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Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - July 29, 2011

Changing lanes

Drivers worry about getting left behind as Palo Alto speeds ahead with traffic-calming projects

by Gennady Sheyner

For a glance at Palo Alto's transportation future, drive up and down Arastradero Road during the morning rush hour.

The busy thoroughfare, which stretches between highways 280 and 101, has undergone a complete makeover over the past year as part of the city's robust effort to make life easier for bicyclists and pedestrians. Once a simple four-lane stretch favored by drivers bound for Stanford Research Park and by parents dropping off their kids at school, the road was transformed last year into a parade of signals, road markings and left-turn lanes. Most significantly, the number of lanes has been reduced from four to three throughout most of the stretch from El Camino Real to Gunn High School.

Earlier this month, Palo Alto's planning director, Curtis Williams, called the Arastradero project "a precursor to our whole 'complete streets' effort that we have as an ongoing goal in the city." The plan, which the City Council is scheduled to discuss on Monday (Aug. 1), is to make busy roads near schools more accommodating to non-drivers.

But the project has also polarized the community. Bicyclists and school parents praise the new signals, bike lanes and crosswalks for providing welcome relief from speeding drivers. Others argue, equally convincingly, that to calm traffic is to enrage drivers. Some residents are also complaining that their previously quiet side streets are now becoming detours for frustrated four-wheel commuters.

At a July 13 hearing on the trial project Planning and Transportation Commissioner Eduardo Martinez said he didn't think he had ever "heard such disparate positions on an issue" as in reading emails and hearing comments from the public about the Arastradero Road re-striping project.

The debate is almost certain to become more common and more vehement in the coming months as Palo Alto's multi-pronged effort to slow down traffic and turn the city into a bicycling Mecca expands to just about every section of the city. Earlier this year, Mayor Sid Espinosa and City Manager James Keene declared 2011 the "Year of the Bike" and, since then, they've been putting the city's (as well as the state's and county's) money where their mouths are. Construction is already proceeding at the dangerous intersection of Stanford Avenue and El Camino Real, a traffic-calming project aimed at helping students cross the street and making El Camino a more bikeable, walkable boulevard. Deer Creek Road in the Stanford Research Park is now in the process of losing a driving lane and picking up a bike lane. And design work is proceeding on the California Avenue lane-reduction plan despite a lawsuit from two residents concerned about the impact on businesses.

Further down the road, city officials are eying more ambitious projects, including four new bike boulevards that would complement the existing bike boulevard on Bryant Street. The bike-friendly throughways would include Park Boulevard, Greer Road, Moreno Avenue and Ross Road. The city is also looking forward to a $3 million payment from Stanford University Medical Center to improve pedestrian and bicycle connections between the hospitals and downtown Palo Alto. These big-ticket items would complement a score of smaller projects on the city's radar, including installing color-coded signs guiding bicyclists to popular destinations and creating easy-to-identify, green bicycle lanes of the sort already in place in San Francisco. One such lane is proposed for Channing Avenue, between Newell Road and Lincoln Avenue, as part of a traffic-calming project that also includes a cornucopia of traffic-slowing signs, road markings and speed banks.

Ambitious bike projects are far from new to Palo Alto, a city that introduced the concept of the "bike boulevard" in 1982 and that currently carries a "Gold Level" designation from the League of American Bicyclists. But even by the city's historically lofty standards, the efforts have accelerated over the past year and will likely continue their pace in the months ahead, as the city proceeds with the implementation of its new Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (see sidebar). Palo Alto officials point to a series of trends for the sharp increase in transportation projects on city streets: the slew of transportation grants aimed at encouraging environmentally sustainable commuting habits; staffing changes in the city's Transportation Division, including a new Chief Transportation Officer position; a City Council and a city manager who are passionate about biking; and a realization by a growing number of Palo Altans, particularly in the school community, that when it comes to wheels, more isn't always better.

Daniel Garber, a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission, alluded to Palo Alto's zeitgeist during the July 13 discussion of the Arastradero Road projects, at which time the commission recommended extending the trial project for another year. The road, he said, reflects the way Palo Alto's transportation culture has changed over the past decade, as walking and biking have grown in stature.

"It's not that driving has been disregarded or lowered in value, it's that the pedestrian involvement and bicycle involvement in our community has risen," Garber said. "As a result, you end up with streets like Arastradero that historically have been more cut-through.

"It's not the freeway experience that some of the residents have described. It is mixed, and it really is the street of our future, which requires us to be able to slow down, requires us to think what this is and accept slower drive-through times as a result of things that I think are now valued by our community."

His view is supported by the daily scenes of spandex-clad bikers streaking down Arastradero, Foothill Expressway and other popular throughways; of families and errand-runners cruising down Bryant Street while drivers are negotiating their way around the speed bumps and roundabouts; and of students increasingly eschewing cars in favor of biking or walking (at Gunn and Palo Alto high schools, more than a third of students now walk or bike to school, compared to fewer than 15 percent about a decade ago).

The Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee continues to be a robust lobbying force for new bike lanes and other amenities, though they are preaching to a council that increasingly agrees with their views. In May, council members began their meeting with a bike tour along the city's next bike boulevard on Park Boulevard and Wilkie Way — a tour that involved at least 40 residents and a score of department heads from City Hall. And it's not just the city leaders and students who are rediscovering their bikes. Close to 1,400 cyclists took to the streets between 6:30 and 9 a.m. during the city's annual Bike to Work Day in May — a 2.5 percent increase over 2010.

These numbers have given council members plenty to boast about.

"We have reversed a national trend and set new records, contrary to most everywhere else," Councilman Pat Burt said at a May meeting, referring to successful "Safe Routes to School" program.

Councilman Greg Scharff said he'd like to see Palo Alto surpass other bike-friendly cities in national prominence. For Palo Alto, being merely one of the best is clearly not enough.

"I'd like us to be more bold and aggressive," Scharff said. "I'd like to be a first-class bicycle city where everyone calls us instead of calling Portland."

Keene shares this ambition. Last year, when he and then-Mayor Burt met officials from various companies at Stanford Research Park, the subject of bike-sharing programs popped up on more than one occasion. Keene called the "Year of the Bike" concept a "good convergence between our sustainability initiatives and our focus on infrastructure."

"Bicycling seems to be in character with the geography and values of Palo Alto," Keene told the Weekly. "We're in good shape, but there's no reason why we can't be the best bicycling city in the nation."

Such enthusiasm hasn't always born fruit. In 2003, the city approved a bicycle master plan only to see it languish on a shelf. But city officials are confident that the new plan — the draft of which was released last week — will be different.

"We have a combination of the council that's in place right now, particularly the last two mayors (Pat Burt and Sid Espinosa), as well as with Jim Keene, where there's some real political commitment to making this happen," Williams told the Weekly. "And we're realizing that in order for the community to stay at the forefront in terms of bicycling in the national way, and as far as finding alternatives to the automobile — which we have to do to live in a sustainable way — we need to focus more on implementing these projects."

Burt shared Williams' optimism. At the May council meeting, he called the city's failure to implement the 2003 bike plan a "great disappointment" but predicted that the new plan would be more promising.

"We now have a commitment within the planning and transportation departments and the city manager's office that I think is one that's going to move this plan toward implementation," Burt said.

Such words ring like music to the ears of Palo Alto's passionate and politically savvy bicycling community. Ellen Fletcher, a former council member and a trailblazer on bike issues (the Bryant Street is also known as the Ellen Fletcher Bicycle Boulevard), called the resurgence of pro-bike projects "heartwarming."

For Fletcher, making Palo Alto a more bike-friendly city has been a labor of love stretching back to the early 1970s, when her son was a student at Fairmeadow Elementary School and she served as the safety chair for the school. At 82, she continues to get around the city on her bicycle.

A Berlin native, Fletcher discovered bicycling shortly after she moved to London in December 1938, during the onset World War II.

"In England, everybody rode bikes during the war," Fletcher said. "It was natural to ride a bicycle."

In 1946, she immigrated to New York, where a biking culture was almost nonexistent. Frustrated with traffic congestion and the city's subway system, Fletcher — then a 17-year-old student at Hunter College — became the "only one in college who had a bike on campus," she said. She rode it year round.

After college, Fletcher moved to Menlo Park and, later, Palo Alto, where she rediscovered bicycling during the energy crisis of the late 1970s ("I decided I wasn't going to stand in line for gasoline").

Fletcher maintains that the slew of traffic-calming projects on the city's agenda will benefit everyone, not just bicyclists. If residents and commuters switch from cars to bikes, the roads will become less congested for drivers, she said. The city, she said, is finally realizing that policies that prioritize drivers don't always net the best results.

"That's really been the national philosophy all these years — we've always put concentration on moving more cars faster," Fletcher said. "It's really the wrong policy."

The philosophical shift spreads far beyond Palo Alto. Cities like San Francisco and Portland have been gradually building up their bike infrastructures and adding restrictions and fees for drivers.

But even their efforts pale when compared to what's happening in Europe. A recent story in The New York Times, descriptively headlined "Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy," lists various European cities, including Copenhagen, Vienna and Zurich, where officials are trying to create environments that are "openly hostile to cars." This includes closing some of their busiest areas to traffic and adding tolls. The Times quotes Zurich's chief traffic planner, who said the city's goal is to "reconquer public space for pedestrians, not to make it easy for drivers."

Palo Alto officials aren't going that far — at least, not yet. The fact that the city is a job magnet with a population that more than doubles during the day time suggests that it's not feasible to get everyone to shrug off their cars. But at the same time, city planners and at least one council member are looking ahead to a time when the city will do more to discourage driving. This could include new parking fees and zoning requirements that set a "maximum" rather than a "minimum" number of parking spots for new developments.

Espinosa acknowledged at a May meeting that removing parking spaces would be a "struggle in this community." But he also said he wondered if "that's what it takes to get us to the next level."

Such policies, however, remain far out on the city's horizon. Williams said officials are currently focusing their parking strategies on "making more efficient use of parking areas" by creating new signs directing drivers toward local garages and providing automated counts of cars in garages. Over time, however, they may have to consider alternate parking strategies, he said.

"I don't see limiting parking spaces as something that would be high on our agenda within the next couple of years," Williams said. "I'd image that within five years or so, we'll need to have serious discussions about that because we'll see more and more cities try to adopt that."

So are Palo Alto drivers headed for gridlock and parking shortages? The verdict on that score is still out, but some residents are panning the early results.

Earlier this month, several public speakers asserted at a planning commission meeting that the traffic-calming measures on Arastradero have slowed traffic down to a crawl during the morning-commute hours. John Elman, who lives on Hubbartt Drive off Arastradero, said it now takes him an extra 16 minutes to travel from his home to the gym at the Campus for Jewish Life, which is about 2 miles away. The project drastically reduced speeds, prompting drivers to switch to residential side streets, he said.

Elman invited commissioners to come to his house in September, when school resumes, and survey the impacts of the Arastradero project for themselves. He even sweetened the offer by saying he would provide fresh-brewed coffee, fresh orange juice and ricotta-blueberry pancakes.

"Then we'll go out and wander into traffic and you tell me if it improved things in the city of Palo Alto," Elman said.

Barron Park resident Doug Moran told the commission that at public hearings on the project "there's been an impression that the needs of drivers have been disregarded." The reconfiguration of the road and the abrupt shift in the number of lanes has created what he called a "problem of poor predictability" for drivers.

The city's effort to remodel California Avenue, which also involves lane reductions, has also come under fire from a small but vocal group of merchants and residents, who earlier this year convinced the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to delay a grant award for this project. Resident Joy Ogawa and Terry Shuchat from the California Avenue camera store Keeble & Shuchat filed a lawsuit against the city in April, claiming officials failed to follow California's environmental laws in approving the streetscape project. Former Vice Mayor Jack Morton, whose accounting practice is located on California Avenue, publicly criticized the lane-reduction plan at last week's council meeting.

"For most businesses at California Avenue there will be a disastrous impact on their cash flow," Morton said. "For sure, it is the case that the majority of businesses on California Avenue find the proposal to reduce lanes on California Avenue completely unacceptable."

Palo Alto is nevertheless proceeding with the lane-reduction plan, which officials say will make the street more attractive and more welcoming to bikers and pedestrians. The City Council approved a contract for design last week.

The flurries of protest come as no surprise to traffic experts. Last year, the city hosted a special presentation by Jeffrey Tumlin, a transportation planner and principal in the San Francisco firm Nelson/Nygaard. Tumlin, who had worked extensively in Palo Alto and Stanford and who received Palo Alto's now-defunct "Consultant of the Year" award in 2000, described the city as "almost the perfection of the California lifestyle" and as one of the few places he's ever been to that "really captures the potential of the suburban dream in California."

"For those reasons, change is really scary because things are good," Tumlin said during his presentation. "Any kind of change to the deal that you've got threatens this extraordinary thing that you've got."

But both he and Palo Alto officials acknowledged that change is inevitable and that cities must do their part to meet shifting conditions. The Arastradero Road project, after all, was undertaken only after a series of large, dense developments went up in south Palo Alto in the past decade, forcing city planners to address the need for traffic improvements.

For now, Williams told the Weekly, the city is focusing its bike boulevards and traffic-calming efforts around schools and parks. The goal is more equitable sharing of streets, even if that means it might take drivers longer to get where they're going.

"There may be improvements on those roads over time that do slow the traffic somewhat because we're trying to balance the needs of all users," Williams said. "Most of the roads have been heavily used by cars. We're trying to get some more balance into some of the roads."

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at


Posted by slow down, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 9:15 am

If you want to drive fast, use the freeways. Speeding around town and killing innocent pedestrians is really not cool.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2011 at 9:25 am

In all this talk about traffic calming, I have seen or heard nothing about public transportation. It makes sense to see that improvements in the shuttle service would do a lot to ease traffic congestion particularly for school commutes.

Facebook has shuttles from Caltrain for its employees. Stanford has the Marguerite. We have two PA shuttles around town but they are no use to a large number of school commuters. Paly's boundaries go far further south than Oregon and there is no transit option for the area between Oregon and Loma Verde. Those that live near Embarcadero get free bus service. Gunn students in south Palo Alto have VTA, but that is not free. Why do some Paly students get free school bus service and others get nothing?

VTA is continually attempting to reduce service in Palo Alto. It is only due to public outcry that there is a service to Gunn from south Palo Alto. We need more public outcry to get our students to school by bus. It is not always possible to ride a bike to school with all the stuff our students often have to take with them, but a bus would do it.

We should not have a free shuttle. We should instead have a shuttle service that serves all our school kids which charge a modest fare. We should have an equitable service for all our school kids regardless where they live or whichever high school they attend.

On top of this, companies should not have to provide their own shuttles, there should be a shuttle meeting Caltrain and taking riders to our business parks. Facebook does it, Stanford does it, but for many workers using Caltrain is not an option because it doesn't give them a reasonable method of getting to work from the stations. Shuttles should be meeting the trains and for a realistic fare taking them to our business parks.

Public transport has been left out of this discussion. It must be part of the solution.

Posted by not well thought out, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

You would have thought they would create a bike network to hook up Crescent Park/Community Center so kids could cycle to Jordan.

Posted by bike routes, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 9:36 am

The city is asking residents for suggestions about new bike routes. If there is a need in your neighborhood, then send your suggestion via the city web site: Web Link
Comment period is July 26 through September 7. Any new routes that don't make it in to the plan this time may not be considered for years, so get your voice heard now.

Posted by Concerned Retiree, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:24 am

Discouraging cars is yet another reason to avoid the local brick and mortar stores and shop at the tax-free internet stores.

I avoid shopping in Downtown Palo Alto. It's crowded and parking can be difficult. As the city's population ages, not everyone can bike or walk to shop or visit service providers. This narrowing of more roads will exacerbate this situation. And cyclists and pedestrians often weave in and out of traffic in law and death defying moves. I am surprised that more of them do not get hit. Traffic laws should be enforced for cyclists as well as drivers.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:27 am

Last I checked, PAUSD is responsible for school transportation, not CPA.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:38 am

CP Dad

CPA started a shuttle service with the intention of serving some of our schools. They started this, not PAUSD. If they intend to serve some of our children (I won't say their own kids because I don't know) then why not ask them to serve all the children.

PAUSD in the dim distant past got rid of school buses and chose to get out of the school transportation issue. They no longer have to be responsible for getting kids to school. Where or not they should is a good question, but is probably moot at this stage.

I am tired of the squabbling in Palo Alto about what is the City and what is PAUSD responsibilities. They may be separate entities but they serve the same people, are voted by the same people, and the individuals that are voted in have balls in both courts. They sound like siblings squabbling and in my house that is not on. They are both in the same community family and they should have joint goals for well being of our youth (I believe they say they have) so getting the youth to school should be a joint priority.

All PAUSD schoolkids and all PAUSD teachers have to use Palo Alto roads to get to school. Therefore school transportation is an issue for both. Don't use that red herring, it won't hold muster.

Posted by Jean Pressey, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:49 am

Palo Alto has many senior citizens who are not able to bike. It is important to remember that cars are essential for many of us to retain our independence.

Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

LOL. "Traffic calming" ... with the narrowing of roads to force drivers into one lane where two were available is anything but calming.

It only takes one darling older driver going at 15 mph to create a traffic snarl that doesn't anything BUT calm anyone.

Just another example of bureaucratic stupidity in action.

The reality is that we need to have a few cross-town routes that accommodate a flow of traffic and these are all becoming stopped up and causing drivers to flit onto side roads and, stressed out at that point, cause them to drive faster than they would have on those more direct routes.

Posted by David Schrom, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:02 am

Thank you for acknowledging Ellen Fletcher's decades of leadership in advocating for bicycling in our community and beyond. When I see Ellen, who now must be 80 years old, continuing to bicycle around town, I'm reminded of Ben Franklin's words: "The best sermon is a good example." She's an inspiration!

Posted by John Galt, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:07 am

I can only applaud "Traffic Calming"! I think the perfect "Traffic Calming" application, which should be adopted all over our "Blue" city, is the brilliant signal at JLS where it turns red all the way around and requires a full stop in all directions in order to meditate on the "Greater-Good-Of-The-Group-As-A-Whole" while always waiting for a Green. No nasty smooth traffic flow here! It is Purr-Fect!

Posted by Eva, a resident of Ventura
on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

I agree with Elizabeth. We need to have a number of cross town streets that allow traffic to flow through town to keep cars off of side streets. I now avoid Arastradero/Charleston as much as possible during peak hours and go down Meadow. Is the next step to reduce San Antonio, Embarcadero, Oregon down to one lane? Or how about El Camino? Then the only people that can come in and out of our town are those that live in the neighborhood.

Make through streets safer for everyone by removing pedestrian crosswalks on major streets where there is no light. El Camino has several and I remember several deaths at the Ventura crossing before there was a light.

We are not going to reduce reliance on cars by making driving more difficult. Not realistic.

Posted by Walk More, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:20 am

Create more pedestrian only streets to wean Palo Alto away from cars. Walk more, enjoy good health.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:28 am

Last writer's criticism about "traffic calming" is correct (but the 15mph drivers are not senior citizens, but passive-aggressive local citizens slowing down to purposely slow traffic flow dramatically).

....Traffic Calming on ALL major thoroughfares = Traffic Congestion guaranteed. Some streets must handle through-traffic. Every street cannot have low mph, less lanes.

....A HIERARCHY of streets/speeds acknowledges different vehicles, trip purposes, different origins/destinations have/will always exist.

No one want to establish unsafe freeway-like speeds in PA. But, slapping a crawling speed on all your streets (and bizarre traffic controls like barriers, through-traffic prohibitions, etc.) CREATES horrendous traffic.

Add racing bikes that ignore traffic signage and pedestrians and you have confusion and serious danger.

"The Palo Alto Way" has created a self-inflicted unplanned mess where traffic can't flow. Citywide 25 or 30 mph limits don't work.

Posted by I walk, I drive, I bike, I love Palo Alto, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:32 am

There are also many senior citizens who cannot drive, and so they have become advocates for pedestrian safety. In fact, many seniors at Stevenson House signed the petition for the Charleston/Arastradero Plan because they couldn't drive and they had trouble crossing the street to get to the shopping center, the bus stop, the community center and other destinations that were close by.

Many seniors, note Ellen Fletcher (82 years old)quoted in article, ride bikes. I see them all around town. This is a form of exercise and transportation that people of all ages can use.

It is interesting...About 30 years ago, nation-wide, 66% of America's children walked or biked to school. Those numbers plummeted to 13% because of our national prioritization of funding for auto transportation over all other modes of transportation, including public transit, walking and biking.

Coupled with the increase in households with multiple autos, Americans developed the habit of picking up their car keys every time we leave the house, even for a short trip to school or the grocery store, or a nearby park. It should be no surprise that this lifestyle change correlates with the rise of juvenile obesity and diabetes. It also correlates with the isolation of seniors who cannot drive and os become dependent on people who can...and this can lead to depression.

We can do better. The trick is to strike a balance that works for everyone--whether we are old enough or physically able to have a driver's license--we all need to be able to travel independently, self-reliantly, and safely around our community.

Posted by not well thought out, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Thanks, "bike routes" for the link.

Posted by Does not bike, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I found this on the web page that Bike routes provided:

Web Link
"The Palo Alto Municipal Code (Section 10.64.010) requires residents to license their bikes before riding on City streets and public property."

How many bikes in PA are unlicensed? We could add a pretty penny, I bet, to our city coffers by arresting and fining any scofflaws (let's not forget how a year or so ago one of the councilmembers wanted to install red light cameras to make money for the city). The traffic laws must be applied equally to automobile drivers and bicyclists.

Posted by pares, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

The city is telling us that the way traffic calming is now on the Charleston corridor is either it's this way and much safer OR the way it was previously and much more dangerous to bikers and students. I don't buy this extreme view of either/or.

We need to have corridors to help the flow of traffic in Palo Alto, and the Charleston corridor has been taken away. It takes a lot longer in rush hour traffic to get from El Camino to 101. It is not safer when the merging lanes keep going back and forth from two to one to two again. We use more gas and that pollutes the air more.

What about a more modest alteration that makes it safer for pedestrians, cyclists, AND still keeps traffic flow going. I am sure there are ways to do this. But what irks me is the city doesn't even seem interested in the flow of traffic and the safety problems for drivers trying to deal with the mergers.

Most of us have children and are cyclists and want safety. There needs to be a reasonable balance to making these changes.

Posted by Alex H, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

"How many bikes in PA are unlicensed? We could add a pretty penny, I bet, to our city coffers by arresting and fining any scofflaws..."

You don't get arrested for failing to register your car. You get a fix it ticket which goes down to ten dollars once the car is registered. I doubt the city could make any money enforcing the bicycle license law. The fee is only $2.00! The police have better things to do.

"The traffic laws must be applied equally to automobile drivers and bicyclists."

That is incorrect. See CVC 21200.

Posted by Does not bike, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm

"That is incorrect. See CVC 21200."

CVC21200 is for the following:
"Laws Applicable to Bicycle Use: Peace Officer Exemption"
But it does state;
"21200. (a) ( )1 A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application."

Posted by Alex H, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

That's the one. Notice that it applies to specific parts of the vehicle code, mainly division 11. It refers to "the driver of a vehicle", not the driver of a motor vehicle. The last bit, "except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application." is important too.

Posted by registered user, Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I have worked on traffic calming issues for almost 15 years. There are two basic principles of "calming": (1) smoothing traffic flow by lowering the peak speeds and raising the valleys, and (2) increasing predictably of the traffic flow so that drivers make fewer mistakes, either because they are distracted or stressed. Both components increase safety for all: pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers. One of the observations underlying true "traffic calming" is that many "obvious" remedies turn out to be counter-productive--moving the problem to another location and often making it worse. Palo Alto traffic planning seems to ignoring this part.

In quoting me, the story mentioned "predictability". However, the quote from Commissioner Garber was missing critical context: He was addressing my presentation on these principles and explicitly rejecting my slide about how the current configuration _unnecessarily_ fails to provide predictability as against his notion of community values.

On the issue of speeding drivers on Arastradero: Part of the trial configuration was to address a serious problem with speeds well above the 25-mph limit, at times over 50 mph. However, drivers who are complaining about speeds being 9-15 mph are now being classified by the advocates as those who want to speed dangerously, and various of the advocates are arguing for adding another 5 minutes travel time, that is lowering speeds to 5-7 mph.

The article fails to mention that local agencies are pushing plans to reduce El Camino to less than 2 lanes in each direction. The Grand Boulevard proposal being advocated by ABAG and MTC and others includes reducing El Camino to 2 lanes in each direction. And VTA is proposing to have buses stop in the travel lanes while loading and unloading passengers: This reduces travel time because the buses don't have to merge back into traffic, but it tends to dramatically reduce carrying capacity of the street because the effects of the lane blockages are exacerbated by their locations (at intersections).

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

In early June, I was about 3/4 way across California Avenue, walking in the pedestrian crosswalk that connects Antonio's Nut House corner to Village Stationers, when three teenage boys on bikes were riding in the street, all 3 abreast. The one closest to the car lane was taking on a cell phone, looking down, & their speed was about 20 mph.

I thought for sure they'd at least slow down. But they blew threw the stop sign, not even slowing. When it looked as if they were about to collide with me, I ran to the safety of the sidewalk, saying over my shoulder, "You needed to stop!"

One barked a response to me that I couldn't hear. But it was not said with compassion or with any concern at all about almost having hit a pedestrian that was in the crosswalk.

Had the pedestrian been the young mom I saw shortly later walking on California Ave, one carrying Country Sun groceries, with a toddler in tow & an infant strapped to her belly, that sweet little family would have been hit.

Had it been a senior citizen, a person on crutches, or a wheelchair bound person, or anyone not able to sprint to the safety of the sidewalk, they would have been hit.

We already know there have indeed been collisions between people & cars & one man was in a wheelchair when he was hit. It's common knowledge there have been so many near misses DAILY, & over the past many years in the California Avenue district, any business asking to keep these dangerous conditions in place are putting their own customers at risk.

Terry Shuchat was the Chairman of the CAADA Streetscape Committee that brought the proposed Streetscape plan to the CAADA board years ago, where the plan gained unanimous approval, due to the conditions described above. It included the lane reduction from 4 to 2, and it was after his Streetscape Committee & the CAADA Board at large, did due diligence, studying the downtowns in other communities & as well as downtown PA.

The CAADA Board then brought the approved Streetscape plan to the City, where more than one Transportation study was done for it, before they too, agreed the plan was a good one to address the issue of pedestrian safety. Allowing dangerous conditions that are so well known to continue is simply negligence.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

> Daniel Garber, a member of the Planning and Transportation
> Commission, recommended extending the trial project for another
> year. The road, he said, reflects the way Palo Alto's
> transportation culture has changed over the past decade, as
> walking and biking have grown in stature.

So--Where Are The Bicycles?:
Web Link

So--Where Are The Bicycles On Arastradero?:
Web Link

Wonder if Mr. Garber has any hard numbers to back up his claims?

Posted by Cor van de Water, a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Dear Mr Elman, who drives to the gym 2 miles down the road, just the fact that you can walk out into traffic as you say, shows that traffic calming works. On many 4-lane arterials you can only walk into traffic if you are suicidal.
By the way, if you want to avoid the extra 16 min drive time, then you could go on bicycle, it typically takes less than 10 mins to cover 2 miles and I presume you go to the gym to get some physical exercise, so it puzzles me why you choose to drive to the gym.
Another option is to walk to the gym, greet the front desk person and walk back. You had your workout and you saved your gym membership fee as a bonus.
For me, that is one of the reasons that I bike to work - it keeps me fit, it saves me gym membership fees, it saves money for gas, it lowers the congestion on the streets and does not damage the environment. It even helps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
The list of benefits is almost longer than the arguments of the naysayers. And older people bicycling is actually not uncommon. My retired mom prefers to go around town on her bike.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I have managed to get enough of the analysis of the accident data available (1995-2009) for the Charleston/Arastradero Transportation Corridor far enough along that I can make the information available to the general public. There is still some more work to do on this roadway, but the information provided in the Rel.1.0 of this study will be useful to understanding this roadway--

Traffic Accident Analysis For The Charleston/Arastradero Corridor:
Web Link

Posted by Cor van de Water, a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Regarding the throughput after the traffic calming: I used to live near Mary in Sunnyvale which had the same type of road diet a few years ago.
The traffic became much more predictable and the flow did not change much after the lane reduction, but it certainly depends on how well drivers follow the rules and drive predictably.

Regarding the issue with unsafe (non-stopping) traffic in crosswalks, this can easily be improved by two configuration changes. The first is to raise the level of the crosswalk to curb height, so there is a ramp in the street and the crosswalk becomes a speed bump/plateau with the psychological effect that pedestrians in the crosswalk are above street level instead if stepping down into traffic lanes. This causes more drivers (sometimes from very high seating positions) to better notice the crossing traffic (pedestrians) in the crosswalk. In addition, if they try to speed through the crosswalk, the speed plateau will jolt their vehicle uncomfortably.
In addition, if bikes tend to not stop for the crosswalk / stop sign, then a small additional threshold just before the stop line of only a few inches high and wide, such as you often see in residential streets as speed bumps, will make the bikes slow down and carefully cross that threshold. This threshold is useless to reduce the speed of most cars, as drivers have found out that the faster you go, the less you feel the speed bump (my own experience from seeing vehicles speed across the threshold in our own residential street) so for those you need the raised plateau with a width of about the wheelbase of the vehicles, so they will receive a good kick and may even "touchdown" if they try to speed through the intersection and crosswalk.
So - it is easy to design a street to be safer, it just needs to be done.

Posted by Courtney Nielsen, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

QUOTE: "In early June, I was about 3/4 way across California Avenue, walking in the pedestrian crosswalk that connects Antonio's Nut House corner to Village Stationers, when three teenage boys on bikes were riding in the street, all 3 abreast. The one closest to the car lane was taking on a cell phone, looking down, & their speed was about 20 mph."


Ronna, you had a run-in with teenagers on bicycles, not cyclists. Imagine if those 3 teenagers were in a car. On my ride home yesterday, I had a run-in with 2 dozen teenagers blocking the bike trail I was on, having a pot party, and the only thing I could do was be patient. Teenagers are teenagers, no matter if they are in a car, on a bike, or on foot.

Posted by registered user, Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 3:39 pm

RE: The first comment by Cor van de Water

The discussion of the needs of drivers has been poisoned by the arrogance and narcissism displayed in that comment. I don't know Mr. Elman's situation, but most of the time I needed to go to a gym, riding a bicycle there was impractical: Having your foot in a cast makes it hard to petal, as does having your knee in a brace to limit mobility, an immobilized wrist, and an arm in a sling. A senior who has to use a walker but is going to the gym to try to regain some mobility is an unlikely bicyclist.

Too many of the comments by bicyclists--in these forums and at public hearings--display a level of self-absorption that prevents them from understanding that what is easy for them may not be easy for everyone else, that other people have different situations and different constraints. Bicyclists need to realize that when they let such narcissism go unchallenged, they can be seen as supporting it ("silence implies consent").

Posted by Alice Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm

The Arastradero Road effort has been mostly successful. Turning left out of Los Palos Avenue is an adventure but I feel MUCH safer turning left into Los Palos Avenue than before.

This morning I observed three red light violations at San Antonio and E Charleston. Where are the police when you need them most. One entered San A on a left turn when there was a red arrow when he entered the left turn lane. Just barreled across onto S A. Others had to swerve to avoid him. Then a white-paneled truck barreled across when the red light had already turned on down E Charleston. Then another car from the E turned left onto the side road of San Antonio going west across the red light. When we have the head on crash and death, will people wake up?

We should have taxes on private parking privileges at industrial parks as a benefit as they do in England. That brought many people to car pool and think more sensibly.

Posted by registered user, Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm

RE: The first comment by Cor van de Water "Dear Mr Elman, who drives to the gym 2 miles down the road, just the fact that you can walk out into traffic as you say, shows that traffic calming works. On many 4-lane arterials you can only walk into traffic if you are suicidal."

I was at the meeting where Mr Elman made this comment, and it was in the context that the congestion was so bad that traffic was barely moving, and this context is clearly presented in the article. That Cor van de Water suggests the extent of his psychological/ideological blinders.

Posted by Old Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm

No traffic calming at Town and Country. Someone will be seriously injured or killed by a speeding or distracted driver at one of those intersections, it's only a matter of time. I go there daily and see near misses hourly.

Posted by pares, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm

One more thing -- the article focuses on Arastradero and does not emphasize that we are talking about the entire corridor starting at Foothill going all the way to San Antonio to get to 101. Even their map only shows Arastradero, but the lane modifications are also all along Charleston. Looks like the south of pa gets the short end of the stick as the city is experimenting taking out a major corridor in our part of town while the north escapes this extreme reduction in the flow of traffic.

Posted by Court, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Mr. Moran:

Why would someone with an immobilized wrist be operating a 2-ton vehicle? I was rear-ended (in my car) by a person with a foot cast who was unable to apply his brakes in time. It's best for those injured to wait out their injury until it is safe for them to drive. Been there myself. It's not a right for someone impaired in their driving ability to risk the lives of others, no matter what.

The purpose of the cities around the country adapting to bicycles is to encourage those who are healthy enough to use them and only need to go a couple of miles, in an already-congested city, to use modes of transportation that make more sense. The amount of drivers who are unable to use bicycles or walk is so small that it's not even an issue. Probably 50% of the drivers are solo and healthy and only driving a short distance.

That being said, I often work in Palo Alto, up and down the University Ave. area, and have no problem with these adaptations. Many times I will take CalTrain and my bike. I own a rather nice car and love to drive it, but it just makes more sense to ride my bike many times.

One company I have worked with in Palo Alto is filled with bicycles ridden by the employees. Palo Alto is a beautiful town to ride a bike in, and people love it and consider it THE model California town...I can't understand why people would want to congest it with more cars instead of more bicycles. Reduce accessibility to bicycles, and you only introduce more cars in front of you instead. If those employees i mentioned all drive their cars, it would introduce at least 30 more cars onto University Ave. That's just one company.

Another subject never brought up is that electric bikes are about to explode on the market. That will enable many who normally wouldn't be able to ride a bike (or don't care to pedal) to ride bikes. The man who built my bicycle built himself an electric truck bike, enabling him to carry a 100lb payload up the hill where he lives.

Posted by Amused, a resident of The Greenhouse
on Jul 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I find it amusing the ellen fletcher was "frustrated" with the subway in new york. Considering how many people use it and the fact that so many new yorkers do not own cars, I have to believe that fletcher wil say anything to further her agenda.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm

> �Palo Alto is a beautiful town to ride a bike in, and people love it and consider it THE model California town�...I can't understand why people would want to congest it with more cars instead of more bicycles.�

This is exactly the kind of comment that Doug Moran mentioned. It does nothing to create a meaningful discussion.

No excuse for driving is good enough for people like Court or Cor or Fletcher.

One might truthfully say, �I�m physically incapable of riding a bike. I work 25 miles from home. I can�t bring home a weeks� worth of groceries for my family on my bike. I can�t take my mom to the doctor on a bike�.�

All irrelevant. Biking good. Driving evil.

It certainly won�t work to say one is too old to ride a bike. After all, Fletcher is still riding at 82. If she can do it, surely every one else must � or be castigated.

Wayne Martin: You should know by now that no one at City Hall gives a rap about data or facts. All they care about is upgrading that gold medal to platinum.

Posted by registered user, Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm

RE: Court
Another self-absorbed ideologue heard from.
1. Just because _he_ was once hit by some driving with a cast on his foot doesn't mean that this is always a problem. He may be surprised to learn that through the magic of a new-fangled invention, call the "automatic transmission", that the left foot can have a cast without the slightest degradation in driving (except in extremely steep areas). And the body has more than enough flexibility to accommodate an immobilized wrist.

2. He implies that maintaining reasonable flow for motorists means "reducing the accessibility to bicycles". The goal of "Complete Streets" is to support _all_ uses (and users).

3. His presumption that "50% of drivers ... are only driving a short distance" is (intentionally?) ill-informed. Palo Alto has about 60K residents (all ages) and 100K employees. 65-82% of workers living in Palo Alto commute to jobs outside the city (the wide range comes from different data sources and how one counts certain categories, for example, is someone who works at home counted as someone who "commutes" to a local destination). And many of the retail and similar destinations that were in bicycling range have been forced out of town, turning them into driving destinations.

Posted by Drive Everywhere, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Los Altos pat rocks! Who needs to be physically active anyway? The sedentary life style is easier. Pedestrians and bicyclists just get in the way of our cars anyway. Let everyone drive everywhere at any time without let or hindrance!

Posted by alwayspushyfeeling, a resident of Southgate
on Jul 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

This year, i was out of town in a full of people walking city.I felt I was always pushed by someone,in a hurry or felt pushed by someone to buy or to cross the street or even to get a ticket to a park,so uncomfortable,but I have to admit it made you fit and alert,and full of energy and made your mind think quick.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Interesting how some assume that anyone who doesn’t ride a bike is lazy/sedentary/all of the above.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Posted by A parent of GUN student, a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Here is my experience. In the winter, there are a lot of rainy days. I have to drive my son to Gunn if it is raining. The past school year was a nightmare for me to drive on Arastradero.

My solution was to go to Los Robles and drop my son at the road end close to Gunn. I saw lots of people doing so either. I believe the residents on Los Robles neighborhood must have felt the pain. However, they should blame the city for such a stupid project on Arastradero!

By the way, I do not see the bike lanes on Arastradero getting any better. The portion at the entrance of Gunn is still so dangerous and the students have to ride on side walk. I only see more street parking on Arastradero near Tan Plaza and more wide but rarely used left-turn lanes everywhere. The two lanes merging into one lane near El Camino is actually very dangerous. I saw people pushing horns to complain the other driver merging in several times.

I am sure it will create more trouble if the project gets expansion into other major streets. Many people have to drive to drop kids and go to work outside Palo Alto during the rush hours. Please do not waste money. Use the $3M from Stanford more wisely!

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I have a bike and neighborhood 'calming' solution. Starting with first day of school this year. I'm going to lay on my horn starting at El Camino up to the time until I reach the Gunn driveway. Now, this would normally (non rush hour summer day) be a total of about 2 minutes of horn, and horn noise in front of any one house would be only a second as I passed smoothly through. Now with the 'traffic calming' measures in place, on a school rush hour morning, that will be about 1/2 hour of solid horn noise, and it will linger in front of each home along the way for about 1-5 minutes each as I am forced to sit through stop and go traffic. So the traffic flow goes, so goes the 'calming' spread through the city goes. "Calm" for me = "calm" for everyone. Seems only fair.

Posted by In support, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I welcome any project that aims to slow down traffic. People here drive much to fast. They run red lights, cut you off, drive while on their cell phone... You name it. And we regularly see horrendous accident on roads such as Oregon Expressway and Middlefield, to nmae only tow.

Kudos for this initiative.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I'm not sure why "A Parent of GUN (sic) student" has to drive his/her son to Gunn on rainy days. Rain or shine my daughter rode the VTA bus to Gunn, which she pays for out of her own allowance by the way. I think we might have dropped her off at school in a car twice the entire school year. Sometimes she walked the 2 miles home after school if she couldn't take the bus. Worked fine for us.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 30, 2011 at 9:47 am

Obviously humans have a divine right to drive, and regardless of how much death, injury, noise, pollution and distress cars are causing in residential areas, no one should interfere with that divine, ancient and unassailable right[portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].

Posted by registered user, Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Its called the Police Department. They are suppose to be enforcing laws for both bicylist and drives. I forgot we have no Police Department in Palo Alto. The only Police Department I see issuing any tickets in Palo Alto are the Los Altos Police Department.

So everyone can thank them because we have no city officials who actually want to help our cities, only there political careers. Too bad it use to be a nice place for everyone to live. The eldery, the young, and families.

Posted by pares, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I wonder if Daniel drives at all. This discussion is about reasonable solutions for multiple users and many of us change hats (i.e., means of transportation) on a regular basis. Safety is extremely important. So is having major corridors in Palo Alto that help the flow of traffic AND keep extra traffic off of side streets. A major corridor on the south side has been knocked out. Does it make neighborhoods safer for cyclists and pedestrians when more cars use side streets to get to school and work? NO. And the constant mergers are definitely a problem. There are several places where mergers occur and then there's a turn off, so all the traffic stops or crawls while that car makes it's right hand turn.

What is disturbing is that there seem to be traffic planners that are delighted to slow traffic down this much and are not concerned about the problems this new design is creating.

Posted by Lost on the Schuchat comment, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2011 at 1:48 am

I don't follow Ronna's comment. If Terry Schuchat was previously a supported of the California Avenue Streetscape plan which dramatically increases bicyclist and pedestrian safety, then why is he suing the city to stop it?

Posted by Brian Guth-Pasta, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2011 at 8:55 am

Stuff white people like: "safety"

-if they really wanted to make the city safer they would do round-a-bouts everywhere.

Great, an expanding city population and LESS roads. I am all for extra biking routes but WHY destroy MAIN roads for it? There are plenty of roads that go to Gunn that could be "fixed" up for bikers. Great job Palo Alto, make it even more of a nightmare to drive across town.

-Used to go to Gunn
-Had a bike until 2nd semester junior year

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I personally have never participated or attended any public hearing in which dreaded cyclists have exhibited their supposedly narcissist attitude. The fact is that fast and furious traffic is incompatible with residential neighborhood anymore than ammunition factories or firing ranges are, it's just too dangerous and destructive. Cars belong on freeways, highways, expressways and major arterials such as Alma and Embarcadero, not zooming by at 45mph a few feet away from small children playing basketball on driveway or mothers pushing baby stroller. In Europe they are steadly eliminating cars from residential neighborhoods and town centers and in this matter they are light years ahead from us and we should follow suit.

Posted by pares, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Daniel, you make a good point, and I'm with you on making it safer. And, you mention it's OK (to have more/faster traffic)on major routes such as Alma and Embarcadero, and on that we are agreed. But, for those of us who need the Arastradero/Charleston corridor it's been knocked out, and safety issues are cropping up elsewhere on side streets and with all the mergers.

Alma and Embarcerdero have lots of residential housing too, so why not change them to one lane? Because it would create a nightmare! People who move into those houses know about the busy street there.

45mph should NOT be allowed on Arastradero -- it should be 30 mph and enforced. There are ways to make it safer without the extreme solution we've got now.

I agree in an ideal world we would not have any housing on the major streets, but we do, and they cost less for that reason.

Posted by registered user, Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2011 at 2:59 pm

RE: Daniel's second comment
Despite being told that he was misrepresenting my position, Daniel continues to falsely and maliciously places me in the "fast and furioius" category. With such an attitude, it is no wonder that he doesn't hear the narcissism of a segment of the bicyclists at public meetings.

To expand on "pares of Barron Park": The Arastradero trial seems to have displaced traffic onto residential streets in Barron Park. Most of these streets have no sidewalks and many of them are quite narrow: I live on Matadero and it is only 20 feet wide (the absolute minimum for two traffic lanes). It has also displaced traffic onto upper Los Robles which is less than two lanes and is a heavily traveled bike route to Gunn. These streets are far more sensitive to traffic than Arastradero.

My knowledge of traffic issues comes from 15 years of working on these issues, both for my neighborhood and on City advisory groups (example, for the El Camino corridor). I am a supporter of the _concept_ of traffic calming on Charleston and Arastradero and was involved in the early stages. However, I have problems with the implementation and the process. My street is a major bicycle route and has been slated since 1999 to _become_ a Bicycle Boulevard--I introduced this and have had to push several times to get it restored to the list of pending projects. The street suffers from significant speeding problems that endanger both bicyclists and pedestrians (no sidewalks). When the street was rebuilt in 2002, I managed to get a little traffic calming incorporated, but the lack of the official designation of Bike Boulevard prevented doing what was really needed.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Douglas Moran is [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] confusing cut-through traffic on his street which he justifiably hates and which is indeed a very big problem in many Palo Alto streets with more profound issues of traffic in residential areas. I hate to agree with people like him on anything, but the Arastradero traffic calming project, which I didn't support and which didn't make much sense to me ended up indeed pushing more traffic into side streets, which actually underlines my point. Cut-through traffic must be made nearly impossible and illegal, and we should look at the European model of eliminating car traffic from residential streets with the exception of residents coming in or out and commercial delivery vehicles.

Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2011 at 6:42 am

The root of many of these problems is that Palo Alto has residential arterials with schools, so the desire for high-speed arterials and low-speed residential streets simply can't be met.

Posted by Steven, a resident of Ventura
on Aug 1, 2011 at 9:51 am

I think the City Council should all drive down Arastradero during rush hour in their own cars before voting on this issue.

Posted by registered user, Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Traffic calming = traffic frustration.
In a sane world, traffic is induced to arterials by making arterials faster and better. Only in Bizaro Alto do we intentionally throw up barriers to traffic. Making through traffic more difficult also makes fire and ambulance runs longer.
Some complain that bikers are forced to ride on the sidewalk - in a real world that would be the natural path of the biker.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

No, Rona clearly had a run in w/cyclists. Their being teens doesn't matter. Riding a bike=cyclist & Cor's agenda to make it not so doesn't make it not so. There are too many law-breaking cyclists in the area, including the older schoolkids. Traffic calming? Can't calm the cycling traffic when they ignore stop signs, don't wear helmets, ride and talk on their cell phones.

It would be wonderful to see cops pulling over the car driving and cycling scofflaws, collect some more revenue. Driving 40 mph on Embarcadero? Cycling from Paly without stopping at stop signs? Stupid!

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Wayne Martin has a wonderful video of bicyclists of all ages blowing through the stop signs on Cal Ave, looking exactly like the ones that almost hit me. It's in the post about the little boy that was hit in the same location - Cal Ave at Birch St. They are moving vehicles. Cars/bikes - no contest w/ a pedestrian.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Yes, and that is why they belong in the street and not on the sidewalk as Walter suggests. I am sad to say that I once saw an old woman killed because she stepped out into a street despite the protests of onlookers and was struck by a bicyclist.

Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2011 at 10:07 am

Our family both drives and bicycles, depending on the situation. The euphemistically named traffic calming measures on the Charleston/Arastradero corridor have created a traffic sphincter that is unneccessary and badly executed. I'm all for encouraging cycling. And yes, we have our scofflaws in every kind of vehicle all over town. Being judgemental because someone is driving a car is not helpful. Those of us who must pass along that corridor on a regular basis, in a car, are being singled out and treated unfairly. Riding a bike does not give you the moral high ground. Sorry. The solution for this corridor as well as El Camino and other heavily travelled arteries would be a middle way that helps both and plenty of enforcement rather than just punishing those who drive cars and rewarding those who are fortunate to be able to travel by bike. It would help also if El Camino was made less hideous. We'd all be in less of a hurry to get out of there. The fact is, these corridors are used more by cars and therefore the cars must be accomodated. I see few bikes as I sit motionless on Arastradero, but those I do see are frequently in the car lane rather than the bike lane anyway. Nobody has any business speeding, nor does anyone have the right to run stoplights, talk on cellphones, ride three abreast, or hit pedestrians, no matter what their mode of transit.

Posted by registered user, Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Encouraging biking = obstructing autos.

Posted by Court, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Mr. Moran assumes one to be a 'self-absorbed ideologue' because he/she thinks that all traffic should share and that injured drivers shouldn't drive. OK. The first part might be debatable, but I don't think my accident involving getting rear-ended by a driver hindered by a cast is an anomaly. It doesn't matter if the transmission is automatic or not (but thank you for the lesson). Driving with broken appendages is dangerous. If you don't believe me, ask a police officer or call the DMV.

Ideology? Yeah, we all have one. To accuse one of having one in this debate is a little pointless. I believe with you that that cars and bikes have to legally share and I believe that the infrastructure should support it. But throughout recent history, the car lane has always gotten the upper hand. The amount of people who would love to ride their bikes to work is huge, but the fear of getting hit by a driver more interested in their coffee, their kids in the back seat, cellphone (or dealing with a sudden pain in their broken wrist), and the thought of getting hit by these types of drivers keeps them from riding.

My 50% guess was a guess. It's why I wrote "probably", and when I mentioned 50%, I was including all those who drive no more than a mile or two during the day for errands, such as lunch, Peets coffee, University Ave shopping, etc. that clog up University and Hamilton between 12 and 2PM. I doubt those drivers are included in any studies about where people drive to work, and I doubt all those drivers during the lunch hour came in from far out of town.

It's the bike lanes that are prevailing so it doesn't matter. In a nutshell, every Bay Area city wants 'green', and the most sensible and economic green transportation is a bike. Cities that encourage cycling always have a higher quality of life. When was the last time you saw 2 cyclists honk and flip each other off?

It doesn't matter what you call me, but the support for more bike lanes at the occasional expense of a car lane is gaining more support than ever before. Anyone who has anything to do with bikes--cyclists, parents of kids who ride bikes, etc. are going to push for more bike lanes, and that's all there is to it. As a driver, I don't want to see driving lanes hindered. But if the expense is just a 10-15 minute delay while allowing safe passage for cycles, I'm for it.

My final comment, you can continue to put down others with insulting names or descriptions for every commenter you disagree with, but it just makes you look bad...Your credibility as a commenter is the same as everyone else in this thread: None, so calling one an ideologue ends up making you the ideologue.

Posted by registered user, Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I have no objection to bike lanes and bike streets, nor to pedestrian friendly features, but it is MY decision how I get from one place to another, NOT THE CITY's!! When encouraging bikes means discouraging cars, the flag is up. Bikes have more in common with pedestrians than with cars, and so let them demonstrate their friendliness by sharing the sidewalks.

Posted by To Observer , a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm

"Traffic spincter" is my new term of the week - many thanks for it!

Posted by registered user, Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm

The word is "sphincter"