I usually pay attention to what’s happening in Menlo Park, CA, but this bit of news caught me by surprise:
Menlo Park is eyeing an ordinance that aims to curb harassment of those considered vulnerable users of the road. If signed into law, the legislation would create recourse for victims of road rage, and other forms of motorist harassment, who sometimes have difficulty in criminal cases. The proposed ordinance seeks to protect all “vulnerable” people on the road — including children, elderly people and those with disabilities, as well as cyclists, according to Gregory Klingsporn, chairman of the Menlo Park Bicycle Commission.
Details are still in the works, but this would likely be similar to existing local legislation that seeks to protect vulnerable users in Los Angeles, Sunnyvale, Berkeley and in Sonoma County. Anti-harassment laws in those areas allow cyclists and walkers to file civil suit against motorists who harass them.
Menlo Park is a small, affluent city located in San Mateo County just north and west of Palo Alto, CA. The city is famous as a center of venture capital that seed technology and medical ventures. Notable businesses and employers include Facebook, SRI, the U.S. Geological Survey, SLAC (nee Stanford Linear Accelerator), Robert Half International, Geron and Sunset Magazine.
Menlo Park roads are thick with cyclists during commute hours, with nearly 400 cyclists passing through Menlo Park’s Caltrain Station each day and hundreds more transiting to Menlo Park businesses from other cities. The popular SF2G group rides — a weekday bike train from San Francisco to Silicon Valley — also pass through Menlo Park. Roads used as flagpoles out to I-280 are also popular with recreational cyclists, with large groups riding on Sand Hill Road to access routes in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The city of Menlo Park hired a new transportation manager last May, and it turns out Jesse Quirion is a bona fide bike nut. He’s been careful with policy suggestions as he learns the ropes and people involved, but we’ve already noticed changes there. Last month, Quirion encouraged the Menlo Park police department to change their language when reporting traffic collisions, and the Menlo Park Transportation Commission voted unanimously to replace street parking with bike lanes on Laurel Lane next to a private school. This Laurel Street bike lane project, incidentally, comes up to the full city council vote at their Tuesday, December 10 meeting, 7 PM at the city council chambers at City Hall.
This looks to be in the proposal stage right now with the BPAC, so stay tuned. I used to work in Menlo Park and I have to admit, I don’t recall anything that could be construed as harassment in over five years of daily bike commuting across that town. I do hear of road rage incidents with the recreational road rides up on Sand Hill.
Full news in the SF Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/menlo-park-considers-law-targeting-harassment-of-cyclists/Content?oid=2640958.
Menlo Park staff was considerate and prudent. They listened to the school’s concerns and worked with the school to develop a solution reconfiguring the school’s onsite parking to create enough spaces for parent dropoff and parking to replace the spaces in the bike lane.
The Laurel Street bike lane had been identified as a key connection in the city’s bike network in the Bicycle Plan, the Downtown Specific Plan, and two Safe Routes to School plans in the previous decade.
The Laurel Street bike lane issue goes before City Council on Tuesday evening, for those interested.
There was a similar story in the Menlo Park Almanac a couple of months ago: http://www.almanacnews.com/news/2013/10/16/menlo-park-bicyclist-anti-harassment-law-under-consideration
Not sure if anything has changed during those 2 months.
Part of the “problem” is that bicycle commuting rates are very high to places like Facebook and Stanford, but there have been a number of serious high profile car vs bicycle collisions in or near the city, including a Facebook engineer recently and a former Amazon CFO in September.
I’m under the impression that the type of vulnerable user ordinance under consideration is to tackle “road rage” style incidents that are clearly intentional, not for careless driving crashes that seem to be the case like what seemed to happen on Marsh Road. Am I wrong?