Menlo Park to consider a kindler, gentler El Camino Real

The city of Menlo Park, California transportation department invites the public to attend a community workshop on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 to discuss plans to make El Camino Real (ECR) a more accommodating transportation corridor for all road users.

el camino real map Menlo Park California from OSM

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Menlo Park considers cyclist anti-harassment ordinance

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.


Take the lane

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Menlo Park PD removes “accident” from traffic incident reports

Twitter activism results in policy change

The Menlo Park, CA Police Department quietly changed their traffic incident reporting policy to refer to them as “collisions” or “incidents.” Historically, the police department has referred to such incidents as “accidents” in their external reports.

Like many agencies around the United States, Menlo Park uses Nixle to notify residents of traffic disruptions and emergencies. The police department routinely sends “Nixle Alerts” warning commuters of traffic delays on area roads. Before Wednesday, the department referred to all such incidents as “accidents.”

Menlo Park Nixle Alert traffic accident

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Does Facebook really generate that much traffic?

This is about real physical traffic, as in the movement of people. Not web traffic. This is not an article about how Facebook can help your search marketing efforts.

Long time readers know I once worked for Sun Microsystems at the Menlo Park campus now leased by Facebook. Known as “Sun Quentin” for its prison-like exterior and remote location along the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge, the 57 acre campus was built between 1993 and 1995 after Menlo Park’s redevelopment agency enticed Sun to move its corporate headquarters there. I don’t know the history of these enticements, but relatively easy access to Highway 101 and the Dumbarton Bridge likely were mentioned.


Hawk's eye view

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Atherton wants your input for a new bike plan

The town of Atherton, California (America’s most expensive ZIP code for 2013, where the cheapest home — a 1,194-square-foot, two-bedroom bungalow on a 6,000-square-foot lot lists for $1.2 million), is creating a new Bicycle Plan, and they invite those who live there or travel through Atherton to give their input.

Atherton bike plan walk / bike tour

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Meeting Thursday for Menlo Park bike lanes

Lady Fleur looks at a Menlo Park bike lane where parking is also allowed near a private school on Laurel Street at Oak Grove.

If Laurel Street in Menlo Park is 42 feet wide, how do you divide the roadway so everyone gets what they need? Or should some people’s needs get higher priority than others?

There’s a neighborhood meeting on Thursday, October 3 in Menlo Park where they’ll discuss prohibiting parking all day in the morning-only bike lane near Nativity School, a proposal that’s expected to be unpopular with the school’s parents and teachers.

Laurel is a block north of the Menlo Park Caltrain Station is runs parallel to El Camino Real. This is nominally a north-south street if you think of ECR and Middlefield as north-south boulevards in terms of their direction relative the Bay. In terms of compass direction these are east-west streets. If you live in the Bay Area you understand; if you don’t, you’re likely scratching your head wondering what’s wrong with us.



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Two public elementary schools, a high school, two private college campuses, and major employers such as the US Geological Survey and SRI International are all located within a mile of the private Nativity School. The location has an enviable Walkscore of 86. Because Nativity is located within an aging and shrinking Catholic parish, the small school actively recruits students from a broad geographic area, so everybody drives their children to this school.

Northbound Laurel has a bike lane in which parking is also permitted except for 7 AM to 9 AM, which is apparently school drop off time at the private school. Because the alternate parallel streets are Middlefield Road and El Camino Real, Laurel is kind of the only reasonable bike route for children biking to nearby Encinal Elementary School. The heavy drop off traffic on Laurel and Oak Grove and bike lane parking make things challenging for young children on bikes.

The Almanac also picked up the story, credulously accepting the traffic safety credentials of school principal Carol Trelut, who apparently buys into the car advertising myth that surface streets next to schools are for cars only.

Forcing cars off Laurel Street could create a safety hazard instead of solving one, Ms. Trelut said, in situations when Middlefield Road becomes closed to traffic — as it was on Friday, Sept. 27.

“It is the only thoroughfare off of Middlefield Road that you can get a clear shot through, so they have to keep it moving and they have to (be able to) pull out for emergency’s sake,” the principal said.

Ms. Trelut added that the parking spaces on Laurel Street are used by the parents of kindergarteners, who have to walk their children into the school.

Traffic studies Nativity School conducted found at most six to 10 bicyclists traveling along Laurel Street during pick-up and drop-off times, according to Ms. Trelut. “I just don’t understand why” anyone thinks eliminating the bike lane parking is necessary, she said. “Just leave the parking the way it is.”

The Almanac story says the complaint about bike lanes parking was made last year, so I hope there was some discussion about traffic management at the private school. The traffic challenges are greater for private schools because they typically draw their students from a much larger area than public schools, but I’m sure somebody with the traffic safety qualifications of Ms. Trelut can think of some innovative and effective solutions that can improve safety and throughput for her school drop off times.

The Almanac also mentions a problem with illegal parking by students of Menlo-Atherton High School, which is located at Middlefield and Ringwood. Student parking is limited to juniors and seniors at the public school that serves a diverse demographic, from what Forbes Magazine ranks as America’s 3rd Most Expensive ZIP code to the Belle Haven neighborhood located on the other side of Highway 101, where 15% of residents live below the poverty line.

The meeting takes place Thursday night, 6 to 9 PM in the gymnasium at the Nativity School. The school strongly opposes the proposal to remove parking from the bike lane, while local residents seem to be mildly in favor if they care about the issue at all.