Letter To Menlo Park City Council & Planning Commission

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Last Update: April 4, 2015

April 2, 2015

RE: Concerns About The El Camino Real Corridor Study

TO: City Council Members & Planning Commissioners:

I would like to share my concerns about the EL Camino Real Corridor Study and its potential impact on the future safety and convenience of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who use El Camino Real and the residents who live in nearby neighborhoods. The El Camino Real Corridor Study could lead to Menlo Park deciding to reconfigure vehicle lanes, add either bike lanes or separate bike paths, and reduce street parking. Unfortunately, the study is a poor foundation for making well-informed and well-reasoned decisions. It suffers from both too narrow a scope and questionable methodologies, and so far both the proposed alternatives and findings have been poorly communicated to the public. I urge you to re-evaluate this study and set it on a more meaningful path. I believe the study …

  • Fails to strongly establish the need for cyclists to ride on El Camino Real. No analysis of cyclist (in)convenience has been done, and while many hardcore cyclists prefer bikes to cars ideology should not drive the City Council’s decision-making.
  • Understates the dangers to cyclists, drivers and pedestrians of adding either bike lanes or separate bike paths to a heavily travelled highway that has about 60 spots where vehicles would naturally cross the paths of cyclists. And unfortunately, the illusion of safety would encourage cyclists of all levels to unknowingly and unnecessarily expose themselves to collisions and accidents. No other Peninsula city encourages riders on their sections of this highway.
  • Understates the negative impact of encouraging cyclists and drivers to share this main artery on the flow of vehicle traffic and driver convenience.
  • Understates the greater safety and similar convenience of encouraging cyclists to ride bikes near El Camino Real on either existing or planned bike routes.

My personal objective is simply to have a majority of well-informed residents make well-reasoned decisions that optimally balance the needs and wants of all interest groups, and I accept that each might prefer different alternatives, as we do not share all the same values and ideologies. Unfortunately, the current study does note provide a meaningful answer to the most fundamental question: Which design option for El Camino Real provides the best absolute and relative SAFETY and convenience for the majority of potential users?

I urge you to consider three actions:

  • Evaluate the relative convenience of riding on El Camino Real versus alternative routes between LIKELY popular origins and destinations.
  • Require a bike network design specialist like Alta Planning + Design to evaluate how bike facilities on El Camino would impact the safety of all users.
  • Conduct a field trial that tests the impact of making El Camino Real three lanes in each direction for its entire length. (Note: this can be done without modifying the Ravenswood Avenue right turn lane.)

These actions would put residents in a much better position to make the right choices.

I welcome the opportunity to either explain or clarify any of my points at your convenience if you feel that would be helpful.

Best regards,

Dana Hendrickson

Editor, Re-Imagine Menlo Park

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