News


Palo Alto looks to rev up outreach for bike projects

City plans more meetings, temporary markings in response to residents' concerns

After facing a swell of resident criticism over the construction of a new bike boulevard on Ross Road, Palo Alto officials are preparing to increase their community-outreach efforts and take a more phased approach to constructing bike projects in the future, the city announced Friday.

As part of the new effort, the city plans to knock on more doors, meet with more neighborhood groups and make greater use of temporary markings to ensure residents understand the planned improvements. According to the news release, temporary striping and plastic marking will be installed to mark a planned roundabout at Greer Road and planned curb extensions between Louis Road and West Bayshore, according to the city's announcement.

In addition, the city plans to take a more phased approach to building the next segment of the $8.7-million bike boulevard network, which includes stretches of Amarillo and Moreno avenues, between Middlefield Road and West Bayshore Road. The planned network, which also includes bike improvements along Bryant Street, Louis Road and Montrose Avenue, features 11 new roundabouts, three raised crosswalks, five raised intersections and four reconfigurations of intersections, according to the project's webpage.

The bike-boulevard network is a central component of Palo Alto's bike and pedestrian master plan, which the City Council adopted in 2012. Last June, the council unanimously approved the construction contract with Granite Construction Company to implement the improvements.

But many Ross Road residents were surprised when construction began in September. As of Friday, more than 800 people signed a petition arguing that the project is making the street more hazardous and urging the city to stop the implementation of the bike boulevard and to remove the new roundabout on Ross and East Meadow roads, which is set to be completed next week.

George Jaquette, who started the petition, wrote that the changes on Ross Road "have created dangerous interactions between cars and bikes."

"This is not one resident complaining that they lost a parking space," Jaquette wrote. "This is dozens of neighbors trying to raise the alarm before an elementary school bike commuter is crushed by a minivan; before an ambulance is stranded on a concrete island; before another confrontation between two cars given no buffer passing each other in arbitrary constrictions."

While the city has no plans to remove the new roundabout on East Meadow, staff plans to verify its adequacy for large vehicles once construction is complete, the city's news release states. It will also ask independent engineering experts to review the design of all the roundabouts planned for the route.

Once construction is complete, the city will also be verifying adequacy of the Ross and Meadow roundabout for large vehicles, as well as asking independent engineering experts to review the design of all of the roundabouts planned along the route.

"We have heard the community loud and clear," Chief Transportation Official Josh Mello said in the news release. "And while traffic calming elements such as roundabouts are shown to achieve that goal, we recognize the community has concerns and questions. We're going to take the opportunity to modify the construction plan and ensure residents feel comfortable and informed about planned future elements.

"We will also make adjustments to the roundabout design at Ross and Meadow if appropriate and feasible following the review by the outside engineering experts."

The city is now in the midst of constructing another Ross Road roundabout, at Moreno Avenue. Construction of various traffic-calming elements on Moreno and Louis Road will be completed in about two months, according to the news release.

Other traffic calming elements along Moreno Avenue and Louis Road are also under way, and will take roughly two months to complete.

The goal of the project is to slow down vehicle traffic and improve safety for bike riders and pedestrians.

"We knew that expanding the bike network would be an ambitious and challenging undertaking," City Manager James Keene said in the news release, "But both our community and the City's Comprehensive Plan have expressed a commitment to encouraging alternatives to car travel."

Related content:

Webcast: Ross Road Bicycle Boulevard

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Comments

34 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2018 at 9:04 am

Was any outreach done to the Y members?

The north entrance and exit have become very difficult to navigate for drivers particularly in the dark. The south entrance and exit remain the same. Many of the members at the Y are disabled, use walkers, are Parkinsons or Cancer patients. They would be unable to access the Y apart from car (either by driving or as a passenger). Were their needs taken into account when the work was done on the entrance and exit. This work was done at the time when the days were shortest and many came upon them for the first time in the dark early evening.

I suspect that December and January particularly when the leaves will cover the ground level reflectors, that there will be accidents due to the bulbouts in the late afternoon, early evening hours.

If nothing else, I think the bulbouts at the Y should be removed.


34 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2018 at 9:50 am

Online Name is a registered user.

The city adopted the bike plan years ago when the traffic was much lighter. It's way past time to re-evaluate the whole programs. It's dangerous, costly and contentious.

The city needs to re-think why it makes sense to stick poles and Botts Dots in at so many intersections to prevent cars from from going around traffic trying to turn into our driveways while backing up traffic. Why stick huge unexpected Botts Dots at a cross-walk at the ramp from Embarcadero to Alma that force the traffic to swerve back into traffic?

Time for the city to re-evaluate the restriping at intersections that intentionally backs up traffic by eliminating dedicated right turn lanes and combining right turn and through traffic lanes so that lane backs up for blocks while the dedicated left turn lane has only one of two cars?

The whole program needs to be rethought and earlier mistakes fixed before they start anything news. Put the money elsewhere.


47 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2018 at 10:46 am

These bicycle routes make our city streets tremendously safer for bicycle transportation, especially for school children. Bicycles require much less street space and parking space than cars, so we really should encourage more bicycling.


23 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 31, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

It would be really helpful if the city staff would post references that explain the street design principles they are relying on so the public can better understand the city's intentions. In addition, the staff could engage with neighborhood associations to hold design workshops. Truly empowering neighborhood associations and residents with objective information, rather than contending with backlash after the fact, is a sound investment.


Like this comment
Posted by GreerDucky_GNGT
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2018 at 12:24 pm

GreerDucky_GNGT is a registered user.

Where will the Greer Road roundabout be?


15 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2018 at 12:43 pm

@Patrick Burt - the city does advertise and host numerous community meetings and design workshops for these projects. However, these projects often take years to plan so by the time they are actually implemented, residents have often forgotten about what happened at the meetings.


25 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 31, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

@Parent
Yes, I have attended many of these meetings about specific projects, although too often the meetings are more defenses of specific design proposals that have already been selected by staff. Rather, it would be better to first engage the public around problem definitions and goal setting, followed by designs.
However, what I was referring to above were design "principles" rather than specific "project" designs. Design principles include the merits of various traffic calming and bikeway design features. For example, what are the design elements of "modern roundabouts" and how do they compare to traffic circles in terms of bike and pedestrian safety, as well as traffic flow and vehicular safety? These references should be readily available on our Transportation Dept web pages and provided through other vehicles like neighborhood groups and the PTA so that their members become better informed for when they participate in project design discussions.


62 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2018 at 2:16 pm

The city isn't really "listening" to residents. If you look closely at what they're actually saying, they intend to finish the project as fast as they can and then "review" the project after completion. This is not listening to residents. I drive on Ross Rd every day when kids are commuting to school by bike. The reality is that the new set up is confusing to cyclists. The kids don't know whether to ride on the street between the islands (which is dangerous as there isn't enough room for bikes and cars) or bike on the sidewalk where they feel safer. The new system doesn't work. I am all for improving the situation for bicycles - I'm a cyclist myself. The problem is that this doesn't improve anything, it's putting cyclists in danger.


17 people like this
Posted by WannaSign
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Mar 31, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Where is this petition? I'd love to sign it! I don't live in that neighborhood, but I do need to drive through it, and it passed silly a while back. I noticed that the "trial" traffic circle, on Cowper in 94301 a year or two back, was taken out, never made permanent. Apparently they know how to complain effectively.


20 people like this
Posted by Old Head
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2018 at 6:23 pm

No wonder Palo Alto is broke. Grew up on Ross in the 50’s and 60’s riding bicycles everywhere. When cycling was a mode of transportation not a fashion statement. Helmets hadn’t even been thought of. Hoover school, Jordan and Paly. One car families with one driver - Dad. Somehow we survived riding all over even as far as Foothills Park.


14 people like this
Posted by George Jaquette
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 31, 2018 at 6:25 pm

You can sign the petition here:
Web Link

I understand that NextDoor does not consider Stanford or Los Altos part of Palo Alto, so depending on where you live you may not be able to follow the links on the petition.


43 people like this
Posted by a debacle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2018 at 8:02 pm

We don't need more outreach. We need an end to
this debacle taking place on our streets all over
the city. It started with excessive yellow paint
and signs, then bollards and dots at Jordan, then the blowoff on Ross Rd, while more paint and dots
and lane narrowing and closing on Middlefield. This is like 27 University Ave, the staff keeps going until stopped, they will do whatever they
can get away with- that is the process - to serve
their own interests and agenda - this has nothing to do with accepted traffic engineering principles and practices, safety, neighborhood preservation,
traffic flow, the public interest.



30 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2018 at 10:00 pm

I live at the corner of Ross and Moreno. I have a ringside seat at my kitchen table. The "roundabout" ? flower bed in middle of street is under construction. Currently the fingers are half done and there is a pile of dirt where the flower bed will be. Folks are now doing all sorts of dangerous things while traversing the intersection. Blowing through the stop signs is the most dangerous, illegal turns are next. These things are just not big enough to function like a true roundabout. Once the stop signs are gone all hell will break loose. I predict the stop signs will not go away. In 40 years I have only had one car end up in my front yard due to a T bone crash. I bet it won't take a month for it to happen after they finish this.

They spent $2.6M dollars designing this abomination and now they want to hire more "consultants"? Got a problem, hire a consultant to check out this design. Somehow it feels like we are being taken. None of the residents asked for this "bicycle boulevard". Who cooked this up and why? What evidence was there of a problem? Someone is getting rich on our dime. And oh by the way, just blow off the residents who protested at the "public planning meetings".

And yes I lost all 8 of my parking spaces. I have a "boulevard" on both of my streets. I guess I am taking one for the team.


35 people like this
Posted by Us Too
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 1, 2018 at 12:23 am

We have had a similar problem on Donald Drive at Arastradero, but the City is still ignoring residents there.

The City made changes ostensibly for bike improvements without informing the residents, even the resident on the committee. When many neighbors complained about the lack of notifications of the changes, the City said they hadn't notified us because didn't know how to reach us. Seriously, they said that in writing.

While we can see what they wanted to achieve, the changes CREATED a number of serious dangers, both for cars turning left onto Arastradero where there is now almost zero visibility to the left, so drivers either have to pull forward and full stop then look to the left (as DMV says not to do, stop after starting a turn) or risk being broadsided. One neighbor has already notified them of a near miss because cars run that light.

The changes were intended to create a change in the children's behavior in the morning, but have at the same time encouraged risky behavior at other times and in other places that we have observed since. The changes are also so confusing because the traffic device used is so different/much smaller than typical -- except for the morning school rush, it's not even being used. Small wonder, when the City had to send out a long fine-print color glossy two-sided explanation for how to use it when they first put it in. It's not a safety feature if it requires lengthy instruction to use.

But calls for the City to remove the dangerous new feature have fallen on deaf ears. A neighbor who participated in the committee still has no answer from the City as to why this change never came up and she was never informed of it despite attending the meetings. Another said they placed a call specifically to the City to ask if there would be changes on our street and were told no.

The City traffic people treated us with untrustworthy disdain and disrespect, and have done nothing to address the DANGER they have CREATED at that intersection the rest of the day and night. The problems they hoped to address could have been fixed by educating the kids -- and neighbors (and a lot more easily than that fine-print color glossy set of instructions) -- and through the crossing guards who do an amazing job. The danger they have created can only be mitigated now by directly ignoring a directive in the DMV handbook about how to safely enter an intersection, i.e., creates another danger, and one has to remember to do this without fail. It should be removed, as neighbors have been asking.

IT IS AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN, AND IF OR WHEN IT DOES, IT WILL BE FROM GROSS NEGLIGENCE BY THE CITY. THEY FAILED TO WORK WITH RESIDENTS IN CREATING THIS POORLY CONCEIVED HAZARD AND HAVE FAILED TO RESPOND IN A TRUSTWORTHY OR PROFESSIONAL WAY TO COMPLAINTS.

I think we need an ordinance requiring all those people to come park in our neighborhood in the morning and ride their bikes to City Hall during rush hour, making their way via all of these places neighbors have complained. Maybe they'll be able to see the problems more clearly from daily bike rides rather than looking down their noses at us from across town.


7 people like this
Posted by Nina
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 1, 2018 at 9:50 am

And who will say no to a "safe bike to school"? needed or not, wasteful or not, it will always become reality


20 people like this
Posted by a debacle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2018 at 12:41 pm

The "outside engineering experts" brought in should not be handpicked by the staff but should be selected or at least ratified by a committee of those who signed the petition or at least George
Jaquette. Otherwise it will have no validity.

The scope of what the outside experts evaluate needs to be expanded beyond the roundabouts to virtually every aspect of what is being done here which violates FHWA standards and common practices in traffic engineering which state based on field
studies of safety concerns that cities should avoid "visual overload","sign clutter" and in
general "over-reliance on signs and paint" while also pointing out the importance of consistency in what they do, as well as good judgement. This City is violating all of these precepts and carrying it to a new level.






24 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 1, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

According to Mr. Mello, he's going to hire outside "engineering consultants" to review the roundabouts at Ross Road and E. Meadow Drive and "make adjustments if appropriate and feasible."

Great. Throw more money after bad while ignoring the opinions of 800+ concerned taxpayers and people who actually experience the problems created by his roundabouts and other traffic obstacles.

Remind me again why the city needs a new tax to fund more of these infrastructure "improvements" while raising our water rates 18% over the next 3 years so it can be siphoned into the General Fund.


11 people like this
Posted by Casey
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2018 at 5:01 pm

I have no problem with the roundabouts. The bulbouts, on the other hand, are counterintuitive. Forcing cars and bikes to travel closer together seems more dangerous.


14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 2, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Yes, the bulbouts are counterintuitive as are the posts at so many intersections that prevent through traffic from going around turning traffic, especially where they've reduced the number of lanes.

I still want to know why Mr. Mello thinks it may not be "feasible" or "appropriate" to fix problems and why outside consultants' opinions are more valuable than the experience of people who use PA streets every single day.


17 people like this
Posted by 6Djockey
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 2, 2018 at 12:20 pm

6Djockey is a registered user.

To Parent,

I think it's the other way around. From the time the "input" is taken at community meetings until the project is implemented, the City has forgotten the community input. Almost seems intentional.


7 people like this
Posted by newshound
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 2, 2018 at 12:22 pm

newshound is a registered user.

To Parent,

I think it's the other way around. From the time the "input" is taken at community meetings until the project is implemented, the City has forgotten the community input.


17 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2018 at 12:29 pm

There is obvious over-spending.
Construction, bulbouts etc.
Paint and expensive signs are way overdone all over town.
Changing perfectly workable Roundabouts into huge Traffic Circles, creating unsafe crossings.
Consultants to build up the department empire instead of judgement and common sense.
Still more consultants. Doesn't staff have any expertise?

City Manager, chief big-spender, needs to wake up.


10 people like this
Posted by I like it.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 2, 2018 at 2:27 pm

I like it. is a registered user.

The petition says that the roundabout will slow emergency response times. How do they know that? I called the city and asked about this. I was told that the roundabout was designed to accommodate the city's emergency vehicles. Has there been some failed test? The last time I biked through the intersection (Friday), construction barriers were still in place. I suppose those might slow down response times, but they can hardly do construction without erecting some barriers.

As a user of the roundabout who bikes and drives, I have had no trouble even with the barriers in place. I slow down, yield and follow all of the rules of the road related to roundabouts (which can be found on the project web site in case you got your license in an era when this was not taught.) So far, so good. I like it. Before, people frequently would not stop at the stop signs. That was a hazard. That is what kids and parents reported to the city. That was one of the reported problems they were trying to solve with the roundabout. Let's give the project a chance.


21 people like this
Posted by Wasting our Taxes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2018 at 7:58 am

The Transportation Dept has been hijacked by bicycle fanatics. It is time to revamp the Transportation Dept. [Portion removed.] The staff doesn’t live in PA and they have no understanding of traffic flow in the neighborhoods. [Portion removed.]

Josh Mello, Transportation Director, used to work for Alta Planning, a bicyle street design company. He hires Alta Planning to design our PA bike boulevards. Our taxpayer money is being wasted.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2018 at 8:35 am

What I would like to know is when is money going to be spent on improving efficiency for vehicle traffic flow around town?

Bike travel is only one form of transport. The amount of money being spent to improve bike travel will only help a subset of commuters (whether to work or to school) and many recreational riders.

We need to improve all types of travel both within town and also outside town. We need to get some efficient bus service to airports and other places not inside city boundaries. Where is our CC on lobbying VTA and other agencies about getting some sensible commuter routes? We need to get commuter parking lots at highway offramps with dedicated shuttles and bus routes that run along highways to airports, etc.

We need to improve traffic flow around town. We need to look at the bottlenecks and see what can be done to relieve pressure there. We need some peak hour traffic lights which can be turned off when not needed. We need to bring back blinking traffic lights during the overnight hours. We need to review areas where turning is not possible and see what can be done to improve the ability to turn left.

Until we can improve traffic flow we are not going to feel any benefits from traffic management decisions.


30 people like this
Posted by Just Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 3, 2018 at 9:01 am

@Resident: "What I would like to know is when is money going to be spent on improving efficiency for vehicle traffic flow around town?"

Once enough space is made by people getting out of cars and onto bikes, traffic might be at a manageable enough level where flows may improve. At this stage, with too many objects (cars)trying to occupy the same finite amount of space (roads) it has become impossible to make one area flow without grid-locking another.

It's not like PA or any city in the world knows what to do but is holding back. The simple fact of the matter is that there are too many cars and physics has the last word. They could spend 10s of millions and you would still have bad traffic. This has been forewarned for decades by the way, and with all the 3-4 story bldgs going up, expect more cars...OR, work to get good bike routes in so those new residents ride instead of add more cars to the roads.


8 people like this
Posted by Parent of bike riders
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 3, 2018 at 10:47 am

We all know there are lots of type A personalities in town. Just wait 2 seconds after the light turns green, hearing the horn is proof enough. Our city's opportunity attracted them and our cost of living has them hustling. You don't create hazards to fix an inpatient issue. Instead, you should create better buffer zones to prevent putting a car closer to a bike rider.

While I would like to see improvements that make bike riding safer...(I often ride a bike to work.) My son has already witnessed a car slowly trying to pass and hitting a child on a bike on the way to school. The narrowing of lanes may slow down cars, however, I have already observed it makes drivers inch their way through putting the car closer to the bike rider. Chief Transportation Official Josh Mello is confused. I travel through Europe every year. I have never seen such a tight lane for a roundabout as those we are installing. I bet he is comparing "apples to oranges" when we look at roundabouts and extended sidewalk ramps. I want to see the feet and inches comparisons. Other cities have configured them wider than what I am seeing constructed in our neighborhoods. I see tire marks on the new roundabout cement ring already and they are not even finished.

Once again our city has is backwards. Seems we are always spending money first. As a distraction to keep our city safer, let's let the city council spend more money on yet another consultant to look into fiber-to-the-home for the umpteenth time. Instead of spending cash on poorly designed hazard creating street changes.

Do we have a statistic on how many have to be injured for life before we remove the hazards and pretend we are making them safer?



8 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 3, 2018 at 11:17 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Resident: "What I would like to know is when is money going to be spent on improving efficiency for vehicle traffic flow around town?"

They won't. The city's stated mission is to SLOW down vehicle traffic, impede efficient traffic flow, get more kids to bike to school -- which is why you'll never see school buses as one obvious way to reduce vehicle traffic -- and get everyone out of cars.

Hence Nr. Mello's comment that fixing the problems "might not be appropriate or feasible" -- because they under-cut those goals, not because they can't hire someone with backhoe to take out the problem barriers.

Read the city's goals, objectives and Web Link



10 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2018 at 11:30 am

The only way to solve this problem is to vote out every city council member that supports these ludicrous attempts to eliminate the use of cars in Palo Alto. It's time to hold them accountable.

Hopefully, some common sense individuals who wish to represent what tax paying citizens want will emerge and we can regain some normalcy.

They can then get rid of the spender in chief, city manager Jim Keene and Josh Mellow the special interest transportation official.


12 people like this
Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 3, 2018 at 11:56 am

I hope the residents of Bryant St. and North California Ave. are paying attention to the details:

Web Link

A round about is planned for the the North California Ave. / Bryant St. intersection!


15 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 3, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Ross Road and Arastradero Road are in Palo Alto which is in California which is in the United States which is in North America. That's my ROUNDABOUT way of saying that we are NOT in EUROPE so it makes little sense to plan as though we are. Among other differences, we drive MUCH bigger cars and our public transportation options are woefully inadequate.


2 people like this
Posted by RRRROSS RRRROAD
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 3, 2018 at 1:48 pm

T-T-T-Triggered! Aaaargh! JK :)

Too many cars will slow traffic down. Far too many cars will REALLY slow traffic down. There are too many cars.

Discuss:


7 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2018 at 5:58 pm

@ Paly Grad...I live right there and this will be a complete and utter disaster. We went to the meeting about this over a year ago and all they did was post the plans and ask us about which one we liked best. The bump outs, green paint, and everything else they are going to jam down our throats is insane. They will NEVER listen to the citizens.

Vote the City Council out. Hold them accountable. Hopefully, we'll see some candidates emerge who will represent what the tax paying citizens want, not what the Palo Alto Forward and bike lobby wants. Time to take back our city and find representatives who want what the majority want.

This isn't France and despite what the progressives want you're not going to see people riding bicycles with their baguettes and wine in their little bike baskets all over town.


10 people like this
Posted by Just Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 4, 2018 at 6:10 am

@Concerned Citizen, I didn't hear how you planned to address the "Too many cars on the road" cause of traffic. Do you think it's just policy causing traffic issues and that a new city council will have the answer?

Again: The factual problem is that there are too many cars in a finite space. What is the solution to fix the direct cause of our traffic problems?
Please post the solution, not just the angry rant. Please post what the City Council SHOULD do and explain how that will make traffic flow better. I find that info more helpful than just a "Vote them all out" message.


8 people like this
Posted by Just Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 4, 2018 at 6:39 am

Also, the fact that we are not France(an entire country) is true, though IMO Amsterdam would have been a much better comparison. Lets look at "France" though. Have you seen the traffic in Paris? Even with all those people on bikes the traffic it's horrendous, far worse that ours. The reason is that there are too many cars trying to squeeze into the limited amount of road in town. Makes perfect sense.

Jetting across to the good old USofA, have you been on our Freeways during commute times? Freeways have ZERO bike infrastructure, in fact bikes are prohibited from being on those roads. What if there was a 10-20% reduction in the number of cars over time? Would that help improve things some? I think so, and the experts know so.

The puzzle is how to entice just a small fraction of drivers to not use their cars for all trips. That's a huge impossible puzzle to solve! How would we EVER accomplish something like that? (sarcasm)


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2018 at 8:26 am

@Just Bob

I gave my ideas for getting traffic on the road. It seems that you only read the first paragraph.

Getting traffic off the road means providing realistic alternatives. People arriving in Palo Alto for work often have no alternatives. Try getting from Milpitas or Half Moon Bay by public transit.

We need to get commuters into commuter parking lots by the offramps and into dedicated shuttles. That would get cars off the roads and leave space in downtown for residents and others to park on streets and in lots for lunchtime activities. We need to get cars off the highways, so getting efficient airport shuttles that ride along 101 between airports stopping at various offramp commuter parking lots along the route. This would get a lot of traffic off the highways as so many people get rides from family or friends to get to the airports as the most efficient mode for them and that means a two way trip for the driver.

Yes, there are innovative ideas out there, but it has to be done by a coalition of cities, not just Palo Alto. It is not a piecemeal effort by Palo Alto, or any other one city, but by working together with VTA and perhaps private companies to provide efficient shuttles from offramps to business destinations that don't snake all around the neighborhoods in inefficient buses.

Start thinking rather than criticizing and put some thought into the ideas that others come up with. That's how improvements will be made.


Like this comment
Posted by Just Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:20 am

I was actually replying to another poster...or was I?!?! Haha.

Anyway, OK, and once we shuttle them into town they can get around town on our fantastic bike infrastructure. Once it's built we'll have less local drivers on the road as well as less lunch time drivers. The bike part is a crucial part of the overall picture.
It cannot be ignored, not with the ever increasing numbers of people riding bikes.

We can do the bike part now, without massive multi-city/agency projects as you propose.
I have a feeling your ideas may take some time. Specifically, how many acres of parking lots will be needed to "Capture" all the commuters, and what about those driving through and not stopping in PA?. Are we blocking roads now for enforcement? Anyway, the parking lots needed for just one stadium, holding 60K are massive! We're gonna need to buy lots and lots of land, and the backup into those lots will be staggering.

Yes, lets do get realistic on what the city of PA can do for itself.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:42 am

@Just Bob

Thanks for taking the time to answer me.

As someone who spends most of my time in Palo Alto, I know that local residents do have to get around. I spend a fair amount of my time also going from Mountain View to Redwood City. Trying to get to meetings in say Mountain View, run a couple of mid day (not necessarily lunch time) errands in Palo Alto and they another meeting in Redwood City is often how my day works. True I don't have a 1 hour commute by car, but for me trying to get my day organized around riding a bike is just not on, particularly having to arrive in business attire and perhaps the need to carry stuff for meetings, etc.

Even those who do use public transport or bike to work 4 times a week, help the overall situation, but for the one day each week they do need to drive, it is still worth pointing out that those people have needs also.

Many people do not arrive at their job and stay there 8 hours before leaving. That is often not the case for quite a large percentage of business, professional workers. Even with video conferencing and telecommuting, there is still a fair amount of localized travel that business requires.

The bike lobby seems to act as if they are on higher ground in this discussion. That is just not the case. Those that bike to work on a regular basis have to be commended and yes helped to be able to do that. But they are only a small subset of the working population. From my experience of neighbors and friends who live in Palo Alto, there are many who work here who drive out of town for work every day.

Bike infrastructure is important, not only for those bike commuters who can do so every day, but for those who can do it occasionally and most importantly for young riders who are riding to school. Comparing a 12 year olds ability to ride in traffic with that of an adult who also has many years of driving experience and is healthy and fit to do a 6 miles or so bike commute complete with shower facilities at the end, is not fair to any of us.

I commend all who ride bikes to work even for only part of their week or month. But those who don't for whatever reason, don't deserve to be ignored or treated as if their needs don't matter.

We are all in this Silicon Valley together. Our jobs are what puts the economics of the area on the map. We need to work together and support each other as neighbors, friends, coworkers, team players, and the like. We should not be divisive over this.


9 people like this
Posted by The "bike lobby?" Who are they?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 4, 2018 at 12:42 pm

The "bike lobby?" Who are they? is a registered user.

I am a person who bikes a fair amount for short trips (about 2-5 miles). I'm not part of any "bike lobby". I also drive, walk, and occasionally ride a bus or the train, depending on convenience of the route.

Transit is hard in Palo Alto because the transit agencies who serve us don't cooperate with us. We are on the outer edge of VTA's service area. I will NEVER vote for another VTA sales tax. We can trust them to collect our tax dollars, but we cannot trust them to deliver a fair share of service to Palo Alto. I want the city to provide better Shuttle service. I might vote for a local tax to support that.

I am pushing 60, so don't tell me that older folks can't bike. My neighbor who is 81 still bikes. I suffer from arthritis and a very bad hip. Biking keeps my joints moving and keeps my balance good. When I stop, I get worse. The best way to keep an aging body healthy is to MOVE it!

I also watch city budgets. It is simply NOT TRUE that the city spends more on bikes than cars. They spend a small fraction of what they spend on cars on bikes. There are a lot of bike projects in the pipeline right now because they have been languishing for years--unbuilt. Even so, the money proposed in this year's budget for parking garages alone is more than the total for all bike projects in the same budget.

That said, I want streets that work for everyone--kids, seniors, bikers, drivers, walkers, transit riders--because we all use the roads different ways at different times. Let's respect the diverse needs of our fellow citizens of all ages and abilities. Let's make public streets work for PEOPLE--all of us. Try NOT to break into "factions." Try to understand the multitude of transportation needs people have. Try to understand that what works for you might not work for someone else. Finally, just because the reason for a specific design is not obvious to you, it is not necessarily "stupid". Ask polite questions. Learn. Find out if perhaps there is a reason for the way something is being done. Maybe there is something you have missed because of your perspective. Be open to learning and collaborating with others to understand what our COMMUNITY needs.

Thanks for listening.





14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 4, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

As I recall with the last VTA tax increase that the city recommended we approve, the VTA then decided that since PA already has shuttle service, the VTA could cut back its service here. The city's response was then to say, "Oh gee. NOW we''ll start coordinating with the VTA."

There was some kind of lawsuit and the sales tax funds being collected went into some escrow account until the lawsuit could be settled.

Anyone have an update on the lawsuit? We're still paying the increased sales tax.


12 people like this
Posted by Keep it up
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 4, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Yes, the bike infrastructure is low hanging fruit so we should get part of the pie that taken care of now, which looks to be going on from my observations. The other stuff is far more tricky and will take many years it at all, but at least the bike piece of the transit pie will be in place in PA, while we await other transit fixes.


38 people like this
Posted by Grateful for Bike Safety Efforts
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2018 at 10:58 am

Grateful for Bike Safety Efforts is a registered user.

I'm empathetic to neighborhood concern around the Ross Road project, but truly aghast at the efforts being made by George Jaquette (quoted in this article) and others to denigrate and derail the efforts and results of decades of hard and successful work to create safe routes for bicycles and our children on Arastradero/Charleston and other critical routes.

Every planned change to a roadway creates an initial negative reaction, particularly from car drivers who are at lowest risk of being injured during their daily drives. The children and adults who travel by bicycle have relied for decades on the hard work of the City of Palo Alto staff, Palo Alto Police Dept, and tireless PTSA volunteers – all in partnership on the Safe Routes to School Program. The Safe Routes to School program has for many years solicited input and support from parents, students, educators, government officials, business leaders, community groups, PA law enforcement, and PA transportation/urban planning/engineering to advocate for bike boulevards and safe routes to schools – making huge bike safety improvements that others in PA now seem to take for granted. Even more distressing is witnessing one person, who has not been involved in any part of this successful city-wide effort, spearhead a petition to destroy the next phases of it.

Having commuted to work by bicycle for years on Bryant, as well as having school aged children using the same route, I am deeply thankful to the designers and administrators who worked to build it as a functional and relatively safe bike path in the 1980s.

I recently rode my bike east on Arastradero from work, along the path used by many hundreds of high school students on a daily basis. The narrowing to a single car lane in each direction on Arastradero was criticized in 2004 but is viewed as improving safety today. On balance our kids have better and safer paths to school and that is more important than a few minutes faster drive.

It's all too easy to criticise any change-in-progress as incompetence, but this is unfair and factually wrong. This criticisim ignores thoughtful and professional work done in good faith in the past 30 plus years to create a city where bikes and cars can reasonably coexist. In an increasingly crowded Palo Alto, remember that there will never be enough space for everyone to travel by car without delay. Take a breath and don't blame the bike routes for overcrowded roads nor paint every project related to traffic safety as a boondoggle.


14 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 21, 2018 at 4:14 pm

the City -should- be making plans to remove the Ross obstructions, when does staff get to ignore the people who actually live here?


7 people like this
Posted by Small steps over time
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 23, 2018 at 2:49 pm

I've been seeing small changes in the bike infrastructure over the last 20 years that over time have added up to, so far, some nice stuff. I can see my future and it is two wheeled...sometimes, I'll still have a car for long trips


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Work has now started on Louis for some bike improvements.

It is getting harder and harder to DRIVE around residential neighborhoods. It is nothing to do with people coming into town to work. It is local people like you and me finding a route around town that doesn't involve roadworks, construction, flagmen, street furniture, men in yellow vests with hard hats, and signs, signs, signs.

We all need to get around town to get to highways, to get to jobs out of town, to live our lives.

I am getting so tired of all the road improvements that do absolutely nothing for local traffic efficiency and flow.


16 people like this
Posted by Unavoidable
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2018 at 6:40 am

With all the navigation apps, there will be an endless stream of out of town drivers navigating the "fastest" way. Unless you make rods for residents only( with check points" these out-of-towners as well as the huge increase of in-towners has solidified the mess that using a car for your short trips is in PA. No amount of design or demands will change the physics of too many cars in a finite space.
For in town trips I've found my bike to be the answer and my car to be a source of frustration. For that reason a lone, I'm glad for the bike projects. If cars for short trips will be a dead end, at least we have some sort of alternative.
This IS the new normal. Anyone who has been in the area to see this develop over the past 40 years should not be shocked. It's exactly what we were warned about decades ago, and again, I'm glad there is at least an alternative.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2018 at 8:42 am

Unavoidable, you are so wrong. And I will start off by saying I walk whenever I can and do so most days, as my FitBit health app will tell you.

You may get some cut through out of town traffic, 101 SB was at a standstill for about an hour last night during the commute, so who can blame some coming off and looking for a better route.

But the truth is that we have road construction all over town. I need to get around town for meetings, often needing to be dressed smart and often needing to take materials with me, and most often not a trip out to a destination and then straight home, but a trip that involves several destinations over several hours and not all of them in Palo Alto. Last time I checked, bikes are not allowed on 101 and that means there is no way a bike will do it for me.

I am like many of my neighbors and we need to get to 101, we need to get to Redwood City, to Sunnyvale, to Menlo Park, to Mountain View. Bikes will not do that. I cannot turn up at a meeting dressed appropriately in a sweaty, dusty state.

Ross Road is supposed to be for bikes, but Louis is having work started. There was work on Colorado, again on Loma Verde. There were myriads of signs, trucks, men in hard hats with flags, cones, cones, cones.

Trying to drive around the residential neighborhoods to get to our major routes is getting harder and harder. Don't blame it on navigation apps. Ross still is being used by WAZE as the best route. I know my way around town and I don't need an app. What I do need is to get to where I want to go without ridiculous traffic calming measures!


12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 24, 2018 at 10:23 am

Online Name is a registered user.

All the new traffic calming measures are forcing us all to drive more get to get where we're going. For me to head south when traffic's bad and I can't turn left out of my driveway due to the new posts at the foot of my drive, I have to go north, make at least 5 turns cutting through another neighborhood, sit through 2 traffic lights and go miles out of my way to get back where I started.

So the city's actually creating more traffic and making me a lot less calm when I have to sit through more traffic light cycles now that they've eliminated the right turn lane @ Embarcadero and Middlefield.


10 people like this
Posted by Unavoidable
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2018 at 10:31 am

"What I do need is to get to where I want to go without ridiculous traffic calming measures!"

Remove every single barrier to free passage and your route will still be clogged. Behold, I give you....Freeways!

I guess some need something to blame "If only it wasn't for that new thing/person/process, life would be great. The biggest problem is this new thing."
Actually, the biggest problem is unavoidable traffic. Ross road or no Ross Road. Speed bumps or no speed bumps. If the ONLY thing that will EVER work for you is a car, then so be it, all power to you and blame everything on someone/something else. Just don't expect things to get better in that respect for you on the roads.
You just can't fix "Too many cars in one place" without going back to population levels of the 80s. Physics always wins.


2 people like this
Posted by Unavoidable
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2018 at 10:35 am

I should note, the unavoidable traffic is only during a minority of the time: peak commute hours. Once the number of cars is reduced from peak commute numbers, traffic is MUCH better. That's because the number of cars in the finite space is reduced after the commute dissipates. Physics, it actually works!


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 24, 2018 at 11:12 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Unavaoidable, I already avoid the freeways as much as possible, thanks.

Traffic is also very heavy during the very predictable school pick-up and drop-off times yet the city hasn't done the obvious and considered putting the school buses back on the roads while it spends millions of dollars on road furniture. As many will recall, they cut the buses for "budgetary" reasons and I wonder if the buses are more cost-effective.

Yes, the city and PAUSD have 2 different budgets but don't the city and PAUSD talk?


11 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2018 at 11:52 am

I agree with Resident. I walk to the grocery, hardware, and electronics stores, but when I need to drive to business or carry things, I need to use a car to do so. The bicycle community has been pulling the wool over our eyes, defending the construction with mealy mouthed and misleading arguments. The -majority- of Palo Altans do not want these obstructions imposed upon them. I hope City Council members are reading these comments because there will be enough irritated voters on this one topic alone to swing upcoming elections, and not in favor of the incumbents. Stop. The. Madness!


6 people like this
Posted by Us too
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 24, 2018 at 12:36 pm

@a debacle,
“The scope of what the outside experts evaluate needs to be expanded beyond the roundabouts to virtually every aspect of what is being done here which violates FHWA standards and common practices in traffic engineering which state based on field studies of safety concerns that cities should avoid "visual overload","sign clutter" and in
general "over-reliance on signs and paint" while also pointing out the importance of consistency in what they do, as well as good judgement. This City is violating all of these precepts and carrying it to a new level. “

This needs to be written to every City Councilmember, repeatedly. I hope you will.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2018 at 12:42 pm

@Unavoidable

Yes, even for those of us who walk or bike a great deal of the time for local trips, there are times when using a car is unavoidable.

You don't get it. I avoid using my car as much as I can. The rest of the time when using my car is unavoidable, I want efficient traffic flow. That is not selfishly putting me first, or being arrogant, or impeding bike riders, it is me living my life. Traffic calming is not an efficient way to improve traffic flow, but we don't need to go into all that again. The bike lobby will not be satisfied with Ross Road, they want to stop me, prevent me, from my occasional use of my car, due to their insistence that they are in the right and I am 100% in the wrong, always, the minute I get into my car.


8 people like this
Posted by Unavoidable
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2018 at 1:43 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2018 at 5:58 pm

[Post removed.]


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