News

Bike improvements eyed around Palo Alto high schools

New road markings, intersection modifications planned near Maybell and Churchill avenues

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.

Related content:

New bike boulevards planned throughout Palo Alto

Palo Alto charges forward with new bike plan

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by How about the T&C Light
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 19, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Bikes, bikes, bikes.....

WHAT is happening with the Town & Country traffic light? We were told in August it was going to be fixed. We were told again in November change was coming.

It is not on either of the upcoming City Council agendas although several more bike projects are.

Seriously, what does it take? How many years? It's like a bad bad joke.


5 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 19, 2015 at 6:31 pm

There desperately needs to be more waiting space for bikes and pedestrians at both sides of the grade crossing when the barriers are down to allow a train to cross.


3 people like this
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm

How about eliminating parking on one side of Castilleja?

With cars parked on both sides (mostly high school students), there isn't enough room for a car and a bike going opposite directions to pass each other. It is a one lane 2-way street.


6 people like this
Posted by Worried
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm


Is it legal to ride a bike Look-Ma-No-Hands? I am so sick of school kids showing off and riding no hands near my car. On little bump in the road, one rock, twig, or pebble, and they will be under my wheels. Don't these kids' parents teach them anything about bicycle safety, and why don't the schools teach it too? Palo Alto residents are supposed to be smart, but riding no hands is really stupid. It is not just kids -- I've seen grown men do it too. It seems to be mostly males of all ages, though I have seen some stupid females do it too.


9 people like this
Posted by Testy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 19, 2015 at 9:16 pm

I'm getting really irritated at bicyclists who can't hear the traffic around them because they're wearing earbuds and listening to music or talking on the phone or worse looking down to text while riding.

I get particularly irritated when they're riding several abreast on a totally empty street totally oblivious to the cars backing up behind them.


3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm

So when will PAPD enforce these parking restrictions and traffic calming regulations? Almost everyday I see cars stopped in the red zone blocking bicycles from the bike path on Georgia.


2 people like this
Posted by Bert
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2015 at 10:02 pm

"A totally empty street" with bikes and "cars backing up behind them"???? This is oxymoronic, since the street is obviously not empty. If the bikes outnumber the cars then they don't need to move over. I have never seen more than 1 or 2 cars "backed up behind" bicyclists on a Palo Alto street, so I suspect some exaggeration in the complaint. And yes, it is legal to ride with no hands, although it is not very smart.


1 person likes this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 19, 2015 at 10:29 pm

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.

Restricting parking on the south side of Churchill will create two lanes for vehicles (this happens now when no cars are parked between Castilleja & Miramonte), but where will the bicyclists ride? There is just no room for two vehicle lanes and a bike lane. Also, heavy traffic during commute hours would make a "sharrow" challenging for bicyclists & drivers.


8 people like this
Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:19 am

"On (sic) little bump in the road, one rock, twig, or pebble, and they will be under my wheels. Don't these kids' parents teach them anything about bicycle safety, and why don't the schools teach it too?"

Presumably your wheels are on your car, and you passed the drivers test. That means you should have an understanding about tailgating and following distance. Don't be "worried" - be "smart".


2 people like this
Posted by paly parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:56 am

I have found having 2 crosswalks on Churchill in front of Paly confusing and dangerous. I would leave it to one crosswalk that blinks when people are in it.


11 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2015 at 11:15 am

Agree with the first post. How about fixing the gridlock at Paly/Town & Country as well as Arastradero/Gunn. This is an absolute mess. Cars are backed up onto El Camino because of the reduction of lanes on Arastradero and the poorly designed exit and entry points to Paly and T&C.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 20, 2015 at 11:32 am

I agree with Bike Commuter. Castilleja is an accident waiting to happen. There should be some parking program in place. This is a safety issue.


7 people like this
Posted by Oldman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2015 at 12:09 pm

I live in my home close to 50years, witnessed creation of many "Palo Alto long range planing plans" the only section of the plan that was implemented is "hiring more managers" culminating the "Sustainable Guru"
I receive monthly fancy powerpoint chart of for my energy use, not reflecting neither my home size, nor the number of person occupying it. Great ! Now my favorite traffic engineer, doesn't know the "Conservation of Mass Law , his solution is to reduce lanes and push cars to the next street and of course use lots of paints. Does he have a special parking spot in the White Tower for bicycles only?
I certainly hope he is not using a car to his job as a outside consultant nor as a city manager.
One of these days he might solve the real problems.
Until than use more paints.



4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Congratulations to Jaime Rodriguez and staff in the Transportation Department and Fehr and Peers consultants for successfully working with the Maybell community on the Maybell Bicycle Boulevard project. The process of getting input from the neighborhood to guide revisions, repeated several times, resulted in a project that benefitted from the detailed local awareness of the neighbors and the expertise of the traffic engineers. I'm looking forward to seeing it implemented.


2 people like this
Posted by Concerned grandpa
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:15 pm

What is the final plan on Maybell? Will sidewalk be used as bike lanes, mixing mobility limited person on a daly walk on the sidewalk with bicycles? Who will be responsible accident? Hope City has good insurance!


9 people like this
Posted by How About the T&C Light?
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:23 pm

No congratulations to Mr. Rodriquez from me. As Diana Diamond has written for years, the only mode of transportation he cares about is bikes, bikes and more bikes.

He has "slow-walked" fixing the T&C light for many many years. He finally was forced to put out RFP's for the project that were each more than 160 pages of contract boilerplate "shovelware" that contained NO textual project descriptions.

Bidders had 2 weeks to reply. The second RFP response was due right before the Christmas holidays, ensiring no one was going to reply.

Believe me, I read each LONG RFP document to see what he'd proposed and still couldn't make sense out of it. Evidently neither could anyone else.

But, hey, let's give him another raise and bonus for "completing" the RFP even though absolutely NOTHING has been done and I just had the pleasure of sitting through SEVERAL red lights near T&C to get to El Camino.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@How About the T&C Light?

While we were hearing so much about impossible traffic tie-ups on Maybell in the recent past, I always considered it in relation to the situation at T&C which seemed to be to be so much worse than Maybell. Apart from school commute times, Maybell is pretty deserted, but congestion at T&C is constant. We all acknowledge that it's awful and you have our sympathy for your suffering.

But are you sure that Mr. Rodriguez and the city can push the state to act at El Camino and Embarcadero if it's reluctant to do so? Have you been as insistent with CalTrans personnel or state officials on this as you have been with the much more limited Transportation Dept. of Palo Alto and Mr. Rodriguez? You really have made me concerned about what it will take to improve conditions at T&C. But I'm not convinced that it's because he loves bikes and hates cars. Could you identify a deeper cause for inaction that would help us understand, not just sympathize?


7 people like this
Posted by How About the T&C :Light?
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:21 pm

The light I'm referring to is on Embarcadero which is totally within Mr. ROdriquez's job scope. (Actually, there are two lights on Embarcadero, the cross-walk light and the one at Paly/T&C. They are apparently timed for one to turn red as soon as the other turns green.)

Mr. Rodriquez's 2 160+-page plus RFP's dealt with Embacadero, not El Camino.

The El Camino light is a totally DIFFERENT matter and one I doubt will be settled in my lifetime if work on the Embarcadeo light(s) is taking all these years. The ECR is part of the long-term enhancement vs the Embarcadeo one(s) which are supposedly "eminent," "near-term" and all the other verbiage thrown around,

Several years ago, I received the Transportation Dept's plan which said "getting input" on the El Camino light would take another 5 years because of all the "stakeholders" -- Stanford, VTA, parents, Paly, whatever.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Thanks for the clarification.


5 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:48 pm

My problem with these bike plans is that there is no follow-up to see if they are working. Most plans that implement major changes have before and after data collection, trial periods, evaluation, etc. These plans have none of that, and no objective criteria that define success. It seems that they will be considered successful no matter what happens, so City Hall can just slap them in place and rush on to another project without looking back at the consequences of their actions.


3 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Vehicle drivers continually rant about bicyclists preventing them from exercising their God-given right to drive anywhere they want at any speed they desire. But have those drivers ever considered the other impediment to their free range driving habits? That would be pedestrians.

Think about it drivers. Pedestrians, like bicyclists, don’t pay use taxes for sidewalks or crosswalks. They wander about at extremely slow speeds and change direction at the drop of a quarter.

What about those sidewalks? Why do non use tax paying pedestrians get a raised area for their personal use while drivers are stuck on oil stained, gravel clogged streets that pound the paint job into a visit to Earl Scheib?

And then there are the crosswalks. Have you ever been blasting along with some tasty tunes playing on the radio and are suddenly forced to stop by some pedestrian who has pushed the Walk button at an intersection? This rude interruption to your precious time probably wastes fifteen to twenty seconds of your day and forces you to do a John Force style burnout when the light turns green to try and recover those lost seconds.

Pedestrians should get back in their cars where they belong!


9 people like this
Posted by Bert
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 20, 2015 at 6:41 pm

The reason that bike projects are prioritized over T&C has nothing to do with Caltrans. The fact is that supporting bikes is cool and trendy in the urban planning community and it gets you style points and can brag about it within the community and on your resume. Solving the T&C problems does not give you bragging rights anywhere. The Bike Friendly Community application asks how many miles of bike lanes and bike boulevards you have, but it doesn't ask if anyone uses them or if they actually serve bicyclists in a meaningful way, so you get points there for building things whether they are useful or not. The current regime in City Hall is focused on their own stature and reputation and they are building projects to enhance those, without any serious regard to whether they benefit Palo Alto cyclists or drivers. THAT is why there are so many bike projects being proposed and other projects like T&C languish.


5 people like this
Posted by it's a mess
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 7:34 pm

@Bert
You are 100% correct. What is done here is not subject to any kind of
analysis or evaluation or even common sense in terms of need or safety.



1 person likes this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm

@Oldman, considered taking the city up on the offer in the energy report to correct the info they have about my house but I didn't because I recall it required providing them (third party) too much personal info. They have me listed on a 2,000 sq ft lot when it's well over 6,000 and they reprimand me for "too much water use." I won't register or sign up or provide personal info to third parties under the guise of having them analyze my energy use, but who knows what else they will use the info for. Sorry I don't remember the specific thing that put me off when I visited the website, I just realized it was unwise to correct the profile they have of me - for invasion of privacy or security reasons.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2015 at 11:15 pm

@anonymous, no amount of profiling would be accurate for utilities usage analysis unless it included whether inhabitants are employed outside the home, resident part-time or year-around, male or female, height, weight and age, meal preparation habits, and how often you change your underwear. Sadly, most of those data can be ascertained from the digital trails we now leave.

Back on topic, nobody asks how much I ride my bike.


4 people like this
Posted by Fire the Transportation Chief
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Jaime Rodriguez, Chief Transportation Officer, is using Palo Alto as his "showroom." The more green paint and offensive signage he can put up around town, the easier it is for him to get outside consulting jobs with his private company, Traffic Patterns, LLC. (The company designs street patterns.) Rodriguez can brag to his potential customers, "look what I've done in Palo Alto." He is benefiting because Palo Alto is allowing him to go wild with ugly, unnecessary and some might argue, dangerous street markings. [Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:14 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2015 at 9:16 pm

We think this is a great idea. Who can possibly be opposed to safer routes for our kids to get to school? A child bicycling to school was killed in Cupertino recently when a big rig veered into the bike lane and ran over him. This situation is avoidable by creating low traffic routes for kids to use around schools. I'm glad that the city is being proactive about this problem before more kids are killed.


2 people like this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2015 at 9:24 pm

No one's opposing safe routes for kids. And yes, there are plenty of accidents for bikes, cars, motorcycles and pedestrians.

Will lots of signs and lights help prevent accidents or will they contribute to them by causing everyone to be more distracted? That's a real question.


I totally agree with Fire The Transportation Chief.

I'd love to see Palo Alto officials take responsibility for the actions and/or inaction and mistakes but it looks like we'll have a long wait.

Here's the news clip I mentioned earlier where another PA Official claims it will cost the city nothing to dig our and replace the Cal Ave sidewalks.

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by just wondering
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:21 pm

What about having the bikers follow basic traffic laws? I am sure I am not the only one who almost hit a fancy bike rider entering an intersection ignoring the stop sign.

Why not fine those bikers? These are accidents waiting to happen.
And triple the fine, please, when bikers ignore the hard working cross guards.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2015 at 11:34 am

Why are there no stop signs on Churchill at the Paly crosswalks? While showing rising freshman the bike route, a westbound car stopped, but an eastbound car nearly ran us over in the crosswalk! Wasn't there a student pedestrian accident here last year? The safe routes to school brochure and Paly administration should clarify that the suggested bike path is along the Paly side of Churchill going towards Alma. Bike routes/safety should be part of freshman/new student orientation, not just "feel-good" icebreaker games.

The bike route to Gunn, e.g. along Meadow towards El Camino Way, is more spacious and visible (even if some people complain about it being an eyesore).


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

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