Norcal Traffic

Town meetings and traffic policy in Northern California.

Portola Valley Bicycle Safety

Hundreds of cyclists enjoy riding the rural mountain roads of Portola Valley in San Mateo County, and on nice weekends bicycles easily outnumber cars and trucks through town. This annoys some Portola Valley residents, and even among avid cyclists there’s intense disagreement on sharing the road for courtesy versus taking the lane for safety. The Portola Valley Town Council meets tonight (Wednesday, June 8, 7:30 PM at the the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road) will cover “cyclist safety.”

Portola Mayor Mayor Ted Driscoll, IMHO, mostly got the issues right in his letter to the Town Council, though the Almanac manages to twist the facts per usual. The issues Driscoll lists:

  • No forum to discuss bicycle issues. Portola Valley has a mostly defunct and disinterested transportation committee. Driscoll proposes a bicycle committee to get participation from local cyclists and create a cooperative dialog with the cycling community. Are you listening, SVBC?
  • Driscoll seems to believe the lack of bike lanes through town is a problem. Cyclists routinely take the lane through town. Driscoll would like Portola Valley to look into widening road shoulders and painting bike lanes.
  • Because cyclists cannot be legally compelled to ride to the right of the fog line, enforcement actions focus on cyclists running the stop signs in town, although even Driscoll acknowledges there’s no public safety issue when cyclists do this. He’d like the town to work with the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office to identify the real safety issues to reduce tensions with the cycling community and seek to maximize safety and minimize conflict.

Traffic calming in The Willows, Menlo Park

Residents of “The Willows” neighborhood in Menlo Park have complained for 20 years of cut through traffic. The Willows is the roughly triangular neighborhood east of the VA Healthcare Center bounded by Willow Road on the northwest, Highway 101 to the north, and San Francisquito Creek to the east. San Francisquito Creek defines Menlo Park’s boundary with Palo Alto south of 101.

The problem is that Willow Road and nearby University Avenue provide commuter access for Palo Alto and Menlo Park businesses from Highway 101. Here’s what Willow Road looks like every day at the northern edge of this neighborhood.

Willow Road morning traffic

A substantial number of these commuters cut through the neighborhood to travel between University and Willow, and Menlo Park’s transportation department came up with traffic calming measures to reduce this cut through traffic. While acknowledging that this extra traffic flow impacted the quality of their neighborhood, the residents figured out they really prefer speeding over safety in their neighborhood. During a contentious city council meeting last night, council voted to kill all traffic calming proposals for the Willows.


$22M project to widen Highway 1 through Santa Cruz might be delayed due to Caltrans budget constraints.

City of Palo Alto finally approves Stanford Hospital expansion plans. Transportation mitigation includes $200,000 for University Avenue improvements, Caltrain Go Passes for all hospital workers and $3.4 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Hah, I just noticed this — I work with Cynthia quoted in this article about bike commuting across Willow Road in Menlo Park. I ride across 101 on Willow Road often and I can understand her concern. East Palo Alto wants a pedestrian / bicycle bridge across Highway 101, location TBD. Here’s rear view video of the 101 crossing.

Caltrain seeks San Mateo County resident for bicycle advisory committee.

Marin County Bicycle Coalition leadership shakeup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.