Arastradero project has improved safety, study shows Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jun 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm
Changes made to Arastradero Road two years ago have significantly reduced the number of automobile accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians -- even as the number of cars along the corridor and in the city overall has increased by 5 percent, a new study by the City of Palo Alto shows.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 15, 2012, 12:08 PM
Posted by commuter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm
Can we tackle the intersection of Fabian Way and Charleston next? There needs to be a specific left turn lane at that intersection. Multiple near misses are happening every single day as the drivers take bets on whether the cars ahead of them are going to be turning left up towards Loral or Southwall.
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm
> Traffic collisions overall, not including at El Camino Real,
> decreased at three main points where they have been high: at
> Georgia Avenue and at Terman and Coulombe drives. There was not
> a significant drop in accidents involving cars only.
For some time now, the Palo Alto Police has been selective about the accidents to which they will respond. I was told the last time I reported an accident, that unless one/more of the cars was disabled, or there was an injury, then the police would not come to the scene. Since accident counts result from police accident reports, then there is no way to know the actual number of accidents along this, or any, roadway. So, any claims about accidents needs to be understood to be "reported accidents", not actual accidents.
The Transportation Department knows this. If they are making claims that they know the actual number of accidents all this roadway, they should explain how that come to know this number.
These claims about "increased safety" need to be taken with a grain of salt.
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm
> Then how come there was an INCREASE of car traffic
Based on data I've collected over the years, it's clear that over the past ten years there has been a roughly 25% reduction in traffic on the Arastradero Segment of this roadway. The Arastradero is an arterial into the Palo Alto roadway system. At the core of all roadway use is "demand" for access, which is ultimately linked to the local and regional economy.
Small increases, like 5%, are not significant, unless they can be linked to an increase in capacity by a road reconfiguration, or some action that was intended to increase flow rates (and ultimately capacity). For instance, synchronizing the lights can lead to decreases in delays, which can, over time, increase the flow.
Look to changes in the local economy as a driver for increased traffic counts, before anything else.
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 8:32 am
> High-speed driving also dropped significantly after the trial began.
> Vehicles traveling more than 37 mph westbound during off-peak hours
> dropped from 12.8 percent to 3.8 percent west of Georgia and from
> 15.3 percent to 2.4 percent east of McKellar Lane, the study showed.
Comments like this can be very non-informative. Anyone who drives Arastradero knows that there are a number of stop-lights on this road segment that cause cars to slow down and stop. Also, during peak hours, the lines of traffic near El Camino back up, requiring people to slow down, so the average speed for these segments is not ever going to be “excessive”, or over 35 mph.
Also, the traffic volumes go way down during off-peak times, so the number of drivers who exceed 35 mph becomes a smaller number. Without the actual numbers, this is useless for making meaningful decisions.
I requested the actual data out of the measuring devices on Arastradero, via a Public Information Request. After being told initially I could have that data, the Traffic Engineering people refused to give it to me. What they did provide was a difficult to read plot of the data showing almost no >35 mph data points, but a surprising number of < 25 mph data points.
All of this speeding data needs to be plotted on a 15 minute intervals, per day (Monday-Sunday) to see exactly how many speeders there are, and to what extent they actually speed. As presented, they have presented data about the times of day when the lowest traffic volumes occur.
Over the past five years, the SWITRS data shows about 38 injuries to bicyclists, and 8 injuries to pedestrians, or about 9 injuries to this group per year. A five-fold reduction would bring this injury count down to two a year. It would have been desirable for the Traffic people to have provided that data.
BTW--the analysis of the accident data in the first link reveals that there have been a growing number of accidents where the Cyclist is at fault.
It becomes clear from working with this accident data that while traffic volumes become a key contributor to accidents, many accidents result from carelessness of drivers making U-turns, or entering the roadway without properly determining that entrance was safe. Whether one lane, or more, these kinds of accidents will continue at the same rate.
Without hard data, use of relative terms like "increases" and "decreases" are not at all helpful.
Posted by onelanemess, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm
In the article, some people who favor this one lane change on Arastradero see this as necessary, especially since with the new construction of more residential homes nearby (such as former Palo Alto bowl) will be better for traffic. I don't get how they can think this reduction of lanes helps with more traffic anticipated in the near future -- it is already very congested at certain times of the day now and will only get worse as more and more housing is smushed in that area.
And, how can the one lane, two lanes, back to one lane all up and down the Arastradero Charleston corridor be safe? There are near misses all the time as cars jockey for a spot.
Safety is important of course, and the way to do that would be to encourage bicyclists to use the neighboring streets. Instead we've got cars being encouraged to use the side streets!
Posted by Donald, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm
How can I use the neighboring streets on my bike to get from my house to points west of Foothill Expressway when none of those streets go through? Arastradero is a necessary link for bicyclists, just as it is for drivers.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Re: "Donald" on inability to get from Midtown to Foothill except by Arastradero:
You can go up Meadow to El Camino where it becomes Los Robles (both of which have bike lanes). Los Robles connects to the Bol Park regional bike path which comes out at the corner of Arastradero and Miranda, a few feet from Foothill.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
The Arastradero controversy is a good example of bad government.
1. It represents the pending triumph of the ideologues and certain special interests over the greater good:
1a. The City's anti-auto ideologues: For example, Dan Garber, then a Planning and Transportation Commissioner, spoke forcefully at a PTC hearing for _retaining_ an unnecessarily dangerous lane merge and against having better signage for the merges. None of the other Commissioners disputed that position.
1b. The purported goal of increasing safety seems to be being ignored. Instead, the claimed increases in safety on Arastradero have come by _shifting_ the risks from that group onto a larger group. As earlier posts have noted, Maybell Ave, which has _more_ bicycle and pedestrian use during school commutes, has been a major recipient of this increased risk, but other residential streets have also seen increased cut-through traffic. In essence, the City is taking the position that the safety of students who bike to school from east of the Caltrain tracks -- using Arastradero -- is important, whereas safety of those students from the west of the tracks -- using other routes -- is unimportant.
2. The City's presentation of the data has been one of transparent advocacy, rather than that of an honest broker. When skeptics and critics have good reason to not believe that data, that takes away the primary basis for convincing them that a proposal is in fact a good one.
Posted by a cyclist, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Turning left from the Los Altos-Palo Alto bicycle path onto Arastradero to then make a right turn onto Foothill is hilariously dangerous. I do it every morning for my work commute. It's particularly funny when a driver gets in the right-only lane for Miranda with the intention of actually turning right onto Foothill rather than Miranda. They pass *four* right-only signs on the way to pulling that stunt. Fun times for sure! I hope morning drivers are very careful to look out for kids who have to cross Arastradero to get to Gunn. Drivers should always treat kids on bikes as special, even if drivers are angry at adult cyclists.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm
Don't know about the scene near Gunn, but down at the other end and in the middle, this road - which is a crosstown road - has turned awful. Terrible bottlenecks, stress for no good reason. I rarely see cyclists. I don't oppose cycling by any means, and I don't see this as all about cycling, but I strongly disagree with taking away a lane on Charleston/Arastradero in some sort of misguided attempt to get rid of cars.
Posted by Brian, a resident of the Evergreen Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm
I'm always amused by those who denigrate the "ideologues" for pedestrian and bicyclist safety because they want the freedom to drive their car as fast as conditions will allow - generally ignoring the posted speed limits. Certainly most everyone will agree (if they peruse these online forums regularly) that Mr. Moran and the many others who criticize pedestrian/bicycle safety and infrastructure improvements are NOT ideologues. No way.
Posted by onelanemess, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm
@Brian I oppose the lane reduction because I think it has made it more dangerous. Yes, I understand that it is an important route for children on their bikes. But there are other ways to improve bicycle safety than the current radical changes we have now. A major artery has been lost but the cars have to go somewhere.
I feel sorry for the folks between El Camino and Alma on Charleston. Not only do they have more congestion, there's more smog from the standstill of traffic, and more noise.
Posted by Donald, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm
I am familiar with your suggested bike route, but it is longer, slower and invlolves some very sketcy intersections. I much prefer Meadow-> El Camino Way->Maybell->Coulombe->Arastradero. That is shorter, faster, straightforward and does not involve merging into the road at locations where drivers will not expect you. Bicyclists should not be expected to go out of their way and travel on narrow, poorly maintained routes to get to their destinations. They should be expected to take the shortest and most convenient route just as drivers do.
Posted by maury, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm
Mr. Rodriguez said that "During the morning commute, cut-through traffic numbers remained relatively steady — with the exception of along Maybell Avenue.”
In point of fact, according to the statistics presented by Mr. Rodriguez, traffic at Maybell Ave and Penã Court during the AM school peak hours increased 56% in the last 6 months (from 443 to 690 vehicles) and 69% since 2008 (before the project began). The figures for Fall 2011 agreed well with the results from the Barron Square video traffic study done at the Maybell/Thain intersection in September 2011, but did not include the 220 bicycles we counted over the same period. Traffic at Maybell Ave and Maybell Court (just beyond Juana Briones School) increased 44% since Fall 2011.
It is noteworthy, and perhaps suggestive of a causal effect, that the 56% increase occurred during the same time period when the “No Right Turn on Red” sign was installed at the El Camino / Arastradero intersection. Unfortunately, no data measurements were made on Coulombe Drive itself which might have identified the ‘cut-through route’ for drivers from El Camino to Arastradero avoiding the El Camino intersection. Seems our transportation engineers never studied Chaos theory or learned that traffic, like water, seeks the path of least resistance.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 1:00 am Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
RE: "a cyclist, a resident of Mountain View" on "a driver gets in the right-only lane for Miranda with the intention of actually turning right onto Foothill rather than Miranda. They pass *four* right-only signs on the way to pulling that stunt."
Many of those drivers are unaware of Miranda -- it is all-but-invisible to approaching drivers -- and think the right-turn signs apply to Foothill. It would be a simple matter to have the signs reflect this, as a multitude of other cities do in similar circumstances, but the City's ideology prevents it from even such simple and obvious improvements, even when pointed out by residents over the years.
Among the bicyclists there is a strong faction that push for measures that unnecessarily make vehicle travel worse, and most of the other bicycle advocates are unwilling to stand against such zealotry.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 1:24 am Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
RE: "Donald"'s response to my response to his original comment:
So when you said "Arastradero is a necessary link for bicyclists" you didn't mean "necessary" but rather that it was one that you preferred.
As to the route you cite on Maybell, if you continued through the Donald-Georgia loop, you would connect to the Gunn bike path that would bring you to Arastradero on the east edge of campus.
As to your comment about the Los Robles bike lanes being poorly maintained -- the bicycle community says that that is not a problem. As the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan has worked its way through the process, I attended multiple meetings and hearings and have been the lone voice advocating for better maintaining riding surfaces, including not letting utility cuts in the streets linger (often for months) with steel plates or bad temporary patches. I argued that this should be a significant priority, rather than having barely a mention. However, the bicycle advocates want to focus on items that will get Palo Alto a better score in the national ranking of "Bike Friendly Cities" -- Palo Alto has to catch up to Davis and Portland.
Posted by Donald, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 7:25 am
Even your route requires taking Arastradero at the end because it is the only road that crosses Foothill, which is why I called it essential. The place where the Bol Park path ends at Miranda, and the intersection of Miranda and Foothill, are both very bad for bicyclists. Going straight on Arastradero there is much better.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 8:47 am
Don't take the report too literally. As others have pointed out, there are definite flaws in this report.
It is another case of using data rather than brains. A report can be adjusted in many ways until it appears to reach the required result.
My own questions would include, how many of those making and interpreting the study use Arastradero on a daily basis? How many of those making and interpreting the study actually live in the neighborhood? What effects did the change in the bell schedule at Gunn make on the study (did they measure before and after the change of bell schedule? Did they know that the bell schedule changed?). Did those making and interpreting the study actually drive, ride a bike and walk along Arastradero or neighboring streets? Was a before and after car count done on San Antonio and Page Mill?
I no longer choose to use Arastradero as my first choice route to get to Foothill. I have spoken with others in my neighborhood who say the same.
Lastly, there are not only more residents from new housing in the area, but there are more students at Gunn. The likelihood is that both the number of residents and the number of students at Gunn is going to increase. This is going to mean more traffic needing to get to Gunn within the same time window regardless of whether it is car, bike or pedestrians. There should be no doubt about the fact that Gunn is expected to have 2400 students. For the City to be ignoring this fact is most definitely a big mistake. Spanish Immersion, if it comes to Barron Park, will also increase traffic.
I ask all those who think that this report and the apparent results to ask some serious questions about the validity of this study. I would ask everyone to use some common sense and logical thinking. Traffic is definitely going to increase around this area due to PAUSD increasing the number of students to all their schools in the area particularly including the possibility of Spanish Immersion to Barron Park - a commuter program! This is not just a traffic issue but a school enrollment issue!
Posted by Question re Mr. Rodriguez , a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 9:07 am
I attended one meeting where mr. Rodriguez presented an update on the Arastradero project (not the one written about here). I was struck by his somewhat biased presentation of the "facts" - he was selling the project to us. For instance, after he proudly pointed out reduced wait times on Arastradero, someone pointed out serious backups on El Camino turning onto Arastradero. After ignoring the question once, it was asked again very directly, at which he shrugged and said "That's a state route; it is not included in our numbers." That seems quite disingenuous. (In addition he took twice his allotted time and had to be finally just cut off, which I thought was poor form for an invited guest.)
A statement like "Cut-through traffic numbers remained relatively steady -- with the exception of along Maybell Avenue" - if that phrasing was from Mr. Rodriguez (I'm assuming here) -- seems likewise disingenuous. Maybell is by far the #1 street you'd look for cut-through traffic - it runs parallel to Arastradero for about half its length! If there was increased traffic on Maybell - which many many school walkers and bikers use (more bikers than Arastradero I'd venture, by far) then you've shifted the problem and potentially made it worse.
So I ask those who have had more experience with him - is Mr. Rodriguez an "honest agent" trying to do the right thing here? Or is he just "selling his project" regardless of what the data tells us?
Posted by a cyclist, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm
To Douglas Moran re: "Many of those drivers are unaware of Miranda ... and think the right-turn signs apply to Foothill. ... It would be a simple matter to have the signs reflect this ... but the City's ideology prevents it ...."
It's true that the first sign says simply: "Right lane must turn right." But the third one says: "Right lane for Miranda only" and the fourth: "<right arrow> Miranda only". The second I consider to be the right arrow painted on the road. So two of four can't really be clearer in meaning. Certainly it would be better if the first sign were to include the word "Miranda". Still, that there are quite visibly two sets of lights strongly suggests that there must be another road before Foothill to which the signs apply.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
RE: "a cyclist" on right turn lane
My experience with Arastradero is that the backup from the Miranda/Foothill lights makes the signs identifying the lane as going to Miranda moot -- the driver is already committed to that lane and cannot easily merge out, but is dependent on a driver in the through lane noticing and being nice enough to allow him/her out.
As to the lights making Miranda obvious: When I first saw those lights, I presumed that they were for a driveway on the west side of the Gunn campus (just as there is a traffic light for the drive on the east side). Plus drivers associate long dedicated right turn lanes with major streets, such as Foothill -- Miranda's traffic is far in excess of what you would expect of such a street (VA and many businesses).
Aside: bad signage is common, but this is a special case because the City chose not to fix it as part of this project. For example, Menlo Park is infamous for the very late sign for a thru lane pn El Camino becoming a dedicated right-turn lane onto Ravenswood -- you can't read it until long after you are forced to commit (by the normal backup from that light).
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
If people in the bicycle community want to understand why this has become so contentious and why positions have hardened, they need look only at whom they have allowed to be their prominent spokespeople. "Brian" above is a very typical example:
"I'm always amused by those who denigrate the "ideologues" for pedestrian and bicyclist safety because they want the freedom to drive their car as fast as conditions will allow - generally ignoring the posted speed limits. Certainly most everyone will agree (if they peruse these online forums regularly) that Mr. Moran and the many others who criticize pedestrian/bicycle safety and infrastructure improvements are NOT ideologues. ..."
Notice that he derisively dismisses concern about shifting risk from one group of children to a larger group of children (part of the message he was replying to) as a desire for unrestrained speeding.
When such is the dominant voice of the bicycle community, as it is now, how can you not understand that skeptics and critics and people simply seeking minor improvements cannot give any credibility to anything you say, or have even a smidgen of faith that you will even attempt to deal fairly with the various interests.
Another example: At an earlier one of these public meetings, in response to a parent who complained that the cut-thru traffic created was endangering her child, a parent of children who used Arastradero made a reply that could be paraphrased "I don't give a damn about _your_ children. This makes _my_ children safer and that all that the City should be concerned about."
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
On the basic principles of this plan -- something that gets lost over the years as people focus on the details:
1. Two lanes can provide better traffic flow than four, in the right circumstances. 4-lane Arastradero was a good candidate for these changes because there was a lot of "friction" from lane changes because the absence of left-turn lanes forced left-turning vehicles to stop and wait in the travel lane. Similarly, to a lesser extent, for right turns.
Cars blocking a travel lane not only reduces the thruput of that lane, but the thruput of the adjoining lane as a consequent of slow-moving/stopped vehicles merging into that lane. Consequently, under the right conditions, converting a 4-lane road to a 2-lane road with turn lanes can produce greater thruput.
An additional advantage of reducing the number of forced lane changes is that drivers are not being distracted by that task and this leads to greater safety, for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
The basic statement of this principle is to provide "smooth and steady" traffic flow -- reducing the speeding, but also reducing when traffic flow is too slow (lower the ceiling and raise the floor).
2. However, such lane reductions don't work when you need the lanes to hold vehicles backed up waiting for traffic lights (and similar). Inadequately holding capacity can lead to a cascade of problems to nearby intersections and streets (and from them ...).
3. A major factor in the length of the Arastradero Restriping trial has been experimenting and adjusting for these two conflicting factors.
4. If you are new to this debate, listen to what the advocates and critics are saying relative to these principles, for example, criticism that the trial has created problematic lane changes.
Posted by KB, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm
Well, there's not much in this article to really go on, so I have my suspicions about the real facts. This seems to be the only solid analysis here: "Vehicles traveling more than 37 mph westbound during off-peak hours dropped from 12.8 percent to 3.8 percent..." That's believable. It's probably dropped during peak hours too, by a lot, but that's probably only because traffic is backed up.
That traffic "has slowed by 2 to 5 mph among 85 percent of drivers" sounds like it might be statistically insignificant. 2mph is a pretty small drop, and might be too small to be statistically valid. The article doesn't say.
As for the reduction in accidents, that has to be statistically insignificant, and therefore a worthless conclusion. "crashes went from six in 2009 to one for each year thereafter" -- comparing one year to two others, with such low values is completely worthless. With such low accident numbers, we'd need many years of data to make it statistically significant.
The cut-through traffic analysis is also worthless -- cut-through traffic has shown no increase *except* Maybell. What other viable cut-through route is there except for Maybell? That's the only route that would have a hope of letting you beat the Arastradero backups, so I'm not surprised traffic there has gone up.
I notice there's no reported analysis of overall traffic throughput or travel times through the corridor. I suspect the city doesn't want to bring attention to those, as the results are probably bad -- greatly increased travel times and reduced throughput. (Actually, from the linked study, travel time has gone up in six of eight periods with comparable data.)
And there's no mention of the impact of this on other arteries, notably Page Mill and San Antonio. I suspect some of the traffic that was on Arastradero has just moved over to those other arterials, making the situation worse over there.
So this looks like a bit of whitewash -- statistically suspect analyses, omissions of some analyses, spinning of others... Agenda achieved I suppose. I still wonder why in the world we are trying to make a major artery more bike-friendly when good alternatives exist.
BTW, Donald and Douglas, I ride Los Robles to Meadow on my bicycle several times a week and it seems fine to me. About a thousand Gunn students on bikes don't seem to have any problem with it. I seriously doubt it would add any serious time to the commute as it's not much longer, and you don't really have to worry about cars much, so you might go a bit faster. Plus it's shaded. And when you come out on Arastradero you're about 100 feet from Foothill, with no problems whatsoever. Not sure what the big worry there is, Donald. If you want to take your chances getting killed on a bike on Arastradero, go ahead; I'll be enjoying a shady, carless ride down Los Robles. I certainly wouldn't send my kids down Arastradero on a bike if I had an alternative, traffic calming or not.
Posted by Good, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm
The complaints are all from the selfish drivers who NOW have to obey the speed limits and NOW have to change their actions because prior to this they apparently could not act like civilized responsible vehicle operators.
Less accidents and less people hurt but more entitled folks miffed because they now cannot drive as fast as they want? PRICELESS!
Posted by A Street in PA needs help, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm
Thanks for getting the drain-lid fixed on Sand Hill. It had quite a divet/sunken round part!
Just a note, that when driving on Page Mill, heading Northward-ish, you get to a place that really gives you quite a jerk/bounce near PAMF, think it is mostly the 2nd lane, and I wasn't going fast at all. Could they shave it/smooth it out?
Posted by Corey Levens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm
Unfortunately, I could not make the meeting. Was the change in the start times for Terman and Gunn which staggered their starts this last year discussed? From my experience living off of Pomona, I attribute a substantial amount of the benefit to this simple change. And, if this is correct, it would have saved a huge amount of money, expense, and inconvenience if the City had implemented this obvious fix before investing tens of thousands of dollars in a grand experiment. The old configuration with the new staggered start times is a much better fix than what we have now.
Posted by Good point, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm
Does @Cory Levens' point invalidate the findings about the restriping? If one of the central variables has changed - and staggering start times seems to qualify - it seems impossible to allocate any impact between the restriping and this. Does Mr. Rodriguez discuss this? Does anyone who has been involved have a view on this?
Posted by Martha, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm
That's great news about the reduction in accidents on Arastradero. But anyone who lives on Los Robles, as I do, knows that there's been a huge increase in morning traffic, both car and bicycle, on Los Robles. The cars take it to avoid getting backed up on El Camino to turn on Arastradero, and turn instead from Coulombe. The bicyclists take it all the way down to the Bol Park footpath, so weren't counted at all. Since Barron Park doesn't have sidewalks, the potential for car/bicycle/pedestrian collisions is increased because of the heavier car and bicycle traffic. I'd like to see the traffic study expanded to include the side streets.
Posted by Richard, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm
Please note that the city, and the transportation dept in particular, have no power over the school district and their schedule. Transportation had been asking for a staggered start for 5-10 years, long before Mr. Rodriquez was hired and long before the re-striping of Arastradero. The school district always had a long list of reasons why that could not be done, so it didn't happen. Then, in the last couple of years the impossible suddenly became possible and the schedules were changed in response to parent demand. If this had happened 10 years ago, would the re-striping have been done? Maybe or maybe not, but in any case you need to look at PAUSD and not Mr. Rodriquez for delaying this so long.
Posted by onelanemess, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm
No way can the two lanes to one lane back to two lanes back to one lane all up and down the corridor make Arastradero/Charleston safer. I see near misses going on all the time. Why did they do it this way? If you are going to make it one lane, then stick with that. My guess is that the traffic engineers realized it is not feasible and would result in even more traffic back-ups than we already have.
Encouraging cars to use side streets defeats the purpose of major arteries through the city. That's not safer for cyclists either.
Posted by Progress really, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm
"according to the statistics presented by Mr. Rodriguez, traffic at Maybell Ave and Pena Court during the AM school peak hours increased 56% in the last 6 months (from 443 to 690 vehicles) and 69% since 2008 (before the project began)"
The city has taken neighborhood streets lined with houses and children and made a nightmare out of them. Maybell was slated to be the bicycle corridor for the four schools that it services. The idea was to make the street safer for biking so that there would be less cars on these neighborhood streets. Looks like we have a big problem.....
Posted by Driver, Walker, Biker, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm
Actually, at the meeting city staff talked about an overall increase in auto traffic-citywide. They looked at car trips in Barron Park neighborhood streets and Arastradero, though there were increases, they were consistent with auto volume increases city-wide. They showed the data for this in their presentation.
I bike, walk and drive on this street often...throughout the day including peak travel times. I like the project. Thank you, Palo Alto, for doing this work on a street that serves so many school commuting children...and other users throughout the day.
I, for one, am grateful for the change. Thank you.
Posted by Good, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2012 at 6:23 am
If there are near misses all the time on Arastradero, even with all that traffic and a speed limit of 25 mph, then that just adds fuel to the argument that drivers needed to be reigned in, and apparently still need to be.
There is simply no excuse for near near collisions in a 25 mph road if the drivers are driving attentively, courteously and safely. If everyone is always trying to "get in front of the other guy" then yes, there will be near misses and accidents, ALL the fault of the pushy drivers.
Guess what drivers? You have to slow down and yes, that guy next to you is gonna be one car ahead of you sometimes...check your ego and deal with it.
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2012 at 7:43 am
> but that's probably only because traffic is backed up
There is a lot to be said for this point-of-view. The numerous “outreaches” by the Traffic Engineering Department to convince the community that roundabouts were our salvation (before the Traffic people discovery that bicycles would be our salvation) made the point that the choke-points of the roundabouts, being feed by single lanes of traffic, would reduce the thru-put to about 15mph (from whatever). Optimizing the flow rates, that would help people get to their destinations quickly, is not the design goal of this sort of traffic calming project.
Since this lane reduction has been put into place, we’re now seeing backups on East Charleston, between Middlefield and Alma, which were hard to see before this project—
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2012 at 8:02 am
> I see near misses going on all the time.
“Near misses” are an important part of this equation, but one which has been ignored by the City’s Traffic Engineers, and Police Department. Since a “near miss” is not an accident, no damage is done, no reports are made, no one really knows anything except the people who might have been physically present at the time of the “near miss”. However, over time, a perception that an intersection, or roadway, is "unsafe" can develop in people's minds.
This is where surveillance cameras enter the picture. Although there are many people who seem to think that the police don’t have the resources to watch the tapes, the fact is that these days there is software that can review the tapes, and create reports of the contents of the recordings—which could include “near misses”.
One location that should be monitored is East Charleston at Nelson. It’s not hard to find people running the light at Nelson, for various reasons. One big problem is that in the afternoon, the sun gets into people’s eyes, and it’s difficult to see that light. This particular situation calls for additional signage, perhaps.
From reviewing the accident reports, it’s clear that many of the accidents involve improper turns. One such source of improper turns is the Hoover School, in the mornings—
I am not aware of any accidents that have resulted from illegal turns being made by parents exiting the so-called “cirulator” at Hoover School, making left-hand turns, this may not be the best example. But, as everyone knows, an accident is just an eye-blink away. So, maybe this is a good example.
Currently, we don’t have really good safety metrics. The use of surveillance cameras would allow us to develop, over time, a history of “near misses” at various locations. This would be a metric that would help to explain people’s perceptions about safety along a given roadway.
Posted by KT, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2012 at 8:43 am
I travel this route several times per day and the reason (as I see it) why the traffic is slower is due to the fact that we all have to merge into one lane, twice. There are so many times when people speed ahead to cut off all of the other cars that are waiting to merge peacefully. Then, when the lane turns back into two people get into Nascar mode!! And right when they get their speed back up again there is a pedestrain crosswalk where I have seen many near-misses. Cars blow through it when the lights are flashing and people walk out in front of traffic and don't even look all the time. Additionally, the flashing sign that reads the speed limit(when travelling west) is always flashing slow down and the when travelling east that speed sign is blocked by a tree so it doesn't even work....so I don't know where these people are getting their data from. The intersection that needs more attention is the Charleston Alma intersection, but that is a whole other can of worms.
Posted by KT, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2012 at 8:58 am
Also, I feel obligated to mention this. There are 5 signs, 5 of them, that say that the turn lane at the end of Arastradero when approaching Miranda Ave is only for cars turning on to Miranda. I constantly get behind people who think that this is the turn lane for Page Mill Rd and when they go straight they cut-off all of the literate people who wait in the straight lane to merge onto PM. This drives me absolutely nuts and proves that you can have as many signs as you want and people will still not obey traffic rules.
Posted by Jane, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2012 at 10:37 am
Well, the traffic maybe better on Arastadero, but as another Los Robles resident, The people who cut through on Los Robles via Amaranta to Maybell and avoid 2 speed bumbs while racing down Los Robles, has gone up enormusly. With the Gunn student drop off connections on Los Robles and Georgia, parents avoid the whole mess while skimming through neighborhoods at speeds making it unsafe for me to walk my dog during the school opening and closing hours.
These units collect speeds/times and can be downloaded for analysis. There are two older signs (one on Arastradero near Gunn and the other on East Charleston, near Louis) which simply detect and display motorists speeds. (Don't think these units have the capability to record.)
Requests for this data have been ignored by the Traffic Engineering Department, so it's not clear what could be learned if this data were analyzed by other people. It's a shame that the law does not require that all such data be available in a reasonable format (such as ASCII), and made available to the public on the City's web-site.
Posted by onelanemess, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm
The argument that the main problem with near misses on the corridor are due to bad drivers is just a way to shift attention from what has happened to a main artery of getting traffic through the city and trying to put the blame on the drivers instead of on the design of these numerous mergers. Even if we didn't have any bad drivers trying to speed up ahead of others, we still have confusing lane mergers that then suddenly open up to two and then suddenly narrow down to one again. Congested traffic makes these mergers even worse and this is not a good design for improving safety.
Main arteries help move traffic through the city. When you eliminate one, the traffic has to go somewhere else.
Posted by a cyclist, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 20, 2012 at 1:22 am
Re: Wayne Martin, "So where are the bicycles?"
I want to understand your fundamental viewpoint of things.
Here's mine. I think humans are wrecking the world, and we need to change our behavior. So I've never owned a car, I'm a vegetarian, etc. Relevant to this discussion, I bicycle commute everyday to and from work; I shop for groceries using a bicycle or just walking, depending on where I'm going; basically, I use a bicycle like a car. It's fun and good exercise, and I like that I'm doing by best not to harm the planet. Sometimes a little dangerous, but that's ok with me. I actually don't want or need bicycle corridors for myself, but I do very much favor them for children bicycling to school and perhaps others who are not as experienced as I am.
What is your basic viewpoint? Is it that the world is just fine as it is, and so encouraging bicycling is unnecessary and inconvenient? That there is no climate change, ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, groundwater and air pollution, etc? So nothing major to fix? If that is so, then I can understand why you're frustrated. Everybody should just buy a car, and we should make driving super easy.
I'm truly curious. I want to understood if it's a basic difference in viewpoint that causes these conflicts between cycling advocates and drivers.
Posted by Punisher, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 6:27 am
""The argument that the main problem with near misses on the corridor are due to bad drivers is just a way to shift attention from what has happened to a main artery of getting traffic through the city and trying to put the blame on the drivers instead of on the design of these numerous mergers."
QUICK! Dodge personal responsibility.
Here's what led to this: Due to driver's behavior they could not be trusted with open free flowing traffic. They drove too fast and too unsafely and there were accidents. Now, though accidents are down, the spoiled children are complaining over the results that their actions led to. They are also complaining that the changes are making people SPEED down other streets. Yes, its not the drivers controlling the accelerator, its all because of the changes. Well spoiled children, more punishment is on the way if you cannot learn your lesson. Ask the Willows residents about the street closures in their neighborhoods.
I guess there's a new page in the vehicle code: As a driver you are never at fault and must always resist any changes at all to your driving behavior.
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 8:36 am
> I think humans are wrecking the world
You really have to be kidding! Do you really believe the words that you have written? Would I be wrong in guessing you have 3, 4 or maybe even 5 university degrees to back up your claims that “humans are destroying the world”?
I find the claim that “humans are destroying/wrecking the world” without merit, on its face, and simply crazy under scrutiny. Humans have built the world that you live in—what part of that fact did you miss on your daily peddlings?
Where does the food come from that sustains your body? Where does the electricity come from that brightens your life after the sun disappears? Do you purchase these fundamentals of modern life from the retail supply chain—or do you grow a few vegetables in your yard, and take to your bed at sun down, in order not use electricity—and be a part of the human destruction of the world (or earth)?
Do you really believe that you could live the life you live if you and your kind were able to outlaw engines, motors or any machine that provide mechanical advantage to increase our collective energies, and the results of our collective enterprises?
It’s not hard to find pictures of pre-industrial societies that demonstrate clearly what life would be like today without the engines and machines that have made life easier, longer, and more fulfilling. Here are a couple links to some views of Korea, around 1890:
While Mr. Palo Alto Cyclist may be salivating at the thought of living in a pre-industrial society, life was very difficult in those times. Infant mortality in Korea was pretty high prior to 1950. Since 1950, with the insertion of modern technology, motors, engines, and some modicum of a public health regimen, the information mortality is now in line with other countries in the region. The Wikipedia page on infant mortality shows significant reductions in infant mortality in (South) Korea since 1950:
South Korea, has gone in about fifty years from be a place of abject poverty to a place of relative prosperity—albeit paid for, in part, with no small amount of rapid cultural change. It is beyond belief that very many South Koreans would choose to return to their pre-industrial past—for fear that they are “destroying the world”.
> “I believe that humans are destroying/wrecking the world”
Well .. as an American .. that’s your right to believe. But we’re all Americans here—so the rational segment of us will employ our educations, or personal experiences, and our creative thought processes to oppose this kind of thinking when it infects government, resulting in bad public policies—such as outlawing motors, engines or even incandescent bulbs. It’s not hard to believe that allowed to fester, this kind of thinking will, within a decade or two, create policies that remove most, if not all, of our hard-fought-for liberties and freedoms. It’s not hard to believe that we won’t see one child per family restrictions imposed on the American people at some point in the future, to the glee of a hand full of people who are operating in a bubble-world of their own making, unless people defend the liberties of future Americans like our parents and grandparents defended the US during WWII.
It doesn’t take too much effort to look at the horrific mess these kinds of people made in the Former Soviet Union, and Mao Tse Tung’s China, to understand how this sort of religious ideology that dismisses human endeavor as subordinate to the vision, and the will of the few, to be far more destructive to the world than that of our American experiment in government, which has shown the ability, over time, to allow common sense to prevail over ideologies, to “self-heal” and change course, in order to protect the Union, and ultimately, the people living in the Union.
I’m going to stop now—as I fear I may say something to Mr. Palo Alto Cyclist that I will come to regret at some time in the future. I doubt this person will understand one word of what has been written, but hopefully others will.
Posted by onelanemess, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 9:04 am
@Punisher, you missed my point that even if we no longer have bad drivers, we still have problems with the design of one/two/one lane configuration on the corridor. No one is giving a pass to bad drivers. But clearly you feel that is the only problem. But I know people (myself included) have told me it gets confusing at some of the merging points. For example, going towards El Camino from Arastradero it suddenly opens up to two lanes at Terman and then suddenly back to one lane. When it is congested it is a confusing merge.
Why do we have all these one to two to one lanes mergers? My guess because it is not feasible and traffic will back up even more. Arastradero was not designed to be a side street, and the traffic engineers are trying to pretend it still does the same job as before, and I heard them say traffic flows even better. Not!
Why they are reducing lanes on major arteries, I guess is revealed by the above posts about discouraging using our autos but the city doesn't want to own up to that.
Posted by Punisher, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 9:51 am
By reducing lanes, it removes driver's ability to speed. If people would drive courteously, this means letting the other guy in front of you when they are trying to merge instead of tailgating the person in front of you to block them, traffic would flow much better. Its easy, just a simple staggering of the merge, everyone lets the next guy in as we all take turns.
Yes, the road has still been designed to slow traffic. Aggressive drivers caused this issue, and now the aggressive drivers are feeling the pain as they continue their selfish ways.
Posted by KT, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 10:22 am
It would be amazing if people would just be courteous and take turns while driving,but they aren't. They super aggressive and don't like to let anyone else win in the race home or to their final destination. Just like in any parking lot these days...people race through them, endangering shoppers. People don't even like to let others out of their parking spots anymore. In my experience, though, I smile when the guy in the store parking lot offers to take my cart for me....when someone lets me pull out of a parking spot, or even gives a neighborly smile. Pay it forward, Palo Altans. We're all in this together...why not make life a happy experience???
Posted by a cyclist, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 20, 2012 at 10:39 am
Your response was quite excellent; thanks. I agree with at least the spirit of a great deal of what you wrote, though I have objections (not relevant here) to some of the details. I have a PhD from a nearby well-known university in a rather modern subject of considerable use to modern human endeavors. I believe very much that humans have a lot to offer this world -- math, science, art -- and I am lucky to get to be part of efforts in the first and second.
But I also believe moderation and personal responsibility are very important virtues for living on a beautiful, fragile planet. Bicycling, being a vegetarian, opting out of the consumer economy as much as I can: these in no way prevent me from doing my best to participate and help further the very human enterprise of science. (Indeed, as many cyclists will report, daily commute rides are very invigorating not just physically but also mentally.) But they *do* help me minimize, as much as I can, the unfortunate effects of a careless modern human life on our planet and on others less fortunate than we are.
I certainly don't want to tell you how to live; I value freedom, and that means I'm *opposed* to telling you how to live. But I'm certainly allowed to advocate for ways of shaping the infrastructure of a community that may best serve us collectively.
Think about it. Suppose every able-bodied person who has a commute shorter than, say, 6 miles and carrying a load less than ~25 pounds (distributed evenly between two waterproof panniers, 25 pounds is easily accommodated) were to decide to bicycle rather than drive. With only a few months of experience, such a trip can be made in ~30min. It's good exercise, and because many commutes fit within these parameters, the effect on number of cars, emissions, etc. would be meaningful. There would be no threat to the best parts of our modern life styles and endeavors. So why not?
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
"Punisher" is yet another example of the unbridled arrogance and ignorance that has come to represent bicyclist.
Whether out of arrogance or ignorance, he rejects the basic principle of safety: Designs must take into account human psychology. Punisher's arrogance is to blame drivers for well known effects of basic human behavior instead of bad design that produced these readily predictable problems.
And part of Punisher's arrogance is utter contempt for the people who commute by vehicles -- to him, the significant time they are forced to waste on the commute is irrelevant.
I largely stopped bicycling because too many bicyclists were actively antagonizing drivers and I was seeing this reflected in the drivers' attitudes. The final straw came when I was driving on a major street and a bicyclist shot through a stop sign from a side street. As I slammed on my brakes to avoid killing him, he flipped me the finger.
Posted by Progress really, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm
Back to the students and their safety. Maybell is designated as a safe corridor for the students to bike to school by the City of Palo Alto. A grant was given to the city to improve the safety of this street which they used to install speed bumps and resurfaced the streets.
Now the city has "improved" Arastradero. This "improvement" has generated an incredible increase of car traffic on Maybell (during the AM school peak hours increased 56% in the last 6 months from 443 to 690 vehicles) which may have improved Arastradero but has drastically reduced the safety on Maybell.
Posted by Punisher, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm
Douglas Moran, I do not own a bicycle. I drive a car and want to change the behavior of the MANY dangerous drivers I have to share the road with. In my car I have a fantastic spot to observe the daily mahem. I also get flipped off by drivers who are in the wrong all the time. Far ore often than incidents with bikes. If every single bike went away, our traffic problems would not be improved one iota because of the selfishness of so many people in cars. Time for a new theory designed to point blame at the 5% problem instead of the 95%. Cheers.
Posted by onelanemess, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm
@Punisher -- It certainly sounds like you are experiencing more problem drivers than I do, and it also sounds like you are talking about the major arteries in general,here in Palo Alto and surrounding cities, not just the Arastradero/Charleston corridor (which was the focal point of this discussion). Are you advocating reducing the lanes in all our major streets in our city?
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm
> Consider if everyone rode bicycles..
And your point is? What would be the consequences of such a change?
This rather utopian proposition is not particularly well crafted, as there are many consequences to such a change that perhaps have escaped our Cyclist friend. Let’s start by asking: what becomes of all the cars? OK, they just go “poof”—problem solved! Well, actually the question should be: what happens to all of the people working in the industries that are now effectively shut down, due a lack of demand? All of the primary materials manufacturers, the auto factories, the dealerships, the 3rd party parts manufacturers, the local garages, the petroleum industry, the highway construction people, and all of the small, hard-to-see, cottage industries/consultants who currently make a living from vehicles are now out-of-work too. What’s to become of them?
Well, certainly we can add them to the unemployment rolls, and sign them up with the almost 50% of Americans currently on food stamps .. there’s always room for people on the food stamp rolls.
And if we all became vegetarians, what would happen to the producers/distributors/retailers of meat products? Well .. the same thing. And what about the farms that produce corn, or provide acreage for cattle grazing? What will they do? Oh, we’ll shift from corn to some other vegetable, you say? Got any idea how corn/wheat/grains are grown? Got any idea how few people actually are involved in the production of these agricultural products, compared to vegetables grown on “truck farms”, like spinach, or tomatoes, or lettuce? Got any idea how labor intensive table vegetables are to grow, compared to the more-or-less “big agriculture” production of corn/wheat/etc? So, where are all of the people, and water, going to come from to grow crops in the mid-west that are not suitable to that climate to begin with? It doesn’t take much imagination to come to the conclusion that massive immigration of poorly-educated/minimally-skilled farm workers is the only way to grow vegetables “locally”.
And what about the GDP? Any idea what the nation’s GDP would be with all of these people out of work, or displaced into menial labor jobs, like picking up trash on the side of our roadways? Oh, and don’t forget, Social Security payouts, require two workers for each SS recipient. And now—we’ve also got possibly trillions in unfunded pension obligations for government workers. Where is this money going to come from, based on our country’s banning cars/trucks/etc. in order to force people on to bicycles to “save the world”?
There are even more disastrous consequences beyond these, extending all over the world—a world that depends on the US for essential aspects of its economies/GDPs and defense. I’ll stop now—this list seems to offer much to mull over.
Because of current economy is clearly interlinked with, and dependent upon, the automobile, Tthe idea of switching to a bicycle-powered economy is clearly disastrous—so much so that it is unbelievable that such an idea is being discussed on a public blog in Silicon Valley in 2012!
I’ve considered this sort of scenario a number of times. But what about yourself? Did you ever really think it through?
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm
BTW .. here is what the former Transportation Official claimed, back in 2004---
Everyone wins with Charleston-Arastradero Road plan
Published Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004 in the Palo Alto Daily News
BY JOE KOTT
A "Pareto Optimal" (named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto) change is defined as making some better, without making anyone else worse.
The Charleston-Arastradero Corridor Plan, unanimously recommended to Palo Alto's City Council by the Planning and Transportation Commission on Dec. 10, goes Professor Pareto one better. All users of the corridor -- not just cyclists and crossing pedestrians, but car drivers and transit riders, too -- will be better off if the plan is adopted by City Council Jan. 20.
Council requested that these two streets be more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly, especially for school commutes. They requested that any plan must not delay car travel or shift through traffic onto residential streets.
The Charleston-Arastradero solution presented in response to council's challenge includes five components:
We are engineering the signal lights so green time allocation is based on real-time traffic demand throughout the day. "Traffic adaptive" signal timing changes will happen when and where they are needed and will provide the equivalent of an additional -- though "virtual" -- lane at each signalized intersection.
We plan to convert about one-half the length of the corridor from four lanes to three, with one through lane in each direction, and intermittent left turn pockets and landscaped medians. This re-allocation of space provides continuous and wider bicycle lanes, and shorter and safer pedestrian crossings, protected by raised medians.
We have a provision for a new dedicated right-turn lane at Gunn High School to reduce the turning queue on Arastradero into Gunn and the related Gunn pathway drop-off congestion on Georgia Avenue.
We plan to install more electronic speed advisory signs, four new pedestrian-actuated, in-pavement lighted crosswalks and more visible pedestrian crosswalks in other locations, including El Camino Real.
Lastly, we are planting frontage street trees to enhance the visual amenity of the corridor.
The effects of these changes will be seen in several ways. They will decrease vehicle delay at intersections by up to 28 percent and travel time from Fabian to Foothill Expressway by up to 3 minutes (even when factoring in traffic growth to the year 2015). They will reduce prevailing speeds by up to five miles per hour between intersections while cutting the incidence of higher speeds (more than 40 miles per hour) much more than that. And they will dramatically increase the comfort and safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.
Safer and more comfortable bicycling and walking conditions will convince many more students and their parents that cycling or walking to school, or taking the Palo Alto Shuttle, are better choices than being driven or driving. This, in turn, will trigger a "virtuous spiral": fewer cars on Charleston-Arastradero and more use of cleaner, healthier, quieter transportation modes.
For more information about the Corridor Plan, including traffic analysis, traffic projections, alternative road designs, public meeting notes, and related studies, visit Web Link
More room for left-turners
Traffic congestion typically occurs at and not in between intersections. There is compelling evidence in the traffic engineering literature that converting urban arterial streets from four lanes to three lanes makes streets safer, mainly by giving left turners a pocket or lane in which to wait to make their turn. This reduces the risk of rear-end collision with motorists behind them, and both rear-end and sideswipe collisions caused by following motorists who change lanes. It also allows prudent drivers to set the pace on such streets since those who wish to speed are unable to pass them.
For more information on the traffic safety and traffic flow benefits of converting urban arterial streets from four to three lanes, see the important research paper from the Iowa Department of Transportation Office of Transportation Safety at Web Link.
Safer and more efficient
For more information on "traffic adaptive" signal systems, see the fine University of Utah Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering research paper at .Web Link.
Professor Pareto would have liked the new thinking in urban traffic engineering and transport planning. Cities like Palo Alto can have both safer roadways for all -- including bicyclists and pedestrians as well as drivers and their passengers -- and more efficient ones too through smart road re-design and deployment of smart electronics.
Joe Kott is Palo Alto's chief transportation official.
> We are engineering the signal lights so green
> time allocation is based on real-time traffic
> demand throughout the day. "Traffic adaptive"
> signal timing changes will happen when and where
> they are needed and will provide the equivalent
> of an additional -- though "virtual" -- lane
> at each signalized intersection.
This was a key part of Kott's plan. Yet, has it happened? I have made several public records requests to the current Transportation Official, and his boss, the Director of Planning, about the status of this traffic synchronization. To date, there has not response to any of these requests. It's pretty clear that the current Transportation Official does not see himself covered by the Public Records Act. Sadly, most the the management under James Keene seem to think much the same way.
Kott promised a lot. It's hard to see how the Transportation people delivered very much of the original promises.
Posted by a cyclist, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm
I think your argument can be broken into two fundamental concerns:
1. If production efficiency is so high that, relative to demand, 100% employment is neither necessary nor possible, how do we distribute the abundance of goods among the members of society? Bertrand Russell took up this question ~80ya in his famous essay "In Praise of Idleness". See in particular the passage beginning: "Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins."
1a. This question is relevant whether or not humans decide to slow down the consumer economy a bit for the sake of the earth; indeed, it's quite relevant now. But I grant that it's more relevant if we slow it down.
1b. Still, it's worth noting that if we were to take up ways of agriculture and animal husbandry that are in greater harmony with the environment and not cruel to animals, the need for human labor may well go up for a while.
2. The second point is that you are concerned about the disruptive effects of a large change in demand. First, nobody says the change must be large and fast; it can be gradual. Might I suggest that changes at the local community level are of the second sort? Second, those of us who abide by science both when it is convenient and when it is not (For is it not strange that people will fly on a composite-material airplane but stridently proclaim anthropogenic climate change is a hoax? Somehow all the scientists given to pulling our collective leg are in climate science, and all the rest are inventing nice things for society?) have it in mind to make the world better starting now rather than wait for the far greater disruptive effects that will happen decades to centuries from now as climate change accelerates.
Put another way, your argument boils down to that it would be inconvenient to change the way we do things, so let's not. A perfectly sound argument, certainly, if the way we are doing things were not harmful to the earth and other humans who don't get to participate in our way of life. But we are harming the earth, and we are exploiting the less fortunate. So we must change.
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm
> It is quite similar, but it has been modified
Given that the Council voted on the Kott plans, then it would seem that there is something like "bait and switch" going on.
The full Kott plan involved a lot of "beautification", which drove the price up to about $7M, if memory serves. This beautification had nothing to do with safety, and the status of this phase of the plan is not exactly clear either.
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
The Joe Kott plan gave criteria -- improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists while maintaining vehicle capacity -- that they thought could be achieved. The Arastradero trial was delayed by many years because when they started working the details, they found they couldn't reconcile the conflicting demands of the different usage. It took first a change in the traffic circulation on the Gunn campus (previously it backed up onto Arastradero) to make the trial even faintly possible. The School District didn't agree to the needed change in bell times until after the trial started and it was clear that the trial would fail without that change.
I think the point being made in the original comment was that the criteria of maintaining vehicle flow had been silently dropped. People such as me have come see this criteria not just forgotten, but reversed -- that many of the advocates for the project (not City Staff) see impeding commuter traffic as a desirable.