Palo Alto wants more people to bike and more bikers to be safe this year. On Thursday, a public “open house and call for ideas” will take place at Terman Middle School from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to discuss Palo Alto's new proposed Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.
The new plan, which will replace the 2003 plan, aims to increase the number of people who commute by bike by 15 percent over the next decade.
In particular, the city wants to make biking more accessible for residents who have contemplated biking but are concerned about safety, said Rafael Rius, transportation project engineer for Palo Alto. Right now, the percentage of commuters who bike versus drive to work is 7 percent, he said Tuesday night at a meeting with the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
In May 2003, Palo Alto was designated a ”bicycle-friendly community” by the League of American Bicyclists, according to the city’s website. Now Palo Alto wants a “Platinum Level” designation, which only three other cities have obtained—Davis; Portland, OR; and Boulder, CO.
What would help? Wide streets with rolled curbs could convert into bicycle boulevards, according to a presentation made to the city’s Transportation and Planning Commission last February by Alta Planning + Design, an independent consulting firm the city hired late last year.
Park Boulevard, which parallels Alma Street, and Georgia Avenue in Barron Park have high priority for conversion, Rius said.
A new under- or over-crossing of Caltrain tracks on El Camino Real at Matadero or Margarita avenues might also become a reality, according to Alta's presentation. At Embarcadero Road, between Newell and Middlefield roads near Walter Hayes Elementary School, the city may create a wide sidewalk with separate travel ways for bicyclists and pedestrians, according to Alta's presentation.
Along the San Francisquito Creek, the city has a proposal that would connect Menlo Park and Palo Alto along Palo Alto Avenue, Rius said. “This is a new project for us,” he said.
Residents should expect to see buffered bike lanes, new color-coded signs and shared bike lane markings on streets, Rius said.
“Southbound Alma is a disaster,” parks and recreation Commissioner Pat Markovitch said. “I see more and more bikers go as far south as San Antonio. Is there any way to put signage to encourage them to use Bryant?” she said about safety concerns. “I see a lot of bikes take the Oregon underpass.”
The public-comments meeting will take place in the Terman Middle School Multi-Purpose Room at 655 Arastradero Rd. For more information, see the city's website. For questions, contact Rius at 650-329-2305 or firstname.lastname@example.org.