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Community Notebook: City to host bike boulevard education event

Original post made on Apr 9, 2018

Seeking to address residents' concerns about the newly-constructed roundabout intersection at Ross Road and East Meadow Drive, the city of Palo Alto will host a free roundabout education event this Wednesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 9, 2018, 4:08 PM

Comments (28)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 9, 2018 at 6:53 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The problem isn't just roundabouts although 835 people have signed the petition about the roundabouts on a single street (Ross Road). It's also about ALL of the other types of road barriers -- posts, poles, giant Botts dots, new lane restriping, putting a bus stop 3 car lengths from a major intersection right where the road narrows to a single lane, drivers creating their own lanes so they can get into a turn lane in a single light cycle etc, etc, -- that don't allow enough clearance for drivers to make their turns and that back cars up into the middle of major intersections.

Today it was reported that the city is going to start tracking our traffic patterns based on our cell phone locations. Maybe if our city staff actually got out of their offices and looked at traffic during morning and evening rush hours, they'd SEE why people are so mad instead of wasting more money tracking how long we wait at traffic lights.

By the way, how much are we spending on this and for outside engineering consultants to tell Mr. Nello whether its "feasible and appropriate" to fix existing mistakes?

Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2018 at 11:14 pm

Sounds like a waste of effort... there are no "questions about the roundabout" that require "education". Clearly their goal is just to inform us that despite what we know and observe, forcing 2-ton cars and <50lb bicycles into the same physical space is much safer ... because the 2-ton vehicle just might be traveling a little slower as a result when it hits the bicycle as the driver navigates around all of the distracting man-made road hazards that are being intentionally littered across the roadway (the bulbouts are more dangerous than the pitiful mini-roundabout as long as they leave the stop signs in place). "Many residents believe that the changes being made at busy intersections along Ross Road are unsafe and unhelpful," ... so the best solution the city can come up with is to ignore the feedback ? "Because this is new, our hope is to share information," => first priority should be to listen. Is anybody listening? Also maybe I am the only one, but don't people normally have jobs to go to between 7:30 am - 4:30 pm? The event is perfectly planned to solicit only the positive feedback they want to hear from persons of leisure.

Posted by Wish This Never Happened
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 10, 2018 at 9:13 am

Mixing car and bike traffic is just plain stupid.

Bikes (with riders) weigh less than 250 lbs. Cars/trucks weigh 3,000 lbs or more.

Simple newtonian physics implies that there is never a situation where a car and bike colliding has a good outcome for a biker.

The best protection for bicyclists is separation.

Visit Copenhagen where bike commuters rule the day. The bike lanes are nearly completely separated from the car/truck traffic. It works beautifully (unless an unwitting pedestrian wanders into the bike lane).

Whoever thought that pushing bikes into the driving lanes makes anyone safer is totally off the mark.

As someone who lives on Louis Road, I will tell you when they said that Ross Road was going to be a bike boulevard, we all assumed that this would be like the Bryant Bike Boulevard. The through traffic would be restrained by blocking the street at isolated points that only permitted bikes to pass through. This reduced the through traffic and left the street intact for local traffic. Safer for bikes, safer for pedestrians, and safer for motorists.

Once the construction started it was painfully obvious that this was NOT a duplicate of the successful Bryant Bike Blvd. This was something ill conceived and horrible for the neighbourhood.

The designer of this atrocity should bear all the costs to return the street to a safe and useful condition. Furthermore, they should be banned from ever hoisting these ideas on our neighbourhood.

Simply atrocious. Shame on everyone involved.

Posted by They don't hear us loud and clear
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 10, 2018 at 10:02 am

Here's the thing. I don't remember reading ANY comment in the public record that said anything about residents wanting city staff to spend their time patronizing telling us "how it all works together." Seriously? Who do they think their audience is? Would their time not be better spent reading ALL the comments that have been submitted online to these Palo Alto Weekly stories and to city council so that instead of planning ridiculous outreach events, recognize that the residents have actually already REACHED out to THEM and now it's THEIR turn to respond to our concerns?

"this is our effort to better educate everyone about how to use the new infrastructure." Are you kidding? So the city sees us as needing to be better educated. We need to be taught how to use the new infrastructure? Revelatory, really. What the city is interested in is jamming this down our throats when MOST of us want the infrastructure to be either removed or modified and at least, NOT to exist as is. This, clearly, is lost on city staff.

Fire the lot of 'em, starting with Chief Transportation Official Josh Mello -- unless he immediately begins to explain how he really WILL modify not just the construction plan but the elements that have already BEEN constructed.

"And while traffic calming elements such as roundabouts are shown to achieve that goal, we recognize the community has concerns and questions. We're going to take the opportunity to modify the construction plan and ensure residents feel comfortable and informed about planned future elements." [WHEN?] "We will also make adjustments to the roundabout design at Ross and Meadow IF APPROPRIATE and FEASIBLE" [reads = never] "following the review by the outside engineering experts." [these same experts actually already designed the "improvements" = conflict of interest]

Josh -- here's the thing. If you don't modify the construction plans to immediately halt or make changes to the construction already installed that jams cyclists into the path of motorists, you're the first person I'm naming in my suit as soon as one of my biking-every-day-kids gets hit.

Posted by Biker
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 10, 2018 at 11:18 am

The old street was fine. People don't need education on how to use the "bike boulevard" if the city did the right thing. What a waste of money!

Posted by Biker
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 10, 2018 at 11:21 am

The old street was fine. People don't need education on how the use the "bike boulevard" if the city did it right. What a waste of money!

Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2018 at 12:01 pm

And tell me again, how it's possible that this kind of
outreach didn't happen BEFORE they surprised all
of us homeowners with radical/controversial
re-design of intersections we've been using daily
for years?

Did I also read in the paper
that AFTER they've built the squeezy roundabout
at Ross/Meadow, they're gonna get an Engineer
to look at it and see if it's safe.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2018 at 12:44 pm

Everyone seems to be mad at the roundabout. I think what is worse is at Loma Verde and Colorado intersections with Ross. I also happen to think that the bulbouts and in particular those at the Y make it very difficult for traffic to see bike riders. I think that the fact that these were put in during December and January when it was getting dark shortly after 5.00 pm shows that in winter when there are still a lot of children riding bikes home that these obstacles will become deadly particularly when the landscaping gets more full and there are leaves blocking the reflectors that have been put on the curbs.

Please remove these horrendous bulbouts at the Y and do something to enable those cross streets on Ross become passable in a safe fashion.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 10, 2018 at 1:09 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

A better idea: install cell phone jammers inside city limits ( since California is already breaking several Federal laws, another one will not make any difference )to force people to drive their vehicle th way they did 30 years ago! Many distracted drivers can be eliminated and mixed traffic will become the norm as it was.

Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2018 at 2:01 pm

This is a joke, yes? A bit late for April Fools.

Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2018 at 3:17 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Brilliant! Have an "education" event on a weekday from 7:30 to 4:30 at the convenience of city staff and the inconvenience of people who hate this mess on Ross Road but have to work during the day.

I have an idea of where you can put your pancakes!

Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2018 at 3:19 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Brilliant! Let's have an "education" event about the mess they've made of Ross Road on a weekday between 7:30 and 4:30 at the convenience of city staff and definitely NOT at the convenience of people who have to go to work between those hours. Trying to keep down the number of complainers, maybe?

I'd like to tell them where they can put their pancakes!

Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Sorry about the duplicate post. I kept getting errors when I was the first one to comment, even though I put in the requested phrases from the pulldown menu. Why is that? I always have trouble posting when I'm the first one.

Posted by Menlo Park resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 10, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Maybe Mr. Mello wasn't around when Menlo Park's Transportation Manager was in charge of a similar traffic calming project on Santa Cruz Ave. They installed 'street furniture' -chicanes, curb extensions, chockers, lane narrowing etc.) It was an absolute disaster and a costly one. It was all removed after residents called upon the City Council to take action. I've been a bike rider in Menlo Park and Palo Alto for many years. There are so many safe streets to ride on that I purposely avoid streets that have been made 'complete streets' by these so called experts.

Posted by Midtown40
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2018 at 12:04 am

The city will continue to respond with fake outreach events and non-action in response to the 835 people who signed the petition until you organize and go in large numbers to city council meetings. And be sure to read the Bike and Pedestrian Plan to find our where the next fiasco will occur. Alta wrote the plan; Josh Mello came from Alta. PABAC has a lot of clout with the city. From personal experience, I recommend going door-to-door and organizing as many people as possible to go and actually speak at city council meetings. Fill the room, speak often, and do it as as many times as necessary. It will work, but only with persistence.

Posted by Thomas Paine
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 11, 2018 at 8:17 am

Clearly the problem is that we are not paying city staff enough to do their jobs. Raise the pay for the chief traffic officer [portion removed] to $600,000. Maybe we can attract someone qualified to do the job.

Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2018 at 8:23 am

I live on the corner of Ross and Moreno which now has a new roundabout. Are they going to “educate” the truck drivers who are driving on the flower bed in my front lawn in order to make the turn. Not just on the side walk but clear into my flower bed. That never happened in the 40 years I lived here. And they want more money for “infrastructure”. We know how to vote on that one!

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2018 at 9:19 am

And now you know why our city budget has ballooned - these stupid projects. And the staff to constantly "reach out" and "educate" residents.

I think it's time to vote in a City Council that will fire the entire transportation department.

Posted by Irritated 20-something
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2018 at 10:33 am

I think there should be a planned protest when City Council plans to have these “education” events. Like previous commenter mentioned, completely patronizing.

I’m all for setting a date thru Nextdoor, Facebook, social media to protest in droves.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2018 at 11:19 am

I don't need to be "educated" that they are trying to reduce car trips in Palo Alto. It's all part of their master plan to make Palo Alto a car-free utopia.

Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2018 at 4:32 pm

I agree with Me 2. It is time to vote in a City Council that will fire the transportation department. I certainly plan on so tailoring my vote!

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 11, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

Bryant Street benefits from the grid layout along most of the length. With all of the cul-de-sacs along Ross, the same solutions would not have worked nearly as well. Instead of threatening the City with legal action before anything happens (bad legal strategy by the way); how about educating our kids to ride their bikes the way the law requires? Turns out this is good practice for teaching them how to drive later. The education event is also relevant for school hours. If your kids bike to school, shouldn't you be aware of their means & methods in fairly specific detail. Too bad all the whiners did not take the day off from their oh so important jobs to ride to school with their kids. Another opportunity lost. At least the lesson is taught: Pay attention when the City does design outreach, even if you think the project is crazy and will never be funded. Sometimes money is "found" three years later, and the project can proceed, long after the original outreach effort.

Posted by Irritated 20-something
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2018 at 5:37 pm

@Old Steve: attack arguments, NOT people. ("Too bad all the whiners did not take the day off from their oh so important jobs to ride to school with their kids.")
If it is a problem that those who work and have jobs cannot ride to school with their kids, you might consider biking with the kids for safety measures then. Thanks for taking one for the team :)

While it is true you could theoretically educate children to abide by laws, as well as educate the drivers, you will need to calculate and record traffic and driving habits through the Ross Bike Boulevard. Unfortunately, a lot of us have seen illegal turns and numerous hit-and-runs from this disaster. There's an entire thread about it on Nextdoor.

Why create a "solution" to a problem that didn't exist beforehand?

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 11, 2018 at 6:11 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.


I am sixty something and have ridden the Ross Improvements by Bike and by Car. Works fine by me. You are correct I chose not to try to rebut every argument against the project. I labelled them "whiners" for a reason: Several years ago this all played out in workshops and study sessions, but construction money was not available. Construction money was found, City Council approved the project. Having worked in Public Infrastructure for most of forty years, projects take time. Usually grants require construction to start within a time window. If you re-engage with your community, you can lose your funding. We can discuss whether that is a feature or a bug. Folks who claim the City sprung the project on them however are either ill-informed, or sowing confusion, or both. Complaining about a Council approved project after construction is well underway is usually not good public stewardship. 830 signatures on-line is well less than 1% of the City's residents. Talk about a noisy minority! Let's see if the petition scales up 10x, then we can storm City Hall.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2018 at 6:58 pm

As I was driving away from the roundabout on Ross yesterday, I passed an autonomous white self driving vehicle heading towards it. (Not one with Waymo on the side but still a very apparent self driving vehicle). It seems that they are now testing it out for their algorithms.

Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 12, 2018 at 8:04 am

@Old Steve, i’m sad that you consider yourself old. I’m apparently older than you and am most assuredly not old. That said, a project signed off on years ago by god knows who and then re-sprung on the community deserves to lose it’s funding. You may be ok wheeling your old bod through the intersection, but when I drove it the other day there was a veritable cloud of children heedlessly riding in the traffic lanes both befor and after the center obstruction. The right way to do this is to put in ONE circle and observe the result - not smear 9 miles worth across the city. The correct way to look at the number of petitioners is to see what percentage of the people who are demanding removal live on or near the affected corridor. I wouldn’t expect people living in Barron Park to care.

Posted by Rex
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 12, 2018 at 8:23 pm

Jesus Josh, the fact that you had to resort to training should be all the evidence you need to realize that these traffic circles are an absolute waste of funds, are dangerous, and it's probably (hopefully not) a matter of time before a cyclist dies all because your ego insists on wrecking perfectly good streets so you can install so-called street furniture because those things are trendy in your field! WFT dude, stop it already. One of the proposed traffic circles is for Campesino and Bryant. Anyone even know where that is? Campesino is a street 3 blocks long, 3. How much cross traffic is there on that 3 block long street? Not much, I cycle by it twice each day as I bike commute to work. Rarely if ever is there cross traffic there, but Josh says we need a traffic circle there. Absolutely absurd. Further, with 1 exception, all of the new traffic circles are in south Palo Alto, why? Since I think it's safe to assume that no one in the transportation dept bike commutes to work, I have to wonder why most of the 'fixes' are so far from downtown. In my view, the most dangerous cross streets along Bryant are north of Lytton where parked cars block the views of oncoming traffic for both drivers and cyclists. But no, we need a traffic circle at Campesino. Dumb.

Posted by Bike A 100 miles per week
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 14, 2018 at 12:38 am

I'm on my bike a lot.

It seems the going trend is to keep putting hard cement curbs in our bike lanes. I always try to pick the safest road to bike on. I no longer bike down Ross. Too many obstacles.

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