Palo Alto's chief transportation official resigns | August 31, 2018 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 31, 2018

Palo Alto's chief transportation official resigns

Joshuah Mello to take job with tech company

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto's Chief Transportation Official Joshuah Mello announced his resignation on Tuesday, leaving City Hall with a vacancy in one of its most critical and challenging positions.

Mello, who was hired by the city in September 2015, has been the public face and the main point person for some of Palo Alto's most ambitious and controversial projects, from its expanding network of bike routes to its ongoing debate over rail and road intersections along the Caltrain corridor. He previously worked as a consultant at Alta Planning + Design, the firm that worked on Palo Alto's 2012 bicycle and pedestrian master plan.

As the city's top transportation official, Mello often found himself in the middle of intense community debate about new traffic projects, including the most recent uproar over a new bike boulevard on Ross Road. After hundreds of residents complained about the changes, including a new roundabout at Meadow Drive, city leaders conceded that they should have performed more outreach and pledged to do so for future projects.

Mello's last day with the city will be Sept. 7.

"I have decided, after three years, to pursue a real estate and transportation opportunity with a local technology company," Mello wrote in a Tuesday email to residents who have worked with him.

Some of those residents praised him for his patient and collaborative approach. Neilson Buchanan worked with Mello on parking problems in downtown and John Guislin worked with him on the pilot program to redesign lanes on Middlefield Road.

"We had always found Josh to be responsive and professional," Buchanan told the Weekly. "He was always candid about what he can do and cannot do, and we were able to work with him."

Guislin said, "We are losing experienced leadership when we need it most.

"Development will continue full steam ahead and our struggling transportation infrastructure will fall further behind, worsening traffic impacts for residents," Guislin predicted.

While Mello declined to state the name of his new employer, the city's announcement stated that he'll work on "advancing multimodal mobility and help reduce single-occupancy vehicle travel on the Peninsula."

In a statement, City Manager James Keene lauded Mello for his involvement in launching and supporting some of the city's most high-profile transportation programs, including the new Residential Preferential Parking programs in downtown, Evergreen Park and Southgate, and streetscape improvements along El Camino Real.

Keene also credited Mello with securing millions of dollars in grants from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to coordinate traffic signals along University Avenue.

"Josh has dealt with some of the most important and challenging issues facing our community," Keene said. "He worked tirelessly and dedicated himself to serving our city."

Mello's departure adds to the growing list of vacancies at the highest level of City Hall. The city's planning director, public works director and chief financial officer have all recently retired. Their positions are now being filled on an interim basis. The city will also have a vacancy at the top of the Utilities Department once Assistant Manager Ed Shikada (who also serves as general manager of the Utilities Department) takes over for Keene in December.

Keene said his office will work closely with the Public Works and the Planning and Community Environment departments to "ensure continuity of critical transportation projects and provide support and leadership for the transportation staff until the recruitment for a new chief transportation official is completed."

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

35 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:39 pm

We really appreciate the work that Mr Mello has done to make Palo Alto's streets safer for children walking and biking to school. We really hope that the city can expand on his work after he leaves.


107 people like this
Posted by StarSpring
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm

StarSpring is a registered user.

Can we now take a skip loader and remove all the street furniture he championed? Thanks!


27 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Bye.


6 people like this
Posted by MakesSense
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:59 pm

[Post removed.]


84 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 28, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"and John Guislin, who worked with him on the pilot program to redesign lanes on Middlefield Road, both lauded him for his work."

Which end of Middlefield did Mr. Guislin work on? North of University?

Most Middlefield Road residents never got any outreach from either Mr. Mello or Mr. Gustin even though 70+ of us opposed the Middlefield restriping and the placement of all the bollards in numerous cards, calls and letters to which we never got any response.


8 people like this
Posted by Real Deal
a resident of University South
on Aug 28, 2018 at 6:03 pm

[Post removed.]


51 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 28, 2018 at 6:26 pm

All of the European Roundabouts can be removed now, thanks for the experiment but it didn't work..


35 people like this
Posted by Buzz Aldrin
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2018 at 7:06 pm

Mello was only here 3 years, and many of the projects were started before he got here. He got blamed for the mistakes of his predecessor, and his successor will get blamed for them, too. Nobody is allowed to learn anymore. The public is too quick to bring out the pitchforks and demand resignation. We will never get someone committed to long-term success in Palo Alto this way,.


38 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2018 at 7:48 pm

Rumor has it the Chief Procurement Officer resigned a few weeks ago and the Real Estate Manager will be leaving next week. True? It might be time for PAOnline to start some real investigative journalism. Maybe since your contract with the City is now over you’ll be more objective and seek the truth.


34 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Neighbor
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 28, 2018 at 7:55 pm

Palo Verde Neighbor is a registered user.

I am saddened to hear that Josh is leaving his position with the City of Palo Alto, and I appreciate his vision and efforts over the last few years to help residents have safer routes for a greener commute. I’m disappointed that members of this community spread lies and accusations about him so freely just because they didn’t like the changes. I’m not sure how the City recruits anyone for this job when there is so much vitriol in the discussion.


61 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 28, 2018 at 7:58 pm

I'm considering two theories. 1) He realized it would be good to leave before getting the blame for the first real tragedy on Ross Rd., or 2) maybe Palo Alto government is getting the message, and someone encouraged his departure.


18 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of University South
on Aug 28, 2018 at 8:15 pm

The manager of code enforcement also resigned last week.


27 people like this
Posted by mrkrabs
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 28, 2018 at 8:44 pm

With Josh at the helm, the Palo Alto Transportation Department has made great strides to help make our city a safer, greener city. I wish him well.



19 people like this
Posted by Pro Cyclist
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 28, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Very sad news.
He was a champion and in many ways a local Hero !


Like this comment
Posted by MichaelScott
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 28, 2018 at 8:48 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


12 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 28, 2018 at 9:40 pm

@ PV Neighbor > "I’m not sure how the City recruits anyone ... "

Annual salary and benefits approaching a quarter million is a good start.
Not enough however for me to consider throwing my own hat in the ring.


48 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 28, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"While Mello declined to say where he's going, the city's announcement stated that his new position will allow him to "focus on advancing multimodal mobility and help reduce single occupancy vehicle travel on the Peninsula."

Which local company will he be joining where he will "pursue a real estate and transportation opportunity with a local technology company"? What's the big secret? And, like his predecessor, will he also end up consulting for Palo Alto?

Now that his work on "grade separations on the Caltrain corridor" is hitting a critical point and the fact that the city's spent about $3,000,000 on 3 different consultants, who's going to replace him? Are we going to end up with new consultants?

Also why's he leaving now? Why are other city employees leaving now? What's the real story?


16 people like this
Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 28, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Josh will be missed. He engaged the public in ways I had not seen before and took action and pragmatic approaches. I do think though the the slow politics, esp around grade separation would suck the life out of anyone.


44 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 28, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Rick is a registered user.

Not sure where the appreciation is coming from since to any casual observer we are worse off because of his policies and direction. More CO2 emissions because of gridlock (ask our trafficc engineers). Less safe roads for our children (in deference to the spandex clad elite), obstruction of emergency vehicles and overall rediction of traffic capacity for, uh, what? Imitation of European communities that nowhere resemble our own? Josh. And a complient CC, have done our community a real disservice. If we don’t see the road furniture scraped off our streets by election time - vote them all out.


39 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 28, 2018 at 11:50 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Not sure where the appreciation is coming from since to any casual observer we are worse off because of his policies and direction."

Rick, the answer is right in the article. "Mello notified residents who have worked with him about his resignation in a Tuesday afternoon email...Residents who worked closely with Mello praised him..."

And the rest of us and our concerns got ignored.

For $40,000,000, ALL taxpayers deserve more than highly selective outreach and objective consideration of safety complaints.


Like this comment
Posted by The Realist
a resident of University South
on Aug 29, 2018 at 7:10 am

[Post removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:26 am

Palo Alto needs to look for a chief transportation official who is focused on the rail crossings and figuring out how to secure funding for trenching and underpasses. Street furniture is not what we need to focus on.


48 people like this
Posted by Been There
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:53 am

I attended a couple of Safe Routes traffic meetings. It's full of avid bikers who have a pipe dream that every Palo Altan will bike instead of driving cars (meanwhile, commuters drive recklessly through our city via Waze). These bikers are extreme liberal elites who view biking as SAFER than driving a car. Bike for groceries? Right! What if we have bad allergies? Do not blame Mr. Mello for all the craziness in our roads, these bikers are unstoppable. . . until one of them is hit and seriously injured by a car. . . they think they are invincible and their ideas are irrational.

Best of luck, Mr. Mello, wherever you are going (and who cares? Let him be, get a life).


4 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 29, 2018 at 9:12 am

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Get Real writes:
"The manager of code enforcement also resigned last week."

Who specifically?


25 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:20 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

While we may find that his replacement is worse, this is very encouraging news.

The city has been taking an ideologically-motivated position on cars and bicycles: cars are automatically evil and bicycles are automatically good. This has led the city to make many anti-automobile modifications to the streets in the hope of discouraging automobiles.

This might be OK if the changes were themselves safe and somewhat efficient. The new circles on Ross and elsewhere seem to me to be very unsafe for everyone. If the goal was to discourage drivers from using them, it is working with me, I won't use them on either a car or a bike.

I hope that the new person in this role focuses on data-driven, workable ideas and designs instead of heavy-handed ideology.

A sample question: how many people can really bike to work? Data that would help would include information about distances to various work locations, routes, and numbers. One number that I have seen several times is that Palo Alto workers commute an average of 23 miles to work. If this is true, than how many people are really going to find it possible to bike to work?

An example of wishful thinking: after years of promoting ride sharing, the DOT has decided that it doesn't work, and is proposing repurposing the commute lanes. I suspect that no one really thought about the practicality of this approach.

Yes, bikes may be a part of the solution, but how much and how do we do it? We also need more public transportation, but the planning needs to be more data-driven.


25 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:30 am

@ rsmithjr

I do bike to work, under any weather, from 25F to 100F, daily, for 10 miles one way. Biking 23 miles a day is not difficult, even with the current bike unfriendly infrastructure. We are living in one of the few places that allows year-round cycling, and we should take the advantage. You may not believe it -- but any crosstown trips less than 7-8 miles are faster on a bike. Drop your gym membership, drop your next spin class, and take a spin outside!


25 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:02 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

@bike commuter,

I am glad you responded! I was sure someone would!

Many of us have their own hobbies and interests and are willing to put up with great inconveniences.

I tried to find out what a reasonable distance it would be to bike to work. Numbers that kept coming up were 5-6 miles on good terrain with reasonable traffic and weather.

Many work locations are further, much further, that 6 miles (or your 10 miles), and the roads are not good for biking. People have physical limitations (my back has affected my balance) and other responsibilities (such as childcare) that make biking very unattractive.

This is not going to go mainstream. The city needs to start looking at the numbers.



Unfortunately, we have an automobile infrastructure, and we need to recognize the limitations of the bike model.


37 people like this
Posted by StarSpring
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:06 am

StarSpring is a registered user.

@bike commuter, Good for you, but No. Just no.

This is a car-centric society. Most commuters, including myself, commute far more than 10 miles each way and we don't have time, or want, to take a shower at work to wash off the stink every morning. Bike riding is a luxury for the few who can, and want, to make that lifestyle work. You are in the minority. The rest of us simply want to go to and from work, the store, the theater, or wherever with a minimum of fuss and idling spent in excessive traffic.

I submit that it is the "complete streets" program and the road diets that are themselves responsible for the increase in impolite drivers. If the lights are timed so that it takes three complete light cycles to get through an intersection people will start to run the lights. I've see it in SF and I'm starting to see it here. Palo Alto managers and the bicycle elite who attend those meetings are complicit in making our city more unfriendly and dangerous for all concerned. Let's stop all construction of road furniture, return Charleston/Arastradero to two full lanes in each direction, scrape off the traffic circles and concentrate on solving the budget problems by not spending money stupidly on bicycle infrastructure. I don't want to start seeing ghost bikes memorializing our children forced into traffic.


24 people like this
Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:17 am

Bike Commuter, that's great that you can commute by bike. A lot of people cannot due to physical limitations and longer commutes. My questions to you are: What do you do for all of your other "trips"? Do you run errands and shop on your bike or do you buy online and have everything delivered to your house?

Do you have kids? If so, how do they get to school?

Do you own a car?


28 people like this
Posted by withheld
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:21 am

Just like the last one, the idiot Jaime, they screw up the traffic and then leave... It is painful to get any where in Palo Alto between 8am-6:30pm


5 people like this
Posted by College Terrace
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:40 am

College Terrace is a registered user.

@bike commuter

Have we reached the point that almost everyone who can commute by bike already does? As you point out it is much easier to get to a local job by bike.




26 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:47 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Witheld, remember that when Jaime left he was awarded a big consulting contract to fix traffic light timing after taking 8+ years to sync the Paly light and was lavishly praised by Mr. Keene?

For those defending Mr. Mello for simply implementing Jaine's plans, where was the oversight?

I still want to know about the timing of Mr. Mello's departure since it was only back in July his office was elevated to report directly to the city manager and when we have to many critical issues on the table.

Is it related to the change in reporting structure and/or city managers?

Did someone finally read all the traffic-related emails to Mayor Kniss?


23 people like this
Posted by Been There
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:54 am

The posting of "Bike Commuter" is typical of the avid bikers' attitudes.

Agree with Pat. Good for you, but not good for all. If you have food delivered, it's delivered by a vehicle.

And the smell of a person after a bike ride? Not all employers have all-inclusive offerings with free food, showers, gym, napping stations, childcare, physician on duty.

My husband has a 1-hour commute on the freeway. People don't all live where they work. The 30-years at IBM era has passed.


20 people like this
Posted by art
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2018 at 12:02 pm

No doubt about it, being Chief Transportation Official is not an easy job. Hopefully the City will pick someone for this job who is, right off the bat, willing to listen to residents and study the issues before making decisions. The response (excuse) to the disfavor expressed by many to the Ross Road plan was that the City needs to do more outreach - but the point is: not more outreach AFTER a plan is formulated by city staff and a few key advocates but is too late for the many who are impacted to provide their views and have the plan modified or scrapped. The outreach needs to be done BEFORE plans are formulated, to find out what the majority of residents in a particular area need and seek and will support in order to improve traffic and safety in their neighborhoods. Sounds simple, but it's really hard for those who become Traffic officials directly after working as traffic consultants in private industry to understand this. Traffic consultants are good at providing some plan, using the traffic engineering guides and books and showing solutions that were implemented in some other town with different issues and concerns, but have no experience in taking feedback and modifying a plan and integrating local concerns and constraints. Josh 'mellowed' as time went on. I wish him well.


8 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 29, 2018 at 12:05 pm

I hate to put it this way, since the school just started, we will have real evidence how well putting bicyclists and car drivers in the same space would work out.

If it doesn't, then someone may sue the City of Palo Alto, and perhaps its transportation chief.


9 people like this
Posted by Former CA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2018 at 12:10 pm

"focus on advancing multimodal mobility and help reduce single occupancy vehicle travel on the Peninsula."

You CAN'T reduce "single-occupancy-vehicle-travel". This is a MYTH. It's physically impossible unless you make it illegal.

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2018 at 12:17 pm

[Post removed.]


58 people like this
Posted by Neil
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 29, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Good riddance. The City of Palo Alto has consistently been ruining our roads for the last 3 years.

I just watched a woman accidentally drive over the random hunk of concrete where Ross meets Oregon, because it defies expectations and makes no sense. That hunk of concrete is intended to, inexplicably, prevent drivers from making a perfectly reasonable left turn from Ross onto Oregon. I guess when you've screwed up a road beyond use, all that's left is to rebrand it as a "bike boulevard"?

The City's response to the Bay Area's increasing population and traffic has been pretty stupid:
- 25 mph speed limits where every other city does just fine with 35mph
- Removing lanes of traffic for no reason, like Charleston approaching Alma
- Putting stop signs AND a roundabout at Ross/Meadow
- etc.

Stop trying to implement "solutions" to nonexistent problems. I say this as a responsible cyclist. Look at the actual traffic and injury statistics, and measure your response in proportion.

Stop mindlessly implementing bike-centric road overhauls. Most Palo Alto residents of working age DON'T WORK IN PALO ALTO. We all need to commute out of Palo Alto, and that means having usable roads.

Stop removing lanes and converting them to unusable space. During rush hour, it takes over twice the time to drive 2 miles across Palo Alto than to drive 12 miles to Palo Alto from my job in Belmont. That's ridiculous. There's nothing like waiting 4 cycles of a light in a single lane of traffic, staring at what used to be another lane that everyone could have been using.

Hopefully the replacement will have an approach grounded in reality and statistics.


26 people like this
Posted by City Reducing Resident Communication
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2018 at 2:12 pm

City Reducing Resident Communication is a registered user.

What's the City's response to lack of proactive outreach to Ross Road, especially after making design changes to make it much worse, such as bulb outs and not letting the residents know about those changes till after construction started? Pull advertising of city meeting announcements from the Palo Alto Weekly and give them to the Daily Post, which is not online and has 1/3 the distribution. That will help keep those pesky residents from bothering them: Web Link

I often feel like staff actually wants to minimize communication and resident input. Liz Kniss (our mayor) is certainly aggressive about limiting public input at city council meetings.


6 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 2:52 pm

@Pat Markevitch

I have kids, a big family, and I bike or ride electric scooter to Grocery Outlet, to pick up takeouts from Su Hong, and to parks. My kid ride her bike to Terman (oops) in the morning. Also, she rode 50 miles with me over a weekend without a lot of training. You don't need to be fit to ride 20 miles a day. Yes, I would need to change and shower at work, and I will show up better than most of my coworkers!

This is a car-centric country, indeed. It's up to us to change it.


4 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 3:04 pm

I am not anti-car -- I do own a very basic gasoline powered car. My point is we should all reduce the car trips whenever possible because (1) biking is fun (2) biking is faster, and (3) it's the future.


9 people like this
Posted by When Will They Learn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2018 at 3:07 pm

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by When Will They Learn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2018 at 3:12 pm

@bike commuter...I agree that we should all make an effort at reducing car trips and that biking can be fun, especially when you're not dodging cars, bollards, roundabouts and other so called "traffic calming measures." Sometimes it can be faster, but it is definitely not the future, unless all other modes of transportation are declared illegal.


20 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 29, 2018 at 3:54 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I'm an avid bike rider, but not everybody can ride a bike, and sometimes riding a bike isn't practical, due to distance, age, health issues or weather coinditions.

The Ross Rd traffic calming project is terribly expensive, makes car driving less safe, and just pushes traffic onto other residential streets, which is really akin to sweeping dust from one room to another pretending the house has been cleaned.


7 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 29, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

It sounds like the heads/leaders/chairs of the most important jobs in our city, be it staff positions, code enforcement officials, commissions, committees, et al, are bailing out in the very same short time period, for various reasons. Some are announced retirements...but they will probably still work someplace, or as consultants...and others are for career advancement opportunities, maybe for more pay, and some are for no reasons at all given. Hmmm! Is something rotten here in Denmark(Palo Alto?)? I don't want to over-speculate, but I think most of those jobs are pressure cooker jobs, with policies/directives handed down from CC, and the City Manager and his staff, for their support of special interest groups, to solve unsolvable problems. I think Joshuah worked under those conditions and just said 'enough is enough'.

Bike boulevards: Many commenters have stated it clearly. They serve very few cyclists compared to the number of car drivers, and car drivers are not going away soon, and two generations from now it will just be different kinds of cars, but probably the same number of cars and drivers. The current boulevard designs have upset many, car drivers and cyclists alike. I could ask more questions of the cyclist lobby folks, but I will refrain...for now.

@ rsmithjr... I liked your comment about the need for data driven planning (sorely lacking) before action and important decisions are made by CC for our once great city. That goes for housing, under-parked and affordable (wink wink) and many other progressive ideas...ADU's, et al, that the pro growth majority supports. No data taken before and no tracking, enforcement, and data taken after to gather important results for future planning. And the beat goes on!


10 people like this
Posted by When Will They Learn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2018 at 4:21 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Buzz Lightyear
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Take a look at every other city on the peninsula and the numerous staff vacancies like Menlo Park. City staff members are routinely placed in between divided City Councils, Planing Commissions, committees and community members who all feel free to rail on city employees and accuse them being part of the conspiracy theory of the week. (If you doubt this, look at the tone of the previous comments.) In short, it is tough to be a city employee. You can get better pay and less abuse in the private sector. At a certain point, life is too short.


10 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 29, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Cyclists are few because the infrastructure is actually built against them. With better bike infra, the younger population (coders) will be more than willing to commute by (shared) bikes. Cars, mostly single-rider, are NOT that efficient either. On a totally congested Charleston, if you strip off all the engines, car body, gas tanks, you'll end up having 200 people at any given time. This volume can be easily handled by a good bike lane or a few buses. We constantly see 5-6 bikes waiting for the light on Charleston and Alma with two massive cars. The small looking bikes are carrying more people than the dual Tesla X impatiently waiting there! Single-rider car is an extremely wasteful way to commute for a few miles.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 29, 2018 at 4:58 pm

It's much easier to eat french fries while driving rather than while biking.
Not to mention trying to use the McDonalds drive-thru.


6 people like this
Posted by When Will They Learn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2018 at 5:05 pm

@ Buzz Lightyear.....Many peninsula city employees jump from city to city after a few years on the job, creating a false narrative from city managers that "in order get and keep the best" we must pay more and increase benefits more. This has been going on for the last decade or longer.

Conspiracy ? Maybe. One thing for sure is that it is a primary reason for inflated employee salaries and benefits. S.F. just hired poop scoopers for 72 thousand dollars a year plus benefits !! While I wouldn't want the job, it seems a bit much, don't you think ?

Pay scales in the private sector aren't that much different from city pay rates these days and one could argue that there is more abuse.


4 people like this
Posted by Our voices have been heard
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2018 at 6:25 pm

In the words of Beyoncé, “Tell him BOY BYE!”


29 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2018 at 7:14 pm

The war on cars is being waged by an unlikely alliance of convenience between real-estate developers and the bike mafia. The bike mafia likes bikes because they think bikes are the only way to save the planet from the "sinners" driving automobiles. The developers like bikes because... well they really don't care about anything except profit. Developers see streets as wasted real-estate that could be producing a profit if all of the stupid residents weren't using them for silly things like transportation. Bikes also offer developers the pretext they need to justify building under-parked developments.

I had a lot more respect for the bike mafia before they sold their souls for power and became tools of the real-estate developers and their allies in government.


15 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Bike Commuter said:

"Single-rider car is an extremely wasteful way to commute for a few miles."

The bike activists are the direct ideological descendants of the Puritans and the Prohibitionists with the sin of pride, and the sin of drink, replaced by the sin of automobile driving.

We are all sinners but the bike activists atone for their sins by riding bikes in much the same way that certain Islamic and Christian sects atone for their sins through self-flagellation.


13 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2018 at 7:56 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

Oh good grief, people. It is possible to advocate for bike riding (which let's face it, is just better than driving if you can swing it) without cars being evil. I don't understand why car drivers in Palo Alto (of which I am one) feel so aggrieved. Just like there is no war on Christmas, there is no war on cars.

That said, the ironic thing is bike riders (of which I am also one) also think the recent "improvements" are anything but. I defy anyone to explain how the changes on Louis Road, for instance, help bike riders.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:03 pm

Posted by Ahem, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Bike Commuter said:

>> "Single-rider car is an extremely wasteful way to commute for a few miles."

>> The bike activists are the direct ideological descendants of the Puritans and the Prohibitionists (etc.)

Well, if that helps get you out of your car, sure, go with it.

In the meantime, bike lanes carry 2000-3500 bikes/hour/lane, with some measurements a bit higher for dedicated bike paths. Those lanes are 1.0-2.0m wide, 1.2-1.5m standard. Compare that to the standard 3.7m car lane which is carrying 1000-1900 vehicles/hour/lane. A street width bicycle path can carry 10,000 bikes/hour.

IOW, bicycles are a much more efficient use of rights-of-way. "bike commuter" is correct about that.

Web Link

Web Link


15 people like this
Posted by StarSpring
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 29, 2018 at 8:33 pm

StarSpring is a registered user.

bike commuter,

> I am not anti-car -- I do own a very basic gasoline powered car.
> My point is we should all reduce the car trips whenever possible
> because (1) biking is fun (2) biking is faster, and
> (3) it's the future.

No offense, but this sounds like a vegan, PETA, or anti-vaccine argument. All you are saying is that biking meets your expectations and everyone else can go pound sand. Then their noses are rubbed in it with the Ross road garbage. I have a bike. I ride my bike, but I sure don't like militant bicyclists and militancy sure seems to run through that crowd.


21 people like this
Posted by Senior Citizen
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2018 at 9:20 pm

Good riddance Joshuah Mello! You messed up the exclusive right turn from Arastradero onto Miranda by adding the right turn to the Foothill Expressway from that same lane. Your “intuition” told you that it was the correct configuration. You caused a great deal of grief to patients and staff heading to the VA Hospital as well as expense to Palo Alto taxpayers, excessive emissions into the air, impatient drivers, confusion to drivers causing accidents, etc. And now because a resourceful resident who uses that route and presented data to Mello’s department indicating how absurd this change is, the change is going to be reversed. The original configuration of a dedicated right turn lane exclusively onto Miranda is going to be effected. So now more taxpayers’ money will be spent!

Just another example of changes made to our roads without input from residents.


15 people like this
Posted by moreball
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 29, 2018 at 9:48 pm

Wait, how does he award the Ross design project to his former employer? Its easy for him to be the scapegoat, but I think shared responsibility (or even more) goes up the chain.
Yes, its a bad design; no design goals, no data, no accountability, no communication...25% (low estimate) customer dissatisfaction. Private sector will not be this forgiving.



15 people like this
Posted by total mess
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:26 pm

These street projects had nothing to do with
making the streets safe - it had the opposite
effect and it continues. These projects need to
be dismantled as soon as possible. Just like
the Cheesecake Factory was approved on University
Ave in violation of all urban design criteria, these traffic projects were approved in violation
of all traffic engineering principles,practices and criteria. In effect a Cheesecake Factory was put on virtually every street and corner in the City.The City streets are a total mess -dangerous,
confusing,ugly.




7 people like this
Posted by Biker
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Biker is a registered user.

I enjoy biking, have always commuted by bike, and recently added baskets to my bike so I can do more shopping than with just a backpack. My kids also bike to school, and to activities that are close enough. But I also own a car, for more distant kid activities, for bulk shopping, for long weekend trips.

I don't find it difficult to bike around here, and have been almost-hit only a few times. One driver was distraught about something and not paying attention. Another had sun in her eyes, and didn't see me on the road. I'm not for or against the road furniture (it just doesn't seem that bad or that useful to me, as a biker or a driver), but fwiw it wouldn't have helped for either of those near-misses.

I do hope more people try out biking when they can. There are many new kinds of bikes, making it available to more people and for more uses.


9 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:44 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

I think there should be a litmus test for any incoming Transportation Director. He / She must be asked whether there is any circumstance where he would endorse placing a traffic circle in the middle of a residential intersection. Unless the answer is "there is no circumstance in which something so stupid should be permitted", we should keep looking.


11 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 30, 2018 at 12:44 am

@Senior Citizen, your Miranda configuration reversal story gave me an attack of deja vu.

The infamous Middlefield left-turn lane into new Mitchell Park Library -- Web Link

The year was 2012.


7 people like this
Posted by Former CA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2018 at 4:56 am

"With better bike infra, the younger population (coders) will be more than willing to commute by (shared) bikes."

"My point is we should all reduce the car trips whenever possible because (1) biking is fun (2) biking is faster, and (3) it's the future."

Did you look into your crystal ball and see a bike utopia?
I think the bicycle movement is totally regressive. Bicycles are a slower and more primitive form of transportation. If they get hit by a car, its over. They should NOT be anywhere near cars.
Palo Alto truly has it the worst, but I am seeing the bicycle scourge start to infiltrate places other than the Bay Area. Like the Socialist Progressive Collectivist (what is a shared bike????) disease that they are, they are starting to spread throughout the country demanding more bike lanes and that they replace cars.
The self-righteousness and softheaded way of thinking is prevalent and we must elect the kind of people who won't cave to all these morally licensing Collectivists, this idea that we can "move a higher volume of people" by forcing change and that people aren't self-determining Individuals.
We need our streets to be designed logically and maximize efficiency without crossing our fingers that people will suddenly give up their cars.
We need leaders that make decisions based on reality, not on dreams.


17 people like this
Posted by Pro Cyclist
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 30, 2018 at 8:01 am

Biking every day and loving it.
Thanks Mr. Mello for all the improvements.
You will be missed.


2 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2018 at 8:37 am

DTN Paul is a registered user.

@formercaresident, and what exactly is wrong with demanding bike lanes? Bikes (and their tax paying riders) have as much right to the roads and public resources as cars.

And you use this word regressive to describe bkie riding. By that silly logic, walking is even more regressive. Better get the pedestrians off the street, since drivers can't seem to stop hitting them!


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2018 at 8:40 am

Posted by Former CA Resident, a resident of Midtown, 3 hours ago

>> Did you look into your crystal ball and see a bike utopia?

I looked into -my- crystal ball and saw that bicycles can be much more efficient than single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs). SOVs can be very inefficient for many urban/short-distance applications.

>> I think the bicycle movement is totally regressive. Bicycles are a slower and more primitive form of transportation.

Ever exit a building with someone, walk to a parking lot, drive out the exit, get stuck in traffic, finally get where you are going, and discover that the person you left with rode a bicycle and got there first? Bicycles are slower if you are driving up I-280. A mile across town and the bicycle often (usually?) gets there first.

>> If they get hit by a car, its over. They should NOT be anywhere near cars.

Feel the same way about pedestrians? Ever have to cross the street to get to your car? The fact is, residential streets are inherently "share the road", whether you like to bike or not.

>> Palo Alto truly has it the worst, but I am seeing the bicycle scourge start to infiltrate places other than the Bay Area.

Lots of people all over the country like to ride bikes because they are very efficient. Try it. You might like it.

>> The self-righteousness and softheaded way of thinking is prevalent and we must elect the kind of people who won't cave to all these morally licensing Collectivists,

("morally licensing"? This isn't some kind of agent provocateur thing is it? If you are actually a bicycle rider or supporter-- knock it off!)


>> this idea that we can "move a higher volume of people" by forcing change and that people aren't self-determining Individuals.

As a self-determining individual, I want to be able to choose to ride a bike when I want to, and not be run over. As a voter, the more people there are riding bikes instead of driving, the less congestion there is. Less cost for parking lots and structures, less space devoted to cars at all levels, the more efficiency, less taxes for car-related things. Win-win for everybody but car dealers.

>> We need leaders that make decisions based on reality, not on dreams.

The -reality- is that bicycles are very useful.


16 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 30, 2018 at 8:40 am

TO THE MAYER AND COUNCIL:
So now that Mello is gone, How do we get Ross Road back to being friendly for EVERYBODY?
Remove the circle
Remove the Split Speed Bumps
Remove the traffic narrowing furniture
Remove all the confusing striping


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2018 at 9:02 am

Posted by senor blogger, a resident of Palo Verde

>> Remove the circle

There are multiple traffic circles. I don't see a problem.

>> Remove the Split Speed Bumps

I'm not a big fan of speed bumps. If people would slow down without them, they wouldn't be necessary. The speed limit in California in residential neighborhoods has been 25 mph since forever. But, some people drive much faster. So, we are stuck with speed bumps. "That's why we can't have nice things."

>> Remove the traffic narrowing furniture

Anyone who has trouble seeing the "furniture" should consider calling Uber instead of driving.

>> Remove all the confusing striping

Bikes were already allowed by California law to move left when they needed to, but, the green paint is to visibly designate areas where you can -expect- bikes to be. I don't understand why that is confusing? In Europe they generally use blue paint, and reddish colors sometimes, but, in the US, blue was already taken for marking disabled parking etc.


12 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 30, 2018 at 9:19 am

Rick is a registered user.

Unless you are already enamored of riding bicycles they are -not- desirable day to day transport for most people. That is simply a fact. The degredation of our transit corridors to serve that small, but very vocal, community is not in service to the vast majority of Palo Alto residents. That is the bottom line and why all the obstructions need to be removed. Now.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2018 at 9:58 am

Posted by Rick, a resident of Adobe-Meadow, 19 minutes ago

>> That is the bottom line and why all the obstructions need to be removed. Now.

Your argument is that because -you- want something-- do it. "Now." I hope that you are not in management.

E: "But the product has three serious safety problems. It isn't ready yet!"

R: "Manufacture it. Ship it. Sell it. Now."


5 people like this
Posted by Exodus
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 30, 2018 at 10:38 am

You forgot to mention the Development Services Director resigned several months ago and hasn't yet been replaced.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2018 at 12:35 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Richard really is my name, unlike "Anon" here presuming to speak for all bicyclists or some such. The "road furniture" is especially bad for bicyclists, so it's not a "get an Uber" thing. So sarcastic, so witty. There are children and older people writing, not just keyboard warriors who hide behind anonymity.


2 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 30, 2018 at 8:59 pm

Several alternative urban transportation like Lime, Bird, ofo and surely good old bikes are slowly taking over the street. With the emergence of L4 automated driving fleet, the driving alone = freedom = independence mindset will be the things in the past. We don’t need to take cars as part of our inevitable future.


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 30, 2018 at 9:57 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"We don’t need to take cars as part of our inevitable future."

We can just stop seeing / meeting friends who live more than a bike ride away, fire all of our professional services and medical services people, surrender all our pets who won't fit on the bike and fire their vets, start homeschooling...


2 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 31, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Longer distance trips will be properly handled by autonomous electric vehicle fleets. Shorter or medium trips will be bicycles. We are using our roadways as efficient as we could. Privately owned cars will disappear.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Posted by Richard, a resident of Meadow Park

>> Richard really is my name,

Since I choose to not divulge an identifiable name, I can't rely on an "argumentum ad verecundiam", and my arguments will have to stand on their merits with respect to information sources and logic.

>> unlike "Anon" here presuming to speak for all bicyclists or some such.

I don't presume to speak for all bicyclists.

>> The "road furniture" is especially bad for bicyclists,

I disagree. Depends on the particular configuration. But, I do have to wonder if some posters actually have bicycled since they were children. Because, there are many situations where it is much safer for a bicyclist to ride in the middle of the lane rather than on the right edge.

>> so it's not a "get an Uber" thing. So sarcastic, so witty. There are children and older people writing, not just keyboard warriors who hide behind anonymity.

This was aimed specifically at comments from or about people who have stated that they have trouble -seeing- the road furniture. I stand by my statement-- if you have trouble -seeing- the road furniture, for whatever reason, you should not be driving.

Drivers need to aware at all times of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Web Link




5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Autonomous vehicles are already using our streets. The Waymo cars seem to be on Ross and Louis as well as other neighborhood streets in Palo Alto. I suspect they think our bike boulevards are good places for them to practice.

AutoX grocery delivery service is already delivering groceries in San Jose without drivers and they plan to expand into Mountain View and Palo Alto next (sometime in September according to the news item I read) Web Link This will put even more driverless cars on our roads but the question is whether it will lower traffic volume. My guess is that since most people shop for groceries on their way home or part of errand runs, it will actually add to the numbers of vehicles on our roads, not decrease traffic.

As for Uber taking traffic off the road, forget it. They never park and the drivers just drive around in circles waiting for their next ride. This causes more traffic, not less. The powers that be in San Francisco suggest that the increase in ride services and scooter/bike rentals take from public transport not private vehicle numbers.


14 people like this
Posted by Bicycle Mafia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2018 at 1:11 am

Josh was part of the design team at Alta and did not get the Ross road project dumped in his lap. I say good riddance, and take your bulbouts with you.v




5 people like this
Posted by Sees Candy Mafia
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 1, 2018 at 5:03 am

"So now that Mello is gone, How do we get Ross Road back to being friendly for EVERYBODY?"

Well, the good news is that this goal is in EVERYONE'S control. The way you achieve this is to 1) relax and slow down, 2) drive/ride/walk alertly, aware of your surroundings always, 3) Let the other guy go first once in a while.

The congestion is here to stay as long as we have too many cars for our roads. It's how we as individuals deal with it that will determine how aggravated we get. Working yourself into a froth over the inevitable is only good for those who sell blood pressure medication.
Look for those blaming only others and help with kind words and affirmations.


8 people like this
Posted by Bicycle Mafia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2018 at 10:21 am

@ Candy

All your points are valid. However, we could have saved 8.7 million on the Ross road fiasco, if folks would slow down and pay attention.

Just think what we could have done with that money.

To the powers that be; Just because the Feds put out those grants, does not mean we have to go after that "free" money. It ain't free.


12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 1, 2018 at 11:12 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Looks like Alta's back again for an even broader bike effort. I wonder if Mello's involved, too, since so much of the language in the article echoes his in his resignation pronouncement.

Web Link


"The Sept. 8 event is intended to launch the process for the cities to begin collecting public feedback on what people want in such a route and where it should be located. Middlefield Road, El Camino Real, and along the Caltrain tracks are potential options to explore for a route, Hancock said. "

HOW MUCH MORE FEEDBACK do they need?? Again with Middlefield Road??? Just say no. Again. If it was too dangerous and crowded 15 years ago and again 4 years ago, it's even more dangerous and crowded now.

Do they never listen???


8 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2018 at 2:13 pm

The bike mafia will never stop because they believe they are righteous soldiers doing Giia's work. They will never stop until every sinner is reformed, even if reform requires deception and/or force.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Posted by Ahem, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 0 hours ago

>> The bike mafia will never stop because they believe they are righteous soldiers doing Giia's work. They will never stop until every sinner is reformed, even if reform requires deception and/or force.

The SOV mafia will never stop because they believe they are righteous soldiers doing Ford's work. They will never stop until every sinner is reformed, even if reform requires deception and/or force.

BTW, who is Giia? A local bicycle enthusiast? Perhaps an old friend of Ellen Fletcher?


Like this comment
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2018 at 3:18 pm

@Anon,

Gaia, also spelled Gaea, and misspelled Giia, is the Greek earth god... but you knew that.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Posted by StarSpring, a resident of Adobe-Meadow, on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm

>> Can we now take a skip loader and remove all the street furniture

Returning to an earlier point echoed by some posters: the much-maligned roundabouts. I think all the love folks are showing here for four-way stops is curious, considering that of all intersection alternatives, four-way stops have the highest average delay of all options at all traffic levels. Roundabouts have similar delay to traffic lights, and have less delay variance under some conditions (e.g. with lots of left turns).

Semi-aside: WSDOT estimates the total cost of installation of 4-way traffic lights at an intersection is usually in the range of $250K to $500K.


8 people like this
Posted by Bicycle Mafia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2018 at 8:57 am

Thanks anon for the link

After reading, I see one of the Pro bike blvd. commenters is none other than our Ex Mayor Pat Burt.

It is now crystal clear why these absurd projects like Ross road get built for a small percentage of commuters. Guys like him can use his direct political influence to get these absurd projects built. It sad when folks like this can lobby for thier own special interest instead for the good of all. Let's face it bicycles are a small percentage compared to the rest of commuters. Furthermore, bicyclists pay a smaller amount for registration an insurence, if at all.

At least now we know Pat Burt is one of the ring leaders for this whole fiasco.
Thanks for making Ross road more dangerous.


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 2, 2018 at 11:03 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Pat Burt was at the Middlefield Road meeting about 3 years ago where we only learned about the 24-hour-bike plans when an alert resident went door-to-door warning us. 70 of us showed up, pointed out all the errors in the costly 3-0 model constructed, the errors in the traffic study conducted when traffic was the lightest, etc etc.

Mr. Burt seemed well aware of the problems then -- and now -- with making Middlefield a bike lane.

If the city can waste all this money -- $40,000,000 -- on traffic diets while blatantly failing in their outreach efforts while continuing to award contracts to companies like ALta, it's clear the city never ever needs another tax increase.


14 people like this
Posted by Bicycle Mafia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Thanks Online Name for the info.

Middlefield is a disaster. Charleston/ Arastedero is already a disaster,Just wait till they screw it up more with the new phase. Loma Verde is on the choppong block for a duel direction sepperated bike lane on the north side of the street. This will eliminate any street parking for the folks that own homes on that side of the street.The Loma Verde project was slipped in as alternative during a meeting for the bicycle path creek project. We know now that the bicycle creek project was a non starter due to width constraints. It took $400,000 worth of consulting to figure that out? Any engineer worth his/her grain of salt could have figured that out on the first walk through, and probably did.



2 people like this
Posted by Bicycle Mafia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2018 at 1:12 pm

At least we now know that Pat Burt is one of the head Capo's for the Bicycle Mafia.
We just need to extridite to him back down to earth to reinstill common sense back into the him.


4 people like this
Posted by JR McDugan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 2, 2018 at 1:15 pm

JR McDugan is a registered user.

I support making streets bike friendly, but many recent projects have done just the opposite -- they have made roads less safe for bikes. Residents must be vigilant against phony studies that have no basis in reality. In particular, it's not safer to force bikes onto the road when a street has rolled curbs. Bikes can (and do) get around easily by switching from road to sidewalk and back as convenient. Adding barriers which force bikes onto the road and prevent easy access to sidewalks from rolled curbs make biking more dangerous.


6 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 2, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Pat Burt is a registered user.

@Online and Bicycle Mafia
I'm not sure what link you're referring to, but I do support the effort to create a bike boulevard connecting Redwood City to Mountain View. That is not the same as supporting all of the design features on Ross Rd and Middlefield, but conflation and hyperbole doesn't seem to hold back some commentors. I've never been in a mafia before, what's more a capo. Does that mean I get to "keep the cannoli"?
I was at the initial public meeting on the Middlefield bike changes, which I think was four years ago. My memory is that it was about the initial proposals for Oregon to Embarcadero and that Josh Mello and city staff backed off from that design as a result of the public input. That was a good thing, although I have my own criticisms for what staff finally installed. Either way, the public is usually glad to have their representatives care enough about their opinions to listen to them at such meetings. I don't think the city's public engagement has been nearly good enough and it has been too late in the game, especially on the Ross Rd project.
Overall, my perspective on the community values of biking was best summed up by Joe Simitian years ago when he and his best buddy, Gary Fazzino, served together on the council. Joe was arguing for better bike routes when Gary asked to the effect, "why are you so supportive of this when you haven't ridden your bike in years." Joe responded roughly that it was "because every biker is one less car for me to compete with on the road and one more parking space for me when I get where I'm going." Biking isn't for everyone, but in addition to its traffic and parking benefits it also helps meet our city goals of a healthy community, less air pollution and fewer greenhouse gases.


10 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2018 at 2:19 pm

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

Josh, forgive me for this context, but we citizens must realize that Palo Alto's under-resourced transportation staff are merely plumbers trying to fix aged road infrastructure overwhelmed by endless job creation.

No amount of new commuters biking to work can remedy the overloaded streets and highways. Hard data states the trends of congestion, F-rated intersections and, most importantly, public opinion. We await our mayor's latest diagnosis and treatment plan.

The configuration of jobs and homes everywhere on the Peninsula makes local solutions difficult and thankless. Careers and job relocations shift relentlessly making home/job optimization nearly impossible.

Our transportation diagnosis is simple. Infrastructure imbalance is consistently aggravated by ill-fitting development policies promoted by city councils. The amount of deferred transportation investment dwarfs pension deficits. Senior staff and city managers embrace irrational job growth too readily but they are only responsible for enacting council policy.

Nevertheless, Josh and transportation staff, thank you again. You have a difficult job similar to the famed Dutch boy and leaky levees.


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 2, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Pat Burt, I hope you don't support putting the bike boulevard connecting RWC and Mountain View on Middlefield. We have enough problems with the restriping, the bollards at every intersection, etc.

"I was at the initial public meeting on the Middlefield bike changes, which I think was four years ago. My memory is that it was about the initial proposals for Oregon to Embarcadero and that Josh Mello and city staff backed off from that design as a result of the public input."

Yes, 4 long years ago and still nada from the city in terms of responses.

They only backed off *partially* because so many were so outraged that there was no outreach that they'd decided to remove parking in front of pur homes without telling us. We ALSO opposed the restriping but got stuck with it anyway -- again with no official outreach.

After that meeting, Mr. Mello chose to ignore most of us and communicate only selectively about his plans to a few residents who kept us informed via Next Door. He Turned a deaf ear to everyone else. We thought restriping had died until -- again with no outreach -- it became a fait accompli.

The restriping remains a mess, with cars backing up into both Oregon and Embarcadero when buses stop 3 car lengths from Embarcadero and when cars unexpectedly signal turns etc. Cars regularly create their own lanes as they hope to get into their chosen lane before missing another light cycle,
etc., etc.

Public engagement?? How? By more petitions that get ignored and/or derailed buy costly consultants? By calling and writing the city and the city council? We've tried. For years. In all these years have we gotten a response or "outreach" notifications or an apology?

Nope. We just get bollards planted at the foot of our driveways,


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 2, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Josh, forgive me for this context, but we citizens must realize that Palo Alto's under-resourced transportation staff are merely plumbers trying to fix aged road infrastructure overwhelmed by endless job creation."

NeilsonBuchanan, maybe if the "plumbers" had concentrated on fixing things instead of putting bollards and bulbouts and botts dots everywhere, we would have been better off. And had more money left over to FIX the aging infrastructure.

Otherwise, I agree with your post wholeheartedly.


16 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2018 at 6:57 pm

Pat Burt quotes Joe Simitian:

"because every biker is one less car for me to compete with on the road and one more parking space for me when I get where I'm going."

While the above quote is a clever soundbite from an crafty politician it is flawed reasoning. Every biker is NOT one less car on the road. Most bikers also own and use cars for a substantial part of their transportation, so each bike on the road is only a fraction of a car off the road.

The net effect on congestion of taking that fraction of a car off the road may be ZERO if accommodating that bike on the road actually inhibits the normal flow of traffic.

Good sound bites don't make good policy, but I have to hand it to Pat Burt, quoting another politician's flawed reasoning is pretty clever!


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 2, 2018 at 7:28 pm

^ so by Ahem logic, neither does Caltrain take any cars off the road?


14 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2018 at 8:53 pm

@musical,

Yes, the same logic applies to Caltrain, since most Caltrain riders also own and use cars for a substantial part of their transportation, each of the 30,000 Caltrain riders only removes a fraction of a car from the road. The fraction is:

Caltrain hours / (Caltrain hours + car hours), or
Caltrain miles / (Caltrain miles + car miles)

Caltrain's net effect on congestion may be much less than claimed since Caltrain also inhibits the normal flow of traffic.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 2, 2018 at 9:08 pm

^ Thank you for clarifying your position.


2 people like this
Posted by Easily fixed
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 3, 2018 at 5:37 am

It's quite literally one less car on the road AT THAT TIME, not 1 less person owning or using a car ever.
I thought people understood that part. Just semantics really, but I found that the point was pretty clear.


4 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2018 at 8:40 am

@Easily,

The number of cars Caltrain takes off the roads at any given time is simply the number of people on Caltrain at that time, NOT the the total number of daily users.


Like this comment
Posted by Precision
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 3, 2018 at 9:08 am

When a trip takes longer by train, the train does not quite take as many cars off the road as there are passengers in the train at that time.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Posted by Precision, a resident of Stanford

>> When a trip takes longer by train, the train does not quite take as many cars off the road as there are passengers in the train at that time.

Hi Precision: it looks like you might be just the right person to ask this question. You might need to do some serious simulation to get a fairly -precise- answer.

If I see a pack of 100 Gunn HS students riding their bikes at 8:10 AM approximately together ("pack"), and, 1000 Gunn students riding in overall between 7:50 and 8:20 AM, what would happen to traffic on Arastradero (and Foothill and Miranda and Georgia and Maybell and Laguna and ...) if all those students drove in instead, 1/4 by themselves, and, 3/4 having parents drop them off and then egress towards wherever they are going (job/home/etc)?


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