http://paloaltoonline.com/square/print/2012/08/29/bikes-climb-to-the-top-of-citys-transportation-vision


Town Square

Bikes climb to the top of city's transportation vision

Original post made on Aug 29, 2012

As parking shortages and traffic congestion continue to rile Palo Alto residents, city planners are steadily shifting their transportation priorities to encourage more biking, walking and transit use.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 11:15 PM

Comments

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Posted by cheaper
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm

This is just common sense. The city does not have enough pavement to support all the jobs in town if everyone drives cars. No one wants their house seized so the city can widen roads. Bicycles need much less space than cars for both moving and parking and improving bicycle infrastructure is much cheaper than building new roads.

However, for this to work, the city needs to greatly enhance connectivity between the various short bike routes around town. There are several large barriers with few safe bicycle crossings, such as Hwy 101, Alma Street and the Caltrain tracks, El Camino Real, and I-280. Build longer and more direct bicycle routes around town and better connections to neighboring cities and people will use them.

Palo Alto is the perfect city for bicycling: short distances between homes and jobs, mostly flat terrain, year-round mild weather, and a generally healthy population.


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Posted by Cool
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 7:42 am

This is a move to help DRIVERS as well by making it easier for people to get out of their cars and free up traffic space for those who cannot.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 7:53 am

Many people for various reasons are not able to ride bikes.

But, everyone can ride a bus.

Why are we not improving our public transit? Why can't we start a modest charge on the shuttle and then expand it over town? Why can't we put more effort in getting our school kids to school on buses and shuttles? Why can't Palo Alto put more pressure on VTA to improve bus service in Palo Alto?

I do use my bike, but it isn't always practical. I do think that making it easy for people to use bikes is a good idea. But take your blinkers off and wake up. Public transport must not be forgotten as part of the solution.


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Posted by cheaper
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

Bicycles and buses are not either-or. We can do both.

However, remember that the VTA runs the bus system in our county and they just blew $100 million on the Hwy 101 ramps you see being built right now in Palo Alto. Public transit is not their top priority.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:33 am

Making it easier to bike is wonderful. It would be great if the City kept their contractors (such as Hydromax) and their employees from parking vehicles in designated bike lanes or taking up a lot of the streets during prime bike "commute" times.

Expanding the shuttle all over town and charging a modest fee or developing a "pass" system (especially for the high school and middle school kids) would be really helpful.

In general, our public transportation system is terrible. Use 511 to plan your route from Palo Alto to an airport - to get from City Hall to the San Jose Airport takes between 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes for a 20 minute drive.


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Posted by John Galt
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

More and more Hopium.
Palo Altans are NOT going to trade their Priusi, Mercedes, Teslas, Leaves, etc. for bikes. You can waste money on bridges to (almost nowhere) impede traffic with more and more uncoordinated stop lights (I love the ones that are RED all the time forcing everyone to stop, idle and meditate on the benefits of "Traffic Calming"), remove lanes to create yet more congestion, etc.
Some people, like myself love bikes and ride all the time but the vast majority kissed bikes a fond farewell as SOON as the could get a drivers license and have never turned back except for RECREATIONAL use.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tool of the RNC
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

"As parking shortages and traffic congestion continue to rile Palo Alto residents, "
This is pure nonsense, written by someone who is just trying to stir the pot. Traffic congestion is not a problem in Palo Alto now, nor has it ever been.
It seems the Weekly is endorsing the anti-driver mentality that has become pervasive in Palo Alto these days, pushed by a self-centered group of pseudo-environmentalists who have no regard or empathy for those that must use their cars for too many reason to mention here.
Finally, the public transportation system in Palo Alto is a joke. To claim that everyone can ride busses is ridiculous and demonstrates a lack of knowledge of real world situations. Public transportation only works in densely populated areas. Biking may be feasible for some, but not for everyone.
Making statements that "city planners are steadily shifting their transportation priorities to encourage more biking, walking and transit use" shows a major disconnect from reality and a lack of respect for certain residents of our city.


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Posted by No Way
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

"Another new policy calls for evaluating converting Lytton and Hamilton avenues to one-way streets."

Please don't. Take a neighborhood shopping street and create a cross-town highway? Have you used Pine, Bush, Gough or Franklin in SF? Not good for merchants or resident shoppers. And it would just force more traffic across University as folks try to get from one side to the other to reach the one-way they require.

Just time the lights a little bit better on the current two ways and it would achieve the same benefits of easing flow across town without changing the atmosphere of the streets and logistics to get across town.


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Posted by Leave it Be
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

"consideration of changing High Street from a one-way to a two-way street between Lytton and Channing avenues"

Really? This would not help the situation at the corner of University and High. The right turn here onto the one way street is a critical circuit breaker to the back up of cars under the Caltrain overpass.

Who hasn't got caught here as folks back-up trying to get into downtown down University?



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Posted by Bob
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2012 at 12:24 pm

As parking shortages and traffic congestion continue to rile Palo Alto residents, city planners are steadily shifting THEIR transportation priorities to encourage more biking, walking and transit use.

Who is running the show? The people or the planners? In Mountain View, the current buzz term is "walk ability" a vague feel good expression of population control. I am so fed up with city staff manipulating the residents of our city with their futuristic utopian beliefs that they learned in college. This is not China or Europe, we thank God, live in the USA and we have our own way of doing things. If you want to ride your bike to work that's fine, for those of us who don't, leave us alone.


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Posted by G
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I think it is fine that we want to incorporate bicycles into our mix of vehicles, if only there was money for teaching people how to ride properly with all the correct equipment (properly fit helmets, lights, fenders, licenses, etc). I don't want to spend any more money on people who ignore traffic laws.

Not everyone can ride a bike. However bike riders rarely take responsibility for following the law of stopping at stop signs. Just watch the kids on their way to school. They NEVER stop at a stop sign.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I completely agree that we should not spend more money on getting people to ride bikes when the ones that already do can't obey the rules. How many bikes stop at stop signs? not many. How many bikes ride the wrong way? many. How many bikes have lights after dark? not many.

As to how many kids riding bikes don't stop at stop signs, blame the crossing guards. They wave bikes through against their stop signs. Then we wonder why kids don't stop at stop signs!!!!


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Posted by commuter
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Census data says about 30% of people with jobs in Palo Alto live within 3 miles of work. Small road improvements to help more of those people to bike to work will reduce road congestion, as well as road maintenance costs, for everyone. Just because you do not bike to work does not mean that you will not benefit.

And of course, the large majority of children attending Palo Alto schools live within 3 miles of their school. Same logic applies to improving the bicycle routes to our schools.


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Posted by John Galt
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm

The childeren are almost all driven to school, did you ever watch the FRANTIC congestion around the schools as distraced moms drop off or pickup kids? No ONE was driven to school in the 40s and 50s. School busses handled everyone more than 2 miles away. Every one else walked or biked. Look at Gunn parking lot, cars, cars, cars. They will not bike, betcha!
Until about 1980 all grade schools were local. You went to the neighborhood school. Kids were expected to go home for lunch daily. No lunch rooms or lunches were provided. The Modern approach is to let parents pick and choose where to send their children. Now cars shuttle all over PA delivering children miles away.
Also look at all the "green" and "fuel efficient" cars are used, 9,000 lb SUVs are in the majority, nothing less is safe enough!


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Posted by Hippo Crit
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm

People blaming bikes for not obeying the laws...do drivers? Do they use their turn signals as required? Do they ever drive over the posted speed limit? The answer is no, they usually ALWAYS drive over the limit, esp on the freeways.
Quit trying to point at a group of others as if the problem of obeying laws is only theirs. We all are on the roads and can see how cars behave as well as bikes.


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Posted by commuter
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Palo Alto schools say 30% to 40% of Palo Alto students bike or walk to school (number varies by grade and school). If you visit any school, you will see that the bike racks are full or overflowing, even though schools are adding more bike racks every year. The statement "childeren are almost all driven to school" is clearly false.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

> "Traffic congestion is not a problem in Palo Alto now, nor has it ever been."

You must be living in an alternate universe Palo Alto. Congestion is common even during non-commute hours.


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Posted by more development equals congestion
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Of course, increased traffic congestion is primarily caused by new development -- all approved by the "city". It would be very useful to have a serious, open-eyed discussion of just what we (and I mean the residents of Palo Alto, not the paid consultants, etc.) think is a reasonable population density for OUR city. When is it all just too much? And the infrastructure can't handle that many humans and still be a pleasant place to live.

I love biking and use it as transit whenever I can. But I am getting tired of being told to change my life to accommodate the interests of developers and their bought city employees who will never say "enough".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by commuter
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Congestion is caused by jobs and the distance between jobs and homes and the lack of transportation alternatives for those commuters.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Aug 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm

We need to better signalize our current "bike streets". Bryant is one of the worst places to ride a bike. There is no lane and there is no big signs or information on the road that it is supposed to be a bike lane. Cars still drive fast. Last week there was at least one bike accident. We need to fix Bryant situation immediately.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm

So good to hear this. It is heartening when you can see things evolve...


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Posted by bicycle boxes
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm

@Marie - San Francisco (and other cities) are painting big green "bicycle boxes" at stop lights along major bicycle routes. When the light turns red, cars are supposed to (and usually do) leave this area clear so bicyclists have a safe space to stop at the red light. Palo Alto needs to do this too. Currently, when the light turns red, the bicyclists are squeezed along the curb, which is really dangerous, especially if cars are turning right on the red light.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Bicyclists going straight should not be up against the curb, where they risk being cut off by drivers turning right. Bike boxes sound good, but they have problems, too, because they require bicyclists to pass on the right of cars to get to the boxes. What if the light turns green just as a bicyclist is doing this? The CVC requires drivers turning right to merge into a bike lane and turn from the curb, which would block bicyclists trying to get to the bike box. Bike boxes were invented in Portland, where the rules of the road regarding bike lanes and right turning traffic are different.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Bikes stopped at a red light should wait their turn in the queue, not squeeze up the side. Cars turning right can go into the bike lane, this means that if a car is waiting to turn right, the bike should wait behind it.


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Posted by I ride
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Resident, if you have proper lane position the bike can't get by you. Not clear what this has to do with the topic though.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:26 pm

It is relevant to the points about bike boxes mentioned in the posts above. Some appear to think bikes are squeezed up against the curb while stopped at traffic lights.


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Posted by I bike
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Ok, I see now. Most drivers don't know how to properly turn right, so I get the problem this is trying to address.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Unless bicycles, automobiles and pedestrians are EACh provided with dedicated pathways the result will be a compromise that encourages dangerous and deadly mixingof dramatically different modes of transportation.

The key is the elimination of parking on one side of every street on which the city wants to establish bikeways and then to have dedicated bikeways with their own traffic control signs and lights at every intersection.


No doubt that bikes are here to stay but why not learn from the experience of European countries who learned long ago that mixing cars and bikes does not work. Or do we have to be really dumb and learn the hard way?

"Perhaps the most important reason for the higher levels of cycling in northern

Europe—especially among women, children, and the elderly—is that cycling is much

safer there than in the USA. Both fatality and injury rates are much higher for cyclists in

the USA compared to Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Averaged over the years

2002 to 2005, the number of American bicyclist fatalities per 100 million km cycled was

5.8, compared to 1.7 in Germany, 1.5 in Denmark, and 1.1 in the Netherlands (see Figure

3). Thus, cycling is over five times as safe in the Netherlands as in the USA, which

probably explains why the Dutch do not perceive cycling as a dangerous way to get

around. "

"The provision of separate cycling facilities is the cornerstone of Dutch, Danish,

and German policies to make cycling safe and attractive to everyone. They are designed

to feel safe, comfortable, and convenient for both young and old, for women as well as

men, and for all levels of cycling ability. "

I believe that pedestrians, bicyclist and automobiles should all be accomodate on public thoroughfares whenever each can be accommodated safely.

We have long ago separated pedestrians and cars.

We prohibit pedestrians and bicycles from freeways.

We prohibit bicycles from sidewalks in heavily trafficked pedestrian areas.

It is unwise to mix pedestrians, bicycles and cars.

Public policy which encourages mixing of pedestrians, bicycles and/or cars is simply stupid.

The European data on the dramatically improved safety of separating pedestrians, bicycles and cars is unambiguous.

I believe that we should be providing SEPARATE rights of way for pedestrians, for bicycles and automobiles and until we do there will be unnecessary and avoidable injuries and deaths.

Claiming the 'right' to mix with cars carries with it the very real possibility of being dead right.


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I don't think Lytton and Hamilton are good candidates for 1 way conversions. Because they are separated by university it will end up generating a lot of cross traffic. Plus the higher speeds make one way streets less pedestrian and business friendly. I


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2012 at 7:39 am

Peter,
It is foolish to think that plopping European-style bike facilities here will solve the problem of bike safety in this country. We also need major changes in our legal system, our traffic laws and in people's attitudes. Neither changing facilities without changing culture nor vice versa will work. In Europe both developed together over decades and it is hard to separate them to determine cause and effect. However, not every city has a full network of separated bikeways. In many cases in smaller towns or on the outer parts of cities there are no separated bikeways, yet the attitudes of drivers allow bicyclists to use the roads so safely that nodoby bothers to wear a helmet.

If you want to advocate for separated facilities that is fine as long as you understand that they are only one part of a solution that must involve changes in attitude and laws.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 31, 2012 at 8:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It is foolish to think that plopping European-style bike facilities here will solve the problem of bike safety in this country." Nice statement but where is the data?

I believe that we should be providing SEPARATE rights of way for pedestrians, for bicycles and automobiles and until we do so there will be unnecessary and avoidable injuries and deaths.

Compromises with safety are just that - compromises. And when a 4000 lb car encounters a 200 lb bicyclist the physics are clear that the bicyclist will lose.

Or would you rather just put bikes, people and cars on the same pathway and see who wins?


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2012 at 9:40 am

Peter,
The "physics" argument only applies after there is a collision. The whole point of changing laws and attitudes is to prevent collisions. In this country we long ago decided to accept a high collision rate and work to protect people (at least those in cars)afterwards. I would rather ride in a shared lane with highly-trained, alert, and considerate car drivers than be on a separated path with frequent crossings of roads filled with unlicensed, distracted and uncaring drivers.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2012 at 10:00 am

Peter is right about European drivers and European cyclists as well as European pedestrians.

From my experience, obtaining a drivers license in Europe is much harder. The drivers test is much more demanding. People tend not to learn to drive in their teens and even those learning in their teens are not as young as here, most European countries are raising the driving age to 18.

Pedestrians take much more notice of road traffic. They don't walk with the assumption that vehicles have to give way to them. They know they are more vulnerable in a collision so pay more attention. Parents hold their childrens hands when walking near busy streets and teach the children much better how to cross a street. There are often metal barriers between sidewalks and streets, particularly near intersections, to prevent jaywalking, and zigzags in center verges to prevent pedestrians running across both sides of multi lane streets without using the same light.

Cyclists may not wear helmets, but that is because they realise that they are more vulnerable in a collision and take more care. They obey stop signs and traffic lights. They ride on the correct side of the street,use bike lights at night, don't ride two abreast on a street where there is no bike lane, and most elementary schools don't encourage children to ride alone to school knowing it is too dangerous.

There are usually metal barriers outside schools to prevent drops in traffic and to prevent kids running out of schools straight into traffic.

Parks and playgrounds tend to have narrow entrances/exits with metal barriers to prevent people running straight out into the street. Likewise any pedestrian walkway which runs into a busy street.

I agree with Peter, European standards of traffic safety are much better here. There they try to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. Here we try to lay blame.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 31, 2012 at 11:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The whole point of changing laws and attitudes is to prevent collisions."

Precisely and given this policy:
"Policy T-39: To the extent allowed by law, continue to
make safety the first priority of citywide transportation
planning. Prioritize pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile
safety over vehicle level-of-service at intersections."

the answer is "SEPARATE rights of way for pedestrians, for bicycles and automobiles " with traffic controls ( stop signs, traffic lights, etc. ) for each of them.

Palo Alto claims to be innovative in this plan
"Innovation
This principle highlights the role of Palo Alto (and Stanford) as a national leader in good ideas with a historic commitment to experimentation (i.e., learning by doing). These notions are crucial to advancing non-motorized design, where lengthy approval processes and other constraints can unnecessarily hold up the most trivial of advances. With innovation also comes the need for additional education and outreach, which will be especially important as the City introduces types of pedestrian and bicycle facilities/designs that are new to Palo Alto residents."

but it lacks the wisdom and the courage to both learn from others and to do something truly innovative.


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Ability to innovate is severely restricted by state law. Caltrans governs what you can do on public roads (which is generally a good thing), although you can file requests to experiment. Palo Alto has historically been quite scrupulous about complying with this state law, while other cities have felt free to violate it. There are some moves to make it easier to experiment, and there is some evidence that current Palo Alto leaders are more willing to break the state law, so we may see more innovation. I hope that we don't see poorly-thought out facilities or confusing ones as some of our neighbors have installed.

Bike boxes are inconsistent with the California Vehicle Code, as pointed out above, so cities can't legally install them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bike Missing
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm

My question is "What is being done about keeping our bikes safe?" Bike theft seems to be at a an all time high.. Will this policy include any cameras or surveillance for our bikes ?


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Posted by bike theft
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Yes, bicycle theft in Palo Alto does seem to be at an all time high, but remember that most bicycle theft is from residences, not off the street. Thieves are breaking in to locked (or unlocked) garages and stealing bicycles from there. People really need to keep their bikes locked, even when stored inside their homes. You can install surveillance in your garage if you want (this is not uncommon).

Here are a couple of interesting articles on why bike theft is soaring. Bike theft is not very profitable, but there is very little risk for the thieves (very few prosecutions). Unless owners and law enforcement can increase the penalties for bicycle theft, it is not going away. Web Link Web Link


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There are NO impediments in the California vehicle code to dedicated bikeways with theor own traffic contro; devices.


Here is what a truly innovative community has already done:

Web Link

"Bicycling in Davis is, simply put, great. Streets with minimal traffic, bike lanes and traffic calming. Bike-only light cycles at major intersections. A university campus closed to vehicle traffic. Miles of empty country roads just outside town. Abundant bike parking everywhere. Great transit--Amtrak, Greyhound, the county-wide Yolobus, and the UC Davis-run citywide service Unitrans--that facilitate a car-free lifestyle. A city government that proactively (imagine!) encourages cycling, going so far as to feature an 1890s style high-wheeler (also known as an "ordinary," "penny-farthing" or "scorcher") as the city symbol.


One prominent recent example of Davis' commitment to cycling is the newly dedicated Putah Creek Bike Path, which opened in October 2000. Built over 18 months at a cost of $4.5 million, the 12-foot wide Putah Creek path crosses under Interstate 80, helping cyclists avoid a busy traffic interchange. The project was financed by $750,000 in Proposition 116 funds, $250,000 in development impact fees, and $3.5 million in redevelopment agency funds. Imagine if San Francisco's city government were as serious about enhancing bike and pedestrian safety with the nightmarish Interstate 280-Cesar Chavez intersection.

The Putah Creek Bike Path is the newest section in the city's network of multi-use paths, which extends for more than 50 miles in dedicated right-of-ways with grade separations (bridges and underpasses) to minimize traffic interaction. This extensive path network complements another 50-odd miles of bike lanes on shared roadways. One particularly delightful feature of life in Davis is observing the morning and afternoon "rush hours" on the greenbelt paths, as groups of children travel to and from school on bikes, skateboards and scooters.

According to Tim Bustos, pedestrian and bicycling safety coordinator for the City of Davis, this safe, traffic-free path network was a critical factor in the recent vote by Davis residents to terminate the city's expensive school bus system. "Parents have a great sense of confidence about letting their children ride bikes," says Bustos. "The city's extensive network of greenbelts is critical, because it makes parents comfortable with their children cycling. They don't have to worry about their kids interacting with traffic."

Both Bustos and David Takemoto-Weerts, bicycle program coordinator for UC Davis, attribute the high rate of bicycle use in Davis to visionary city planning 40 years ago. "Because of certain unique features--mild climate, level terrain, a large population of healthy, young and cash-poor university students for whom cycling is a natural choice--Davis would have a high rate of cycling without doing anything," says Takemoto-Weerts. "However, it was Davis' decision in the mid-1960s to proactively encourage and protect cycling that has made it the most bike-friendly community in the country."


Davis has grown from 5,000 residents in 1960 to more than 60,000 today, spreading out over a larger area to accommodate that growth. Its character has changed as well, from a purely "college town" to a partial "bedroom community" for nearby Sacramento and even the Bay Area. According to both Bustos and Takemoto-Weerts, these changes could have easily crowded out cycling if it weren't for the proactive efforts of city residents, government leaders and city agencies to encourage cycling.

"Davis has had the advantage of being able to build cycling infrastructure as it has grown," says Bustos. "This is easier than trying to retrofit an older city like San Francisco. However, there's no excuse not to begin creating more favorable cycling conditions. A lot of communities waste time arguing over whether or not to provide for bicycles. In Davis, that argument is over. Bicyclists aren't asking for anything special. We only want the same consideration given to every other transportation mode."

There are challenges in Davis, to be sure. Car use continues to grow along with the city's population. (This is still a community in a car-centered nation, after all.) However, given the wide community recognition of the benefits of cycling, it seems certain that Davis will continue to provide a model for bike-friendly city planning."

The referenced PA report does not even mention Davis' dedicated bikeways or those in Europe.

Unfortunately the Palo Alto Process precludes learning from others.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Palo Alto officials have visited Davis many times and talked to them frequently, but that doesn't mean we can become Davis. There may be no impediments in the CVC regarding bikeways and traffic signals, but the CVC is not the set of laws that matter. You need to look at the CAMUTCD and the Streets and Highways Code. Caltrans only allows bicycle signal heads at intersections that meet specific warrants in terms of number of bikes, turning movements, etc. Those are the impediments. Davis had the luxury of starting with undeveloped land and building in bikeways from the beginnin. We don't have that luxury. Are you proposing that Palo Alto sieze properties using eminent domain in order to build separate bikeways?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 31, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Donald - please make factual contributions to this discussion

fact - there is NO reference to dedicated bikeways in the report.
fact - Davis' exemplary efforts are not even noted in the report.
fact - innovation requires creativity and vision not blind adherence to the status quo.
fact - Caltrans does not contro; what Palo Alto does on city streets.

"Are you proposing that Palo Alto sieze properties using eminent domain in order to build separate bikeways?"

No, just take away parking on one side of any PUBLICLY owned street and you will have space for dedicated bikeways on both sides of that street.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Peter, Caltrans DOES control what Palo Alto does on city streets. Read the laws. Ex: we cannot paint yellow stripes except to separate traffic going in opposite directions, we cannot make green stop signs, etc. This is for the benefit of everyone, to make sure that "innovative" designs are not confusing or inconsistent with other laws. This is not blind adherence to the status quo; it means that we need to be careful to plan and justify what we do.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 1, 2012 at 7:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Caltrans DOES control what Palo Alto does on city streets....no green stop signs"


What in the world do green stop signs have to do with creating dedicated bikeways with heir own traffic control devices?

Innovation is halted when the answer always is somebody else won't let me - and progress is halted when you turn a blind eye to what others have already done very successfully.


"The provision of separate cycling facilities is the cornerstone of Dutch, Danish,

and German policies to make cycling safe and attractive to everyone. They are designed

to feel safe, comfortable, and convenient for both young and old, for women as well as

men, and for all levels of cycling ability. "

"Perhaps the most important reason for the higher levels of cycling in northern

Europe—especially among women, children, and the elderly—is that cycling is much

safer there than in the USA. Both fatality and injury rates are much higher for cyclists in

the USA compared to Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Averaged over the years

2002 to 2005, the number of American bicyclist fatalities per 100 million km cycled was

5.8, compared to 1.7 in Germany, 1.5 in Denmark, and 1.1 in the Netherlands (see Figure

3). Thus, cycling is over five times as safe in the Netherlands as in the USA, which

probably explains why the Dutch do not perceive cycling as a dangerous way to get

around. "


"While bike paths and lanes help protect cyclists

from exposure to traffic dangers between intersections, they can pose safety problems

when crossing intersections. Thus, Dutch, Danish, and German planners have worked

continuously on perfecting the designs of intersections to facilitate safe cyclist crossings.

The extent and specific design of intersection modifications vary, of course, from city to

city, but they generally include most of the following:

Special bike lanes leading up to the intersection, with advance stop lines for

cyclists, far ahead of waiting cars

Advance green traffic signals for cyclists, and extra green signal phases for

cyclists at intersections with heavy cycling volumes

Turn restrictions for cars, while all turns allowed for cyclists

Highly visible, distinctively colored bike lane crossings at intersections

Special cyclist-activated traffic lights

Timing traffic lights to provide a "green wave" for cyclists instead of for cars,

generally assuming 14-22km/hr bike speed

Moving bike pathways a bit further away from their parallel streets when they

approach intersections to help avoid collisions with right-turning cars

Given the very nature of roadway intersections, it is virtually impossible to avoid all

conflicts between motor vehicles and cyclists, but Dutch, Danish, and German planners

have done a superb job of minimizing these dangers. "

Pucher and Buehler Cycling for Everyone


Wikipedia on bikeways:

Yep - " A 2010 study in Montreal, Canada, by Lusk et al., compared the motor vehicle-bicycle crashes and injuries on six Montreal cycle tracks (physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths along roads) with comparable reference roads (a parallel road with approximately the same intersection frequency and cross traffic). The authors found 2.5 times as many cyclists rode on the cycle tracks compared to the reference roads. They also found that the relative risk of injury was lower on a cycle track than on the comparable reference road (the average being 0.72 the relative risk). They concluded that "[c]ycle tracks lessen, or at least do not increase, crash and injury rates compared to bicycling in the street"[32]

The New York City Department of Transportation implemented a bicycle path and traffic calming pilot project for Prospect Park West in Brooklyn in 2010 and published their results in early 2011. It created a two-way bicycle path with a three-foot parking lane buffer and the removal of one lane from motor vehicles. They found that weekday cycling traffic tripled after the implementation; cyclists riding on the sidewalk fell to 3% from 46% (the count included children who are legally allowed to ride on the sidewalk); speeding dropped from 74% to 20% of all vehicles; crashes for all road users were down 16% and injuries to all road users were down 21%.[46]

An unfunded 1997 study by William E. Moritz of North American bicycle commuters[47] calculated a relative danger of different facilities based on the survey results of "[fraction of crashes] divided by the [fraction of miles ridden on that facility]". Moritz calculated a relative danger of 1.26 on a major street with no cycling facilities, 1.04 on a minor street with no cycling facilities, 0.5 for streets with bike lanes, and 0.67 for mixed use/"bike" path. The "other" category which mostly included sidewalks had a relative danger of 5.32. Moritz made it clear that this was "[n]ot a statistical or random sample of BCs [bicycle commuters]."


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2012 at 8:22 am

Peter, California law requires compliance with the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the Highway Design Manual. The first lists which signs, signals and pavement markings can be used and when they can be used, and the second lays out geometric standards. These must be obeyed by all cities and counties, and they severely restrict one's ability to "innovate". The CAMUTCD explicitly gives warrants that must be met in order to use bicycle signal heads.

You need to do your homework on California laws before advocating solutions that are illegal here. I am not saying that these ideas are all bad, just that we need to work within the current laws or change the laws to allow them. When you advocate solutions that are impossible and inconsistent with state laws it really reduces your credibility.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2012 at 8:31 am

Just because a law exists, it doesn't automatically follow that it is good or that it can't be changed.

America is not particularly good at copying good ideas from other countries. We don't like the fact that other countries can do things better than here so we don't copy.

Cyclist lobbying groups would be better trying to get changes made in California law or Federal law rather than trying to make changes from one city to another.

Who was it who said "the law is an ass"?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Donald and Richard need to READ the CMUTCD and the CVC not just assert that they prohibit certain things.

To wit:

"Section 9D.02 Signal Operations for Bicycles
Standard:
01 At installations where visibility-limited signal faces are used, signal faces shall be adjusted so bicyclists for whom the indications are intended can see the signal indications. If the visibility-limited signal faces cannot be aimed to serve the bicyclist, then separate signal faces shall be provided for the bicyclist.
02 On bikeways, signal timing and actuation shall be reviewed and adjusted to consider the needs of bicyclists."

"Signs for the exclusive use of bicyclists should be located so that other road users are not confused by them."

California Vehicle Code:
890.4. As used in this article, "bikeway" means all facilities that
provide primarily for bicycle travel. For purposes of this article,
bikeways shall be categorized as follows:
(a) Class I bikeways, such as a "bike path," which provide a
completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of
bicycles and pedestrians with crossflows by motorists minimized."

891.8. The governing body of a city, county, or local agency may do
all of the following:
(a) Establish bikeways.
(b) Acquire, by gift, purchase, or condemnation, land, real
property, easements, or rights-of-way to establish bikeways.
(c) Establish bikeways pursuant to Section 21207 of the Vehicle
Code."

V C Section 21207 Bicycle Lanes

Bicycle Lanes

21207. (a) This chapter does not prohibit local authorities from establishing, by ordinance or resolution, bicycle lanes separated from any vehicular lanes upon highways, other than state highways as defined in Section 24 of the Streets and Highways Code and county highways established pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 1720) of Chapter 9 of Division 2 of the Streets and Highways Code."


So what exactly are the impediments to Palo Ato follow the wise lead of other California and European cities and actually INNOVATING????

Pointing to the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the Highway Design Manual and the California Vehicle Code covers and claiming otherwise is like holding the bible and claiming it supports your position - all the covers are meaningless props.

So give us specific citations if you feel Palo Alto is required to stay in the last century by anything except its own lack of vision and courage.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Biycle signal heads are allowed on when traffic volume warrants are met, and also either a collision frequency or geometric warrant.

Web Link


Section 4C.102(CA) Bicycle Signal Warrant
Guidance:
01 A bicycle signal should be considered for use only when the volume and collision or volume and geometric warrants have
been met;
1. Volume; When W = B x V and W > 50,000 and B > 50.
Where: W is the volume warrant. B is the number of bicycles at the peak hour entering the intersection. V is the number
of vehicles at the peak hour entering the intersection. B and V shall use the same peak hour.
2. Collision; When 2 or more bicycle/vehicle collisions of types susceptible to correction by a bicycle signal have occurred
over a 12-month period and the responsible public works official determines that a bicycle signal will reduce the number
of collisions.
3. Geometric;
(a) Where a separate bicycle/ multi use path intersects a roadway.
(b) At other locations to facilitate a bicycle movement that is not permitted for a motor vehicle.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 1, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Well done Donald - these are easy criteria to meet in a visionary Palo Alto bicycle program.

Any other 'insurmountable' obstacles to implementing a 21st century bicycle program?


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2012 at 9:49 am

It's not an insurmountable obstacle, but a legitimate hurdle that needs to be acknowledged and overcome. Peter do you know acknowledge, in contradiction to your earlier posts, that 1) Caltrans can control what Palo Alto does on city streets and 2) bicycle signlas can't be put anywhere one likes, but only at locations that meet certain criteria?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As noted above the California Vehicle Code clearly "21207. (a) This chapter does not prohibit local authorities from establishing, by ordinance or resolution, bicycle lanes separated from any vehicular lanes upon highways, other than state highways as defined in Section 24 of the Streets and Highways Code and county highways established pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 1720) of Chapter 9 of Division 2 of the Streets and Highways Code."

CalTrans does NOT control what Palo Alto can do on city streets but only provides "guidance" on such things as when "A bicycle signal should be considered".

Any competent traffic engineer could easily design a Class I Bikeway for any non-CalTrans roadway in the city.

And yet in Palo Alto's Plan there is not a single discussion of creating ANY Class I Bikeways and no recognition of how effective and SAFE such Class I Bikeways have been in other California cities as well as in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Why plan for the last century?


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Peter, you are absolutely wrong. You need to consult a real traffic engineer who knows the laws. The CVC is not the relevant code; it governs how things operate after the facility is built. As cited above, bikeways and highways must be built to the standards in the Streets and Highways Code, which in turn drags in the CAMUTCD. If the CAMUTCD tells you when to consider a bike signal, you cannot install a bike signal in contradiction to those standard unless you want to invite lawsuits and jeapordize your eligibility for state and federal funding, both of which require compliance with the CAMUTCD.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 2, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Donald - I Imagine that you would come up with hundreds of reasons why something could not be done; I prefer to find way to get things done.


Here is what the Plan claims:

"Innovation
This principle highlights the role of Palo Alto (and Stanford) as a national leader in good ideas with a historic commitment to experimentation (i.e., learning by doing). These notions are crucial to advancing non-motorized design, where lengthy approval processes and other constraints can unnecessarily hold up the most trivial of advances. With innovation also comes the need for additional education and outreach, which will be especially important as the City introduces types of pedestrian and bicycle facilities/designs that are new to Palo Alto residents."


Where is the innovation? Probably blocked by people who see nothing but reasons why something cannot be done.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

Peter, you misunderstand me. My point is that you are blaming the wrong organization. It is Caltrans that blocks innovation. You are blaming the city for not doing things that it cannot legally do. There are two choices: proceed with illegal facilities at the cost of lawsuits or work on Caltrans to allow more flexibility. I prefer the latter, while you seem to be pushing the former.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is nothing that Davis Ca and other Ca cities have done with things like Class I Bikeways that Palo Alto could not do. Of course you have to 'build to code' but that does not mean you throw up your hands and say "I can't do it".

The MPFPD worked with CalTrans to get previously unallowed access doors installed in the then new sound walls on 101 - the Fire District did not just throw up their hands and say "CalTrans won't let us do what safety demands". Those access doors have now become the standard elsewhere. The Fire District insisted o breakaway portions in the soundwalls to get fire engine access across 101 in the event the overpasses were damaged - they did not just say "Caltrans won't allow that".

Standards are out of date that is why the are called standards. Innovation requires both learning from others and " a historic commitment to experimentation (i.e., learning by doing)"

Where is there any innovation in Palo Alto's plan? It looks like a great 20th century plan.

Why not make Bryant a Class I Bikeway with no automobile parking on one side?

Why not do the same with Hamilton or Homer?

Why not have a truly historical commitment to experimentation?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The MPFPD worked with CalTrans to get previously unallowed access doors installed in the then new sound walls on 101 - the Fire District did not just throw up their hands and say "CalTrans won't let us do what safety demands". Those access doors have now become the standard elsewhere. "

I just checked Google street view and guess what? Palo Alto sound walls along 101 do NOT have emergency egress and emergency access doors - I guess Palo Alto decided to be innovative and just accept the then current CalTrans standard. Just hope that you are not trapped in an accident on 101 next to a sound wall in Palo Alto.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 4, 2012 at 8:32 am

Surely you carry a grappling hook and thirty feet of rope?


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Posted by Larry
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2012 at 1:12 am

Peter, thanks for the information. I think it's time to begin to charge fees for bicyclists for the use of the roadways. There are a lot of bicyclists who break traffic laws and should be ticketed. The costs to accommodate bicyclists who bridges, green lanes, etc.. have increased dramatically over the years.


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Posted by tax payer
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

Contrary to what most car drivers believe, the majority of road projects are paid for by sales taxes, property taxes, and income taxes. Bicyclists pay just as much of these taxes as car drivers. Your car registration fee is a minuscule part of the road budget.

That $100 million boondoggle ramp project being built on Hwy 101 right now was paid for by increasing the county sales tax rate. If you think our sales taxes are too high, blame car drivers.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 17, 2012 at 11:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Contrary to what most car drivers believe, the majority of road projects are paid for by sales taxes, property taxes, and income taxes."

This is simply false - the vast majority of road projects are paid for by fuel and road taxes.
See: Web Link