News

Menlo Park commission supports eliminating Laurel Street parking

City considering removing parking on northbound Laurel Street between Oak Grove and Glenwood avenues

The proposal to eliminate street parking along northbound Laurel Street between Oak Grove and Glenwood avenues forged ahead following a meeting of the Menlo Park Transportation Commission.

The commissioners voted 6-0, with Nate Hodges absent, on Nov. 13 to recommend that the City Council eliminate the parking as city staff suggested to make bike travel safer on the street, but with a few modifications:

● Defer installation of the no-stopping restrictions until after the current school year ends.

● Prohibit right turns on red at all four corners of the intersection of Laurel Street and Oak Grove Avenue all day, instead of only "when children are present."

● Encourage the school to reduce vehicle trips by building a carpool, walking and bicycling program.

● Evaluate the impact of the changes after the next school year starts and return to the Transportation Commission for further review if needed.

● Require Nativity School to install green bike lanes as a condition of approval for a pending use permit request to add a junior kindergarten class of 12 to 18 students plus associated staff.

The parking issue arose when a resident whose child attended Encinal Elementary School, located not far from Laurel Street, complained to the city that parents from Nativity School parked in the bike lanes.

Parents with children attending the private K-8 Nativity School at 1250 Laurel St., as well as school administrators, protested the loss of parking space.

While city staff suggests the removal will make bicycle travel along the street safer, Nativity parents say it will make dropping off and picking up their children more hazardous. The school currently has a drop-off and pickup zone off Oak Grove Avenue that administrators said can't accommodate the flow of parents for the school's current 275 students, in part because students from Menlo-Atherton High School illegally park in the private school's lots.

Staff also wants to improve the pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Laurel Street and Oak Grove Avenue by giving people more time to cross the street, in addition to restricting right turns on red.

Transportation commissioners, citing other private schools such as Phillips Brooks, said that creating a bicycle route with no cars within the bike lane could only improve safety for everyone and could encourage more Nativity parents and students to bike to school.

Following the Nov. 13 meeting, city staff suggested a few changes to the Transportation Commission's proposals, namely that to avoid traffic delays, the city not prohibit right turns on red all day, and that the city study whether green bike lanes near the school are appropriate, reasoning that the splashes of color should be reserved for conflict points rather than being used widely enough to the point where they become less attention-getting.

The Bicycle Commission was scheduled to consider staff's proposal during its Nov. 18 meeting, which took place after the Almanac's press deadline.

According to Jesse Quirion, the city's transportation manager, the City Council will have to approve any changes, he said, after the bicycle and transportation commissions make their recommendations.

Comments

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Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Allowing cars to block bike lanes heading to schools has to be the dumbest ever road design. I'm glad that the city is coming to their senses.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Now if Atherton would address the mess around Laurel School and Ringwood Ave. Too often those picking up kids block the street to through traffic, people are crossing all along the roadway. It's no wonder that there hasn't been an accident yet.


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Posted by onsite parking
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm

This article misses a critical piece of the solution that was recommended by staff and voted on by Transportation Commission. After the community meeting and before the transportation commission meeting, city staff worked with the school staff and identified a plan for the school to reconfigure its parking onsite. The newly available onsite parking will be available for parents to pick up, drop off, and park - replacing the same number of spaces that will be unavailable by using the bicycle lane for bikes. This change will be implemented over the summer. The change to clear the bike lane wouldn't go into effect until after the onsite parking had been reconfigured to make more room for parents.


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Posted by onsite parking
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Also, the article notes that "The parking issue arose when a resident whose child attended Encinal Elementary School, located not far from Laurel Street, complained to the city that parents from Nativity School parked in the bike lanes."

However, the bike lanes on Laurel have been identified in the city's Bicycle Plan, the El Camino Real Downtown Specific Plan, and two different Safe Routes to School Plans for Encinal and the Valparaiso area. Laurel is a key link in the city's overall bike network - it is the north-south low-stress route parallel to El Camino. It has much lower traffic than Middlefield which is the other north-south route.

Laurel isn't one person's recently identified issue, it is a key link in the city's bicycle network which has been planned and reinforced for over a decade.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tina
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 19, 2013 at 6:49 pm

We all just want a nice big free parking space! Web Link


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