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Opinion: Safer streets, rail crossings, bike paths are key to a better community

Original post made on May 12, 2023

It's a tough reality to admit, but right now, a lot of Palo Alto's roads, railroad crossings and the bicycle routes our kids take to school could all be a lot safer.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 12, 2023, 6:48 AM

Comments (7)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2023 at 7:34 am

Bystander is a registered user.

You are right. We seem to have very dismal lighting in public places and especially in the winter months when it gets dark so early there are many shadows which look very forboding.

I would suggest that one very simple safety item would be to flood these places with light. Our stations, tunnels, and bridges could do with being much lighter to prevent crime and add to pedestrian safety. Our street lights have been dimmed in recent years too, this makes the streets very gloomy at night for pedestrians.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2023 at 11:19 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"When you design a city for cars, you get more cars and more traffic, when you design a city for people where the purpose is space for kids to play and get to school, for celebrations to occur,..."

When the state forces Bay Area cities to add 1,000,000 housing units and you narrow the roads and eliminate parking, trees, parks and block the sun, you're creating gridlock, killing businesses to which people can't/won't ride their bikes, reducing access to solar energy and creating a boring corridor of look-alike studio apartments for childless techies while destroying the character of Palo Alto,

Posted by Frayda
a resident of Southgate
on May 12, 2023 at 11:22 am

Frayda is a registered user.

This is certainly not a new idea; and most certainly, ATTENTION SHOULD BE PAID TO IT!

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2023 at 12:17 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

There are multiple existing grade separations north of Oregon Expressway:
+ Lytton Caltrain Transit Station undercrossing
+ University Ave multi-modal underpass
+ Homer Ave. pedestrian/bicycle underpass
+ California Avenue pedestrian/bicycle underpass
+ Embarcadero multi-modal underpass

While they are imperfect, they are much better than ZERO existing grade separations south of Oregon Expressway. This significant inequity needs to be addressed. We need grade separations where there are NONE at all.

The recently approved Housing Element puts the lion's share of new housing south of Oregon. We need an Area Plan for that new housing. Thousands of new residents living in smaller spaces will create demand for services, transportation, public works, parks, community services, schools.

It is time for City Hall to turn your eyes south and VISIT in-person all the project sites for grade separations, school routes, new housing, San Antonio and Fabian, and walk through Cubberley to understand the problems that have accumulated due to inattention and neglect through the city and PAUSD's failure to cooperate. Comprehensive Area Planning would make sense in this moment. Cubberley facilities renewal should be part of that discussion.

How can we get Cubberley back into usable condition? Cubberley Community Center had become blighted even before the recent fire there. It is presently a hot mess, cluttered with ugly prefab portables that are necessary because formerly useful space is simply broken. Roofs leak, dry rot and mold and rat traps are everywhere, walkways are cracked and heaving, paint is peeling, bathrooms need to be gutted and redone. Pitch the portables. Put in a sewer line to serve bathrooms for the playing fields. Stop replacing landscaping with unmaintained, ugly, cracking, heaving asphalt. Get the gyms repaired and open again. Make the plumbing and electrical reliably functional. An ounce of prevention would have been worth a pound of cure.

Posted by Reid Kleckner
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2023 at 1:42 pm

Reid Kleckner is a registered user.

Thank you for writing this Katie, this is spot on! We absolutely should be designing for people, not cars.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2023 at 1:31 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Right on target. Our suburban quality of life must adhere 2 such. When our children (mine) r held up on a dark cornered bike path at knife pint & forced against a cyclone fence 2 give up an old iPhone, or else... all the concrete, dark alcoves, non lighted alcoves invite the sorted. Yet. I anxiously await a marked, designated, safe crossing of ECR. At Embarcadero/Galvez, EcR/Churchill; ECR/College; ECR/California; EcR/Page Mill. One design feature I heard would help tremendously. A large round-about at Embarcadero/ECR & one at PageMill ECR. These would absolutely minimize speed in to ity center. I’ve seen along Old Redwood Hwy, in Petaluma & Healdsburg. Destination towns & “bedroom communities”. It’s dismal that our transpiration commission has not significantly addressed the deadly crossing at Cal Ave & ECR. Install: No U turn, No right turn on red light, No massive trucks on W Cal A. Large stripped crossing, relocating by 15 feet (south at Wells Fargo) the 22 VTA bus stop. Or, better flashing red/yellow light in the cross walk asphalt. And of course this crossing leads to the cal Ave tunnel. Separate from the Cal Train station under crossing.
The In addition. Since the Cal Ave “Parklet” closure took hold, the intersection at ECR & Cal Ave is even more massively inadequate for Peds, Bikes, babies in Strollers, Pets, families,groupss, SRP employees all heading to or thru Cal Ave. the intersection at Cal Ave / ECR is a true mess. I consider grade separation. It’s a quagmire. This is what I know without proving links or rabbit holes. LeLand built a train track from SF thru Palo Alto on the current ECR. Yet there was also a commuter trolley from SF south. Yet it only went as far as Menlo Park. Palo Alto in two previous Centuries said “NO” to the alternate & parallel commuter shuttle. Essentially all kids crossing at Cal Ave for Paly, Green or other destinations or for this matter, is a “cross at your own risk”. Everyday my children cross deadly ECR is risk.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

An issue with the Caltrain tracks being on street level. If you drive up El Camino in San Mateo County the tracks are in a commercial section of the city and are raised up on a high berm with parking below at street level. There are underpasses for autos. That is the opposite in PA where the tracks are in the residential section of the city. Creating that scenario of planning in the residential section of the city is very problematical. Alma is the train corridor in Palo Alto. Not an easy fix.

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