Addressing Pedestrian and Bike Safety in Embarcadero Underpass
Original post made by Bob Wenzlau, Crescent Park, on Sep 11, 2007
This is a very high traffic area for bikes, cars and people. Given Town & Country's development plans, more hazards are on the way.
Today I witnessed a bike crash on the underpass between three student bikers. It occurred on the ramp near the crosswalk to Palo Alto High by the shopping center. The collision nearly threw one of the riders into the fast moving automobile traffic on Embarcadero. It was very very close. As a regular bike commuter, previously I had observed a similar event when a child scooter rider lost control going down the ramp.
These hazards have been presented to city staff, city council members, the school/bike safety committee, and the former Paly principal. I have presented them across several years. Seeing these hazards lead for several proposals including:
- extending the railing along the side of the ramps.
- improving access and egress routing from the underpasses at the north and east sides
- inviting striping to allow for more organized passing
As a former PTA traffic representative, I felt reasonably qualified in my observations, and seemed to gain some acknowledgment from city planning. When presented to the Mayor, she indicated that perhaps some money from paving Embarcadero could be diverted to this. (Staff did based on recommendations remove the one-way restrictions in the underpass that were implausible, and had been a basis of ticketing several years ago)
Nothing has happened based on these recommendations! Today's incident invited me to try another route of communication--our town forum. I believe this type of situation is a litmus test for the city's commitment to a bicycle / pedestrian friendly city. I have grown cynical after publicizing this hazard, seeing inaction, yet observing numerous photos of bike riding officials. I want our cycling safer in this town to compliment our bike riding pledges.
Perhaps it is time for someone with a different tact to pick up on this hazard, and ask for a modest sum to be spent to improve the pedestrian access through this most traveled corridor. At a minimum, I hope for extension of safety rails along the underpass. For those masters of city politics, please offer any thoughts.