With about two dozen bike projects already in the works in Palo Alto, city officials are preparing to sign off on two more Tuesday night with the goal of creating a smoother ride for local high school students.
The council is set to approve a host of new amenities for the Maybell Bicycle Boulevard and for the Churchill Avenue Enhanced Bikeway. The former would extend the existing Maybell Avenue bike boulevard to El Camino Way, Donald Drive and Georgia Avenue and connect Gunn High with the existing Bol Park path. The Churchill bikeway would add a new bike ramp near Castilleja Avenue and bring various traffic-calming measures to the area around Palo Alto High School.
Both projects would also add parking restrictions, according to the proposal by city planning staff. As part of the Maybell plan, daytime parking would be restricted on the north side of Maybell and across from Juana Briones Park, between Amaranta Avenue and Juana Briones Elementary School. This would affect four single-family homes and about four parking spaces, according to a staff report. On the south side of the street, along Juana Briones Park, parking spaces would be formally marked.
On Churchill, staff plans to reach out to neighbors on the south side of the street, between Castilleja Avenue and Miramonte Avenue about restricting parking between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., creating a wider area for bicyclists and for vehicles turning right onto southbound Alma Street.
The Maybell project is part of a more expansive bike route that also includes El Camino Way and the trail near Gunn High. It includes three new speed tables on Maybell and a new green bike lane connecting West Meadow Drive with the new Maybell boulevard via El Camino Way.
There would also be green "sharrows" (painted arrows that instruct drivers to "share the road" with bicyclists) on El Camino Way and a raised pedestrian crosswalk at the Gunn High School path connection. New signs would also be added to every intersection, designating the route as a bike boulevard.
Future plans call for improving the crosswalk markings at the Gunn High and Bol Park path and on Donald Drive; raised intersections on Maybell at Amaranta and Coulombe Avenue and a shared-use path for pedestrian and bikers on the north side of Maybell.
The report from planning staff states that the proposed Maybell Avenue Bicycle Boulevard "takes advantage of existing traffic-calming features such as speed humps on Maybell Avenue, and bike lanes on East Meadow Drive, creating a connection between neighborhoods on the east side of Alma Street and connecting to Gunn High School, Terman Middle School and Juana Briones Elementary School.
"This corridor sees substantial use of bicycle and pedestrian activity as a Safe Route to School, and commuter activities to the west side of Palo Alto," the report states.
The Churchill Avenue plan aims to improve the connection between the existing bike boulevard on Castilleja and Park avenues and the bike path that runs parallel to the Caltrain tracks. It would also extend the bike boulevard on Churchill all the way to El Camino Real, with the goal of ultimately connecting it with the Stanford's new "perimeter trail" network on El Camino, Stanford Avenue and Junipero Serra.
The city hopes to ultimately modify the crosswalks on El Camino and Churchill to eliminate the existing "pork chop" island and raise the pedestrian crosswalks at the intersection of Castilleja and Churchill to create what would in effect be a speed table.
In the near term, its main component is a new ramp for westbound bicyclists who want to connect to the existing path without having to travel through the intersection of Churchill and Castilleja. The ramp would be located 30 to 50 feet east of the Palo Alto High School driveway, according to the staff report, allowing westbound bicyclists to cut into Paly right before reaching Castilleja.
The city's Planning and Transportation Commission unanimously approved both concepts in December. Both are included in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan that the city adopted in 2012.