Friday, June 11, 2010

Letter to the Editor, Palo Alto Daily News.

This is a good one...

Stanford fuels most Juniper Serra traffic

Dear Editor: So, cash-strapped Santa Clara County is to spend $1.5 million
making Junipero Serra nicer for about six Stanford faculty residences,
forcing traffic onto other routes. That must be gratifying to non-Stanford
residents of the county.

If 90 percent of people exceed a speed limit, then that speed limit is not
reasonable: it used to be 55 mph, and 45 mph is a safe speed under most
conditions. Your June 10 article did not state where the accidents occurred
or why College Terrace residents have any stake in the change. At least 90
percent of the traffic on Junipero Serra is Stanford-related. However, since
Stanford traffic has blocked most nearby roads, Junipero Serra is west Menlo
Park¹s main access to Palo Alto. If the process were truly
multijurisdictional, San Mateo County would have been involved in the
planning.

Things that do need to be fixed are: (a) for the county to abide by the
posted signs that deny access to large trucks along the stretch between
Alpine and Page Mill roads; (b) alter the bike diversion near Campus Drive
West. Virtually no one uses it, so vehicular traffic headed to Menlo Park
has to cross over the yellow line to avoid cyclists, thus imperiling
themselves; (c) trim the vegetation that is a hazard to cyclists; (d) remove
debris and landslide material from the bike lane; (e) construct a decent
pedestrian path from Santa CruzAvenue to Campus Drive so that Stanford
people can walk safely to and from campus.

This is just another example of Stanford insulating itself from problems
it causes, and shifting them to other neighborhoods.

Janet Davis, Menlo Park


Where do I begin.

Most of the traffic is supposedly Stanford related. Yet it is unfair that the county spend money on that road that benefits the community that is the majority user of that road, to the detriment of people who are using the road to cut across Stanford?

Just because people DO speed, does not mean that the speed limit is unreasonably low. It means that the road is set up to allow/encourage those speeds, but that does not mean that the speed limit makes sense. The county has determined that people drive to fast given the uses around that road. Junipero Serra has high usage by cyclists, Stanford students jogging, it is the access point to the Stanford Dish where hikers flock. It's not good to mix that usage with higher speed traffic, but the road is built to encourage that high speed. So we adapt the road to encourage lower speeds. As an aside, I have not seen the plans, and some in the cycling community are worried that the specifics of this project might create some hazards to cyclists, I am speaking more in the general sense.

The road is in Santa Clara County. If Santa Clara determines that Menlo Park (San Mateo County) residents are using JS as a freeway across Stanford, it's not incumbent upon them to maintain that status quo. And frankly, I don't get the argument anyway, the primary route into "Palo Alto" from "West Menlo Park" is Sand Hill Road. I guess it depends on which part of "Palo Alto" you need to get to. I'm guessing the author commutes from her home in West Menlo Park to somewhere off Page Mill Road.

Of course, the biggest gem is this one...


(b) alter the bike diversion near Campus Drive
West. Virtually no one uses it, so vehicular traffic headed to Menlo Park
has to cross over the yellow line to avoid cyclists, thus imperiling
themselves;


I dunno. My dad taught me that I'm not supposed to cross over the yellow line in general, and if required to by some obstruction, to be extremely cautious. I guess this is difficult if you are driving back to "West Menlo Park" at the "reasonable" speed of 55 MPH on a narrow road with a guardrail on the right side and high usage of cyclists, on a college campus.

Vehicular traffic does not HAVE to cross over the yellow line.

Here is the streetview of the area in question.

Browse around the area and you will see that the Google cam catches several cyclists in the picture - a major mode share in the area. Among other things - the cyclists commuting around here aren't allowed to take the closest alternate route - I-280.

If you look close, you might see the "Bike diversion". A lot of cyclists don't know it exists - it's sort of hidden. It basically bypasses the section where the guardrail exists, to protect cars from going over the embankment. The diversion is dangerous in that it's populated by golf carts and then requires you to merge back onto Junipero Serra into a spot without the best of shoulders (due to the vegetation on the side of the road) coming into the road blindly.

The "diversion" is somewhere between 100-200 yards. A cyclist going 10 MPH would take 40 seconds to traverse 200 yards, resulting in a 30 second delay to a motorist going 45 MPH. Note however that the most likely scenario where there is a motorist/cyclist conflict is coming off a red light at the intersection. The car first (and maybe second) in line would proceed ahead of the cyclists, the third car would be hard pressed to be at 45 MPH before the end of that 200 yard section anyway.

The diversion is pretty silly - and if my understanding is correct, the only reason it even exists is as a path for the golf carts. Frankly, the signs should be taken down and cyclists should use the road, and cars should take care, waiting until after the shoulder widens to pass.

Of course, the real kicker is this...

(c) trim the vegetation that is a hazard to cyclists; (d) remove
debris and landslide material from the bike lane; (e) construct a decent
pedestrian path from Santa Cruz Avenue to Campus Drive so that Stanford
people can walk safely to and from campus.

When vilifying cyclists, it's always best to follow up by burnishing your ped/bike street cred with unrelated pleading to save the poor cyclists. How often does our "West Menlo Park" friend feel like walking from Santa Cruz Ave to Campus Drive? My guess? Never. She just wants those peds/cyclists out of her way.

1 comment:

295bus said...

I used to be proud of all the letters I got published in local papers, but ones like this keep me humble by reminding me that the standards are pretty low.

Some of these letters don't come off so much as reasoned arguments as a stream-of-consciousness list of things that annoy the writer--like the ramblings of an angry slightly drunk relative you get stuck listening to at an extended family gathering.

And another thing, let me tell you about those *bushes* ... they're a real menace!