Today I was copied on this letter to the City Council from the Chairman of the Menlo Park Bike Commission. While I have consistently advocated for an in-depth analysis of two of the alternatives in the El Camino Real Corridor Study – adding bike lanes to El Camino Real and widening the north end of this highway to 3 lanes – because only a conceptual review of the alternatives has been completed at this point, Bill has already decided based on his personal beliefs and interests that it is obvious the City should move forward with only the bike lane alternative. Notice the tone of his letter and how he discounts anyone who feels threatens what he believes most residents want. And note he could be easily be accused of all the “sins” he believes his opponents have committed. Keep in mind I am open to bike lanes IF they are as safe for cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and public safety professionals as if bike riders used alternatives to El Camino Real. Who is the ideologue?
“There will always be naysayers selfishly clinging to the status quo, that would have Menlo Park remain rooted in the automobile ideology of the 1970’s, and whose few shrill voices seek to dominate the public discourse. These few voices did not hear what they wanted to hear from the ECR consultant’s report, and from every Menlo Park Commission that considered the ECR options. ”
I have highlighted some noteworthy messages because I have heard a lot of this talk from bike lane advocates the past several months. Civil discussion? Open-minded? A bit self-righteous?
My letter to the same audience can be viewed here.
April 20, 2015
Dear City Council Members:
I strongly urge you to follow the recommendations of your Transportation, Bicycle and Planning Commissions and implement bicycling infrastructure on El Camino Real.
Your community, as evidenced by the volunteer citizens on your Commissions, are demanding bicycling access on El Camino Real, and by extension, that bicycling be recognized for what it is to increasing numbers of Menlo Park citizens; a viable, healthy transportation choice that thousands in Menlo Park and surrounding cities use on a daily basis for their basic transportation needs.
People in cars and people on bicycles and on foot must be highly vigilant and cautious when using every street in Menlo Park. Choosing the bicycle for transportation means accepting hazards that exist on every road. It is up to our elected officials though to recognize and address these hazards so that all users have access to safe and healthy transportation options. We are growing in numbers, and will continue to grow as we encourage our children to bicycle to school, as the younger generation now entering the workforce, less beholden to the automobile, demands transportation options, and as young families demand a safe and healthy environment in which to raise families. Bicycle access on El Camino Real will allow access to dozens of merchants along the corridor, will shorten crossing distances for pedestrians and bicyclists, and will move ECR towards becoming the attractive retail corridor that it could be, instead of the high-speed throughway that today despoils our community.
It is my experience that auto speeds on Santa Cruz Ave are often higher than those on ECR, with as many driveways and car/bicycle interaction points as exist on ECR. Should we therefore ban bicycles and pedestrians from Santa Cruz Ave? (Note: driveways on Santa Cruz Avenue are primarily private NOT traffic-heavy public driveways like Ducky’s so this is a bad comparison) As a caring community, we instead address the problem, as the City Council did in its recent vote, and build for a future where every street is transformed over time to realize the goals of the City Council adopted Complete Streets vision. To do otherwise is to undermine the City Council’s own adopted principles, to thwart the guiding philosophy of multi-modal inclusion on El Camino Real embodied in The Grand Boulevard Initiative (where Menlo Park has active representation) and to push against the positive change for healthier, more connected communities happening all around us (approval of bicycle lanes on ECR in San Mateo and Mountain View, Palo Alto’s aggressive expansion of its bicycling network, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation’s Vision Zero “Mayor’s Challenge” to make our roadways safer for all users, et al).
The consultant’s findings that increased auto capacity on ECR will induce demand and in fact increase car counts is intuitive and quite obvious to any citizen that has driven a car in the last 30 years. (so says Bill) Look where our addiction to increasing road capacity has gotten us: an over reliance on the automobile for even the shortest and simplest in-town errands, downtown streets clogged with car storage, dangerous and unattractive pedestrian crossings and hazardous cycling conditions on most local streets and arterials.
City Council, let’s move boldly forward to re-imagine Menlo Park [cute reference 🙂 ]) as a healthy, connected community where people have priority over automobiles (note: people drive autos). There will always be naysayers selfishly clinging to the status quo, that would have Menlo Park remain rooted in the automobile ideology of the 1970’s, and whose few shrill voices seek to dominate the public discourse. These few voices did not hear what they wanted to hear from the ECR consultant’s report, and from every Menlo Park Commission (less than 20 residents) that considered the ECR options.
Bring bicycling access to El Camino Real. Let’s build a community that respects all users of our public byways.