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on Mar 18, 2014
These new bicycle routes are a small investment for the huge improvement in bicycle and pedestrian safety for our children. This is especially important in southern Palo Alto where speeding cars are a much bigger problem than in northern Palo Alto. Thank you to the city council for their wisdom in continuing this project.
Until bicyclists of all ages actually observe the traffic laws, safety will continue to be a big concern. And Greer, really? Does every street have to have half of itself devoted to bikes?
I was there. It was interesting. The number of people who stood in support was closer to 40 or 50. The assemblage represented a broad spectrum of community support--kids, work commuters, recreational bicyclists, seniors, middle-aged men and women--walkers and bicyclists. It was a good representative sample of a broad range of people who are increasingly turning to foot-powered transportation like walking and bicycling for at least some of their daily trips.
Thank you , City Council, for creating a safe place on the street for people who want to walk and bike. Not everyone can walk or bike all of the time (I can't always.), but I am grateful to live in a city that supports safe facilities that enable me to walk and bike for most of my local trips.
Is there any traffic-calming that can be done for Embarcadaro? It appears that excessive speeding there is nearly universal, and I have seen many close-calls. There have also been several accidents of late. I feel you would have to be insane or have a death-wish to try to ride a bicycle along it even though it is a residential street. It seems to me that some effort at speed control there would be a good idea.
Sounds like a great meeting. Can someone tell me if there is a bicycle riders organization in Palo Alto that one can join to promote these initiatives? The story listed two individuals and Penny Ellson of the Palo Alto Council of PTAs Traffic Safety Committee. Is there any other relevant organization to affiliate with?
I support this project, and think the streets named above are good chocies. But I really question the need to spend $2 million on consultants on this project. I would very much like to see the justification for this consultant expenditure, and want to know specifically how that money is to be spent.
I also have to agree with Concerned Retiree about bicyclists observing traffic laws. I have had the misfortune a couple of times of being behind a bicyclist on Greer that seemed to purposely want to get into my way. I believe it was the same bicyclist each time, just different occasions. I saw him turn his head to see my approach, and then instead of moving to the side of the road to let me pass (there was lots of room) he moved out into the middle of the street and continued his slow (even for a bicycle) progress, trapping me behind him until the next intersection. This sort of discourtesy does not tend to endear motorists to bicyclists. It only takes a few idiots like this to make motorists not want to give bicyclists a break for fear of exposing themselves to this kind of abuse.
Second Comment: According to the Palo Alto police, in calendar year 2012 there were 32 collisions involving juvenile bicyclists. In 29/32 cases the bicyclist was at fault.
It seems to me that there may be some systematic bias in these 'at fault' designations, but I'd like to work with an organization of bicyclists to determine if my hunch is correct.
More safety is good - for everyone - but I live on Park and I agree with the comment above about bike riders need to pay attention to the rules of the road as much as anyone else - because I regularly observe riders, often traveling at reasonably high rates of speed, simple do not. And contrary to what appears official conventional wisdom in Palo Alto that all safety issues reside with cars and their drivers. I really do get the story the rider mentioned above at the meeting who showed off their dented helmet - because I have seen that happen - but, on the other hand please consider this: in front of own home my daughter was removing books from the back seat of our car when she struck by an athletic male rider and cut up badly. He go up, look down at her bleeding on the pavement, and promptly left the scene. We had to the emergency room where she had many stitches across her deeply cut face. I drive very carefully and slowly when there are bikes present when I return home. Before I turn right into my driveway I stop and look to see if a rider is approaching from behind. If there is, I wait idling in the car lane and out of the bike lane, until they pass. I do the same at stop signs in my neighborhood. But in front of my own home more than once as I waited for a rider to pass I have been sworn as they rode by, I suppose for being stopped in the street while I wait for them. So, there are two side of the story here. And it seems to me if we keep increasing "density" - especially office space and the commuters the bring - which seems to be a done and near-religious deal for "the new downtown" California Avenue area (But Gee, they'll all be taking the train and/or riding bikes won't they? Sure, keep dreaming...) the traffic and safety issue will just keep getting worse. It also seems that for more than a few riders, may of whom do drive cars, even to take their bikes to where they wish to start their rides - like into Stanford so they do not have to pay for parking - somehow become individual of a higher moral order than those driving the cars around them. Apologies for the long commentary, just another POV.
What part of STOP on a stop sign do bicyclists not understand. Just come to the corner of Newell and Northampton at 8am and 3pm during Jordan Middle School commute hours. Or Newell and North California at any hour when an adult is riding on California.
The cyclists you see breaking laws, are drivers that happen to just be using another vehicle.
Anyone NOT see horrific behaviors on the road daily by drivers? Aim at the biggest target if you're worried about safety, and that would be drivers, but if you just want to other guy to change to make your life easier...it aint gonna happen.
Its like complaining about a leak a very small levy while falling silent about the leak in the massive dam behind it.
To "Good - another POV" -- As a bicyclist, I appreciate that you are keeping an eye out for conflicts. From my point of view, I can stay safe best when drivers signal their intention and then take the appropriate action. If I were cycling behind you, and you signaled for a left (or right) turn, then I'll know what you are planning on, and stay out of your way. I personally would rather not pass you on the left before your planned left turn, and if you just stop in the middle of the street without signaling, that is confusing, too. This just happened to me last Friday on Ramona, with a car slowing, and halting in the middle of the traffic lane. After I slowed , then went way around on the left, he signaled left, and turned left into a driveway. That works, but to me it would have been easier if the driver had signaled left and turned left without waiting for me. I know there are some impatient cyclists and drivers out there, and some are jerks, so we just have to keep our eyes out, and try to drive our vehicles predictably.
Daniel Tuerk, what part of Maximum Speed Limit do drivers not understand and why doesn't that bother you?
+1 Robert, on cars not signalling. When did everyone decide to stop doing this? So lazy and so dangerous!!!
To Jared Bernstein - The Silicon Valley Bike Coalition (SVBC) has a "Palo Alto Team" that meets regularly to discuss and advocate on Palo Alto biking issues. Some of the people at the meeting last night were from that group, and others were encouraged to come through other grassroots community groups like neighborhood email lists and safe routes to schools organizers.
Jared Burnstein, I am not suprised that most car/bicycle collisions involving juveniles are mostly the juvenile's fault. Just go to a roller skating rink and watch the traffic flow. With the basic traffic counter-clockwise, watch the kids zipping across or against traffic without even looking to see if someone is coming. There are LOTS of collisions where kids dart out from the sides, change direction into oncoming skaters, and just wreak havoc on the skating floor. Now picture those same kids on bicycles doing that with vehicular traffic. It's the same kids, the same "sense of caution", but more serious consequences. I also believe that in those three out of 32 cases where the car was found to be at fault, proper examination of the circumstances might prove otherwise, there is a tendancy to blame the least-hurt person involved.
I grew up ringing my bicycle everywhere, but I lived out in the country with fewer cars. I have a problem with parents turning unsupervised kids on bicycles loose in traffic. It does not seem wise to do until the kids lose the sense of immortality.
What we all have to keep in mind is that the world is full of stupid, irresponsible, egotistical people, and some of them are driving automobiles and some of them are driving bicycles.
I'd like to see cyclists and drivers cited for breaking the laws--speeding, signaling, riding/driving on the wrong side of the road, etc. Do Palo Alto children and youth get regular instruction on safe riding and the laws they are also obligated to follow? If not, we need to include safe cycling classes every fall when school starts. Kids need to be reminded. I ride and drive -- we all need to improve. Me too.
Students in Palo Alto public school do receive pedestrian safety instruction in grades K-2 and bike safety education in grades 3,5 and 6. This is much more than most cities offer. There used to also be classes offered through the Rec Dept but not any more. I hear that the instructor burned out because of too much demand.
> The cyclists you see breaking laws, are drivers that happen to
> just be using another vehicle.
BS! Watching the hundreds of PAUSD students rolling through stop sign after stop sign amounts up to tens of thousands of rolling violations per school day! There kids are not drivers. They are, nonetheless, violators of the motor vehicle code.
As to older cyclists also being drivers. That's probably true. But to suggest that they don't stop for stop signs, and red lights, is a bit of a stretch.
It's a shame that we have a Council that will waste $2M on design, but virtually nothing on the enforcement of the motor vehicle code by cyclists.
Backing slowly out of my driveway this morning I had to stop to let a UPS truck pass. I watched the truck speed down my street way past the limit and I was reminded that most of the speeders I see in my very residential neighborhood are delivery trucks of one sort or another. They are paid to do their routes as fast as possible. There are also the GreenWaste trucks who seem to deliberately do their best to confuse drivers as well as cyclists by their unpredictability on our streets. They also seem to leave all the trash cans in the bike lanes even when the residents have left them clearly out of the bike lanes.
I think there should be a move to get these drivers to slow down and make life safer on our streets too.
Joe, I understand that cops write close to 100 tickets a month to student bicyclists. Of course the cops are outnumbered by the bicyclists and drivers breaking the law so they have to be selective in their enforcement, but they are out there. The $2 million that is being spent on design would buy about 6 cops for a year, but you would need to spend that every year to keep them, while the designs only need to be done once.
> I understand that cops write close to 100 tickets a
> month to student bicyclists
That comes to about three (3) a day--not much of a dent, considering the thousands of students that have been encouraged to ride their bikes to school.
If police wanted to write some tickets in big numbers, they should station themselves at the Wilkie Way/West Meadow intersection some morning. There is nothing but a stream of cyclists rolling through that stop sign!
Actually, 100 per month is more like 5 per school day, and that is about as many as one cop can write per day since the kids all come through in a short time slot. The traffic cops got cut back a couple of years ago and they only have one officer available for this. The city doesn't get enough money on the tickets to cover their costs. How much are you willing to pay to write tickets to school kids?
I live at the corner of Moreno and Ross. It has a four way stop sign. I have never seen a bicycle stop unless there was a car in the intersection. Never. Cops have better things to do than chase kids down running stop signs.
Embarcadero near High street really *really* needs some traffic calming. There are several hundred kids who cross there, and there have been accidents where cars come off of Embarcadero at 40+ mph heading towards Alma.
The kids are crossing in a crosswalk, but that won't stop the cars.
@Near Paly, Nothing stops the cars except tickets and insurance hikes and lost licenses. That's the solution nobody wants to talk about. Its too expensive apparently to enforce traffic laws, plus everyone knows in their hearts how they break laws daily while they drive. Enforcement scares the pants off them so it will not be discussed. Easier to just talk about how bike run red lights. Something so egregiously un-safe that we must read stories about the accidents they cause weekly right? Except we don't, we read about people rolling over their cars on neighborhood streets, or driving through houses. Damn bikes.
It isn't just the speeders in this town, though there is an obvious surfeit of them. Most dangerous are the drivers who think they do not have time for stop signs. During the morning and afternoon rush hours it is extremely dangerous and dicey for any bikerider, adult or child or teen.
Yes, there are bikeriders on the wrong side of the road, bikeriders who fly through stopsigns and lights, but there are far more numerous cars who do this, and which causes more damage to innocent people? It is one thing to cause injury to one's self, but quite another to injure or kill an innocent person unprotected by thousands of pounds of steel and plastic.
I agree that bicyclists really really need to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Most do, but some do not and that is really scary.
However, car drivers are tremendously worse. When I try to cross a street that does not have red lights protecting the crosswalk, sometimes 20 cars will blow by me before one stops. Bicyclists are never this terrible. And the law of momentum means that a car blowing through a crosswalk is 100 times worse than a bicycle doing it.
Traffic engineering studies have shown that behavior of both car drivers and bicyclists improves quickly when roads are designed to give bicyclists a clear and safe path. Not only will this new bikeway network improve safety, but it will also improve safe behaviour by all road users.
The bicyclists who don't have lights or wear reflective gear after dark are a special concern to me. Often on the wrong side of the road, or blowing through stop signs, they are a real hazard.
Parents, if I ever hit you or your child riding without lights, I will sue you for negligence and for the psychiatric counseling I will need after injuring, or worse, killing, someone. Before it's too late, google something like "led reflective cyclist vest", or just go to amazon.com Web Link. Get one for every bicyclist or evening walker in the family.
Live long and prosper SAFELY
It is pretty funny to hear Palo Alto car drivers talk about "bikes" not obeying the laws! I have never lived anywhere in which speed limit signs are so completely disregarded as in Palo Alto. If I drive 30 in a 25 people roar past me while glaring at me for having inconvenienced them to momentarily slow down to such a slow pace. I have a stop sign in front of my house and my wife and I have a couple of times taken counts of how many cars stop. About 1 in 10 make a complete stop, and a few fly though without even slowing down. And it is only a two way stop! They are just playing roulette odds that the very quiet little street will not have any cross traffic. Granted, the stopping statistics are no better for bikes, but why the lectures from the car drivers? It is completely baffling. For some reason America has some kind of weird bike negativity that does not exist in other countries I have lived in (UK, Germany).
The reason that there is such hostility from drivers is that fhe bicycling "community" have spent at least two decades actively promoting it.
- Bicyclists routinely declare that the rules of the road don't apply to them.
- No matter how illegal and stupid a move a bicyclist makes, it is up to drivers to accommodate them. Even for this area, it is an extreme sense of entitlement.
- When a driver barely avoids killing a bicyclist because of such a stupid move, for example the bicyclist has run a stop sign at speed from a blind side street, the bicyclist expresses his "appreciation" with profanity and flipping off the driver who has slammed on his brakes. Absolutely no empathy for the fright and distress the bicyclist has given the driver.
- Bicyclists declare that they are morally superior to drivers.
- Bicyclists advocate creating congestion to force drivers to become bicyclists. "Share the road" means no fair share for drivers.
- Bicyclists have similar contempt for pedestrians -- on shared paths, they routinely endanger pedestrian by riding at them at speed from behind with no warning, or no warning until it is too late.
In summary, the bicycling community has promoted a reputation for themselves as
- believing that the rule don't apply to them,
- total contempt for other members of the community,
- no empathy for others' situations,
- extreme narcissism,
- extreme risk-taking with disregard for consequences.
If you don't recognize this list, it is a substantial portion of the clinical description of a psychopath/sociopath.
If one wonders why bicyclists would want to cultivate such a profile, look at the above list. There is no sense that if you treat others with contempt and hostility, that might result in them not being considerate of you.
While there are a lot of bicyclists who aren't this way, they allow the public face of the bicycling community to be those that are this way.
The best defense is a good offense.
There are good and bad drivers of bikes and cars. Can we tone down the nastiness, please?
I bike. I stop at stop signs religiously. (I do that when I drive car, too!)I have taken a bike safety class and do my best to be a safe and legal bicyclist. I don't really appreciate the barbs being thrown at all bicyclists--or all drivers for that matter.
This thread has gotten a little silly. Time to let it die.
We all need to share the road safely. Yes, some drivers and some bicyclists think the rules don't apply to them. But the problem is not just education. And enforcement only changes behavior (in this country) when there's a visible black and white presence at a particular location.
We need engineering improvements to both connector streets and arterials that make them safer for all users. Thank you to the City Council for supporting the City's Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, the product of many, many public meetings and opportunities for citizen input and discussion by appointed and elected bodies charged with deciding on these things. Streets that are safer will lead to more people choosing to walk or bike more often, meaning less congestion for those who do drive.
Daniel, there are now more than 600 bicyclists heading to Jordan Middle School on a sunny day -- just imagine what it would be like if they were all being driven to school as happens in most California cities now that the school districts have eliminated busing! Four trips on Newell, or North California, or Middlefield by Mommy or Daddy each day, two of them during the peak morning commute time.
When my kids went to Jordan in the 1990's, there were only 250 bicyclists, and way too many SUVs trying to save a few seconds delivering their kids to school. Now, student population has increased to over 1000 kids, but this growth has been more than offset by the increase in the numbers of kids biking (and walking) to school.
Meanwhile, the more of us who focus on sharing the road instead of pointing fingers in righteous indignation, the lower our blood pressure and the safer for all. Here's a start:
1. Notice that my previous comment explicitly said that it did not apply to a lot of bicyclists, but to the public image being created. If normal bicyclists want to change the attitude of drivers towards them, a good place to start would be with repudiating those leaders of the bike advocacy groups that have created the public image I outlined in my previous comment.
2. One of the reasons I wrote the comment was that at many social gatherings where the topic of bicycling comes up, there was one or more person who said that they had given up bicycling because of the increased hostility of drivers, a hostility that they attributed to the bad behavior of bicyclists. Repeat, these are people who are both bicyclists and drivers and they see bicyclists as a substantial portion of the problem (these are people in the 40s, 50s and 60s, predominantly male).
3. The question is not whether there are good and bad bicyclists/drivers. That is a given. The difference is that the *public face* of the bicycling community is to defend the actions of any and all bicyclists *regardless*. You don't see drivers arguing in support of drivers having a right to speed down residential streets and to totally ignore stop signs.
4. You don't see drivers advocating removing critical bike facilities. But the reverse is hardly true. For example, various bike advocates have started arguing to have northern Alma reduced from 4 lanes to 2 for bike lanes despite it being heavily congested and there being a bike boulevard only 2-4 blocks to one side and a dedicated bike path on the other side of the train tracks.
I was a bike commuter starting in the 1980s and have been working on improving bike safety since the mid-1990s and it was my efforts in the late 1990s that got the pending Matadero Bike Boulevard on the queue and then had to make repeated efforts to keep it in the queue.
Yet whenever I deviate the slightest from the Bike Lobby's orthodoxy, I become someone who wants to speed down residential streets, at 50 mph, endangering bicyclists. Over the past 4 years as I have argued that the plans for the Matadero Bike Boulevard fall short on needed safety (with relatively easy fixes), I have been attacked as anti-bike. When labeling someone a deliberately dangerous driver is a standard smear used by bicycle advocates against anyone who disagrees with them, it has become difficult to give any credibility to their characterizations of the extent of the problem posed by bad drivers.
As a bicyclist, every 3-4 years, a driver's action would put me in serious danger. As a driver, I typically have about 2 instances a year where I come close to seriously injuring or killing a bicyclist because of their actions: the usual stop sign running into traffic, but also things like crossing multiple lanes of El Camino mid-block without warning or looking, or popping up on a sidewalk to pass on the right a car that is in a right turn lane with its turn signal on. Don't try to discuss these with the leadership of the bike advocacy groups--to them bicyclists are never at fault and drivers are always to blame (for failing to make allowances for whatever the bicyclist does).
Reiterating: If normal bicyclists want to change the attitude of drivers towards them, a good place to start would be with repudiating those leaders of the bike advocacy groups that have created the public image I outlined in my previous comment.
I can see why there is anger on the roads. Simply look at all of the complaints about the other group, filled with baseless bigotry of assumptions. You Palo Altans need to do some meditation or something to fix your angry broken selves. Its apparent some here have been consumed by it. It won't affect me any that I expect, but I feel sorry for some of you roasting in your own anger. Actually, there's one or two who's anger is more amusing than not so he's sort of fun to watch simmer. Aside from that though, the face of Palo Alto continues to be "Out of my Way".
Enjoying the continued progress of increasing our bike infrastructure. Great stuff, THANK YOU!
Thank you, City Council. My whole family appreciates that, at long last, bicyclists will have well-designed place on the street on these critical routes.
Don't think your data about the number of tickets on police officer can write is accurate. Also don't believe that the Police have only one person on traffic patrol during the morning and evening. Two police officers could write dozens of tickets--one to direct offenders over to the side of the road, and the other to fill in the ticket data. These kids don't have driver's licenses--so just getting the names, ages, addresses, and location of the offense is all that would be needed.
> How much are you willing to pay to write tickets to school kids?
Enough to get the point across that stop signs are for everyone--including students.
Without fear of enforcement, a law is meaningless
The new bicycle boulevards are wonderful, and needed. However, if we don't teach bicycle safety laws in the schools, and remind bicyclists to obey safety rules, we are not covering all the bases. I see many drivers not respectful of bicyclists. I think they are considered fair game, and the laws don't protect bicyclists if they are injured or killed. Everyone has to respect each other and obey the laws, otherwise there is trouble ahead.
I enjoy the discussions when they are not controlled by people with feeling of emasculation regarding certain issues. Great thread, lots of great comments heard from all sides.
Love the bike plan, obviously lots of work to do, but full steam ahead and thank you City Council!
Now onto the enforcement phase of traffic safety on our roads?
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