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Original post made
on Jul 10, 2012
This is great! Does anyone know if the plans include trails or paths from west of 280 (Page Mill, Arastradero) to downtown? Page Mill is a narrow and dangerous road west of 280 and one very much used by bikers.
talk talk talk
walk the walk
too many cars
not enough dive bars
We need more signs for bike parking. e.g. Never seen anywhere to park a bike at Stanford Shopping Center.
Also, middle schools have nowhere for parents or visitors to park bikes except in the bike cages which are locked during school and so are no good for volunteers to use for part of the school day. (I know this is a school issue, but it is still a problem).
There is lots of bicycle parking downtown and I assume that the California Ave renovations will bring lots of bicycle parking to that area as well. Stanford Shopping Center is private property, but customers should talk to store owners who can pressure management to install bike racks there as well.
I am disappointed that this new bike plan is so poorly funded. We are pouring a $100 million of sales tax money into those new Hwy 101 merging lanes right now. Why can't a small portion of that money be dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian projects, instead of always treating non-car commuters like second class citizens.
I never said there was no parking downtown or at Stanford. I said there were not enough signs to tell you where the parking was. Road signs with a big P are for cars, but a sign with a bicycle and a P and an arrow to show you where to go would be a help.
People in the stores at Stanford have no idea where to park a bike and as long as you don't park blocking their entrances, they don't care.
Bicycle parking can be invisible without a sign. :)
Has anyone been to Golden Gate Park lately? The new bike lanes on JFK Drive are fantastic!
It would have been great to see something like this in Palo Alto.
And, of course, the California undercrossing is not only insufficient for bicyclists carrying cargo/children extenders, but it is safe for both the bicyclists and pedestrians. For every bicyclist who walks their bikes through the undercrossing, there are probably 10-15 who still ride. I have seen more "accidents" in the tunnel than I can count.
And, of course, it doesn't help when you see loiterers in the tunnel as well.
Signs? Bike Parking? What's wrong with a lamp post or a tree? That's what I always do when I can't find a parking spot within 5 minutes. Never had any problems. Other times I just ride my $25 craigslist junker and lock it to itself. Nobody will steal it.
I think this bike plan is a great development for Palo Alto. If it was funded properly.
"The council agreed that the gradual process of implementing the projects in the plan would be costly and encouraged residents to contribute by forming a "Friends" group to help with the fundraising."
What about a "Friends of Palo Alto Cars" group to help with fundraising to fix the parking problems and potholes in the streets?
@ Evergreen Park Neighbor, who wrote:
Signs? Bike Parking? What's wrong with a lamp post or a tree? That's what I always do when I can't find a parking spot within 5 minutes. Never had any problems. .......
Evergreen: if you have the opportunity, visit Davis or San Luis Obispo - bike parking is outside almost every store, it seem, as are bikers.
Bike hitches and other parking devices are critical bike infrastructure. I would point out that when you park at any available pole or tree, you may be blocking pedestrians or motorists existing cars - but basically it just looks bad - when you see cars parked - they usually have nice lines indicating where to park - and every parking space is values at tens of thousands of $.
Bikes deserve no less consideration - and fortunately, they don't cost thousands of $!
Check out the 'class of one' that Davis finds itself in as a bike-friendly city.
Census: The Top Bike Commuting Cities In U.S. | Planetizen
In short, bike lanes, bike parking, and other bike infrastructure = more biking.
"Accidents in the CA ave tunnel", not my experience Nayali. I commute through that tunnel twice a day and have for many years. I might have seen one accident total in that time. When it is busy I walk, but when it is not busy, it is a safe ride.
@ not my experience:
Wow...I suppose that I have been in the wrong place at the wrong times. I have seen a handful of accidents in which individuals rode into the tunnel and either hit the metal deterrents or pedestrians while trying to slow down on the incline.
Thankfully, I haven't been hit (just bumped a couple of times). However, I have lived here for less than four years. Perhaps it isn't as frequent as my experiences would dictate.
Still, it would be great to see something more along the undercrossing on Homer. It is wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists.
This bike plan indicates some of the issues with the California Avenue tunnel...especially in terms of the inability for bikes with cargo/childseat extensions to navigate through the metal riding deterrents and the many bikers who still ride through the tunnel.
I also use the California ave tunnel a lot and never see accidents like Nayali refers to. I do see the issue of getting a bike trailer passed the barriers. I see riders dismount or ride pedestrian type speeds.
I *am* in favor of a new bike bridge over 101 in Palo Alto. However, the new bike bridge over 101 in Mt. View cost less than $2 million. I'm trying to find out what the new one over 101 in Menlo Park cost. I have not heard why we need to spend $6 million.
Thanks for the article - excellent as always (and thanks for quoting me!) I'm very glad to see the city council is finally focusing on the challenges of funding and implementation of bicycle and pedestrian safety projects.
The statistics quoted for driving and bicycling are out of date - they appear to be from the 2006 - 2010 American Community Survey (ACS). There is more recent data available from the U.S. Census.
The most recently available commute data show a lower rate for driving alone to work and higher rates for bicycling to work. Here they are:
Palo Alto, Drive Alone: 64.3%, not "more than two thirds" (2008-2010 ACS)
Palo Alto, Bicycle: 8.6%, not 6.8% (2008-2010 ACS)
Santa Clara County, Bicycle: 1.6%, not 1.4% (2010 ACS)
California, Bicycle: 1.0%, not 0.9% (2010 ACS)
United States, Bicycle: 0.5% (2010 ACS)
However, all of these statistics underestimate bicycle use. These percentages only include residents who use a bicycle as their "primary mode of transportation" to work - which excludes residents who bike to transit and then take transit to work, for example. They also exclude commuters who only bike 1 or 2 days per week. Finally, commute trips are only about 20% of all trips, and residents use bicycles more frequently for non-commute trips.
A safe way for bikes to cross 280 would be nice. The bike lane on Page Mill does not feel safe, nor does the Sand Hill Road crossing.
Hand in hand with encouraging bike use must be a program to educate the public...especially kids...re safer riding. The kids going to school on Newell rarely stop for stop signs. In a couple of places, the streets crossing Newell have right-of-way w/o a stop sign.
Also. People must ride in the direction of the traffic. Cars don't expect to encounter bikes on the wrong side of the street, especially when making turns.
Also. Enforce bike lights once the sun is down.
@ I bike,
I am not saying that accidents happen on a daily basis in the California Ave tunnel. I am just saying that I have seen numerous "accidents" since I have lived here.
When I say "accidents," I mean that I have seen individuals go too fast riding and then, while trying to slow themselves, bump into the metal deterrent bars. And, I have seen individuals who slightly bumped into others (not "run them over" or anything like that) while riding. Most of those that I have seen in such incidents were youth.
Obviously, most riders are much more careful. However, I still notice that many riders still ride through the tunnel (which is prohibited for safety's sake).
And, yes, it is difficult to get a bike trailer to pass through the deterrent barrier. Just yesterday, I assisted a woman maneuver her child carrier through the barrier. It literally took two of us...and this carrier wasn't as large as many of the others that I have seen. I wish that the bars could be adjusted to compensate with carrier equipment.
BTW, has anyone in the city looked at the bike lanes in Golden Gate Park yet? I like how they are set up. They are very bike-friendly!
I agree that the California Ave tunnel badly needs to be fixed. It is currently too steep and narrow for many wheelchairs, as well as bicycles with child trailers. Same goes for the bridge over Hwy 101 at Embarcadero Road.
> "Accidents in the CA ave tunnel", not my experience
How would anyone know how many bicycle accidents occur anywhere in town unless they were properly reported to the police, and then properly published by the police?
See one, or not seeing any, is hardly the basis for making claims about the number of accidents at his location, or anywhere, for that matter.
> the California Ave tunnel badly needs to be fixed
Too many cyclists have taken to riding their bikes through this tunnel, even though there are signs indicating that they should walk. What's needed is a police officer handing out tickets, and a Court that is seizing bikes of cyclists who defy the law.
Contrary to what the City claims, this is a bike plan for the "spandex biker". It is driven by the desire (vanity) to rank higher on the scoring criteria used by the spandex crowd. It focuses on the long distance rider at the substantial expense of the casual rider who might use biking to do local errands.
Andrew Boone, a supporter of the Plan (and who commented above), made a good point in a comment to the City that lack of connectivity across El Camino is a major problem (a point that I also have been raising for years). Yet the plan is targeted to benefit the few at the neglect of the many. One such example follows:
Well, I live on one of those connectors -- Matadero Ave -- that has been on the to-do list for improvements for 15 years. It is a narrow street with significant speeding, and the problem has gotten worse because of what appears to be cut-through traffic created by the bicycle "improvements" on Arastradero.
The street doesn't have sidewalks (or room for them) -- a result of it being developed before becoming part of the City, pedestrians have to walk on the sides of the streets. Yet far too many drivers refuse to move to the center when passing a pedestrian or bicyclist, including parents push babies in strollers and parents with small children. There are so many close calls that many of these parent take significant detours to avoid this street (a creek disrupts the street grid).
I met with City staff (Chief Transportation Officer Jaime Rodiguez accompanied by Traffic Engineer Rafael Rius) and showed them the problems. They listened politely, but refused to engage. I was unsuccessful in trying to get them to consider about where it fell in the priorities and what the magnitude of cost would be, and since other components of the Plan have received such, I expect that nothing will happen.
The bicycle lobby becomes enraged if you even suggest that spandex bikers should detour a single block out of their way to use a bike path paralleling a major arterial, but they are contemptuous of much larger detours forced on other bicyclists and on pedestrians. And they are similarly contemptuous of the safety issues of others: When I raise these concerns, they are routinely brushed off with a statement that _they_ don't have problems with such situations.
Asking one PA police officer about the CA Ave bike tunnel got the answer, "you are requested to walk your bike when it is not safe, but there is not a law against riding your bike when you can safely do it."
@ no law:
Thanks for the info. It is puzzling about the "official" signage. If memory serves, it instructs individuals to walk their bikes.
The signs directing people to walk their bikes were there before the barriers were put in, and they should have been removed when the barriers were installed. Bicyclists with cleats have difficulty walking on the steep slopes and it is safer for them to walk.
I recall the law in the muni code, but it appears it is no longer there. Similarly the law against riding a bike on the ped bridge over 101 seems to have been removed from the muni code. Anyway it was there, it appears it no longer is.
> The signs directing people to walk their bikes were there
> before the barriers were put in
So if there is no law requiring walking your bike through this tunnel, what's the point of the barriers .. or paying City employees not to do their job--such as changing/removing the "No Walk" signs.
It makes no sense to allow people riding their bikes through this tunnel, with people walking through the tunnel at the same time.
In all the years the California Avenue tunnel has been there - since the 1950's, if memory serves - pedestrians & bicylists have shared the road just fine. There is plenty of room to see each other coming. Bikes go at a safe speed, and are courteous, from my experience, but I don't discount the experience of others or that a biker may be in a hurry, and had a one-person accident or a near miss.
Several years ago, when the tunnel was discussed as part of the Comprehensive Plan, there was discussion about building a parallel tunnel, with one exclusively for bikes and one for pedestrians under Alma, to get to the Cal Ave business district.
I don't know what happened to that idea, but it was well presented at council meetings long ago, during the time Frank Benest was City Manager, or even before that. It has to be on record somewhere, though finding city documentation is often like looking for a needle in a haystack. It's there.
I've not looked for info re: the parallel tunnel, but someone may be interested......With that said, I'm glad the city is making bicyclists & their safety a priority, w/ the new city-wide bike plan.
I must say, it's been great having the Oscar Castillo mural to enjoy, while walking through the existing Cal Ave tunnel. I always think of the Monterey Bay Aquarium when I'm there, hearing traffic noise from Alma Expressway above, which was his inspiration, giving him incentive to take two solid months of his life to paint the tunnel, and teaching others (mostly teens, some adults) to use spray paint to create art, instead of destructive grafitti.
> There is plenty of room to see each other coming. Bikes go at a
> safe speed, and are courteous
What has changed is the appearance of the "spandex"/"long distance" cyclists that run through stop signs, red lights, and flip off people who make note of their crude behavior.
These people, by-and-large, are not courteous, and sooner-or-later we are going to see a cyclist kill a pedestrian, as has happened twice now in the North Bay in the last several months.
> Palo Alto, Drive Alone: 64.3%, not "more than two
> thirds" (2008-2010 ACS)
Really? This sort of data is notoriously unreliable, and subject to change on a seasonal basis. Claiming that 64.3% of not close to 2/3rds is not very prudent.
There also is the issue of kids using bikes to go to school. These kids have no option to drive (up to high school anyway). The fact that they are using bikes is good. But it's unlikely that the numbers who use bikes can be accurately counted, and certainly not added to this sort of statistic in a meaningful way.
I never get flipped off by cyclists. Consider the possibility that it's something you are doing to warrant such a response.
I'm a Palo Alto native, went to Walter Hayes in the mid 80's, and my friends and I all biked to school together. It's easy to count the bikes on campus, most if not all are in cages. Fairly reliable counts have been done over those thirty years, and show a decrease in child biking and increase of parent driving. Parents fear for their children's safety, yet ironicly their driving to school decreases safety. These past few years we've increased riding, but I think not back to the 1980s' highs.
I've been an active member of the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee (PABAC) these past 14 years, and we've worked hard to improve bike safety and convenience for all ability levels, from spandex to training wheels; including a safe and efficient interface with drivers.
PABAC gave a lot of input to the plan, as did the public, the school bike committee, the PTC commission, Parks & Rec Board, and Council. Having spoken with the plan authors, I know they sought to help bikers and pedestrians of all levels. The plan will be beneficial, including its solutions toolkit for our community to improve conditions as we see fit. I'm glad so many people are working together to help everyone, and thank everybody for their participation.
Note to road ragers - if you don't cut off bicyclists to force them off the road and don't blast your horn to try to intimidate them, you are very unlikely to get flipped off by them.
Thanks for posting about Golden Gate. That's what we should have done on Arastradero! Consolidated the single-file sidewalks and the dangerous bike lanes and made a bike hwy.
Given the state of disrepair of Palo Alto's cycling infrastructure, this new plan is totally half-baked. Fix the existing paths, put the safety of kids on bikes over the fools that turned Charleston into the dangerous ride that it has become, and get over the bike bridge envy.
I am a biker who is constantly shocked by the behavior and attitude of many bikers...
1. While biking on a rural road that merged with another road to our right, a member of our group plowed into a trailer in front of him because speed was more important than being aware of ALL traffic surrounding him. The trailer (which ironically had a race car on it) had slowed down to merge with the traffic on the right, the biker was only paying attention to the traffic on the right - not the traffic right in front of him.
2. Parents/care givers running red lights while pulling a child in a bike cart.
3. A biker riding so fast on San Antonio that he clipped and snapped off a drivers right side mirror.
4. Bikers riding on resident streets very fast and very close to driveways, in some cases a car backing up has little chance of seeing the biker - especially when they approach at such high speeds.
5. Bikers running 4-way stop signs, presumably because the law applies more to the cross traffic car than the biker - what happens when two bikers do the same thing with one on the cross traffic?
6. Little kids riding their bikes focused only on where they are going, not the slightest bit aware of their surroundings and potential danger - at least little kids are good about wearing their helmets!!
I am so sick of this being a fight between bike riders and car drivers. We live in a densely populated area where EVERYONE should be doing their part to share the road. All parents should be teaching their kids to ride defensively. It is NOT about who would win in a court of law, but who goes to sleep at night without having experienced or contributing to an injury (or worse). Every accident is a heart ache for someone - let's all share in prevention, not accusation!!!
I appreciated your response "Doug Moran". Those of us who are not the Spandex type, who would like to be able to get across El Camino, and see the Arastradero/Charleston project as totally unsafe or reasonable, would like or needs and opinions to at least be "considered" as "reasonable" since we pay taxes as well.
Occasional Cyclist - The are great bike racks at Stanford Shopping Center outside Macys and Bloomingdales on the parking garage side of the buildings. It's one reason I shop at Macy's. I don't know about the other side of the center. I tried and failed to find on on the El Camino side of the complex. But clearly, signage is a good idea.
Joe - what I was referring to when I said bikers go slow and are polite, is only inside the California Avenue tunnel. I didn't mean that was my observation for all of Palo Alto, but only inside that tunnel, as Nayeli mentioned having seen problems there. While it is no doubt true, as hundreds of bikers pass that tunnel daily, it's not been my experience whenever I've been there.
I'm grateful for Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood's comments, and happy to know that someone with his expertise was able to weigh in on this plan, as it was forming.
Douglas Moran says...
It focuses on the long distance rider at the substantial expense of the casual rider who might use biking to do local errands...
You can't stay within the city limits of Palo Alto and go a "long distance".
RE: John Murphy: "You can't stay within the city limits of Palo Alto and go a "long distance"."
If you attend/listen to the hearings on this topic, you will hear a lot about bike commuters into Palo Alto and virtually nothing about people using bikes for errands. The only exception that comes to mind is bike racks, where bike racks for commuters is roughly on par with racks at destinations where the dominant use is likely to be local trips.
Racks for commuters is not as important. They tend to take they bikes inside the workplace. Racks for errands is more important, but any tree or street sign works. Racks are just more tidy. Getting around Palo Alto for errands is not hard, you just have to know the routes.
Cyclists are no more rude than other vehicle operators, you just get a better view of it.
I've been flipped off and endangered MANY more times by psycho drivers than by cyclists. Aggressive Cyclists are an irritation that I run across every now and again, and like everyone else I have a handful of anecdotal stories accumulated over the years to verify that. Aggressive drivers are a multiple daily occurrence each and every commute. When I see local car fatalities, rollovers and hit and run accidents decline, I'll spend the energy worrying about cyclists.
Thanks for the info about bike racks at Stanford near Macys. I will look for them.
As for using a tree, lamp post or similar for locking a bike, I think thoughtful cyclists don't block sidewalks or wish to damage a tree when locking bikes. It is safer for pedestrians as well as less damaging to the bike to use designated bike parking racks.
School PTAs do a good job every fall counting the bikes at the various schools during the day to get a fairly good count of how many bikes are used for school. Finding out which route they use is much more difficult.
"As for using a tree, lamp post or similar for locking a bike, I think thoughtful cyclists don't block sidewalks or wish to damage a tree when locking bikes. It is safer for pedestrians as well as less damaging to the bike to use designated bike parking racks."
Agreed if one can't park the bike without hurting a tree or blocking others, they shouldn't, but it is not a given that they will if they don't use a bike rack.
I didn't see a single cycletrack (protected bike lane) in the plan.
Did I miss something?
Kudos to all the people involved in this work.
I commute daily to work by bicycle 100% of the time and cycle recreationally.
Re: the comments about spandex wearers vs. local cyclists. I tend to think of the situation as follows.
1. A daily work commute starts and ends in local congestion but is aided by bicycle boulevards ridden during the bulk of the trip. For this reason, bicycle blvds are a good place to focus to encourage and enable regular bicycle commuting. For example, I start in my own neighborhood (in MV) and navigate the various oddities (unusual car parking situations, lights that don't sense bicycles, etc.); then I take Foothill, which is wonderful; then I end in the congested area around my workplace (in PA), where again I face a lot of less-than-ideal conditions. The key point is the bulk of my trip is on Foothill, which is a bicycle boulevard in a sense. The same three-part ride occurs when I commute on Bryant, Park (which I already consider a decent bicycle blvd, but one that could use a lot of improvement), Sand Hill, Alameda, Central Expy, certain parts of Middlefied, etc. Long E-W and N-S bicycle blvds are a really good solution for 5-10 mile bicycle commutes to the workplace. Regardless of destination, I purposely plan the first and third parts of my trip so the second part can go on such a blvd. I'm pretty sure most experienced people with 5-10 mile commutes do that.
2. Spandex wearers, by which is meant serious recreational cyclists, don't really use urban roads, so urban planning is largely irrelevant to them! We tend to ride mostly south of 280. I'm guessing that most serious recreational cyclists agree with me that we don't expect anything special to be built for us except a decent shoulder (which I believe is required by law). It almost goes without saying that shoulders are good for all road users for many reasons, so creating them along with the main road is hardly a burden.
3. Neighborhood and local riding by, for example, school children, is a third category of riding. Such a ride is like doing just the first of the three parts of a work commute I describe in point 1. I don't think the PA bicycle plan is meant to address this third category that much, mostly because the problems are numerous and widespread. Nor do I think it should. A far more local effort is usually required, for example, involving schools.
I just wanted to say a hugh, "Thank You" to everyone who worked on this project. It has been very exciting to see bicycling increasing in Palo Alto over all the categories over the last decade. The more of us out there bicycling (and following the rules of the road), the safer it will be for all bikers, pedestrians and anyone getting around outside of the confines of a car. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of safer people-powered mobility.
I'm skeptical about this. Every other attempt to get everyone else riding bikes so that I can drive my car with no traffic and cheap gas has been a dismal failure. It seems like most people still don't have the time or the energy to ride a bike everywhere. Some people have to go up hills now and then.
Random comments -
It would be great if the City could get its employees and subcontractors to keep their vehicles and themselves out of the bike lanes - especially during student commute times. Hydromax (who I think is photographing the sewer pipes) is particularly great at blocking intersections and bike lanes between 7:45 and 8:15 when many kids are biking. Contractors working on the roads regularly block the bike lanes on Newell. The contractors working at Jordan park so the bike lane on N. California is sometimes blocked (though they are pretty good...)
Jordan installed bik racks by the office specifically for parents.
Seriously, I see much larger towns going bankrupt..like Stockton and San Bernadino, from unfunded pensions. I don't want to spend one more penny until we know we will have enough to pay our pensioners for 30 years in the future, including changes in our pension/health care plan that make it sustainable ( more years of work, less retirement benefits)
So, committing to 10 million BUCKS for anything is foolish until we know we are fiscally sound.
some guy - I assume you were being facetious when you wrote "get everyone else riding bikes so that I can drive my car with no traffic and cheap gas" If not, then at least you're upfront about your narcissism.
But you're missing the point about increasing bicycle use. We don't need every person to ride a bike for every trip. We just need to make it convenient and comfortable enough so that a significant percentage of people will use a bicycle for a significant percentage of their trips.
YEAH BIKES! They're little smile generators :)
Investment in infrastructure and programs to increase biking and walking is smart, and represents a tiny fraction of what is spent for automobile-specific improvements. Given PA's current population of 64,400 and the statistics provided above, 8.6% of Palo Altan's biking equates to ~5,500 bikes (must be on a daily basis? There's hundreds of bikes just through Cal Ave & Park each morning). Those thousands of bikes cause a lot less wear and tear of the roadways than the same number of cars. Not to mention health benefits, direct and indirect cost savings, reduced air, water, and ground pollution, etc. Besides which, a lot of bike money (and car money) invested by the city comes through the county, state, and federal governments: they are earmarked for specific spending, and can not be used to ensure pensions are paid. While I sympathize on the need to address long-term pension needs, "Perspective's" solution is ineffective.
"Palo Alto's dream of leading the pack of America's most...."
I really am sick of Palo Alto and it's lack of accountability. City officials from lower level management all the way up to city manager are corrupt. Palo Alto is full of empty dreams. All Palo Alto does is dream of being number 1, dream of being an innovator, dream of becoming the first at..... All pipe dreams folks.
All they do is make public statements, post on-line ideas and then spend millions of dollars for all these 'great ideas' to fizzle out and yet ask for more money to fund these 'great ideas'. I'm saving to get the hell out of dodge. This place blows and it isn't getting better. Bye!!
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