Post a New Topic
Original post made
on May 2, 2013
I remember when the NIMBYs were fighting against the Bryant Street bicycle boulevard. They made all the same arguments about traffic and pollution and noise that this new group of NIMBYs made. Fortunately, PTA groups and employers fought hard for the bicycle boulevard and all the arguments turned out to be BS.
Those winding routes through town that the NIMBYs are proposing are 10 times more dangerous than a bike path. Lots of turns in traffic are obviously much more dangerous for kids biking to school than straight car-paths.
That mid-block crosswalk argument is also BS. Maybe it is true of 60mph highways, but all the streets along this route are 25mph. Mid-block crosswalks on 25mph streets are safer than 4-corner crosswalks because cars cannot turn across your path to nail you. The #1 way that pedestrians are killed by cars is cars turning left across a crosswalk. Too many turning cars just don't pay attention to crosswalks and these kinds of collisions are avoided by mid-block crosswalks.
Just say no to NIMBYs. This project is a huge safety improvement for south-of-midtown child bicyclists and pedestrians. Don't let the NIMBYs push the route out of our neighborhood. A route north of Oregon Expressway is of no value to children living south of the expressway.
The first proposed dedicated bike route east/west route through town would be a boost to getting kids to school safely. Crossing Middlefield at Loma Verde and Colorado is not a safe place with all the bikes and pedestrians at school commute times. We really need this route and of course, some are protesting.
Typical Palo Alto, I hope we can get this route asap.
"Midtown resident Sheri Furman, who lives next to the creek on Greer Road said the discussions didn't include Midtown residents. "
But in her next sentence, Furman says that the city held public meetings. Were Midtown residents excluded from those meetings?
"Instead, they were across town at Terman Middle School"
How terrible. Having to travel to Terman!!! Through the wind, rain and snow , all those miles. No wonder she could not attend.
BTW, Sherri does not speak for all Midtown residents. I live in Midtown and have no problem with the plan.
Bottom line--Sherri Furman commands--the city council had better obey
BTW, Ms Dremann, the title of your article and the first sentence are examples of the sensationlistic articles your paper likes to spew out in an attempt to generate controversy.
Do you actually know how many residents oppose the plan? So how do you know that it is so disliked by Midtown residents? A group of 70? How many residents are there in Midtown? Do these 70 actually represent Midtown??
Maybe if you would try to get some facts down before putting pen to paper, your article would be worth reading.
Amazing that this kind of journalism won the weekly some awards recently.
I am a concerned Midtown parent and I support the trail along the planned route. Moving the trail out of Midtown would destroy its usefulness to Midtown children. There are too few child-safe bicycle routes right now.
I live in Midtown too and I support the trail! Build it, it will be wonderful. Have Midtown residents really been asked for their opinions? I doubt it. My suspicion is a few people with houses a long the creek do not want it, but that the overwhelming majority of Midtown residents would approve of it if polled.
Just do it!
NIMBYism at its worst.
NIMBYism apparently supported by the weekly, given the headline of the article and it's contents. Surprised? Not me. The weekly is always tryingbo gain favor with one group or another. That is why I thought their winning all those awards last week was a joke. This article bears that out
While any plan is worth examining, this really sounds like NIMBYism...for a city so enthusiastic about bicycling, to "so dislike" a bike trail...
Are there examples of such bike trails that have resulted in great difficulty/problems?! - I think not.
I would pay extra for a home adjacent to a cross-town bike path. These NIMBYs are so short sighted. I bet they will all change their minds when the path is completed and they start using it.
How would crime be any worse from the trail than from the existing streets which those properties front? Are they worried about break-ins or some other form of crime?
With break-ins, my understanding is that most criminals would require some form of vehicle to carry away any stolen property. How would adding a trail facilitate this in a way which the existing road does not?
70 signatures, but how many unique addresses?
I suspect that some of these 70 residents live in the same household.
On mid-block safety: The article talks of "pedestrian crossings" but I suspect that the concern is more about bicyclist. Anyone with experience with local bicyclists knows how many of them blow through stop signs from side streets onto major streets. Project this onto these crossing and one can expect that there will be many cyclists shooting out onto the streets blind. I didn't see in the plan that the City was planning to install stop signs on the streets -- this is such an unusual situation that I expect that markings on the pavement will not register fast-enough with many drivers to be effective.
On safety along the path: What is not mentioned in the article is safety for the bicyclist on the path during non-peak hours. During consideration of other routes, various bicyclists -- predominantly women -- said that they didn't use such paths at various hours because they were too isolated. The CalAve tunnel is in this category. So is Hanover near Page Mill. These bike paths will have long stretches that will be out-of-view except to those one the path itself.
Thank you Sue Dremann for this article, and Doug Moran for your comments. What is happening here is the under-belly of transportation
planning and decision-making in Palo Alto. The staff latches on to and promotes a small group of activists for its own causes and projects this out to the rest of the community as public outreach and sound planning. In reality most residents are completely out of
the loop and the resulting plans are not fundamentally sound, do not promote safety,degrade neighborhoods and in combination with the over-development and resulting traffic are leading to the complete
destruction of our neighborhoods and City. Palo Alto is in free fall. To claim NIMBYISM is to not understand at all the scale of what is happening.
Douglas makes a very good point about cyclists most likely blowing through the stop signs and across busy roads where the proposed path leads. I see this every day riding on the Bryant bike route. The worst offenders are the fixed gear posers, heaven forbid they look up, pay attention, and break their cadence for, well, anything. Next up are scores of Paly kids, who are remarkably good at texting while riding, and basically ignoring anything around them. Crossing Oregon Expy seems to be the only road cyclists actually stop for. Embarcadero is not much of a deterent; Friday, a cyclist past me approaching the crossing at Embarcadero. In stead of waiting for the light to change, and it's pretty responsive to cyclists there, he rode half way across Embarcadero, stopped in the middle of the road, turned his bike sideways, waited for a few cars to pass him, and then went on his way. It's a wonder that there are not more car/cyclist collisions even on relatively safe Bryant.
The Hetch Hetchy trail in Mountain view crosses streets mid-block. Neighborhood motorists are courteous to a fault. Bicyclists are cautious at the trail's yield signs and staggered gates that can't be 'blown through.'
It would be entertaining to see Palo Alto police ticket bicyclist law breakers. I bike. I stop at stop signs. I was almost rear-ended and the victim of scorn from another bicyclist when I stopped at Loma Verde and Waverley because my action was apparently so unpredictable. I even signal my stops. I learned about driving and biking laws in another state. Maybe they don't apply here.
Allow homeowners to builder taller fences, which allow should be thicker and build sound buffers. At the end of the trail build railings or have a zig and zag feature.
I think the more people using it would be deter crime. Also would help to have police and community patrols on bikes. Remind persons not to litter, slow down, act as crossing guards during school hours.
Just put stop signs for the cars where the trail crosses the road. Problem solved.
"Even simpler" is right - stop signs might work. But the "simple" solutions are not what we get. Look at the Channing/Webster intersection. If there is indeed a crossing problem there(??) why not
put a 4-way stop instead of a confusing 2-way stop with flashing
I'll bet almost all 70 complainers ars like Sheri Furman who live along the creek.
Whiners just dont want a path built behind there homes. LOL instead of being honest and saying they dont, they come up with all these excuses.
I live in midtown and I suport the original proposed route 100%
Sorry, not Matadero creek trail related. ;-)
Forgot to say: I live in Midtown and I whole heartedly hope the Matadero Creek Trail will become a reality. I've always thought it a shame the service road is gated and posted no-trespassing.
At the April 16 Midtown Residents meeting with Jaime et al the trail seemed to be presented as a done deal, much to the consternation of many in attendance. A few in the audience did make it clear that trail supporters were also present. My impression was that trail construction has more to do with bringing in funding for city employee salaries than usefulness for citizens. A pile of money sits there, and it's use it or lose it.
When days get short the creekside trail would legally close as early as 4:50pm (sunset). I'd expect that lighting would be the next request. And then improved lighting. Not clear whether it will be closed during heavy rain or high water.
To be honest, if I lived next to the proposed trail, I would also be concerned about the privacy and security issues. But at some point we have to start thinking as a community and not as patches of small interest groups. I would argue that if someone wanted to enter my house, a much easier way would be to come from the street side for easier access and easier escape route. If someone wanted to hurt himself by climbing the fence, I would argue that it is a personal decision and it should not bother me. If the creek rises, it would flood my house regardless of the trail or not. So, I would conclude that it is best to go along with the decision of the community and start enjoying the trail myself too! Life is too short to worry about these little issues.
I think this is classic over-reactive fear of the unknown.
"Safety is a major issue, they said... What measures need to be taken to prevent teenagers and kids who might be tempted to climb the railings and accidentally fall in?"
oh please. There are about a dozen existing crossings of Matadero Creek where someone could climb a railing and fall in. I've lived in Palo Alto about 35 years, and I don't recall a single instance of someone falling in to Matadero Creek. It would be a lot easier, and likely more dangerous, to run into the street from any sidewalk in town and get hit by a car. Should we build fencing along all the streets in town to mitigate this imminent threat? Contestants for the Darwin Awards have to accept responsibility for their actions.
I also think the concern of people jumping fences from the trail is overblown. Look at the crossings in google street view (eg Web Link) and you'll see that anyone who can jump a fence can easily get on that trail now. The only deterrent is to not be caught trespassing. More people on the trail would mean more security, as there would be more eyes and ears out there to observe sketchy behavior. A thief would have a much easier time coming by car, entering from the street into someone's side yard, than trying to lug their loot half a block along a public trail.
There appear to be about 42 residences whose back yards abut the proposed trail. I'm guessing that the article's "group of 70 residents, calling themselves the Concerned Midtown Residents" is a reference to the ~ 70 attendees at an April 16 MRA Meeting on the trail, with a summary of concerns at: Web Link (More generally, including the city's power point: Web Link I don't see an official city page for this project, probably because the funding is still pending approval.) I wasn't at that meeting, but I'm somewhat dubious as to the impartiality of this list. I know of at least one resident along the proposed trail who supports it, in addition to most of the comments above. Were no supporters at the meeting, or where their supportive comments simply not recorded for this document? In my experience, at first it is usually the riled up folk who bother coming to these meetings, while supporters sit back and figure "sounds good, the city's got it all in hand, no need to go to a meeting." Further, once the riled up folk get going and make their angry comments, it can be intimidating and takes a lot of courage to be the first person to speak up and voice support for a project. Even if others in the room share your view, you don't know that yet because no one has had the courage to say so.
A bit of history:
The Matadero Creek trail goes back at least to the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) process of the early 1990s, in which I was involved. For the advocates, it was a matter of dogma -- the notion of a bicycle trail in a park-like setting along a creek. I pointed out, repeatedly, that the trail segment in my neighborhood of Barron Park would require taking significant property from over 25 houses, and would probably require condemnation of 10-20 of those houses because the trail would either pass through the footprint of the house itself, or so close that it wouldn't provide normal zoning setbacks. None of this mattered to the advocates -- they were about to let facts or costs get in the way of their dogma.
When I tried to encourage them to consider having the route go up Matadero Avenue, which ranged from 0-700 feet away, with 200-300 feet being typical for most of the distance. The Matadero Ave route also provided superior connection to the regional bike path in Bol Park. This was rejected out of hand. An attitude of cost-is-no-object and utter dismissal of the impacts on the immediate residents prevailed.
I see a very similar thing happening here where many of the advocates are not willing to _consider_ a route that is 1-2 blocks from the creek ("Concerned Midtown Residents" above portrays this as moving the trail out of the Midtown neighborhood). These streets tend to be very low traffic (constraint imposed by the creek), they can be used 24 hours (vs the limited hours of a trail along the creek), they share existing/improved pavement and lighting with the streets. One of the problems for bicyclists is debris on the pavement. Although I have had my share of problems with debris in streets, my experience has been that many dedicated paths are worse. Streets not only get the normal street sweeping (I have advocated enhance surface maintenance at various Bike Plan meetings, to little avail) but also often get taken care of by the nearby residents (it is where they walk, drive, park). Will the creek-side bike path be wide enough to accommodate routine cleaning by the City? Much of the cleaning of the Bol Park regional bike path is done by civic-minded individuals who plan it to be part of their regular walks. With a path that is between back fences and a concrete culvert is not a pleasant walk such as in Bol Park -- Will it inspire similar care? But I guess why worry about details when you have the comfort of dogma?
I always thought that creekside access, especially where there are paths already, would improve the quality of the neighborhoods. I live close to the path and would love to be able to walk my dogs on a path such as the one being proposed. I am very much supportive of the original plan !
The creek trail is a wonderful plan and please city staff do not cave in to a few residents who don't want this for whatever reason. We will all benefit from making our city more walkable and accessible along these corridors. Mitigate impacts and address safety and move on with the plan!
The path has always been there and access for those who want it for illegal reasons will not change. It has always made sense to me that one day those paths would be open to public access so no big surprise.
Of course something has to and will be done to making street crossings, particularly Middlefield, safer. Zigzag barriers is one idea as long as it doesn't hinder to the extent that bike trailers, etc. can't use them.
Let's get this done and make bike travel safer - particularly for school children who often ride several miles to get to Paly and Gunn.
Not too surprising that the NIMBY folks are out in force.
The creek access bikeway is an awesome idea. The more options we have for avoiding the roadways...and connecting us with the creeks...the better.
As far as the mid-block crossings...you can make these safer with speed bumps (already present at many locations) and in-street flashers (like on Fabian).
This is a small footprint answer. Lets do it NOW!
The same concerns were expressed by residents near the Los Gatos Creek trail and the Steven's Creek Trail. There are statistics that show crime and vandalism did not increase. If I remember correctly they decreased due to increased activity. Property value increased also.
The few disadvantages of living right on the trail are sacrifices we make for living in a Community.
"Safety is a major issue, they said."
B.S. This is a simple case NIMBY.
The Creek right-of-way is public property and should be used in the best interests of the community - a community walk and bike path. DONE.
Just build the trail. All will be fine.
Who are these people that object and why do they claim to be speaking for midtown? If Sheri Forman is one of them, she should step down as neighborhood leader, since I do not think she has checked to see what the residents really want.
This is typical for palo alto--- we talk about walk able neighborhoods , yet NIMBYs turn 2 centers to housing, mainly. We talk about biking-- and NIMBYs object to this bike trail. Nothing new here.
I want vast changes in Palo Alto...as long as they occur in YOUR neighborhood. Nimby's have got to go. Build the trail for all of Palo Alto.
I would like to have more bike paths sheltered from cars but there are valid arguments against the Matadero Creek path which should be addressed.
Cleaning the path would be an issue. A decomposed granite surface doesn't make the pickup of broken bottles and trash easy. Will the path quickly become usable only by mountain bikes and pedestrians? The issue about a secluded path and safety for both the path users and residents is valid. If problems occur will the path be closed or turned into a "lighted freeway"? Is this just a test case or a toehold to build an asphalt pathway? Crossing residential streets safely should be addressed. The bike path needs more answers than are given in the article.
I don't think there is anything wrong with NIMBY. If a proposed change will cause damage to adjacent neighbors it ultimately hurts the neighborhood. Address the issues don't just thoughtlessly shout NIMBY.
Thank you Jeff for your thoughtful comment. We shouldn't forget to be moderate on a project that doesn't have only positive impact. Let's think also about the safety of our children and ourselves. I don't believe that a single bump or stop sign will be safer enough to avoid accidents on Middlefield at 8:00am while kids are biking to school. Even if the car stops, kids are kids and they don't pay attention all the time.
Crossing 6 mostly busy roads on a trail that will be little longer than a mile is a concern.
And I haven't read that the city has the budget to put red lights on main street (Middlefield) or having a guard during busy hours.
Please, let's try to stay respectful to each other.
I live a block from Matadero Creek where I walk and bike frequently. I have major concerns about the safety of street crossings for the proposed path. I often walk from one side of the street to the other to view the creek and wait patiently for cars passing well in excess of 25 mph even though most are a half block from a stop sign (except for Middlefield where you take your life in your hands crossing mid-block).
The flashing lights on Fabian work well because they are coupled with adult pedestrians who look both ways, not kids or bike riders. If the path had a zigzag at the beginning and end of each block of the path, it would make it safer but on a bike I would choose a street over that inconvenience. An aesthetic aside: On the blocks near me, the creek wall is so high you can't see over it so it's much more scenic walking and riding down a tree-lined paved street than between a cement wall and backyard fences on gravel.
I hope the Feasibility Study looks closely at the safety issues including the impact of stop signs, speed bumps, traffic circles and flashing signals on traffic and safety compared to East Meadow and Loma Verde.
It is time to use common sense. A trail that inludes bike improvements also allows traffic engineering for safety. Wouldn't this project then improve safety on these streets of the original proposed trail?
And it seems the homes that now have tresspasers would get a clean route that may raise their property value. Cleaning up areas like STerling Park trail has only improved the area for joggers, landowners by the CIty taking the lead in maintining areas that were left untouched,
Lets not keep on improving the same routes the city needs to focus their efforts for a diverse connected bike network.
Louis is a oonnector road that allows buses and trucks. Is Louis the best route for kids. Really?
I walk every day in the neighborhood of where the Matadero creek crosses under Greer, Louis, and Ross. I regularly cross these streets at mid-block. I frequently drive on Middlefield Road where the planned bike/pedestrian crossing would occur. My concern for safety is not a NIMBY one at all, but it is palpable.
Short of real stop signs or lights, it is implausible that traffic will reliably stop for walkers or bikers crossing these streets mid-block. The speed limits are a joke. Most cars drive at least ten mph faster. Many drivers on these roads don't stop at stop signs. Given flashing lights and street striping, most drivers will slow down and look around, but the real issue is kids riding bikes and approaching these mid-street crossings. Will they reliably stop and look both ways before crossing all these streets?
Alternatives that use streets that already have stop signs or lights should be seriously considered as part of the project, not for NIMBY reasons but for common-sense reasons. Being distracted by NIMBY arguments misses the point. The real danger is so many mid-street crossings. It is imperative that the feasibility study consider alternatives so that the mid-street crossing danger is taken seriously and not just wished away.
Build it already! as for the street crossings, put speed bumps on either side of the trail crossing. Big speed bumps. : )
There is a wonderful bike trail from Santa Rosa to Occidental--it passes through residential areas and crosses major roads, among them SR 116. It's an asset to west Sonoma county and can be used for commuting.
The concern of mid-block crossings has been raised in the Bicycle Advisory Committee (PABAC) since the beginning, and staff has indicate that appropriate safety measures would be evaluated, if they get funding for this project. Greer, Louis, Ross, Cowper and Waverly are much calmer than Middlefield. Middlefield is an entirely different beast: four lanes with higher volumes and speeds.
The problems of crossing Middlefield have been a concern for years, probably decades. The Winter Lodge ice rink, tennis courts, various businesses, Hoover Park, The Keys School and Hoover School before that, are all draws for residents to cross Middlefield in the middle of a half-mile stretch between signalized intersections with cross walks. Nearby residents seeking to cross are faced with the choice of a half-mile detour to get to a safe crossing, or waiting for a break in traffic to dart across four lanes of fast traffic.
Perhaps implementing this trail segment will be what finally brings a solution to this long-standing safety concern.
I like this concept. I think most of the concerns raised here probably could be addressed with a good plan. Let's give the city engineers a chance to respond to the concerns raised at this initial outreach meeting. It's a early to pan a plan that hasn't been formed yet.
"Let's give the city engineers a chance to respond to the concerns raised at this initial outreach meeting."
This is unwise. They have repeatedly demonstrated that they have their own agenda and are impervious to public concerns, including those of the majority of bicycle riders.
For example, during the development of the current Bike Plan, the plan for routing bikes heading up Hamilton to the U Ave underpass was to have them turn left onto Alma and then turn left off across Alma. Multiple residents and Planning Commissioners pointed out to them it would be safer to route the bicyclists down High Street. The dangerous routing stayed in the plan because of a combination of a desire to put bicyclists on busy arterials and the special design elements that that justifies. Simple, safer routes just seem to be too boring for the traffic engineers.
For those unfamiliar with how the process on such projects actually works, the Arastradero Restriping Trial is illustrative. The stages were:
1. Promise that the project won't produce any cut-through traffic.
2. When the project produces cut-through traffic (25% increase on Maybell, a Safe-Routes-To-Schools street), deny its existence (all-but treating it as a mass delusion by the many residents observing the problem).
3. Say that despite the promise, no reasonable person would have believed that there wouldn't be a substantial cut-through traffic.
4. Claim that no data had been collected that would allow for the problem to be quantified.
5. Claim that data _had_ been collected and that it shows that the increase in traffic was due to other effects, not the project. Ignore that the data presented contradicts the interpretation presented.
6. Acknowledge that a significant problem has been created, but decide to go ahead with the project anyway. Say that you will explore doing an undetermined something in the indefinite future to fix the problem created. Ignore questions about whether there are any credible methods to achieve such a fix. Ignore questions about whether the problems created outweigh the benefits of the project.
I'm not sure what you're talking about, Doug. You probably mean Lytton not Hamilton. The bike/ped plan is at Web Link, with the proposed network on page 6-3. While there are proposals for Sharrows (Share the Road Arrows) on parts of Alma downtown, I think these are more a reflection of the reality that, for all its flaws, there are commute cyclists that ride on Alma for legitimate reasons and their safety should be addressed. There are bike lanes on Alma north of Lytton.
The page after the map has notes 1 and 3 which address circulation around Homer/University/Alma/CalTrain.
Staff has recently talked of wanting to put a sidewalk along the west side of Alma from the CalTrain station to the Homer tunnel, because many train commuters walk/bike along the edge of Alma to get to that tunnel, so this would get them off the roadway. (However, vegetation there could make it difficult to implement.)
Cedric: Thank you -- Yes I did mean Lytton, not Hamilton. My example was from the Plan as it went through the formal approval process -- public workshops, hearings before the Planning Commission... -- as illustrative of how input from the general public is ignored/dismissed. Whether/how the Plan has change since is irrelevant that aspect (the futility of public participation).
Doug has it right. The outcomes are basically predetermined. The public process is largely for effect. Projects may or may not carry out stated objectives and are not subject to evaluation against any accepted standards. Done. Let's move on to the next project.
The proposed Matadero Creek Trail will be sandwiched between two fences, adjacent to Matadero Creek's unsightly, weed-covered, concrete flood control ditch.
From my perspective, this proposed trail is a luxury and not a necessity. I believe that there are far more beneficial projects on which the City can spend its money than this trail.
There are alternative, near-by, and more scenic bicycle routes that would produce similar benefits to the community at far less cost, and without the many negative aspects of the currently proposed Trail.
Personally, I do not want the City to:
• spend money on a bicycle trail Feasibility Study that may:
o not truly be objective,
o not evaluate viable alternatives to the currently proposed Trail
Solution: City must ensure that the requirements for the Feasibility Study are objective and multiple alternatives are evaluated
• spend $1 million or more on construction of Phase 1 of a bicycle/pedestrian trail along Matadero Creek if there is a similarly beneficial alternate trail that can be constructed at a far lower cost
• incur incremental annual expenses on trail maintenance and policing, if an alternate route would not require such spending
• add a traffic light on Middlefield Road and speed bumps or stop signs on streets that cross the trail, which will likely be necessary to increase user safety (may not be necessary for alternate routes)
• erode the property value and reduce the privacy of homes along the trail
• incur additional liability for accidents that may occur on the trail
Let's ensure that we spend our City budget wisely and not on an unnecessary, expensive trail, when more cost effective alternatives are likely available.
I would love and use such a trail. Seems like such a waste where there is already a road along the creek that can't be used.
Creekside bike/ped trails are nice, but this creek is too small to make it practical. The San Tomas Aquino Trail is wonderful, with a wide path that goes under all the bridges but allows people to enter/exit at every crossing if they want. Matadero Creek is just too small for this. As Cedric pointed out, even the bike committee has serious reservations about it.
Google Maps (and other providers) can provide some useful perspectives on what is possible.
For example, this map is centered on the crossing at Louis Road. The access road is on the northwest (top) side of the creek culvert. To the north of Louis, notice the maintenance ramp from the access road down into the culvert (ramps in some other locations are on the other side of the culvert, for example at Middlefield). This ramp pinches the surface level road to be _very_ narrow. While this is not a problem for pedestrians or normal bicyclists, it is a barrier for equipment that might be used to clean the trail (for example, broken bottles).
Overhead Map: Web Link
Streetview facing down the culvert (east to the bay) showing the ramp into the culvert: Web Link
Streetview facing up the culvert (west): Web Link
The last is what many people think of as being the state of the access road for its entire length, forgetting the exceptions and the not-quite segments.
I signed the petition that is the subject at hand. I don't live along the creek and, having lived elsewhere the past 5 years, have not been previously involved with this topic. The petition requests revision of a draft RFP being circulated by CPA. This RFP is for a feasability study; environmental analysis; and development of plans, specs, and engineering estimates for what is being called "Matadero Creek Trail". The petition came to me in the form of 2 documents: aredline of the existing RFP; and a summary of the requested changes.
The petition asks that the title be changed from "Matadero Ck. Trail" to "Midtown East-West Bike/Ped Route", to be more inclusive of alternatives that aren't in or near the creek. At this early stage, that seems appropriate to me.
I felt the petition did a good job of suggesting alternative, roughly parallel east-west routes. Since a stated purpose of the feasability study is "to determine the community-preferred alignment of a new off-road trail along the banks of Matadero Ck, or nearby parallel routes between Alma and 101," having specific community-suggested alternatives in the document seemed reasonable to me. Are any of these routes good ones? I don't know. Let's find out.
I also felt the petition did a good job of delineating specific safety concerns. Since another stated purpose of the feasability study is to rate relative safety of each alternate route, having specific community safety concerns outline in the document seemed reasonable. People often express safety concerns that when evaluated objectively are shown to be invalid.
If this effort in NIMBYism, then it has been very neatly disguised as reasonable, appropriate community input early in the planning phase of a significant piece of infrastructure.
Doug Moran said that a very narrow pathway "is not a problem for pedestrians or normal bicyclists". There are engineering standards for two-way shared bike/ped paths that require at least 8 feet of width, plus clearance to obstacles/hazards such as walls, posts and signs. Compliance with these safety standards is a requirement for all sources of public funding. You can build a facility that does not meet these standards, but you need to pay for it with private funds (the Stanford money might work) and you will open yourself to liability claims if anyone ever gets hurt there.
I strongly recommend complying with all engineering and safety standards, which makes it nearly impossible to build the envisioned trail along Matadero Creek.
Public Comments from the City's website (Web Link):
Consider safety & privacy in feasibility study
Make purpose/extent (benefit) project goals clear. Define objective for project.
Sound wall at Winder Lodge should stay.
How is the feasibility framed? Look at alternatives.
Children to Middlefield. No easy access from midtown shopping center.
What is the demand? Partial strategy of route. Gauge demand for local study. What is the final demand number?
Who is the intended user?
What are the other solutions? What are the goals or costs? Mixing ped and bicycles is more dangerous.
What is the alternative or other option?
Most children go to JLS
Midtown shops - bicycle access (ride on sidewalk). Make it safer.
Why wasn't there better noticing? Why does RFP only show creek alignment?
Can we enter the minutes into the public record?
Change the title of RFP.
Robbery problem in the area. Jumping fence. What about Trail curfew?
What is the extent of the project? Is it a citywide trail system or local trail?
Bike/pedestrian on same path is dangerous.
Opposed to lighting. Opposed to 24 hour access.
Observation: staff is overselling. What is the objective of this trail
Who will close the gates?
Intersection crossings are dangerous
Liability to City must make safe
What is demand for use of trail.
Building half trail/build to hypothetical routes is an issue
What is Maintenance cost/Cost to the City - to build the trail
Bridge over Matadero should connect to Sterling Canal
What about Cal Ave underpass?
The most dangerous condition is freeway. Take money to go under freeway.
What will happen w the zig zag of the creek?
Crosswalks provide illusion of safety. Creek is ugly. Not really a creek.
Just because we have the money, do we have to spend it?
Potential property devaluation.
Don't feel safe w the bedroom windows near trail.
Scared for community and kids. Safety of creek. Bike accident where people fly in air. Lit cigarette is fire hazard. Privacy.
Midtown crime alley. Romantic notion of a trail.
Need alternative route to compare to.
Who will monitor/lock gate nightly? Should work with Police.
Change title to Matadero Flood Control (not creek trail)
This is a Bridge to nowhere (nowhere to nowhere)
Crossing freeway is dangerous.
Use this money on Adobe Creek Bridge
Community input based alternative should be part of feasibility study
Intersection crossing are dangerous..
Address/propose safety concerns at intersections
Trails should be policed
Call it East/West Midtown trail
Cross-walks at busy intersection are very dangerous not a good solution. Esp Loma Verde & Colorado crossing.
Matadero Creek is concrete bed and ugly, not aesthetic
Provide Alternate/parallel to route on Matadero Creek
Provide off-road trail vs on-road trail Provide purpose
Identify objective of project
City is spending money to have dangerous crossing at intersections
Citizens have to add crime protection because of trail project
Pavement will make skateboarders use trail at all hours/night.
Water get very high in winter dangerous for kids
Kids sit on wall, bicyclists could fall off and onto the creek
Littering onto residents' houses a concern.
Privacy Passerbys will look into houses
Bedroom windows are near path
When detractors of any project are immediately labeled NIMBY's, and the supporters claim to be forward thinking visionaries, but no dissent is tolerated thank you, I'll refer you to our dim witted Governor who's only comment about the flailing bay bridge project, one of his favorite visionary projects, is that "sh*t happens", and p.s., stop asking questions Web Link .
I don't live by the creek, but I would not want it foisted on anyone, especially when it seems to be a done deal from the start.
The Bryant St bike boulevard was planned to be a through route with as few stops as possible. This Matadero Ck route will stop every couple of blocks, then care must be taken to cross sidewalk-street-sidewalk mid-block. If phase 1 is implemented from Waverley to Greer, the next phase from Waverley to Alma will have to go through the private residence at Waverley St that currently blocks the route.
Totally misleading headline.
"VAST MAJORITY OF MIDTOWN RESIDENTS URGE COUNCIL TO APPROVE PROPOSED TRAIL"
Facts are that the vast majority of those of us who live in midtown really DO want the trail...and that a few outrageous NIMBY tyrants want to speak for us.
Let me be clear.
MOST MIDTOWN RESIDENTS REALLY DO WANT THIS TRAIL CONSTRUCTED.
Truly LOVE the idea of this trail.
Any bike route that minimizes bike/car interaction is truly beneficial to the huge number of kids who bike on our streets.
The street crossings are not that difficult to work through. Just use speed bumps like that are already on Louis and Ross Roads.
This is an amazing opportunity to take advantage of an otherwise unused pathway through the city.
BTW...kids already hang out in these creeks and the additional traffic would not make this an attractive space for mischief.
My home backs up onto the creek and proposed trail.
I wholeheartedly agree with "Happy Trails".
As it stands now, the only users of the creek appear to be great herons and ducks (as a constant stream of suspect teens).
Please move forward with the proposed trail with all due speed.
Note from MRA Website:
"Note: MRA is neither supporting nor opposing the Matadero Creek Trail project, but simply facilitating the dissemination of information."
Notes from MRA Matadero Creek Trail Meeting April 16, 2013 (Web Link):
Presentation by Jaime Rodriquez
•Want to hear what should be included in feasibility study, so a better scope of work can be prepared.
•Matadero Creek Trail is part of the city bicycle/pedestrian Transportation Plan; E-W from 101 to Alma. Want to connect it to the Bryant Bike Boulevard.
•Bike plans were approved in July, 2012.
•Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) on't allow lighting along the trail, so it won't be a 24-hour trail. Curfew required by SCVWD.
•City will have to maintain path instead of SCVWD.
•City committed to feasibility study when applying for a grant for the trail; City pays for study.
•9 months to complete feasibility study.
•If the project isn't feasible, City won't get grant money.
•In response to multiple resident concerns around safety, privacy, crime, etc. City agreed that MITIGATION could be discussed earlier, and put into the FEASIBILITY STUDY. County grant kicks in after the feasibility study, with local match.
•Jaime agreed to incorporate community feedback into the draft RFP.
•Most had never heard of project.
•Why didn't City notify residents sooner?
•I never got a personal letter, even when a house is built near me I get a letter.
•Jaime: Part of Pedestrian and Bike Transportation Plan. Multiple meetings, and much advertisement. In WEEKLY and in Utility bills.
•Jaime: Feasibility study will happen. Cost is $100,000.
•Estimated project cost is $2.5 million; grant is $1.5 million.
•Stanford is paying for the Stanford Perimeter Trail. The Grant for the project came from Santa Clara County, which pays for the Matadero Creek Trail.
•How much more money will this cost (e.g. maintenance, monitoring)?
•What are objectives? Need to know in order to determine the best way to spend the money.
•Need a conceptual framework, value proposition.
•Jaime: The bike plan wanted off-road trails. People probably didn't think of streets needing to be crossed.
•There needs to be demonstrated demand for the specific trail at issue which hasn't yet been proven.
•RFP seems to be only looking at the Matadero creekside alignment.
•It feels like the City is spending money just because we have it via the $1.5 million grant and there's a "use it or lose it" attitude.
•The project is a "bridge to nowhere."
•Strategy to build part of trail and hope for the rest is a FLAWED strategy. The concept being publicized is a bike route that extends from Alma to the Baylands. However, we only have funding for a limited part of this trail. Assessment of demand and the feasibility study should be based on the more limited plan for which we have conditional funding.
•Should use money to figure out how to safety cross under 280 on Page Mill.
•Feasibility study should be more about soliciting community input. Ask "is this a good way of spending money?"
•Many feel we are stuck with Jaime's vision.
•What is the purpose of the trail? Safety? Aesthetics?
•City is OVERSELLING this.
•According to Jaime, all of the "community" has equal weight in the decision.
•Need alternatives. To have alternatives you must have objectives.
•Thinking of alternatives to the path is critical.
•Concerns for connections to the Midtown Center.
•More important to get overpasses over Alma.
•Consider a bridge over Matadero to connect the Sterling Canal trail from Greer to Loma Verde.
•Must have alternative routes. Project should be called the East-West Midtown Trail because calling it the Matadero Creek Trail limits what's looked at.
•There's a need for some sort of east-west connection, but not along the creek.
•Jaime: The feasibility study will look at alternate routes.
Usage / Aesthetics
•The maintenance path is a trail in name only.
•There is nothing aesthetic about walking along the creek, which is actually a culvert. Not a place where folks would go for a stroll
•The idea of a trail is a romantic notion, but it's really an alley way.
•Aesthetics: "Path" is UGLY space is between concrete wall and fence.
Safety / Crime
•Consider City's liability; need to understand demand for trail; what are the real costs of maintenance?
•Is the city and SCVWD prepared to bear the additional liability of any deaths or injuries due to this? People may sue the city and SCVWD if they get hurt because the city opened up the creek banks to public access.
•Who will close the path at night?
•Who will monitor fences, graffiti, curfew, etc.?
•Jaime: Feasibility study will include working with PAPD on safety issues.
•Many concerns about trail crossing streets, particularly mid-block. Study must include safety issues.
•Pedestrians and bicycles not safe for both on same trail.
•Path will be less safe than areas along the street.
•Concerns about bikes crossing streets, especially during rush hour traffic and near El Carmelo. Crosswalks are not adequate.
•A former bicycle safety coordinator at El Carmelo school argued that the bicycle trail could give an illusion of safety, just as crosswalks near schools often given an illusion of safety. Just because there is a crosswalk or a designated bike trail doesn't mean that the route is safer. In fact, it may be more dangerous as it gives the illusion of safety.
•At night it will be the Midtown Crime Alley.
•Who is going to patrol and make sure no one is on path at night?
•People will have to get burglar alarms for their homes.
•If paved, the skate boarders will use this... I already have problems after 10PM with skateboarder noise.
•Skate boards could flip in, sometimes bikes accidents happen when bikes fly into the air...they could go into the creek.
•Who will be using the trail? Teenagers at night.
•Our property - back yard - is very secluded. The kids go around with no clothes. I am very worried about people going by my property. They could see my kids, it is easy to jump over the fence.
•I fear people who smoke might flip a cigarette into my yard and we could have a fire.
•When one considers all the factors, I am scared...there is a whole host of things not considered.
•In the winter when the water is high, it is very dangerous. People will die. kids sit on the ledge. They could fall in or be pushed.
•Install speed bumps and stop lights - not popular with residents.
•Bikes coming out of the blind path - cars won't see them, a disaster waiting to happen.
•Safety and flooding are big concerns.
•This is a bad project with a half a dozen dangerous intersections.
•As a biker, I wouldn't cross mid-block on Middlefield. I always cross at the light.
•Almost everyone in attendance thinks the plan is not a good idea.
•This isn't a green project...people would have to add things.
•The concrete lining of the creek is likely to amplify noise.
•Concerns for property values. One person also mentioned that her house was her sole asset and the devaluation of property values would prevent her from getting loans.
•There is a petition to STOP this project.
•Several people want minutes of this meeting to compare what was talked about to the RFP. City reminds us that this is a COMMUNITY project, not just Midtown. Sheri Furman reminded group that the RFP is on the MRA website.
•Jaime: Will update the RFP based on tonight's comments.
•Suggestion that people should email the City Council with concerns if they are worried about the concerns not getting into the public record.
•Sheri Furman clarified role of MRA provide information and conversation, not advocacy (even though she herself as a Matadero neighbor has her own concerns).
•MRA will continue to work with the City.
Send email to email@example.com.
Or to City Council, or to MRA (on website)
1. Safety of Trail Users
a. Incredibly dangerous trail especially for children
b. Crosses Many Streets with Dangerous Traffic
- Waverley, Cowper, Middlefield, Ross, Louis, Greer
- The trail will create numerous blind intersections (at least 6), where car drivers cannot see a bicyclist emerging abruptly onto the street, and vice versa. (Can't see past the barrier.)
- As noted by a resident who has served as a "Bicycle Safety Coordinator" for many years, a crosswalk creates a mere illusion of safety. It is even more dangerous to have a crosswalk, where children think they are safe (but aren't). It is safer for children to be aware that there is dangerous traffic and thus look for a gap in the traffic before crossing.
- At minimum, making these street crossings safer requires installing a new traffic signal (at Middlefield), new stop signs (at all other street crossings), and speed bumps on the neighborhood arteries of Waverley, Cowper, Ross, Louis, and Greer. Does the Midtown community support all of these changes and the extra congestion they will cause? Also, all of this will add to the total project cost. Does the city have money?
c. Middlefield Crossing Especially Dangerous Traffic
- Trail will have to cross 4 lanes of fast, heavy traffic in a commercial district (Safeway, Winter Lodge, Samyama Yoga Studio, 7-11, Round Table Pizza, Starbucks, church, other restaurants and shops.) Cars entering and exiting a busy commercial district pose a substantial danger to bicyclists and pedestrians.
- A flashing beacon is not enough. A new traffic signal will be necessary. Does the city have money for the additional cost of a new traffic signal?
d. Unique Creek Hazards Fall into Creek (Low Wall)
- Need to add protective railings (ugly eyesore). Will protective railings across the entire length of the trail restrict the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) maintenance team's access to the creek from the creek's banks?
- Teenagers and children will be tempted to climb onto the creek wall or railing (e.g., sit there). They could accidentally fall in. Residents have already observed some teenagers climbing on top of the creek wall. Opening up this trail will open up the floodgates.
- Trail users might even be accidentally thrown into the creek by the impact of a collision between two bicyclists or a bicyclist and a pedestrian (e.g., fly into the air).
- During the wintertime, when the creek swells and rushes with much more water, falling into the creek will be especially deadly (drownings).
- Is the city and SCVWD prepared to bear the additional liability of any deaths or injuries due to this? People will definitely sue the city and SCVWD if they get hurt because the city opened up the creek banks to public access.
e. Mixing Bicyclists and Pedestrians on the Same, Narrow Trail is Dangerous
- Usually, pedestrians walk on sidewalks and bicyclists ride in bike lanes. When you mix the two, there are no rules. In an accident, the bicyclist usually wins and the pedestrian usually gets hurt. The city is affirmatively creating the opportunity for bicyclist + pedestrian accidents.
- This is particularly important as the proposed trail runs along a narrow access road with walls/fences on both sides.
2. Safety of Pedestrians on Sidewalks Perpendicular to the Trail
- Bicycles will be directly crossing heavily walked sidewalks at Waverley, Cowper, Middlefield, Ross, Louis, and Greer.
- The trail will create numerous blind intersections (at least 6), where pedestrians on the sidewalk cannot see a bicyclist emerging abruptly onto the sidewalk, and vice versa. (Can't see past the barrier.)
- Bicycles will likely hit pedestrians (especially since pedestrians expect bicycles at street intersections, not in the middle of sidewalks).
3. Crime Safety of Residents
a. Easy Access for Criminals
- Thieves and burglars will have easy access to many residents' backyards.
- Burglars breaking in through backyards will not be visible from the street.
- If city builds a chain link fence, that will help burglars climb over residents' fences. (Chain link fence gives footholds and handholds like giving them a ladder.)
- In past years, when creek access was easier (low gates), break-ins occurred from backyards at houses along the creek.
- Visual access into private yards will be possible through many residents' existing fences (gaps between fence planks).
- Burglars could "scope out" houses for opportunities to break-in.
- Will the city pay for more secure, higher fences for all creek residents?
b. Will the trail be safely secured at night?
- Jaime Rodriguez stated that the SCWD has demanded a curfew for the trail, with no lights at night. But how will the curfew be enforced?
- Will the city hire someone to close numerous access gates (at least 10) at night, on each of the multiple segments of the trail?
- Will the access gates be as high as the ones currently in place? Low gates that are easy to jump over will not be enough.
- What type of people might sneak into the trail at night? (Illegal activities like drug use?)
- Crime alley.
c. Difficulty of Policing
- How often will city police inspect the narrow corridor, especially at night? Does the city have money for such extra policing costs?
4. Lack of a Value Proposition
a. Lack of demonstrated demand for this specific proposal
- In the abstract, everyone would like "more bike trails." But if you explained to people that this specific proposal is for a short path, next to a concrete creek, interrupted at every block by dangerous traffic crossings, with numerous blind intersections, far fewer people would want to use it.
- Community demand for this proposal has been limited to a few meetings held in 2012 discussing a variety of bike proposals. No documentation has been provided as to how representative attendance was (in fact, almost no attendees at the 4/16/13 Midtown Residents' Association meeting attended these 2012 meetings), how strong the community support was, or how many people were even in attendance. The Palo Alto Matadero Creek Trail was discussed in general terms without specifics. Accurately assessing demand requires disclosure of the specifics of the proposal. This project should only proceed with convincing and documented proof of its demand.
- Community demand must be assessed based on the specific proposal at hand, which currently begins at Bryant Street and ends at Greer Road, not for a longer trail that includes an underpass at Alma and an underpass at 101 to the Baylands.
- There are serious obstacles to the longer trail, such as the private home (over $2 million) blocking the trail at Waverley and the very high cost (many millions) of the Alma and 101 underpasses.
- Demand for this short trail should be assessed on its face and not in conjunction with the mere possibility of a more extensive trail which depends on the availability of uncertain funding. Otherwise, the project risks being a trail that is not useful by itself. No wise city built a train line to an empty lot in the hopes that an airport would be built to make the train line useful.
b. Midtown is already very bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly
- Bicyclists already use quiet side streets for biking, including daily commuting to work.
c. Already a bike/pedestrian 101 overpass at Oregon Expressway, very close nearby
- Why do we need multiple "bridges" to the Baylands, all within such a short distance?
d. Ugly trail with little aesthetic appeal (next to concrete creek walls, plus railings)
- Walking next to a concrete ditch is not a pleasant experience. This is not a scenic creek with natural ground banks. It is not a nature experience.
- People would rather stroll along Midtown's tree-lined sidewalks. Few people will use this concrete trail.
- This would be very different from the Stevens Creek Trail. The Matadero Creek maintenance road is narrow and runs directly next to a concrete barrier and private fences abutting backyards. The Steven's Creek Trail is located in a much wider space, and its paved path does not abut private backyards.
Deep Flaws in Draft RFP for Feasibility Study
a. No specific alternatives are offered. A fundamental principle in project design is to weigh the proposal against specific alternatives.
- Residents have suggested possible alternatives.
b. No clear objectives are stated.
c. Misleading title
- The title "Matadero Creek Trail" is misleading and implies a scenic trail. A more accurate name is "Matadero Flood Control Trail."
d. Overly restrictive title and scope
- The title "Matadero Creek Trail" is overly narrow and prevents consideration of alternatives. Residents suggested "Midtown East-West Trail" and Jaime Rodriguez agreed (i.e., Jaime said, "Looks like we've found our new name.").
- Scope of RFP should be much broader.
e. No cost-benefit analysis is requested.
f. RPF should require estimation of ongoing maintenance costs (and confirm that the city has the budget for such costs).
As a former resident of the midtown neighborhood who walked or biked to and from school daily, I'd like to add my opinion.
I was approached with intent of harassment by a man in his 30's -40's when I was ten years old on my way home from school. He asked if I had a boyfriend, asked if I had ever been kissed, could he have a kiss, would I like to come with him? I told him NO.
I felt paralyzed by fear: I knew I should run, but I couldn't. He left when a neighbor stepped out of a nearby home and waved.
I never told my parents, or anyone else, but I did change my route to school. I am forever grateful to that neighbor.
I wonder what the situation would have been like if had I been walking on a trail with fence on one side and concrete on the other, and no friendly neighbor to wave hello?
Do we want to set up an easy-prey situation?
Lack of Due Process and No Community Notice
a. Many residents expressed outrage and shock at not being notified about this proposal by the city's transportation officials.
- The city is already far along in the process. It has already secured $1.5 million in funding specifically earmarked for this trail. The $1.5 million grant is "use it or lose it." The Feasibility Study appears to be about how to implement the trail, not whether to implement the trail.
- No evidence of direct community outreach to the Midtown neighborhoods or residents whom will be most directly impacted by the trail.
b. Why weren't residents living right next to the proposed creek trail notified via mail, postcard, flyers, or signs?
- A "Notice of Proposed Construction" is required whenever there is a proposal to construct or renovate a private home in the neighborhood. In this case, the proposal is to construct a public trail (in which citizens should have more say), but why did residents receive even less (no) notice?
c. Most residents only learned about the proposed trail (which will go right next to their backyards) through the grassroots efforts of private residents not by the city's transportation officials.
Preview of coming expenditure on Middlefield crossing traffic signal: Web Link (Mtn View Voice)
"The [Mountain View] City Council voted Tuesday to move ahead on a $400,000 crosswalk and stoplight project along the Permanente Creek trail at Charleston Road, where no crossing currently exists."
If you have concerns about the proposed trail, please email ConcernedAboutTrail@gmail.com.
The city's Matadero Creek Trail Project page is here: Web Link, and includes contact information for questions/comments/complaints/support.
One of my hopes with this project is that by getting people walking along our creeks, and observing the birds and fish who eek out a living along its concrete channel, it will build support for restoring our creeks.
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