Town Square

Post a New Topic

With ideal climate and landscape, why aren't we biking?

Original post made on May 26, 2017

One of the reasons I love life in Palo Alto is because our city has made a serious commitment to bicycle infrastructure. Among Silicon Valley cities, we have been out front, and it has been this way for decades.

Read the full guest opinion here Web Link posted Friday, May 26, 2017, 12:00 AM

Comments (66)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2017 at 8:32 am

These sorts of articles become boring.

If you ride a bike in Amsterdam you probably have a much shorter bike commute than here. In Amsterdam bike lanes are separated completely from roads and pedestrian walkways. Bike lanes have separate road signs, traffic lights, and bike riders obey the rules, use lights and high visibility vests (but probably not a helmet).

Driving is a lot more expensive with gas taxes and a shortage of parking spots at businesses making taking a car instead a very expensive if not impossible alternative.

Also public transportation is excellent which is also another alternative to driving - something we don't have here.

Posted by Stolen Bikes
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 26, 2017 at 9:10 am

Why not bike? Because Palo Alto does nothing about stolen bikes and we're tired of having our bikes stolen when we run errands. We only bike for recreation where we never leave the bikes.

I'm tired of wasting more and more money to push biking and bike lanes and buying $3100 bikes for commuters.

The bike lobby has taken over San Francisco and created all sorts of traffic messes there. Enough.

Posted by Dean
a resident of Los Altos
on May 26, 2017 at 10:46 am

I bike to work virtually every day. I am fortunate to be able to use the Stevens Creek Trail for a large part of my ride, and I hope that this trail gets extended in the future so more people can use it.

I applaud the cities mentioned in this article, and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, and hope we can do even a small part of what the Dutch do to encourage more bicycle use. It's silly to drag around a 4000 pound vehicle every time you need to get from point a to point b. Cars are certainly very useful, but they don't need to be used all the time.

Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 26, 2017 at 11:19 am

Palo Alto's bicycle infrastructure is good in north Palo Alto, but poor in south Palo Alto.

For example, the bicycle routes from Midtown to the employers around Google are terrible, especially during the winter and spring when the bike path under Hwy 101 is closed. The city has been talking about building a year round bike path for at least 10 years now and the last time I asked about the status, they said to wait at least 5 more years.

Similarly, the bicycle routes between Midtown and the California Ave business district are terrible. We have to bicycle across Oregon Expressway where the traffic signals give preference to cars and bicycle have to wait forever to cross. Then we have to push our bicycles through the narrow, congested, no-bicycle-riding tunnel next to the train station. How about building a direct bike path from Midtown to California Ave that avoids these problem areas?

We have similar problems trying to bicycle from Midtown to downtown Mountain View or downtown Los Altos. Bicycle routes are convoluted, poorly marked, and often merge with busy streets (eg El Camino or San Antonio) with impatient car drivers and little space for bicycles. We would like to bicycle to these areas with our pre-teen kids, but are just afraid to because of the road conditions.

Posted by Schreed
a resident of Stanford
on May 26, 2017 at 11:34 am

Why don't we bike? Because most of us have very long commutes. I can't imagine how someone fortunate enough to get the 3 bed 2 bath fixer upper in the boonies of San Jose is going to be able to bicycle to his job in Palo Alto.

I commute 35 miles one way up the peninsula. Sure I can use CalTrain and a bike but it is very difficult day in and day out.

Posted by Jim
a resident of Community Center
on May 26, 2017 at 11:34 am

I've been whacked in my car by someone texting. On a bike I'd be dead. I'll only bike when folks get serious about texting laws. Forget fines. Deactivate phones as the punishment for texting while driving. 1 month first offence. 6 months 2nd offence. People would quit texting.

Posted by Values Life
a resident of Mayfield
on May 26, 2017 at 11:50 am

I am afraid to bike around here because i think it's dangerous.

Posted by Values Life
a resident of Mayfield
on May 26, 2017 at 11:56 am

To Resident:
You are right. Plus, in Europe they have mandatory classes in schools where they teach kids the rules and safety of proper biking.
Here, most people don't seem to know what they're doing.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm

One word answer to the headline: safety. It doesn't matter what traffic laws are on the books if they are blatantly ignored. What's the point if they are never enforced?

Posted by Biking Feels GREAT
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I have been biking safely in Palo Alto and nearby communities for 20 years for about half of my daily trips. My husband bikes from our Palo Alto home to his job in San Jose. Our children bike or ride the VTA bus to school.

It's just not that hard. I do have to choose my routes carefully because the writer is correct that many routes don't yet have a safe place for bikes. There are many places I can't go on my bike because the routes are unsafe for bikes. HOWEVER, I am happy to say that I see that gradually changing, and my biking opportunities continue to open up as routes improve.

I took a class offered by the city on bike safety--Traffic Safety 101. It was EXCELLENT. I learned a lot about how to keep myself safe while bicycling. It helped me develop skills and confidence I needed.

Biking keeps me in great shape. It enables me to start my day with a smile on my face. My husband's demeanor is MUCH happier on the days when he bikes to work. On the rare occasion when he drives, I can see that he missed his "happy time" on his bike.

Give it a try. It's just not that hard. In fact, it feels GREAT. Enjoy a ride to downtown on the Bryant St. Bike Boulevard today. Have dinner downtown and then enjoy a lovely ride home on quiet, treed streets. (Make sure your bike is lit if you ride after dark!) It's a wonderful date night.


Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on May 26, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Bike theft is a major deterrent. Imagine if your car got stolen once per month when you parked downtown to buy lunch, or if you got hit by a car once a month when walking to the store. Yet bike theft is rampant in the Bay Area, if you leave your bike locked close to downtown PA, there is a major chance that it won't be there when you return. This needs to be fixed ASAP if you want people to leave their bikes in public, either with staffed bike parking lots in frequented areas or bike parking areas with major surveillance, preferably adjacent to police stations.

Posted by Why?
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Maybe because I can't even get everywhere i need to in the time I need to by vehicle?

Biking sounds great for singles, those who don't have to help others. But how about those of us who are helping older family to dr. appts and the grocery. And then getting kids to sports, extracurricular activities. I barely make it using my car, biking is absolutely out of the question!

comparing us to small European towns is ridiculous, we are a completely different social environment, completely different lifestyle.

Posted by Why????
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

1) Don't like being sweaty when I get to showers there, so I have to put on clean clothes over sticky body-- yuck.

2) Takes too long to get where I'm going. Now that I work further away, I have less time available.

3) Too dangerous in Bay Area. There are too many drivers texting, talking on phones, or in too much of a hurry and running stop signs.

There are also a large number of foreign drivers who do not have CA Driver's Licenses-- they are driving in easy-to-get international licenses-- and they never really learned how to drive. I nearly lost a leg to one such driver when I did bike to work, and worked closer to home

Posted by Try it. You'll like it.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I am a mom who has kids in sports and other activities. My kids learned early how to ride bike and walk safely WITH me. The wonderful thing about walking and biking with them when they were young was that they became completely independent of me when they hit middle school. They transported themselves. All of that time schlepping them around was mine again--to use productively in other ways. Hurray! And they were PROUD of their independence. Big bonus.

I grocery shop with my bike. (I had to equip it with special pannier bags and a solid rack to do this.) When the kids were younger I pulled a wagon for groceries.

Palo Alto is much like a European town (and I have biked in European towns). It is a small community. Most rides are less than five miles. It is FLAT, so a 20 minute bike ride is EASY. Though our bike routes are still being developed, they are pretty good. Our streets are shady and breezy, so I rarely break a sweat. I find that I can get most places in Palo Alto in about the same amount of time on my bike as in my car.

Most importantly, our whole family is happier when we bike. Exercise reduces stress, and biking is just good, clean fun.

Posted by Weary
a resident of Professorville
on May 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm

A lot of people work from home, and walk to work in town, or walk to the train.

Posted by k2
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 26, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Yes, I use to commute from San Jose to Palo Alto until I got into a bicycle accident. Another cyclist ran a stop sign at an intersection that had poor visibility near cal train station. He crashed into me going 20+ miles as he was going downhill. I fractured a bone and also had head concussion. He stopped to make sure I was alive but didn't want to pay for the medical bills and took off. I was in total shock and didn't know what to do. Anyhow, having safer intersections would be a huge PLUS! I hope to start riding again but feel so unsafe on the roads.

Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 26, 2017 at 3:07 pm

I am one of those fortunate enough to work for a bike-friendly employer (still no convenient showers or lockers, but the commute is short and flat enough that I can cope, and the incentives are great), report to a supervisor who does not assume I have to wear complicated attire everyday, and have commuted exclusively by bicycle for more than six years. I echo all the replies about the financial, environmental, physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual joys of bike-commuting, and also recognize it's not so feasible for everyone, for many reasons. I ride VERY defensively, because not only every day, but multiple times a day, drivers do not respect cyclists' right of way, or simply do not "see" a cyclist.

The worst of my commute, however, is crossing El Camino. I've finally decided that the Transit Center is the lesser of the evils, but it's a very dangerous circle in which the drivers of buses do not always come to full stops at stop signs, and sometimes pull right in front of a cyclist in a way they would not for a car or other vehicle.

Posted by midtown senior
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 26, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Reasons people don't bike (and the City Council's obsession with biking is a loser):
1. With retiring Baby Boomers 30% of our population will be over 65 during the next 20 years or sooner. (see Web Link Our tax structure compels aging people to keep their homes rather than pay huge capital gains taxes. Most won't bike to shopping entertainment, etc.
2. Palo Alto has over 64,400 residents and the daytime population is estimated at 110,000. Web Link
Most can't afford to live here so they must commute, park, go to lunch, etc.
3. Public transport (by VTA) is a bad joke and service becomes more restricted every year.
4. Road diets are counterproductive ... forcing traffic overloads to alternate routes on city streets and making biking more dangerous.
5. Car drivers and bikers seem to have forgotten how to be polite and observe the "rules of the road." Bikers riding two or more abreast, running stop signs, using cell phones (even texting) create road hazards and endanger lives. (Cars are more impact resistant than bikes.) Cars drivers also violate the rules, but city biking remains more dangerous.
6. The long lines of cars trying to pick up or drop off school students at grade schools testifies to the needs for multi-passenger transportation not satisfied by biking.
7. Bikes are easier to steal.
8, 9, 10, and so on.
Our City Council needs to get out of the office and watch the streets. Biking doesn't work for most of Palo Alto's population, especially daytime population.

Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Because by the time you get there you're all hot and sweaty, and you need to take another shower. I don't want to share a cubicle with a sweaty, stinky person. ; )

Posted by Why?
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2017 at 4:40 pm

@try it, you are very fortunate to have your life contained in a 5 minute bike perimeter. But I can assure you, 99% of our friends and family with children are not. we are ALL schlepping kids from one end of town to another. my kids sports aren't in the same town, they're all the way from Sunnyvale to M/A and there is absolutely no way we can bike. Period.

I think its fabulous for those who can make it work. But to try to imply that it should work for the majority "if you only try harder" is insulting and out of line. Until and unless there's a huge shift in how our society currently functions, it's not feasible.

Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on May 26, 2017 at 6:26 pm

Hip hip hooray. I'm so glad to hear that Palo Alto and adjacent cities are working together to improve our north/south bikeways. I'm 68 years old and I ride daily all over Palo Alto, and to and from MV and MP. It's easy and fun. Besides better bike lanes, we also need the city to enforce traffic laws. I NEVER see the police giving tickets to car drivers (or to careless bike riders). Let's create a new Palo Alto identity -- maybe CALM PALO ALTO -- and encourage everyone to slow down, smell the roses, be nice and be safe.

Posted by Too polluted
a resident of Stanford
on May 26, 2017 at 6:36 pm

The few times I tried biking around town and campus I became sick from exhaust poisoning. I'm amazed that people don't seem to consider the toxins they're inhaling when biking or jogging near traffic, and how that can adversely affect health.

Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2017 at 6:46 pm

pearl is a registered user.

@Too polluted:

Exhaust poisoning, thank you, I forgot to mention that. I quit walking and bike riding the two miles to/from work because the exhaust fumes from the buses and cars on El Camino Real were making me very sick.


Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 26, 2017 at 7:15 pm

It doesn't do any good to paint bike lanes if they are full of parked cars. I regularly see bike lanes blocked all day long, with police cars passing the violators without seeming to notice. This just serves to reinforce the feeling that bicyclists are second-class citizens whose safety is less important than the convenience of car drivers.That is no way to get people to change from one mode to the other.

Posted by backwards
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2017 at 7:18 pm

bicycling helps clear pollution out of your lungs. if you are sitting in a car, or in your house or walking then you are breathing the same bad air as bicyclists, but their deep breathing and well exercised lungs will clear out the pollution more than the sedentary people.

Posted by Maren
a resident of Midtown
on May 26, 2017 at 9:35 pm

I grew up in Palo Alto, raised my kids here, am over 65, and still working.
I commute by bicycle, grocery shop by bike, visit my daughter and granddaughter in Redwood City by bike, etc, etc. Traffic is so ridiculous, that anything less than 5 miles away is usually quicker on a bike. And one day last summer Google Maps told me that Sunnyvale was 1 hour away by car and 65 minutes by bike.... so I biked.
In 60 years I have never had a bicycle stolen: I use a 'U' lock and cable, lock the front wheel and frame to something solid, and use the cable to lock the back wheel to the frame, bike rack and U lock. I know this isn't fool proof, but so far it works. "Pit" locks can lock components to your bike. On my commute and shopping bike I have fenders, shopping rack, etc. A front wheel built around a German Generator hub means I have front and rear lights 24/7. Yes, I have had 2 accidents: 30 years ago someone made a left turn into me, and 8 years ago I went down on an unexpectedly terrible piece of pavement: in the middle of the lane a section had sunk and inch, and I landed badly, fractured my pelvis and had a concussion. The pavement needs to be maintained in this city!
And frequently drivers roll through stop signs. But more of them are polite.
I consider biking "free exercise". I need to get where I am going anywhere.
I do wish that we had the Idaho law: stop signs are yield signs and red lights stop signs for bikes: NOTE yield still means slow down, look and YIELD to cross traffic. Coming to a complete stop when no one else is around is ridiculous and part of what makes biking less efficient.
I could go on and on, and No Not everyone can bicycle, of course not, but I applaud the efforts to make it safer and more efficient so that more people can and will. My life on a bike is far more than a "5 minute perimeter"... as I'm sure your car is more than a "5 min perimeter" as well.
Let's respect and help one another. When I bike, it lessens YOUR congestion in the car.
Be Well and Safe,

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 27, 2017 at 7:01 am

I think there is a whole right brain / left brain operation that goes on here when we have people who may not be married with children lecturing people who are married and have children. As people move through the time periods of their lives with babies and baby stuff, soccer kids and baseball kids, garden equipment, house equipment, etc. That is why many people who then have kids graduated and out of the house then move to senior residences so they do not have to haul sports equipment, garden equipment, house equipment, etc. around.
It would be nice if those people who are not encumbered with logistical and time constraints would stop lecturing people who do have logistical and time constraints. It would be even nicer if the city would stop ruining the roads with all types of impediments that tires and bicycle people fall over. Reading the SJM articles in Mr. Roadshow we have enough trouble just keeping our roads free of potholes and other encumbrances that get people into trouble. Basic maintenance is overlooked here.

Posted by My Dog Doesn't Bike
a resident of College Terrace
on May 27, 2017 at 10:31 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2017 at 10:56 am

Bicycle advocates have been their own worst enemy.

In a city controlled by real-estate interests, the answer to every question gets twisted around to build, build, build. Bicycle advocates drank the developer kool-aid and foolishly started believing a more urban Palo Alto would be a more bike-able Palo Alto.

By allying themselves with developers, bicycle advocates were able to get bike paths built, but what they did not realize was urbanization induced road congestion was destroying bike-able infrastructure faster than it was being built.

Bike path construction will never make up for the loss of the ability to safely share the roads with cars.

Davis is the most bike-able city in the United States, not Amsterdam. Bike advocates decided to dance with the devil. Now they are paying the devil his due.

Posted by Check out San Francisco
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 27, 2017 at 11:22 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on May 27, 2017 at 11:40 am

As the article above conveyed, the city vision and plan for a more bikable community is not based on forcing anyone to ride. It is about making biking more convenient, efficient and safer so that more people will choose to ride. Postings by biking supporters appear to be more enthusiastic advocacy rather than preaching so I hope that readers will take them in that vein.
There also seems to be a concern that bike improvements are in the net coming at the expense of car drivers. My favorite story on this issue is one by Joe Simitian about a city council discussion in the late 90's. His colleague and close friend, Gary Fazzino, asked Joe why he was being so supportive of bike improvements since Joe had not ridden his bike in 20 years. Simitian replied that it was because every person who chose to ride rather than drive would be freeing road space and a parking place for drivers like him.

Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm

There are over 3,000,000 automobiles on the Peninsula. Taking ONE car off of the road has no noticeable effect on anything. Traffic accidents are doing a better job of taking cars off the road than bicycles. Any one car taken off the road just creates additional capacity that is quickly filled by the supply.

The urbanization policies supported by bicycle advocates are destroying bike-able infrastructure faster than it is being created by making the roads unsafe for bicycles to share with cars.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 27, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Our town is gripped by ultra-Progressivsm.
Time and time again, the Climate Change Crusaders try all kinds of strategies to fight the Scourge of SOVs. Yet the buses are empty and the fancy, new green bike lanes unused.

And they're scratching their heads, they never learn that you can't incentivize biking by punishing driving.

To answer the headline: because cars are much faster than bikes and save time, OBVIOUSLY.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 27, 2017 at 6:37 pm

Talking about SUV's - have to say that they are proliferating more than other cars. Article in paper today lists the SUV's that will give people over 200,000 miles if taken care of. Suburban areas - which this is - have a lot of stuff to haul around - people, kids, etc. Trying to push people out of the vehicles that people use is creepy. Please stop trying to organize other people's lives by ruining the roads.

Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2017 at 12:00 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Pat Burt - It is a win-win until dumb decision start to be made, like narrowing Arastradero, or Middlefield at California. Those and other projects have been a huge net negative for congestion, and it justifiably creates an atmosphere of skepticism and resentment around bike projects.

Posted by Why not bike around here?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2017 at 1:08 pm

A local bike enthusiast died of a blood clot, 3 weeks after he was hit by a car around San Tomas Expressway in Santa Clara, while on his bicycle.

The car's side mirror caught his clothing, dragging him for a distance and causing severe injuries. He was a few months shy of his 50th birthday. This happened about 4 years ago.

After an 8 hour surgery, he was in a wheelchair and expected to walk again. Had he lived, his goal was riding 100K miles on his bike before turning 50. He was on his way to accomplishing his goal, if he lived.

Obviously, he knew his way around a bicycle and city streets from Menlo Park to San Jose, places that he rode, regularly. Sad time, for all those that knew and liked this nice man.

It was not the first time he was hit by a car though. He totaled 2 other bike's before this last time, all accidents caused by distracted drivers.

Riding bikes around here is akin to a death wish. This is not UC Davis.

Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 28, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Far more pedestrians and car drivers are killed in California than bicyclists. Yes, some bicyclists are killed by reckless drivers, but that does not make bicycling more dangerous than other forms of transportation.

Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 28, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Here is a webpage that attempts the calculation of safety of biking vs. driving (per mile, because that's what we're comparing) and concludes that risk of fatality when biking is 3x - 10x higher than driving: Web Link

If I consider a typical route I drive on local surface streets, where cars are traveling 25-50 mph, it seems pretty obvious that I'll be a lot safer in my car. In fact, I'll very likely survive just about any collision with my car at those speeds which is not the case on my bike. Yes, in some cases there are slightly safer 'bicycle' routes I could use, but almost all of them still involve regular streets with no separation of the bicycle lanes from the car traffic. Add to that the increasing distraction of drivers by cell phones. I was willing to take on that added risk before I had children, but at this point, until they are through high school (at least), it's no longer worth it. I wish it were safer, I really enjoy bicycling.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 28, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Going down Louis Road today cars are parked in the section for bikes all the way down. So when you pass a biker/child you have to move over in the center of the road. That is okay if there is no car coming at you but not okay if you have a line of cars on the road coming at you. You aren't going to see me out there on a bike with cars next to me.

Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 28, 2017 at 3:22 pm

@resident - the law says you are supposed to wait behind a slower vehicle until you can pass them with a safe distance. The law also has specific regulations about parking in bike lanes and parking where there are no parking signs. Enforcement is part of the law, but so is common sense and simple civilized behavior.

Posted by biker mom
a resident of Mayfield
on May 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm

We try to bike as much as possible, but the roads are bumpy and poorly patched together. Most cars don't know road rules and make right turns in front of me and my children, Park Blvd (another bike BLVD) is loaded with construction and I see near misses every day. I would love to send my children off on their bikes, but i just don't trust other people.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 28, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Remember that Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are coming soon to your neighborhood and a home garage and/or backyard near you.

There's no occupancy limit per ADU. So the all the new tenants' cars and the all the formerly garaged cars will need street parking. As will the 3 waste cans.

So expect bike safety and parking to get dramatically worse as more cars end up parked in the bike lanes. Not rocket science.

Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2017 at 4:27 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@parent - there are almost double the deaths per trip on bicycles than cars in the US, and that doesn't account for the miles travelled per trip, which are fewer for bicycles. So the data unequivocally shows cycling is much more dangerous than driving (if common sense wasn't telling you). Cars have continued to get safer and safer. Bike safety plateaued with helmets, and there isn't much more you can do.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 28, 2017 at 6:08 pm

This is an interesting editorial -- but it amounts largely to comparing apples with oranges.

You cannot compare the Silicon Valley with Copenhagen -- because Copenhagen or Amsterdam are individual cities. Go to and compare the size and scope of the Bay Area with a place like Amsterdam.

The Silicon Valley is a large, densely populated area that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose to areas across the bay. A family might live in Palo Alto but have a husband who works in San Francisco, a wife who works in San Jose and children who attend ballet in Los Altos.

I seriously doubt that many people commute by bicycle if they don't live in the city where they work (or in a nearby, adjacent city). Most people won't bike more than five miles to work. This is particularly true in the cold and wet winter months.

I'm all for better access to safe bike lanes. However, it isn't helpful to pretend that the Silicon Valley can ever collectively achieve a bike-commute rate even close to that of a single bike-friendly city in Europe. Most of those residents don't commute 20 miles to work.

Amsterdam is small enough that you can leisurely bike across the entire city is 45 minutes. That is roughly the amount of time that it takes to ride a bike from Stanford to Google (on the corner of Rengstorff and Charleston) in Mountain View.

Posted by Cautious
a resident of Downtown North
on May 29, 2017 at 1:09 pm

These days, my husband and I don't bike unless it's for recreation. We grew up biking in our neighborhoods (out of state) and biked all throughout our undergrad in the Midwest, so we're not unfamiliar with biking 2-mile commutes. My husband is currently a grad student and used to bike every day to Stanford from our apartment, which is almost on the border of Menlo Park. (Close, in other words.) However, he no longer bikes to campus.

The first straw was early on when he would play it safe biking to campus and walk his bike under the Caltrain tunnel on University Ave. On one occasion, in the post-train arrival congestion, someone shoved him into the wall (and ran). Perhaps he was attempting to steal the bike, we're not sure. This occurrence led to him biking the more dangerous underpass on University Ave, which is really too narrow for cyclists to use safely.

Months later he was driving north on Bryant Street and was hit by a driver who pulled out absentmindedly from a stop sign on one of the side streets. Because we live on this side of town, we know it's all too common for drivers (and cyclists) to either ignore these stop signs or not recognize that traffic doesn't stop on Bryant. I can't tell you the number of times I've almost been hit by cars as a pedestrian in this neighborhood, either.

The final offense was when he was coming home from campus (biking east downtown on University Ave) one afternoon, and a distracted driver hit him from behind when she became too eager to pull into a recently vacated parking spot. Fortunately, she wasn't going too fast and he fell into the parking spot, not into oncoming traffic. He was bruised and his bike was damaged, but he wasn't injured, thankfully. Nevertheless, it spooked him (and me!) enough that he threw in the towel on the short commute and now just walks.

Until the entitled drivers and cyclists of Palo Alto start following traffic laws and keep their eyes up and off their phones, or until truly separate bike lanes are installed, we're keeping our feet on the ground or driving. The high cost of living here has taken enough from the two of us in these early years of our marriage. We'd like to make it out of here with our lives intact, if possible.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 29, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Parent - I am not the person who is parking in the street. Everyone else is parking in the street. So pleased that you are handing put directions however most people are not following directions. That is where the problem lies - mismanagement of the amount of space available - trying to over-manage the space available through out the city. It is even worse when there are larger construction and gardener trucks now as everyone is doing their spring home improvements.

Posted by Walking_Biker
a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2017 at 6:49 pm

I think most people don't bike because biking requires some physical effort. Some of the excuses in the above postings does not seem valid. Someone complains about California Avenue under the train track tunnel! I have used that passage and don't find any problem. However, there are couple of valid and invalid concerns as follows:

- Bikes are often stolen: That is true. I wouldn't want to leave a fancy bike in my destination address. A good bike is really a pleasure to ride. A cheap bike is very discouraging.

- Highway 101 under-pass is often closed: True. I don't understand why the city does not remove the plant growth and sediments from the creek there. It is much cheaper to maintain that passage than spend millions of dollars to build a new fancy tunnel.

- Traffic signs do not respond to bikers: That is not true based on my experience. I usually press the walk button like pedestrian and cross busy roads safely.

- We are here and not in Amsterdam. True! It is true that in Amsterdam bikers are first level citizen. But then again, comparing an expansive region like Bay Area with Amsterdam does not seem to make sense. We need to find local solutions that make sense.

- Public transportation in Palo Alto and most B.A. cities is a joke. That is very true. I think one of the problems is that the planners design public transportation with an eye on helping poor, and not solving a general public transportation problem. That is why even the existing meager public transportations (like buses) are not used often.

Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley

on May 29, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 30, 2017 at 10:43 am

I totally agree on the 101 underpass. I have walked that in the summer and there is all types of junk there - and when you follow it out east of 101 it is overgrown with vegetation. Why isn't there any maintenance there? That is suppose to be an outlet for a flood plain so it is critical that the access to the bay be unencumbered. If the city would get in and clear up the trash, dead vegetation, and open the channel by removing some vegetation it would be more useable. That particular underpass is critical as there are schools in the area as well as businesses.

Posted by concerned la entrada parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 30, 2017 at 12:10 pm

It is irresponsible of Menlo Park representatives to give this much band width to the commuter cyclist community, while our local elementary and middle school children are playing a game of Frogger across clogged traffic routes such as Alameda, Valparaiso, and El Camino. Where are the priorities? If we started with planning Safe Routes to Schools, some of these same routes could also be used for regional thru bike/pedestrian traffic. We need to think locally about this and catch up with our neighbors. Palo Alto and Redwood City are light years ahead of Menlo Park when it comes to safe routes to school.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on May 30, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Unsafe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 30, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Bike riding has become far too dangerous anywhere in Silicon Valley, residential neighborhood or not.

I have been hit twice, once mangling my spine and once breaking my pelvis-- to say nothing of all the bruises and road rash.

I am scheduled for yet another surgery on my spine soon.

Riding a bicycle to work, through residential streets and down Campus Blvd--a total of four miles each way-- was not worth it!

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm

We live in suburban sprawl. And a large number of long-time residents want to keep it that way.

That's all you need to know to answer your question.

Posted by excuses
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Because people basically are lazy, so they will create excuses that absolve them from owning their laziness. There is not good reason for most people to not walk or bike some of their errands. In spite of that, individuals will come up with some corner case that prevents them from using anything but a motor vehicle in all situations.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 30, 2017 at 4:45 pm

When I was a kid...
Newspapers were delivered by bike. Times, Chronicle, Examiner, Mercury.
Evidently the "climate and landscape" are no longer ideal.

Posted by Unsafe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 30, 2017 at 6:27 pm

I don't feel that I'm lazy because I am afraid to bike ride to work any longer--I just don't want to be killed. I still have children at home.

However, in spite of the fact that I have lived in constant pain since 2011, I work out with weights five days a week and do cardio three to four days a week.

Due to the spinal injury, I can't stand up straight, but aside from that and the surgical scars, I am actually very lean and fit, spending two hours a day at the gym.

Just because a person fears distracted drivers does not make them lazy.

In spite of everything, I still work full time!

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2017 at 6:55 pm

I tend to think that "laziness" has very little to do with it. Inconvenience is a big part of the equation and safety is another.

Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 1, 2017 at 4:12 pm

I have been riding for almost 50 years, I have ridden across the US (back in 1970 before bike lanes) and from Canada to Mexico. I have never found it difficult to map out a reasonable route from one point to another, sometimes I may have to go a block or two out of my direct way due to traffic concerns or just availability of a straight route. I have never felt the need for bike paths, painted lanes or any other group sponsored safety measures. If you want to ride somewhere you can do it if you are realistic regarding the time it will take and your capability-routes are not the problem, desire is the issue.

We really don't need self appointed bike coalitions, committees, planning groups or other risk averse individuals campaigning for governmental assistance or rules to ride a bike somewhere. Just look at a map, imagine where you want to go and do it. Nuff said.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 2, 2017 at 10:48 am

Louis Road has a bike lane going north which can only have parked construction trucks. And a wider lane going south - which this morning had a Orange transport van sitting there because the driver wanted a break. It consumed the whole lane and overlapped the street and is not part of the approved vans/buses for the street. Just an example of how major cross city streets are totally consumed by trucks, buses, and cars which interfere with the intent of the lanes. Trying to implode a bike set of requirements on well used streets does not make sense. Not sure why the city keeps trying to do this. This is a case where a good intention overrides common sense.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2017 at 11:18 am

I was walking around our neighborhood on a recent trash pickup day. The cans may or may not have been left neatly at the curb by the residents, but after the trash collection truck had gone by, the cans were all over the bike lane, some on their side, and were real obstacles to anyone biking.

Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2017 at 11:28 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

re: bikes stolen - Caltrain released the number of bike thefts at train stations in April the other day:

"Transit Police received 13 reports of bicycle thefts in April, with the most (4) occurring at the Palo Alto station."

How about some security, or security cameras? Bad enough you have to risk your life riding to Caltrain, but then you have to walk home..

Posted by LipService Only Please
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 2, 2017 at 3:36 pm

To do something useful about bike thefts would require PA to do more than providing lip service. preaching to us about the horrors of cars and painting the streets green.

Posted by Peter K. Mueller
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2017 at 10:13 pm

Yes there could be more biking. But there is lots. Especially by the school population.

Palo Alto has a lot of safe biking routes that run parallel to the main motor vehicle routes.

It's improving steadily. Its very convenient to most locations.

Switching from cars to bicycles is practical for short distance errands, etc., But just getting into a vehicle at ones fingertips is more enticing until one insists on biking. Getting on a bike for short distances is a bid of a hassle too what with putting on helmet, gloves, sunscreen, hat, carrier and shopping bags, sunglasses, etc. So doing it is just a mindset different for getting into motorized vehicle.

Posted by Safety first
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2017 at 4:19 pm

What has impressed me the most over the years is how PAUSD students bike, the percentages are very high.

I bet other groups (including work force) pale in comparison to the numbers of PAUSD student bike commuters.

Unfortunately - all the construction and unbridled growth Palo ALto Council is set on, can come with risks.

Last few days, the Post ran an article about rising bike accidents.


Web Link

"Over a 17-year period, medical costs of bicycle injuries to adults in the United States, both fatal and non-fatal, amounted to $237 billion, the study found. In 2013 alone, total costs from bicycle accidents exceeded $24.4 billion, the researchers reported. That is approximately double the medical and other various costs involved for all occupational illnesses over the same time period.

There were 3.8 million non-fatal adult bicycle injuries and nearly 9,839 deaths that were reported during the study period from 1997 to 2013. Men accounted for three-quarters of the total costs.

The study will be published June 1, 2017, in the journal Injury Prevention."

Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2017 at 4:31 pm

There is an interesting article in the weekend edition of another local paper about the dramatic increase in medical costs associated with bicycle accidents. The study out of UCSF claims the annual medical costs associated with bicycle accidents was over $24 Billion for the year 2013, a year with 3.8 million non-fatal and 9,839 fatal bicycle accidents in the US.

To put this in perspective, in 2013 there were 32,725 fatalities from automobile accidents, and auto fatalities have been in steady decline from a peak of 50,000+ in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Given the relatively small number of bicycles compared to automobiles and the even smaller number of passenger miles traveled compared to automobiles, this is nothing less than an epidemic of bicycle fatalities.

UCSF has released an article entitled "Soaring Medical Costs from Bicycle Accidents - UCSF Study Finds Billion-Dollar Toll from Injuries, Primarily to Men" which can be found here: Web Link

Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2017 at 5:19 pm

I believe cycling is a dangerous activity and to treat it any other way and believing rules and bike paths make it safe is the wrong approach. Certainly rules of the road and space marked on the streets can help, but one always has to be aware that they are on a small unprotected vehicle among much faster and larger vehicles as well as parked vehicles with doors that open without notice. One should enter into it knowing it is dangerous and equipping oneself with a defensive attitude that realizes only you can make yourself safe. Keep eyes and ears open develop a sense for what the other guy is going to do and ride as far to the right as you can. The law may be on you side regarding space and sharing the road, but might makes right and cars have all the might, so take responsibility for your own safety and have a good ride every day.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

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

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Vietnamese restaurant that may offer special menu for canine customers coming to former Wahlburgers site in Palo Alto
By The Peninsula Foodist | 1 comment | 3,738 views

I Was At The Stanford Shooting. Let’s Do Better Next Time
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 2,790 views

The clothes we wear: Cool, chic, casual -- or just plain sloppy?
By Diana Diamond | 30 comments | 2,375 views

Some of the best jobs around
By Sherry Listgarten | 4 comments | 1,709 views

People and Relationships Never Stop Being a Work in Progress
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 888 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 29 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away more than $9 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.