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Community Notebook: Summit explores how counties are addressing bike safety

 

Transportation leaders from government agencies, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations and the public will gather at the 5th annual Silicon Valley Bike Summit to discuss how Santa Clara and San Mateo counties are addressing safety for people who bike as well as how to achieve Vision Zero, an initiative to have zero deaths and major injuries on the roadways.

The summit, which is co-hosted by Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) and Stanford Healthcare, will take place on Aug. 26, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 3921 Fabian Way. The event will feature presentations, interactive panels and guest speakers, including Nuria Fernandez, CEO of Valley Transportation Authority and Jim Hartnett, CEO of SamTrans.

The San Mateo County Health System and Santa Clara County Health Department will present bicycle collision reports and discuss recommendations for focus areas. SVBC will also provide a tool kit for local governments to implement Vision Zero plans.

The summit will also look at tech solutions to address data holes and safety accessibility issues and initiatives taking place in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

A happy hour will be held after the summit.

Registration is $35. To register, visit eventbrite.com. For more information, visit bikesiliconvalley.org.

SVBC's mission is to create a healthy community, environment, and economy through bicycling for people who live, work, or play in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, according to its website.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 8:28 am

Hope that they discuss using bike traffic lights and bike stop signs.

Also hope that they discuss bike lights, visibility vests, as well as stop signs and traffic lights.

Also hope that they discuss methods to deter bike thieves.


3 people like this
Posted by commuter
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 12, 2015 at 9:15 am

What this city needs is wider and more continuous bike lanes. Menlo Park has bike lanes on Middlefield Road. Those bike lanes disappear through downtown Palo Alto, then reappear in midtown Palo Alto, then randomly disappear and reappear without warning through southern Palo Alto, before they pick up again in Mountain View. If the city isn't giving bicyclists a clear signal about where they are welcome, it is no wonder they sometimes take liberties with the letter of the law. I have read that most bicyclists roll though stop signs because they think it safer to clear the intersection than wait for a car to rear-end them (unlike car drivers who roll through stop signs because they are just to busy to wait).


16 people like this
Posted by Former Cyclist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 1:15 pm

SOMETHING needs to be done immediately. The insane amount of business development in Palo Alto has made commuting by bike suicidally dangerous--due to the sheer monstrous numbers of cars driven by angry, distracted scofflaws on streets ill-suited for such heavy traffic.

Why are the drivers angry and distracted? The streets are too narrow, the flow is too slow because of this as well as the overwhelming numbers of cars; there are too many stops which last too long and are not synchronized-- giving plenty of opportunity to text and check email. I would be hopping mad too,if I had to drive for two or three hours to get to work and then again to get home-- just because affordable housing is so danged far away from decent-paying employment.

Many of the bike commuters you see on the road have been hit or forced off the road by an angry, distracted driver-- myself included. Which is why I no longer ride.


15 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 12, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

I think that it would be helpful if bicyclists were banned from certain busy, narrow roads that might prove dangerous for them. For instance, it is crazy to see cyclists on Alma St. during rush hour.


5 people like this
Posted by Stan Hutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 12, 2015 at 4:18 pm

I agree, "that it would be helpful if bicyclists were banned from certain busy, narrow roads that might prove dangerous for them". But by the same token and at the same time, Bike Boulevards and other designated bike routes should by primarily for bikes, with a *much* lower (e.g. 15 mph) speed limit, strictly enforced by traffic cameras, and very few stop signs. Having drivers blast by bikers is dangerous, especially when bikers are not single file. Shared roads should have much better bike lane markings (there is noticeable ongoing improvement in this respect), and physical (curb) separation if possible. Where warranted, special Bike Paths should be created, such as the one along Paly and on to downtown. It would be nice if it could be extended further in both directions.


3 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 12, 2015 at 4:37 pm

SOMETHING needs to be done about the cycling scofflaws who refuse to wear helmets, blow through stop signs, red lights and crosswalks, talk on cell phones and cycle on dangerous streets, making them even more dangerous. Are they suicidal?


2 people like this
Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Hmmm: I couldn't tell if you were talking about cyclists or drivers. I think both parties are just as guilty of that behavior, and I don't even remember the last time I saw a driver wear a helmet.

Speaking of cycling though, I would *love* to see some protected bicycle tracks around town, particularly in some of the high stress areas like Alma, Middlefield and potentially Charleston.

It's also really encouraging to see the counties taking Vision Zero seriously.


3 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@ PatrickD: Okay, I'll bite. Why would a driver on city streets need to wear a helmet?

I wouldn't mind seeing Palo Alto designate a few more streets as bicycle routes. Then again, I still see bicyclists riding down Alma during rush hours when they could be riding on Bryant St -- a designated bike route just a few parallel blocks away.

By the way, I do wish that cities had enough foresight to have planned for permanent and independent bike lanes. Hindsight is 20/20.


8 people like this
Posted by Former Cyclist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Bryant St has become unsafe as well, because SOOOOO many drivers use it to get around the mess on Alma during the rush hours, especially the afternoon hours. This makes it VERY dangerous for kids riding to and from Paly and Jordan during the school year. However, about here or four years back I saw an older man on a bicycle side-swiped by a car--on a Saturday morning, no less--on Bryant.

Personally, I was once side-swiped by a car on Waverley coming home from work at 5:30 pm, and pushed into a parked car. This broke my left elbow and my right knee. Residential street are not safe either because drivers seem to be less vigilent and more willing to run stop signs ( the driver who hit me ran a stop sign and made an illegal left turn onto his home street. He told police he never saw me and did not realize he hit me--though the paint on the passenger side of his silver Mercedes sure showed it!).

When we moved here, I was told that Palo Alto was a great place to ride a bike, because Palo Altans EXPECTto share the road with bike riders. This has proved false--the local drivers are hurried and distracted by cell phones, the commuters are angry, distracted, and distracted--and don't appear to expect bicycle traffic.

I will bike ride to work again when Palo Alto installs berms to separate bike lanes from cars, as in the Netherlands.


4 people like this
Posted by commuter
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Unfortunately, most car drivers do not stop at stop signs in Palo Alto residential areas, even (or especially) when crossing the Bryant Bicycle Boulevard. I wish the city used more cops on bicycles to enforce stop signs and the 3-foot-passing law.


Like this comment
Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Nayeli: One could ask the same about cyclists wearing helmets. If we had a higher percentage of people out riding bikes (we're getting there!), the need to be protected from cars decreases. You can see this in places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam where no one wears a helmet and it's extremely rare for a cyclist or pedestrian to be killed by a motorist. Compare this to San Francisco where we had 44 fatalities in the past two years.

A large part of the reason why we don't have better dedicated bicycle infrastructure is because the spandex crew didn't want to be forced to the side of the road and have to ride single file while dodging slower cyclists and parked cars. And they've kinda got a point. When you paint bike lanes on many roads, particularly where you allow cars to park in bike lanes, it actually makes it more dangerous because you have to swing in and out of traffic instead of having traffic slow down to accomodate the cyclists.


6 people like this
Posted by Former Cyclist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 8:20 pm

I agree that cars should not be allowed to park in bike lanes; it greatly increases the danger for bike riders. Isn't there a law mandating that cyclists ride single file? Riding abreast in order to converse increases risk exponentially, PARTICULARLY on roads without bike lanes. Just look at the number of injuries and fatalities on Upper Page Mill. A friend who works for STANFORD Hospital recently told me that the Life Chopper goes out three times per weekend just for bicycle and motorcycle riders on Upper Page Mill.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Reading most of the comments here it is clear to me that so many of the traffic laws for bicycles have been written for a time when bikes were fewer in number than they are at present. We have more cars parked on streets even during the day than when the laws were written. We have more cars moving on arterial roads, than when the laws were written.

Apart from the bike helmet law for under 18s, what laws have been invoked in the past 30 years that bike riders have to abide to?

Cars and other vehicles are always getting new laws as well as new safety measures such as seatbelts and airbags. Bikes are very much the same as they were and it is almost impossible to make them safer from a rider's personal safety. Many bike riders use helmets, but that will only protect them after a collision. Some bike riders use lights at night (and in daylight) but few use high visibility vests. Being seen is something that will make bike riders safer.

It is about time the laws for bike riding were overhauled. Just because it is legal to do something doesn't mean it is the safest way to do it. Making sure that bike riders have lights, reflective vests and bells, will help. Giving the riders tickets for not doing so would make them start paying attention to these laws.

We should also have dismount and walk signs at various bridges, tunnels and similar for bike safety. These signs are found in Europe where vehicles and bikes have to share a narrow road or other road hazard. Bike riders don't dismount on bridges and tunnels that tell them to do so. A few tickets may make them realize that these rules are for their safety and should be obeyed. It is a weak excuse to say that it slows them down or is difficult in cleats. Just because the rider is in a hurry or is dressed for racing bikes, doesn't excuse them. I can't see a car driver getting away with an excuse of not wanting to slow down or not liking to use a seatbelt because it might crease their clothes. Likewise we must not let bike riders get away with unsafe habits.

I sympathise entirely with those on bikes. I see a lot of bike riders doing the right thing. But they can also do a lot more to make themselves more visible and more safe on the roads.

We need bike traffic lights and bike stop signs. We need to


1 person likes this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 10:00 pm

I used to commute 12 miles each way by bike. I've stopped bicycling during commute hours. It's just too dangerous because the roads are packed and vehicles take too many liberties with bike lanes, stop signs and stop lights.


Like this comment
Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 14, 2015 at 12:42 am

Resident: While we're at it, why not make a law that requires motorists to dismount and push their cars through intersections? Given that many fatal accidents happen at intersections and that automobiles have dangerous blind spots, it's really the only sensible thing to do.

All kidding aside, the point I'm trying to make, is that roads are for moving people, and cars are just one component of that. The problem with things like the "single file rule", is that you force cyclists to be second class citizens. Meanwhile, each car that passes by usually has a single occupant and seating for 5+ with two to three seats abreast, and there's often two lanes in each direction. Why should cars be entitled to all of that space on the road?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2015 at 7:46 am

Patrick you make a good point.

I remember my mother telling me that when she was pregnant with me she got a ride to work each day with a neighbor who rode a motorcycle with sidecar, she rode in the sidecar. She says she felt a lot more scared than if she was riding on the back of the motorcycle which she had done before her belly got too big.

Although when I ride a bike I often dismount at intersections and when I was at school, the rule was that we all had to dismount from our bikes on the school campus, but I don't really expect all bike riders to dismount at every intersection, but some could.

I am talking about places where there are signs to dismount, such as the pedestrian bridges and tunnels which are designed for pedestrians. Embarcadero ped bridge and Cal Ave ped tunnel are good examples. I think there is one on Embarcadero under the Caltrain tracks too.


6 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2015 at 8:53 am

Mandatory "bicycle dismount zones" are an admission that the bicycle route is a poorly designed failure. A better designed bicycle route would not require such silliness. Dismount zones create confusion and congestion and slower commute times and encourage people to drive instead.


Like this comment
Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 14, 2015 at 9:16 am

Resident: I was actually referring to automobiles, and not bicycles, but fair is fair. I think most cyclists would be willing to accept a law to dismount from their bicycles if there were also a law for motorists to get out of their cars and SUVs and push them through each intersection.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2015 at 11:19 am

@ Hmmm: "SOMETHING needs to be done about the cycling scofflaws who refuse to wear helmets" ... helmets are only required for Minors. Adults are currently exempt.

@ parent: "Mandatory "bicycle dismount zones" are an admission that the bicycle route is a poorly designed failure". Or in the case of PA, the evolution of integrating bikes into what was primarily a pedestrian route - example would be the tunnels underneath the PA Caltrain station along University Ave.

@ Anonymous: "I used to commute 12 miles each way by bike. I've stopped bicycling during commute hours. It's just too dangerous because the roads are packed and vehicles take too many liberties with bike lanes, stop signs and stop lights. " This is why I avoid the typically busy roadways. I don't mind adding a few extra blocks to my ride in order to stay off a busy street. It's safer and the ride is so much more pleasant. For example, I'll ride up/down Homer & Channing in the early morning, but later in the day I'll head over to streets like Kingsley, etc.

@ commuter: Middlefield is a legacy street that is older than most PA residents. Only way to have a bike lane is to reduce from 4-lanes to 2-lanes. That's not going to happen. My recommendation is don't ride on Middlefield - just head over a block and drive on one of the parallel streets - again, a couple extra blocks is not going hurt your ride, it will be safer and more pleasant.

"I have read that most bicyclists roll though stop signs because they think it safer to clear the intersection than wait for a car to rear-end them" Honestly - the reason is so obvious...those riders don't want to slow down and restart their roll...i.e, they don't want to work harder than they are already are.



6 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

@PatrickD: I don't think that a widespread 19mph speed limit for vehicles (associate with the Vision Zero initiative) will EVER be widely embraced in the United States outside of a few zoned streets in cities and towns.

However, there are other ways to make bicycle safety a possibility. For instance, why not make certain bicycle routes one-way streets with lower speed limits. Consider Bryant St. The entire road could be transitioned into a one way street with a 15mph speed limit. This would leave half of the road (marked accordingly) for bicycles.

If cities designed (or redesigned) bike routes accordingly, this would help alleviate much of the danger on those designated routes and would eliminate a certain degree of traffic from those streets. Adjoining streets could have more stop signs installed to prevent too much traffic from becoming frequent issues.


5 people like this
Posted by Former Cyclist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2015 at 8:43 am

I wish that Bryant were made into a " residents and bicyclists only " zone, and that PAPD would then enforce it. The 15 mph idea is great, too.

If only we lived in a perfect world.....


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