Bicyclists currently use a combination of streets to access popular destinations on either side of El Camino Real. A small number have bike lanes, a few have sharrow (“share the road”) street markings, and many more are simply residential streets with low volumes of vehicle traffic. The biggest problem is the lack of safe, convenient and stress-free ways to cross El Camino Real.
The City of Menlo Park has a poor understanding of where bicyclists currently ride – and what new bike facilities they want – because it has never monitored street usage or surveyed its residents. Re-Imagine Menlo Park has started to collect this information using both techniques.
A brief summary of some of the more significant actions and decisions the City of Menlo Park has made since 2004.
Despite its location in Silicon Valley, a center of innovation and technology utilization, City Council members, staff and volunteer commissioners; residents and local businesses – are ALL severely handicapped by the existing pre-modern planning process it still employs that produces sub-optimal decision-making.
More than a decade ago Menlo Park identified significant “gaps” in its community bike network that when filled would enable bicyclists to travel conveniently, comfortably and safely to every popular destination both in Menlo Park and neighboring cities. These gaps now severely limit bike access to destinations downtown and on opposite sides of El Camino and expose bicyclists who do cross them to a stressful and unsafe experience. None of the gaps have been filled since the City’s approved it’s first and only Comprehensive Bike Development plan twelve years ago in January 2005 – an extremely poor track record and major disappointment for residents who enjoy bike riding.
This presentation identifies nine potential bike network projects AND compares two solutions for improving how bicyclists cross El Camino Real.
Riding a bike should not only be a practical form of transportation; it should be an enjoyable experience that encourages more riding by existing bicyclists and inspires non-bicyclists to try swapping their vehicles for bikes. Unfortunately, this project fails to build strong interest in bike riding as it disappoints both in function – convenience, safety, and comfort – and “sex appeal”. Bicyclists have waited for more than a decade for major gaps in our bike network to be filled and now deserve a much better solution. Finally, significant negative impacts on non-bicyclists – beyond the loss of more than 177 street parking space- greatly outweigh its value.
Menlo Park could transform Ravenswood and Menlo Avenues into a state-of-the- art, east-west bike corridor that offers MORE bicyclists a safe and convenient way to ride to MORE popular destinations on both sides of El Camino Real, including downtown. This bike environment would also be more attractive and comfortable than existing and planned alternatives. The design and location also would showcase the city’s commitment to building a community bike network that benefits bicyclists AND motorists. [Download the Menlo-Ravenswood bike corridor proposal. Includes detailed descriptions, illustrations and photos. (50 pages = 31 MB pdf)]
Bike lanes on El Camino do not make it safer so encouraging more bike riders is fundamentally a dangerous idea and creates moral and legal liabilities for Menlo Park. A survey of residents clearly demonstrated that a large majority of respondents opposed them. (Note: View Bike survey results)
In 2012 a new approach to designing bike networks was introduced with the publishing of Low Stress Bicycling And Network Connectivity and this methodology is now widely used by professional designers of urban and suburban bike networks in the United States and Europe. It requires that individual bike network improvements are evaluated on the basis of the value they contribute to the entire bike network rather than in a piecemeal fashion. This in turn requires a comprehensive knowledge of where bicyclists want to go (destinations); the routes they prefer to take (convenience, safety and comfort) and best alternatives; bike riding conditions; and different bicyclist capabilities. Unfortunately, Menlo Park still relies primarily on an unsystematic, opinion-driven approach for evaluating the merits of individual projects and only a small number of residents actively participate in the planning process.