Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 18, 2013

Residents ask for safer West Bayshore Road

Group wants Palo Alto to use developer's penalty to fund bike lane or sidewalk

by Sue Dremann

More than 40 Palo Alto residents are petitioning the city to add a bike lane or sidewalk along a dangerous stretch of West Bayshore Road. The residents have asked the Palo Alto City Council to use a $94,200 penalty levied against the developer of Edgewood Shopping Center to pay for the improvements.

City Council members voted on Oct. 7 to fine developer Sand Hill Property for demolishing a historic commercial Eichler building at the shopping center along Embarcadero Road. The building was to be moved to another location on the property and renovated, but it was inadvertently destroyed. Sand Hill will rebuild the structure with new materials and will pay the fine.

Palo Alto residents and members of Woodland Creek Homeowners Association in East Palo Alto said using the money for the sidewalk or bike lane would make West Bayshore safer and would be a benefit to the public. The winding freeway frontage road between Channing Avenue and the San Francisquito Creek Bridge does not have a sidewalk. Lined with trees and shrubbery, it has blind curves that pose hazards for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, residents said.

The bike lane or sidewalk is identified as a priority in the city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, East Palo Alto resident Heather Rosmarin stated in a letter to the council.

The petition, which was submitted to the city on Oct. 7, was signed by residents with addresses throughout town.

Liz Carson, a Palo Alto resident who lives near the shopping center, said she is concerned about the traffic being generated by the new market, which will only increase as more stores are opened.

"My grandkids live at that condo (Woodland Creek) and I don't like my grandkids riding their bikes in the street. My concern is that there is not enough parking at the condos, and a lot of people park along West Bayshore. People have to walk out into the street. It's going to kill some kid, and then people will pay attention. It seems more logical to me to build a sidewalk than to have no parking from 2 to 5 a.m. It's much more of a safety issue to me. It's keeping the little ones safe," she said.

The Woodland Creek Homeowners Association also sent a letter in support of the improvements on Oct. 1. The association represents East Palo Alto residents living in 90 single-family homes about 0.2 miles north of the shopping center. Residents raised safety concerns about West Bayshore during the environmental review of the Edgewood redevelopment, and they have sent correspondence to the city in the past, noted Brenda Erwin, association president.

"West Bayshore Road in Palo Alto is particularly hazardous for children walking or biking to the planned new neighborhood park and other attractions at Edgewood Plaza," she wrote.

Residents of both cities use West Bayshore as a key corridor between University Avenue and Embarcadero Road. The increase of pedestrian and bicycle traffic to and from the shopping center has already exacerbated the risk of collisions with motorists, she said.

"Many residents ... have witnessed a number of near collisions between vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists," she noted.

"There is also a serious risk of motorist-motorist collisions as drivers swerve to avoid pedestrians and bicyclists who are traveling on the road."

Jaime Rodriguez, Palo Alto's chief transportation official, stated in an email to the Weekly that the sidewalk design and construction cost exceeds $94,000. Staff plans to return to the City Council within 3 months with a more refined construction cost estimate.

"We need to explore what other impacts the sidewalk construction may have (drainage, tree removal, etc.) so that an informed decision can be made," he stated.

When the Planning and Transportation Commission discussed the project in September, it requested that staff survey residents on Edgewood Drive, behind West Bayshore, prior to the October council meeting, but there wasn't enough time before the submittal of staff reports to the council, he said.

Caltrans is planning to rebuild the San Francisquito bridge at West Bayshore in 2014 as part of a flood-control project along the creek. The temporary closure of that stretch of West Bayshore could provide a window of opportunity to construct the sidewalk/bike lane without re-routing traffic, the Woodland association stated in its letter to the city.

TALK ABOUT IT

Would you support the use of the Edgewood Plaza penalty for improvements to West Bayshore Road? Discuss the topic on Town Square, the community forum on PaloAltoOnline.com.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Observer, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

This seems like a very sensible and good idea. This road can be very dangerous for bikers and pedestrians due to the lack of sidewalk and the speed cars travel.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Every single time I take that road I think about how ridiculous it is in terms of safety and monitoring as well. People park unsafely and speed along there, and this is an important stretch of road. By all means fix it ASAP ... and if it is priority status in Palo Alto like fixing the creek is ... that means it might only take longer than 15 years.

Come on ... someone in local government get on these issues ... and off your butts!

At least clear away all the junk and put up a barrier so people can walk/bike along there without fear of being hit by a speeding car. Also some police patrols better increase as well if people are going to be using that out of site area.

One other thing that needs to be fixed is the surface of the road about halfway down West Bayshore where it goes from being a smooth new surface to a bumpy surface of the moon mess ... is anyone doing their jobs in either city besides picking up their bloated paychecks!???


Posted by Jared Bernstein, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

Recently dropped a car at Cavallino's, then walked home. I noted how dangerous it is to walk from there to Embarcadero. Worth fixing.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 23, 2013 at 11:19 am

Who owns the road? Caltrans or PA?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Crescent Park Dad - in all your time here, have you noticed pedestrians using this section of W. Bayshore? We rarely saw peds, & suddenly they're all over the place. More cyclists, too. We also don't know why people are now parking there, but maybe from the nearby EPA condos, which seem to be having work done on them? It is hazardous, but is every road supposed to be usable by peds, bikes & cars? Many frontage roads are designed w/out peds & cyclists in mind.

Where does that gated off path along the creek end up? Could that be converted for peds & cyclists, or does it end behind private property?


Posted by SpeakTruth, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2013 at 10:42 am

Everyone is so worried about West Bayshore bike lanes. Has anyone considered the University Ave bridge?? By far the most frequently used bridge by pedestrians and bicyclists in all EPA.

Personally I've bike ride to and from Palo Alto and it's dangerous. I've seen kids with their parents on bicycles praying they make it safely to the next street lights on both ends.

At night there are no street lights on the bridge making anyone vision impaired. EPA should definitely make this a top priority for renovation. It is long needed.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:31 am

Hmmm - I agree on all your observations. But is it PA or Caltrans that should step up and make it safer? I don't know. But it is not unusual for the state to have either ownership, easement or some sort of responsibility when it comes to frontage roads.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

It'll take a lot of work, I think, to make that section of W. Bayshore safe for peds & cyclists. The parking there is insane. How about the Humvee stretch limo? That trailer that sits there for days? How can it be legal to park there? Is it because no one bothered to make it illegal, thinking that no one would be stupid enough or desperate enough to park there?

Why, all of a sudden, does it need to be ped & cycle safe? No one ever wanted to use it before, except drivers. It'll be very expensive to fix it, whether it's Caltrans or PA.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm

It appears to me, and there may be some difficult spots, that the city could clean up the bushes, weeds and trees along West Bayshore and put a walkway separated by some kind of barrier along that stretch so that people could walk or ride their bikes.

It does look like a tight fit, and would probably not fit on both sides of the street, but I think it could be done. It needs to be done if people are walking along there, and they are from what I occasionally see.

I hate to say it, but maybe that stretch needs speed bumps, because that is one area where you will occasionally see people driving like maniacs.


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