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Menlo Park: Downtown bike route approved

 

The start of new bike lanes and the end of some street parking is ahead for downtown Menlo Park.

A concept plan laying out a route to safely navigate downtown Menlo Park by bike was approved 3-0 by the Menlo Park City Council at its meeting on Dec. 6, with Mayor Rich Cline and Councilman Ray Mueller absent.

There will be a one-year trial period for the project, which is expected to cost $236,200, according to a staff report.

The plan is to add painted bike lanes, with a minimum 18-inch buffer, or "sharrows" (painted markings on the roads that remind drivers to share the road with cyclists) along a route intended to give cyclists a clear path through downtown Menlo Park.

The route will start at Menlo-Atherton High School, run along Oak Grove Avenue past El Camino Real to Crane Street, and then continue left with a mild jog across Santa Cruz Avenue, go right up Live Oak Avenue, and continue left again on University Drive to Middle Avenue. The Crane Street bike lane would extend in the other direction to connect with Valparaiso Avenue.

The proposal the council discussed will likely eliminate between 130 and 177 street parking spaces along Oak Grove Avenue and University Drive.

Bike lanes or sharrow markings will be painted on these streets:

• University Drive from Middle Avenue to Live Oak Avenue. (Sixty-four parking spaces on both sides of the street will be removed and buffered bike lanes will be installed.)

• Live Oak Avenue from University Drive to Crane Street. (Sharrow markings will be painted on the road.)

• Crane Street from Live Oak Avenue to Valparaiso Avenue, (Sharrow markings will be painted on the road.)

• Oak Grove west of El Camino Real. (Nineteen parking spaces on the north side of the street will be removed and a buffered bike lane installed.)

• Oak Grove east of El Camino Real. (Up to 94 parking spaces may be removed on both sides of the road and a buffered bike lane installed. However, the council has directed staff to look into preserving parking on one side of Oak Grove Avenue east of El Camino Real, which could halve the number of parking spaces to be cut, according to Michael Tsai, assistant engineer. Near Menlo-Atherton High School, there are also some off-street dirt parking spots. Those would remain as they are, Mr. Tsai said.)

In addition to the one-year trial, a more permanent change will be made: a new left-turn signal will be added at Laurel Street so that northbound and southbound drivers turning onto Oak Grove Avenue won't have to turn with oncoming traffic approaching, Mr. Tsai said. The traffic lights will be replaced with larger lights.

The project was initially brought forth by the Menlo Park Bicycle Commission, and was presented to the Environmental Quality Commission in October 2015.

Next steps are to finalize designs, establish what criteria will be used to determine the effectiveness of the one-year trial, award a construction contract, and install the bike lanes, which could happen by May 2017, according to city staff.

The project will require coordination with Atherton and Caltrans, according to Mr. Tsai. Atherton is working on improvements to the Middlefield Road and Oak Grove Avenue intersection, he said, and the city will coordinate with Caltrans on plans for the Oak Grove Avenue and El Camino Real intersection.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Anonymouse
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 8, 2016 at 9:06 pm

Ever try to park downtown between 11:30am and 1:30pm? It is crazy, cars circling around looking for any open spot, lines of backed up cars in the aisles of the public parking lots. Removing 130-177 parking spots is going to worsen the parking mess tremendously. Downtown will get less busy. Maybe preferable for those who like it quiet, but not good for businesses.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2016 at 8:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Perhaps someday the MP Council will finally deal with creating suitable downtown parking structures.

In the meantime Palo Alto is continuiung to invest in its many parking structures:

Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Dec 9, 2016 at 10:06 am

If you built it, they will come. A few years ago, Palo Alto installed good quality bike racks at every corner around downtown. The bike racks are in highly visible locations (at street corners next to crosswalks) to deter theft and they are compatible with the high-security U-locks that bicyclists who hate bike thieves use.These racks seem to be full most of the time when I visit. That is hundreds of people biking to Palo Alto instead of driving cars. Now that Menlo Park has a relatively safe bike route to downtown from the Caltrain station and the eastern neighborhoods, hopefully we will follow it up by installing bike racks downtown so people can park their bicycles safely.


5 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

The parking spaces removed during this trial are mostly from more residential areas. They're taking out ~19 street parking spaces in the downtown area (on one side of Oak Grove). That's it. Now, it's not nothing but it's not 100+ and probably won't make a massive difference.

In my experience it's a much worse experience driving and attempting to park in downtown Palo Alto. Careful what you wish for.


12 people like this
Posted by Times change
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Every person who enjoys biking and decides to run errands on bike is one less SUV in front of you at the stop light or using a parking space downtown. With population growth we have to maximize the limited width of our roads and bikes are a strong solution for making the roads serve a larger population.


2 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:32 pm

@parent
MP has installed bike racks all over SCA. Go take a stroll.


11 people like this
Posted by Debbie
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:42 pm

I am upset that the Council altered the plan recommended by staff and"saved" street parking between Merrill Street and Laurel Avenue near the new Greenheart project.

It makes no sense that they decided to leave street parking in the area. It is one of the most dangerous parts of the route.
The train tracks and Alma Street both intersect with Oak Grove Avenue between Merrill Street and Laurel Street. Also, won't there be alot of construction in this area soon after the Greenheart project starts to be built? There are so many distractions for drivers and children riding bikes in this area.

They just invited a bunch of families to send their kids riding bikes down this route and then created this dangerous area in the middle of it.

This needs to be fixed before before kids start using the Oak Grove bike route and a child gets seriously hurt.


5 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 9, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Complete insanity no one is against bike safety but where are all the cars going to park? the lot behind the post office is full where are those patrons going to park? and all the business owners on the north side of Oak Grove are screwed because they are not allowed to purchase parking passes because their not part of the district as an Oak Grove business and property owner this action just reinforces the feeling that Menlo Park doesn't care about small business unless your Facebook and donate money to curry favor also how many spaces are being eliminated on Santa Cruz ave for outdoor dining? FYI all these cars are coming to park in your residential neighborhood get ready.


1 person likes this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 9, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Removing the residential street parking on University will create more demand for space on Roble and Live Oak (which are both already quite full with residential parking). But I suppose the good thing is that this will bring stop signs on Santa Cruz at Crane?


2 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2016 at 10:21 am

Residents should ask why the City Council made this very controversial decision when (1) two council members were not present to vote, (2) the trial will NOT include the physical bike lane separators that are critical for bicyclist comfort were prominently shown in the consultant presentation and mislabeled as "buffered bike lanes" (3) the construction costs for the final bike facilities were not estimated and expect will more than TRIPLE the total project costs, (4) the Chamber of Commerce opposed the loss of downtown parking, and (5) it was obvious to all at the meeting - the bike commission, city staff, and consultant - were surprised to learn how much harm the loss of street parking spaces east of El Camino will cause residents and homeowners who depend on them, and finally, the City Council has failed to fairly evaluate alternative bike corridor which would be safer, more convenient and less stressful for bicyclists and more acceptable to motorists and business owners. This is a great example of how poor city planning processes produce bad outcomes. Much more to come???? Ray Mueller and Rich Cline, why was a vote taken without you>


9 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Dec 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Change is always controversial in Menlo Park but people using the meeting as their sole data point on the feasibility and popularity of this pilot are looking at highly skewed data.

Here's what I know from being present at the meeting:

1) The devil is in the details. It's easy to get confused when you're not spending massive amounts of time immersed in this project. Incorrect details about parking spaces were cited (by Fran Dehn, Cat Carlton and others). Some of those details were corrected by weary staffers; others weren't. Perhaps Fran would still be upset about the route and the 19 spaces that the downtown merchants are losing. But she wouldn't have had a chance to amend her original statement (that something like 15% of downtown parking spots were going away).

2) It's amazing how much purchase you can get from showing up at a meeting. I almost didn't. I almost wasn't paying attention. No one sent me a postcard alerting me to the possibility that a vocal minority might shout down the east-west bike pilot through downtown Menlo Park. I know a lot of people who would have showed up in favor of the route had they been informed–people who will actually use it. Instead I watched as a handful of understandably upset people, the ones who had been notified because parking on their street was likely to go away, the ones who are paying attention to civic details, managed to sway a council member to the brink of refusing to vote on a project that was years in the making and had already integrated numerous compromises. Let me mention here that it is not easy for someone with school-aged kids to show up at 7 PM on a school night and sit until 11 PM in a council meeting. There's supper to be made, homework and teeth-brushing to supervise, and sleep to catch up on before an early morning wake-up and the rush to get to school/work on time. But make no mistake, these people are some of the core constituency of this bike route and their voices are no less valuable.

I'm not blaming the people who showed up–but one should by no means extrapolate from that sample that this is a "very controversial decision." It's easy to forget the people who emailed in favor of the route because they aren't standing in front of you on a microphone. It's also psychologically easier to not give something to a group of people who aren't there than it is to take something away from another group of people standing in front of you. But that doesn't mean it's right. In the end, reason prevailed and the pilot will move forward, albeit with a compromise that should mollify the residents of 445 Oak Grove Avenue.

3) Dana, the route you keep proposing would be equally controversial. You'd just have a different group of people upset.


4 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 10, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

The route that Dana Hendrickson keeps proposing has a much higher volume of cars traveling on a street with a higher speed limit. There is a very good reason that Oak Grove was preferred over Ravenswood.

The elephant in the room is employee parking downtown. There would be plenty of easy to find parking for customers downtown if the folks who work downtown had better alternatives, either Caltrain/SamTrans passes or a satellite parking with a shuttle. Either of those would be cheaper than building a parking structure.


1 person likes this
Posted by Cmon
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Any progress on this front is beneficial and loss of parking will be necessary, but unfortunate. Building a garage downtown is a necessity and the sooner the better.

As to this route. It is fairly illogical and will probably do little to encourage more biking in town. It may help the MA students, which is great, but otherwise the actual streets traversed are not going to be behavior changers at all. It seems like a lot of money for just a test. How about you restrict parking for a period of time (announced in advance) and advertise locally the presence of this route (perhaps marked with cones) and see what happens. Very little I suspect. At some point, Middle Ave needs to be the main route across ECR, especially after we get the bike tunnel. Suggesting that a route starting on middle and ending at MA is the best we could do seems impractical.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Tunbridge and others including bike commissioners continue to express views that ignore realities and good bike network design practices. First, the actual and relative volume of vehicle traffic on city streets is largely of secondary importance. What matters most? (1) Which bike corridor provides bicyclists the most convenient access to the MOST popular destinations, i.e, that means only detours of acceptable length per contemporary design principle are required. (Menlo-Ravenswood clearly wins) (2) Which bike corridor provides the safest riding environment which is largely a function of the number and kind of places where bikes and vehicles cross paths, i.e., conflict points, and the signs and controls used to manage their interactions. These locations include intersections and entrance/exits to public parking like plazas. (Menlo-Ravenswood clearly wins) (3) Bike safety and comfort are also tightly linked to bike facility design. The proposed Menlo-Ravenswood bike corridor would physically separate street bike and vehicle lanes its entire length and includes bike paths that totally remove bikes from the street. The Oak Grove proposal relies on bike routes on Live Oak and Crane Streets which require bicyclists to share vehicle lanes with faster traveling vehicles => a really bad idea. (Menlo-Ravenswood clearly wins). The Oak Grove bike corridor sacrifices between 130 and 177 street parking space; the Menlo-Ravenswoodd bike corridor less than 50. (Menlo-Ravenswood clearly wins). Finally, both bike corridors will have impacts on motorists beyond street parking because these change how and where motorists will encounter bicyclists and motorists are equally concerned about their own safety, convenience and comfort.(Menlo-Ravenswood clearly wins).

So if you doubt any of my claims require the City Council to more fully study the REAL benefits and impacts of both proposed bike corridors and proactively educate al residents and collect their feedback.

The field trial is a poor way to determine whether an idea is a good one. The "goodness" should be widely understood and supported BEFORE the City commits additional resources and funds. And please remember, this field trial does NOT test the most important feature of the proposed permanent implementation - protected bike lanes (cycle tracks). Why? So what is its actual purpose?

Finally, why doesn't the city have a trustworthy estimate for the construction costs of the full implementation of the Oak Grove bike corridor?

A lot of things about the Oak Grove proposal and the process by which it has gained City Council support just does feel right to me. Residents who share my concerns are invited to contact me at danahendrickson2009@gmail.com.

More to come soon...


Like this comment
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2016 at 3:11 pm


I apologize for the typos in my first comment. Hopefully, this is easier to read.

Residents should ask why the City Council made this very controversial decision when (1) two council members were not present to vote, (2) the trial will omit the physical bike lane separators that are THE most critical contributor to reducing bicyclist stress (increasing comfort) but were prominently and misleadingly shown in the consultant presentation and mislabeled as "buffered bike lanes" and (3) the construction costs for the permanent bike facilities were not estimated and I guess will would more than TRIPLE the total project construction costs. (This should be fully considered now not after a partial yet costly trial has been conducted. (4) The Chamber of Commerce opposes the loss of downtown parking,.(4) iIt was obvious to all who witnessed the meeting that the bike commissioners, city staff, and consultant were ALL surprised to learn how much harm the loss of street parking spaces east of El Camino would cause residents and homeowners who depend on them. And finally (6) the City Council has failed to fairly evaluate an alternative bike corridor which could be MUCH safer, more convenient and less stressful for bicyclists and more acceptable to motorists and business owners. This is a great example of how poor city planning processes produce bad outcomes. Ray Mueller and Rich Cline, why was a vote taken without you?


Like this comment
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2016 at 3:37 pm

CCB: You clearly support the Oak Grove bike corridor and so I understand why It's easy for you to discount the views, beliefs and feelings of those who hold an opposing position. Yes, "the devil is in the details" but many including me believe the City has not clearly identified nor fairly evaluated all the important ones. That is, it has FAILED to fulfill its responsibilities to represent the interests of most residents, not a handful of bike commissioners - none have bike network design expertise - and a minority of supporting bike enthusiasts. Disagree? Ask the City

"Dana, the route you keep proposing would be equally controversial. You'd just have a different group of people upset."

How do you reach this conclusion when neither proposal has been thoroughly and professionally evaluated, most residents have not had a reasonable set of opportunities to weigh in, and the City Bike Commission clearly has strongly biased the entire process. I am prepared to provide a great deal of evidence and will do so soon.

Finally, the controversy about the Oak Grove bike corridor is NOT solely about street parking; it's about all the key benefits and disadvantages of this proposal from the perspective of all city constituencies including bicyclists, motorists, business owners, and homeowners. These are neither fully identified nor sufficiently evaluated.
I expect this controversy to intensify greatly starting in January. Stay tuned and join in. Please.


Like this comment
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm

CORRECTION:

A lot of things about the Oak Grove proposal and the process by which it has gained City Council support just does NOT feel right to me.

Residents who share my concerns are invited to contact me at danahendrickson2009@gmail.com.


4 people like this
Posted by relax
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 12, 2016 at 12:51 am

Dana, you should attend a bike commission meeting and educate yourself, a great deal of thought has gone into this.


1 person likes this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 1:08 pm

Relax:

I DO regularly attend the monthly Bike Commission meetings and there is rarely any other resident there other than me.

I have also had many one-on-one many interactions with commissioners outside these meetings during the past 18 months.

I have given a great deal of thought to how our city might improve its bike network and share my data and analysis on my website (Re-Imagine Menlo Park). I invite you to read and submit constructive feedback. I am sure you will learn more than what you can from reading Bike Commission minutes and published materials and encourage you to share whatever you find and believe valuable.

Note: My repeated efforts to discuss new bike corridor ideas with the entire bike commission were rejected a year ago.

Please introduce yourself tomorrow night. The meeting is held at 7 PM the second Tuesday of each month.

Thanks for engaging in this online discussion.



Like this comment
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Dana

After many many months of reading your proposal for a Ravenswood/Menlo bike route it has become clear that it is the most convenient for you. Not because there are "more popular' destinations on the route, it is because the are YOUR popular destinations. You refuse to entertain or support other routes because your route is best for you. I get it, you want what you want. However, that doesn't make it the right route for the community, just the right one for you.


1 person likes this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 3:49 pm

MPer:

What a strange comment but I guess not unexpected from someone who opposes my recommendation - to fully evaluate a promising alternative - before funding the Oak Grove bike field trial - and is unable to offer sound fact-based arguments.

I believe my recommendation would actually improve the bike options for anyone who rides on either Middle or Santa Cruz Avenues (west side of El Camino) or uses Willow, Alma, and Ravenswood (east side) and wants to access either downtown or THE popular destinations on the opposite side of this highway.

1. Don't believe this claim, simply prove it. (instead, of "deflecting")

2. Why are you so afraid of having our City fairly evaluate a promising alternative?

3. Since you feel you know my bike destinations so well, should I be concerned about your closely tracking my bike travels? Yikes!

I love comments like yours; a little humor brightens my day... and I expect others, as well.

Thank you!


Like this comment
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Dana

Glad I brightened your day, but I stand behind my original comment. Its not that far fetched that you would support the option that benefits you the most My opinion on your position was gleaned from your comments and website, not following you.
Your proposal would bring more bike traffic to an already busy, dangerous intersection and eliminating sidewalk to add a bike lane on Menlo is a smack in the face to pedestrians.

The city evaluated the options and chose Oak Grove. Time to move on....


Like this comment
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Dana

You said "Why are you so afraid of having our City fairly evaluate a promising alternative?".

Why are you so afraid of accepting the commissions decision?


1 person likes this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 7:41 pm

Mper;

The primary difference between you and I is that I recommend the City evaluate a reasonable alternative and you have assumed an apparently inflexible position.

And you provide no data and logic to support your opinions as I have - after more than a hundred hours of research and analysis.

In contrast, you offer nothing to support your position and opinions.

You statement "Its not that far fetched that you would support the option that benefits you the most that benefits you the most" is one of the weakest and laziest tactic in a debate and discussion. Provide data and logic to support your position and you MIGHT have impact- on my views and the others that read your remarks.

If you actually knew me or asked you would have learned that I do not benefit greatly from my recommendation, in fact almost not at all. But, of course, it's easier to create a strawman and attack it than do any work to uncover the truth.

Please continue. I enjoy exposing such tactics as we all can benefit from your comments. Game on???


1 person likes this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 8:09 pm

Mper;

The primary difference between you and I is that I recommend the City evaluate a reasonable alternative and you have assumed an apparently inflexible position.

And you provide no data and logic to support your opinions as I have - after more than a hundred hours of research and analysis.

In contrast, you offer nothing to support your position and opinions.

You statement "Its not that far fetched that you would support the option that benefits you the most that benefits you the most" is one of the weakest and laziest tactic in a debate and discussion. Provide data and logic to support your position and you MIGHT have impact- on my views and the others that read your remarks.

If you actually knew me or asked you would have learned that I do not benefit greatly from my recommendation, in fact almost not at all. But, of course, it's easier to create a strawman and attack it than do any work to uncover the truth.

Finally, I understand the Bike Commissions position AND tactics and do not agree with them. Do you think I should simply ignore that fact?

Please continue. I enjoy exposing such tactics as we all can benefit from your comments. Game on???


4 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 13, 2016 at 11:40 am

Dana - my opinion was formed by reading your web site, this site and the city's. Oak Grove being less trafficked I feel they made the appropriate choice.

You have a habit of citing a lack of data or study when someone doesn't agree with you. Sorry, I've studied up on it and formed an educated opinion.

You are equally inflexible in your position, so that point is moot.

Congrats to the bike commission for getting this approved!


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Mar 31, 2017 at 3:23 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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