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No transportation to high schools for Midtown and south Palo Alto

Original post made by Patricia, Palo Verde, on Sep 27, 2007

When the 88 VTA stops in January I have no idea how I'm going to get my kids to and from school. The kids in Midtown and South Palo Alto have always been on thier own to get to Paly in spite of a great many students in the Paly region. Now there no way for our kids to get to Gunn either. Is this an issue for city, the school board, both ? The traffic on Arastradero is bad now, I can't wait to see what it's going to become. Anyone else concerned ?

Comments (17)

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Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Sep 27, 2007 at 8:50 pm

Most of them should be able to get a bike and get to school with no problem. Maybe they will lose a few pounds too.
I bike across the entire width of Palo Alto everyday, and I'm nearly 40. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 9:01 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 9:36 pm

Original poster,

Is biking a possibility? There is a bike path on Arastradero.
There are a lot of kids riding that way successfully.
The distance is not bad.

How about Car pooling with other parents driving students?


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Posted by Grandma
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 28, 2007 at 12:09 am

My kids rode their bikes to and from Gunn for 4 years from Louis Road. However, they would go up Mayview, past JLS, up West Meadow cross El Camino. and enter Gunn from the backside. They always rode with a larger group of Gunn students they met near JLS, and went as a group.

This worked great until one day the police set up a sting which caught several of them riding their bikes through the stop sign at Wilkie Way; they got tickets. It had the undesirable effect of scattering the group and my younger child started riding alone up Charleston and Arastradero to get away from the Police. Sometimes the Police do things which have undesirable consequences and this was one.

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Posted by Parent of a Gunn student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 28, 2007 at 3:00 am

Bikes are great for one's health and the environment, and I advocate them as well, but they not a perfect solution for all weather and cargo conditions.

My Gunn student is a habitual school biker, but when it's pouring rain or she has a large amount of sports / music / other equipment to transport, she'll be out of luck if she cannot find a kind friend's parent to give her a lift. (Large theatrical props, for example, simply cannot be carried on a bicycle.)

My work hours dictate that I will not be available to drive students, and I doubt the small-sized / small-route shuttle will be available at all the various hours some Gunn students commute, due to certain early classes, after-school activities, and so forth.

There are indeed dangerous biking spots on Arastradero. I personally wish Arastradero had only one automobile lane like Charleston.

As far as the walk from the Palo Verde area to Gunn, I've been told it's at least 45 minutes. So, if a student has 1.5 hours in a day to devote to commuting on foot, that's another way to get to school. That may however rule out part-time jobs and other activities.

I find it a sad that 'upscale' Palo Alto can't even seem to manage decent public transportation options.

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Posted by Former parent
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Sep 28, 2007 at 7:38 am

When PAUSD school buses were eliminated several years ago, the School District offered school buses if parents would pay a fee to continue them. The only neighborhood which came forward with enough students who were willing to pay for a school bus was Los Altos Hills.

If enough parents of students got organized and offered to pay a fee like Los Altos Hills parents, maybe the School District would provide you with a school bus. But, this isn't cheap.

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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2007 at 7:39 am

My kids rode most days, when they had something particularly large to transport, or the weather was rainy, they got rides, ususally with me, sometime with friend's parents, and when they were old enough, they could borrow a family car.

Biking is not a 100% solution, but if you can cover 80%.

I confess, I dont bike in the rain either, cars slide about too much in wet weather for me to want to be out there.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2007 at 8:01 am

Most kids don't have public transportation that realisticly provides transportation to their high school or middle school. That's just a fact here in Palo Alto. The school district should be providing school bus transportation to the students here. They have decided that they do not want to do that (yet they do provide it to the kids from EPA who are in the school via the Tinsley court decision). Doesn't make any sense to me.

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Posted by Pati
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 28, 2007 at 9:21 am

My kids often bike, they are not overweight, but it's a big problem when we have heavy rain. NOT because of them getting wet - but because is becomes even more dangerous for them becasue of the cars.

I appreciate this is anecdotal - but I drove to Gunn twice this week including this morning. As I was traveling the speed limit on Arastradero in the right lane, some middleaged man in a BMW passed me on the RIGHT fully in the bike lane and I had to slow down (from 25 or less) to give him room to get in front of me before he mowed down some terrified kid (looked like a middle schooler) in the bike lane. THE BIKE LANE ON ARASTRADERO IS NOT SAFE !!!! And anyone who actually obeys the speed limit is often viewed as an obstruction. Earlier in the week a car fully blocked the bike lane on Middlefield (again an adult) There were about 4 or 5 cars waiting for the red light on Middlefield and Meadow and this woman decides to try and pass on the right with her SUV. She couldn't fit of course, but forced the kids in bike lane up onto the sidewalk. (Safer for them anyway) I'm sorry, but ADULTS in this community don't respect the speed limits or the bike lanes on the routes used for the schools.

Is it possible to a few a plain closed police bike around some of these routes for a few days and see what we are asking our kids to deal with

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 28, 2007 at 9:40 am

My high schooler rides a bike to Paly from the Palo Verde area. We in fact should be in Gunn, but we got a transfer for many reasons, one being that the bike route was safer via Bryant to Paly than it was to Gunn.

The other problem with bike riding is that for the next couple of months the leaves will be falling and the wet leaves in the bike lane, even when it hasn't rained and the street has dried, are very slippy. We have had a couple of bad slips off the bike either at a time when braking was necessary or turning on these wet leaves. They are very slippy and yes I know the city does a great job in cleaning them up, it does make bike riding for a couple of months very dangerous.

Another point about bike riding is the dark nights and mornings. At present we have to get to school at 7.00 a.m. for 0 period and it will soon be very dark at that time of day. We have also had activities at school which end at 6.00 p.m. in winter and once again it is very dark then. While bike riding in daylight is dangerous enough, it gets even more dangerous when it is dark (especially on slippy leaves).

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 28, 2007 at 9:42 am

I also forgot to mention, that yes, we do have and use front and back lights. Many cyclists I come across only have a front light and back reflector, definitely not enough to be seen. Some have nothing.

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Posted by PA mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 28, 2007 at 10:21 am

Just because you can't participate in driving doesn't mean you can't carpool, I have found most Palo Alto parents are very willing help others.

Check with your neighbors, your children's friends who live nearby, etc. If a parent is driving their child to school already, its not a big deal to take yours also - especially if your child can get him/herself to the neighbors house.

Don't feel bad if you can't drive - you can buy the driver gas, bake them cookies, get them a Peets giftcard periodically, etc. You can offer to drive to after school or weekend events when you can.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 28, 2007 at 10:28 am


Thanks for the reminder. I drive other kids to soccer practices, etc. during afterschool and don't mind. If I can get out of some of the later evening or early morning drives that is great, so yes, carpools can be very flexible. I had to get my high schooler to the Caltrain station for 5.00 a.m. today and whereas no one likes to do these early ones, there is no point in us all doing them.

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Posted by Smart C;yclist
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 28, 2007 at 11:39 am

To get from South Palo Alto to Gunn you do not have to use the Charleston/Arastradero route. You can go via East Meadow past JLS then West Meadow to Maybell and through the residential streets to the back entrance of Gunn - it is much safer than using the Charleston/Arastradero corridor.

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Posted by anonymous parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 28, 2007 at 3:52 pm


You have my sympathies! It is ridiculous for some of these people responding here to insist that a high school student can always ride a bike to school. They have an idealized view of things, not reflecting reality for some. Great idea to bike if you live reasonably close and can go on a safe route.

A safe route from our home to our high school is very roundabout and time-consuming.

Other people have now listed a variety of reasons why it is often not safe/not possible to bike to high school(not to mention what you described about your distance from school, which people who live close fail to acknowledge and take into account) and I will add another: extremely overburdened backpacks. I have years of experience with the high school level and yes, some kids with certain teachers, certain academic schedules, ARE required to fill those backpacks with huge textbooks, certain large binders, spirals, etc. They are heavy and they are not "the child's fault or choice." We have been through this a number of years. Oh, add an instrument 4X/week. This setup is really not conducive to biking. A good reason why some of us end up driving.

The other thing I would caution about is the shuttle after school. Recently over at Paly I have noticed, as usual, students rushing pell-mell through the parking lot to get to the shuttle stop on Embarcadero. There are too many students and they can get pushy. The first shuttle after school leaves Paly incredibly crowded (I don't know about later ones), recently I saw one leave with a young man standing in the doorway. I thought a similar situation already resulted in an accident sometime back, I believe that was over in your region, with the Gunn shuttle?? The student fell out onto the road??

The solution: a campaign to improve driver awareness/behavior and, probably, carpooling.

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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 28, 2007 at 4:15 pm

Maybe now is a good time to revisit the policy of school buses. Possibly even our mayor may be interested in this one.

What would it cost per rider to get to school on school bus?
When the buses stopped, were there two high schools in the area or three?
When the buses stopped was this at a time of decreasing enrollment?
When the buses stopped was this at a time of economic downturn?

If, as someone said above, that the LAH residents were the only ones prepared to pay for school bus service at the time the system was dropped, that may not be the case now.

If we had an option, could we get a program going again?

Do any of the BoE candidates have any thoughts on these matters?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 1, 2007 at 2:40 pm

My kids ride their bikes and use side paniers and baskets to ease the load of their heavy backpacks. I often take heavy items to school for them, either the night before to leave in their lockers, or meet them at brunch/lunch time. I find that we can usually get most of what they need at school by this method, although I realise that instruments and sports equipment may make this more difficult for some.

Bike routes to all the schools should not be the same as car routes, most schools have great side entrances near residential streets and these should be the way to go. Not only is it safer for the kids, but safer for motorists too.

However, I do think transport should be available to all the secondary schools. Traffic is such a problem that we should really be discouraging cars near our schools not encouraging them.

Lastly, I encourage everyone to try this week particularly Wednesday as this is Walk/Roll to school/work week and everyone should make the effort to try it at least once before giving up on the idea as being unsuitable for them.

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

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