News

Bikeway launched to connect Peninsula cities

Interim route aims to address region's transit, mobility problems

Sept. 8 marked the opening of the Peninsula Bikeway, a bike route on surface streets that connects Redwood City and Mountain View by way of Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Bike rides starting in the early morning on each end of the bikeway, an interim path that will be improved over time, culminated in the Menlo Park Civic Center.

Riders breezed into Burgess Park at about 10 a.m. – some 40 bicyclists who had started in Redwood City met about 50 riders hailing from Mountain View. A generally good time followed, with people trying out electric bikes and having miniature smoothies prepared by pedal-powered blenders. For the kids, there was a bike rodeo.

A number of officials spoke at a short ceremony at Burgess once the cyclists arrived. Russell Hancock, chief executive of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, commented on the flat landscape, the great weather and the health consciousness of Silicon Valley residents. "Silicon Valley really should be the biking capital of America," he said.

Joint Venture organized the Peninsula Bikeway by convening the "Managers Mobility Partnership" with the managers of the participating cities. The partnership was unprecedented, Hancock said for an earlier Almanac story.

Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki also remarked on the weather and how it is "perfect" for cycling.

The bikeway is part of a plan to create "a seamless and convenient bike network," Ohtaki said. Just 20 percent of students ride bikes to school, he noted, a figure that he said could be improved upon with more emphasis on the city's Safe Routes To School program.

Officials from Palo Alto, Mountain View and Redwood City also made remarks, but there were none by anyone from Atherton. "The Town was a participant on the Bikeways Committee but not to the same extent as the other communities," Atherton City Manager George Rodericks said in an email, noting that town officials had not received an invitation to speak.

Growing pains

The interim bike route is "not as direct as you would want it to be," said Hugh Louch, a principal at Alta Planning + Design, in the earlier Almanac story when describing the bikeway's temporary route. "At this point, it's really piecing together what exists," he said.

"One important goal of the project was to get something on the ground quickly that could serve as an interim or first route and help identify how we can advance a long-term route," Louch said by email.

The route was not even one day old when this reporter joined with the riders pedaling from Sequoia High School in Redwood City to Burgess Park. The group included several children and three or four people on electric bikes.

Blue triangular Peninsula Bikeway signs sit atop street signs to show the way if you know to look for them.

Among the growing pains:

• A couple of intersections on the route through Redwood City did not have stop signs that favored cyclists, who were expected to wait for vehicle traffic rather than the other way around. On the Bryant Street bike boulevard in Palo Alto, stop signs are set up to favor cyclists.

• We were not instructed on etiquette for when a group of cyclists mixes it up with vehicles on well-traveled roads. Instead of riding two abreast, the rule of the day seemed to be whatever riders felt like doing.

• At Elena Avenue and Faxon Road in Atherton, we encountered the odd middle-of-the-road curbs Atherton uses to keep drivers from even the slightest trespass into opposite lanes.

Cyclists not infrequently cut across intersections diagonally when there's no traffic, something this reporter did on a dark night some years ago at Elena and Faxon. With headlights on, I hit one of these curbs. My bike, new at the time, still shows the marks from the experience.

These medians, Rodericks said, "were installed to address vehicles that cut across intersections and cause significant safety issues for stopped vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. ... Vehicles and cyclists that cut across intersections in this manner can create a hazard."

The town painted them with "bright yellow paint with highly reflective beads to make them more visible to all users of the roadway, even at night," Rodericks added. A casual inspection showed the paint to be much abused by many encounters with foreign objects.

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Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Dave Boyce writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 13, 2018 at 10:14 am

The map with this story (and from others) is so low resolution, you can't tell the streets. Useless.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2018 at 10:49 am

No maps of the new bikeway at the Burgess Park event seems like a strange oversight.


Like this comment
Posted by Lindsay Joye
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Lindsay Joye is a registered user.

We enjoyed our ride from Mitchell Park to Burgess and the organizers did try to let cyclists know when cars were behind us so we should ride single-file, but it was a large group and not all complied.

It was great to see families biking together to the event and I am hopeful that the Bikeway initiative will help promote cycling along the Peninsula.

More info: Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by seriously?
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

We would love to have a safer bicycle route between Palo Alto and downtown Redwood City, but this new route is so convoluted that it is much slower and more dangerous than just taking Middlefield Road all the way. Who designed this monstrosity? Are they trying to deter people from bicycling to work?


Like this comment
Posted by An Extension Needed
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 13, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Will the bike path eventually be extended into East Palo Alto for the convenience of those who wish a more expedient route into Crescent Park or the Newell Road area past Woodland Avenue?


2 people like this
Posted by Fr0hickey
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 13, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Fr0hickey is a registered user.

RideWithGPS of MtView to Menlo Park is here. Web Link

RideWithGPS of RedwoodCity to Menlo Park is here.
Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Spokes
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Great first start. Now, can the City of Palo Alto install a bike lane along Embarcadero Road so bicyclists don't have to ride on the sidewalks with the pedestrians? How about widening the sidewalks to create a separate bike lane? There are median grass strips in between the street and sidewalk that could be cut into to create a wider sidewalk.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Posted by seriously?, a resident of Midtown

>> We would love to have a safer bicycle route between Palo Alto and downtown Redwood City, but this new route is so convoluted that it is

A good route from Palo Alto to downtown RC would be helpful for a -lot- of people. Alas, there doesn't seem to be a good way to create such a route with some serious bulldozing.

>> much slower and more dangerous than just taking Middlefield Road all the way.

Not sure I agree. The chosen route doesn't look particularly dangerous, and, parts of Middlefield are not very bike friendly. That said, cyclists who commute will mostly prefer Middlefield.

>> Who designed this monstrosity? Are they trying to deter people from bicycling to work?

I think the idea is to create a "county road" sort of default route so that people can take some kind of route that they know will work. I don't think anyone thinks it is optimal. Hopefully, over time, there will be a better route.


6 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2018 at 5:45 pm

The battle for a bike friendly Palo Alto was lost years ago when the bicycling advocates drank the developer Kool-Aid and began believing a denser (more congested) Palo Alto would produce a bicyclist's utopia.

No amount of bike trails will ever make up for cyclists losing the ability to safely share the streets with motor vehicles.


4 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 13, 2018 at 10:10 pm

[Post removed.]


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