Town Square

Post a New Topic

Around Town

Original post made on Mar 9, 2018

ROSS ROAD CHANGES UPDATE ... Opponents to the Ross Road bicycle boulevard redesign might notice some changes made by Palo Alto's transportation division. The minor adjustments involve the location of curb extensions and new drainage structures to avoid underground utilities, city spokeswoman Claudia Keith said. The changes were all done before, and not as result of, a petition signed by more than 175 residents against the reconfiguration, she added. One perspective floating around town is that the transportation division is violating the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design guidelines, particularly, the definitions of bulbouts. One resident sent an email to the Weekly stating that the structures on Ross are actually "pinch points," which NACTO explicitly states should only be used where traffic speeds are already low and cut-through passageways should be provided outside of the pinch point to accommodate bicyclists. "No such cut-through passageways have been provided to the outside on Ross Road. To the contrary, the cut-through passageways have been placed in the middle of the traffic lanes, which is exactly opposite to what NACTO advocates," the resident noted. But Keith refuted those claims in an earlier email in late February. "(Palo Alto Chief Transportation Official) Josh Mello actually helped write the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. The engineers from Alta Planning + Design who designed the Ross Road bike boulevard also were on the project team for the NACTO guide. The curb extensions on Ross Road only extend into the parking lane and are not considered 'pinch points' due to their 20-foot-(travel way) width, so the pinch point guidance regarding bike bypasses isn't applicable."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 9, 2018, 12:00 AM

Comments (17)

17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 9, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

643 people have signed the petition, not 175. Would there have been a problem to acknowledge the residents' efforts and to promise a closer review of the guidelines that Mr. Mello created?


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2018 at 6:53 pm

I would imagine that if Y members and staff were interviewed and told about this petition about the new Ross Road design there would be an additonal few hundred signatures.


9 people like this
Posted by Fox in hen house
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 10, 2018 at 8:12 am

"(Palo Alto Chief Transportation Official) Josh Mello actually helped write the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. The engineers from Alta Planning + Design who designed the Ross Road bike boulevard also were on the project team for the NACTO guide."

I wish I was making this stuff up, but I am not.


13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 10, 2018 at 10:02 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Think a city-wide petition would gain some attention at City Hall and make it tougher to ignore us? Other neighborhoods and streets have been having this problem for many years.


16 people like this
Posted by George Jaquette
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 10, 2018 at 11:19 am

As already noted, there are 644 signatures on the petition. The last City Council race was won by about 800 votes, and the highest vote tally was under 10,000
Web Link

I just measured the roundabout at East Meadow, and it is neither symmetrical nor as wide as specified in the guidelines for a roundabout. Where the Department of Transportation studies that underpin their arguments call for an 80-foot roundabout, our is 64 feet. Take out the 25-foot width from the center, and divide by two ... you have less than 20 feet on either side of the narrow direction.
The design as built is dangerous. Anybody who disputes that has not watched the flow of traffic at 7:50am on a school day, when hundreds of bikes are forced into traffic or onto the sidewalk.

Web Link
Quote from this very pro-roundabout article: "A single-lane roundabout can be as narrow as 80 feet in diameter, measuring across the circle from the outside edges of the vehicle lanes"

Anyone who is not outraged is not paying attention :)


12 people like this
Posted by Member of YMCA
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 10, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Regrettably I need to drive two blocks on Ross to get to the Y. This whole project is an abomination which I'm sure will be torn out when the first cyclist is killed driving down the center of the road.


11 people like this
Posted by George Jaquette
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 10, 2018 at 6:19 pm

We were at the YMCA today for youth basketball (is there anything cuter?) My traffic highlight for the day was watching a huge SUV gun it to 45 to cross the middle line so his wheels would be in the low spots between the three humps that make up a speed bump. Darwin is dangerous in this city with so many smart people ... and drivers have already figured out how to game this design to make it even more dangerous.
When a bike has exceeded a driver's patience (who decided "traffic calming" was a thing? More like "traffic aggravation"?), the driver now speeds between bulbouts and bumps to get around that biker. When two "calmed" drivers meet in a bulbout, all hope is lost.


1 person likes this
Posted by BP Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 10, 2018 at 6:38 pm

@George Jaquette -- try this document for reference on designing a roundabout:

Web Link (Chapter 6, Geometric Design of Roundabouts)

(page 146) "At single-lane roundabouts, the size of the inscribed circle is largely dependent upon the turning requirements of the design vehicle. The diameter must be large enough to accommodate the design vehicle while maintaining adequate deflection curvature to ensure safe travel speeds for smaller vehicles. However, the circulatory roadway width, entry and exit widths, entry and exit radii, and entry and exit angles also play a significant role in accommodating the design vehicle and providing deflection. Careful selection of these geometric elements may allow a smaller inscribed circle diameter to be used in constrained locations. In general, the inscribed circle diameter should be a minimum of 30 m (100 ft) to accommodate a WB-15 (WB-50) design vehicle. Smaller roundabouts can be used for some local street or collector street intersections, where the design vehicle may be a bus or single-unit truck."

A mini-roundabout (design vehicle is a single-unit truck) is expected to be 45-80 ft. An urban compact roundabout which will accommodate a bus is 80-100ft.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2018 at 7:07 pm

Two things.

In the UK, mini roundabouts are basically painted spots on the roadway to enable traffic to use them in active design principle but still drive over them. Drivers and other road users know that it is a roundabout and treat it as such although they can and do drive over the painted spots.

To George's point. I was walking at the Y today on the opposite side of the street and witnessed a large SUV approach the Y SB to enter at the north entrance. It was not going fast possibly well below 25 mph, but to enter it had to first drive to the left side of the road before turning right to enter. I wonder if other SUV drivers can confirm that this wide turn is necessary to make sure the wheels do not touch the bulbout kerbs.


5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 10, 2018 at 7:26 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

With the new bulbouts etc., SUVs and other mid-sized vehicles like gardeners' trucks are having problems all over town. I've seen several cars having to back up to give them clearance and even then some vehicles have trouble making their turns.

And then there's buses and emergency vehicles.


6 people like this
Posted by BP Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 10, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Looking at other state's roundabout guidance -- Washington says (Web Link)

"Mini-roundabouts are small single-lane roundabouts generally used in 25 mph or less urban/suburban environments. Because of this, mini-roundabouts are typically not suitable for use on higher-volume (greater than 6,000 AADT) state routes. In retrofit applications, mini-roundabouts are relatively inexpensive because they normally require minimal additional pavement at the intersecting roads. A 2-inch mountable curb for the splitter islands and the central island is desirable because larger vehicles might be required to cross over it.

A common application is to replace a stop-controlled or uncontrolled intersection with a mini-roundabout to reduce delay and increase capacity."

The small roundabouts on Ross are intended to be "mini-roundabouts", and are well within the design size guidelines for the speed and vehicles that are expected to use them. Additionally, a perfect circle is *not* required by the design guidelines, from the same document, "A non-circular roundabout is a good choice when constraints such as right of way, existing roadway alignments, buildings, and/or environmentally sensitive areas influence the shape."

So: Slow down, don't drive like an idiot, watch out for bicycles, you'll be able to drive through these roundabouts without any trouble at all.


2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 10, 2018 at 8:38 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

It will be sad, but probably true, that our city staff and CC will do nothing about this. Pooh on those online petitioners. If those 644 people were really serious they would come down to city council meetings and voice their opinions, Limited to just 2 minutes each to speak that would be 21 1/2 hours. And where would they park? But there is another way to get CC's attention...it's called a ballot box!


3 people like this
Posted by BP Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 10, 2018 at 9:33 pm

Regarding bicycles and roundabouts -- from the California Roundabout Geometric Design Guidance document, 2007, (Web Link) "The current national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices prohibits bicycle lane markings on the circulatory roadway of a roundabout (38, Section 3B-24). When no bicycle lane is provided, bicyclists should be advised to ride in the center of the lane as if they were driving a motorized vehicle. The FHWA Roundabout Guide advises that because bicyclists have a range of abilities, designers should strive to accommodate that range by designing the roundabout so that bicyclists can circulate as either motorized vehicles (by sharing the lane) or as pedestrians (by sharing a sidewalk or multiuse path)" -- this guidance is intended for both neighborhood and larger roundabouts.


4 people like this
Posted by No...PLEASE...>STOP
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 11, 2018 at 9:06 pm

The Ross Road Bike Boulevard is one of the most stupid ideas ever to flush out of City Hall.

Riding the street today, was almost killed twice. Alta Planning + Design should loose their collective engineering licenses over this horrible piece of work.

Cars and Bikes DO NOT MIX. Spend a day in Copenhagen and you can see the CORRECT resolution is to SEPARATE bikes and cars. Bikes are designed to move slowly...cars are designed to move quickly.

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 11, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Attention city hall, it will be very difficult to insist that everything was okey-dokie when someone gets injured or worse in one of these unnecessary street "improvements", and you are presented with a lawsuit. Josh Mello's justifications for traffic circles etc., new and planned, have not been justified by any safety metric I am aware of, just opinion.


7 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 11, 2018 at 9:49 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Scary that Josh Mello and staff are responsible to figure out how HSR runs through the city.


6 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2018 at 9:59 am

So, seriously. If CPA employees or, indeed City Counciil members, are unresponsive to 650+ concerned citizens, then perhaps the real problem are those employees. I’ve already taken note of those CC embers will not get my vote in the next election. How can we best address the rest? We need changers at the top.


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

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

Su Hong Palo Alto's last day of business will be Sept. 29
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 4,376 views

Electric Buses: Challenges and Opportunities
By Sherry Listgarten | 22 comments | 2,704 views

Troubling safety issues in our fair city
By Diana Diamond | 16 comments | 1,334 views

Natural Wines?
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 940 views

Premarital, Women Over 50 Do Get Married
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 864 views

 

Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info