Palo Alto hits the brakes on Matadero Creek bikeway

Physical and political obstacles hamper once popular bike project in Midtown

Facing a slew of physical obstacles and neighborhood concerns, Palo Alto is veering away from a once popular proposal to create an off-road bikeway through Midtown along Matadero Creek.

Instead, the City Council on Monday night took a turn toward a less controversial, complex and expensive alternative: turning Loma Verde Avenue into Midtown's premier east-west bike route. This could mean re-striping the street to create bike lanes going in either direction next to each other but away from the automobile lanes.

The decision effectively grinds to a halt what until now has been one of the most ambitious projects in the city's recently adopted bicycle master plan. Envisioned as a recreational path that would greatly improve east-west connectivity, the Matadero Creek project received a big boost in in 2012, when it secured a $1.5 million grant from Santa Clara County.

But while the path between Alma Street and West Bayshore Road looked good on paper, it had a hard time navigating through the barriers along the flood-control channel. In the westernmost segment, between Alma and Waverley, the proposed path runs into houses and a maintenance ramp used by Santa Clara County Water District. Further east, as it goes past Middlefield Road, the pathway would pass by the Winter Lodge, requiring the Lodge to give up some of its parking space. And in passing Seale Park, the path would run into another access ramp.

To deal with these obstacles, planning staff had proposed a "hybrid" approach in which the bikeway alternates between the usable segments of Matadero Creek and parallel streets. Rather than a straight-shot through the city's midsection, it would zigzag like a dislocated spine between Alma and U.S. Highway 101.

Some council members and bicycle advocates lauded the plan, despite these difficulties. Robert Neff, a member of both the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee and the special citizen committee that worked with staff on the Midtown path project, echoed the city's Planning and Transportation Commission in arguing that creating the pathway by Matadero Creek constitutes "the best use of land next to the creek, which would otherwise lie fallow."

But residents whose backyards are next to the creek saw things differently. Several argued Monday that the pathway would create both a hazard for bike riders, particularly children who may be liable to falling into the channel, and a disturbance for the homeowners who live by the creek.

Julie Nolan, who lives along the creek, called the creation of a public path in this area a "serious invasion of privacy."

"It's not just about looking into the backyard, it's about the noise and hundreds of people going by," Nolan said.

Others argued that because the proposed pathway is a jagged route, it fails to meet the objectives that the City Council had in mind when it conceived the project.

Stephanie Beach, who lives near the creek, urged the council to focus on achieving a goal of creating a trail from the Baylands to the foothills.

"How can we achieve it?" Beach said. "We don't achieve it by doing a piecemeal, block-by-block configuration that ends up being a trail to nowhere."

Her husband, David Beach, pointed out that improving Loma Verde would be a much cheaper alternative than creating the new pathway. It would also minimize maintenance costs and create a more attractive ride for bikers, he said.

"Matadero Creek is not a natural creek; it's not a riparian environment. It's an industrial solution," he said. "I think we'd be much better off to celebrate the flood control it provides and create a beautiful and safe connector along Loma Verde Avenue."

Jeff Knowles, consultant with the firm Alta Planning + Design, told the council that national literature suggests that a trail like the one proposed would not increase crime in the neighborhoods through which it passes.

Councilman Greg Schmid, who supported pursuing the pathway, noted that other area cities, including Mountain View, Cupertino and San Jose, have such pathways and do not experience the types of problems being cited by opponents of the pathway.

"They do not complain about privacy and security," Schmid said. "Actually, the values of their properties tend to go up."

Chief Transportation Official Joshuah Mello said staff could address the residents' concerns by installing fencing or vegetation to screen homes from path users. He also said he could foresee a scenario in which gates limit access to the pathway in the evening and night hours.

But the council majority concurred that given all the obstacles and resident concerns, the $4.9 million project is perhaps more trouble that it's worth.

Councilman Cory Wolbach said it's time to "pull the plug" on the project and Councilwoman Liz Kniss, who was on the county Board of Supervisors at the time when the county allocated funding for the project, now expressed reservations about building the path.

"Going along behind people's houses at all hours of the day and night makes me uneasy," Kniss said.

Councilman Eric Filseth lauded the concept of a Matadero Creek trail and said that one can "clearly see the attraction of it." Yet as the city has gone through the hard work of figuring out how to implement the project, "one compromise after another has come up," Filseth said.

"At this point, a lot of compromises have been made to make it work," he said.

Councilman Tom DuBois was considerably more blunt.

"I don't think the plan makes sense," DuBois said, pointing at all the properties and obstacles that the path has to navigate, the hefty price tag and a lack of clarity in what the city is trying to achieve.

He and Wolbach each made the case for instead improving the bike ride on Loma Verde. Wolbach said any future exploration should be around ways to improve bike safety and encourage biking on Loma Verde, whether through a Class IV pathway (which is separated from driving lanes) or other amenities.

"I just don't think the creek provides the trail vibe people are looking for when they go away for trail riding," Wolbach said. "I don't think the creek will provide a great recreational opportunity. And it doesn't provide a top-notch commute option because of the back and forth."

In agreeing to pursue the Loma Verde project by a 7-1 vote, with DuBois dissenting and Councilman Marc Berman absent, the council directed staff to reach out to the county and see if the grant funds for Matadero could be redirected toward this project. If they cannot, the grant funding could still be used to work on the easternmost section of the Matadero Creek, between Ross Road and West Bayshore.


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42 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 7:26 am

This is a wasted opportunity and a non-solution. Loma Verde is too far from Midtown to be a good alternative route. At least try using Colorado Ave as the primary bike route instead of the Matadero path.

54 people like this
Posted by Jimmae
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 8:08 am

As a bicyclist and motor vehicle driver,I'd like to chime in to point out that,imo, the biggest positive to a continuous bike-ped route along Matadero Cr is that for the most part,it is auto free,.
Improving striping along Loma Verde is a great idea , but do it as part of the overall plan that includes incorporating the Matadero Creek corridor into a bike-ped friendly alternative.
Even an inefficient corridor will provide a fantastic alternative to our busy-congested streets.
I am a 60 yr resident of Midtown, as kids we spent most of our time in and around the creeks, the wrong headed comment that the creek isn't what folks look for in a trail vibe is way off base.
As a grandparent I would greatly appreciate the Matadero Cr vibe when going out with my Grandkids either walking or on our bikes.
The accelerated traffic on our streets these days is best left to the skilled pedalers,us less skilled walkers-pedalers would breath much easier knowing we won't get mowed down if we stop to smell and feel the Bay breezes.

21 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2016 at 9:00 am

Loma Verde is a very busy street - if not an arterial it is certainly a collector street. The intersection with Middlefield badly needs an upgrade to deal with turning traffic. Since Philz, the amount of traffic parking illegally near this intersection including PAPD and PAFD makes the intersection even more dangerous.

There are many streets that loop and/or culdesacs which cannot find an alternative to using Loma Verde.

It is a street that has Bayshore one end and Alma the other end, neither of which are good for bikes. Additionally an East/West corridor would abruptly end at the Caltrain tracks unless a tunnel was built.

Unless the improved bike lanes were only one side of the street and completely separate from the vehicle traffic by some type of berm, as well as no parking on Loma Verde, I can't see this working well.

I am not saying I am against the idea, but I would like the above issues dealt with in detail before I could agree to this plan.

10 people like this
Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 9:13 am


41 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 9:14 am

Midtown badly needs a child-safe east-west bike route all the way from Greer Park to the Midtown Shopping Center to the California Ave train station. Enough talk, get it done already. We agree that @Parent that Loma Verde is too far out-of-the way to be a desirable route. People want to go to the shopping center and the train station and those high-priority destinations are currently difficult to reach by bicycle. The bike route needs to connect those 2 destinations. People can then use the Bryant bicycle boulevard and the new Park bicycle boulevard to reach destinations farther south.

44 people like this
Posted by Just Nuts
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 9:26 am

This needs tone taken off the back burner and made a priority!

Lima Verde is an extremely busy street, where most cars run at least one stop sign-- usually more! There is a school on this street, and those children NEED a safer route to school!

Adult bicyclists need a safe, nonstop bike route in that area-- thanks to the high number of scofflaws who drive through that area!

51 people like this
Posted by VERY Disappointed
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 21, 2016 at 9:53 am

How can the same council persons who want to see better transportation alternatives in our city kill a project like this?

a) The Matadero Creek channel is a terrible and ugly channel and the moment....and it is our collective fault for trying to "engineer" in to a concrete waterway. But we can change that.
b) Creekways are the best ways to create recreational areas for our community members. This is our opportunity to create a safer, healthier, prettier, more active creek corridor. Take a look at all the greenways in the East Bay, El Cerrito, Berkeley, Albany, Oakland. They are amazing and easy places for community members of all ages to use.
c) PUtting bike/ped pathways on Loma Verde is ok...but to really increase bike ridership, especially for women and children, a dedicated path along Matadero is the way to go.
d) Safety along the corridor is more likely when there are eyes on the corridor. As Josh Mello noted , the community members living along similar recreational pathways in other communities don't experience crime, invasion of privacy etc. Ask the folks in the East Bay.

I'm terribly terribly disappointed in this council for taking this action.

19 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

They had better not turn their attention to screwing up Loma Verde like they screwed up Arastadero. The main "physical" barrier to using the creek is homeowners along the creek who don't want bicycle/pedestrian traffic behind their homes. Can't say I blame them, but tell it like it is.

9 people like this
Posted by Real NIMBY's
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:28 am

I like it - literally, they are NIMBYs!

25 people like this
Posted by Whoa Whoa WHOA!!!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:41 am

Hey, this is Palo Alto, remember? There is no need to accomplish anything. We need to talk about it until someone, ANYONE, says they have an issue, then we can stop progress to talk about it some more. We won't act until 100% of everyone is happy. That takes in forever. You want improved infrastructure and the delightful livability brought by those improvements?
Mtn View is just down the road if you want results. Otherwise, just stay inside. No need to think past your own yard or put an end to the running joke that PA has become. Enjoy.

33 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2016 at 11:22 am

Most insane thing I've heard yet. I am right by the Stevens Creek Trail from Mt. View to Sunnyvale and it's a fabulous place for cyclists and to the creek. If parents just watched their kids a little bit more often than checking their cell phones it might work.

Don't we want to encourage cycling and walking and preventing car vs bike/pedestrian accidents?

Thanks PA for another destroyed opportunity from the few. Glad I moved away!

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

Which street has the busier motor vehicle traffic? Colorado or Loma Verde?

24 people like this
Posted by Derek
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 11:42 am

Ha! A perfect, literal example of Palo Alto NIMBYism. I, for one, am tired of fighting the traffic on Colorado and Loma verde while biking with my kids. A trail along Matadero would be ideal, but I'll take an upgrade to Loma verde if that is what we get. The fact of the matter is that *any* east-west bike path, whether a contiguous route from Alma to the baylands, or a circuitous path partly along the creek, would be a huge improvement. It's probably also important to keep in mind that not everyone will be biking the entire distance of the path all the time, so the arguments about the indirect nature of the creek solution don't really hold up.

37 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 21, 2016 at 11:47 am

The City Council fails again. It's much safer for my kids to bike on a trail along a creek with no cars than on a busy street with only painted "sharrows" to protect them. Residents know there's an easement behind their homes, and the City is willing to accommodate the privacy and noise concerns. This trail would help bring kids closer to nature (even if it's a somewhat "engineered" creek) and solve a critical need for more bike and pedestrian routes. creating the pathway by Matadero Creek constitutes "the best use of land next to the creek, which would otherwise lie fallow." (')Neff said!

36 people like this
Posted by Native to Palo Alto
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 11:58 am

Why do we continue to battle back and forth? We had a plan, a good plan, let's implement the plan and get over it. What would a zig or a zag mean to the plan? Nothing! Why do a few homeowners who imagine issues with neighbors riding or walking past their houses have power to stop a project. We all have neighbors walking and riding past our houses, we live in a community of walkers and bikers. The bike/walk path on Matadero Creek is a brilliant use of land resource, a great project, ambitious, yes, but a great project for a great community! And by the way @David Beach, Matadero Creek used to be natural and could still give that sense if we wisely create the path we so desperately need.

22 people like this
Posted by Living next to Matador Creek
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:01 pm

So terribly disappointed. I live right next to the creek and the young & able-bodied jump the fences all the time. Excluded are families, people with dogs, older adults, people with disabilities, and those who are not comfortable with trespassing.

36 people like this
Posted by Good Point
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Right now the only people using the "trail" are the exact same people the NIMBYs are afraid of, and the types who will relocate themselves once it becomes more public. I watched the "questionable" users of the Steven's creek trail area progressively move up stream as more sections of the actual trail were built, inviting people who would call police opn illegal activities.
Boo City Council and BOOOOO ignorant selfish neighbors. So few individuals ruining things for countless others. Ahh Palo Alto.

40 people like this
Posted by Auto Free Zone
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm

What a tragedy to divert attention from a solution for East/West thruway. Many cities and town have alleys that go right behind people property. Take a bike ride East/West check out how incredibly scenic, convenient and bike safe route such a bike thruway would make for our citizens and children - this is a missed educational and recreational opportunity. Riparian as it once was and could still provide a incredible alternative to increased street auto traffic and pedestrian/bicycle accidents. During high water times, gates could be locked at each crossing. In fact, like posted park hours, this could be a East/West route sunup to sundown with a fine attached if used at other times. Please, please don't take this plan off the drawing board, City Council. Look no cars!!!

19 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Organizing makes a difference. 15-20 MRA members and creekside residents got themselves on the Citizens Advisory Committee, and showed up consistently at community meetings and city council. While ~ 2/3 of the residents at the trail demo day liked the concept, at council last night those people were just statistics, and the public comment was 10:1 against the creek trail project. If the nameless people commenting on this thread want a different outcome on the next project, then get organized and show up at city council and community meetings.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm

I have stated above my concerns about Loma Verde and now I will comment on the creek bikeway

I agree that the unsavory types are probably already using this pathway anyway and more public use would probably detract them from using it. I also agree that overnight use could/should be curtailed, but not at dusk as in December/January and probably longer, it is dark while still in the commute hours.

Whereas Loma Verde is not in Midtown, Colorado is and would be easier to connect to the Cal Ave tunnel under Caltrain. Why was Colorado not thought suitable for this.

Lastly, we do desperately need an east/west bike route. I have attempted to hike along the Stevens Creek trail at weekends but it is impossible to enjoy a stroll with a friend as there are too many bikes speeding along. To walk Stevens Creek you need to walk single file and pay attention to bikes. It is not an enjoyable walk but it may be an enjoyable bike ride. I am not happy about the idea of speeding bikes sharing a path with leisurely strolling pedestrians.

6 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 1:50 pm

@Resident: Technically Loma Verde IS part of Midtown; it is the southern border of the Midtown neighborhood.

18 people like this
Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Council was right, in my opinion, to veto the proposed path. It was more like an obstacle course than a transportation route. More problems than it was worth. Keep a solution simple and you have greatly increased chance of success.

10 people like this
Posted by Not a creek
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Since many posters seem to be unfamiliar with the immediate area, note that this is a cement drainage ditch. The name is historical.

8 people like this
Posted by Educate Yourself
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2016 at 2:25 pm

[Post removed.]

21 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

What a shame--Palo Alto is turning into another blah city with not character or forward thinking just like Cupertino.

What is wonderful opportunity missed to get people interested in using a bike and seeing something other than cars whizzing by them just a few feet away. Too bad.

Those of you who talk about saving the planet and tying to live a holistic life but instead are for silly striped bike lanes on another buy sAvenue and call it a day rather than thinking outside the box and making something wonderful for the greater good.

Compromise is not what made this country great. Compromise is what is making Palo Alto into a timid little concrete jungle that talks the talk but stops short of bold decisive actions..

26 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm

@Robert Neff - wish you had come to speak at PTA meetings about this project. We had no idea what was going on. Parents groups are resoundingly for safer bike routes, but are generally spending their evenings at home with the kids instead of at city council meetings. The senior citizen NIMBY groups have more time in the evenings.

11 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

It is so dangerous to bike along Loma Verde. I can't believe the town would go back on what I think many of us saw as promised improvement to the bikeability of our neighborhood and quite literally take us one step backwards. Loma verde is very busy, especially around middlefield, I just don't see how it could ever be made safe. I guess the town council cares more about a few NIMBYs than our kids lives. Smh.

4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Palo Alto ain't Disneyland, folks. We can't develop pristine car-free roads as the population swells. I'm glad the city is getting its priorities straightened out.

They just need to be practical instead of making reckless investments in fanciful projects.

12 people like this
Posted by Midtown Biker
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Facts about trail alignment: cleanout ramp blocks route at Alma; private property all the way to creek wall at Waverley; Waverley to Cowper section too narrow for shared bikes and peds; Cowper to Middlefield Keys School easement; Middlefield Road traffic to cross; Winter Lodge parking; Ross to Louis (only section wide enough for shared bikes and peds); cleanout ramp blocks route at Louis; Hwy 101 undercrossing low and only seasonal. Multiple mid-block crossings. No landscaping allowed because trucks use maintenance road. Not a continuous route. Not a safe route for kids.

12 people like this
Posted by maggie
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 21, 2016 at 5:35 pm

maggie is a registered user.

From the comments above clearly the majority, if not all, of the posters did not attend or watch the tv broadcast of the council discussion last night. If you had you would understand there are obstacles along this particular creek that cannot be ameliorated. Those obstacles that can would result in a bike route costing millions of dollars and would have to zig zag awkwardly around city streets to connect to the separate portions that could be built. And does does not meet the criteria for an efficient bike route that will ultimately link the bay to the hills.

When council originally instructed staff to do a feasibility study to explore bike route options, which was presented last night, Matadero had been their first choice. Last night it was with considerable disappointment council ultimately decided that Loma Verde made more sense as it can be restriped to allow room for a separated safe bike route. Colorado turns out to be too narrow to accommodate a safe bike route.

Part of the discussion involved where a bike route could go under Alma and the railroad tracks to link to Park, already a bike route. An undercrossing at Loma Verde would mean the bike route would go through city owned land (where the electricity sub station is located) to exit onto Park.

Before anyone starts to jump in on the plans for the high speed rail, the trenching will only go as far as Charleston, leaving a Loma Verde underpass the best choice.

6 people like this
Posted by Michael
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 6:29 pm

After reading the comments, I am not surprised that the CPA caved to the "no's." There's a history in PA of the few no's stopping/slowing many projects. @Robert Neff is correct. The no's come out of the woodwork to oppose, while everyone else doesn't engage/attend.
The creek idea was a very good one, but needs major modifications to the "obstacles" to be a brilliant idea... A continuous route, not a zig-zag.
To those who think riding behind houses is a bad idea, think of the Mt.View bike bridge that goes along the creek... great use of land! There are others, like between greenmeadow park and Duncan/Ely. How many complaints about them?
Another thing not mentioned yet: If you end it at Alma, that will encourage people to ride ON Alma. It's suicide! Has anyone been behind a bike rider going south on Alma between downtown PA and Mt.View? I have! It's crazy, but some will do it anyway (they obviously don't know, or care, there is a Bryant Bike boulevard). The same could be said about the W.Bayshore end without a bridge/tunnel. I also don't want to encourage bike riders on W.Bayshore; it's a high speed road, too dangerous for riders.
Many more need to organize and perhaps contribute $$$ to get it done right.

4 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 6:44 pm

How the heck did the Matadero creek trail get switched to Loma Verde? This was supposed to about the viability of a bike path next to a creek.If there is going to be a bike path on Loma Verde, this question should be answered by the folks that own property on Loma Verde or Maddux. If the city decides construct a class 4 bike lane ,parking on the south side of Loma Verde will be prohibited. If this happens, Sterling Park Residents, at the corner of Loma Verde and East Bayshore will now have to park on Maddux. One more thing, isn't there going to be a major storm water construction project on Loma Verde? How will this effect the easement?
All this for a $400,000 feasibility study? City Council has already screwed up down town, now they are going to screw up Midtown. All we gotta say is "Smooth move Ex-Lax".

4 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 7:31 pm

It seems that the Matadero Creek Bike Path was never the "prize". The "prize" was the $22,000,000 dollar bicycle under pass at Loma Verde, and moving the electrical substation. And maybe another road block for high speed rail in the meantime. You gotta love politics.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 7:37 pm

"Sterling Park Residents, at the corner of Loma Verde and East Bayshore"

I meant to write: Loma Verde and West Bayshore.

8 people like this
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:03 pm

@Robert Neff. "15-20 MRA members and creekside residents got themselves on the Citizens Advisory Committee, and showed up consistently at community meetings and city council."

Really, Robert, a bit of hyperbole? The CAC never had 15-20 members. Anyone who lives in Midtown is considered an MRA member and the organization never took an official stand on the issue. What we did do was hold community events to inform people of the proposal and give them an opportunity to voice their opinion--pro or con.

To everyone else:

Yes, I personally took a strong stance against the project for many reasons, among them what I consider the very real danger of mid-block crossings. The costs are also prohibitive. And any potential crossing of Alma or 101 is years and millions of dollars away.

Our east-west streets in Midtown are quite narrow, particularly east of Middlefield. There is no good solution. I think the proposed changes to Loma Verde invite more problems than solutions.

You can call it NIMBYism or well-researched concerns, but at least have a clue about what you're talking about when doing all the name-calling.

14 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2016 at 12:35 am

Hi Sheri,

Warning, rambling post...

I give you credit for being well organized, and yes, the MRA did not take a stand, and did an excellent job of publicizing the creek demo day, and in general keeps our neighborhood informed. Thank you!

Membership on the CAC was stacked against the trail, about 6-3-2, and the continual requests to kill the project made it a tiresome experience for me, expecially since deciding to kill the project was never part of the CAC charter.

In my view, the point of the trail is to be a mixed use, primarily pedestrian and young or slower bicyclist trail. Confident youth or adult cyclists is served better by the existing bike lanes on Loma Verde or shared lanes on Colorado. I would use the alignment as a short cut between Waverley and Safeway. The pedestrian-path alignment between Middlefield and 101 is fairly direct, with slight zig-zags where the trail crosses the creek at each bridge. The zig-zag offset also slows anyone on a bike, making the street crossings safer. Is it that difficult to cross the street safely?

It is an alternative, off-street route, next to a concrete channel, with flowing water and some wildlife (Ducks!) in the channel year round. Our tree-lined streets are lovely, though they tend to have cars, sometimes moving, sometimes parked on the sidewalk, and no ducks.

I think the most valuable, beneficial section is the seasonal undercrossing to the baylands under 101, creating walking and biking access to the baylands from the heart of Midtown. Many people already trespass and use this today.

Staff recommended against the 2-way cycletrack on Loma Verde for good reason. The proposal creates a perception of comfort, at a cost of real danger from wrong-way riding. See:
Web Link

Stay safe out there.

15 people like this
Posted by Thorstein Veblen
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2016 at 7:56 am

I'm gratified that many others shared my enthusiasm for this project. But Robert Neff is right that there was a failure to organize. The support for this may be comparatively broad but the opposition was well organized (and the Council just yielded).

FWIW, as a Barron Park resident, I would appreciate building just a small part of this: a short connection from Park Blvd to Emerson/El Carmelo so pedestrians and bicyclists can avoid the track and Alma St.

4 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2016 at 9:23 am

@Thorstein Veblen

Preliminary work on siting a crossing across Caltrain/Alma was done as part of consultant work on the corridor.

Staff asked for council direction to develop plans, and roughly estimates building an Alma/Caltrain crossing at $20M. Council asked for a more specific plan for funding the planning before giving staff direction to continue. There is no money earmarked for building that. The city would supplement with significant outside sources, like bike project funds from the VTA sales tax measure should that tax pass this fall.

13 people like this
Posted by Native Palo Altan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2016 at 10:08 am

First off, there is more wildlife happening in the CREEK than is being mentioned here. Egrets, Geese, Quail, fish, toads, frogs, Heron, and yes ducks just to get started.
Please know that for many, the decision to drop this project seems quite short sided.
The streets are extremely congested with drivers who DO NOT follow the laws and rules of the road. In the last 2 months there have been two incidents of pedestrians or cyclists being hit at the intersection of Loma Verde and Ross. Having alternate routes without cars is extremely important. Palo Alto was one of the first communities in the country to have dedicated bike routes, why not continue developing safe bike routs for children to ride to and from school. Sharing the road here and now in Palo Alto for the morning commute is extremely dangerous and this is why so many parents actually drive their children to school. If there were safer routes, there quite probably would be fewer cars on the road during the morning commute. This seemed like a viable and wonderful solution. I hope we can revive the plan and tweak it to fit the needs of the community. Homeowners need to be cognizant of the fact that at this point nothing will diminish home values, so now lets make the community more valuable too.

17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2016 at 10:55 am

I think Loma Verde is a poor choice for a bicycle route, especially between Alma and Middlefield. Loma Verde easily has 10 times as much car traffic as Colorado and cars go much faster on Loma Verde and run the stop signs much more often. There are multiple well known danger zones on Loma Verde where I regularly see cops camped out to nail scofflaw car drivers.

More importantly, when bike/pedestrian route crosses the train tracks, almost all the bike/pedestrian traffic will be heading from Loma Verde to the Caltrain station, which is so far from Loma Verde that few pedestrians are willing to walk that far. A pedestrian route from Colorado across the train tracks would end near the Caltrain parking lot, which is a perfect location for bicycles and pedestrians.

Colorado is narrower than Loma Verde which makes it slower and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. A separated bike path is unnecessary when car traffic is slow. Bicycles should just ride in the center of the lane (and standard "bicycles use full lane" street signs should indicate this). I think most pedestrians and bicyclists would prefer a route that brought them closer to the train station than a farther one with faster car traffic and more dangerous intersections, even if it had a separate bike path.

6 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2016 at 11:51 am

"Bicycles should just ride in the center of the lane (and standard "bicycles use full lane" street signs should indicate this)."

Great idea if you want to die, either by being run over or shot dead, or just cause extra traffic accidents. A lot of cyclists can't ride at an average speed of 25 MPH.

6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2016 at 12:08 pm

@Dan - 25mph is the maximum speed limit, not the "average speed". State law already specifies that bicycles should use the center of the lane on roads like this. The green bicycle arrows you see on some city roads are just reminders.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2016 at 12:28 pm

What concerns me as a driver is very different from what concerns me as a bike rider. I have riden on Colorado on those sharrows are useless because of all the parked cars. Even with a wide bike lane, I was once nearly hit on Loma Verde (or somewhere similar) when someone who had been sitting in their car on the phone suddenly opened their door without checking to see if a bike was coming.

As a driver, I have been along Loma Verde with many bikes often in groups that travel at less than 15 miles an hour and it is nigh on impossible to overtake them. Bikes bringing the average speed down to 15 mph on a busy street at commute time is not the answer to any of this.

As a parent, my kids have walked or biked to their various schools 99% of the time. Palo Alto schools and PTAs really encourage bike riding and that is a good thing. Aiming to keep the school kids safe is a good goal, but the average school kid riding is very different from some of the more experienced adult bike riders we also have riding at upwards of 25 mph on some of our streets. These bike riders also need to overtake groups of school kids riding at less than 15mph. They are as different as a smart car is from a SUV.

Then on top of everything we have garbage days with trucks that don't follow normal traffic patterns and expect everyone to get out of their way because they are more important than the rest of us. We also have construction sites that spread construction material and vehicles right out into the street. And, I won't mention the PAFD firetrucks that are often parked in the bike lanes near PHILZ.

Our basic problem is that we have traffic of all types trying to get to where it is going all at roughly the same time and we don't have efficient traffic flow of any type anywhere around town.

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Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2016 at 1:17 pm

@resident, In the real world, 25MPH "max" means average speed ~ 25MPH ( a few people might go below the speed limit (if they fall asleep at the wheel), but most expect to go at 25MPH and many will unfortunately travel faster. Hopefully regardless of what "state law" says, there aren't very many people self-important enough or suicidal enough to block traffic flow for their leisurely bicycle ride down the middle of the road going way below average road speeds.

4 people like this
Posted by Midtown resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:37 pm

"It is so dangerous to bike along Loma Verde"
Agree with that - that's my main route. But it comes from people parked illegally in the bike lane, forcing bikes out into the traffic lane.

4 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 23, 2016 at 4:25 pm

I agree with the decision. As far as I'm concerned they should do away with the plans for the 101 bike bridge as well. Unwise spending for a niche activity. Let's focus on the greater good.

4 people like this
Posted by Biker
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 25, 2016 at 7:48 am

Lost opportunity for adding character back to this city quickly moving beyond bland

4 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

"Magpie" and "Midtown Biker" got the issues right - please read the report or watch the video to see the issues and the alternatives checked. The Creek/Flood control culvert had issues with two houses whose property extends right up to the creek, it required taking space away from Keys School and Winter Lodge, and several areas that were two narrow for bikes and would be pedestrian only. It was not considered feasible for construction and was the most expensive option by far - about 4X. Colorado was evaluated but was too narrow of a street to create a safe bike lane separate from cars. So the discussion shifted to the Loma Verde option and how that could be made safer for bikes.

Originally 5 alternatives were considered - Matadero Creek, Colorado, Loma Verde, East Meadow and I think one that on the North side of Oregon Expressway (!) which I didn't even consider to be midtown.

Midtown is pretty large, so the discussion of which location is best may vary based on where you live as an individual. I focused my thinking on what routes would be most popular. Someone posted that kids need to get to Cal Ave station. My position was that a lot of school kids go towards the schools, and an improved connector / bike route would get the most use serving the routes to elementary, middle and high school. That left Loma Verde as 1) the widest street considered, 2) a straight shot path which was the least expensive option, and 3) closest to schools.

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

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