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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi...  (More)

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Willow-Gate, and Safe Routes to School

Uploaded: Jan 10, 2018
I. Willow-Gate

Atherton VC Gary Lauder seems upset, and with good reason. He’s upset at the Willows B & B (Boondoggle & Bottleneck) at the Willow Road / 101 intersection. He has stepped up to the plate and took the time to research the issues, speaking with Caltrans, and documenting his findings. Have a look at Gary Lauder’s video showing, using the 101 Hillsdale interchange an example, why the Willow/101 interchanged won’t work.

Aerial View of Hillsdale/101

There is now a Facebook group ‘Willow Interchange.’

On a December 28th email to the MP Council Mr. Lauder says:

“…[Two of the 5 MP City Council (MPCC) members believe that this should be re-evaluated. The other 3 have not replied to my invitations to discuss this nor to join me on a field trip all the way to Hillsdale Blvd. Those 3 are: Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki. It’s up to the affected residents of MP to insist that the City Council commence reverting the project unless the questions are adequately answered. After meeting with CalTrans for 5 hours, I am pretty sure that the only honest answers would lead to reversion to a cloverleaf.”

On January 16th (that’s next Tuesday) the MP City Council shall discuss the this project.

The development we see today at that intersection was initiated 10-12 years ago was the proposed solution to problems at that time, using traffic counts and projects that were stale after signature. The project was presented as facilitating east-west bicycle access and use. Saying 'bicycle' is implicitly saying 'cars will off the road.' They blew it.

Someone recently mentioned stringing gondolas to carry people across the bay. There's actually a great example of this in NYC alongside the 59th Street Bridge, connecting the East Side of Manhattan with Roosevelt Island in the East River.

II. What if we build safe routes to school and they’re not used?

How do we bear the fruits of the ‘Safe Routes to Schools’ initiative. The Oak Grove striping, intended to provide a safe buffer from cars for bicyclists heading school seems to be too narrow for both curbed cars and bicyclists.

Last month while parking on Santa Cruz Avenue and 8 AM, a gaggle (okay, maybe 10), kids headed west to school on bikes - avoiding Oak Grove. In a sense they voted that Santa Cruz Avenue was safer than Oak Grove (at least early in the morning). I was really surprised to see this.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by conspiracy theories, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jan 10, 2018 at 11:45 pm

Maybe the career engineers at Caltrans are all stupid, or maybe they are all sociopaths with a plot to destroy Gary's quality of life. Maybe you, Stuart, are the only intelligent person in Menlo Park for figuring this all out.

Posted by Maybe, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jan 11, 2018 at 10:44 am

Maybe the three Councilmembers and CalTrans have prioritized traffic getting to the new developments east off the freeway at the expense of Menlo Park and Atherton residents who are bearing the burden of cut through and gridlock as a result. Big money influence?

Posted by Kenny Darling, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Jan 11, 2018 at 4:24 pm

It all comes down to where your friends life that you are riding or walking with. I remember that we had always chosen our route by only that. Friends will always stick together ;) .... But most of the time they will still chose the safest way back and forth. At the University of Travnik (See Web Link they had once the same Problem.

Posted by kbehroozi, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Jan 12, 2018 at 3:41 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

There's more than a gaggle of kids riding Santa Cruz Ave in the AM"I'd call it a steady stream. This is a decision of convenience and custom, not safety. It's closer to their original destination (Willows) and their ultimate destination (Hillview). The real question is whether they'd re-route up Middle Avenue once the undercrossing + bike lanes are added.

People are also using the Oak Grove bike lanes. They are narrow in some places because leaving in on-street parking was a necessary political concession. They could be wider, more buffered, etc. But then they wouldn't be, at all. We've gotta start somewhere and learn as we go.

Posted by Bob McGrew, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks,
on Jan 12, 2018 at 10:17 pm

I use the Oak Grove bike route every day to catch the 8:45 Caltrain up to the city. I feel much safer because I don't need to merge through two lanes of fast traffic to get into the left turn lane from Middlefield going to Ravenswood. That was touch-and-go every day. The Oak Grove route just requires that I merge into the main lane on a much less crowded stretch of Middlefield and then go in the left turn lane. It's much easier and safer.

I'm not surprised to see that school kids aren't crowding the Oak Grove bike route at 8am, but if you watch the crosswalk at Oak Grove and Middlefield between 8:20 and 8:30am, you'll see quite a few high schoolers on their bikes. The route gets a lot of use, certainly worth the few street parking spaces that were sacrificed for it.

Posted by Darius H, a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills,
on Jan 17, 2018 at 10:42 pm

I love the new Oak Grove Route and it makes my nearly daily trip much easier. My Parents are also much more happy with this new route, as they said they do not have to worry so much. I am really Happy for it, I might even make a review on Web Link

Posted by community concerns, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Feb 4, 2018 at 7:50 pm

We were waiting for the goal setting meeting to evaluate Stu's "Willow-Gate" crisis. As zero people came to speak on this issue at goal setting, and the emails and public comment at meetings have ceased, we can assume council's quick action has basically addressed community concerns.

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