Road 'trial' to remain permanent on Arastradero Around Town, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Oct 2, 2012 at 1:00 am
Palo Alto's two-year experiment with lane reductions, traffic-signal modifications and median islands on a busy stretch of Arastradero Road was officially deemed a success Monday night by the City Council, which voted to make the recent changes permanent.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 1, 2012, 11:14 PM
Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 1:00 am Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I was at the council meeting for the public comment period and can confirm that "the vast majority of [the approximately 30 speakers] advocated retaining the new configuration." I didn't tally the speakers for or against, but I did count the letters that were stapled together in a big sheaf: I counted 4 opposed and over 44 in favor. It seems like the speakers ratio was approximately 10 to 1 in favor too.
Several speakers pointed out that the corridor was really congested around school start times before the changes as well, and that a lot of the increased congestion is due to the development in the area.
A few weeks ago, in a chance encounter, Penny Ellison informed me of the history of this project. She could comment more cogently than I on this since she has been involved in it the past 10 years (so if there are any inaccuracies in the following, blame my second hand report, and not Penny's first hand account).
Basically a lot of development applications along the corridor all came at once, like Hyatt Ricky's, the JCC, and several others. As a result, the city put a moratorium on development in the corridor so the situation could be evaluated, and it assessed all these projects together in a joint traffic impact analysis. I believe a citizens committee was also assembled to help with the recommendations.
The conclusion was that the corridor should be reconfigured to be a complete street, to accomodate not just cars but bikes and pedestrians too, and address major safety issues. Traffic impact fees were assessed for those developments to help pay for the changes. The changes were implemented as a trial and rejiggered a few times to shake out the bugs, and extensive traffic analysis were performed. The plans came several times to the Bicycle Advisory Committee on which I serve, and were reviewed in multiple community meetings. Gunn High School pushed back their start time, to start later than Terman Middle School, to lessen the peak congestion. Despite an increase in both cycling numbers and percentages, the accident rate has gone down.
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of Los Altos, on Oct 2, 2012 at 2:39 am
Good job and thanks for all the work.
Now if only we could do something about the right-turn-only lane onto Miranda from Arastradero. As I think most commuter cyclists who use Arastradero to get onto Foothill know, not infrequently a car will go straight to merge onto Foothill rather than make the required right turn onto Miranda. The result is that the bicyclist is squeezed between the correctly merging car on the left and the incorrectly merging one on the right. There are already several signs well before the turn, but it's clear we need even more obvious signage.
Posted by Roland Luo, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 6:08 am
As a parent and a long long time resident, I congratulate the city council and staff for doing the things right and the cares and patience that shown! There should never be more than 25 miles/hour speed in a “school” zone and during the school hours it should even be less. We treasure our heritage of protecting the children first!
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 7:39 am
Just a couple of comments.
I avoid Arastadero like the plague now as I have been late for appointments each time I use it. I have been told by others that they do similarly. The "success" may be due to those of us in the know finding alternative (residential) alternatives.
If the center becomes plantings and residents of the street discover that they can no long turn both ways from their driveways, they may soon be singing a different tune when they end up having more inconvenience.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 7:55 am
sorry submitted too quickly
I was also lobbied by the biking community to write to city council and attend the meeting last night. Don't think this happened without the biking group leaders efforts. I just don't think the opponents were as well organized.
Lastly, the schools are growing bigger in number. The increases in bikes are possibly just because there are more students, not that there are more students changing their habits. More students also mean more teachers and teachers generally do not ride bikes to school.
Posted by pares, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:14 am
Just yesterday I was on Arastradero (near Gunn) going in the direction of El Camino and a big truck raced ahead of me at the merge. I had to use brakes so that the truck could squeeze in ahead of me. These mergers are not safe! At least, reduce the number of mergers up and down the Arastradero - Charleston corridor.
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:24 am
I don’t for one minute believe that the data presented by the Traffic Engineering Department is honest, or correct. Requests for raw data collected by the City, and information about the project, were ignored by Jaime Rodriguez, and his staff. Public presentations were not widely announced, and only attended by a small number of people.
Accident data is hard to come by, since the police do not routinely report accidents unless a vehicle is damaged to the point it can not move, and or someone is injured. The Traffic Engineering Department can not have any real idea of how many accidents occur on the C/A Corrididor—other than those reported by the police.
I spent quite a bit of time analyzing the traffic accident data reported by the Palo Alto Police (1995-2009) for accidents on the Charleston/Arastradero Cooridor:
This study points out that most of the accidents don’t happen around schools, or during school hours, that alcohol/drugs are not important factors, and that cyclists have been increasingly considered to be at fault when there are vehicle/bicycle accidents. The number of yearly accidents has been going down over the past fifteen years in Palo Alto, in general—based in large part on the reduced vehicular traffic that can be linked (albeit indirectly) to the downturn in the economic activity in the greater Silicon Valley. Traffic on the C/A Corridor has decreased about 25% over the past 10 years, or so. This decrease in traffic was not a part of the Traffic Engineers “story”. Luckily I had acquired some data from the Traffic Engineers years ago that allowed me to make this observation.
To my great surprise, only one Palo Alto City Council member indicated to me that he read the analysis. That’s eight out of nine that ignored the accident data that clearly indicated that the C/A Corridor did not present a large problem. Certainly there is no evidence that the Palo Alto Police ever thought so. It is hard to find any opinion on the part of the Police about the C/A Corridor being a “clear and present danger”, during the many years this project has dragged on.
> During the morning peak hour, bikes comprise 19 percent
> of the vehicles in the westbound direction of Arastradero,
> exceeding the 7.1 percent rate citywide.
The peak hour is likely 07:30-08:30, Mondays-Fridays, on school days only (180 days a year). Given that Terman and Gunn are on the west end of Arastradero, and that traffic volumes high during that period—implying increased transit times—and that there is a more-or-less fixed volume of vehicles that can pass during an hour (maybe 2000 or fewer, per hour), then 20% of that number would be 400 (more or less). It’s nice that more students are riding bikes to school, but 400 people using Arastradero for about 10 minutes needs to be fully explained. This is another example of how the Traffic Engineers cherry-pick data. Notice that on the East-bound lanes, there is no mention of “increased” bike traffic. There is also a question of how the City came by the number of people riding bikes on this segment. While it certainly is a good thing that more students are riding bicycles—this is generally for very short trips, and not more than 20 minutes a day. This leaves the rest of the day that these road assets go poorly utilized--
This project is heavily steeped in misrepresentation. The original project was proposed during the time that Ricky’s Hyatt was looking to expand, and a small group of vocal neighbors were opposed. Secret meetings between this group, and the Traffic Engineers, went on until unmasked. At no time did the City admit any wrong, but did open up the meetings. Downsizing the C/A Corridor was a clear a “Stop Rickeys” scheme—just as the one year moratorium on growth along the C/A Corridor was a meaningless mechanism to stop the redevelopment of the Alma Plaza. The year came and went—and all of the expensive “traffic studies” proved nothing. In fact, the Traffic Engineers did not even model the C/A Corridor with a grade separation at the Caltrain crossing. When asked why not, the residents were astounded to learn that “Policy dictates that no crossing be modeled” (or words to that effect). As it turns out, the Comprehensive Plan does not call for a grade separation at the Alma/Charleston crossing—so the Traffic Engineers felt they could not ever “simulate” a crossing to see what the implications would be on traffic flow. Unbelievable! And we were told by Council Member Jim Burch at the time that: “Palo Alto had the best Chief Traffic Engineer in the world” (or something close to those words). Just unbelievable!
Sadly, all of this has dragged on for over ten years—and too many people’s memories seemed to have dimmed. This downsizing has been based on fraudulent claims, and cherry-picked data. There is no reason to believe the City when it makes claims about “safety”. They have never done an analysis of traffic accidents, like I did.
Sadly—we have a City Council that possesses few technical skills, as individuals—so asking hard, or embarrassing, questions of Staff seems out of the question for this lot, and these sorts of projects continue to work their way through 250 Hamilton—and onto our streets.
Posted by Get Organized, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:09 am
When 26 out of 31 people speak in favor of a project before City Council you know it's going to pass.
All those who spoke in favor were probably organized by the PTA Transportation. If you don't like the lane reduction on Arastradero you must get organized and line your speakers up just like those in favor of the project did.
Those opposed were an unorganized group of individuals, that never works in Palo Alto.
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:24 am
> When 26 out of 31 people speak in favor of a project before
With 64,000 people living in Palo Alto, and perhaps 120,000 working in the City, with hundreds of thousands passing through it via motorized vehicles--it is unbelievable that 26 people are representative of the town as a whole.
> Get organized.
This is good advice. Unfortunately, this does not always work. In this case, given the Anti-Car mindset of the Traffic Engineers, and the sheepish Council--there is no reason to believe than anything short of a Recall, and a new City Manager, and a new Planning Department--that anything will change in the near term!
Posted by Andrew Boone, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:31 am
Thank You, Palo Alto City Council!
Your unanimous approval of the Arastradero Restriping Project sends a strong message to cities all over the nation that we can and we must pursue similar vehicle lane reductions everywhere it is feasible. Middlefield and Embarcadero should be next!
I'm very encouraged by this result - it shows that Palo Alto has its priorities in order: safety and equity for all modes of transportation are more important than the ability of motorists to drive at illegal and unsafe speeds on our streets.
Posted by safety first, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:40 am
The Daily News reported that accidents and injuries have dropped dramatically since this project started. Very curious that safety improvements not mentioned by PaloAltoOnline.
The day after 2 women pedestrians were whacked by a truck in Atherton, it would be a sin for the city council to vote against pedestrian safety here in Palo Alto. We need to improve safety on our streets, especially in residential neighborhoods and near schools.
I applaud the city for taking this action and hope they can extended this program to other residential streets with multiple school zones like Embarcadero Road and Middlefield Road.
Posted by food for thought, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:23 am
I think that residents will largely applaud the new configuration because the roads probably are safer and more pedestrian/bike friendly.
However, if we're thinking about the greater good, my impression is that the thousands of people who drive cars on that road and are not residents of Palo Alto are not being heard, and never will be due to their lack of awareness. The City Council never got the feedback of these anonymous drivers, largely because they are not Palo Alto residents. My best guess is that the lane reduction is benefiting the minority (residents near Arastradero) and causing road rage for the majority (non-resident drivers).
A true, proper study would have contained outreach to the non-residents. This would have been feasible by asking local large companies to conduct a survey of their employees and finding out who actually drives on Arastradero. That type of feedback probably would have carried a lot of weight had it existed.
Posted by safety first, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:56 am
What kind of "greater good" nonsense is "food for thought" spouting? Pedestrian safety is the greater good. Are you really claiming that pedestrians are expendable? How many pedestrian deaths is acceptable collateral damage in the battle to commute to work?
Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm
> How many pedestrian deaths is acceptable collateral damage
> in the battle to commute to work?
There have been very few pedestrian deaths in Palo Alto over the years, and none on the C/A Corridor (as I remember). Someone told me that there were two deaths at the Carlson/E.Charleston intersection back in the mid-75s, caused by a boat on a trailer that somehow got loose. But this was not readily ascertained from Police Records--so while that possibility remains, the numbers don't support emotional responses.
Posted by Corey Levens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm
This project has been a boondoggle from day one, has made Arastradero vastly more congested and unsafe than is necessary, and achieved "results" that could have been obtained at a fraction of the cost by simply staggering the start times of Terman and Gunn. The simple fact of the matter is that incredible investment of time, money, and other resources by the City into this project made it so that the City had to make it permanent or risk looking like incompetent goofs. Throw in a vocal minority that hijacked the process and you have the essence of the "Palo Alto Process." Of course, those are the same people who will be up in arms about the new projects being considered in the area because of the additional traffic and congestion that will result. But I'm sure they will effectively employ the PA Process to deal with those issues when the time comes.
Posted by Happy with safer streets, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm
I find it sad that for about 50 people in Palo Alto, one's opinion - even if what they suggest causes another person harm - is considered a priority. These are people with an opinion about everything. Much of what they say is not based on facts, yet they will fight to the mat for what they believe to be true. A psychologist may deem it a method of getting attention?
For instance, if a pedestrian has been hit by a car in a place that could be safer, these 50 people from Palo Alto will ask, "What is the extent of the injury? Was the person hospitalized?"
If the answer is yes to both, they'll ask, "How long was the hospital stay? What are the long-lasting impacts of the injury?"
In the case of a death, they'd likely ask, "How many people were killed? Just one?"
You just can't get them to listen to reason. They live to be difficult. So with people like that, it's best to just ignore them, and listen to the advice of those that are paid to know facts, those people on the staff that work for the city, and that are trained to know good policy from bad.
Kudos to City Staff, that made this one area safer for everyone - pedestrians, children and adults of all ages. Sane and responsible citizens in Palo Alto and the greater community, those other than these 50 perenial nay-sayers, but those of us interested in the well-being of all, thank you.
Posted by YIMBY, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm YIMBY is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
RE (from article): "Another resident, Shirley Nathan, said she can walk faster than the cars and bikes on Arastradero and Charleston. Nathan said the council should give equal weight to "all modes of transport," rather than favoring bikes over cars.
"The emphasis on bikes and pedestrians is great, but not at the expense of cars, which is also the main means of transport for most people."......
Help me out, Shirley.
Cars have two through lanes, one median turn lane, and I believe two 'storage' (i.e. parking) lanes for most of the corridor - that's 5 lanes - a reduction of only one lane - and you proclaim that losing one lane to bikes is "at the expense of cars"?
Would you be happy if a sidewalk was converted to an auto lane?
Posted by Paco, a resident of the St. Claire Gardens neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 3:13 pm
Anybody with a brain in their head has figured out how to use the abutting residential streets avoiding the Arastradero cluster**** to arrive at their destination stress free. If City Council members, City Manager, Traffic engineers(?), and residents along Arastradero feel comfortable with the shifting of designed traffic patterns from a main throughfare to residential streets I'm all for it. The amount of time saved in using alternate residential streets far outweighs the use of Arastradero. Thank-you!
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 3:45 pm Douglas Moran is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
This represents the parents on the Charleston-Arastradero corridor getting the City to declare that the safety of their children was more important that the safety of the children on other corridors: Not just the children west of the tracks, but students going to Gunn along Meadow instead of Charleston.
Although the problem with the trial creating additional traffic on Maybell and Los Robles -- routes packed with students on foot and on bikes -- was raised early and often, it was dismissed until almost the end of the trial, at which point it was declared to be something to be handled separately and later. After a long period where staff denied the problem existed based on their opinion, they produced data and rationalizations of that data that confirmed that opinion.
I pointed out that inadequate signage and lane markings made for unnecessarily dangerous merge and was branded someone who wanted to drive 45 mph on Arastradero. I (and others) pointed out that a merge configuration at the entrance to Terman Middle School _caused_ speeding to the extent that it became known as "the drag strip". The advocates -- residents, staff, Planning and Transportation Commissioners -- were so reflexively opposed to anything that might improve the situation for motorists that they couldn't see that this speeding induced by bad design was also a significant danger to pedestrians and bicyclist at this key intersection.
This is standard Palo Alto politics: Staff very early becomes an advocate for a particular option rather than serving as an "impartial professional adviser" (criticism in the PAW editorial "A breathtaking proposal" Web Link) and facilitates organized advocates in suppressing questions, skepticism and criticism from ordinary residents and creating a hostile environment that causes those residents to conclude that "the fix is in". Council then rewards a bad process by declaring that it is too late to get it right (although they don't quite use those words).
I see this with a range of issue advocacy groups and with developers. It is hard to tell how much of a reservoir of bitterness there is, and now much of this has become simple resignation.
Posted by OMV Resident, a resident of Mountain View, on Oct 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm
@Wayne Martin --
In your post you complain about the city staff and Council cherry-picking data and relying on faulty technical analysis to justify the C/A changes... which is ironic because your own post contains at least one glaring case of each.
First, your paragraph on westbound bicycle vs. auto volumes:
"The peak hour is likely 07:30-08:30, Mondays-Fridays, on school days only (180 days a year). Given that Terman and Gunn are on the west end of Arastradero, and that traffic volumes high during that period—implying increased transit times—and that there is a more-or-less fixed volume of vehicles that can pass during an hour (maybe 2000 or fewer, per hour), then 20% of that number would be 400 (more or less). It’s nice that more students are riding bikes to school, but 400 people using Arastradero for about 10 minutes needs to be fully explained."
Seems to me if you're looking at the number of autos per hour, you should also be looking at the number of bicycles per HOUR, not a 10-minute period. 400 bicycles in a one-hour period is not unreasonable given the school and commuter bike traffic.
And regarding cherry-picking, taking 48 seconds of video of traffic on Arastradero (in which no bicycles happen to pass) and then posting it on YouTube to try to make a point about bike volumes - well, you've reached a new prize in cherry-picking! Nice work!
This is another example of how the Traffic Engineers cherry-pick data. Notice that on the East-bound lanes, there is no mention of “increased” bike traffic. There is also a question of how the City came by the number of people riding bikes on this segment. While it certainly is a good thing that more students are riding bicycles—this is generally for very short trips, and not more than 20 minutes a day. This leaves the rest of the day that these road assets go poorly utilized--
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm
No surprises here. Anyone who knows how Palo Alto works understands that you have only to round up a small number of people to attend a city council meeting and they will sway the vote. Yes, 30 – 50 people is a small number in a town this size.
Kudos to the biking community—who have a much-too-close relationship with the planning department—for putting out the call to get their brethren to the meeting.
Shame on the residents of Maybell and other streets that now bear the brunt of traffic for not being better organized from the start of this project.
The Daily News said that “bicycle use along Arastradero during the morning peak hour is now equivalent to 12 percent of the vehicle volume on the roadway” (not 19%) and “collisions involving bicyclists and pedestrians along Arastradero dropped from a high of 6 in 2009 to just 1 in 2011.”
Is that even statistically relevant? And do we have any details about these accidents?
Then there’s Andrew Boone’s comment: “Your unanimous approval of the Arastradero Restriping Project sends a strong message to cities all over the nation that we can and we must pursue similar vehicle lane reductions everywhere it is feasible. Middlefield and Embarcadero should be next! … Palo Alto has its priorities in order: safety and equity for all modes of transportation … “
Hard to know how to respond to this. Either it’s extreme sarcasm or something from The Onion.
“Safety and equity for all modes of transportation”? I think Palo Alto wants that sentence to read “for all modes of transportation except evil cars.”
Like Wayne Martin, I’ve lost all trust in the city and particularly the planning/transportation department.
From the Daily Post (9/27: ‘Road Diet’ may be final): One concern when the trial started was that traffic might get pushed to Maybell Avenue, but Rodriguez said there wasn’t a “significant diversion of traffic onto adjacent streets.”
From the PA Weekly (7/27/12 Commission approves Arastradero traffic plan): … traffic volume rose in three areas within the Barron Park neighborhood: Maybell Avenue and Maybell Court; Maybell Avenue and Pena Court; and Matadero Avenue at Josina Court. ***The traffic count at Maybell and Pena rose significantly from 2,700 vehicles to 3,348 daily since the trial changes***, according to the study. … Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez admitted a speed survey had not been done along the cut-through routes. But he attributed increases to a 5 percent overall jump in traffic throughout the city.
My calculator says a jump of 648 vehicles/day is a 24% increase, not 5%.
So where's the truth? Obviously no one at City Hall cares.
Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 12:58 am Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
PABAC received a brief update on the Arastradero Road item tonight, and our staff liaison provided some information on the traffic counts on Maybell. He pointed out that the increased traffic can be attributed to increased enrollment at the school, as well as an increase in the number of students coming from outside of the adjacent neighborhood who are getting driven to school. He pointed out that if the traffic increase were due to cut through traffic, then it would need to exit Maybell at the south (Palo Alto "West") end, which was not supported by the traffic counts. He indicated that it is more likely that parents are entering Maybell from El Camino Real (ECR), dropping off their kids at the school, and returning to ECR.
Posted by KY, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 2:56 am
Suspicious how all of the comments in support of the ROAD DIET used city planner jargon. As if they were reading talking points supplied by somebody. Wonder if they were asked to attend the meeting by emails from a list-serve run by bicycle advocates?
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 10:03 am
The bicycle groups are supremely well-organized. They have a consistent message and get members to write letters and attend council meetings.
Example: “On Monday night, a major safety improvement for bicycling has a decisive milestone. … Can you come to City Council or write a letter in support of making the project permanent? Having supporters present in person is important - there are opponents who mourn the ability to speed down Arastradero, who are unhappy with the increased bike presence, and who are unhappy with some driving inconvenience that is the cost of increased safety.”
Nothing wrong with this. All lobbyists could learn a lesson from their planning and effectiveness.
What I do see as problematic is the tight relationship between these bike groups and the city staff, leading to special treatment at the expense of other stakeholders. Two examples:
1. A communication from Rodriguez to the bike coalition re CA Ave lane reduction:
Jul 31Rodriguez, Jaime
Just my two cents on this topic. The public process is for anyone to voice their thoughts and concerns on a project. On the city end, we appreciate partners such as SVBC and PABAC that come to show support to help us move projects forward. I don’t know if sending a “hate-mail like” email to anyone or starting a blog for people to complain really does any good. I can tell you that the day following the Cal Av presentation that Mr. Bennett did call the City to tell us that after holding a team meeting of shop employees that he and the grocery store are “on board” with the project. … I think he already learned his lesson and heard it loud-and-clear from his employees that they were excited about the project helping the business. Thanks for listening.
Jaime O. Rodriguez | Chief Transportation Official
Posted by KP, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 10:24 am
QUESTION: Why do bikes ride in the street like cars, get into turn lanes behind 2 or 3 cars for a left hand turn, causing the cars behind his slow behind to miss the light and then come to stop signs and BLOW RIGHT THROUGH them - breaking the law?
I cannot stand bikes riders who think they are cars, then don't follow every single law like cars have to! STAY IN YOUR BIKE LANE...isn't that why they made those lanes for BIKES?!
Maybe that would help make some of our traffic issues go away.
That whole Charleston/Arastradero strip is a complete mess.
Way too many merges - if they wanted to make it one lane with turn lanes, then that's what they should have done! I don't understand the random merges, but I sure will cut you off to try to get ahead - that street can drive you nuts, coupled with the stupid drivers that don't know what to do!
Okay, I am done with my rant...everyone have a great day! :-)
Posted by legal left turns, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm
Actually, KP, CA vehicle code allows a bicyclist to take a lane to make a left turn. This is a completely LEGAL maneuver. As a licensed driver you should expect them to do this... and legally and safely share the road with them as you would a left-turning motor vehicle. It's the law.
Posted by Donald, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm
pat needs to get some of his facts straight. The emails above were not sent to a "bicycle coalition" but to the city's bicycle advisory committee. This is a committee that is specifically established to advise the city staff on bike-related matters, so it is great that they have a tight relationship with staff. That is the whole point, and it is what makes the committee productive. Some of our neighbors have committees that are not very productive because their relationship with city staff is not very close.
There are is also a local bicycle advocacy group, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, but they were not involved in this issue and did not try to encourage people to attend the meeting. This whole idea of the "bicycle community" mobilizing over a small single-city isuse is a bit of a myth. There are many bicycling organizations and many bicylists with different ideas and agendas, and they don't all agree and cooperate by any means. The largest bike groups are purely recreational and social and don't get involved in politics at all.
Posted by Good job, City Council, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm
THANK YOU, City Council, for your vote. I have used the road as a driver and bicyclist regularly during the morning peak hour for many years. It has ALWAYS been a mess in the morning. It's still congested in the morning (no worse than before), but it is MUCH safer the rest of the day when people are out there going to the parks, library, and schools, walking and biking.
It feels a lot less like an expressway, so fewer people drive too fast like they used to.
Posted by We thank council too, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm
People posting on this forum that use "city planner jargon", is likely the result of them taking the time to go to meetings, and learn about the issue.
When residents, such as myself and my family, do not speak up against something, it's more likely we support it or we have no preference.
It is absurd to assume if 20,000 people do not weigh in an opinion, they are against something. Please don't speak for everyone, without asking us. I'm happy with this decision.
I would like to know how is it possible for the same few people (you know your names) to post miles of opinions on nearly every issue affecting Palo Alto, yet said issues are all over the city? These people lose their credibility after a while. "Pat from Midtown" is one name that is all over Palo Alto Online blogs.
I live near these changes. My family kept itself abreast of what was going on, and we support this. No one in my family bikes anymore. We drive and walk. But we must keep pedestrians safe on Arastradero.
One good mention from Pat and his miles of data and misc. links is when he wrote that the city invited a local bicyclist lobby to join meetings prior to changes happening in our shopping district.
That proves the city reached out to people, doing a good job of communicating with everyone that uses that street. It's above and beyond the call of duty for those two staff people to extend a personal invitation to a local group. I join "Good job, City Council" in thanking them and council, for all their efforts. Knowing about that invitation, I can't believe anyone was ignored or "not heard" about that California Avenue street plan.
Keep pedestrians safe everywhere in Palo Alto. Drivers, bikes and pedestrians just need to share the road, and obey traffic laws, extending courtesy to each other.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm
> The “city's bicycle advisory committee … is a committee that is specifically established to advise the city staff on bike-related matters, so it is great that they have a tight relationship with staff.”
Too bad the city doesn’t have a driver advisory committee or a business owner advisory committee. Seems like the transportation department only wants a tight relationship with bicylists.
> “There is also a local bicycle advocacy group, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, but they were not involved in this issue and did not try to encourage people to attend the meeting.”
The message I quoted came from the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition: “On Monday night, a major safety improvement for bicycling has a decisive milestone. … Can you come to City Council or write a letter in support of making the project permanent? Having supporters present in person is important - there are opponents who mourn the ability to speed down Arastradero, who are unhappy with the increased bike presence, and who are unhappy with some driving inconvenience that is the cost of increased safety.”
> “…the city invited a local bicyclist lobby to join meetings prior to changes happening in our shopping district. That proves the city reached out to people, doing a good job of communicating with everyone that uses that street.”
Unfortunately, the city did NOT communicate with EVERYONE that uses the street. The city didn’t even have a list of business owners in the CA Ave. district as of May 2012.
> “I would like to know how is it possible for the same few people (you know your names) to post miles of opinions on nearly every issue affecting Palo Alto, yet said issues are all over the city?”
It’s not just posting "miles of opinions." It's called paying attention and caring about your city, which means doing your homework, checking the facts and questioning authority.
Posted by Donald, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm
pat, I am a member of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and a subscriber to their email list. I did not get the message that you say came from them. How was this message distributed? Was it a message from SVBC itself, or was it a posting to a email list from a single member requesting support? There is a big difference.
The reason for having a bicycle advisory committee is that it is a legal requirement to receiving federal transportation funds for bike projects. The feds, rightly so, want to make sure that the tiny percentage of transportation funds that are specifically targeted towards bike projects get spent on projects that atually benefit bicyclists. Without this requirement there are many communities, some not very far from here (e.g Woodside), which would take bike money and spend it on projects that fit their badly misguided concept of bicycling.
Posted by Adina, a resident of Menlo Park, on Oct 8, 2012 at 6:47 pm
Hi, Donald, this is Adina from the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Palo Alto Team. Our team has been in support of this project because it achieved the desired results - excessive speeding was down, collisions in the corridor were down, and bike use was up, especially among kids biking to school. The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition sent an official letter of support from the Executive Director.
I sent the note you mentioned to the Palo Alto team so that our team members would be aware of the public meeting and come share their thoughts and experiences with City Council. I didn't send it to the "General" mailing list so as not to "spam" people who live in San Jose and other more distant locations with this issue. If you are interested in joining the local team, you can sign up for that mailing list here: Web Link
In the local democratic process, people thankfully have the ability to share their views and City Council has the responsibility to consider data and public feedback make a good decision.
Posted by jerry99, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2012 at 7:32 am
Lunacy. Because of this lunacy:
In the morning cars turning left from El Camino onto Arastadero block half of El Camino and in the afternoon it takes 30 minutes to turn left from Arastadero onto El Camino. Whoever came up wiht this is a complete fool. It blocks one of the three streets to get to 280 freeway.
Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2012 at 7:17 pm Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
If you're having trouble turning left from Arastradero onto El Camino, then the problem is with either El Camino Real or the timing of the traffic control light at that intersection, both of which are under CalTrans' control, and have nothing to do with the City's project for Charleston/Arastradero. As such you should address your afternoon concerns to CalTrans.
Posted by Henry Su, a resident of Mountain View, on Oct 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm
A resounding success? Decidely not.
This morning I had to wait six lights just to make the left turn from El Camino to Arastradero. And after dropping my kids off at school, there was some sort of situation that caused cars going northbound on Arastradero to jam themselves up two-by-two in the now single lane. It prevented me and a lot of other cars from backing on to Arastradero from Terman Lane. I eventually gave up and went across into the neighborhood and took Maybell back to El Camino. Bottom line: downsizing to a single lane is not going to cut down the commuter and school-hours traffic volume, especially as the population here continues to grow, and some of us don't have the luxury of biking our kids to school.
Posted by Henry Su, a resident of Mountain View, on Oct 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm
Dear Palo Alto resident,
Apologies -- I should have been more specific. I think many people forget that it's not just Terman Middle and Gunn High that are on Arastradero, but also a Montessori school called Bowman International that draws families from the surrounding communities. We don't have buses so all the families have to drive their kids to school unless they happen to live close enough to walk or bike.
Sorry for the typos in my previous post - I meant to say that we were trying to get back on to Arastradero from Terman Lane (not literally backing on, which would be unsafe, of course).
Posted by Henry Su, a resident of Mountain View, on Oct 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm
Dear Palo Alto resident,
Bowman has adjusted its official start time to 9:00 a.m. so as not to coincide with Terman's start time. But this doesn't really solve the congestion because many school activities require the kids to be in by 8:00 a.m., and there are some families who drop their kids off at 7:30 a.m. as the parents are on their way to work.