News

Bike Palo Alto event will celebrate bicycle pioneer Ellen Fletcher

Former city councilwoman to be honored at renaming ceremony

The ninth annual Bike Palo Alto event this Sunday will feature a celebration of the life and legacy of former Councilwoman Ellen Fletcher, whose advocacy for the two-wheeled mode of transportation sparked a chain reaction throughout the city now known for its welcoming attitude to bicyclists.

The afternoon gathering will also commemorate the newly renamed Fletcher Middle School, which was formerly known as Terman Middle School until this school year.

Fletcher was a longtime advocate for safer bike paths and bridges, and encouraged citizens to choose biking as their main mode of transportation. Kathy Durham, co-founder of Bike Palo Alto and Fletcher's friend, credits her with the increase in cycling residents, with over 40 percent of Palo Alto middle schoolers choosing to bike to school.

"It's because of (Fletcher) and the people that worked with (her) through the '70s, '80s and '90s that we were able to make the encouragement of bicycling successful," Durham said.

Bike Palo Alto will begin at 1 p.m. at Fairmeadow Elementary School where participants can choose from three self-guided routes: the red route, the blue route and the yellow route. The red and yellow routes both utilize the Ellen Fletcher Bike Boulevard, and the red route will pass by Fletcher Middle School, formerly Terman Middle School.

"We are encouraging more people to choose biking more often," Durham said.

This sentiment is reflected in Fletcher's life and achievements, particularly her passion for the improvement of cycling routes throughout Palo Alto.  

"Maybe that is Ellen's legacy," Audrey Gold, president of the Fletcher Middle School PTA, added. "Ordinary people (can bike too), you don't have to be a fitness guru."

The celebration will be held at Fletcher Middle School featuring remarks from Mayor Liz Kniss; Fletcher's son Jeff Fletcher, who will speak on behalf of the family; and others who knew the late councilwoman. The 15-minute program beginning at 3 p.m., open to the public, will also include refreshments and a display assembled by the school library.

"This event is really just celebrating the remarkable person that Ellen was. … She really made a difference in the Palo Alto community," Gold said.

Fletcher's advocacy for cyclists as well as her life will also be honored at the campus library, which will introduce books to their collection that staff believe reflect her story.

"(Fletcher's impact) is a lot more than this one-time event," Gold said. "This is a part of a big picture, but we're just taking a moment here out of our busy lives to celebrate and have fun."

Bike Palo Alto is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30, at Fairmeadow Elementary School, 500 E. Meadow Drive. High school and middle school students must have waivers signed by their parents or guardians to participate. The renaming dedication will take place at 3 p.m. at Fletcher Middle School, 655 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto.

For more information, including maps of each route, visit bikepaloalto.org.

---

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

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

41 people like this
Posted by Honoring Ellen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2018 at 10:43 am

Honoring Ellen is a registered user.

Ellen was a gracious, thoughtful and passionate Ambassador for Bicycling. I remember bicycling to a meeting with her when she was well into her 80s battling lung cancer. I'm still amazed that she did that.

When I expressed my admiration, she said, "It's just not that hard."

I feel blessed to have known her.


41 people like this
Posted by Thanks Ellen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 27, 2018 at 1:10 pm

So many will continue to benefit well into the future from your efforts.
Respect!


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2018 at 2:45 pm

She's not a hero in my eyes. The bicycle movement has gone way too far and brought us ill-advised lane reductions and needless chokepoints and congestion.
Bicycles are a slow, primitive form of transportation. It's a rickety two-wheeler contraption. They cannot replace cars, no matter how warm and fuzzy you might feel about it.

Go outside the Bay Area and you'll see a conspicuous lack of traffic and none of this bizarre, irrational bicycle worship.


52 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Addison School
on Sep 27, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Cars take up way more space than bicycles, both on the road and when parked. Cars also burn far more fossil fuels and create far more pollution than bicycles. Cars receive far more government subsidies than bicycles (gas taxes pays only a small fraction of the cost of building and maintaining roads). Children cannot use cars, unless ferried by adults, which doubles the amount of traffic on the roads. Sure, cars are often necessary, but every bike on the road is one less car using far less resources.


20 people like this
Posted by celebrate choices
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2018 at 9:42 pm

Let's have a day to celebrate each person who _chooses_ to leave their car at home and bike that day! Each one doing so leaves more space on the road for those who do choose to drive, as well as those who feel that they have no real choice than driving. They are choosing a green and active way to get where they're going, and if the destination is less than 3 miles in our town, they can often get there just as fast as in a car. And many of them will get there, thanks to Ellen Fletcher's work, by alternate routes that aren't the streets you're sitting in congested traffic on.


Like this comment
Posted by @(So-called) Resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 27, 2018 at 9:48 pm

[Post removed.]


41 people like this
Posted by BlarryG
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 27, 2018 at 10:10 pm

"Go outside the Bay Area and you'll see a conspicuous lack of traffic and none of this bizarre, irrational bicycle worship."

Dude, have you never been to Eurpope or Asia? Tons of bike traffic and now, with electric assist, you can easily get anywhere w/in 10 miles quickly and with only moderate effort. So much more space, and enironmentally efficient than cars... you might also feel better


28 people like this
Posted by @Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 28, 2018 at 8:53 am

Fun!


15 people like this
Posted by Glen Hauer
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Ellen was also a Jewish refugee from Nazi-controlled Germany. Her identity would have made her a target for the eugenics movement, of which the elder Terman, for whom the school was originally named, was a leader. I appreciate the poetic justice in the decision of the PA schoolboard to rename the school in Ellen's honor.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2018 at 7:50 pm

^^^
I am also related to Holocaust survivors, but I think your post is pure nonsense. You think renaming a school is "poetic justice" that makes up for the Holocaust? [Portion removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by @(So-called) Resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2018 at 9:34 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Like this comment
Posted by @Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 29, 2018 at 6:04 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Looking forward to biking on another beautiful California day.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 29, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Looking forward to biking on another beautiful California day. is a registered user.

Tomorrow promises to a be a beautiful day. I am looking forward to celebrating Ellen...and enjoying a ride!

Many thanks to the folks who organized this.


7 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 29, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Wow is a registered user.

What a great event!


10 people like this
Posted by Yet Another Cyclist for the Angries to hate
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 30, 2018 at 6:19 am

Heading out for 50 miles or so on this BEAUTIFUL Peninsula day. A little bay, a little redwoods, some rolling hills and a lot of smiles.

The Angries hate it when people enjoy themselves despite all the negativity
they may post.
The best revenge, as always, is to live a happy, healthy and care free life :)


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2018 at 7:52 am

As a walker, a driver and a sometimes cyclist, I don't hate bikes. I just wish they would pay attention to the rules of the road that all other road users have to abide by. They are not a special group, they are road users, and everyone has to share the roads together by following the common sense rules of the road.

Events like these are fine as long as they promote good biking behavior. I hope they promote the use of bike lights and wearing reflective vests too.

As for cars, we have to pass a test to get a license. That license can get taken away by continual bad driving habits. The same can't be said about bad biking behavior but the ultimate cost of disobeying the rules of the road for a bike is a lot worse than just losing a license but losing a life. So everyone should be taught that the rules matter and to obey them.


33 people like this
Posted by Nothing Against Bikes But...
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 30, 2018 at 9:42 am

> I just wish they would pay attention to the rules of the road that all other road users have to abide by. They are not a special group, they are road users, and everyone has to share the roads together by following the common sense rules of the road.

>>As for cars, we have to pass a test to get a license. That license can get taken away by continual bad driving habits. The same can't be said about bad biking behavior...


^^^^ All good points as some bicyclists seem to have an elitist mentality...like everyone is supposed to give them an automatic 'right of way' regardless of the rules of the road. And they tend to get that privilege because no driver wants to inadvertently hit them and get socked with a lawsuit.

Riding on the sidewalks (either side in either direction), clogging up left-turn traffic lanes (why not use the crosswalks instead?), opposite bike lane riding all create potential accident hazards in which the automotive driver must especially be careful of. Meanwhile, a number of cyclists continue on their merry way oblivious to the dangerous conditions they are creating.

Perhaps it is time to create a statewide bike safety program with a mandatory operator's license required for all bicyclists. The course and certification process could easily be conducted at local schools and community centers.

The DMV established additional rules for motorcycles decades ago along with a required course completion and a separate certification to operate one. Why not have this for bike riders as well? As aforementioned, this program could be handled locally within the respective communities.

The PAPD should also consider ticketing more bicyclists who ignore basic traffic safety. A $200.00 automatic fine would be a good learning experience and perhaps a lifesaver later down the road.











8 people like this
Posted by How much will it cost? Gain?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 30, 2018 at 4:30 pm

So how much will a statewide program cost to get started and them staff and maintain, and what will the benefit be again?

With car drivers also having a laundry list of bad behaviors as being the users causing the overwhelming majority of death, injury and destruction on the roads, wouldn't the priority for such a program be to targeted to drivers?
If I start seeing injury after injury pile up because of cyclists behaviors, I think action would be needed, but from what I've seen, they do more to irritate some than cause actual serious injuries or property damage in comparison to cars.

Regardless though, conjuring up some huge gov't bureaucracy to worry about bikes seems like it should be low on people's to-do list. I don't want to pay for any of it, that's for sure.


12 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 30, 2018 at 5:46 pm

QUOTE: If I start seeing injury after injury pile up because of cyclists behaviors, I think action would be needed, but from what I've seen, they do more to irritate some than cause actual serious injuries or property damage in comparison to cars.

Good point. How about simply handing out 'irritation citations' to offending bicyclists?

Hearings could be then be held before a mixed tribunal comprised of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians...elected of course.

If found guilty, the penalty/sentence would be 8 hours of community service in Palo Alto + remuneration for any damages incurred.


12 people like this
Posted by Go Fund Me Page Maybe?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 5:52 am

Yes cops have a lot of time to hand out important "irritation tickets". LOL!
Road will be just as dangerous because drivers cause the vast majority of deaths on the road (Irrefutable fact)
Wake me when harm is caused by a local cyclist going fwd. Oh, sure, it may happen but I bet I'll be well rested before it does. While we wait though, I bet there will be plenty of injury and sadly, deaths caused by drivers on our local roads.
Let's watch and see if I'm right! When you see the story about the drunk driver or a red light running collision or a pedestrian being run over by a hot and run driver, you can say "But what we really need to focus on are bikes, because that's what personally irritates me"



16 people like this
Posted by Funny Analogy
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 2:49 pm

It the world of dangers, cars are like a guy on a freeway overpass throwing bricks over the edge, while bikes are on the same freeway overpass throwing tennis balls.

The funny part is that seeing both, some would say "Hey, we really need to do something about that guy throwing tennis balls!!"



4 people like this
Posted by Bicycle Accountability
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 3:12 pm

> It the world of dangers, cars are like a guy on a freeway overpass throwing bricks over the edge, while bikes are on the same freeway overpass throwing tennis balls.

> The funny part is that seeing both, some would say "Hey, we really need to do something about that guy throwing tennis balls!!"

Except that in the real world, both the brick thrower and the tennis ball thrower would be arrested as an endangerment to the drivers down below.

Thus bicyclists need to be held accountable for traffic/public safety as well.


10 people like this
Posted by OK, analogy missed. 2nd try
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 4:13 pm

" bicyclists need to be held accountable for traffic/public safety as well."

I totally agree 100%. I would make it a distant second on the priority list behind car drivers though; based on real world danger accidents deaths, etc. Yes a very distant second if actual improvement in road safety is to be had. Heck, bikes can't even go onto the freeways so any freeway enforcement would be 100% car focused, as it should be.

It's just a matter of seeing all threats to safety, esp the biggest threats and then prioritizing enforcement efforts logically and rationally.



60 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2018 at 6:40 pm

The worst automotive drivers/operators = the ones driving Toyota Priuses and those Google-inspired Waymo vehicles with the exterior fans buzzing about.

Sometimes being overly cautious can create unnecessary & unexpected road hazards of their own. Like excessive speed...excessive hesitation is also a direct cause of preventable accidents.

Tesla drivers = #3...as so many of them act as if they own the road. Not so battery-man.










34 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2018 at 6:11 am

The WAYMO cars are self drivers and have been operating for YEARS with maybe 2, 3 fender benders in total?
I'm not sure what defines a bad driver, but I'm guessing accident rates might be a useful data point. More useful than opinion based on anecdotal info, IMO.
Interesting logic...the TYPE OF CAR defines how one drives...not sure I buy that.


20 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 2, 2018 at 8:04 am

QUOTE: Interesting logic...the TYPE OF CAR defines how one drives...not sure I buy that.

More along the lines of...the TYPE OF DRIVER often defines the TYPE OF CAR one drives (or operates).

If you've ever driven alongside one of those Waymo contraptions, you may have noticed that there is some sort of paranoia operating software installed in those vehicles...as they are way too cautious and slow.

Prius IMO drivers tend to be somewhat overly cautious as well...definitely not a sports car mentality. And it has nothing to do with being a hybrid/electric as many Tesla drivers have now replaced BMW drivers in terms of roadway arrogance and inconsideration.


90 people like this
Posted by More steryotypes please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2018 at 10:30 am

Luckily the descriptions of "overly cautious" vehicle drivers are along the lines of irritation than actual dangers.
Remember, YOU control your car, and since the WAYMOs, for example, have been in so very few actual accidents, they clearly are not a danger, even if dangerous scenarios can be imagined in people's minds.

Most of the truly aggressive and egregious driving behaviors come from a massive variety of vehicles: Junkers, Import racers, Lexus, Escalade, BMW, Porsche, Volt...


30 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 11:24 am

Posted by R. Davis, a resident of Crescent Park

>> The worst automotive drivers/operators = the ones driving Toyota Priuses

Just curious. Do you think it is being "overly cautious" to drive a small, lightweight vehicle at 25 mph in a residential 25 zone? How about 20 mph on a very narrow residential street with children playing around?

>> and those Google-inspired Waymo vehicles with the exterior fans buzzing about.

At one point, those vehicles drove 25 mph on the boulevard sections of Middlefield in Mountain View, but, they seem to have speeded up more recently. Still, if you expect them to go 45 in a 35 zone, they may still seem "overly cautious".

>> Sometimes being overly cautious can create unnecessary & unexpected road hazards of their own. Like excessive speed...excessive hesitation is also a direct cause of preventable accidents.

I don't consider it being overly cautious to drive slowly in residential areas.


10 people like this
Posted by News of the Day
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

> I don't consider it being overly cautious to drive slowly in residential areas.

Agreed. On the other hand, it is being overly cautious to drive 25 in a 35 (dry pavement/clear visibility), signal right/left turns with both hazard lights flashing, waiting until an oncoming car is at least 1/4 mile away before proceeding to make a right turn...stuff like that.

We've all seen it.


10 people like this
Posted by Irritated Driver
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 2, 2018 at 7:30 pm

> Luckily the descriptions of "overly cautious" vehicle drivers are along the lines of irritation than actual dangers.

A good point and it's probably because they are not accustomed to driving in this country.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 9:43 pm

Fortunately we have few accidents involving bikes in Palo Alto, although when they happen they can be very serious.

I would suggest that the reason the numbers of bike accidents are so few is because we have some very careful drivers in town who manage to avoid all the bikes that make huge illegal practices such as riding without lights at night, not stopping at stop signs, riding the wrong way, as well as acting impulsively or unexpectedly. I myself when driving give bikes a wide berth because they are often so unpredictable or apparently not paying enough attention to other road users.

Just because a bike isn't hit, it doesn't mean they were riding properly.


Like this comment
Posted by If that were the cae
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2018 at 6:10 am

"I would suggest that the reason the numbers of bike accidents are so few is because we have some very careful drivers in town who manage to avoid all the bikes... "

Yet car on car accidents are quite common, from fatalities to fender-benders, so I guess they can only avoid the bikes!

I think you need to make something else up. This argument again falls flat when one looks at the actual accidents, no matter how many imaginary scenarios to the contrary that you craft in your head.


Like this comment
Posted by If that were the cae
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2018 at 6:25 am

Oh, and if they were good at avoiding, avoiding pedestrians would be super easy..if they were good at avoiding. How many pedestrian deaths in the general area over the past few years? And that was just the ped deaths, not even counting the road deaths where another driver is killed. Again, the headlines an accident stats about bikes doing such things are extremely rare in comparison. I can't recall a single story about a bike killing another person in years, and if I can recall, it was up in SF. Certainly not around here, ever, that I can recall. Maybe it's conspiracy to keep all these bike caused death under the radar? Yah! Because the pres is controlled by the Bike Mafia! Hahaha.
Be. Pragmatic. ;)


4 people like this
Posted by JR McDugan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 3, 2018 at 7:37 am

JR McDugan is a registered user.

Self-driving vehicles are generally programmed to follow the law, which is why they are among the few vehicles on the road that do not recklessly speed on city streets. If you think driving 25 MPH (the legal speed limit) on Middlefield, 25 MPH on Embarcadero, or 35 MPH on Alma is "overly cautious" then YOU are the problem.


6 people like this
Posted by 0-60 In 5
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 3, 2018 at 8:06 am

>> Self-driving vehicles are generally programmed to follow the law, which is why they are among the few vehicles on the road that do not recklessly speed...


While not an advocate of reckless speeding, I cannot fathom owning a high-performance sports car with self-driving capabilities. What would be the point?
To make it boring? Besides, adding all of the gizmos like on those dumb-looking Waymo vehicles would really detract from the exterior design of the vehicle.

The Google/Waymo concept has its place...for over-cautious, distraction-prone drivers.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2018 at 8:49 am

I have witnessed so many near misses even involving bikes and pedestrians as well as cars and bikes and between motorized vehicles. There are no figures for near misses.

Now if those near misses had actually happened, we would definitely have a problem.


12 people like this
Posted by If
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2018 at 9:04 am

Yes, "If". That opens the door to all sorts of silly arguments.
I'm more interested in the actual, the proven facts that clearly show people are much more likely to be injured on the road by a car than a bike. Cars and the people who control them are the biggest threat on the road to people's safety.
To suggest otherwise in the face of such an irrefutable fact is willfully ignorant, IMO.

I guess you should publish your anecdotal observations and we should dismiss the verified accident and injury data.


6 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 3, 2018 at 9:24 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: I cannot fathom owning a high-performance sports car with self-driving capabilities. What would be the point?

Can you even picture an automotive race (e.g. NASCAR, Formula One, Indy Car etc.) using Waymo-engineered vehicles? Now that would be utterly boring...as well as slow. *L*

One perceivable outcome...no more crashes & no more yellow caution flags. Not surprisingly, some spectators (especially NASCAR) go to watch spectacular vehicular crashes. Then again, the cars are fully reinforced to protect the drivers.



6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2018 at 9:35 am

Posted by 0-60 In 5, a resident of Los Altos Hills

>> While not an advocate of reckless speeding, I cannot fathom owning a high-performance sports car with self-driving capabilities. What would be the point?
To make it boring?

Just save your spirited driving for I-280. Please be very boring on Arastradero near Gunn/Fletcher/Juana Briones.


14 people like this
Posted by WAYMO F1? I'd watch it
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2018 at 10:14 am

I would love to see what auto-driving F1 cars could do. All inputs and reaction times are far faster than any human could ever dream of, plus the limiting factor of a breakable human in the cockpit and our desire to keep him safe and alive would be thrown out.
It would be all out speed with lightning fast changes. I would imagine even in the controlled environment, accidents would still happen, and the would be spectacular :)
The limiting factor in fighter jet performance is the pilot. A droned jet (auto-driver) can pull more G's and as often as they want, without exhausting the pilot or causing him to G-lock.

Disclaimer: I'd watch it once out of curiosity and more if it played out as expected.


2 people like this
Posted by Colnago Man
a resident of Southgate
on Oct 3, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Does anyone remember the Palo Alto Criterion? They used to hold it along Page Mill Road and the race course ran through Hanover + the surrounding areas near Lockheed, Watkins Johnson, HP etc.

It was a colorful gathering with lots of spectators, serious racers and expensive bikes.

Wondering why it got discontinued...required traffic closures, liability factors?


6 people like this
Posted by Old Shovelhead
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 4, 2018 at 12:41 pm

There should also be a commemorative day in Palo Alto for riders of Harley Davidsons.
Once the word got out, it would make for a very festive and loud occasion.

PA gas stations, restaurants/bars and all of the motels/hotels lined along ECR in Barron Park would all generate some serious revenue and probably welcome the business.


Like this comment
Posted by Harley Day
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 4, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Isn't that the Pride parade that goes on every year?


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

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

From Tokyo to Cupertino: Afuri Ramen's first California location debuts tonight
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 3,082 views

Disposing of Disposables
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 1,327 views

Couples Counseling, Al Pacino Style
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,185 views