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.