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Traffic snarled due to downtown 'Promenade'

Original post made on Jul 21, 2007

Traffic was backed up along Alma Street and El Camino Real in Palo Alto Friday afternoon due to the closure of University Avenue as part of a six-hour "Palo Alto Promenade" downtown.

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  • Comments (14)

    Posted by Brian Sterling, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 21, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I'm disappointed that the only coverage of the event seems to be that it caused some traffic delays. I thought it was an awesome event and I commend the mayor for pushing for it. What a joy to be out and about downtown, listening to live music, eating at tables in the street, strolling without worrying about cars or the air and noise pollution they cause.

    As for people who want to see other examples of where the same thing has worked, just travel around a little. On a recent trip to Europe, we saw many cities and towns with a central pedestrian area. One was Munich, where most of the central old town was made into a pedestrian mall for the 1972 Olympics. Many locals originally opposed the idea, buy they made it permanent nevertheless and now it is a great and thriving destination. Here are just a few others off the top of my head: Innsbruck, Venice (which is basically a whole pedestrian city), Salzburg, even small villages like St. Wolfgang and Hallstatt in Austria.

    I say make it permanent. Once things settle down, people will know what to expect and traffic will flow smoothly again.


    Posted by NAC, a resident of Old Palo Alto
    on Jul 21, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Why so much negativity on this topic?

    It was absolutely great in downtown. With proper planning, traffic will run just as smoothly as it did before, and business in downtown will likely increase since it will become a much more popular destination. We will certainly spend more time and money there.


    Posted by pedestrian, a resident of South of Midtown
    on Jul 21, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    The negativity problem with Palo Altans is they can't embrace change. I have never lived in a community where everyone is so conservative and set in their ways. A pedestrian mall for University is a wonderful idea - lets do it permanently.


    Posted by One vote, a resident of Evergreen Park
    on Jul 21, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    There is less negativity than you think. I've talked to people who really liked the experience, and others have written to the Forum. Traffic problems have to be worked out, but I am sure the Police Dept. is getting an earful.
    What you may not realize is that almost all of the vitriol comes from one person. He is well known on the Forum and posts under many names. He clearly has a personal vendetta against the Mayor (his vendettas against other people have appeared on other Forum threads.) On another thread he was asked if he hated her because she had voted against him and the implication was left that yes, that was the reason.
    It is hard to believe that one person could so foul the air but it is true. Probe your gossip connections and you'll find out who he is, lots of people know, but don't want to get involved.
    Why the Weekly permits this degradation of the forum is unclear.


    Posted by Mary Carlstead, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 22, 2007 at 7:19 am

    For the first time in many, many years we ventured out to downtown Palo Alto Frday night, walked the area and decided on a restaurant which is evidently new....Madison and Fifth. Very nice, and I made a mental list of where I want to go the next time.
    We enjoyed the evening very much, saw many people we knew, chatted with some council members and other city officials, enjoyed the music, and wandered into stores which were open. We parked at the Civic Center garage but could have parked at the Bryant Street garage too. True, the street closure started far too early and should have started after the commute - maybe at 6:30, but lessons were learned, and we hope the event is done again. The one at Christmas time a few years ago was a real winner although University was not closed, and for that it should be. If nothing is ever tried, progress is never made. We had a very nice time.


    Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 22, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Here we go again. one vote repeats again the old chestnut that all the negativity is coming from one person. unfortunately this is the way problems seem to be dealt with in PA--if people are unhappy with what is going on they are either labelled as a small group of malcontents or in the case of this forum, all the "nagative" comments are ascribed to one individual. That is wonderful solution--make it sound like every thing is just peachy here and all the complaints are from a single individual.
    This may help explain why we are in the situation we are in now.


    Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
    on Jul 22, 2007 at 10:46 am

    University is a stand-in for our mayor's real desire - to turn Embarcadero into a pedestrian mall.


    Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
    on Jul 22, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    One Vote - I resent that you attribute anyone with an opinion in opposition to your own as that of one person. There are many in Palo Alto who do not see University Avenue as a pedestrian mall. It is my opinion that this is due to valid concerns on the part of residents as to the ability of our City Council and Transportation Department to implement such a project. Just look at the way it was manipulated into closing down streets in the Downtown North neighborhood based on lobbying by a few well connected individuals. I think most Palo Altans are uncomfortable with any street closures at this time.


    Posted by One vote, a resident of Evergreen Park
    on Jul 22, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Fair enough. Then stop closing off California Avenue for their high priced farmers market.


    Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
    on Jul 22, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I live in College Terrace. I decided to live here BECAUSE the streets were blocked off. I also like the new (trial) traffic control measures in CT (bumps and circles). I have not yet walked down to the new farmers market, but I intend to do so. My neighbors tell me that they like it. I hope it succeeds. I think making California Ave. a permanent, closed off, pedestrian zone would be great for business. I can't find a spot to park on California Ave. anyway, so I always park in back or in the parking garage. If I could meander on Calif. Ave., without traffic, I would spend more time and money there.

    I think the University Ave. pedestrian mall concept could be a very good thing. However, the street closures (for traffic),in North Univ. neighborhoods, could also have been a good thing...but it was rejected. Maybe the people near University lack imagination. Or maybe they just like it the way it is. In the end, it should be their choice. It's their neighborhood.

    I admire College Terrace for doing some good things. Perhaps as importantly, I admire the spirit in CT that tries various things (not all of which I agree with). Let me be bottom-line selfish: Most of these things not only increase my lifestye, and sense of neighborhood, but also increase my property values. I will leave it to Downtown North to figure out why they don't want to have similar benefits.

    Now if we could just get back our neighborhood school...!


    Posted by James, a resident of Greenmeadow
    on Jul 22, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    I'm confused...doesnt this assume that people live downtown? No more cool aide people!


    Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Old Palo Alto
    on Jul 23, 2007 at 8:01 am

    I'm disappointed in the coverage of this event by this news media outlet. What ever happened to balanced coverage? There were many folks on the street on Friday and many of them loved the event. Why only have one of the represented?

    The notification of this event was terrible. In addition to the merchants not knowing about it... there was apparently no signs telling the drivers that University Ave was closed. I'm a regular reader of this website and bi/weekly newspapers. I don't recall any reference to this event and was surprised myself to find University Ave closed on Friday. (The only reference I could find in the Friday's edition of PA weekly is a small entry in the Weekend Preview.) That seems to indicate that this news organization isn't doing its job. (Or is it maybe representing someone other than its readers?)


    Posted by Jocelyn Dong, editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
    on Jul 23, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Jocelyn Dong is a registered user.

    Hello. To respond to the question about the media, I can only speak to the Weekly's coverage. We had a page 3 article in last Friday's edition, "'Promenade' will test closing University Avenue" (it also ran online; see "Read related stories" above in the original post) and are running a follow-up in this Wednesday's edition. We'll be posting that online as well.

    Thanks to Town Square contributors, two conversations about whether University should be permanently converted to a pedestrian/bicyle mall have been ongoing since May and July. They can be accessed here:

    Web Link

    Web Link

    Many thanks.


    Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 23, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    I am a keen PA online and Weekly reader and I knew that there were going to be a couple of Fridays this summer when University would be closed. I did expect to hear about it nearer the time, but not the day before or even after the closures had gone into effect. I do not drive on University at all if I can help it, but my dentist does have a private parking lot for his patients and I do use that for those visits.

    My reason for posting is that although I was aware it was happening in general, I was not aware that this was going to be the evening and although some of my family had planned to be at Borders for the Harry Potter launch, we did have other plans and it was too late to change.

    Next time, and I would like to see a next time, I would like to have about a week's warning from the Weekly and perhaps the big ad about the bands etc. could be put into Wednesday's paper rather than Fridays.

    I do think this should happen once again. With many trials, the first is just a practice and you find out what went wrong. The traffic fiasco was just teething problems in my opinion. I think that the majority of those stuck in traffic would have made alternative routes if they had known in advance. Even if there had been signs re-routing traffic it would have helped.

    Please do this again. Please give us more warning. And please, improve the traffic situation.


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