From someone that commutes on a regular basis, being able to get to east bayshore side helps get one to an area that isolates the rider from a lot of car cross traffic, stop signs and signal lights. So although I ride from North PA and can use the bridge at Oregon, I appreciate why folks in South Palo Alto would want a bridge rather than that low clearance tunnel that is not maintained properly. The money must come from somewhere though, so what are you willing to give up to make it extra frilly bridge? We tend to over spend in this town, champange tastes on a beer budget. We cant seem to cut anything, but we sure want to spend more independent of revenue realities.


Posted by Steve, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 1, 2011 at 11:48 am

For those of you commuting to the Googleplex, your wait is almost over. Within a year you can ride down Old Middlefield to the Army Reserve center, and cross 101 on a bridge along Permanente Creek under construction and funded by the City of Mountain View. It will look similar to other bike bridges in Mountain View, but not nearly as fancy as what was proposed here. Crossings will then be at Oregon Expy, Permanente, and Stevens Creek, with Adobe Creek available part time.


Posted by larry, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Just put a pump on the existing tunnel and keep it open all year. If we put a bike bridge in, it should be at university avenue where the real bike and pedestrian traffic is. Do it with Menlo Park and East Palo Alto joing funding.


Posted by Use good sense, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I don't very often agree with Samir Tuma, but I do on this one. There are so many other things we need before a bike bridge to nowhere, like refinishing San Antonio Road and removing those dangerous tree roots so a chunk of the road has to be fenced off!!


Posted by mark, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Sep 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

It really breaks down to this: If you live in PA and you ride a bike now, and want to go to the Bay Lands on a bike, then you want the underpass/over pass in South PA . If you don"t ride a bike and want to ride to the BL, then you want the money spent on other things;

However, if everyone knew how dangerous it is to cross over at Embarcadero on a bike, and they were forward thinking past their own life times and into a world we leave behind to others who may be increasingly more sensate to hydrocarbon and thus increased bike transiting, it's possible that there would be a more of a push to do what must be done anyway as costs that continue to increase reach year--and just bite the bullet because it just gets more difficult as time passes.

M


Posted by What's-The-Point?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

> then you want the money spent on other things

.. like the $550M (actually $1B when financing is considered) infrastructure backlog?


Posted by Nancy, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Count this as a vote supporting an Adobe Creek bike bridge. I would use it to get to the Baylands, meetings at the Peninsula Conservation Center, Shoreline, the Computer History Museum, et al. I hope we can come up with a reasonable solution.


Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm

An affordable bridge adds real value part of which may be hard to quantify because it adds connectivity. In any network, streets, bike roads, the Internet, whatever, a new connection can add value to all the existing ones. A new connect over 101 can create new riders as well.

A fancy landmark bridge may also be too expensive to maintain over time unless that is factored into the design. Cities, especially can often find the money to build projects with a brass plaque on it that they cannot afford to maintain. Earthquake resistance is more important than flourishes here too.

Washington is less able, going forward, to fund rebuilding after earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. Today after the comparatively modest damage from hurricane Irene the dominant Party in the House is going to try to take Irene reconstruction money Congress allocates off other government expenditures. So earthquake resistance must be a priority for cities in the Bay Area. We have to assume that the message from Washington is "You're on your own". That message from the House Republican leadership should have been a headline here in the Bay Area and LA but was not. Journalists asleep again.

There is a fancy bike/pedestrian bridge across 280 near 85. Was it an economical design given the span? There is a bike/pedestrian bridge being built over 85 from Mountain View to Sunnyvale. Presumably it will carry less traffic than a 101 overpass. I don't know what it will look like. Is that an economical design?


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm

The city cannot afford this expenditure. The city already has a perfectly good bike bridge over 101 that is centrally located. These funds would be better utilized on city infrastructure that affects everyone, not just a small percentage of people involved in a niche activity. Good call planning commission! Finally a little common sense.


Posted by Gethin, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:58 pm

The Oregon Expressway bridge is perfectly adequate - there is nothing wrong with it all. We can't waste time and money building another one literally just down the street.


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 11:52 pm

"a niche activity"

Now you are just being silly.


Posted by aw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2011 at 8:38 am

There's no "bike bridge" at Oregon. There's a lightly used pedestrian bridge that directs cyclists to "walk bikes."

I feel trapped in a cage on this bridge. I'd never consider using it after dark. Even during the day it's nearly impassable on a bike with road shoes and cleats.


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:11 am

aw,

To pass through the barriers without dismounting or decleating, get off you seat and lean forward. With practice, you will find it is very easy.


Posted by aw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:37 am

@IB

Thanks for the technique tip! Are the "walk bike" signs advisory or mandatory?


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

And furthermore aw, you can walk your bike over the perfectly good bridge if you have to. If it's so lightly used as you say, then you'll have plenty of room. Like I said, a small trade off on the part of a small percentage of people that would save the tax payers well over a million dollars. Money that would be better and more wisely spent on vital infrastructure needs that would benefit everyone, not a small number of those involved in a niche activity.

Great decision planning commission! The vast majority of Palo Altans applaud you!


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:44 am

aw,

I believe the signs are mandatory, I think they are in the municiple code, and I ignore them. I do go with the spirit of the sign and ride slowly. Its really the downhills where speed is an issue. The barriers make sure you slow before the 90 degree turn at the one one side. On the other side, it is a blind curve, so if you ride fast and encounter slower or opposing traffic, it could make for a nasty encounter. Ride slow, I figure I go about 5-7 MPH there making sure I am ready to yield to anything that I encounter.


Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:57 am

$9.2M is ridiculous. Any amount in the millions is ridiculous.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:19 am

I Bike, glad to see you coaching other cyclists and encouraging the use of the existing bridge over 101 to the Baylands. Why even consider building a multi-million bridge when a perfectly good one is already in place. It's centrally located in the city and very adequate. John from Barron Park, you said it all. Very ridiculous indeed.

Great job planning commission!


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

>"I believe the signs are mandatory, I think they are in the municiple code, and I ignore them."

Gee, I wonder why people get ticked off at bicyclists.

Many bikers ignore the sign and barrel down the hill, to the detriment (and panic) of pedestrians who fear "a nasty encounter."

Thank you, Planning Commission, for injecting some fiscal sanity into the process!


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm

pat,

It is possible to ride this safely.

Since I see car drivers universally disobeying the vehicle code, I dont know why you expect the bike riders to obey the municipal code. If you want bike riders on the "bike" bridge, expect them to bike on it. ;-)


Posted by aw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Oregon isn't a bike bridge. It's a pedestrian bridge. There's no place between University and San Antonio where you can legally cross 101 while riding a bike.

You can agree or disagree with spending money to build a bike bridge. Please don't say "We don't need a second bike bridge," when we don't have a first one!

In the meantime I'll be the cyclist crossing 101 on San Antonio, legally taking the entire substandard lane. Please be patient and don't honk; I can hear you back there.


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

aw is right, if its a bike bridge expect riders, if its not allowed then there is no bike bridge and you really dont want bikes on Embarcadero and San antonio. First maybe PA has to decide what that bridge really is.


Posted by aw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm

@IB - Thank you!

Doesn't Embarcadero Road also have a "no bikes" sign? I think our legal choices are University and San Antonio.

And thanks again for the technique tip!


Posted by just thinkin", a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm

How about a way to get to El Camino from the area around El Carmelo School for pedestrians without walking to Meadow or California to get there?


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm

No Embaracadero is no pedestrians / bikes on the sidewalk. Also municiple code. While a ciry can decide what sidewalks a bike may not ride on, they cant decide which roads. You can be in the roadbed. Lets think about that choice though with all those freeway on ramps and off ramps though, you are safer on the oregon pedestrian? bike? bridge. Dont let the "cars are superior" crowd convince you to do something less safe. The oregon bridge is the way to go 5-7 MPH is a slow jogging speed, so you should not cause an issue for anyone, if you ride on the pedestrian? / bike? bridge slowly. Should there be another bike bridge down south, probably. Does it need to be "a statement"? No.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

To aw and others, several million dollars should not be spent so you and a small percentage of citizens can "ride" over 101. In these very uncertain and troubling financial times, it is not too much to ask you to walk your bike over the bridge if need be. That's a perfectly suitable and viable option. The bridge access over 101 is there and is more than adequate. It is centrally located in the city and provides access to the baylands area. Give the majority a break already. You'll take San Antonio by choice not by need.

Kudos to the planning commission!


Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm

"There is a fancy bike/pedestrian bridge across 280 near 85. Was it an economical design given the span? There is a bike/pedestrian bridge being built over 85 from Mountain View to Sunnyvale. Presumably it will carry less traffic than a 101 overpass. I don't know what it will look like. Is that an economical design?"

The fancy 208/Mary Ave bike/pedestrian suspension bridge:
Web Link

"...The cost was high. At $15 million, it's believed to
be the most expensive span of its type in the South
Bay. Sunnyvale opened two pedestrian bridges along
Borregas Avenue over highways 101 and 237 last
week for about the same price for both...."

The article above at the end has a traffic estimate for the bridge on opening. Perhaps the article author can find out what the reality is, always nice to know. The estimate had an encouraging number for people added to bike commutes and leaving cars.

The estimate for the now-building Steven's Creek bike/pedestrian bridge over 85 was $5 million. The 86 bridge links the Steven's Creek Trail over 85 but also serves some grade school with school on one side of 85 and part of its district on the other.

Perhaps PA can make a bit more economical bridge over 101. Otherwise, IMO, cities here had better start spending more money on earthquake resistance and recovery.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm

We have the most economical bridge over 101 already in place. It's called paid for free and clear minus any maintenance costs. The existing bridge serves the purpose of accessing the baylands area from the west side of 101. It's ridiculous to consider spending even a cent on a luxury item project that will only serve a small percentage of our citizens. Funds need to be spent on vital infrastructure needs that are long overdue. Again, the planning commission used some logic in coming to this decision. Done deal.


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Oh please

"several million dollars should not be spent so you and a small percentage of citizens can "ride" over 101. In these very uncertain and troubling financial times"

People biking part of how they deal with troubing financial times and $4 gas. And the percentage that bike to work is not small, you need to get out more.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm

In the big scheme, a small percentage indeed. Bottom line, we don't need to be allocating millions of dollars for a niche activity when the city has been facing an unprecedented budget crisis, continued fiscal woes, and little or no sign of this trend changing for the better. Let's put our priorities in the right place here. Are you kidding me? There are essential, vital infrastructure needs in the city that take precedent. This new bridge is a luxury project that would serve a minority. Besides, we already have a bridge that is more than adequate, paid for, and centrally located. The planning commission thankfully saw it this way and made the right call. Thanks to the PC for not caving into another Palo Alto special interest group. Well done!


Posted by A million here, a million there, a resident of Southgate
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm

It seems everyone knows the city is in financial straits except the staff. They are spending money like there was no problem. Like consultants hired by the planning department for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Art Center proposing a Million dollar useless road between it and the Main library.
So the 9 Million here is in line. Maybe we need a city manager with better judgement.


Posted by wastedand angry, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm

i do not care.


Posted by aw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm

P&TC voted 4-2 in favor of a bikeable overpass. I think we all agree that today we don't have one. Marrol appears to believe we don't need one. That's a legitimate view, but it's not what Staff or P&TC recommended.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:26 pm

aw, I don't agree and neither does the planning commission. There is a centrally located overpass in place that traverses 101. Why do you ignore this? Again, cyclists can take the 3-5 minute walk with their bike over the bridge to access the baylands area and points beyond. And the trade-off is a no-brainer. We don't spend millions of dollars for the convenience of a small percentage of citizens. We don't need another bridge. We need to be fiscally responsible and invest in the essential city infrastructure.

Well done planning commission! Continue to make decisions based on common sense and logic, and never buckle to these niche, special interest groups.


Posted by sigh, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:50 pm

There is no evidence available for you.


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2011 at 1:11 am

Marrol,

Why should anyone walk their bike on a bike bridge? What you are telling me is that you dont value a safe solution for bikers to get to the other side of 101. Other cities provide that access, why not palo alto. Tell you what you walk your car to the other side of 101 and we will talk. ;-)


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

Why not i bike? Because it's going to cost millions of dollars that if it were to be spent, would be better utilized on essential, vital city needs. In order to save the tax payers millions of dollars, while the city is facing an unprecedented budget crisis, it is more than reasonable to ask cyclists, a relative minority of the population, to use the existing bridge if they choose to traverse 101. It is centrally located, completely paid for, and as you have requested, a safe solution to get to the other side of the freeway. There you go. The only downside, the cyclist has to step off their bike and take a 3 minute walk. Wow, what a hardship.

The planning commission used common sense and logic when coming to this decision with the greater good in their forefront of their minds. It is clear that they were considering the impact of this expenditure with everyone in mind, and not just a small percentage of the population. Especially during these very difficult financial times, people really need to stop and think about what's best for everyone and not just themselves. This bridge was a luxury item from the very beginning, and completely unnecessary given the very reasonable alternative.

As for the notion of walking our cars over 101, I will accept the humorous suggestion. But then again, humor often time cuts to the truth. The obvious truth here is that the vast majority of us drive cars, with majority being the operative word. Again, the greater good.


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

Walk a 1/4 mile in cycling cleats and get back to me.


Posted by JQPublic, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2011 at 9:29 am

It's just a damn bicycle bridge/underpass, which would be transited in a minute or two by a bicyclist. This should be done inexpensively. Stop trying to make it a Golden Gate.


Posted by aw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Marrol: Reread the full article. You seem to misunderstand the vote.

"The commission voted 4-2, with Samir Tuma and Greg Tanaka dissenting, to support the staff proposal for an "enhanced overpass," but even the supporters of the plan urged staff to think smaller. Commission Chair Eduardo Martinez said the proposed structure is a bit too conspicuous."

The commission supported the overpass and verbally requested some alternate plans. In the meantime I assume you are one of the patient and tolerant ones when a bike (a vehicle under the CVC) uses the existing vehicle bridges.

@IB - I think we're done. The facts are we have three narrow vehicle bridges, a pedestrian overpass, a commission vote in favor of adding a bike crossing, and a bunch of people here who will never bother to show up at a City Council meeting. I was hoping to change some minds by pointing out we don't have a bike bridge today, but we have Marrol and others arguing, "We have a pedestrian overpass (that Pat and others emphasize you can't ride a bike on) and that's already more than we need." I concede it's more than Marrol and Pat need, but the broader community as represented by the Planning Commission seems to feel otherwise. I'm tempted to add that most of us live here because we are a community that's willing to go beyond the basics and buy luxuries from time to time, but I left my fireproof suit at the cleaners.


Posted by I bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Aw,

I dont know where you ride to, but they recently opened a trail on the bay side of Moffet. I dont ride it, because its dirt trail and I ride a road bike, but if you are on a mountain bike and need to get passed Moffet, you might want to decide if it makes sense for your ride.


Posted by aw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm

IB - I occasionally ride my road bike around the Arastradero trails, deep into the Baylands and up old Alpine Rd (past Joaquin) to Page Mill. Try it some time! Mountain pedals and 28mm tires don't hurt but you'll still have a blast with road shoes and 23mm road tires. Save your mountain bike for Skeggs Point.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm

My recommendation would be fo existing bridges at both San Antonio and University Avenue to get improved to permit bikes and pedestrians. To me the seemingly larger demand is at University Ave rather than South Palo Alto. There I observe many from East Palo Alto crossing a very dangerous bridge. Likely there is no money in PA or at the fed level, but it would great to consider limited improvements for pedestrians and bikes across these two bridges, especially if the City can't pay the price for new bridges. These bridges seem to have enough width to put in pedestrian and bike lanes. Maybe the lack of funding could drive some interim improvements both north and south Palo Alto that enhance safety. My two bits.


Posted by casual biker, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2011 at 10:48 am

I checked out the proposed solutions being proposed on this board over the weekend, and suggest that others arguing that we already have a way to get across 101 on a bike do the same. Yes, it can be done if one either breaks the law (rides on the pedestrian bridge) after a pretty big detour or does something of a suicide mission across the narrow bridge (no bike lane, crossing two freeway ramps).

Perhaps a cheaper option is to put full stop lights at the freeway on ramps for San Antonio, as well as a light that enables bikes and cars to take turns (like the light on El Camino near Palo Alto Medical Foundation). It would be (a) cheap (couple of stoplights), (b) safe for bikes, and (c) cars could continue but would have to actually share the road, and not just be bigger.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

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