News


Narrower lanes on Middlefield Road could slow traffic, improve safety

New bike lanes, crosswalks and other road changes are in the works

Middlefield Road in Palo Alto is scheduled for some updates that officials hope will improve safety around Jordan Middle School, provide better access to Lucie Stern Community Center, reduce speeding and improve safety for bicyclists. The design changes will include the narrowing of lanes on Middlefield between the two legs of North California Avenue and addition of crosswalks and bike lanes from Forest Avenue to Oregon Expressway, according to plans recently released by the city. Road work will take place in two phases, starting this summer and concluding next year.

The first phase, from Oregon to Embarcadero Road, will also include changes along a stretch of North California Avenue from Alma Street to Newell Road.

Middlefield Road changes will include re-striping of lanes at some intersections to improve turning by vehicles; adding new marked crosswalks; reducing the width of car lanes to discourage speeding; and constructing a new, separate bikeway and a widened sidewalk in front of Jordan Middle School.

There will be no changes to on-street parking or the number of lanes on Middlefield.

Work along North California will entail adding bicycle lanes on North California by removing one parking lane; adding a wide, separate bike lane on North California; signal changes on North California at the Middlefield Road intersection to simplify car and bicycle turns; and extending a separate bikeway to Newell and Jordan Middle School's secure bike-parking area.

The bikeway should help cyclists at the North California Avenue/Middlefield Road dogleg intersection to cross more easily, according to city planners. High-visibility crosswalks, directional signage for cyclists, and advisory signs for drivers should improve safety and provide students a convenient bike connection to the Bryant Street Bike Boulevard and improved safe access to the bike parking area for Jordan Middle School students.

Narrower car lanes on Middlefield and a simplified centerline striping will aim to calm speeding and better vehicle turning movement. Speed data will be collected and analyzed before and after the changes to determine their effectiveness, Chief Transportation Official Joshuah Mello said June 9 at a public meeting on the road changes at City Hall.

To address cars that typically speed and pass aggressively and unsafely on the right at Middlefield and Kingsley Avenue, the city plans to narrow lanes, paint cross-hatched areas near the intersection, and install 6-inch-tall "traffic buttons" in the pavement, which would improve safety for traffic turning on to Middlefield from Kingsley.

A similar cross-hatched section of roadway will be installed near the Walter Hays Elementary School driveway to prevent cars from passing, and a new right-turn lane will be striped on Middlefield to let drivers entering the school to pull to the curb and keep the road clear.

Narrower lanes will also slow traffic near the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo and the Lucie Stern Community Center. To shorten crossing distances and increase visibility for pedestrians, a concrete bulb-out and crosswalk will be added to the north side of Kingsley.

Seale Avenue at Middlefield will also gain a high-visibility crosswalk.

In addition, two new dedicated left-turn lanes will be added from both directions of Middlefield onto Embarcadero Road. The traffic signal at the intersection will be adjusted in the future, Mello said.

Other changes north of University Avenue at Middlefield, where residents have called for fewer lanes, will be addressed in a separate phase, Mello said.

More information and renderings of the project are available online at cityofpaloalto.org/transportation.

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Comments

72 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 1, 2016 at 8:08 am

How is Middlefield unsafe??? I thought Bryant, Cowper and Ross were being redesigned for bikes. Middlefield should have the speed limit raised to 30. No one drives 25. PA cops regularly roll down Middlefield going 40 mph.

The results of artificially shrinking Middlefield will be sudden congestion forcing cars onto Cowper and Louis. I thought you didn't want that??

The radical War on Cars is reaching a fever pitch.


90 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2016 at 8:16 am

Narrowing lanes on Middlefield means that buses, trucks, even garbage trucks, will take more space than the width of their lane. This sounds particularly stupid to me.

Likewise, slowing traffic to a standstill can't be the aim of efficient traffic management.

When traffic is gridlocked, it encourages people to do unsafe things such as darting out into traffic whether they are in a car, on a bike or on foot.

I can't see how any of this will make Middlefield safer.


88 people like this
Posted by Dumb and Dumber
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 1, 2016 at 8:23 am

The lanes on Middlefield are already so narrow that VTA, SamTrans, Google and other buses have to straddle BOTH lanes--which holds up traffic, preventing other vehicles from passing. There is not enough safe room for bikes NOW--and this will make it more dangerous still!

Someone has some loose screws, and needs to tighten them ASAP!


35 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2016 at 8:58 am

When are we going to start teaching better pedestrian safety? I know that pedestrians have right of way at intersections, etc., but so many pedestrians seem to take that to mean they can step out without looking in all directions, acting unpredictably, wearing dark clothes at night, and having an invincible attitude about their own safety. This is particularly true in crowded arenas like around schools, but also on quiet, poorly lit streets with lots of dark shadows.

I would like to see pedestrians acting with more safety consciousness. I have traveled a lot overseas, and nowhere else have I seen pedestrians acting the way they do around here. All of us using the roads should be a lot more pro-active towards our own personal safety.


18 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:40 am

We agree that vehicle speeds on Middlefield need to be brought under control. We regularly see cars going 40mph or faster between California Ave and Embarcadero. There are no stop lights in this section or even marked crosswalks. Kids trying to cross the street are in extreme danger and walking all the way out to Embarcadero to cross the street doesn't really help because a lot of cars run the stop lights there and don't respect the crosswalks.


28 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:48 am

Has anyone noticed how in the last 10 years or so people do not
seem to be able to drive in their own lanes correctly?

I am not sure why it is, but today's drivers have a big problem
feeling where their cars are. So often I see people driving their
huge cars (usually) with one side going right down the middle of
the road.

It is not a good idea to make lanes thinner, and there are so many
drivers and bicyclists going on, through and off of Middlefield
it will just make it harder for drivers to drive, and when you make
something harder you tax their attention and they make more
mistakes, not less.

I drive Middlefield almost every time I drive and around the
community center people park for events and have to get in and
out of their cars and walk in the street. Making the lane narrower
just seems like a bad idea.


38 people like this
Posted by wmconlon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:56 am

wmconlon is a registered user.

The speed limit is 25 mph. Why can't the police enforce the speed limit? Instead of costing money, it will be revenue!

Have the safety consequences been fully evaluated? For example, with narrower lanes, won't there be more risk of head-on/side swipe collisions?

Also, have thoroughfare standards with respect to transit buses been fully evaluated to be sure we won't lose bus service as a result of this.

This is so ironic to me, because I have pointed out real safety hazards along El Camino in personal phone calls and emails with both the City Manager and Chief of Police. They told me to take care of it myself by stopping my vehicle and speaking to the truck driver who was creating the safety hazard. This is an example of a problem with the City's safety culture -- ignoring real issues while chasing phantasms.


30 people like this
Posted by ClayL
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:57 am

I agree with the sentiments of most commenters. Is Middlefield unsafe now? Have there been a spate of accidents I don't know about? Or is this really an exercise in redesigning the road with current standards and practices in mind?

Personally, I'd like to save our money for places where improvements are needed. But then I've tried to make the same argument with respect to aspects of the planned bike boulevard improvements to no avail.


32 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 1, 2016 at 11:16 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

As a cyclist, Middlefield is a disaster. Around mid town shopping, there is barely a bikes width to ride between the second lane and the sidewalk. Right at Colorado is scary narrow.

Then you get to Jordan where it changes to a single lane, and there is so much extra room that dimwitted rivers perceive a second lane where there is none, and dive into no man's land to take a right at California.

I don't think lane narrowing is the right answer, but there is a lot of room for improvement.


40 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 1, 2016 at 11:41 am

This is absurd. My guess is that there is no data on what about Middlefield has proven to be unsafe that would justify the cost and congestion of this ridiculous and dangerous decision ( believe this decision will cause accidents). Enforcing the speed limit should be the first step, if there really is such data that shows significant safety issues. If there is none, as I suspect, then increase the speed limit to 30 and enforce that. And, I agree that I see cops going 40 mph down Middlefield. Why? because it's safe to do so. This is yet another attempt by the transportation department to implement a city council policy to create maximum automobile congestion on the roads in Palo Alto in the hopes that everyone will simply abandon driving bc the city has purposely made it so difficult.


35 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2016 at 11:57 am

Resident has it right. The radical War on cars continues. I'm sure there's grant money that's burning a hole in the pockets of the transportation department. Rather than spend it on something worthwhile, they choose to screw up traffic again.


64 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 1, 2016 at 11:58 am

It's ridiculously obvious that Mr. Mello is pursuing his own expensive vision rather than that of the residents who attended the last meeting about the "redesign" of Middlefield. Why do we bother spending money on "community outreach" when our highly paid officials ignore our feedback and pursue their own vision that ignores OUR reality??

We told him the street was already too narrow. We told him that the time window for being about to get in and out of our driveways was narrowing because of the cars gridlocked for blocks. We told him that the buses rarely stay in their own lanes. We told him the buses NEVER yield to let us out of our driveways even when they'll be stuck at the same traffic light anyway. We've begged him to work with the schools on SCHOOL BUSES and to fix the shuttle timing to reduce the gridlock from parents dropping off and picking up their kids.

We've told him and told him about how frustrated drivers backed up interminably at the Embarcadero light are forming their OWN lanes yet Mr. Mello continues to ignore our pleas to fix the traffic light timing.

We've had TWO cars parked in front of our house hit by distracted drivers in broad daylight. About a month ago I was almost run down putting out the trash cans one evening by a frustrated driver trying to speed up to the light.

Fixing the traffic light timing would be a LOT more useful and a LOT less costly than the grandiose plans described here. Putting up more signage and painting the streets different colors will only contribute to the confusion and ugliness that's becoming Palo Alto.


23 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 1, 2016 at 12:34 pm

The lanes on Middlefield are only too narrow for you if you are driving too fast! Slow down, turn off the cell phone, and pay attention!!!


33 people like this
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2016 at 12:38 pm

The goal is to the cover the city with paint and signs. That's it. That is the motivation here.
It's a staff project. Evaluating this from the standpoint of safety,neighborhood setting,
even basic common sense is to misunderstand what is going on here. What we need is more traffic
enforcement, more police, but that is not even part of the discussion. This is all just part of the steep,drastic downward trajectory of the City.




2 people like this
Posted by CalifAveDogleg
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 1, 2016 at 12:46 pm

from this diagram/picture Web Link it appears that there will be a two-way bicycle lane on the northeast (Jordan) side of Middlefield between California Avenue and California Avenue. I suspect this is being recommended/done because there is only one traffic light and therefore only one place for the Jordan students to cross safely. While I am willing to "give this a try", I am concerned that most drivers will be unprepared for cyclists approaching them on their right, and I am concerned that (student) cyclists will remain safely within their lane. The only (visual) separation I see are slim, vertical 'battens'. I suspect that the school will (need to) have teachers or aides or parents standing guard at school closure time, but what about other times of the day/week? Let's be careful out there.


1 person likes this
Posted by CalifAveDogleg
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 1, 2016 at 12:53 pm

ah, yes, the two bicycle lanes are also seen on California Avenue where it turns NE at Jordan school in this image Web Link. When school is getting out and students are bicycling there, cars turning right will (most likely) turn very slowly and block or slow traffic continuing on Middlefield.
Also, has the (adult) Bicycle Community been involved in this? Are adult bicyclists, who are normally used to riding in/with traffic, be likely to use this 'wrong side' bicycle lane? Or will they ride as 'vehicles'? And will that mean bicycles on the both sides of California and Middlefield?
Just more to be considered.


12 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2016 at 1:30 pm

There's a very simple solution that could be accomplished without narrowing the road; people voluntarily slow down and obey the speed limit. If they aren't willing to do this, I don't see how they have any right to complain about lane reconfiguration...


26 people like this
Posted by No enforcement
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm

@More of the same has it right:
The goal is to the cover the city with paint and signs. That's it. That is the motivation here.
It's a staff project. Evaluating this from the standpoint of safety,neighborhood setting, even basic common sense is to misunderstand what is going on here. What we need is more traffic enforcement, more police, but that is not even part of the discussion

Signs: a former traffic manager owns or is connected to a sign company. The number of signs around town is becoming comical. How many can you read as you are driving?

Enforcement of all city rules and giveaways is almost non-existent. Just sounding good is all the City Manager is aiming for. They know they aren't going to enforce.


29 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 1, 2016 at 1:47 pm

[Portion removed.]

Just fix the timing of the Embarcadero/Middlefield light already and watch many of the problems disappear. Also fix the timing at Newell and Embarcadero since Embarcadero becomes effectively becomes one lane when traffic is backed up waiting to turn on Newell and cars off Middlefield and heading to 101 have NO place to go.

Also it would be nice if our traffic dept. talked to the traffic dept. of Menlo Park to discuss the backups caused by Menlo Park's decision to eliminate the right turn on red at Willow. Traffic doesn't exist in a vacuum.


27 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 3:19 pm

SRB is a registered user.

Isn't 10 feet too narrow for buses?


28 people like this
Posted by Five Coats
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Hasn't the City learned its lesson, due to changing from 2 lines to one lane with turn lanes on Charleston between El Camino and Foothill and caused horrendous traffic backups.
Previous to eliminated the second lane, It was possible to traverse that section of Charleston without difficulty. Since they eliminated the second lane it impossible to traverse that section of Charleston at commute hours. Thus, many traverse Los Altos Avenue to get to Foothill.


22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 1, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Five Coats, they want to have a clearly visible green bike lane just in case a Gunn student gets hit.

Their rationale is preventing worst case scenarios.

However, in reality, 5% of traffic at the Arastadero/Foothill intersection is bicycles. The rest is cars trying to get on 280.

Bicycles CANNOT replace most car trips so the concept of people being "encouraged" to ride bicycles if they only build infrastructure goes out the window.

So we have one congested lane and a mostly empty, unused green bike lane.

The proper solution is to open up BOTH Miranda lane and the old right turn lane so cars can get on Foothill smoothly without a pointless, unused green bike lane in the way.w Wthout the gridlock, Gunn students would be much safer and learn to share the road -- instead of being isolated on a green bike lane flanked by walls of congested traffic.

But again, the bureaucrats in office have this crude belief that cars are inherently evil. We are being ruled by medieval do-gooders instead of true leaders who actually use logic and common sense.

If liberals want fairness & equality than why are bicyclists being treated as superior to motorists?

Artificial congestion makes people drive more dangerously.


27 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 1, 2016 at 5:29 pm

"No Emforcement wrote "Signs: a former traffic manager owns or is connected to a sign company. The number of signs around town is becoming comical. How many can you read as you are driving?"

I added that that the same former traffic manager was awarded a contract to synchronize our traffic light timing upon leaving his post and cited the amount of that contract -- which is a matter of public record -- so I'm not sure why the moderator deleted it.

I urge all of us to refer the City Council to this discussion since opinion of the plans seems to be pretty unanimous.


31 people like this
Posted by Tired of Waiting
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 1, 2016 at 5:45 pm

The geniuses who thought of this also brought you the turn lanes off Oregon Expressway. Five minutes to wait for a left turn light on Ross during the week. Nice job....did you go to Berkeley?


9 people like this
Posted by Francisco Sanchez
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 1, 2016 at 7:13 pm

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 1, 2016 at 7:46 pm

10 ft is much too narrow for fire engines

If this is done then emergency response times will significantly increase.


5 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 1, 2016 at 9:27 pm

-- 10 ft is much too narrow for fire engines

People are slower to pull over, and sometimes do not pull over all the way
these days, but no fire engine has to drive just in one lane.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"People are slower to pull over, and sometimes do not pull over all the way
these days, but no fire engine has to drive just in one lane."

Really? MPFPD fire engines frequently take 20 minutes to get from Middlefield to 101 on Willow Road because there is insufficient room for them to get through traffic during peak travel times.


33 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:30 pm

When you reduce the number of lanes on major city streets you force the traffic into the residential areas. I am now learning how to cross town consistent with the traffic lights on the major cross streets going through the residential areas which I am sure is not appreciated by the residents who now have more cars in their area. You are not "calming" anything here - you are creating disruption on the intended use of the major roads to cross town.
As to the bikers why don't they use the residential streets to cross town?

This is like a bunch of people who are trying to justify their jobs by creating chaos and using double speak in the process to accomplish it.


14 people like this
Posted by Circles
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 2, 2016 at 7:18 am

lets mess up the traffic, choke the main arteries and then blame all the businesses so we can tax them.


8 people like this
Posted by Bob gleason
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 2, 2016 at 8:53 am

While having smarter light timing is always beneficial the main cause of traffic congestion ion MIddlefield is due to the ridiculously slow work on 101.


12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 2, 2016 at 11:26 am

Bob Gleason's right about how the slow work on 101 is pushing people onto roads like Middlefield.

When traffic's totally gridlocked, cars can't move over since there's no place for them to go until the cars around them move over. Just watch ambulances and fire engines trying to get through the Embarcadero / Town & Country gridlock trying to get to /from Stanford Hospital (or wherever).

So how will narrowing lanes help anything? It just reduces the size of the shoulders.

Peter Carpenter is absolutely right when he says "Really? MPFPD fire engines frequently take 20 minutes to get from Middlefield to 101 on Willow Road because there is insufficient room for them to get through traffic during peak travel times."

In fact the Menlo Park Fire Chief blamed a recent death on 101 to their failure to reach the victim in time He's quite outspoken on the dangers of congestion and gridlock and whenever I read his quotes, I wonder what our transportation folks think.

So where does the city think the traffic will go when Middlefield's under construction? Waverly? Cowper? El Camino?

And thinking more about fire engines, does it really make sense to expand the fire house at Embarcadero and Newell?


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2016 at 11:41 am

I checked the Photosimulation provided in the link. You can see exactly what they're planning.

The two-way bike lane is a bizarre, unnecessary waste of space because Jordan students ride their bikes straight into campus, they don't ride up Middlefield and then make a right onto N. California to get to Jordan.
And I've never seen a two-bike lane like that, just really strange and inexplicable.

But the real problem is that a northbound vehicle waiting to make a left onto N. California (or southbound making a left onto Garland) will completely hold up traffic because drivers can't use the shoulder to get around them... because now there is a fancy RAIL cordoning off the double-bike-lane so drivers can't go over these bike lanes, even if they're completely clear. So this intersection is now completely hostile to cars.

It seems like there is moral preening going on. They focus on the perceived "safety" of Jordan students while utterly ignoring everything else.

Oh the children! Think of the children! But the children!!!


19 people like this
Posted by Wasteful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2016 at 1:50 pm

This is just make-work by some of our useless city staff who need to feel like they are actually doing something!


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 2, 2016 at 2:13 pm

When is this construction supposed to happen?

I've asked the workers who've been working on the Middlefield driveway curb cuts for the last month and all they know is it's going to happen on "some" Saturday. Perhaps our community outreach folks could reach out with some tangible info instead of just preaching to us about conservation etc.

(For what it's worth, the driveway work has been excellent and I've told the city rep about the fire hydrant at Lowell and Middlefield that's been leaking for many many years despite city promises to fix it.)


16 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 2, 2016 at 4:17 pm

I will echo some of the comments here. The PA planning dept lead by Josh Mello, has an extensive list of traffic 'calming' measure in their toolbox that it would seem, they are simply dying to deploy around town. Just like the 'improvements' destined to wreck havoc on the Bryant Bike route, which has been a huge success for decades, Josh et. all are determined to leave their mark by making changes, where there is no data I'm aware of, to substantiate any of the justifications used to peddle the cure. As indicated by others, and words in the article, there do not appear to be any data, no numbers, to justify any changes. It appears that testing happens after the changes to Bryant and Middlefield, of course, long after millions have been spent, enver to be seen again.

With respect to Bryant, I still ask, does Josh, or anyone in the transportation dept bike commute to work? How about bike commute on Bryant? How about ride a bike anywhere? And this is where the expert decision making comes from?

With respect to Middlefield, the lanes are pretty crowded already, as pointed out. If traffic moves too quickly between a good number of blocks, how about a stop sign?! I imagine one could literally appear overnight, and not cost millions.

Show some data demonstrating the problem, and the cure may be self evident. Fixing a problem with speculative remedies, simply because you can, is a fools errand.


2 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 2, 2016 at 8:48 pm

Peter Carpenter, why do you persist in making arguments that do not apply?

-- MPFPD fire engines frequently take 20 minutes to get from Middlefield to 101 on Willow Road because there is insufficient room for them to get through traffic during peak travel times.

That's because Willow Road has a big barrier down the middle of it so you cannot
call it analogous to Middlefield road at all. On the whole of Middlefield there is
enough room that if all cars pull over a firetruck can get through the middle.

Willow Road is a terrible design, and it would be a terrible design to narrow Middlefield Road too.


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 3, 2016 at 12:59 am

Plane Speaker, you say "On the whole of Middlefield there is enough room that if all cars pull over a firetruck can get through the middle" but you ignore several points:

1) it takes time for all the cars to move over to clear a path for the firetruck IF they have room to pull over given the congestion.

2) at intersections like Middlefield/Oregon, the road is 4 narrow lanes (2 turn lanes and 1 through lane in each direction which are often jammed solid. (The plan envisions the same configuration for the Embarcadero intersection.)

3) Where are the cars packed 3 abreast backed at intersections up going to go? Into people's driveways like I witnessed just a few days ago.

Just last week at the Oregon/Middlefield intersection at 4;00 PM, a car in the middle lane heading toward Oregon suddenly turned right into the car in the right lane when the driver suddenly decided that it too wanted to be in the right turn lane even though all traffic was stopped for the light. (The cars were about 3 back from the intersection so you had 3 packed lanes going in one direction.)

Neither car had anywhere to go. All the backed up drivers waited politely for the two drivers to figure out where and how to exchange their info without going through the intersection.

The driver of the car in the right lane that was rammed tried a few times to get out of his car and then realized the lanes were so close together he could't open his drivers door. The "rammer" almost slammed into the car on the right AGAIN while the driver was trying to open the door. The "rammer" then cut it off AGAIN when it abruptly turned into the driveway in front of the 1st car almost slamming into the resident's car parked in the driveway!

We were backed up for 4 light cycles watching this Keystone Kops episode.



15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 3, 2016 at 8:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter Carpenter, why do you persist in making arguments that do not apply?"

1 - Because we should be smart enough to learn from experience
2 - Because we should be smart enough to recognize obvious difference between examples cited and proposed projects and adjust accordingly
3 - Because in my opinion as someone directly involved with the fire service the proposed narrowing of Middlefield has the potential for causing significant delays in emergency response times.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 3, 2016 at 10:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is also relevant to note that Willow Rd between Middlefield and 101 use to be 4 lanes and it was "narrowed" by parking, bulb outs, bike lanes etc and now it is virtually impassable by emergency vehicles during rush hours - which means from 7-10 AM and 4-7 PM.

There is no reason to believe that the same will not happen to a narrowed Middlefield.


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 3, 2016 at 10:34 am

Peter,

Middlefield's gridlock times are MUCH worse than "7-10 AM and 4-7 PM" because you have two schools and a community center due to school pick and drop-off times which have practically eliminated the window to get out of our drivways to 10-11 and 3:30-4 depending on school hours.

At LEAST fix the shuttle schedules which should be under Mr. Mello's department and have the City Council and School Boards start working together on the school buses.


1 person likes this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2016 at 11:55 am

All your fancy talk notwithstanding, Middlefield is not Willow. There are always
places to pull over for Emergency vehicles on Middlefield, it is never so choked
with cars parking on it. If people do not pull over that is not unique to Middlefield.

For some reason Willow was choked down to one lane with a median barrier
in parts of it. To compare emergency vehicles on Willow with Middlefield
is an invalid comparison. Where were you then PC?

I am against any changes to Middlefield by the way. If it is not broke, don't fix
is, and If it is broke, which I don't think it is, it is just because it was not designed
or ever redesigned to be an expressway. Middlefield is not El Camino, or Oregon.

There are plenty of places, especially now that cars are parked everywhere
thoughout Palo Alto, and other towns in the area, no one is complaining about
emergency vehicle access to them, so why apply a generalized problem to
a specific location, especially when it is not valid.

During rush hour emergency vehicles getting anywhere is a problem, that
is a separate issue that our local governments and developers have chosen
to blow off, but it has no more relevance to Middlefield, and usually a lot
less than most places.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 3, 2016 at 12:35 pm

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2016 at 1:45 pm

"There is no reason to believe that the same [bad stuff] will not happen to a narrowed Middlefield."

Yes there is. Middlefield is 2-lanes in Atherton, and everything works fine.


20 people like this
Posted by 2 way bike lanes = collisions
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Middle and High school students do NOT ride in a single file. The idea of bike lanes that operated side by side (with bikes going in both directions next to each other, like cars) will result in collisions. Drive down Newell, North California (the Old Palo Alto portion), Kingsley in Professorville or Bryant in Old Palo Alto after school and you will see students riding 2, 3 or 4 across, chatting and occasionally texting.


29 people like this
Posted by Willow Glen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2016 at 2:22 pm

My sister lives in Willow Glen, where they have reduced Lincoln AVE, the main drag of the area, two one narrow lane in each direction.

OUTWARDLY, it looks like a success, because there are now fewer cars and more bikes on Lincoln.

TRUTHFULLY, it has been a disaster for people who live on the surrounding streets, because that is where the traffic goes now, to get around the slow bottleneck that is now Luncoln Avenue! Residents are VERY fearful for their children when the new school year starts, and many feel it is now u safe for their kids to bike ride to school-- and will DRIVE them, instead!

The unintended consequences have been counterproductive, because traffic does not just disappear. Walking, biking, public transit are all too slow in this speeded-up, impatient, high tech society in which everyone is rushed and sleep deprived. Cars are still the fastest way to get from point to point, so they simply re- route, per Waze.


19 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2016 at 2:35 pm

This two way bike path is something I find amazingly bad, particularly in relation to school kids.

Presumably, there will be a morning commute for the bikes in the direction to the school bike racks, and presumably an afternoon commute for the bikes in the direction away for the bike racks. My assumption is therefore that even if these are two way paths, the school kids will be riding on both sides in the same direction rather than it be a two way path. What will happen if a lone bike with nothing to do with the school commute wants to go in the opposite direction. I foresee big problems with this idea.



12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 3, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" There are always places to pull over for Emergency vehicles on Middlefield,"

That will no longer to true if Middlefield is narrowed. Menlo Park did not intend to turn Willow Road into an obstacle course for emergency vehicles but that was the direct result of narrowing Willow Road.

Of course one can simply ignore experience of others and insist on making one's own mistakes.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 3, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Middlefield is 2-lanes in Atherton, and everything works fine."

Simply because no parking is allowed, there are no bulb-outs and there is ample room on the shoulders to pull over to yield to emergency vehicles.


21 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 4, 2016 at 8:19 am

I think it's time for Josh Mello to go. It's interesting to look at his background on the NACTO website - it states that his expertise is in "urban environments," which should raise the hackles of the residentialists. His bio screams that he has a "cyclist" agenda.

He's like the Manchurian Candidate for Critical Mass - trying to make it so painful to drive that everyone must adopt bicycling.
[Portion removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 4, 2016 at 11:39 am

The whole point of city planning is to lay out a city grid that gets people across and through town on major highways and roads that bypass the residential areas that are in between the major roads. All of the "calming" to date has moved people off the major roads into the residential areas which is counter-productive.
Many comments on Willow - all of those "bulbs" sticking out looks like accidents waiting to happen - cross Willow off as a major road.
Charleston has been reduced in number of lanes - this used to be a major road but is now choked in traffic at major commute times of day pushing people into the residential areas.
Did city planning go down the drain somewhere? Why is it being targeted by a bunch of "city planners" who think they are being productive by disrupting the city grid.
If you want to do something useful put in a left hand turn lane on Charleston onto Fabian. There is now a lot of traffic going onto Fabian for both work and apartments.


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 4, 2016 at 6:21 pm

"The whole point of city planning is to lay out a city grid that gets people across and through town on major highways and roads that bypass the residential areas that are in between the major roads."

Way too late for that in this town, which was planned before there was auto traffic. But there is nothing wrong with distributing the traffic burden equitably, and much to say in its favor. Like, nobody gets all smug that traffic is somebody else's problem. There is real incentive to work together on solutions.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 4, 2016 at 7:22 pm

The real solution is to eliminate the reduction of lanes on the major city roads so that traffic can move effectively though town. It was thought out by very bright people so leave it as originally planned. And yes we had cars for a long time in California - cars are not new.


33 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 5, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Having safe bike routes does not mean turning every street into a shared bike/car accident-in-waiting. Let's enhance the less car-traveled bike routes to make them world class and leave streets like El Camino and Middlefield to cars & busses. And please, bikes, get off of Alma where there is no bike lane and take a safer alternative!


12 people like this
Posted by Maryann H
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

I think that narrowing the lanes on Middlefield is a very bad idea. The road is already pretty congested, what with people parking on both sides and the extra traffic during the beginning and end of school days. Regarding the two-way bike lane, it is already difficult enough to get bikers to use the correct side of the road, and having two-way bike traffic will only be confusing and unexpected for drivers and bikers alike. Keeping the speed down to 25 mph is unrealistic as cars already travel at 40 mph, and will only irritate the faster drivers making them more likely to make unsafe maneuvers. Having more lights/crossing zones activated by pedestrians would make it safer for them to cross and slow down traffic.

Why can't there be extra traffic enforcement by police to ticket the speeders? This proposed project is unsafe for all and a waste of money which could be better spent repairing the roads. There doesn't seem to be much common sense these days at city hall.


12 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2016 at 7:46 pm

I oppose these periodic odd schemes for the significant roads in Palo Alto.
We need some method of moving auto traffic across the city, if you think of the city in a sort of grid with hatch-marks, then it does NOT make sense to narrow, remove lanes, put in sudden bulbs or little roundabouts or speed humps, etc. on those roads. Every so often on the "grid"of the city we need major roads so autos can get across and onward without crazy backups.

I appreciate the reality that this city has a lot of schools, and that is a consideration. But distances are great enough that we cannot prioritize bicycling over effective and efficient mass movement of autos. Sorry.

Over-painting of roads and excessive signage become distractions.

Considerations for emergency vehicles must be carefully included in the discussion.

Meantime, I sincerely wish drivers, bikers, and walkers would get off their cellphones while moving about in public. Stop in a safe place: park the car, pull over if on a bike, step aside if walking and THEN check out your phone.

Then maybe we would all be a lot safer.


39 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2016 at 12:48 am

I went to the community meeting. I heard -- Traffic on Middlefield is so hectic and out of control that residents of Middlefield could not contemplate parking their cars on the opposite side of the street. "Crossing the street is too dangerous, don't make us do that!"

So this plan tries to reduce speeds, and reduce chaos. Painting the narrow lanes is just an attempt to induce drivers to go slower. All the space is still there. Now you know the secret. Other aspects will make it difficult to zip around on the right side of left turning cars. Sorry if that is your mode. Except for at N. California, no lanes are removed. The changes may make the Embarcadero/Middlefield intersection work more efficiently, which would reduce delay.

Outside of the N. California jog, there is nothing for bicyclists here. Cyclists should be very brave and highly visible.


8 people like this
Posted by You should know
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 6, 2016 at 2:07 am

It's illegal to go into the bike lane to go around a car that is waiting to turn.

Cars turning right are supposed to drive into the bike lane when the line breaks (prior to the corner). Cars are not supposed to drive to the corner, then turn right. They are supposed to already be in the bike lane prior to reaching the corner.

Some of the worst drivers around Jordan are the parents of Stratford students because they are coming from out of town, hurriedly dropping off their kids before work. They speed and drive recklessly around the Jordan children. PAUSD should force them to change their schedule to start at 8:30 so they don't conflict with the 8:10 Jordan arrival time.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:03 am

Robert Neff, it's crucial for drivers to be able to "zip" around left turners at N. California. They are currently able to do so and there hasn't been an accident at this junction. Taking this away will ensure that Oregon/Middlefield intersection gets needlessly congested every day. Don't you understand traffic flow???

I agree that residents should be able to cross the street. A crosswalk at Seale is all we need here. Low-cost, common sense solution.


11 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:59 am

SteveU is a registered user.

10 feet is too narrow for many vehicles: Fire, (UPS/FedEx size)Delivery Vans, Hummers, RV's, which are 8' wide at the BODY <tip: Clearance lights are required by the FED on these sized vehicles> .

The CVC REQUIRED mirrors extend further to each side.

Driving one of in these 'to the curb' lanes was already a challenge, trying to avoid low branches, utility poles contacting Mirrors...

Did I mention the 'Crown'?
That tilts the top of taller vehicles over the curb line.


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 6, 2016 at 5:45 pm

@SteveU, haven't taken my measuring tape to it, but I believe the VTA Gilligs are 8 foot 6, plus mirrors. CVC35100 (specifically 35106 and 35109) allows 102 inches plus 10 inches on either side for mirrors. Also want to measure the northbound Middlefield lanes at Oregon. Looks like 5 lanes are crammed into 45 feet. Do the math. Amusing to watch drivers scatter when the VTA #35 muscles through. No wonder VTA considers eliminating that route.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 10, 2016 at 2:01 pm

So where is our expensive community outreach to tell us when this is going to happen?

PLEASE write to the City Council -- city.council@cityofpaloalto.org -- and refer them to this topic so they can see by the number of comments how outraged we are at these expensive and poorly thought-out-plans that will only increase congestion.

Also tell them to respond to the comments here if they really want to reach out instead of just patting themselves on the backs that they have community outreach.


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

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