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Bike plan in south Palo Alto faces uphill climb

Original post made on Jul 15, 2021

Months after the City Council enthusiastically endorsed the creation of new bikeways south Palo Alto, the effort has run into a tricky obstacle: opposition from residents concerned about the loss of parking spaces.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 15, 2021, 12:30 AM

Comments (39)

Posted by Keri
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 15, 2021 at 1:15 am

Keri is a registered user.

When will we Palo Alto residents and City Council prioritize bike safety over car convenience? Do we want our children to bike to school or do we want them to be driven to school? It's that simple. Parents are making the decision to allow their children to bike based on their perceived safety of their children. Do we support city-subsidized street parking over bike safety? I do not, and urge City Council to reject the idea that any house's occupants are entitled to parking privileges on any city-owned street.


Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2021 at 7:14 am

felix is a registered user.

The issue of Ramos park users having to cross East Meadow to get to it is no small matter.


Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 15, 2021 at 9:01 am

Palo Alto native is a registered user.

Bike Safety and increased biking over car convenience is a NO BRAINER. Palo Alto needs to live up to its ranking of one of the most Bike Friendly cities in the country. It is one of our unique features…..flat land, bike routes all through town, history of bike boulevards, large percentage of students biking to school. Ellen Fletcher was a leader for the bike friendly city that we are today. Let’s continue making bicycling more accessible over polluting cars/car convenience!


Posted by Andrew Boone
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2021 at 10:28 am

Andrew Boone is a registered user.

Such improvements for walking and bicycling should have been made by the City Council decades ago. Generations of Palo Alto Comprehensive Plans have set ambitious goals to develop a true multi-modal transportation system in Palo Alto, and now state Climate Change laws further mandate improvements. All we demand is to be able to use public streets safely - it’s absurd this is even an issue of political discussion - safe streets are a human right!


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2021 at 10:47 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Bike safety routes are important since so many children use them for school. It is also imperative to separate bikes and pedestrians. Walking into Paly from Churchill or on the footpaths in Mitchell Park (think feet hence footpaths) I have often had to get out of the way of a stream of bikes who seem to think they are more important than pedestrians. I hear the same complaint about bikes on the Cal Ave tunnel.

Keep bikes and pedestrians separate on these routes, please.


Posted by Smita
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 15, 2021 at 10:55 am

Smita is a registered user.

I second all of what Keri has stated above.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 15, 2021 at 11:05 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

This whole issue started yesterday with a convesion to State Highway 82 - aka ECR - a commercial street. Thankfully that idea has gone down and now we are talking about residential streets. Let's make sure that all are reporting the correct approaches to how any city approaches these topics to make sure that they get off on the right set of requiremets to avoid confusion and turmoil.


Posted by Deborah
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 15, 2021 at 11:06 am

Deborah is a registered user.

So inconvenience to a couple dozen residents gets to take precedence over the needs of thousands of other Palo Altan's? I didn't know this route was being planned or about the brouhaha over the Ross Rd route/Ross-Meadow traffic circle, but I do know that the Ross Rd redo has transformed bikeability in that area. That new bike route is a godsend. I've been biking Palo Alto for half a century. This is something I know A LOT about.

The only valid complaint is the parking infant of Ramos, but it is a small one. I've been in and out of and past Ramos (on bike) 100 times in past year. I have not once seen parents in cars dropping off or picking up kids. That's probably pandemic influenced, but it's still not a huge problem nor does it seem like one that can not be overcome.


Posted by Alex
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2021 at 11:21 am

Alex is a registered user.

Aren't single family homes required to have garages? It sounds like the people complaining about protected bike lanes should use them or their driveways instead of parking on the street. Why should bicyclists subsidize your convenience by way of their safety? Absolutly disgusting entitlement.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 15, 2021 at 11:43 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Love comments from Barron Park. If you are in a downtown residential neighborhood you have sidewalks and structured streets. Barron Park does not have structured streets - it is more open. I go through there now checking out the houses which are beautiful - I an thinking now that I would prefer to live there rather then coming back to a structured set of streets which are now very cluttered. We are looking at overall clutter vs open, more freer streets. Big difference.


Posted by Andy
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 15, 2021 at 11:55 am

Andy is a registered user.

Interesting...everyone knows about the NIMBYS against homes. And, there's car NIMBYS who hate cars. I didn't know there were bike NIMBYS, too. LOL.


Posted by Evergreen Park
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 15, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Evergreen Park is a registered user.

Wow. Way to empathize with people who actually live in an area and try to seek common ground. Apparently, as long as you don't live there, you don't care and your needs trump people who do live there. Not everyone can bike (some may be elderly, some disabled, some may not be physically fit, and heaven forbid, some may simply not want to bike everywhere they go). If these residents don't deserve street parking along their street, then maybe no Palo Alto resident does.

No one is saying that we don't need to make good bike lanes, but one could make an effort to work with residents rather than simply ignore their concerns. Ask the City to do unto these residents as you would want them to do to you. As in all things, plan carefully and be considerate.


Posted by Jay
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2021 at 12:07 pm

Jay is a registered user.

NIMBYs and opposing development which would support thousands of residents. What else is new?


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 15, 2021 at 12:08 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Aren't single family homes required to have garages? It sounds like the people complaining about protected bike lanes should use them or their driveways instead of parking on the street. Why should bicyclists subsidize your convenience by way of their safety? Absolutly disgusting entitlement."

Gee, Alex, maybe you should read up on ADUs where the City is pushing people to convert their garages to accessory dwelling units with no provision for where the homeowners' cars or those of their tenants should go.


Posted by Jay
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Jay is a registered user.

> make an effort to work with residents rather than simply ignore their concerns

Thats funny. Half of the concerns are never true and its always done with an ulterior motive. Every development project, every housing projects is always brought down because of this. There is a reason why the Bay Area has a housing/development issue which can never be solved in this lifetime


Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

It's pretty obvious when a certain "constituency" manages to post comments en masse. The disaster on Ross Road happened not far from my house. I attended a long-ago meeting at the Mitchell Park community room where it was obvious how everyone who attended was opposed.

But, whaddya know, nearly all the comments on this story are all in favor of the proposed bike plan.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 15, 2021 at 1:30 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Deborah
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 15, 2021 at 4:28 pm

Deborah is a registered user.

Once upon a time, as in the era when these south Palo Alto neighborhoods were built, you wouldn't dream of parking your car overnight on the street. Doing anything other than parking your car in the garage was considered slovenly and uncouth. My father, who is of this era, would rather die than park his car anywhere other than inside his garage. How parking on the street came to be viewed as a right I really don't know.


Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2021 at 5:19 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

The sticking point here appears to be VTA's capricious and dictatorial attitude toward awarding grants. The City is apparently willing to compromise with residents along the controversial segments, but is afraid of losing VTA funding if they do.

I have heard residents, council members, and city staff talk about the difficulty of obtaining funds from VTA. Our local public transit agency likes to give money to projects that it considers "innovative," and doesn't like to spend money on other transit options, no matter how helpful they may be.

Thus VTA is willing to give Palo Alto $900,000 for expanded bike lines--as long as the City builds them according to VTA's vision--but won't give the City a cent to preserve its free shuttle program, nor was it willing before the pandemic to maintain regular bus service to Gunn High School despite pleas from parents and students.


Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2021 at 5:57 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Parking spaces are far more essential than dedicated bike lanes for the people who live on those streets. After all, owners pay taxes, and kids are just --- kids who wander all over our streets like ignorant fools. Property owners pay Palo Alto taxes, so property owners should have the say about what the City is trying to do to mess up their quiet streets.


Posted by Donya
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2021 at 6:17 am

Donya is a registered user.

The dedicated bike lanes are far more important than the parking spots. I bike by Ramos Park and do not see parents dropping off kids and parking there. So it is a minor issue.
People who use Ramos Park will find a work around if they can't find parking right adjacent to the park. Who knows, maybe they will bike.
Let's keep the whole community in mind instead of being against every little change.


Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 16, 2021 at 6:51 am

JR is a registered user.

E. Meadow east of Middlefield is already a super safe bike route, one of the best bike routes in the city. There is no need to change it. Meanwhile W. Bayshore is a death trap that is very likely to actually kill someone once the bridge opens. And Fabian could use some improvements. Spend money on roads that need improvements, not roads that are ALREADY good bike routes (no matter what the failed VTA said, the organization that is spending millions of dollars per day to NOT operate a light rail line).

STOP taking demands from VTA, who is more interested in making shiny maps than actual bike safety. START listening to people who actually bike on those roads.


Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 16, 2021 at 8:04 am

Mary is a registered user.

>Donya: "I bike by Ramos Park and do not see parents dropping off kids and parking there. So it is a minor issue.

I drive up and down East Meadow almost every day and I often see many people park across the street to use Ramos Park, particularly when there is a youth sports practice or game. And I often see kids running across the street to the park as I approach, sometimes too close for comfort. On the other hand, I've never observed anyone on a bike riding down East Meadow in peril from a car. Just MY observations.

And about 20 years ago I did see a child hit by a car running across the street to Eleanor Pardee Park. His parent had parked their car across the street from the park and the boy was late to a little league baseball game. I'll never forget that.

As far as I'm concerned, it is NOT a minor issue.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2021 at 8:48 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I would like to see better bike access to the new bridge over 101. Bayshore is not a good route. There is access along the creek to Meadow, but there is nothing the other way. It would be good to open up a path along the access under the powerlines from Loma Verde to the creek and then access to the bridge. There is a pathway behind the office parking lots and this right of way should become a recognized route to the bridge. There is a path to nowhere under the powerlines the other side of Loma Verde, but a path to the bridge would be much more useful.


Posted by Janet L
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2021 at 9:34 am

Janet L is a registered user.

"Chuck Wilson, who lives on East Meadow, said all three of his children biked to school along the stretch for years and called the bike lanes on his street "some of the widest in the city." He also said that the removal of parking spots on the south side of East Meadow, near the entrance Ramos Park, would require the park's many young users to cross the busy street to get to the park"

Can someone explain to me how biking on East Meadow's unprotected bike lanes is perfectly safe for school kids while at the same time, it's not safe for kids who are driven to Ramos Park to cross the street when there's clearly an adult present? It's not like the kids drove themselves.

How is the same street somehow safe for kids biking on it for say 10 minutes when it's not safe for an adult to lead kids across it for say 30 seconds?


Posted by Gnar
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 16, 2021 at 3:14 pm

Gnar is a registered user.

Is this going to be implemented by the same people that royally screwed up Ross Road? The ones who looked at the "belt AND suspenders" idea of putting stop signs at a roundabout and thought, "yeah, that makes perfect sense"?

Palo Alto, you became a parody of yourself long ago.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 16, 2021 at 3:52 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Gnar's absolutely right.

The VTA's also a bad joke. Make them move their bus stops so they're MORE than 7 car lengths from major intersections. At San Antonio and Middliefield, the genius put a bus stop ONE car length from the intersection; I almost slammed into a bus that suddenly stopped when I was making my turn and looking left for oncoming traffic not a bus in front of me.

They've also got another dumb bus stop 4 car lengths south of Embarcadero on Middlefield. Guess what happens to the through and turning traffic when the bus stops for its required length of time?

"Parody" is one word. "Farcical" is another like Keystone Kops!


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2021 at 5:39 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Love Gnar's comment. Ross Road roundabout is belt and suspenders. Thanks for the laugh.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 19, 2021 at 5:51 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

5:00 PM - a giant double decker white Google/Other bus was coming down Charleston crossing Middlefield. Charleston is basically a residential street with a number of schools from one end to the other. Charleston was constructed so that only one car can be in the lane - surrounded by concrete barriers. Why is a giant double decker bus allowed to be on that road next to schools?

FURTHER - IF we decide to create underpasses at Charleston, East Meadow then double decker buses will not be allowed. So what is going on here? The bus does not want to use San Antoinio. No one else does either who lives here - saturated by commuters.

Everyone is concerned with streets next to schools and commercial double decker buses are using them. There should be signs which limit the size and tonnage of vehicles using roads in residential zones next to schools.

East Meadow is a very wide street with good markings for bike lanes on both sides from Middlefield to Louis. Can everyone consider that portion DONE?


Posted by Stepheny
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2021 at 10:50 am

Stepheny is a registered user.

Menlo Park has a ban on overnight parking in the street. If Palo Alto's homeowners, ADUs, condo and apartment dwellers would just use their garages and driveways, it would help all of us! Not only would bicyclists have room to ride, but our whole community would feel more spacious. All those cars on sidewalks and streets -- we can and should do better.


Posted by Fr0hickey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2021 at 11:26 am

Fr0hickey is a registered user.

You are never going to get kids to bike to school when parents are constantly worried about sexual predators roaming the streets. Every time you hear about a child abductor going to prison or being released after prison and not being put to death, parents are more determined not to let kids out of their sight.


Posted by Minimizing Entrophy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 21, 2021 at 10:24 am

Minimizing Entrophy is a registered user.

For the people who think the area isn't unsafe as it currently exists, the level of distracted drives continues to grow to the point it will be an issue in the future. Ride a bike or being a pedestrian has never been as dangerous as it is now nd the problem will continue to get worse as more people are forced into it for financial or ecological reasons. The time of the car ruling is coming to an end.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2021 at 11:39 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I recently drove along Arastradero/Charleston to come back from Foothill Expressway. Arastradero was a good choice. Charleston was not. It took me 3 green lights to cross at the tracks, nothing to do with a train, but just incompetent workers blocking lanes with no apparent work being done. It did strike me that Arastradero/Charleston is supposed to be a through route to Foothill Expressway and San Antonio is not ideal as it should be either. Page Mill, the other option seems to be far too much out of the way for south Palo Alto access to Foothill Expressway.

My other thought, is that since there are now so many streets where striping has been made for helping bikes, shouldn't now be the time where certain streets can now ban bikes. I have no objection of sharing the road with bikes on most streets, but there are certain streets where there are much better alternatives where they should be banned. Alma is one that comes to mind. With all the work done to promote biking on certain streets, banning them on others seems fair to me.

Copied from another thread.


Posted by Fr0hickey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2021 at 11:09 am

Fr0hickey is a registered user.

I would not ban bikes on Alma. Banning something means you need a way to enforce it. Do you want to call police to arrest/cite someone on a banned Alma Street? Do you want police to be patrolling Alma Street for 'banned' bicycle riding?
The amount of traffic on Alma St itself and the unpleasantness of riding a bike without a road shoulder will make riders find other routes.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2021 at 11:42 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Our City Council and Top earning leaders have zero interest in building, nurturing and maintaining public / private partnerships . When grants, tax funding is offered by state or public agencies, City of Palo Alto wants total utter control w no accountability or oversight. GS : Since when is street / curb / parking treatments or ease of mobility elements called — by you, road furniture? Sounds antagonistic! that was a push button phrase used against Ross Road upgrades and round a-bouts by the so-called SIPO’s “software” engineers! Just got back from Europe where I drove and walked across hundreds of round-a-bouts. Fantastic flow and ease of travel and pass thru. Too bad we stumble and roll over many missed opportunities with ECR Cal Trans pedestrian upgrades, VTA bike expansion funding, State mandated housing increases — you’d think PA Godless, tech-software polluted brain (Neo-Facists) i.e. former “free” thinking single braided hippies, with bare feet, t-shits and jeans were at the helm?! Clue: They are.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2021 at 11:47 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Palopposition Altopposition.


Posted by padad
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 29, 2021 at 10:34 pm

padad is a registered user.

Perhaps additional parking could be added to Ramos Park itself for people going to the park? That would alleviate some of the parking concerns and free up space for the bike lanes.


Posted by StarSpring
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 1, 2021 at 4:36 pm

StarSpring is a registered user.

@Native to the Bay,

If you just returned from Europe then you surely noticed that the (sic) round-a-bouts you noticed are -nothing- like the dangerous obstacles they are in Palo Alto and Mountain View. Largely Europe did it right. Too bad we miss those opportunities, as you say.

The Ross Road debacle was merely the Bicycle Coalition's drive to consume way more than their fair share of City Resources being exposed to public view.


Posted by Ryan
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 6, 2021 at 5:37 pm

Ryan is a registered user.

The argument against a protected bike lane because it removes parking for Ramos Park which is dangerous for kids is an interesting one; saying the protected bike lane (which is a means to improve safety) is the problem is a red herring, since the real source of danger that needs addressing is the cars driving along the road.

I'm not sure what the lane widths are, but if it is more than they are more than the 10ft minimum they can be made narrower to help calm traffic speeds without crazy concrete stuff as a way to make it safer to cross.

Looking at the area, there are already marked bike lanes, but it is sandwiched between the lanes of car traffic and where cars/trucks park along the sidewalk. The bike lane and car parking could easily be swapped with a paint change to make a protected bike lane and encourage driving the speed limit due to parked cars near the traffic lanes.

With some tweaks to the curb and sidewalk in the area, a fully protected bike lane or even a bicycle path raised to the level of the sidewalk seem like they could be possible while maintaining street parking in the area.


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