Monday, February 1, 2010

Crossing Highway 101 - University Avenue Palo Alto

For the Hwy 101 Crossing Project.

The affluence of Palo Alto is walled off from East Palo Alto by U.S. Highway 101. University Avenue is the only way to cross directly from one realm into the other. East Palo Alto has a big box development near University Avenue with the big regional IKEA store, a Home Depot and a Mi Pueblo Market (located where the Circuit City used to be).

40,000 vehicles funnel across Highway 101 on University Avenue every day. The video below was shot as I crossed going north (from Palo Alto to East Palo Alto).

Crossing Palo Alto to East Palo Alto (northbound - toward the Bay).

University Avenue between Middlefield Road in Palo Alto up to the Highway 101 onramp is bike laned. To avoid the "right hook," I recommend staying left of the right turn lanes going into the onramp and keeping in the straight through lanes. Take the lane as necessary to avoid getting clipped, especially when you're on the bridge where the shoulder is very narrow.

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Once you cross to the north side of the bridge, the onramp for northbound Highway 101 is on the right. Again, position yourself for straight through and watch out for right hooks.

Once across the bridge and immediately after the northbound 101 onramp, a lot of traffic will turn right onto Donohoe for access to the Big Box stores, especially in the evening. Unless you're going to IKEA, again position yourself for your destination to reduce the chance of getting right hooked by that traffic.

Crossing East Palo Alto to Palo Alto (southbound - away from the Bay).

If you have Javascript enabled in your browser, below you see the view on University Avenue just before Donohoe Street. If necessary, rotate the view so you're facing in the direction of traffic.

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You lost the bike lane about 100 yards back, but the lane is still wide enough to share at Donohoe. Many motorists turn right at Donohoe to access northbound Hwy 101, so be on your toes. Immediately after Donohoe there's the Highway exit ramp with a fast merge onto University.

There's a very narrow sidewalk on this side of University, but I recommend staying off of it - pedestrians are common and there's not enough room to pass safely on the sidewalk itself.

After you cross the bridge, a striped shoulder opens up. Be prepared to merge left into the straight through lane -- that shoulder goes to the right of the right turn lane at Woodland Avenue. A high volume of traffic makes that right turn, and you want to be on their left.

After Woodland, it's clear sailing on very smooth and wide bike lanes all the way to Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. Good luck and God bless.

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