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Middlefield Road lane reduction moves ahead

Original post made on Jan 24, 2017

Residents along Middlefield Road in north Palo Alto are well accustomed to extreme conditions, whether it's severe traffic jams during commute hours or cars that speed past their homes and, every now and then, end up in their yards or front lawns. On Monday, the City Council approved a road redesign aimed at calming things down.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 2:03 PM

Comments (63)

10 people like this
Posted by pleasantly surprised
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 5:32 pm

I'd been dreading this proposal but the "S-shaped median -- that would prevent left turns." at Everrett and, if they have a "C-based median" at Hawthorne to prevent left turns, then that would work well.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Please no. No suicide lane in the middle of the street. They are scary, and an accident waiting to happen.


42 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2017 at 6:45 pm

It's not about safety. How can you fetishize "safety" to such an extent. By choosing 7A you are making this intersection LESS safe because you are in denial of the reality that an ever-increasing amount of traffic VITALLY NEEDS several lanes to ensure proper traffic flow.

You are creating the potential for exacerbated congestion which can cause extreme gridlock, causing drivers to try illegal/unsafe maneuvers. Trust me that during gridlock you will see cars driving cutting illegally through the vaunted new "bike lanes".

Bicycles should behave as vehicles and share the road with cars. Taking away asphalt to favor roughly 10 percent of the commuters over the other 90 percent is manifestly illogical. There are so many new, fancy UNUSED bike lanes everywhere in town that are a waste of taxpayers money and exacerbated congestion.

Their answer: "don't drive your car, it's bad because you're polluting the air anyways".


This City Council is driven by fantastical idelogical moral preening over pragmatism.

Sad!


17 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm

I have great empathy for the residents along the Middlefield corridor. The dilemma is that there are few alternatives for crossing the creek that divides Palo Alto and Menlo Park. The proposed solution only exacerbates rather than alleviates the bottleneck of these few river crossings. Has the Palo Alto City Council considered the impact this decision will have on its stores, restaurants and schools, as northern neighbors seek alternatives?


10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2017 at 7:12 pm

"Trust me that during gridlock you will see cars driving cutting illegally through the vaunted new "bike lanes"."

Unlikely. Very few auto makes can fit into a 5-ft wide shouder.


25 people like this
Posted by FC
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 7:17 pm

I'm a 49 year resident of Palo Alto and traffic has always been busy on Middlefield. Why is this happening now? Maybe the people who don't like the traffic should move?

And where will this traffic go? You can't just eliminate two lanes of traffic and the traffic goes away? The adjacent streets will be clogged, and the people who live there will have to deal with something they didn't sign up for. City Council needs the guts to tell advocates who propose things like this "no!"



22 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2017 at 9:02 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

Congratulations to city council for what I predict will be an unmitigated disaster. Anyone who lives in this part of town knows that those lanes are highly utilised. So taking roads that people need and removing lanes is not a great idea. And I'm no genius, but I do know that when a road goes from two lanes to one lane then back to two, good things (including safety) do not follow.


29 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2017 at 9:57 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

I just watched the city council meeting where this was discussed, and a few pretty infuriating observations:

1. The transportation official has NO ESTIMATE of where the traffic is going to go. So we are all just going to be lemmings in an experiment for the next year, as they monitor what happens when they inflict this on us.

2. A decent number of residents spoke up and highlighted the fact that outreach to the community (excluding the advocates who live on Middlefield who spearheaded this idea) was pretty bad. Residents of adjoining and affected communities were not notified. And yet, the vote was still 8-0.

Pretty ridiculous.


25 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 24, 2017 at 10:18 pm

I totally agree with DTN Paul.

I want to see some specifics on how Mr. Mello and the City Council are going to monitor this situation for the entire length of Middlefield and the feeder streets, not just Middlefield North.

Since the August change on Middlefield at N. Cal Ave in front of Jordan, they've totally ignored comments, questions and complaints about traffic backing up at the other end of Middlefield into Oregon during rush hour. They've totally ignored complaints about the bike lane and the giant dots creating gridlock by making it tough for traffic to turn on N. Cal Ave and at the other intersections to which they've added giant Botts Dots.

On the rate occasions they do respond to questions about RUSH HOUR gridlock, they something like "Oh, we're monitoring traffic at 10AM." When reminded that 10AM isn't 5PM rush hour, they disappear and the problems remain,

Absolutely ridiculous.


21 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 5:57 am

As a long-time resident of this stretch of Middlefield, I congratulate the council on trying to improve the situation -- for drivers, residents, cyclists, and pedestrians -- at a very troublesome corridor.
The two main problems here are:
1. Gridlock. On a typical workday, the stretch of Middlefield from University to Willow is a virtual parking lot. Northbound, this typically starts around 3pm and clears out around 7pm. Southbound, we usually see this starting around 6:30am and clearing out around 9:30am. Times can vary significantly.
2. Lane configurations. There are currently four lanes painted onto a very narrow street with almost no margin of error for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The lanes are so narrow that wider vehicles, in particular the Dumbarton Express bus, must span two lanes. This, of course, reduces throughput. In addition, the two northbound lanes must merge at the Palo Alto Avenue bridge, further reducing throughput. Southbound from Willow, during off-peak, drivers will use the two lanes to race around a blind curve into an intersection of cross traffic at Hawthorne. The very dense lane configuration also means that it is difficult (during gridlock) or dangerous (during off-peak) to back out of driveways.
Much as I would like, this pilot program will not help with the Gridlock. That is a much bigger problem affecting the entire region. I do, however, feel that the safety of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians in this 3 block stretch will be significantly improved by the changes implemented as part of the pilot. At times over the past few years, we have seen accidents occurring here on a weekly basis. I hope and expect that we will see a reduction in that frequency.


19 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 10:01 am

What is sad is that so many self-proclaimed experts feel entitled to criticize a pilot program without having either the data and expertise of our transportation officials or the 24x7 experience of people who live on Middlefield.

I wonder how they would feel if cars crashed onto their sidewalks and front yards on a regular basis.

It is a documented fact that road diets make roads safer.

Is a road diet a panacea? No. We still need to address the increasing number of SOV trips to our downtown business district. If you want to engage in a productive effort, support the City's TMA and TDM efforts.

Thank you to our Transportation Dept and City Council for objectively looking at the data and implementing a program to improve both safety and residential quality of life.


15 people like this
Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 11:20 am

I second Mark and John's comments.

1. If you study the situation ... you will see that on SOUTHBOUND Middlefield, Willow feeds on average < 1 lane of traffic and Lytton intersection empties on average 1 lane of traffic. So So, the fact that there are 4 lanes is just space for cars.

Northbound is simpler -- creek has one lane. Two lanes are useless in moving traffic, and this space reclaimed for a shoulder will make it safer for ALL.

The turn lane will make the traffic way smoother than it is today as people are blocking travel lanes today to get to their driveways.

The gridlocks will continue. But for NO benefit, why make it terrible and unsafe for all by putting 4 lanes where there should have never been 4 lanes?

2. Residents who live off Middlefield who are afraid of a potential impact need to consider two items:
-- Option 7A actually will reduce neighborhood access to these
-- Middlefield is RESIDENTIAL and it bares such a large burden of the increased traffic today. Your neighbors are paying a very high price right now. You won't take a small traffic increase

3. Ludicrous to say "traffic officials had no idea where the traffic will go" ... traffic officials were constantly pushing back on the residents to solve for impact to the neighborhood and capacity. If their modeling showed significant impact to capacity, then they would not be recommending 7A.

Let's look at fairness here and not ONLY your personal interest.




21 people like this
Posted by Hal
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm

This section of Middlefield is plagued with accidents, mainly due to people trying to turn left from Everett or Hawthorne, or trying to cross Middlefield at Everett. Because they are crossing two pairs of lanes, they can't see oncoming traffic, which is often speeding.

The turn-related accidents are a threat to everyone, but so is the speed itself. At Everett, cars sometimes go up onto the sidewalk to avoid a collision, or because of a collision. At my house (on Middlefield), we had a car go up over the curb and into our yard, at a time when we had two small children in the house. Our neighbors across the street had a car go into their front yard, where they are sometimes gardening. A while back a car came around the curve so fast that it flipped and landed in another neighbor's yard, killing the driver. That's the only time, as far as I know, that someone has been injured or killed, and the really drastic incidents are pretty rare. Nevertheless, sometimes we feel like targets in the sights of the speeders.

The city has put up signs telling people that they can only turn right from Hawthorne or Everett during rush hour,
but these signs are pretty much ignored. The city even rewrote the signs at one point, trying to make them clearer,
but it did no good. I live close to the Hawthorne intersection, and I often see a line of cars backed up on Hawthorne
during the afternoon rush, waiting to make that illegal turn. Sometimes the backup on Hawthorne is more than a block long. I also hear honking multiple times a day, as cars pulling out into Middlefield find themselves in the path of an oncoming vehicle. And even if the turn signs were obeyed, they don't address the speeding.

We're hoping that the reduction from two lanes to one will reduce speeding. People won't be trying to race around each other any more. The reduction will also make it easier for people to turn right from Everett and Hawthorne. And the change will include some curbing making it impossible to turn left from Hawthorne or Everett, or to go across Middlefield on Everett.

It's the job of the traffic engineers to collect data and run simulations to find a solution that has minimum impact. I'm not a traffic engineer, and I don't know their reasoning, but here's my uninformed view of the throughput issue. Outside of rush hour, traffic on Middlefield is light enough so that one lane would suffice. During rush hour, traffic is heavy, but it moves very slowly, due to backups north and south of this area. The actual throughput is pretty low, and so a single lane would suffice then also.

Most decisions like this are a tradeoff. You can fix the safety issues, trying to minimize the impact on traffic. You can do nothing. You can plow up the houses on Middlefield to add more lanes; presumably you would do the same along other streets in Palo Alto as traffic increased. You have to decide what sort of town you want to live in.


9 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 12:30 pm

"The transportation official has NO ESTIMATE of where the traffic is going to go."

He's trying to divert it out of peoples' front yards, where it too frequently winds up, deeply dented/crumpled.


"I'm not a traffic engineer, and I don't know their reasoning, but here's my uninformed view..."

Well said.


14 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 1:30 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

@rational:

First of all, it's not at all ludicrous to say that they have no idea where the traffic will go. The traffic official literally said that in the meeting. You can view the video yourself. He thinks that if traffic backs up, as surely it will, it will divert to residential streets like Everett, Guinda, Hawthorne, etc.

Secondly regarding fairness - let's be real. It's not like Middlefield suddenly became a residential arterial street. As commenters like FC point out, it's always been busy. And I might argue that those who live on Middlefield live in Palo Alto at a discount because that has always been the case. It's reflected in the home value. So I don't see what is unfair about not wanting to divert traffic from Middlefield to other streets. It's like I bought a house next to the airport, and then suddenly asked to divert flights. How is that fair?


7 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 1:53 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

I'm optimistic this will help, but one of the problems with solutions like this is that instead of calming down the worst a-hole drivers, it triggers those drivers into even worse behavior, barreling down alternative streets, losing even more time, which makes them drive even faster and more recklessly.

I was horrified to see a series of cars northbound on Middlefield cutting through the circular driveway at Lucie Stern at near full speed, then turn left on Melville, then back onto Middlefield just to get ahead of a few cars stopped at the red light.


13 people like this
Posted by Regional
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 2:35 pm

@DTN Paul,

If you have a pipe with 1/2 inch valves at two ends, it makes very little difference if the pipe is 1 inch or 1 foot in diameter. This is the situation today on Middlefield. Otherwise, the simulations would have failed 7A. I am sure you heard Josh state that if the models predicted level of service degradation, then it would trigger an EIR and this project DID NOT.

Second, your point about home prices ... yes they are priced lower, but basic safety and ability to get out of a driveway? Really? Traffic has radically changed (did you hear doubled in 3-4 years?) and that has created an absurd living situation. So to tell us to shut up and go back to our poor part of town does not sound fair to me.

We didn't ask to turn Middlefield into Cowper in Professorville. Just some relief and balance.

What other comments do you have? Do you have thoughts around a larger objective and strategy on managing transportation for the city as a whole?


Like this comment
Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Oops! Name autocorrected to "Regional" for some reason ... sorry that was from "Rational"


9 people like this
Posted by Gnar
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 25, 2017 at 2:54 pm

I'm so incredibly sick of Palo Alto's NIMBYism. While the rest of the Bay Area has borne the burden of explosive growth over the last 3 decades, Palo Alto's population hasn't really changed since 1973. That's disgusting to me.

For crying out loud, the recent lane restrictions in front of Jordan have resulted in traffic backed up through the Middlefield/Oregon Expressway intersection when school gets out, blocking East/Westbound traffic on Oregon.

How about instead of continuing make bad decisions to throttle traffic ("THINK OF THE CHILDRENNNNNN!!!"), we start accommodating the increased traffic that's here whether we want it or not?

Bay Area population is going to continue to explode through 2040. It's time for Palo Alto to suck it up and contribute their fair share.


7 people like this
Posted by Thank god for bikes
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 25, 2017 at 3:04 pm

I really don't know how I would manage if I had to be in a car stuck in traffic with all you people.
brring-brring :)


10 people like this
Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 3:34 pm

@Gnar ... exactly, it should be about children ... who can't play in their front yard right now because cars come flying in them.

This actually has happened multiple times. Also, still don't understand how everyone jumps to the conclusion that this will result in lower capacity.


15 people like this
Posted by Dave Hoffman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 4:32 pm

One common comment in this thread is that the majority of accidents on this stretch of road are caused by people speeding. I have lived in Professorville and Crescent Park since 2006, and watched in amazement as traffic enforcement was gradually eliminated.

So before I endorse another 'road diet' in a city with few arteries and many bottlenecks because of its geography, perhaps the Council could explain why they haven't started by asking the Palo Alto Police Department to enforce traffic regulations in town? It would be a steady source of revenue, would satisfy the stated goal of improving safety for all, should be less expensive than the road modifications, and who knows? It might eventually make drivers start slowing down...


15 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 9:32 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

@rational -

First, I want to be clear that at no time did I suggest in any way that you should "shut up and go back to [your] poor part of town."

But this IS about fairness, and I was responding to your implication that somehow because I was not supportive of this change, that I should "look at fairness here and not ONLY your personal interest," as though I'm being totally selfish for not buying into this plan.

Here's the problem. This change is being pushed by the residents who live on Middlefield. I'm sympathetic to their situation, but the 'solution' MAYBE solves the safety problem, but by making the traffic one much worse. If you think that taking a two lane road in multiple directions and then suddenly shrinking it to one lane and then back to two is going to not have an terrible effect on traffic, I think you're not thinking clearly. Look at the mess on 101 where the two car pool lanes suddenly merge.

And the irony is that if traffic on Middlefield has doubled in 3-4 years, how does having a constant traffic jam in front of your house because there are 2 fewer lanes help you with access to your house? As Curmudeon helpfully pointed out, you can't drive down a 5 foot shoulder.

But so that's the plan. But there are other neighborhoods affected, and I'd venture to say that very few of us were notified or knew about this change. At Tuesday's meeting many people got up and said that. The transportation official said that the only people who attended the workshop were people who lived on Middlefield. Is it fair that the problem the people on Middlefield is partially solved by making the lives of those in other neighborhoods much worse? Without their input? Doesn't seem all that fair to me.








9 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 9:52 pm

"Is it fair that the problem the people on Middlefield is partially solved by making the lives of those in other neighborhoods much worse?"

It's carmageddon every AM and PM there. It cannot get worse; it can only stay in that condition longer. No impact to other neighborhoods, unless they build a bridge over the creek.

To alleviate this situation we need to reduce our commute traffic. I have no objection to converting a few dozen or so downtown office buildings to housing.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:50 am

I'm not sure why DTN Paul and folks are so surprised.
There exists an unchallenged, postmodern strain of thinking -- it dominates our city government -- and it states that single-occupant vehicles are a calamity that must be fought. "Rational" subscribes to this.

Single-occupant vehicles make up the majority of commuters, yet they are given the lowest priority.

Apparently, logic doesn't factor into postmodern thinking.

Apparently, when you ride alone, you *STILL* ride with Hitler.


10 people like this
Posted by Shoulda listened yrs ago
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 26, 2017 at 10:10 am

People absolutely resude to accept that there are too many people on the roads. What magic spell should we cast to make all this traffic flow?
By the very nature of things, one open flowing road is another cross streets nightmare. Don't talk about some imaginary light timing scheme to make things go faster. You didn't have to accept the warnings that people have been screaming for decades: "The continued increase of cars will eventually gridlock traffic", but it is the reality and no magic idea will fix it.
It's not that single occupant cars are lowest priority, its the reality that nothing can be realistically done simply because there are far too many of them for the limited road space. I'm sure all the non-traffic engineering experts will chime in now.


3 people like this
Posted by Shoulda listened yrs ago
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 26, 2017 at 10:14 am

"Apparently, when you ride alone, you *STILL* ride with Hitler."

You shouldn't think people think you're hitler. They don't, and if you think they do, you're imagining it. It's OK. You're safe here and among friends who don't think you are hitler.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2017 at 10:16 am

Roundabouts improve traffic flow much better than stop signs and lights.

Unfortunately most American drivers can't negotiate them.


2 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2017 at 10:44 am

@Resident In regards to roundabouts, roundabouts are NOT 10 foot circles dropped into an existing intersection. They are NOT the disaster that Stanford did at Campus Drive and Galvez. Roundabouts that work are at least a couple of hundred feet in diameter and let multiple cars be in the roundabout at the same time.

If you want to improve traffic in Palo Alto, then you have to accept the fact that University, Embarcadero, Oregon/Page Mill, San Antonio, East and West Bayshore, Middlefield, Alma, and El Camino need to be major arteries, 4 lanes in each direction, 40 mph min speed limits.

/marc


8 people like this
Posted by Gnar
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 26, 2017 at 10:47 am

@Rational... I doubt very much that cars come "flying in" to people's yards. Also, those are not yards. They're postage stamps. There's no room for kids to play there anyway.

If your concern is kids playing in the front yard, let's talk about the real issue: personal responsibility.

Because their parents chose to buy a home on a main artery, everyone else around them is now responsible for their safety?

Go drive down 4-lane residential streets in Mountain View or Sunnyvale. There are homes with yards there as well, only the speed limit is 35 MPH. For some reason, only Palo Alto seems to think this is some kind of public safety hazard. Maybe it's because children in other cities aren't coddled as special snowflakes, and their parents teach them basic, common sense safety?

This is a very Palo Alto mentality. God forbid we teach our children how not to chase a ball into the street, how to cross the road safely, how not to ride a bike with your friends 4 abreast blocking traffic with no hands and no helmet, and how not to swerve your bike into traffic wearing all black at night with no lights.

This is exactly why Palo Altans have a reputation for being entitled. "I don't need to teach my child boundaries. What if I damage them? Everyone else should accommodate them instead.."

If you buy a house on Middlefield and don't teach your children traffic safety, you are failing as a parent.

This entitled, special snowflake attitude is uniquely Palo Altan. For years I have watched Palo Alto parents refuse to take responsibility for their children's behavior, refuse to set healthy boundaries for their children, and refuse to enforce natural consequences. This creates children who grow up to become entitled adults who can't take responsibility for themselves.

Throttling traffic again is not the solution. Teaching personal responsibility instead of crowdsourcing it, is.


14 people like this
Posted by "Snowflakes" --A little civility, please.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2017 at 12:06 pm

"Snowflakes" --A little civility, please. is a registered user.

To Ganar,

I don't live on Middlefield, I live in south Palo Alto like you, but I empathize with their problem. Why? Because speeding motorists are landing in their front lawns. To do that, the speeding motorist has to launch himself over a vertical curb, across a planting strip and a sidewalk before he lands in the front lawn. How can you defend that kind of scofflaw, self-absorbed behavior?

It is not a "snowflake attitude" to expect that streets will be designed for the safety of everyone who uses them, and that cars will not invade sidewalks.

BTW. This is my first post on this subject, so please don't rant that I am one of the "snowflakes" you were referring to. I am a person who walks a lot. If driver behavior were not a problem in this location (and others), the project would be unnecessary.

I realize there are many good drivers, but as with many things, when some people misbehave, they ruin things for everyone. We reap what we sow. Let's all behave legally and considerately out there.


4 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 26, 2017 at 12:14 pm

@"Snowflakes" --A little civility, please: Thank you. Sorry I can only like your posting once.


11 people like this
Posted by Carol
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 12:28 pm

@Gnar...."I doubt very much that cars come "flying in" to people's yards. Also, those are not yards. They're postage stamps. There's no room for kids to play there anyway."
Yes, the cars do fly into yards. See one of the photos here:
Web Link
The notches in the hedge are from other accidents where vehicles landed in the yard. And that yard is larger than a postage stamp.


9 people like this
Posted by PA Grandma
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2017 at 12:54 pm

When Councilmen DuBois and Filseth were elected to the City Council, both of their platforms included the notion that we should be making decisions based on mathematical and statistical analyses of various problems. The traffic on Middlefield Road is a fluid flow problem and the city should have the information necessary to develop different scenarios with different variables.

Palo Alto should have data on the number of cars traversing Middlefield between Oregon Expressway at any time of the day or night. Based on that it should be possible to develop a traffic model that can be manipulated to show the results of changing parameters like speed or number of lanes. If this has not been done, there is no way that any kind of reasonable decision can be made to manage this traffic. And if Palo Alto doesn't have the expertise, then I am absolutely certain that someone in the engineering department at the University across El Camino can do it.

Based on my 40 plus years of driving in Palo Alto at all times of the day, I am fairly certain that the "traffic diet" solution proposed will only push the problem out to the North and to the South, which means that Middlefield, especially during commute hours will be two solid lanes of traffic from the Menlo Park border (and beyond to the North) to at least Oregon Expressway to the South. Most of it will be stop and go, thus adding to air pollution as cars idle for extended periods of time. And you can be certain that neighborhood streets to the East and West of Middlefield will be impacted as hurrying commuters try to escape the traffic. (I have to say that the disappearance of all police officers who do traffic control has greatly contributed to the insanity of the traffic.)

Palo Alto seems to be bound and determined to be sure that bicyclists are able to travel on the most heavily traveled streets in town. This is insanity. I bicycle around the city and avoid Middlefield, University and Alma like the plague. Bryant and Louis Road are much safer and work destinations on either side of these streets are not so far away as to make them inconvenient for a bicyclist. There is NO REASON to turn Middlefield into a bike boulevard, although the people who do the traffic planning appear to be pigheaded enough try to hammer it through.

The only reasonable solution to the Middlefield traffic problem has two parts. Traffic flow:

1 - Make the street four lane at least from Embarcadero to the Menlo Park border, including the part where it narrows now to go over the Creek. And work with Menlo Park to re-set the traffic flow at the Willow/Middlefield light. They way it is set up now just contributes to the backup.

2 - Hire some traffic enforcement officers to patrol that stretch as well as Embarcadero and Oregon and Alma to put a lid on the speeders and reckless drivers along those roads.

My two cents . . .


4 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm

We have a wide variety of "drivers:" Vehicles of all types come through here in this thriving local economy.
We have local and regional and commuter/employee and mom/nanny and school bus and visitor and Atanford-related and delivery truck and services and government vehicular traffic. We also have emergency services traffic - very important. While supportive of walking and riding bikes, the use of busses has been very minor around here and autos/trucks are prevalent for a multitude of practical reasons.
It is a reality that vehicles must be able to have some thoroughfares to transit within and across cities and regions.
I oppose removing lanes on roads that serve as significant arteries, such as Charleston/Arastradero and Middlefield. I strongly suggest clear signage of rules/speed limits, trimming foliage which limits views to drivers (on curves, or where foliage obscures clear views) and consistent law enforcement from cities on borders -- near border of Menlo Park - near border of Palo Alto. Speeding is NOT ok. But we must have means of getting places or else Waze will send drivers of all varieties onto the smaller lanes which are "more" residential.


5 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 2:20 pm

jh is a registered user.

When will tech employers figure out that cramming more and more employees into offices is making the commute and parking for their employees a nightmare?

We are years away from having many viable transport options that will actually make a dent in reducing solo occupancy drivers plus their need for parking. Jobs need to be nearer to where people can live. Yet the city keeps encouraging more and denser development making the problem worse year over year. And any new housing that will be built, even dense stack and pack, is not going to make much of a dent in the housing shortage.

What we are left with is way too many angry employees who want to live close enough to able to walk of bike to work competing for what housing there is. And beating up on those who already live here.


14 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 26, 2017 at 3:05 pm

"If your concern is kids playing in the front yard, let's talk about the real issue: personal responsibility."

No, let's talk about the actual real issue: property rights. How would you like uninvited autos hurtling onto your front lawn? Hmmm? Well, my neighbors feel exactly the same.

Busy streets are acceptable. Unsafe streets of any kind are not acceptable.


17 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Wondering is a registered user.

Why would anyone consider living on a busy thoroughfare such as Middlefield, Alma, or Embarcadero??

Yes, the homes are way more affordable, but is it worth living with the reasons those homes are more affordable!
Surely your realtor would have warned you against it, surely all these detractions were in your contract.

That said-- why make the problem of roads ALREADY too narrow WORSE? And more dangerous for bike riders, pedestrians, residents and drivers alike?

Did the city council forget their thinking caps that day?


5 people like this
Posted by karen
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 26, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Maybe this will help move traffic to major arterials like Embarcadero or Oregon to get to 101? Many of the cars going down Everett, Hawthorne, and Middlefield are trying to get to 101 by way of Willow road.


12 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:35 pm

jh is a registered user.

@wondering "Why would anyone consider living on a busy thoroughfare such as Middlefield,"

Traffic on Middlefield has doubled in the last few years, as talked about at Monday's council meeting. Yes, anyone who bought on Middlefield in the last year, or maybe two, could have known what the traffic situation has become. Middlefield was always a busy street and house prices reflected that. But no one anticipated the sheer amount of traffic now using Middlefield every day, and the dangerous driving as a result. No one could have known that what were once single offices or small offices with 2 or 3 employees, would become offices for 6-10 employees, and that large spaces would be jam-packed with work stations side by side. Or maybe the developers, but planning for the future wasn't their job.

Downtown Palo Alto wasn't designed to become an office park on the scale it is now, nor the California Avenue area. Or along El Camino. Mostly small businesses and neighborhood serving insurance agents, dentists, etc., then small start-ups. with only a few employees were added. I could walk or bike to run errands. Now I am just another driver on the road going down to Los Altos or Mountain View.


9 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 10:33 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Karen - Why is Embarcadero more of a major arterial than Middlefield? Both are (mostly) 4 lane, residential, 25MPH. Both have schools and churches. Stand on the corner of Embarcadero and MIddlefield and they are pretty much the same. You should have the same concern for people trying to back out of their driveways on Embarcadero, and not look at it as a place to send more unwanted traffic.


10 people like this
Posted by FC
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 27, 2017 at 1:56 am

Why didn't the city do a computerized traffic simulation to predict how this would work out?


17 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2017 at 7:58 am

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
Middlefield is a main arterial, as such it should be 2 lanes each direction with a third lane for left turns. The speed limit should be 35 mph, just as on El Camino Real.
Sudden lane reductions lead to congestion and road rage. Stop the stupidity!


14 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 27, 2017 at 9:24 am

mauricio is a registered user.

To achieve traffic calming on Middlefield, we should encourage more housing and office development, attract more start ups and encourage existing companies to expand in the Bay area and hire more employees. If you don't believe me, ask Steve Levy, Greg Tanaka, Mr. Fine, Liz Kniss and Kate Downing.


11 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:59 pm

University Ave is a residential arterial like Middlefield, handles a comparable amount of traffic, and is four feet wider, yet has only one lane in each direction and wide shoulders (bike lanes and parking). It doesn't see the same quantity or dangerous character of accidents as Middlefield, has less speeding, and offers its residents a much better quality of life.

So why does Middlefield need four lanes packed curb to curb? And if you think it does, will you also call for four lanes on University?


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Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 31, 2017 at 12:43 pm

@FC: They do and I believe did this time. The simulations showed that impact to traffic ("level of service") was not significant. The city assigns letter grades to intersections (A through F) and if a proposal changes the letter grade to worse, they have to do an EIR (environmental impact report).

Second: Embarcadero is a residential arterial and deserves the same treatment. Howaever, along most stretches, it is SIGNIFICANTLY wider than Middlefield. Four lanes, parking, bike lane ... all can be accomodated.

@Sunshine: "Residential arterial" vs. El Camino which is not. Also, see first paragraph of my response.


26 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Dear Palo Alto,

I just want to commend you for changing southbound middlefield from 2 lanes to 1 at the Menlo Park/Palo Alto border.

This has had exactly the intended effect:

1: a backlog of traffic on Middlefield merging to 1 lane;
2: an increase in cut-through traffic onto the residential streets of Palo Alto Avenue, Woodland Avenue, Guinda, Channing, Hamilton, Gilbert, Pope, etc;

Palo Alto intelligence and its keen understanding of human behavior and traffic patterns are breathtaking to behold.

My hope is that the leadership you display in traffic quieting helps motivate Menlo Park to make similar changes; perhaps make the Willow left-turn lanes a single lane instead of the current 2-lane left-turn.


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 13, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Middlefield changes have also made it virtually impossible for emergency vehicles to move through this area.

Who was the genius that decide to block emergency vehicle access to the middle lane by placing a permanent, rigid sign in that lane?


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 13, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Its all working as intended.

They're not blind... they are purposely trying to make it so driving cars is no longer viable.
A single-occupant vehicle is anathema to Progressives!
Cars take up too much space and pollute our precious air! They should be a relic of the past!
Don't you know cars are on their way out?
You deserve to sit in traffic! You ARE the traffic! YOU are the problem!

Don't you know we're all supposed to ride bicycles and use public transit now?

Shame on you all! Don't you understand the immediate URGENCY of fighting CLIMATE CHANGE???








(Keep voting for Democrats and this is what you get.)


6 people like this
Posted by A REAL Progressive
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2017 at 5:21 pm

It's tough to tell the political players by self-proclaimed labels and name-calling. I'm as progressive as they come and I think the whole anti-car super-high density "traffic diet" nonsense is more like a religion than any type of rational philosophy except developer enrichment.

But you're right that the LOCAL Democrats aren't doing themselves or their national party any favors by alienating the true progressives.

Who could have imagined that the "Democrats" would have such conservative policies about legal marijuana? Political labels are meaningless and most people are too lazy / ill-informed to watch how the candidates actually vote.


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Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2017 at 6:42 pm

@A REAL Progressive

Or perhaps you're simply not a real progressive? Plenty of people aren't, nothing wrong with it, I'm just not sure why you would be clinging to that label?


6 people like this
Posted by A REAL Progressive
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2017 at 7:39 pm

@Todd, I'm not really clinging to labels; merely responding to Resident above and his comments about Democrats, many of whom aren't progressive at all or just took that party label because it was the only way they could get elected here.


54 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2017 at 7:41 pm

"I think the whole anti-car super-high density "traffic diet" nonsense is more like a religion than any type of rational philosophy"

Exactly.

* Reducing car capacity on main arteries just pushes traffic to residential neighborhoods, the very areas they're allegedly trying to protect. Dumb, dumb, dumb;

* I'm actually supportive of encouraging the use of public transportation, and even funding public transportation projects with tax dollars (by legal/ethical means), and I consider myself relatively fiscally conservative.

But our current PT footprint in the Bay Area, and particularly the peninsula, is DISMAL. I like Caltrain, but it's coverage area is minuscule; it would take me about 90 minutes to travel 10 miles. That's just not feasible.

These people are trying to push people out of cars by reducing the capacity of critical arteris, but with little other alternatives in place. Dumb, dumb, dumb.


I really hope Menlo Park does something similar on Willow. Most of Willow/Middlefield commute traffic is to Palo Alto, and by choking the Willow/Middlefield area, it will force traffic to Palo Alto...

where it belongs.


Like this comment
Posted by Todd
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2017 at 8:12 pm

@A REAL Progressive

Or perhaps its because progressive values include equity and protecting the most vulnerable amongst us, not making sure there's no traffic on your way to work?


7 people like this
Posted by South Palo Alto
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2017 at 10:41 pm

Alright, just one more reason not to visit downtown businesses, Mountain View here we come!!

Yippee!!!!


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2017 at 7:25 am

I like how the city puts on "work shops" in an effort make the public perceive that their is a policy of transparency. Example: There was a feasability study for around $350,000 for a bike path along Matadero creek. Well of course, most residents along Loma Verde did not attend, After all it,since they did not live next to the creek, how could this project possibly effect them? The engineers and City managers new damn well that it was not possible to put a bike path next to the creek due to setback issues. So instead, they are proposing a bike lane on Loma Verde, which will involve no parking on the north side along with a multi million dollar bike underpass that passes under Alma railroad tracks at Loma Verde. The city is on a constant search for state and Federal grant money, for such projects. I feel sorry for the homeowners on Alma. When are we going to say enough is enough! It is time to attend City council meetings armed with pitchforks!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2017 at 7:28 am

Typo: I meant to say: I feel sorry for the residents on Loma Verde and surrounding neighborhoods that will be effected.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2017 at 11:04 am

We should increase bicycle registration fees to make it in line with road usage. Make the bicyclists pay for the new bridge over 101 and other new projects.


8 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 15, 2017 at 11:29 am

I urge everyone commenting here to write directly to city Planning Director Hilary Gitelman Hillary.Gitelman@CityofPaloAlto.org and convey your concerns TO her and the city council.

I recently did wrote to the City Council and Mr. Keene who forwarded the comments to his staff. When I got the usual response that "they're monitoring" my specific complaint, I urged her to check here and see I'm not the only one complaining and jer response was to dismiss these boards which she "sometimes" checks because she said it's now clear how many separate individuals are commenting.

Keep up the pressure.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 15, 2017 at 4:46 pm

@peninsula resident

If you don't like the lanes, take action! Boycott 'em. Take your business elsewhete. We'll miss you for a few minutes, but we'll get over it.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 15, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If you don't like the lanes, take action! Boycott 'em"

Just how will that work for emergency response vehicle?


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 15, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Hopefully before someone dies waiting for a blocked emergency response vehicle someone will wake up and realize that this is an Emergency Response Route and the new configuration makes it impassable for such emergency vehicles.


15 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2017 at 11:46 pm

Curmudgeon wrote:
"Boycott 'em."

Reading comprehension's not a strength, I see.

I'll be more succinct: Palo Alto's glorious traffic planning on North Middlefield is resulting in more traffic in Palo Alto neighborhoods (to route around the artery congestion).

And inevitably this will also result in more traffic IN Palo Alto, since drivers will see the folly of cutting through Menlo Park via Willow or Middlefield; they'll just go straight to the heart of the beast: PA.

Enjoy your traffic. You deserve it :)


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

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