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Residents debate Greer Road traffic-calming project

Original post made on Feb 2, 2013

The results of a neighborhood traffic-calming trial are in, but residents along Greer Road in Palo Alto are wondering what more, if anything, can be done.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, February 2, 2013, 3:41 PM

Comments (43)

Posted by enforcement, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I assume that most of these reckless drivers are speeding down Greer during the morning rush hour. How about posting a traffic cop there to hand out speeding tickets? The number of reckless drivers should easily pay for the cost of enforcing the speed limit on this street.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Sigh...... We hear these calls for enforcement all the time, but the fact is that Palo Alto makes no money from traffic tickets. The County takes most of the money and the City is lucky if they cover their costs from them. That is why the traffic enforcement team has been cut to almost nothing in recent years. Other cops are out to catch "real criminals" and don't give traffic enforcement much of a priority.

Posted by Friend of a friend, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm

One of my friends lived off of Greer on Colonial for many, many years. She complained, along with her neighbors, about the traffic problems in the neighborhood. They peakesd during rush hours, but we're bad all day, really. Eventually she deemed it best to just move. She got a bigger, much nicer house for what she got for her Colonial Ave Eichler. She also got a quieter neighborhood, just over the Atherton border.

Posted by anony, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm

I plan to honk my horn every time I go over a speed bump. I recommend others do the same until they're removed. I tend to drive late at night, too.

Posted by Slow Driver, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Anony, I'm sure your strident horn honking late at night will rouse Greer resident to march downtown and pressure the city to get those speed bumps out of there. Do it enough times and you might even meet up with a welcoming committee ready to have a reasonable and supportive conversation with you as they escort you back to your own sweet domicile.

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm

+1 for horn honking. Speed bumps are a safety hazard as unfamiliar folks tend to brake abruptly.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Honking your horn at speed bumps is infantile and illegal.

Posted by Agree, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 2, 2013 at 9:48 pm

All these tears cutting through, it has to stop!
Every morning I see hundreds of cars cutting through crescent park by driving along University. We need to block this road off and stop these cars.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm

The real problem is that our arterial roads are not coping with the traffic. We need to improve the efficient flow of traffic on our arterials. If we have efficient traffic flow there will be less traffic cutting through on residential streets.

Let's try and move traffic efficiently around town. Alma should efficiently flow into Sand Hill. There should be no left turns on University.

Wherever there are traffic bottlenecks, there should be measures made to improve traffic efficient flow. Without these bottlenecks we would get less cut through traffic in residential neighborhoods.

Posted by Agree, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm

University is a residential street. We need to stop this cut-through traffic that uses it.

Posted by Actually, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 3, 2013 at 12:25 am

Traffic has gotten worse on Greer Rd. and Louis Rd. in the last 3 years. I drive my children to Duveneck so have kept up with the traffic flow. Part of the issue is Stratford school, where all parents are dropping off their children. Tuesdays and Thursdays are longer back-ups on Louis Rd (north).

The other issue is South Palo Altans dropping their children off to Duveneck or Jordan. They cut through Greer to get to Duveneck and cut through Louis to get to Jordan. And those who drop off at Jordan on Middlefield turn right onto North California, then right on Louis to drive back to South Palo Alto (cars back-up to Elsinore Drive, waiting for the traffic signal on OrEx).

Even with the current speed bumps on Greer Rd., cars drive too fast. And not all of them are going to Duveneck. Many are turning left onto Embarcadero Rd.

I cannot think of a solution because we cannot close off the streets. If the eastern part of North California is closed off, the back-up on Greer will be even worse.

If PAUSD takes over the Stratford location and changes it to a PAUSD elementary school, a good portion of students will be from South Palo Alto. Then, Louis Road will be seriously backed-up. At least now, Stratford parents drive from all directions.

Posted by Nice driver, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 3, 2013 at 8:09 am

I want to thank a very kind driver in Palo Alto. I was trying to cross Embarcadero at an intersection yesterday. As you know, it is pretty difficult to find a moment when there is no car rushing at you from both left and right on Embarcadero even during a weekend. Unexpectedly a driver driving southbound on Embarcadero made a full stop to allow me cross the street safely.

That was really a nice gesture, kind of rare in the bay area just as my experience goes. I lived in Pensylvania for 5 years. I have to admit I got a bit used to the really polite ladies and gentlemen drivers who would stop at every intersection and wave the pedestrains, the bikes, or the other cars to go first even though they could have been at the intersection a full 5 seconds ahead of anyone else.

I don't actually hold a grudge about our wild wild west style traffic in the bay area. I understand every one is just trying to make a living. I am even getting used to the cut-throat competitions (and the occasional yells and threats) at parking lots. But still I am really touched by this kind driver on Embarcadero which allowed me to reminisce about the pleasant experiences on the roads of pennsylvania while enjoying the other great benefits of living in the bay area, especially in Palo Alto. Thanks!

Posted by EastWestDriver, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:31 am

I wouldn't call the drivers around here 'wild west', more like awkward and careless. Nice driver - that person who stopped was following the law. Cars have to give right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks. I drive a lot. Most of the confusion I see comes from drivers not understanding the rules of road: confused encounters at 4 way stops, not using turn signals, speeding and passing in right/slow lanes, going too slow in the left lanes, not obeying a "Yield" sign (they should rename those things "Give Way" like in Europe. I think "yield" is a word commonly misunderstood). There is also a wide variety of driving styles in this area - maybe because many people who live here learned to drive in other states or countries. However, I do find the majority of drivers around here to be courteous. When I put on my signal to merge to another lane - cars actually slow down to let me in! When I lived in Boston, drivers would speed up when they saw a car trying to merge. I use to miss my exit all the time until I caught on to their game.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 4, 2013 at 8:26 am

One thing is certain:if the PAUSD takes over the Stratford site, traffic on N california , Greer and Louis will become nightmarish at drop off at pick up time, and traffic on those streets is already very, very bad.

Posted by Actually, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

I think PAUSD is already set on taking over Stratford. Whatever school they put there, they should have it start at 8:25, 15 minutes past Jordan's 8:10 bell so the traffic is not dangerous for Jordan students. Walter Hays begins at 8:25.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 4, 2013 at 10:25 am

Cut off the route, fix the freeway. Treat the source, no bandaids.

Posted by root cause, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2013 at 10:25 am

I'm pretty sure that adding more and denser commercial buildings might not help things. Even if transit-oriented development gets an unrealistic 50% of employees on the train (or bus-right;) ) that means 50% of the new employees on the roads. The major intersections along Oregon and Embarcadero and onto 101 stand no chance to improve or stabilize even. Guess how Arillaga's MP office development employees (1000s of them) will get to southbound 101? And Arillaga's PA office development employees (1000s of them) will get to southbound 101? Oh and isn't there a whole new hospital coming online soon?

Posted by A, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 4, 2013 at 10:45 am

As other people here have touched on, a MAJOR source of traffic during the morning rush throughout the whole town are people dropping off kids for school. The school population has been soaring with all the new condo construction.

If we had school buses, that would take an enormous number of cars off the road in the morning. If the school district does not have the money to pay for these, I am sure that parents of kids who would use the buses would be willing to chip in rather then have to drive their kids each morning.

Posted by Old Codger, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 4, 2013 at 11:00 am

Why does the county take most of the traffic ticket money? How can that be changed? Strict enforcement of the speed limit would make a huge, huge difference. I spend part of each summer in Colorado. In Aspen and in Telluride the cars r e a l y s l o w d o w n when they reach the city limits. No speed bumps either. Just 25 mph on all streets including the main drag. Why can't we make that work here?????

Posted by isez, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm

isez is a registered user.

@A: You must not have school-aged children. The majority of students bike or walk, to school and are not transported by car. Palo Alto is quite unique in this manner. There is no need for busing. When the parents begin driving, it's because it's too far (student attending school in a different attendance area) or there are dangerous streets to cross (an elementary child crossing Oregon or Embarcadero. PAUSD should force students to attend school in their attendance area and they should close the choice schools and change them to neighborhood schools. When they created choice schools, our district was not overcrowded with students. The majority of choice school students (Hoover, Ohlone) are driven to school.

We lived where there was busing and it took the bus 45 minutes for my child to be transported when it was a 10-15 minute ride if I transported my child. Round trip, that's 1.5 hours wasted staring out the window.

Posted by Just don't get it..., a resident of Southgate
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Much of the traffic comes into Stanford and that will only get worse with the new hospitals and proposed office buildings on campus and downtown PA along with Menlo Park. You can only get there from 101 or 280 by Page Mill/Oregon Ave., Embarcadero Road, University Ave and Alpine/Sand Hill Road. All of these are already gridlock at commute times. They all go to the same place at pretty much the same time! Add to that the traffic for schools, including Paly, and everyone looks for a shortcut. Traffic is already a nightmare around town and it's not going to get better.....even with speed bumps, road closures and stop signs. It's a matter of numbers!! The powers that be need to figure this out soon rather than just adding more buildings and thus more cars.

Posted by Watching and Laughing, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm

These drivers will eventually eat themselves. Bon appetit.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Two questions -

Why are all the routes to Stanford from 101 thru Palo Alto while there are none thru Menlo Park/Atherton?

Why can't you go straight from Sand Hill to Alma and vice-versa? Why does traffic have to turn onto El Camino and make U-turns instead?

Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

@EastWestDriver. I agree with your statement. It certainly seems to me that fewer and fewer people have a concept of the rules of the road. The 4-way stop rule is violated all the time. I've just about given up driving forward when I'm the first person there and/or the car on the right when we arrive simultanously. It appears to be vehicle weight that determines the right of way. If you drive an SUV and I drive a Beetle (and I do), you think you should go first. I can let you go or risk a fender bender.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm

The County gets most of the money from traffic tickets because they pay for the court system (clerks, judges, bailiffs, buildings, security) that processes them. That is not going to change. Tickets should not be seen as a way to make money - they should be used to punish people who break the law. If you want the City to get more from them, then you need to raise the fine and fee schedule overall, but I think that is set at the state level.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm

I believe that the bulk of the traffic congestion is due to traffic going to and from Stanford. A great bulk of that traffic avoids the arterials by cutting through residential streets. Local drivers are also cutting through residential streets in order to avoid the arterials.
As long as they are able to easily cut through those streets, the traffic mess will worsen and worsen on streets like Greer, N California and Louis, The opening of a new school on the Stratford site as well as Stanford expansions will amount to throwing gazoline on an already raging fire.

Posted by Nurse/resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Stanford & Packard hospital staff are at work long before school or commute time begins so they are not the cause. Much of the back-up and frustration begins with 101 and perhaps the extra lanes will help. But meanwhile using Greer to get from Embarcadero to Oregon is not cutting thru a neighborhood - it's the reason cross streets exist!

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 5, 2013 at 6:36 am

I use Middlefield to connect from Oregon to Embarcadero. I use Middlefield, or Alma to go to south PA, etc. See the ;logic? I try to use arterials and roads that less residential in order to avoid cutting through more residential areas. Streets like Greer exist so people can live in their houses in relative peace and quiet, not so you can cut through them when you have other options.

Posted by let the traffic flow, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2013 at 6:58 am

Daniel--did you actually read the story. If you had you would have seen:

"The fact is that Greer is a significant part of the grid of roads in our city. The street dates back far before many houses were built on it and was the major way of going north and south in the eastern part of the city. ... Greer is the only street in Palo Alto east of Middlefield that goes north of Embarcadero and south of the expressway. Using Greer for getting to the expressway or south Palo Alto is not 'cutting through' as some have contended. It is using Greer in exactly the manner that it was designed to be used," he said.

Almost Every part of Palo Alto is a "residential area". There are no homes on Alma and Middlefield???? Daniel in other threads has advocated banning cars from Palo Alto. So we know his point of view on the matter.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 5, 2013 at 10:29 am

I never advocated banning cars in Palo Alto, you actually invented this notion out of thin air.
I advocate following the European model:making it more difficult and more expensive for drivers to cut through residential streets and drive recklessly through a combination of closing off some streets to through traffic, blocking off some streets which are victims of cut through driving to through traffic( N Cal Ave for example) and making parking more expensive. If we don't do that, we will resemble Los Angeles very soon, we will just live in the midst of a huge parking lot.
Greer is right now a residential street, regardless of the circumstances of many decades ago, declaring that since the road existed before houses were built precludes the residents from seeking traffic relief is ridiculous. It can be taken off that imaginary greed. Cars come last, residents come first.

Posted by let the traffic flow, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2013 at 10:37 am

"I never advocated banning cars in Palo Alto, you actually invented this notion out of thin air."

Well, Daniel you stated in the following thread:
Web Link
"We should make residential streets virtually free from through traffic,"
Given that most streets in Palo Alto are residential, sounds to me like you would like to ban cars from Palo Alto.

ALso, why do you think it is okay to use Alma and Middlefield which are residential and not Greer.

That does not men that traffic rules should not be followed--however streets are for cars, bikes and pedestrians. As for closing off traffic like at N. California, where do you think the cars will go? on someone elses street. But youd o not care about that

Posted by Tired of speed bumps, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2013 at 11:00 am

It's nuts to claim that Greer, Louis or California are residential streets with "cut through" traffic. They are critical for traffic flow as are Middlefield and Alma which also have plenty of housing on them.

Posted by isez, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

isez is a registered user.

@let the traffic flow: This forum is not for provoking arguments; you must be extremely bored. No one would advocate banning cars. Were you okay with the homeless living in cars in College Terrace, your neighborhood? Probably not. You didn't buy your house knowing there would be homeless living in cars.

This Greer Road issue doesn't bother people who don't live in the neighborhood of the issue. Those who live in this area bought their houses in a residental area. People who buy houses on Alma and Middlefield know that they will endure lots of traffic because they are main thoroughfares.

PAUSD needs to consider when they allow people to choose which schools their children attend, it will negatively impact traffic if they are not at their neighborhood schools.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 5, 2013 at 11:22 am

I would not characterize the morning school traffic on Greer as cut through at all. These are your neighbors going to the schools...not someone from Gilroy trying to find their way to the HP site on Hanover.

Clearly Greer and Louis were designed to move neighborhood traffic across the grid between Embarcadero and Oregon. It's been that way for decades.

Want to solve the problem? Do another bond and bring back school buses for the neighborhoods.

Posted by let the traffic flow, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2013 at 11:40 am

"@let the traffic flow: This forum is not for provoking arguments; you must be extremely bored."
We are having a discussion on the issue or do you want only one sided "discussions".

"No one would advocate banning cars."
Read Daniel's comment that I posted from another thread

"Those who live in this area bought their houses in a residental area. People who buy houses on Alma and Middlefield know that they will endure lots of traffic because they are main thoroughfares."
Read the original story for the history of Greer Road.
Read the comments by Tired of speed bumps and Crescent Park Dad. They have it figured out. Obviously no one wants any traffic on their street--that is the Palo Alto way. Unfortunately, the reality is that certain streets were designed to move traffic.

Posted by Robert Smith, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm

We live on Greer within a few feet of one of the speed bumps.

When we bought the house 31 years ago, we were originally looking at a home on El Cajon, which is a cul de sac. When we decided on the Greer house, our realtor advised us that Greer was a busy street and perhaps we should keep that in mind.

Greer was never designed as a purely residential street. It is surrounded by circles and cul de sacs, but it is not one of them. When you see a wide, straight street with stop lights at major roads that is surrounded by circles and cul de sacs, you know that that street is going to be used as an arterial street.

For folks living north of Embarcadero (on streets like Wildwood, Edgewood, Tulip), Greer is the obvious and natural way to get to the expressway. I have friends in those neighborhoods who use Greer to get to their jobs in the industrial park, and to get to the Safeway to buy their food.

It makes no sense at all to suggest that only those of us who live on Greer have a stake in the design of the street when it is designed to provide them with access to other areas.

Posted by IJustWorkHere, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm

If Palo Alto would build a direct route from the Dumbarton Bridge to the VMWare campus, I would avoid "cutting through" your antiquated streets. See how selfish that sounds?

By closing your street, the traffic would just move to another street. But then, it wouldn't be your problem right, it would be someone elses to deal with. Typical self-serving BS.

Posted by Idea, a resident of Triple El
on Feb 5, 2013 at 9:47 pm

How about if they put a stop sign on Elsinore Drive? The cars cutting through go so fast on Greer that when I want to turn onto Greer, I've almost gotten hit many times by speeding cars. Then there would be a stop sign at North CA and at Elsinore Dr. so the cars don't have enough time to speed up coming off the speed bump. Or is there a certain amount of space needed between stop signs?

Posted by read the story , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Lots of random comments as usual, missing two key points in the article:

With speed humps, speeds decreased from 32 to 25 mph. This is a great result. Reduced speeds means safer streets for everyone -- walking, biking or driving.

Also, note that even the reported increase in traffic volume brings it up to 590 cars a day! This is a count of a very quiet street, not a street with a terrible "cut-through" problem. Other similar connector streets have 6 to 10 thousand cars a day!

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2013 at 1:58 am

I often use Greer ... but mostly Louis to get from Crescent Park to South Palo Alto, OSH, Summer Winds, Piazzis, and even Midtown. Trying to use Middlefield at certain times of the day takes forever. As Palo Alto get denser, we get more cars and they need to move faster of the whole city grinds to a halt.

If that is a cut-through, so be it - I don't care. I don't speed and I am sick and tired of speed bumps. Just start ticketing people who speed.

If police enforced the law reasonably instead of lazily people might be motivated to drive better. Maybe we don't have enough police so they don't ticket anyone, or they just look for someone going 1 mph over the limit just to give a ticket. Ticket people who are really going fast and causing a problem. People will get the idea and eventually slow down - I think.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:51 am

When heading to the Mtn Vw stores (OSH, Costco, etc.) I go down Channing, to St. Francis - hop on 101 and get off at San Antonio. Pretty fast and I don't run through the other neighborhoods.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Crescent Park Dad - you are brave - I avoid the construction on 101 whenever possible.

Greer is used as it is meant to be used. I used it as a cyclist when in school & use it now w/my car. I'm not a big speeder but I see a lot of them, especially on Embarcadero. Speed bumps everywhere might be needed.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 8, 2013 at 1:56 am

Getting on 101 any time near rush hour is a no-go ... it can take your 20-30 minutes just to get to get on the freeway and make it to San Antonio.

Not only that but you have to sit there and watch the jerks who ride up the shoulder or the rightmost lane to try to get ahead of everyone else in the merge lane ... that bugs me so much I try to avoid it whenever I can.

I think as Palo Alto keep adding more and more people with insufficient parking places, and no upgrade to the roads we are going to have a lot more problems and road rage ... this place is ridiculous. This kind of traffic only used to happen whenever there was a game at Stanford ... now it's like every day.

The 101 upgrade is nice, but this city has got to get real - something's gotta give.

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