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El Camino: Another scheme to increase congestion?

Uploaded: Nov 12, 2018
The risk that either alternative will actually be implemented is minimal: Both call for substantial widening of El Camino, which requires taking private property on the SW side. However, there are some very real risks.
(1) Approval of either alternative may be taken to approve implementation of individual components without regard to the effects on traffic of those fragments.
(2) Approval may block implementation of improvements that actually work.
(3) Creating yet another zombie/living-dead program:City Hall has a history of letting non-starters linger--sometimes for decades-- soaking up time from Staff, commissions and the Council,plus associated costs.(foot#1)Plus increasing the frustration of residents with City Hall because they have to show up repeatedly to argue against something that has already be shown to be impractical, counterproductive or otherwise stupid.

The area studied is between Stanford and Lambert Avenues (^Google map^). This portion was selected for improvement because of accident data (^Staff Report^ (PDF)). The conceptual design (early stage) has two alternatives, both of which involve adding bus lanes. The first would provide protected bike lanes, that is, they would be separated from traffic by concrete barriers. They would replace space currently used for on-street parking. The second would not encourage bicycling on El Camino, but rather on the existing and envisioned parallel bike routes. Advocates for the second would prefer the money being spent on improving safety and connectivity be invested in the parallel routes, especially the one on Park Boulevard. The Embarcadero Bike Path runs along the train tracks from University Avenue to Churchill Avenue, and there has been a desire to extend it much further south. However, this will likely be on hold until after all the construction for the Caltrain electrification.

On attendee at the Open House was an avid cyclist who commutes from Barron Park northward. He is sort of person that the protected bike lanes of the first alternate is intended to benefit. His comments to the consultants was that he wouldn't cycle on El Camino, and very strongly supported putting money into improving the parallel paths.
However, the way that State and regional government operated -- funding dogma and fads -- there may not be funding available for this alternative.

This study was partially funded by a grant under the regional El Camino Grand Boulevard Initiative (^Palo Alto web page^). It is being fast-tracked. The Open House (^flyer^) was last Thursday (Nov 8) and it is on this ^Wednesday's agenda^ for the Planning and Transportation Commission as a study session (^Staff Report^ (PDF)). At its meeting, PABAC (Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee) had time to consider only the first alternative (Protected Bike Lanes) and recommended it.

----From the Open House----

I found the Open House frustrating. First, the consultants' computer simulation of traffic flow supposedly represented near-time peak times, but vehicles were sparse and free-flowing. All the vehicles that queue up at a red light cleared through on the green with plenty of time to spare. Several of us commented that, at best, the simulation represented mid-morning and early evening troughs.

In talking to the consultants, several of us brought up the long backups that occur during morning peak times for NW-bound traffic -- often stretching back three blocks (Acacia Ave) or more. They were unaware of this. We pointed out that one part of the design would likely encourage even more cut-through traffic: on Lambert and Olive to Park, which is an important bike route, and on Olive and Pepper to Ash.
Similar concerns about increasing cut-through traffic in College Terrace were expressed by those residents.

The designs also eliminated the right-turn "slip lanes" -- from NE-bound Page Mill and Hansen Way onto SE-bound El Camino. The usual rationale for replacing these curved lanes with squared-off turns is to slow traffic (safer for pedestrians). I asked if this wouldn't increase congestion, and was told that it wouldn't, but without a satisfactory explanation.

The computer simulation of traffic at the El Camino/Page Mill intersection was for the alternative with protected bike lane. It was a long video on a loop, so it was hard to ask questions. Bicyclists now had their own stage in the traffic light cycle. I was told that this wouldn't reduce the vehicle throughput of the intersection, but didn't understand how. I saw a massive reduction of right-turn-on-red opportunities. However, since this was a conceptual design, I couldn't tell whether this was inherent in the design or a simplified simulation.

The current City Council majority has targeted El Camino south of Page Mill for substantial redevelopment, and there are multiple proposals at various stages. The construction for each of these projects can be expected to block a traffic lane for an extended period. Adding lanes and re-configuring the lanes will also add to the disruption. There needs to be a consideration of the effects of this on existing businesses.
Aside: I participated in an earlier redesign effort for El Camino. The biggest complaint from the merchants was that their customers couldn't find them because of City rules that made their signage effectively invisible, and the absence of signage for parking lots behind the stores. The City agreed that improving signage was a high priority, and then spent five years resisting attempts to do anything about it (at which point I finally got the message).

On-street parking: One of the alternatives requires removal of on-street parking. It is unknown how much this would affect the businesses. At the portion close to Stanford Avenue, residents have observed bunches of people parking and then catching the shuttle to Stanford. Where these displaced vehicles would go is open to speculation. Similarly in other portions of this study area, there seems to be little information about how the spaces are being use.

The Consultant firm for this study -- is Fehr & Peers -- is frequently used by City Hall, and have produced various problematic reports. For example, they did a parking study for a multi-unit housing project that was meant to justify it having reduced parking requirements. That study was rejected by the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC). One of the flaws being a lack of understanding of on-street parking, which is relevant to the El Camino Study.

The methodology used for the El Camino Study is not part of the released documents. There can be very different patterns of parking for different mixes of businesses. For example, restaurants will see a peak demand when office workers come for lunch. If the consultant were to take a snapshot of parking only at one time in the day, or at the wrong times, the recommendations about the practicality of removing parking could be very wrong.

^Maps of Alternatives^ (PDF, 14MB).
At the Open House, the hard copy of each map spanned at least two tables. On my computer, I had to zoom in to the maximum to be able to see the details. And I expanded the window all the way across the two displays on my computer, and even then I was doing a fair amount of scrolling.
Warning: There is only a partial legend, and most of the features I was interested in weren't included, requiring me to make inferences. It may have been that this explanation wasn't included because it wasn't needed if the audience had been only traffic engineers. Me not being one, this was part of my frustration and may have led to miscommunications at the Open House.

----Footnotes----
1. Zombie programs: an example for the overly curious:
My blog: "^Nonstarter killed after 2 decades^", 2016-06-28.


----
An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.


----Boilerplate on Commenting----
The ^Guidelines^ for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.

I am particularly strict about misrepresenting what others have said (me or other commenters). If I judge your comment as likely to provoke a response of "That is not what was said", do not be surprised to have it deleted. My primary goal is to avoid unnecessary and undesirable back-and-forth, but such misrepresentations also indicate that the author is unwilling/unable to participate in a meaningful, respectful conversation on the topic.
A slur is not an argument. Neither are other forms of vilification of other participants.

If you behave like a ^Troll^, do not waste your time protesting when you get treated like one.

Comments

 +   14 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 12, 2018 at 10:13 am

>> In talking to the consultants, several of us brought up the long backups that occur during morning peak times for NW-bound traffic -- often stretching back three blocks (Acacia Ave) or more. They were unaware of this.

Honestly, I am -shocked- by this. Seriously, I'm not being funny. Can I send these folks some pictures? I don't want to speculate on the reasons for why the consultants/traffic engineers could have gotten this so completely wrong, but-- and I don't say this often, I'm not a "fire the coach!" type of person-- somebody needs to get fired for this. I mean it. The time for playing games is past, and, somebody is clearly playing games. The only question is who.

>> We pointed out that one part of the design would likely encourage even more cut-through traffic: on Lambert and Olive to Park, which is an important bike route, and on Olive and Pepper to Ash.

There is already plenty of cut-through traffic. And, on some of the very same routes that are supposed to be bike routes, such as Park as you mentioned. We are pretending to be bicycle friendly on the one hand, while encouraging cut-through traffic on a major bike route on the other hand. Again, who is responsible for this?


 +   15 people like this
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 12, 2018 at 10:27 am

"the consultants' computer simulation of traffic flow supposedly represented near-time peak times, but vehicles were sparse and free-flowing."

Wherefrom, this custom of grossly underrepresenting traffic congestions? When the south bay's Valley Transportation Authority (famous for near-empty buses and a light-rail system laid out politically, not practically, thus achieving, in the VTA's own comparison, lowest ridership of comparable systems nationwide) proposed to remove lanes from a long stretch of El Camino for use by its ever-popular buses, the concept renderings showed just a smattering of cars on ECR. When I ponted out in a meeting that such light traffic, even with all lanes still available, happens just in the middle of the night, Mountain View's then-mayor remarked that traffic-proposal illustrations customarily make that [mis]representation.

"In talking to the consultants, several of us brought up the long backups that occur during morning peak times for NW-bound traffic. ... They were unaware of this."

And why are professional traffic consultants "unaware of" phenomena locally known to everyone? Incompetence, or willful disinformation? When a traffic consulting firm (even employing a former city traffic engineer) estimated parking impacts for a controversial downtown-MV building proposal, one of its conclusions was that no one could be found "using transit from outside the area and parking a vehicle in the neighborhood for their use after arriving in Mountain View" -- a practice seen daily by locals. (An exasperated nearby resident went out with a camera and promptly photographed 20 examples, with license numbers.) Albeit in that case, the report had so many evident flaws that, reportedly, the city did cease using the firm. After Council members used its report to justify approving the controversial proposal.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Gert, a resident of Barron Park,
on Nov 12, 2018 at 11:33 am

It takes endless hours, tax payer money to constantly put notices on cars/trucks/campers/trailers parked for longer than than the City of Palo Alto's 72-hour parking policy limit. After two notices, issue a ticket to the illegally parked vehicle... why doesn't this happen?

VTA oversized/double-sized and Stanford Marguerite buses, UPS trucks, cement trucks, durt hauler trucks (due to all the construction), cars, etc., need to drive in TWO LANES TO GET PAST THE CAMPERS/TRAILERS PARKED ON EL CAMINO.

A number of pre-schools, elementary and high schools are located in the area from Matadero down past Maybell Avenue.

On this stretch of El Camino Real, bicyclists riding on El Camino, are squeezed between the campers parked on El Camino and vehicles traveling on this road. It's a dangerous stretch of road. Kids biking to school will not be so lucky, and only then will something be done to alleviate this problem.

A total of four/five (4/5) campers are parked in the above referenced spot/location and have been parked here since Nov 8, 2018. Other times, the campers are parked in the same spot for weeks at a time. Hopefully the City of Palo Alto will enforcement its 72-hour parking policy and not allow campers to park in this area.
Thanks.


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Required reading, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 12, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Required reading is a registered user.

As always, a thorough, analytical, and excellent fact-based article from this blogger which should be required reading for all those involved with or impacted by these proposed "improvements" to El Camino by city staff.


 +   17 people like this
Posted by Competency Matters, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 12, 2018 at 7:43 pm

You cite a recent study by Fehr & Peers of a multi-family parking project. I don't know if you mean their study this year that looked at multi-family building parking requirements across the city - which was indeed heavily criticized by the Planning Commission - or some other study. The Planning Commissioners questioned if the city-wide study had counted cars not only in onsite parking but also that were parking on the street, the consultant wasn't sure. How such a basic fact would not be known to the consultant or found in the report is staggering. It then turned out that the study had in fact ignored cars parking on the street. When the study was updated to count such cars, still no clear explanation was given as to how Fehr & Peers determined which cars on the street went with a particular apartment building. So that study still may be inaccurate.

We've seen major errors by other consultants the City has hired. Which makes one wonder why we keep hiring such firms and whether staff carefully reviews the studies before releasing them to the public.

City staff also seem reluctant to own up to the simple fact that building more creates more traffic. Instead, and perhaps as a distraction, they propose implausible traffic solutions, including the (thankfully dead) Bus Rapid Transit and roundabouts on Embarcadero. This new scheme to reduce lanes and parking on El Camino will likely die within a year or so, but during that time it will take away attention from the real culprit: overdevelopment.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Nov 13, 2018 at 5:51 am

Annette is a registered user.

The acronym SNAFU comes to mind.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Nov 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm

"I found the Open House frustrating."

The only sensible reason to attend these theatrics is to obtain specific material for ridiculing them. Apparently you were well fulfilled.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by eileen , a resident of College Terrace,
on Nov 13, 2018 at 1:20 pm

eileen is a registered user.

I found the meeting interesting and informative.

The bus lanes will take up the camper parking in front of Palo Alto Square and I think that is a good thing. Also. the bike lanes that they are proposing are ten times safer with concrete barriers separating the bikes from crazy, distracted drivers.

Crazy drivers would have a hard time hitting a kid riding a bike with the proposed bike lanes on El Camino. Do you really think those kids are safer riding their bikes down side streets with all the distracted drivers who drive into the bike lanes?

Yes, let's have dedicated bike lanes going all down El Camino that are protected and SAFE!!
Also, the proposed crossing lights for pedestrians are very much needed in the Ventura/Baron Park area.

Let's try and keep an open mind before you trash new ideas.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Eileen

The version with protected bike lanes adds lanes to El Camino, and this land has to be taken from private owners (direct purchase or eminent domain). Where there is on-street parking, the increase would be the equivalent of two lanes, approximately 24 feet. Where there is no parking, the increased width would be up to 50 feet. Look at the map showing building locations and try to figure out how this could be done. Recognize that wide sidewalks are also part of the Grand Boulevard initiative and would need to be maintained, although they could be shifted.

As to improving safety, there are big questions.
Between 2006 and 2015, there were 31 collisions involving bicycles. 9 involved the bicyclist riding against traffic.
Protected bike lanes are relevant to 13 of the remaining 22: 9 in the travel lanes and 4 from cars opening doors into the path of a cyclist.
4 involve red-light running, but the summary doesn't distinguish between whether it was the vehicle or bicyclist at fault.
5 of the collisions occurred when a bicyclist or vehicle was entering or exiting a side street or driveway. Some of these were likely the result of visibility problems. Removing on-street parking reduces this, but the bike and bus lanes may bring their own problems.

NOTE: Some of the above numbers for collision were inferred from percentages in the report and may be off by one.

Saying that one wants improved safety without bothering about the details and tradeoffs is not helpful. For example, the money needed to purchase land for the protected bike lanes could provide many times the benefits if used elsewhere.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 13, 2018 at 3:39 pm

The nice thing about Option 1, if I understand it correctly, is that it will eliminate on-street parking (in favor of protected bike lanes). No on-street parking is annoying for businesses and their customers, but, OTOH, at the rate Palo Alto is going, all on-street parking will be occupied by RVs anyway. Anything that eliminates RVs is an improvement in my book.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by iconoclast, a resident of College Terrace,
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:24 am

My gripe with concrete-barrier protected bike lanes is the broken glass and other detritus which invariably accumulates. Also being hemmed in behind the oblivious pair of cyclists gabbing side by side at 6 mph. I'd rather take my chances on the traffic lane side of the barrier. And how do you treat an oncoming wrong-way bike rider? Wrong-way collisions are always blamed on the legal guy because he knew what he was doing while the illegal guy was clueless and thus blameless. Without the barrier you can momentarily take the traffic lane and give him a wide berth. Or are protected bike lanes always considered two-way? Like the one on Middlefield in front of Jordan? Perfect scenario to surprise drivers pulling out and not expecting a wrong-way rider.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:30 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

The protected bike lanes are shown in the diagrams to be 7 feet wide -- not including the barrier. On the sidewalk side, there appears to be only a normal curb.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 15, 2018 at 9:38 am

@ Eileen

You thinking method is replacing one problem with another. There is a law in place which does not allow people to sleep in their vehicles, City officials are not enforcing due to social pressure. At the same time, the City officials refuses to address the vehicle dweller issue.

After all the construction and modifications on El Camino, the traffic congestion is still there! At last night's PTC meeting, the staff/consultant person basically said at the turns it will slow up traffic and the intersections are not going to get any better, but rather will get worse.

Please do not replace problems with problems.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Derek, a resident of College Terrace,
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Doug,

My reading of the map doesn't indicate a need to widen El Camino for either option, let alone for both. In Option 1, the bike lane just replaces parking, and Option 2 requires even less modification. What am I missing?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Posted by iconoclast, a resident of College Terrace

>> My gripe with concrete-barrier protected bike lanes is the broken glass and other detritus which invariably accumulates.

Years ago, cities could acquire a narrow (street) sweeper designed for bike lanes, foot paths, and narrower passages. You are correct to point this out as a new requirement for that Option. There are now a number of models available. Here is a link:

Web Link


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 15, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Derek

At the Open House, I asked the consultants where the space for the additional lanes would come from and they said from the SW side. I was discussing the area south of Page Mill, so north of Page Mill may be different. The drawings are "conceptual" and not engineering drawings, so precision should not be expected.

Details: In prep for the meeting, I used Google Maps to double-check my memory. I switched into "Satellite View" to see lane marking, and saw a semi-rig (18-wheeler, tractor-trailer) occupying a full lane, from stripe to stripe. So there was unlikely to be any/little space created by narrowing the existing lanes. The parking strips are not full-width lanes -- they are intended for cars. You can see this when passing parked RVs or a bus stopped in a the parking strip -- you either have to squeeze by or slide into the lane to your left.

The protected bike lane is the equivalent of a full traffic lane (11 feet): 7 feet for the bike lane itself, 2.5 feet for the barrier and buffer space between the barrier and the traffic lane of maybe 2 feet, producing a total of 11.5 feet. The buffer space is needed to keep cars from side swiping it and from driving to the far left of their lane in order to have separation space from the barrier.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 16, 2018 at 5:22 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

If you are considering the standard Jersey Barrier,add 3 feet for it.

The bigger problem that must be faced is " Delay is the deadliest form of denial ". Everyone uses this tactic. Consultants love it. They get paid while waiting for a city or any planner has to get back to them. The VTA has the worst form of this disease. They get princely salaries for essentially doing nothing while sending me an e-mail claiming what they are going to do.

I am going to repeat myself: have someone invest in a train or flying ticket to examine the Denver RTD Light Rail system. You do not need any other vehicle to get around the Denver Metro area, even from DIA.

Denver Metro residents had the same VTA board problems: SO THEY FIRED THE BOARD MEMBERS. Then hired the proper board members to make the hard decisions to get things done. That firing extended to any consultants who got paid while doing nothing.
Once 1 line was finished, there were riders who happily gave up their cars to become commuters, bypassing others still sitting in traffic jams. Regular, CLEAN light rail cars, like BART USED to be. Each new line had people waiting to get out of their cars.
Much of the trackage is elevated. Some of the trackage runs besides an Interstate Highway. Some required Eminent Domain. The work never stops.

THAT IS THE FIRE IN THE BELLY that solves transit problems. Not the empty cars the VTA has given us.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Oh my my my, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 16, 2018 at 5:39 am

So by your headline you're suggesting that certain people are actually scheming, trying to figure out ways to increase traffic congestion. Their goal is to increase congestion??

I think a less inflammatory headline would state that it would "Result" in more congestion. Unless you truly think there are people ACTUALLY sitting around thinking (scheming)about how to make traffic more congested.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Nov 16, 2018 at 8:29 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Whoever designed the survey about this project should be fired immediately because there's no option to vote no on the entire project. It's the same time of user-friendliness that's typical of PA's traffic "improvements" and other bike projects.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Nov 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"So by your headline you're suggesting that certain people are actually scheming, trying to figure out ways to increase traffic congestion. Their goal is to increase congestion??"

Of course it's their goal. That's what traffic diets and traffic "calming" are all about -- to create gridlock and make us so miserable that we stop driving. Too bad about the reality that we don't have any realistic alternatives to get where we're going.

Even Gunn students feel compelled to write articles about how the bike lanes supposedly designed to protect children make them feel more unsafe.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 16, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Oh my my my > "So by your headline you're suggesting that certain people are actually scheming, trying to figure out ways to increase traffic congestion. Their goal is to increase congestion??"

I have been to many meetings where the officials and consultants state a goal of "forcing" people out of their cars, sometimes in the context of not reducing congestion but sometimes related to changes they know will increase congestion.

For example, the recent plan to remove traffic lanes from El Camino to provide dedicated bus lanes. That plan came from the same source as this scheme -- the Grand Boulevard Initiative -- and is announced to be "dead".

As to the consultants not knowing that this would increase congestion: The El Camino-Page Mill intersection has congestion at a level that traffic engineers classify as "failing" or near to it. This scheme reduces throughput of that intersection. How can this not be seen as increasing congestion?

BTW: "scheme" is not necessarily secretive or crafty.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Required reading, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 16, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Required reading is a registered user.

During Wednesday's Planning and Transportation Commission meeting both Michael Alcheck and William Riggs argued for redesigning El Camino to reduced traffic flow so that it is not used by commuters and through traffic.

William Riggs was extremely animated at the idea of being able to put into practice some of his academic research on ways to reduce traffic and design El Camino for a future when we will be using alternative modes of transport.

Michael Alcheck would encourage and support redesigning El Camino to reduce and discourage through and commute traffic. For example, El Camino should not be designed to facilitate someone commuting from Belmont to the Stanford Research Park. Alcheck also stated that El Camino is not used by residents.

Their shared vision is a redesigned El Camino primarily for the use of the occupants of the proposed dense housing developments, attractive and pleasant for walking.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

The video of the study session is available. Link is set to start playing at the beginning of that agenda item (just under 11 minutes into the meeting).
Thanks as always to the Midpen Media Center for recording and making available these videos.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 16, 2018 at 8:46 pm

Posted by Required reading, a resident of Evergreen Park,


>> both Michael Alcheck and William Riggs argued for redesigning El Camino to reduced traffic flow so that it is not used by commuters and through traffic.

It is a State Highway. In fact, the oldest "State Highway" in California.

>> design El Camino for a future when we will be using alternative modes of transport.

Such as? I would be OK if they figured out how to put light rail along the same alignment. In the meantime, though ... ?

>> Alcheck also stated that El Camino is not used by residents.

I use it almost every day. (?)

>> Their shared vision is a redesigned El Camino primarily for the use of the occupants of the proposed dense housing developments, attractive and pleasant for walking.

So, how about we start by (re-?)establishing bigger setbacks, wider sidewalks, and street trees, instead of allowing buildings to crowd right up to ECR?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Required reading, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 17, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Required reading is a registered user.

El Camino may be a state highway and Palo Alto may need permission to make alterations, but Palo Alto has received a grant which could be used to install dedicated bike lanes from Stanford Avenue to Lambert.

Until such time as there are alternative modes of transport which will reduce the traffic on El Camino, reducing either the width or the number of lanes will impede traffic flow. Particularly at the Page Mill intersection where the dedicated right hand turn lanes would have to removed. Although there has been a suggestion that some extra space for lanes could be used by removing all the trees in the middle.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Required reading, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 17, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Required reading is a registered user.

In the early 2000's, when the concept of redesigning El Camino as a walkable boulevard was being planned, a new Stanford Avenue-El Camino intersection installed as a first step. Around that time, the required set-back along El Camino was removed, which we were told was an improvement as this would result in a more "pedestrian friendly" design. However, given the rather narrow sidewalk and the ability of developers to build right up to the sidewalk without any required landscaping, some years ago the council revisited the consept and whether to require some set back which would effectively widen sidewalk. A commercial property owner who has a number of buildings along El Camino turned up with his lawyer and said this amounted to a "taking" of property, and he would sue, so that was the end of that.

To widen the sidewalk will require eminent domain, the cost of which would be prohibitive and very unlikely to happen. So the only way to widen the sidewalk to make it more "walkable" is to encroach into the road itself.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Required reading

Tree removal from the middle: Thinking that the lane changes would necessitate removal or relocation of the islands, I asked about this at the Open House and was told that there would removal of trees.

On sidewalks: Some additional complexities were covered in my blog:
El Camino Sidewalk Width and the "Grand Boulevard" Delusion
, 2014-03-29.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 18, 2018 at 6:35 am

I still can't comprehend why the same people who want to narrow ECR also thought it was a good idea to add 10's of thousands of jobs to the area, resulting in our current traffic jams-- now imagine taking away a lane on ECR! But, since they are thinking outside the box, I can too:

I'm serious that IF the entire length of ECR is going to be lined with RVs, which is where it is headed right now, then the existing parking that serves local businesses will disappear anyway. Let's just eliminate that RV parking altogether and use the "new" space to widen sidewalks, add street trees, add dedicated bus stops, etc.

As a bicyclist, I see no need to make ECR a bike boulevard-- we already have Park and the extension past Town and Country/PAMF/etc. already. I've never ridden down ECR and I don't expect to need to do so in the future.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Required reading, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 18, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Required reading is a registered user.

The Planning and Transport Commission (and the council) are not constrained by what staff say.

During the Commission's discussion of the grant to improve bike safety on the stretch of El Camino from Stanford to Lambert, the possibility of adding dedicated bike lanes each way down the center of El Camino. was raised.

However, the Commission was more interested in installing dedicated bike lanes now, on this short stretch of El Camino, would ultimately fit in with the vision and planning for the entire length of El Camino in Palo Alto.

Several years ago, some may remember the VTA had a plan to install dedicated bus lanes for the length of El Camino, with the center median being their first choice. However, this would mean eliminating most of the left turns along El Camino, except at the intersections, and the alternative of the outside lanes being used was also an alternative. Although the VTA plan appears to be on the back burner for now, with the ultimate goal of dedicated bus lanes, and the high priority for dedicated bike lanes throughout Palo Alto and the region, unless eminent domain is used to widen El Camino (unlikely due to the cost) using the center median to accomplish these goals is likely not off the table.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Required reading, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 18, 2018 at 3:39 pm

Required reading is a registered user.

@Derek

It appears from what staff said dedicated bike lanes are required to have more space to separate them from the traffic than just the width of a parking space. Unfortunately, some of the retail along El Camino relies on the El Camino parking because they have none. So removing the parking would likely put some of them out of business. Retaining retail is a city goal.


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Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 19, 2018 at 9:43 am

Posted by Required reading, a resident of Evergreen Park

>> It appears from what staff said dedicated bike lanes are required to have more space to separate them from the traffic than just the width of a parking space.

I'm uncertain what the legal requirements might be, but, from a bicyclists perspective, "dooring" is always an issue whenever you have high-speed traffic on one side and people opening car doors on the other side:

Web Link

Web Link

I think encouraging bicycling down ECR is not a great idea, but, I would actively oppose a bicycle lane to the left of parked cars on ECR-- very dangerous. See above pictures and reference. It is better to just ride in traffic in the middle of the right-hand lane when necessary-- but, I prefer Park.

>> Unfortunately, some of the retail along El Camino relies on the El Camino parking because they have none. So removing the parking would likely put some of them out of business. Retaining retail is a city goal.

It is, and, it should be. But, with ECR lined with RVs, dump trucks, small buses/limousines, Uber, Lyft, etc., might as well give up on ECR business parking. If a section of ECR is redesigned it should include off-street parking as well.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 19, 2018 at 11:44 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Neither of the two alternatives has "dedicated" bike lanes, but rather alternative 1 has "protected" bike lanes, which are by their very nature dedicated to bikes. Because of the barriers to protect the bike lanes, there can be no parking between them and the curb, hence no "dooring" problem. Alternative 1 eliminates on-street parking.

Illustrations in maps which shows the conceptual cross-sections.



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