News

Palo Alto eyes slew of bicycle improvements

City's new Bicycle + Pedestrian Transportation Plan aims to make Palo Alto America's top biking destination

Palo Alto's ambitious effort to overtake Portland, Ore., and become the nation's top bicycling destination includes expanded bike lanes, improved trails and at least three new bicycle boulevards under a plan the city unveiled Tuesday night.

The Bicycle + Pedestrian Transportation Plan, which took about a year to create, details a series of projects and programs the city could undertake to transform from a merely great bicycling city to one of the best in the nation. The firm Alta Planning + Design released the draft of the strategic plan Tuesday and displayed it to about 30 residents at a public hearing Tuesday night.

Though the plan is unlikely to be implemented in its entirety any time soon, many of the components contained in the document are scheduled to take effect in the coming months. This includes the city's newest "bicycle boulevard," which is scheduled to be completed on Park Boulevard, Castilleja Street and Wilkie Way as early as this fall, according to Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez. The new plan also recommends new bike boulevards at Montrose Avenue, Greer Road and Ross Road.

Bike boulevards typically include a series of traffic-calming measures as well as designated bicycle lanes and way-finding signs directing bicyclists to notable local destinations. The plan urges the city to proceed more aggressively with creating a "network" of boulevards.

"Palo Alto has made very little progress outside of the Bryant Street corridor and should focus on implementing additional bicycle boulevard corridors," the plan states. "Although plans to improve the Castilleja-Park-Wilkie corridor are actively moving forward concurrent with this Plan, it will take time to develop the full network.

"This is problematic since bicycle boulevard work best as a system, while many proposed boulevard corridors function reasonably well today but are not yet 'implemented' and available for promotion (to bike-boulevard status)."

The plan recommends branding the proposed network by installing way-finding signs and other low-cost improvements in the short term and proceeding with more significant improvements on a spot basis, as funding becomes available.

Funding, in fact, remains the largest obstacle in the city's path toward overtaking Portland, Ore. The city's previous strategic bike plan, which the council adopted in 2003, also outlined a series of bike improvements but its recommendations were never implemented.

City officials are confident that the new plan will get greater traction. The city is already proceeding with a redesign of the busy El Camino Real and Stanford Avenue intersection, a project that aims to make the intersection safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The City Council also approved this week funds for design work on the California Avenue streetscape project, which includes reducing driving lanes and improving bicycling amenities.

The city's goal with the plan is to double the rate of bicycling for both local and work commutes by 2020 (to 15 percent and 5 percent, respectively), according to Alta consultant Casey Hildreth. Palo Alto officials also want to see the city's status raised from the respectable "gold" level to the elite "platinum" level under designations by the League of American Bicyclists.

"The aspirations are to be at the higher echelon of communities really committed to bicycle and pedestrian planning," Hildreth said. "The goal is to provide planning and preparation to be a 'platinum' community in the near future."

The plan particularly focuses on the 60 percent of residents who are classified as "interested but concerned" -- a group that like bikes but prefers to do so in safer settings such as trails and dedicated lanes. And while Palo Alto officials would like to see more commuters switch from cars to public transit and bikes, the main target of the plan is local residents who rely on cars for "discretionary trips." These trips, Hidreth said, are responsible for about three quarters of the city's transportation-related greenhouse-gas emissions.

For this reason, the plan pays particular attention to bicycle and pedestrian connections around popular destinations such as schools and shopping areas, Hildreth said.

Residents will have two months to comment on the draft plan. They can submit their comments on a website dedicated to the project.

The Planning and Transportation Commission is scheduled to review the draft plan in September. The City Council plans to discuss it in September.

Comments

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Posted by kongjie
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:21 am

kongjie is a registered user.

Very comprehensive report. I learned a lot. For example, I'm glad to find out that crosswalks at unsignaled intersections with more than one lane of traffic per direction is a discouraged practice. I'm generally a careful driver and almost hit a pedestrian last week on California Ave where there is just such a crosswalk.

Speaking of the El Camino/Stanford Ave intersection, I gotta ask: how long is this thing going to take to finish? And is the ambiguity for drivers wanting to make a right on red onto Stanford going to be eliminated by lane striping? Because right now there's no way to know if one should pull up on the right and turn, or wait in one lane.

By the way, if anyone has a problem viewing the PDF, it seems to have a display issue in Preview on Macs, so use Adobe Reader if that happens to you.


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Posted by Stanford money
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:57 am

Didn't Stanford just donate $40 million to the city to offset the pollution impact of new Stanford construction? Bicycle infrastructure is the ideal way to spend that money. All the new Stanford employees can use these bike paths instead of driving to work. Current Palo Alto residents can also use them to reduce pollution and congestion around town. Every bicyclist is one less car on the road.


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Posted by Lee Thé
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:00 am

One of the major obstacles to bike travel in Palo Alto is simply the conditions of the roadways. I've ridden over smoother pavement in the third world. Few bikes have suspension systems, and much of our roadways provides a bone-jarring ride which can veer into downright dangerous when tree roots heave up the pavement.

I'm sorry that the report doesn't seem to mention this basic infrastructure face. Restriping won't make streets smoother.


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Posted by Bumpy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:10 am

Agreed! The streets are in horrible shape. Has anyone else noticed? After all the gas line construction, Channing Ave is a particular mess of patches. Is there a plan to resurface after major utility work? Forest and Hamilton are just two other examples in that area. In those cases just plain old deferred maintenance. Where is all the monery going? Pensions or can we get a little basic paving people?


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Posted by Occasional Cyclist
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The report does not mention bicycle parking. First is lack of bicycle parking and secondly is lack of signage as to where to find such bicycle parking. I have visited businesses and taken my bicycle to the entrance asking the staff where to park my bike and they do not know. I have asked PA police where nearest bicycle parking is and they do not know. There are no signs anywhere to tell me where the nearest bicycle racks are situated, but there are signs all over town as to where cars can park.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

This plan, like its predecessors, seems heavily oriented to the elite bicyclist and long-distance commuters to the U Ave downtown (overlapping groups), and largely ignores the needs of ordinary residents who would like to bicycle to local destinations.

And as the opening paragraph of this story indicates, vanity rather than utility is the driving force behind the plan (as is common for so many City of Palo Alto projects).

Street surfaces (Lee The and "Bumpy"): This has been raised repeatedly in the hearings by me and others. In addition to simply rough surfaces, we have pointed out that pavement cuts, for example for connecting utilities, often go unnecessarily unrepaired for many many months on streets used heavily by local bicyclists. We suggested that Planning track this and require contractors to repair the surfaces in a reasonable time. We also pointed out that some streets that are heavily used by students have edges that have so badly deteriorated that they force bicyclists into conflict with car traffic. We suggested that on streets with significant bicycle traffic, that the condition of the pavement on the sides become a factor in the scoring that prioritizes streets for repairs/resurfacing.

The elite bicyclists pooh-poohed this because they believe that bicyclists should feel confident "taking the lane" in any traffic situation and thus problems with the edges are irrelevant. Additionally, adequately maintained pavement doesn't make for a good picture in the vanity brochure for your bicycle program.


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Posted by Bruce England
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I hope that the report covers more about pedestrian infrastructure than the article might have us believe.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Who took the data that determined 60% of the residents "who are interested and concerned" actually exist? Where are these data?

Cars and drivers should be given equal consideration when it comes to improving their mobility and safety. If the numbers are correct, 85% of residents will be using cars in 2020 - an overwhelming majority in any election.

Is there baseline data today against which the projected increases in bike use can be measured in 2020 (15% local and 5% work commutes)? There has been a lot of fluff whenever bike percentage use is given - always without hard numbers to back it up. The phrase wishful thinking comes to mind.

If the percentages are not met, present council members will not be held accountable in 2020 for committing scarce funds for this project. Reminds me of past councils who ignored infrastructure upkeep but are not held accountable today for General Funds used for other purposes.


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Posted by vanity
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Does anyone understand what "Douglas Moran" is talking about? Some kind of conspiracy if vain elitist bicycle commuters that is opposed to smooth pavement?


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Seriously, Castilleja Ave. This is a tragic accident waiting to happen. Two cars can't pass on that street without one pulling over to let the other by if cars are parked on either side of the street. Visibility is minimal at best. Resident's backing out of their driveways literally occupy the entire street especially if there is parked car behind them. A biker could suddenly be trapped between the two cars if a driver doesn't see them. It is just ridiculous to think such a narrow street would be an approved biking route. It already gets a heavy amount of pedestrians and bikers because of its proximity to Paly. Double the risk, please don't.

If you look at the other designated biking avenue, Bryant (a few blocks away), it is a very wide street--also, Park Ave.--Castilleja and Mariposa are very narrow becoming a one lane street when cars are parked. Bryant is big enough for cars to safely pass bikers even when cars are parked, and definitely the street has room for a biker to dart out of harms way if a driver suddenly backs out of a driveway. Families bike together on weekends, some with attached carriages, which makes the ability to see such little vehicles even harder as cars on Castilleja and Mariposa park right up against the driveways. On weekends, additional cars park at the end of Castilleja and walk to Peers Park adding more congestion.

Wasn't Southgate blocked off from Park Ave. in order to keep traffic from cutting through the neighborhood in order to make it more safe? Why then direct bikers onto these narrow and congested streets? Makes no sense. Just because a small number of city council members took a trial bike ride one afternoon to see how it would work does not mean they hit it during the heavy traffic time.

This idea needs serious consideration.


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Posted by Castilleja
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Castilleja is the most direct route from California Ave into Palo Alto High School, so it is an obvious bicycle route. There really are no alternatives.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: "vanity"
His misrepresentation of what I said is so egregious that it has to be deliberate.

For those who truly don't understand what I said: In meetings when an ordinary bicyclist talks about problems riding in bike lanes because of bad pavement (and blockages), s/he is invariably treated dismissively by an elite bicyclist who responds that all they need to do is move out into the main traffic lane ("take the lane") to where there is better pavement. If that person protests that they don't feel comfortable doing such, they are ignored or treated to another dismissive response.


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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Based on the above comments I'd be considered an "elite" biker. I think the majority of the streets in town have a horrible surface that do nothing to promote biking in Palo Alto. I never feel comfortable "taking a lane" as all it takes is someone asleep at the wheel or a moron who thinks he owns the road because he pays "use taxes" to ruin my day.

Fix the existing problems before adding anything new.


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Posted by We are number 1
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm

But if we fix existing problems before we add anything new we wil not pass portland as the most bike friendly city. That is the goal, it is all about our "leaders " patting themselves on the back.


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Posted by Matt Laroche
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm

There are two glaring holes currently in the system:
1. There's no safe bike connection from University & Middlefield to Lytton & Cowper. There's no bike lanes or even calm streets between the two.
2. Not enough cyclists shunt over to Lytton in the downtown area - there's a ton of cyclists who are on University between Middlefield and Caltrain and probably don't even know about the bike lane just one street north.

That aside, I'm happy to hear it! I'm a regular cyclist who lives near University.


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Posted by mostexpensive
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I think down town area residential area is the most expensive area in pa,my realtor told me.


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Posted by pa cyclist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I guess i'm an "elite" cyclist since i ride an expensive road bike about 100 miles per week, but i don't understand some of the comments. Road conditions and the quality of the road surface are extremely important to me. I would never dismiss another bicyclist's opinion because they ride less frequently or on a different type of bike. The more bicycles on the road (of any type!) the more the city has to listen to us and the safer we will all be, including kids who ride to school. An "elite" road bike has very skinny tires, less than an inch touching the pavement. Any uneven surface can cause an accident. Palo Alto's roads are so bad that i often drive my bike to other communities to enjoy a safe recreational ride. What use are marked lanes when the surface is dangerous? Please, please improve road quality first! Then fancy lane paint.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: "pa cyclist" and "Hulkmania" who identify themselves as elite bicyclists who _are_ concerned about street surfaces:

My comments were about elite bicyclists who attend and speak at the City meetings. Your concerns are _not_ being represented by those elite bicyclists who do attend. Or by the consultants developing the plan.


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Posted by I guess I qualify
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I own an "elite" bike. The surfaces of PA streets are horid for riding.

When I was commuting to milpitas, I would never have considered Ross a good road to use. Louis was, Bayshore Rd was, but Ross is pretty useless as a bike way unless you live in midtown and want to get to Mitchell Park. Its good for Jordan kids. Making Ross into a bike boulevard is not well thought out.

I used Park to Wilkie and liked that route, I use the Homer tunnel and it could have been done better, but its still useful. Ross is just a mistake, use Louis instead.


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Posted by I guess I qualify
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Sorry that should be

Its *not* good for Jordan kids.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I hope that some of the money will be spent on safe bicycle riding practices and instruction and laws, and I don't mean just for kids. More and more I am seeing children and "adults" riding "look Ma, no hands." When they are just a few inches or feet from my car, I pray that that fateful pebble or bump won't send them under my car. They think they are cool, but they are just stupid, and I wonder what their parents are thinking.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:29 pm

I wish that all the people who insist on everyone riding bicycles would realize that many people are not able to ride bicycles for health and orthopedic reasons. They shouldn't be dumped on, and they shouldn't be regarded as second class citizens.


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Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Great report. Some very interesting stuff in it like how they were talking about surface repaving (did the people commenting in here read the report?). I can't wait for it to be implemented!

Bill: With about 35% of the city already paved over for cars, do we really need _more_ infrastructure dedicated to cars?


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Good day, PatrickD. I'm not sure what point you are making - "...do we need_more_infrastructure dedicated to cars?" My point was that all vehicles used by residents should be treated alike.

"Cars and drivers should be given equal consideration..." All existing roads and pavement should be made safe - there was no suggestion that more roads/infrastructure should be added.


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Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2011 at 12:31 am

Hi Bill: My point was more that cars and drivers already have the lions share of infrastructure in the city. Unfortunately that is to the detriment and safety of cyclists and pedestrians. I definitely share your sentiment about making roads safer for all users, however I feel as a cyclist and occasional driver the balance is very skewed in one direction currently.


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Posted by member
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2011 at 7:19 am

The best thing PA can do as far as bicycle improvements is to maintain its streets. Many are shameful condition; holes, seams, uneven patching etc, etc.

Indeed, they are far far worse than any nation I've visited recently, or lived in in the past. Even in developing countries, if there is a paved road, it is paved well, because they have focused on infrastructure.

What happened to the second phase of the repaving of Lytton? We can't even get that done.

PA is decadent. There's plenty of energy for grand ideas that appeal to vision. But as far as mundane matters that don't appeal to vision, like paving streets, well, that's too boring for visionary minds.


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Posted by Mary G
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:03 am

As we make things better for cyclists, can we also encourage them to obey the traffic laws? I almost hit a girl, about 13, when I arrived at an intersection where I had no stop sign and she had one. She came roaring through the intersection on the wrong side of the street and in the shade - I didn't see her until she was in the intersection. Scary. This is happening more and more. The main transgressors seem to be teenage girls and thirty-ish men. It has become so bad that I treat most intersections as if they were four way stops. Please, let's enforce the laws as we make things better for the cyclists.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:32 am

> The streets are in horrible shape. Has anyone else noticed?

Of course they have noticed. "They" started noticing way back in 1998/1999, when the $100M Infrastructure Plan was developed. The section for streets was estimated at/about $28M at the time, and no doubt has grown since then. Palo Alto voted to spend almost $750M to fund new schools, it voted about $90M to increase teachers pay so that the average is now pushing $100K for 180 days work. Palo Alto voted $150M for a new library--just as Kindles and iPads are changing the way people read.

The streets .. on the other hand, haven't gotten the attention they deserve, because of the Palo Altans don't seem to have a clear vision of the future, that includes the town's infrastructure.

Wasting money on "bicycles" is another example of a twisted view of the future.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:43 am

> My point was more that cars and drivers already have the
> lions share of infrastructure in the city.

Actually, the lion's share of the infrastructure is underneath the streets--all of the piping that distribute gas, water, wastewater, etc. far exceed the cost of streets.

Bicycles can not be seen as "equal" to cars. Bicycles produce almost nothing for the local economy. They are not registered, as are vehicles, with those fees used to fund road building/maintenance. Bicycles do not produce any "fuel use fees/taxes"--which also are used to build/maintain roads. Cyclists are not required to register with the State, as are vehicle operators. In short, bicycles, per se, contribute nothing to the costs of maintaining the road system, as do vehicles. Cyclists are not required to carry any kind of liability insurance, as are vehicle operators.

And .. most cyclists seem to believe that the "rules of the road" do not apply to them. Just watch cyclists blow through virtually every stop sign they come upon. Even rad lights don't mean much to a significant percentage of these people.

There is simply no rational reason to accept claims that cycles should be treated equally with motor vehicles.


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Posted by pa cyclist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:44 am

So very true, Anna and Mary G. Let's educated the kids about riding safety. As a frequent cyclist, i am very aware of bicycles when i drive a car, and am shocked at some cycling behavior, usually by kids and teens. I always treat the two way stops as four way, especially at times when kids are commuting to school. It makes me sick to see them plow through intersections, without obeying the stop signs, earbuds blocking traffic noise, stuff in their hands, helmets dangling from the handlebars, and in flip flops!!!! Please, let's educate these kids about riding safety!!


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Posted by Occasional Cyclist
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:57 am

I agree with many of the posters above concerned about the condition of the road surface and cyclists obeying traffic rules.

Rather than comparing Palo Alto with Portland, I would prefer to see a comparison with European cities which have had experience with bicycles far longer.

Separating motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians should be a goal rather than sharing the road, and bicycles and pedestrians should not be treated the same. Bicycles should not use pedestrian crossing lights unless the riders dismount, and they should not be waved through by school crossing guards. When young kids learn that this behavior is OK, they will use it all their lives. We must teach the youngest riders that it is not OK and not excuse them because they are young.

How about opening the creekside paths to bikes? This would give some dedicated bike paths E/W rather than all the others which are N/S?


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 28, 2011 at 9:51 am

@Occasional,
Agree with you wholeheartedly. I don't understand your last sentence, though.

Our poor attention to infrastructure is a national problem that has been brewing for decades. (Use of word "brewing" intentional.) Forty years ago, it was European cities that had the notably decaying infrastructure. Things have changed a lot since then. It's not just their infrastructure they've been attending to over there, it's the overall quality of life for everyone.


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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:43 am

Bob's comments about bikes gets down to the old argument about bikes not paying use taxes. Following Bob's logic no money should be spent on sidewalks as pedestrians pay no use taxes either. Plus, they get cement walkways vs. pot hole susceptible asphalt that vehicles are forced to use.

And why are sidewalks raised above the streets? Are pedestrians, with those smug looks on their faces, of a better class then drivers? What about controlled intersections with their buttons to stop massive numbers of vehicles for an additional fifteen seconds so one measly pedestrian can cross a street?

Pedestrians need to get back into their cars where they belong! [/snark]


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Posted by kongjie
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:51 am

kongjie is a registered user.

@Bob

Instead of rebutting your statements about bicycles, cars and the economy, I will simply note that your belief that "most cyclists seem to believe that the rules of the road do not apply to them" completely undermines your credibility.

If for motor vehicle operators we consider "California stops," then most drivers don't seem to believe that the rules of the road apply to them.

So let's not fix the roads, then, because this behavior upsets me and they don't deserve it.


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Posted by cyclist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

Bob - You really put your foot in that one! Our streets and roads have been made for cars since before the Eisenhower administration, and what do we get? Traffic congestion, air pollution, dependence on foreign oil and endless complaints about parking (not enough, in front of someone's house, etc).

Move over, take a deep breath and share the road.


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Posted by Safety for everyone!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

This morning, a bicylist suddenly crossed over two lanes of traffic, to make a left turn from the fast lane, where I was driving. It was unnerving. He got right in front of me. I quickly, and as safely as I could, moved to the slow lane, as I wasn't turning left for a few blocks.

But that caused the driver I got in front of to suddenly dart into the lane I left, tailgating the bike. Thank God the bicylist was not hit - if both motorists (bike and car driver) were turning left, and each were as aggressive and impatient as the other, it may have been an accident.

Further, I've noticed even when I stop at arterials on 4 lane streets, and begin to safely cross in my car, a pedestrian will often step into the crosswalk anyway. That often happens on California Avenue. So sometimes, I stop in the middle of the street, to let the pedestrian pass safely - of course, it can hold up drivers in other directions.

I think it's safer to have more defined crosswalks - it's easier to for a driver to negotiate around pedestrians crossing from one lane of traffic in each direction, rather than two lanes of traffic in each direction because pedestrians, that have the right of way, can be very unpredictable.

While I never bike anywhere- there should be bike parking for people.


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Posted by pa cyclist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

You're right, Bob. Let's charge bicyclists to register. But, to be fair, since road damage is proportional to vehicle WEIGHT, let's charge accordingly. My bike weighs 17 pounds, probably 200 times less than your car. How about 10 cents per pound? That's $1.70 for me and a few hundred for you. Fine by me .
Bikes don't contribute economically? Have you seen how many bike shops there are in P.A.? They pay business tax and generate sales tax. I personally pay property taxes equal to a full time low-wage job! And, of course, my bike causes no air pollution or noise pollution, and we don't take up parking spaces. Daily riding keeps me fit, helping prevent heart disease, obesity, cancer, hypertension and diabetes, so you could argue that my bike riding causes less medical service consumption. (Not that i've ever met a doctor who thought that was a bad thing!)


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Posted by Alex
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm

"Bicycles produce almost nothing for the local economy."

Don't lose sight of what these vehicles are for. Transport is what motor vehicles (and bikes) produce for the local economy. Motoring taxes are tiny compared to the value of the transportation cars provide.

Motoring taxes and fees cover about 60% of highway expenditures in CA. The rest comes from other taxes paid by everyone, including bicyclists.


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Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Now how about covering some of the trails and paths with lots of trees.
So the hot summer days along the marsh will be cooler and more fun for everybody and older folks.


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Posted by Charles
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

How about lots of signs along Alma, expecially south of Oregon, telling bicyclists to go over two blocks and use Bryant (the designated crosstown bicycle street)? There is NO room on Alma for bikes, so they take the lane on what is supposed to be an expressway.


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Bob said "There is simply no rational reason to accept claims that cycles should be treated equally with motor vehicles."

I guess Bob doesn't consider state law to be rational.

California Vehicle Code Section 21200 says "A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division..."

Streets and Highways Code Section 885 says "The Legislature hereby finds and declares that traffic congestion, air pollution, noise pollution, public health, energy shortages, consumer costs, and land-use considerations resulting from a primary reliance on the automobile for transportation are each sufficient reasons to provide for multimodal transportation systems." and Section 885.2 says "(d) Efforts to improve safety and convenience for nonmotorized transportation users are a proper use of transportation funds. (e) The design and maintenance of many of our bridges and highways present physical obstacles to use by bicycles. (f) The bicycle is a legitimate transportation mode on public roads and highways."

State law and federal and state transportation policy support designing streets for all users. It is no longer in issue open for debate - it is now up to us to comply and implement. Failure to do so may in the future jeopardize our ability to get federal and state transportation funds.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Charles
It is a no-no to suggest encouraging bicyclists to not use Alma but instead use the Bryant Street Bike Boulevard or the dedicated bike path along the Caltrain tracks.

The bicycle advocates who speak to Council and Commissions have as a basic tenet that bicyclists should be able to use any street (enshired in CA law) and feel safe doing so, and if they don't that street should be modified, regardless of impact on traffic.

At a recent public hearing, one of these advocates suggested that it might be necessary to reduce lanes on Alma ("road diet") to achieve this (Irwin Dawid, who is also the spokesperson on these matters for the local chapter of the Sierra Club).

Some of the bicycle advocates I talk to are aware that such positions are creating a backlash, but solidarity seems to prevail over reining in the ideologues.


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm

"At a recent public hearing, one of these advocates suggested that it might be necessary to reduce lanes on Alma ("road diet") to achieve this (Irwin Dawid, who is also the spokesperson on these matters for the local chapter of the Sierra Club)."

reducing lanes on Alma??? that is a ridiculous suggestion. Alma is one of the main arteries in the city. Isn't that why they build the Bryant Street Bike Boulevard, so that bikers would not take Alma?
Of course, some people would love the idea of a "road diet" for Alma. These are the people that advocate narrowing streets down to one lane in each direction without any regard to what will happen to all the traffic (in their minds it will magically disappear).
Some of these people are alos the ones that are constantly talking about how everyone should bike regardless of their circumstances or needs.
Ridiculous suggestion to even consider narrowing Alma


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Posted by Occasional Cyclist
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Richard.

Thank you for all you do to help cycling in our community.

Unfortunately, the state law and policies you quote have no dates attached and sadly appear to be out of day. Just because something is the law does not necessarily mean they are right and it may well be time that these laws were challenged.

For example, we are already out of compliance with these laws in Palo Alto. Bryant and also various streets in College Terrace and Southgate have many obstacles to hinder free passage of some vehicles along the length and breadth of such streets. The vehicles hindered by such passage tend to be cars and not bicycles. This means that they are not treated the same. There may be wisdom in preventing free passage for all vehicles but it sounds to me that by doing so we are breaking the law you quoted.

Another example of how bicycles and cars should be treated differently are at traffic lights. Cars waiting for a red light to change wait in line in orderly queues. Bicycles group together as far forward as possible and the light change makes for a sudden rush of a large group of bikes waiting at the front. This can be seen at Churchill/Alma on any weekday morning during schooltime. Cars are mandated to turn left to give precedence to bicycles going straight on. This is a wise and safe move, but it seems to break the traffic code you cite.




As a cyclist and also a driver, I know that to get from Point A to Point B the most prudent route is not the same by car as by bike. Most of our streets were designed to move cars efficiently around town with little thought to bicycles. Bicycles are an afterthought in our street planning. For efficient bicycle travel it would make sense to ban car parking on our residential streets, but we don't. For streets that have a lot of parked cars and no bike lane, it seems more logical for a bike to use a street with a bike lane, but for the same trip by car this would not be an issue.

Colorado has removed its bike lane and instead has designated the street to be shared by bikes and cars. I personally no longer use Colorado when cycling as the parked cars are real obstacles to overtake and the fact that there is no designated bike lane means that cars are much too close to me. I consider this a very dangerous street for bicycles.

And it is worth mentioning that many, if not the majority, of Palo Alto cyclists are under the age of 16 and as such do not have the maturity of mind to be able to judge safety issues the same as an adult cyclist. Taking away a safe bike lane from children is definitely an issue worth mentioning.

If you want to treat all motor vehicles and bicycles the same, then that is what you must do. Picking and choosing some rules to allow bicycles and then others to ban cars is not doing this. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. You can't have it both ways. If you really think they should be treated the same then that is just what you must do. If you can ban cars from though travel onsome streets or make them turn at others to allow for safety for bicycles, then you are not treating them the same.



Bicycles and cars are not the same and should not be treated the same. Just because the law requires it makes me question the wisdom of the law. These laws need to be updated.


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Posted by I guess I qualify
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Bob,

Did you get your question answered? Some of the responses might have sounded a bit heated, but I think I detect that you are not much of a bike fan anyway. ;-)

Most of the thoughts I had in response to your questions/comments have been covered, but if you its not clear why bikes should be on the road bed, or why someone might choose a bike over a passenger car, reask a specific question and I'll try to jump in with a little more light and less heat.

Main reasons I ride
Health, its a form of exercise I like.
I would rather not use gas for errands/commuting that I can bike.

Do I hate cars/trucks? No, I own 3. There are things that they can do that are not practical or possible with a bike. I also own 3 bikes, dependng on what is the ride's purpose. Just the right tool for the job. Remember what our dad's said, "If all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail"


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm

“The city's goal with the plan is to double the rate of bicycling for both local and work commutes by 2020 (to 15 percent and 5 percent, respectively),…”

The 1998 transportation plan said, "It is hoped that individuals will reduce their automobile trips by 10 percent by 2010, as alternative transportation methods are implemented."

I tried MANY times to find out if that “hope” was realized. Neither Curtis Williams or Jaime Rodriguez ever gave me an answer. Instead, I got beaurocraspeak from Williams: “Staff will be evaluating the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Plan transportation policies and will be updating the traffic model as part of the current Comp Plan update.”

I suspect that at the end of 2020, we’ll get the same answer.


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Posted by I guess I qualify
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Pat,

It's because they don't know, and that is what they told you in bureaucraticeze. ;-)


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm

""It is hoped that individuals will reduce their automobile trips by 10 percent by 2010, as alternative transportation methods are implemented.""

I would like to know what they mean by "alternative transportation methods" and when they were implemented.
I still find it amusing, this push towards biking and walkable neighborhoods, given that our council has cost us two neighborhood shopping centers in the last decade or so.


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Posted by notworking
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

there are two,biking and walking,they are not working.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: PatrickD on the mention of resurfacing in the Plan

Although the draft plan says "Each winter, a list of streets for the annual resurfacing program is prepared with input from the Transportation Manager and the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee (PABAC) to ensure that bicycle priority streets are included", actual practice is very, very different.

In my experience with a range of such Boards, Commissions, and Committees, with the exception of the Public Arts Commission, PABAC is the most insular, opaque and resistant to public input (both in failing to do outreach and in rejecting/ignoring input it does receive). My 15 years of trying to get street surface and other improvements for bicyclists in my neighborhood have been nothing but frustration.


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Posted by Veritas
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm

pat for Mayor! She stands up for the persistently sedentary majority in the population. Who cares if she lives in Los Altos?! Who needs to bicycle or walk anyway when we can all drive everywhere any time?


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Posted by Alex H
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Occasional Cyclist,

You are misinterpreting the vehicle code. Section 21200 refers to drivers of vehicles, not motor vehicles, and applies to division 11 (rules of the road) only. "...except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. "

It was amended in 2010 to include pedicabs. See Web Link

There are also several sections that address cyclists specifically and do not apply to drivers of vehicles or motor vehicles.



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Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Douglas:

I definitely agree that the city tends to drag it heels on some things. The 2003 bicycle plan never really went anywhere and I'm still waiting for FTTH and ridiculously fast net connections. Oh, and all of us in Barron Park are waiting for the city to do something about Varian. I did glean this from the report though:

"Palo Alto has an aggressive paving schedule over the next several years, which includes significant stretches of the Lytton Avenue, California Avenue, Arastradero Road (west of Gunn High School), and Alma Street arterials"

It would be nice if Park would get resurfaced too as part of upgrade to a bicycle boulevard. My daughter keeps complaining about how bumpy it is when we're riding on it.


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Occasional Cyclist said 3 things that I must address:
1) I never said that bicycles and automobiles need identical treatment; only that they should be considered equally. Four quarters equal a dollar but I do not expect quarters and dollar bills to go into the same slot in a vending machine. What I want, and what the policies require, is equal consideration and accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians (not identical treatment). That means planning for non-motorized users up front, and making them equal in priority. No more "Sorry, it's too late to put a bike lane in the plan" or "Sorry, we ran out of money before we could build the sidewalks" the way I have heard over and over. I have never said that bicyclists should be treated the same as car drivers, only that they have the same rights and should be treated as legitimate road users and accommodated in all plans.
2) The bike lanes on Colorado were too narrow to meet the Caltrans standards and could not legally be re-painted when the road was paved. Bike lanes that are too narrow encourage bicyclists to travel dangerously close to parked cars and put them in life-threatening danger from suddenly-opened doors. I have heard people say "We need bike lanes no matter how narrow they are" but that is nonsense. Bike lanes only protect bicyclists if they give them adequate space between parked car doors and moving cars. If you want to ride dangerously close to parked cars on Colorado you are welcome to do so now, just as before, but the painted markings should not give the impression that you are legally required or expected to do so. When the old substandard bike lanes were in place you were legally free to ignore the stripe and ride at a safe distance from parked cars, as you are now. Your objection doesn't make any sense to me. You say that now you feel that parked cars are a hazard, but they are no different than before, the difference is just a bit of paint.
3) I taught the Middle School Bike Skills class through the Rec. Dept. for years and I know better than most people in the country what one can and cannot expect of 10-14 year old bicyclists. I know that most of them have not developed the skills or the bad habits and biases that I see in most adult car drivers. With a bit of training most actually have a very clear understanding of how they should ride to keep themselves safe on the roads regardless of the presence or absence of painted stripes.

I do not condone or advocate any behavior that is rude, selfish or contrary to the law. I do not condone hypocrites who choose to obey the laws sometimes and ignore them when it is convenient, whether they are in cars or on bikes. I will not attempt to justify or defend the behavior of anyone other than myself, whether in a car or on a bike, so the rest of Occasional Cyclist's comments are irrelevant.


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I was referring to rude behavior on the road, of which we all see a lot.


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Posted by 5%er
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2011 at 6:37 am

I,As a daily auto commuter who drives hte Palo Alto streets 2x daily, I can't help but laugh when someone complains of lack of law enforcement for bikes traffic infractions. If EVERY SINGLE cyclist obeyed EVERY SINGLE law, my commute would still be lousy because of all the DRIVERS who somehow seem blind to the abhorent behavior of other drivers. The ones who refuse to drive the speed limit, accelerate to cut you off if you try to change lanes, hardly ever use turn signals, roll through stop signs...the list is endless and as I've noticed over the years, PA drivers for whatever reason are the worst. I support VAST BLANKET enforcement of traffic laws. Drivers without sin can be worry free...the other 95% better get their checkbooks out. That game of "Gotta stay ahead of the guy in the other lane" just got expensive.


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Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:36 am

In Palo Alto where everyone is going to live forever I am surprised that some research on stress has not trickled down to the drivers. WE all want to avoid stress, right? Exercise, eat well, sleep (or not).

Fluid dynamics research years ago validated that drivers who drive agressively, pass at every opportunity, and honor the speed limit in the breach rather than in the observing do indeed arrive first and tend to keep traffic moving—unless they crash or cause a crash.

At about the same time this fluids research appeared, some research into stress was also being done. The stress researchers noted that even the most cool, calm, and confident aggressive driver arrived at destination showing higher blood pressure, faster pulse, and more stress hormones in the blood stream than drivers who drove slower and more conservatively. Of course the fast drivers were adamant that they were not stressed by their driving style.

Those fast drivers were probably the fast and aggressive among us on any scale you wish to view. But they felt they were right about their condition and their style of life. This may be what we are up against on the roads these days, among auto drivers and cyclists.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Interesting how some assume that anyone who doesn’t ride a bike is lazy/sedentary/all of the above.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2011 at 5:55 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

How about we ban driving from 8 AM to 6 PM? Now that would be really bike friendly.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

About pavement - some cities require a two or three ear bond on pavement patching. They go back in two years and if the patch is rough they make the patcher redo it.


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Posted by Peter Smith
a resident of University South
on Aug 19, 2011 at 12:07 am

palo alto a platinum bicycle city? c'mon, man.

university ave is a straight kill zone, completely overrun with cars and trucks of all sizes. venture there often enough and you'll likely see a biker and his blood and teeth adorning one of the intersections.

bike boulevards are not completely useless, but we need to allow people to bike on the major corridors, like university, middlefield, alma, embarcadero. we need to allow people to bike to and from Stanford. etc. of course, all of this requires actual work, unlike creating 'bike boulevards' or creating some off-road trail to put cyclists so they don't slow cars down.

blah.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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