News

North Palo Alto residents ramp up traffic battle

Neighborhood warms to new and creative activism to unclog residential streets

Riled by daily traffic snarls on their residential streets, about 70 Crescent Park residents met with Palo Alto police and transportation officials on Jan. 18 to discuss how to end commuters' occupation of their neighborhood.

The meeting, just the latest movement in a wave of neighborhood activism, covered the expected discussion of pavement markings, traffic circles and stop signs — but also ventured into the realm of politics, with residents talking about potential candidates to support during this year's City Council election.

Resident Marlan Pinto said traffic lights are a big problem. It seems as though the city changed the light timing.

"The streets are now unusable for anyone" traveling through downtown, he said.

Joshuah Mello, the city's chief transportation official, said the city is working on changes.

"We're in the middle of doing massive signal re-timing throughout the city," he said, which would help traffic flow better. Some signals along University Avenue might be adjusted or be candidates for synchronization, he said.

"University Avenue is timed for 10 mph in the day; Hamilton and Lytton are timed at 20 mph," he said, giving examples.

Greg Welch, a Center Drive resident, spearheaded the neighborhood advocacy.

"As our next steps, we will have almost weekly meetings and will be coordinating (with the city)," he said, noting they plan to form a stakeholder group to develop a pilot traffic-management program. The group would work with Palo Alto's transportation department on creating the program.

Some residents suggested making certain streets one-way during peak hours, closing streets, adding right-turn-only lanes and adding electronic signage that would tell drivers which roads to avoid when there are backups.

Mello presented a slideshow of traffic-calming and diversion options the city has used at other traffic hot spots. He said his department has only 12 people who are already working on $47 million in capital improvements and $9.5 million in neighborhood traffic-calming projects.

"I'm willing to carve out time to work with a stakeholder group," he said, if neighbors can take on a little of the workload.

Quantifying the problem and identifying where the bottlenecks are occurring would be one of the first steps. Mello said he is looking at a service that examines every trip passing through a zone to understand traffic patterns. In some locations the city could add traffic cameras to gain data.

Residents said they could do some of the legwork for the city and gather data. Allen Akin, a Professorville resident, said he is looking for Crescent Park volunteers to add traffic cameras to their roofs so he can count cars on streets. He has added cameras to his home and has been keeping counts, he said.

Residents also called for increased traffic enforcement.

Palo Alto police Capt. Zach Perron, who also attended the meeting, said the city's elimination of its dedicated traffic division is the result of a lack of police recruits in the Bay Area. The six officers on patrol during each shift now do traffic patrols as part of their regular beats.

"I've committed swing-shift personnel to spend time doing high-visibility traffic enforcement," he said.

He has instructed his officers to park in the Crescent Park hotspots as visual deterrents when they are processing reports to cut down on some of "ridiculous driving," such as speeders and people driving the wrong way down residential streets to bypass lines of cars. When the police are on the street, there are an amazing amount of stellar drivers, he said.

Getting cars off the road, everyone agreed, is going to be the only real solution. To that end, creating more mass transit, including possible bus or HOV lanes during peak hours on University Avenue and other main routes, could move more people through, Mello said.

As for political action, Crescent Park Neighborhood Association President Norman Beamer said he plans to create a subcommittee for residents who want to vet the City Council candidates. Three council seats are up for re-election this fall.

"There are people on the council now who are not looking out for our interests," he said.

Three candidates who favor slow city growth won council seats in 2014, but the council now has a majority who are pro-growth. That growth, residents said, has exacerbated traffic and parking problems.

Others decried the perceived lack of initiative by the council and city management to address long-term traffic problems, which are only destined to become worse. Councilwoman Lydia Kou, who attended the meeting at Palo Alto Art Center's auditorium and holds slow-growth views, reinforced that sentiment.

"The city's Transportation Demand Management measure has no teeth in it," she said, referring to the concept that buildings can be developed with less parking if the building tenants are given incentives not to drive cars solo.

Kou said she planned to meet with East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica to discuss collaborating on solving some of the traffic issues along University Avenue, which might be improved by signal-light timing adjustments on the part of both cities.

Likewise, residents also talked about meeting with East Palo Alto leaders to discuss their mutual concerns, including signal changes to a light at Woodland and University avenues that is causing traffic to back up.

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Comments

35 people like this
Posted by Frustrated by 101 Construction
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2018 at 7:08 am

Please, when oh when is the construction for the creek going to be finished on 101?

This is a big impact on traffic and seems to have come to a stop. The merge north onto 101 seems to be designed as dangerously as possible.

An update on this project and the new Willow Road intersection would be appreciated.


16 people like this
Posted by XDM
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 26, 2018 at 8:34 am

NO RIGHT TURN 3PM to 7PM onto University from Crescent and Center Ave is needed. Many people cut-through and cut the traffic line by going through these streets.


25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2018 at 9:05 am

All these bans and difficulties are not going to ease the problem as traffic will only find another way.

Improve parking with some peripheral lots near off ramps and dedicated shuttles to downtown, CalAve and Stanford Park. Make this affordable and efficient to attract workers.

Enable those of us with short errands to park in 30 minute spots which will prevent some of the traffic circling looking for a spot to park.

Caltrain lots should be free after 3.00 pm and possibly available for nonCaltrain parking.

We hear talk of the parking apps and signs that show where the empty spaces are but nothing is being done to produce these apps and signs. We need them now.


61 people like this
Posted by Bad Solution / Good Solution
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2018 at 9:18 am

From the article:

"creating more mass transit, including possible bus or HOV lanes during peak hours on University Avenue and other main routes, could move more people through, Mello said."

But University Avenue is one lane in each direction. Did our city's highest transportation official, Josh Mello, actually suggest we try to squeeze another lane into University? OMG.

But Norm Beamer is 100% right (as always). The real traffic problem in Palo Alto is the build-baby-build council members who receive copious campaign donations from developers. We voters can fix that this November.


31 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2018 at 9:44 am

University Ave is actually 4 lanes, 2 lanes in each direction, but 2 of these lanes are reserved for parked cars. Traffic would be much faster if those parking lanes were converted to traffic lanes. Is faster traffic really something that we want?


14 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2018 at 10:49 am

It's 4 lanes but one of those lanes is for residential parking. It is a residential street including a significant number of apartments that do not have sufficient parking. And the other "lane" is a bike path in each direction.

So, the proposal is to remove parking from residents on the street and also remove bike lanes? Yeah, that's going to go down well.


15 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 26, 2018 at 11:20 am

Man, what a cluster f***!

For those of you who think there is an actual solution I admire your positive, but feudal thinking.

Hey, I have an idea! Why don't we get everyone out of their cars and onto bikes. Yeah, that's the ticket!


55 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 26, 2018 at 11:26 am

JCP is a registered user.

And the Castilleja and Stanford expansions won't impact traffic. Their TDMs both state that there will be no increase in traffic!

Wow, does anyone believe that?


34 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 26, 2018 at 11:30 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Another traffic light timing project? Oh, goody. Didn't it take the city about 8 years to fix the timing of the unnecessary Paly light that was very close to the Town & Country light so it was shut off when school wasn't in session?

Sure, let's get everyone out of their cars while approving massive development all over the Bay Area that will flood the area with more and new traffic, including at Stanford, Apple, Google, on 101 etc.

Thanks for the fairy tales. Perhaps Mr. Mello can start meeting with each and every single neighborhood in PA since many are furious with the city's lack of response to our complaints.

[Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2018 at 11:40 am

Realistically, there is no room to park more cars and no room to drive more cars. Put the money into public transit instead.


27 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Josh Mello strikes again. Part of his (and SVBC's) plan to strangle cars and put bike lanes everywhere.

He really isn't good at his job, is he?


31 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2018 at 12:55 pm

I don't blame Josh Mello. The city council is pushing so many more office buildings into downtown, then telling him to fix the problem without giving him enough tools. We need a more balanced approach, such as requiring the building developers to invest in public transit. We need to extend bus service into more neighborhoods as well as make Caltrain more frequent.


12 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 26, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Nothing short of improved *regional* transit will get commuters off the roads. So let's accept that and make the following changes: Make the overflow streets Lytton and Hamilton one way each, turn University business district into a pedestrian zone, and put signs and sensors in the public garages to indicate which floors have parking spaces available. This would eliminate a few of the awkward situations that needlessly back up traffic.


45 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 26, 2018 at 1:26 pm

City of PA do not care much about solving traffic problems. They just keep approving commercial, multi-units residential building and expansion permits. Main streets like University, Oregon, El Camino, Embarcardero are all packed during rushed hours.

Can't image if any catastrophes happen!!


18 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2018 at 1:48 pm

@Elizabeth,

You're starting at the wrong end. The main problem is the evening commute with University backed up all the way to at least Seneca most evenings. It's horrendous and the bottleneck is outside of Palo Alto.

The problem is the amount of traffic that wants to get to the 101/across the bridge. Shutting off Crescent and Center isn't going to make that traffic disappear. It's just going to push the University backup all the way to Middlefield.

That will have a knock-on effect onto Woodland and Willow who are already screaming about traffic problems. If you go across Chaucer, you're met with "no thru road" signs on all roads on the other side of the bridge. It's already a joke.


29 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2018 at 2:27 pm

I agree with a poster above that Stanford and Castilleja will continue to have major traffic impacts in the City of PA.

I also think that tech office traffic/small offices (placed in what most of the general public would consider more suited to retail/small business /services in locations like downtown DOES have the capability of turning off enough residents of PA/neighboring cities so that we may NOT patronize our city’s retail, other small business, services, medical. Is this what our City of PA elected officials and staff wish to have happen!? Thanks for the clarification.

I think office parks should be where tech offices should be located, once the size is multi-office hodgepodge size, not in “downtown” or retail districts.


23 people like this
Posted by SJW
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 26, 2018 at 2:52 pm

SJW is a registered user.

Perfect time to write a letter against the massive growth Stanford is trying to get through with the GUP. You have until to February 2 to get your comments to Joe Simitian:
(Phone: (408) 299-5050
Email: supervisor.simitian@bos.sccgov.org
Fax: (408) 280-0418

and the other 5 decision makers. Don't let Stanford continue it's over the top construction. Slow down! Force them to SLOW down in every way you can. This is larger development than the GUP of 2000, if you think traffic is bad now, wait a few years when every street will be filled with construction. We are only living with a sample of what's to come. WRITE NOW!


30 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 26, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Re "pushing the traffic all the way to Middlefield" -- That's been happening for years but is getting worse with the city's latest "planning innovations" [portion removed.]

What have they done for Middlefield lately? They restriped the Middlefield & Embarcadero intersection and 1) eliminated the right turn lane at S Middlefield, 2) added a Middlefield bus stop s of the intersection by about about 6 car lengths AND 3) made M. one single lane right behind the new bus stop!

Guess what happens when a bus stops and 5 cars are backed up.

The car horns during evening rush hour last night were deafening. Why? A bus stopped and waited as required. No one could go around it! Cars were stuck in the middle of Embarcadero with 4 lanes of traffic coming at them!

What jargon do the traffic "planners" apply to this type of creation and the resultant traffic behavior? Do they get awards for this?

It doesn't take a rocket sciece to anticipate cars will get stuck in the intersection, esp. since this has been happe


26 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 26, 2018 at 5:46 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Mello presented a slideshow of traffic-calming and diversion options the city has used at other traffic hot spots. He said his department has only 12 people who are already working on $47 million in capital improvements and $9.5 million in neighborhood traffic-calming projects."

Re Mr. Mello's %56,500,000 budget, perhaps they could spend more time ensuring their projects are safe and workable before proceeding and rushing to spend taxpayer funds.

The outcry over recent projects should bring about more accointability.


4 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jan 26, 2018 at 5:53 pm

SJW doesn’t seem to understand you can’t hold a Stanford to a higher standard than Pal Alto.

Does anybody else think SJW is a hypocrite?

Hypocrisy is hard to recognize when you have a preordained point of view.


49 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 26, 2018 at 6:09 pm

Face it folks. Palo Alto and the State of California is becoming a cesspool. We have a new Palo Alto mayor that is under investigation and a majority pro growth city council that is in the pocket of developers. Sounds hopeless to me. We all know what direction Palo Alto is headed.


32 people like this
Posted by Boss Hog
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2018 at 6:27 pm

Meanwhile... another local rag is reporting Councilman Cory Wolbach has taken a "day job" helping San Mateo County and SamTrans soft-sell their plans for another 1/2 cent addition to the sales tax.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2018 at 8:57 pm

First world problems of the rich with time on their hands...

Just erect a no right turn sign on the roads entering onto university ave. There you go.

Please do not ruin our neighborhood with ugly barriers and roundabouts that have limited effects.

Also remember that many of us have to commute and get to work so even the above penalizes is too


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2018 at 7:38 am

Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> Face it folks. Palo Alto and the State of California is becoming a cesspool.
>> Sounds hopeless to me. We all know what direction Palo Alto is headed.

Absolutely! Better hurry up and move to Alabama before it is too late! :rolleyes:


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2018 at 8:39 am

The headline calls this a battle and unfortunately there is a war going on in Palo Alto (and the Bay Area) with traffic.

The biggest problem as I see it is that there is so little choice of efficient alternatives. Public transit is abominable in that the poor service of local public transit means that there is no alternative for most to get to where they need to go.

Why don't we have an hourly bus service running along 101 to both airports with stops at selected on ramp stops? Every major European city airport has tons of buses from all areas with high speed, efficient service on a regular basis that makes it far quicker to go by bus than to go by personal vehicle.

Why do companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, etc. run far more efficient bus services for their employees to get to work and the rest of us have to battle with other commuters to get to where we want to go?

Why do we have so many transit agencies in the Bay Area?

Why do said transit agencies look on their buses as transit for the poor, or for those who have time to sit on a bus for 1 hour when it takes 15 minutes for the same trip by car?

Why don't we have park and ride parking lots at 101, 280, etc. off ramps with shuttles to business areas?

Why don't we have short shuttles to and from Caltrain stations that get there before the train arrives and leave after the train has deposited riders who can then get straight on to a shuttle for their first and last mile?

Why aren't "free parking spaces" at work taxed as a "perk"?

Why are we not being innovative about dealing with traffic instead of just moving the congestion from one place to another?

Until we can make some efficient, affordable changes to public transportation issues we are not going to get anywhere. Bikes will not do it (although for some it might).

The war on traffic congestion is not the same as a battle in one area or another to shift the problem somewhere else. The war will only be won when a completely different approach takes place.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 27, 2018 at 9:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Look at Stanford - they implemented paid parking and a free shuttle 40 YEARS ago!!!


61 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 27, 2018 at 2:00 pm

The root cause of the problem is that San Mateo County and Alameda County have refused to build enough on/off capacity for their bridge, so now Palo Alto pays the price with the backup. University Ave is not a sanctioned route for through traffic, but it is being used as such by scofflaw commuters. As bad as Palo Alto has it, EPA suffers even worse. The entire town becomes a traffic jam for 4 hours every evening.

The best possible solution would be for EPA to close University Ave right before Bayfront Expy, either on a permanent basis, or for 4 hours on weekdays. It would reduce traffic in EPA and Palo Alto greatly and force San Mateo County and Alameda County to deal with the problems they created. If EPA doesn't want to do that, Palo Alto should take the lead and close University Ave to eastbound traffic at the city limits. Enough is enough.


33 people like this
Posted by Boss Hog
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Carpenter said:

"Look at Stanford - they implemented paid parking and a free shuttle 40 YEARS ago!!!"

Yes, and every year since then traffic on the Stanford™ campus and in Palo Alto has gotten worse. Stanford™ has never developed a traffic program with adequate capacity to fully mitigate the problems stemming from its growth but instead passes the burden on to the community.



2 people like this
Posted by There's Trafic for Reason
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 28, 2018 at 7:39 am

There are too many cars trying to use a limited amount of road space. The ONLY way traffic will be reduced, is by reducing the number of single occupant cars trying to use this limited space.

Which solution addresses that issue, the only issue as to why there is so much traffic?
Good luck trying to solve the issue in any other way.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2018 at 8:41 am

Posted by Juan, a resident of Mountain View

>> The root cause of the problem is that San Mateo County and Alameda County have refused to build enough on/off capacity for their bridge, so now Palo Alto pays the price with the backup.

I hate to break it to you, but, the "root cause" is the automobile itself. With enough traffic, every roadway system will develop bottlenecks. Add more capacity to that bottleneck, add more traffic, and you will get another bottleneck somewhere else. Add bridge capacity, and capacity to/from 101 becomes the bottleneck. Add capacity there, and 101 becomes the bottleneck. Add more lanes, and off-ramps onto city streets become the bottleneck. Single-occupancy automobiles take up too much space to handle all transportation needs in dense urban environments. "Period."

>> University Ave is not a sanctioned route for through traffic, but it is being used as such by scofflaw commuters.

There are scofflaws who ignore the "no ___ turn" signs, but, using University for commuting is perfectly legal.

Either University Ave is a right-of-way, or, it isn't. Are you suggesting that it become a private street? Who would own it?

>> As bad as Palo Alto has it, EPA suffers even worse. The entire town becomes a traffic jam for 4 hours every evening.

Agree 100%. Extremely annoying.

>> The best possible solution would be for EPA to close University Ave right before Bayfront Expy, either on a permanent basis, or for 4 hours on weekdays.

I don't live there, but, it works for me. But, I imagine that a lot of people who post here will object to any restriction anywhere on through traffic, though.

>> It would reduce traffic in EPA and Palo Alto greatly and force San Mateo County and Alameda County to deal with the problems they created. If EPA doesn't want to do that, Palo Alto should take the lead and close University Ave to eastbound traffic at the city limits. Enough is enough.

If only it were so easy. The "easiest" way to reduce that through traffic is through High-Speed commuter Rail. HSR is so vastly more efficient with space that capacity can easily grow to whatever the demand is. The problem with HSR is getting the last mile from the rail station to the job site. (And back.)


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2018 at 9:19 am

There is no point arguing about what is the root cause. A problem has roots like a tree, many roots sprawling about in lots of different ways.

The real thing that we are discussing is that there is an attitude of "everyone else should do it differently so I can do what suits me best".

We are not learning from other places that have done a great deal better than the Bay Area.

We are an area where there is not one center of commerce and everyone wants to get there. In fact, that should work to our advantage as we have reverse commutes, sideways commutes, long commutes and intermediate commutes. I don't ride Caltrain enough to know this, but I suspect in the commute hours people get off and on at most stations up and down the Peninsula. That would be considered unusual elsewhere.

Our geography doesn't help. We are a valley with a large body of water in the middle, surrounded by steep and fairly inaccessible mountains. None of this helps when it comes to looking at traffic issues. As an example, what happens when 17 has an accident, or the road out of Half Moon Bay? Or even one of the bridges?

On the bright side, we live in an area where we have a lot of people who have lived elsewhere - all over the world. We are a very adaptive society. We are also innovating technology but unfortunately not in our own traffic situations.

So what have other places done? Some have bans on 50% of private cars certain days of the week based on odd and even license plates (Paris). Some have congestion fees for city centers (London). Some have invested heavily on new transportation systems and made them work.

What have we done? Invested in bike lanes all over the Bay. Put taxes on gas. Increased tolls on bridges. Made a few toll lanes on highways and talks about more. Made many toll lanes.

What we haven't done is really look at public transport in a serious fashion. We do not have one traffic/transportation guru for the whole of the Bay area. This is badly needed. Is it more important for Bay Area traffic to (as examples) have a second Bart Tube or improve Caltrain service to Gilroy?

Everyone assumes that the area they commute is the worst, but nobody really knows.

I propose a big shake up of transportation. We need one authority that looks at the Bay Area as a region from the big picture perspective not just roads, or public transit. We need to coordinate public transport so that bus/rail/ferries can meet each other to make smooth transitions for riders who need to use more than one. We need pricing incentives to make public transportation an affordable option as well as better route coordinations so that a 5 mile bus does not take 45 minutes snaking around neighborhoods. We need park and ride lots. We need better transport options to get to airports.

In other words, we really need to rethink. Palo Alto traffic is not good and there is little we in Palo Alto can do without talking to Menlo Park and Mountain View. Mountain View can do very little about traffic without talking to Palo Alto and Sunnyvale, etc. etc. etc. Santa Clara can't do it without talking to San Mateo, etc. etc. etc.

Let's get better traffic management by starting at the top, not the bottom. It is a regional issue not a city by city issue, or a county by county issue.




30 people like this
Posted by Boss Hog
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2018 at 2:22 pm

@Resident

How about taxing real-estate developers to pay for the infrastructure their developments use instead of just letting them continue to exploit the infrastructure already built by the taxpayers?


2 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2018 at 4:12 pm

"How about taxing real-estate developers to pay for the infrastructure their developments use instead of just letting them continue to exploit the infrastructure already built by the taxpayers?"

You're contributing to the evisceration of the middle class in Palo Alto. Taxes are always paid by the final customer. Developers, like all companies, pass along all their costs, which all taxes are.

Basic Econ 101.

Also, as long as we want to keep a lid on residential development, we won't have enough density for transit. Apparently residentialists like their cars.


2 people like this
Posted by start somewhere
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Handle it by restricting parking and using "park and ride" model.

If you had a blanket RPP program in Palo Alto with only up to 4 hours parking allowed outside of that then there would be nowhere for commuters to park. No point driving to Palo Alto to work all day if you can only park for 4 hours and then need to leave.

If they want to stay all day, they need to use "park and ride" with a free shuttle from a free lot in the baylands area.


23 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 28, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

How about stopping the expensive assault on common sense where we keep increasing the amount of traffic and congestion WHILE spending lots of money on traffic diets, road furniture and other barriers to create more congestion and more gridlock so we spend even more time sitting in traffic??

Can't we put it to a vote to stop this $56,500,000 insanity when that money could be spent on something useful? Like reducing the unfunded pension liabilities??

(Why do they call it traffic "calming" when it's hardly making us calm??)


29 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2018 at 7:43 pm

There needs to be a shake up in the Transportation Department. [Portion removed.] Less car lanes and more bike lanes isn’t the answer. The small but aggressive bicycle lobby has hijacked the Transportation Department. Stop wasting taxpayer money on ridiculous traffic calming designs like the Ross Road project. [Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Can't be done the way most want
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 29, 2018 at 11:13 am

Get read to bristle after hearing this mind blowing tit-bit: Less cars is the answer. It's the only answer. Anything that does not work to limit the sheer numbers of vehicles trying to use the finite amount of space is wheel spinning, time wasting, MONEY wasting hopes where someone thinks that THIS TIME, something will change or can be done that will get things moving.

There is no other reality, only pipe dreams that somehow the laws of physics will change. They will not, btw, and it's not anyone's fault that they won't. There are simply too many cars.


20 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2018 at 11:38 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Can't be done, then please tell ABAG and the City Council and Stanford and Casti to drop their major expansion plans.

Unless / until they do, it's costly and counter-productive to keep narrowing lanes so much that many vehicles including buses don't fit, to keep building bulb-outs so big it's perilous to turn at intersections where there's another car and to stop implementing designs that push cars INTO major intersections.


5 people like this
Posted by @Online name
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 29, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Yes, MORE cars will indeed make it worse, but there is no escape from the CURRENT situation of too many cars, except to reduce the number of cars.

Let's not pretend traffic was cruising right a long back in the 90's. It was bad then, more cars were added to the mix, despite what so many warned about so now we have the current situation.

Of course more expansion(cars) will make it even worse than now, but not removing some of the cars we have now will also not improve anything. We are well past the "We can fix this with good design" period.


11 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2018 at 12:27 pm

The environmentalists would have a stroke on this suggestion --- extend Oregon Expressway to the Bayfront Expressway. Set up a merge from Embarcadero onto the extension while you're at it.

And Menlo Park should bite the bullet and do what was on the books 40 years ago, connect Willow to ECR. And BTW - the Willow Expy was supposed to have a direct link to Sand Hill Rd - eliminating the cut-through traffic onto Alma and NPA.


6 people like this
Posted by Environmentaist
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 29, 2018 at 2:06 pm

"The environmentalists would have a stroke on this suggestion..."

Why do you paint with such a broad brush? I'm a pretty active environmentalist, but I think your idea is sound on many levels.

Don't be so quick to imagine what someone else is thinking. Most people I know think for themselves. I hope you're OK with siding with an "Environmentalist". Well, actually, you have no choice because I agree with your idea. We're already on the same side.


18 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2018 at 4:30 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

All the ideas presented on this thread will not elevate the traffic mess even a tiny bit. The root problem are not bike lanes, light synchronization, right or left turns, extending this expressway or another. The root problem is one and one only, and unless it is addressed, no solution would be possible. The entire Bay area is vastly overpopulated. If more commercial developments, housing development and companies are allowed to move in, the area will continue to resemble a sardine can and at some point traffic would come to a standstill. and just imagine what would happen if at that point the Big One hits this area. Ignoring the gross overpopulation of this area is literally suicidal. Discussing unrealistic "solutions" to the traffic mess is a nice little diversion, but mostly a diversion from reality.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2018 at 5:17 pm

Posted by Environmentaist, a resident of Adobe-Meadow:

>> "The environmentalists would have a stroke on this suggestion..."

(Crescent Park Dad,) I don't agree with it, but, I didn't "have a stroke". :-)

>> Why do you paint with such a broad brush?

I'm an environmentalist, and, I agree with your sentiment. People have a lot of different ideas. Categories like "environmentalist", "feminist", "liberal", tend to denote overall goals. People frequently differ on specifics and immediate objectives. I think that is very healthy.

>> Don't be so quick to imagine what someone else is thinking. Most people I know think for themselves. I hope you're OK with siding with an "Environmentalist". Well, actually, you have no choice because I agree with your idea. We're already on the same side.

I agree with your point, but, disagree with CPD and you on this specific proposal.

On the basis of today's traffic map (see Apple maps, Google Maps, or any other traffic-mapping app). What I see when I look at it is that, right now, ~5 PM, virtually all major intersections from Menlo Park through East San Jose, have traffic queued up in at least two directions. In some cases, in all four directions, such as Page Mill at El Camino, Page Mill at 280, Page Mill at Middlefield, Page Mill at 101 (multi-directions).

Most major changes, like connecting Willow Road or whatever, will remove, at most, one bottleneck. In some cases, we have local gridlock, where cars are queued up all the way through the next major intersection. Much of the Peninsula has simply reached its traffic capacity limit. Which is why there is so much cut-through traffic through all the neighborhoods that we are all complaining about.

If we insist that more people need to work in Palo Alto, downtown, Cal Ave., Stanford Industrial Park, we can either add -major- traffic capacity in/out somewhere, such as build another expressway (routed where/through what?) to the one place where there appears to be some unused capacity - I280 between CA84 in Woodside and CA35 north to Pacifica - OR (my preference), we can find alternate methods for getting them in and out, such as the vastly less intrusive and more efficient Caltrain.

We all have access to these interactive traffic maps. The traffic maps are pretty good in my experience, showing where traffic is slow and stopped/queued up. Intersections, and major highways, are at capacity. IMO, if you want more people to work here, the people should have alternate methods to get here. The main alternative we have is Caltrain, for those who can use it. Capacity can be added to it.


14 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2018 at 6:05 pm

I will happily throw stones at the poor job our Bay Area governments have done in managing growth, and I think this is a big part of the problem. I think we need to reign in growth until we build out our infrastructure to support it.

That said, I feel compelled to respond to this:

"The entire Bay area is vastly overpopulated."


Respectfully, you're wrong.

There are many regions in the U.S. with population densities higher than the Bay Area. San Francisco...the highest-density city in the region...is merely 21st-most-dense in the U.S.

Looking at the rest of the peninsula, only 2 other cities even register as "dense", and they are way down the list:

* Daly City is 49th most dense in the U.S.
* East Palo Alto is 86th most dense in the U.S.

Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by nomo
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 29, 2018 at 7:31 pm

yep, zero commercial or residential growth until we have infrastructure to support it. That means caltrain grade separation, noise reduction, and/or underground before stanford's or any other developer's pet project.

and yes, we are already over developed. comparing us to San Francisco does not contradict that fact. Politicians and developers have shamelessly turned SF from a rare geographical gem into a toxic waste dump.

And as NYC proves, there is a strong correlation between density and the number of A-holes per square foot.

PA needs to avoid high density at all costs.


28 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2018 at 8:35 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Online Name -- "Let's not pretend traffic was cruising right a long back in the 90's."

Sorry, back in the 90s we regularly cruised up to Sausalito for a monthly Friday night party with no problem. Now I've given up on an early dinner with College friends on because it takes too long to get there during rush hour!

We've also missed SF and Santa Cruz concerts, dinner reservations, Berkeley Rep plays etc. etc. etc. at substantial $$$$ cost and inconvenience even though we've given ourselves plenty of time because it only takes one accident or malfunctioning traffic light to create hours of gridlock!

This uber-development is killing what made this area so much fun while our CC gives so little thought to rush on ADUs it's telling people to park om ur front lawns like a multi-million trailer park!

Shame on us for allowing this to happen. And good luck to San Mateo county for hiring the council member advocating front yard parking to advise them on planning!


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Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2018 at 9:16 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

(sorry, that should "an early dinner with College TERRACE friends..." )


28 people like this
Posted by Yippee!!!!!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2018 at 9:49 pm

I can't wait to ride my bicycle in the rain when I am 75....Yippee!!!!

Only problem is I can not find a place to put my cane on the bike. Maybe, I can break my other hip,riding my bike in the rain, then I will be forced to sell my house that is still under Prop 13. Then move into a covalescent home. Then some nice young tech worker can move in, now the city can make some real money off the property taxes ..Yippee!!!!!

Beware of the Bicycle Mafia!





7 people like this
Posted by Get them off their bikes
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 30, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Get all bike riders off bikes and into cars, eliminate all bike infrastructure and traffic will flow better once we get more people into cars.

-A rational thinker with great ideas not at all motivated inspired by spite.


4 people like this
Posted by Think it'll get better? Ha!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 30, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Wait until the toll station is installed to pay for the new rr crossings ;)


21 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 30, 2018 at 6:39 pm

The Transportation Dept is comprised of a bunch of naive, bike enthusiasts that don’t live in Palo Alto. The Transportation staff knows nothing about the traffic nuances in Palo Alto. They waste taxpayer money on ridiculous, childish road designs.


13 people like this
Posted by Staff Problem
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 30, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Don’t know, but it seems like our city staff is payed so much they can do what they want, such as “fun,” career-building, or “socially responsible” projects, instead of what needs to be done to actually run the city.


3 people like this
Posted by It's Simple
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 31, 2018 at 6:28 am

OK, you get ALL the bikes off the road and add them to the number of cars on the road, like it is on the freeway. It would increase the number of cars in a certain area by 5-10 percent or maybe more, THEN all the traffic will flow freely, just like the freeways. Eaaasy gliding just like on bike-less 101 at 5PM.

I'm a critical thinker. Once we demonize some other group and get all those people into CARS and off their bikes, we'll all be better off.
It makes perfect sense to me. Remember, you may not have a solution, but as long as you identify a group to blame, logic prevails...yes?

As you can clearly see, the bikes are the problem. We can have city roads just like 101 if we just get them off their bikes and into cars. More cars on the road, less bikes!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2018 at 6:51 am

Posted by Get them off their bikes, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> Get all bike riders off bikes and into cars, eliminate all bike infrastructure and traffic will flow better once we get more people into cars.

Interesting assertion, based on what?

>> A rational thinker with great ideas not at all motivated inspired by spite.

Luckily, every time we have a severe storm, we get to see the results of a perfect experiment, courtesy of mother nature. For example, instead of all those pesky bicycles heading into Gunn HS, we get massive automobile traffic backups all the way back through El Camino and beyond.

Apparently those inefficient bikes are actually more efficient than cars.

Web Link

Which we already knew. Although, an alternate view compares low-emissions vehicles driven by vegans vs red-meat consuming bicyclists. :-)

Web Link



15 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 31, 2018 at 7:33 am

Multi-faceted problem that requires a multi-faceted solution. Vote in a less development-oriented CC, insist CC hold the City Manager and senior staff accountable when necessary, require Staff to respond to all communications from residents (there is probably an app that can track this), look into charging for parking downtown, work with Stanford to eliminate or at least minimize bogus TDM claims (Burt's accusation has merit), impose a moratorium on commercial development, support only a reduced growth plan for Stanford, speed up the construction schedule for the work on 101, insist that the City require compliance when there is an agreement (such as the Castilleja CUP), actually enforce parking, PC agreements, CUPs, etc., get serious about issuing tickets to those among us who park and drive illegally, coordinate construction so that no street or area has too much going on simultaneously, require developers to contribute more $ to mitigate the problems caused by additional development I could go on!

Critical: we cannot stop developers from supporting candidates but we CAN stop voting for candidates that are supported by developers - at all levels of government, not just our CC. We might lose some seasoned incumbents this way, but that's a bullet we may just have to bite until there's some relief. To my way of thinking, many of our problems have been caused by policy and decisions made by incumbents; some fresh thinking might actually lead to some real solutions.

Critical: challenge every EIR on a local project that claims "no traffic impact". The days of no traffic impact ended years ago and seeing that claim in an EIR should cast doubt on - if not invalidate - the entire EIR b/c that claim is flat out bogus. Think about it - at this point EVERYTHING impacts traffic.

Critical: write in opposition to Senate Bill 827 that essentially eliminates local control over development in transit rich areas. Statewide. This bill was introduced on January 3 by Scott Weiner. Voting on it will happen soon and it is a disaster-maker.

And Good Morning!


8 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 31, 2018 at 7:59 am

"The environmentalists would have a stroke on this suggestion --- extend Oregon Expressway to the Bayfront Expressway. Set up a merge from Embarcadero onto the extension while you're at it."

Actually let's just widen University to four lanes. Those big houses on University don't really need all that land. Just eminent domain the space needed to do it. Heck, they took all those houses to create Oregon Expressway, what's a little land lost?

Solve the traffic problem where it actually is. Bingo!

/sarcasm


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2018 at 9:52 am

I think that construction causing road closures is occurring too often. Louis has been closed at least twice this week due to utility work for a house remodel. This caused buses to reroute themselves and at least one person did not know where to wait for the bus since the regular bus stop was in the closed section.

Do these road closures get done with City approval and can better advance notice be given to those who use the road?


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 31, 2018 at 10:17 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"Similarly, transportation remains a topic of widespread dissatisfaction. In the category "ease of travel by public transportation," only 29 percent gave the city positive responses. In the categories of "ease of public parking" and "traffic flow on major streets," the city received good reviews from 32 percent and 33 percent of the respondents, respectively."


Perhaps the CC and our highly paid city staff could comment on the abysmal transportation rankings from the city survey reported today?

---


5 people like this
Posted by I wonder
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 31, 2018 at 2:46 pm

I wonder if there is any city around PA where the residents would rank "Traffic flow on major roads" and "Ease of Parking" as something the majority is satisfied with. Friends in Santa Clara, SV, Los Altos, MV, RWC all say the same as peeps in PA: Traffic and parking suck.
I've driven the cities up and down the peninsula...PA seems on par with everyone else, though of course as everyone always knows, it's much worse in "My area", and something needs to be done that doesn't involve actually removing the number of cars from the roads. But as so many are committed to only driving, always, there's your puzzle right there. If anyone solves it please notify the rest of the civilized world.


17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 1, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Several days ago I commented about the chaos resulting when a bus stops at the newly restriped stop just south of Embarcadero on Middlefield where it's been narrowed to one lane.

I estimated 5 cars could fit before traffic backed INTO the one of the busiest intersections in PA.

Yesterday afternoon I saw I was wrong; it's only 3 -- THREE -- cars before chaos ensues and people have to pull all sorts of creative maneuvers to avoid getting slammed by 4 lanes of through Embarcadero traffic.

What were they thinking??!!! At least at Middlefield & Oregon, there's room for about 10 cars before they get stuck.


8 people like this
Posted by Chaos
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2018 at 5:50 am

Wow! Chaos? Were there accidents, injuries, fires, destruction? Some feel situations are more "Chaotic" than others. Chaos? Personally think that's an exaggeration. Temporary inconvenience and mild frustration is what I've experienced.

The law states you cannot enter an intersection without the ability to exit it/go through it. Once again the situation is driver error and must be corrected if anything is to get better.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2018 at 7:01 am

Posted by Chaos, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> Wow! Chaos? Were there accidents, injuries, fires, destruction? Some feel situations are more "Chaotic" than others. Chaos? Personally think that's an exaggeration.

>> Temporary inconvenience and mild frustration is what I've experienced.

TBH, I experience much more temporary inconvenience from drivers who take 7-8 seconds to look up from their cell phones. I'd like to see a traffic study on how much delay -that- causes drivers behind them, versus the buses.

>> The law states you cannot enter an intersection without the ability to exit it/go through it. Once again the situation is driver error and must be corrected if anything is to get better.

"Apparently", there is no enforcement of that law, any more than there is enforcement of the law requiring drivers to stop before they turn right on red, or, turn right at a stop sign. (What, stop?!?!? But, I have a meeting to get to!)


16 people like this
Posted by Chaos
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2018 at 12:42 pm

@Anon: "TBH, I experience much more temporary inconvenience from drivers who take 7-8 seconds to look up from their cell phones. "

Oh man, Bingo. Yes, what the HELL is with that. Once the head of the driver in front of you goes down you know. Yes, they'll get a quick horn, but that's no solution. How can we publicly shame these folks? Legally of course. It's like the drivers in traffic have figured out a way to make more traffic from within traffic. Drivers checking cell phones...you know who you are. Knock it off!


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Impatient drivers following me are a nightmare. I don't look at my phone at traffic lights, but I am one of those who move slowly when the light changes and when the car in front moves too.

Good job too because when I was driving yesterday, a child on a bike came straight at me from a driveway and I had to slam on my brakes.

Impatient drivers is one thing. Bus stops in single lanes where there is no way of avoiding a back up, is another issue altogether. BTW, I have been stuck there as car #2. If you have to wait and miss that light it is a very long wait until the next green.


13 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2018 at 12:32 pm

The Palo Alto Transportation Department needs a shake up. [Portion removed.] The incompetence and waste of taxpayer money at City Hall is outrageous. It’s time for Palo Alto residents to demand accountability from City Manager Jim Keene, Transportation Director Josh Mello, and the city council.


4 people like this
Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Feb 5, 2018 at 6:37 pm

"The root problem is one and one only, and unless it is addressed, no solution would be possible. The entire Bay area is vastly overpopulated."

You are right, Mauricio. The solution, of course, is to either match infrastructure with population levels or to depopulate the Bay Area. Who decides who is worthy of the Bay Area or not? Or should we just build higher? Population control solutions have a nasty way of backfiring.


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

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