Rengstorff area bike tour highlights need for safer streets Around Town, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Mar 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm
Mounted on their bikes, a group of residents and city officials rolled through the Rengstorff Park neighborhood on Saturday morning, stopping along the way to discus how to make the area more bike and pedestrian friendly.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 6:06 PM
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Mar 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm
All roadway, bike lane and crosswalk users have to watch out for those everyday hazards. We are living like it is New York City but yet in reality we don't nearly have to people in one square but with the accidents, collision and traffic it seems that way.
Slow down not just speed, rushing around trying to get ahead of everyone else is not going to work. Bikes don't drive on the wrong side of the street, crosswalk walkers don't try to put your rights into play, make sure they see you, and most important stop. You rights might not be given but it is better to not be dead right.
Cars and bike owners, you are in motion, act with a degree that you must come to a quick stop at any given time, know your street. Where the schools are, crosswalks, bus stops, driveways and etc., I am most of you drive the same route everyday. Schools times are pretty much the same all over, so is rush hour.
Rush Hour doesn't mean rush to work, it just means everyone is heading to the same place, it should be called Commute Hour, not all street are filled with drivers heading to work, believe me I drive or a living, and I like to drive. The world is not in a constant state of people trying to get to and from work.
You have either moved here, born here or live in this area, their is a lot of drivers, kids, animals, work places and businesses. We benefit from all this in the way of business, nice homes, good schools and the jobs you are have. Get over it, slow down, change your habits be safe, be prepared, enjoy the walk, the ride, the drive that you have chosen for yourself.
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2013 at 6:34 am
Interesting. In a few of the pictures, the bicyclists aren't even obeying the rules of the road. That last picture show a small child riding against traffic in the middle of the road! Hardly the solution for safer streets for anyone.
Posted by BvP, a resident of another community, on Mar 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm
Okay, you guys are nitpicking.
(1) We are talking about riding, not congregating on the sidewalk. Rules of the road should not be confused with being courteous. And it's an event where the folks stopped to talk to people along their route. It is not *much* different from pedestrians standing on the sidewalk and chatting. Outside of this event, I rarely see cyclists standing around on the sidewalk blocking anyone's way.
(2) Since when was the bike lane meant for single file? That is simply not true. When the bike lane is narrow, I agree with you. If it is wide enough for 2 abreast and it is safe for everyone that SHARES the road, there is nothing wrong with that. And FWIW, she is still in the bike lane.
If you want to b!tch about cyclists, why not moan about the late night (past 11 pm) St. Valentine's Day Massacre Ride a few weeks ago? Fifteen to 20 minutes of yelling, cursing and blaring music. That was inconsiderate in my opinion.
Just come out and say you don't like bicyclists. I ride 8,000+ miles per year and even I don't like most of them. But these folks did nothing wrong.
Posted by Tina, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm
I think it's nice to see our council people out there checking things out before they make rules / laws. How about getting them out to the Shoreline & Middlefield Road intersection at "Commute Hour" and count the number of people speeding & running red lights. Or the Rengstorff & Central intersection & watch how backed up traffic gets. I applaud their wanting to see first-hand what is going on - keep it up, please!
Posted by kman, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm
Pic 5 says it all, inconsiderate bikers riding next to each other Yapping and not paying attention to what's going on around them. You can see a black Mercedes having to go into the other lane to try to avoid one of them.
Bikers need to ride in a single line, not this side by side thing.
Just goes to show how inconsiderate and rude bikers are.
Sorry for calling one of the persons fat, i'm sure there are a lot of people objecting to that, therefor i got deleted.
Posted by BvP, a resident of another community, on Mar 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm
It looks to me like the black Mercedes is actually veering towards her, perhaps changing lanes.
But I think I get it now:
(1) No riding side by side...period.
(2) No talking while riding.
(3) No standing with your bike on the sidewalk.
I'm sure there is more.
I've been in this town for 40 years. When did people get so cranky? So many haters. It's a person on a friggin' bike. Sure, some are inconsiderate and self-centered. As are some motorists. As are some pedestrians. Do we really inconvenience you that much? There's less congestion on the roads, I would think most would appreciate that.
Posted by kman, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm
BvP, I don't see any blinkers on that car signalling a lane change, they are just being courteous and cautious for the bikers sake since obviously they care more about what they are talking about than their own safety.
It's quite obvious the bike lane is meant for one person at a time, not side by side, otherwise the person on the left my get hit. And then of course it's not the bikers fault.
I could care less if you ride a bike, walk or skateboard or use roller shoes. What i do have a problem with is people being rude, inconsiderate and not paying attention to there surroundings. Which is obviously the case in Pic 5.
Personally i would rather have someone take their car, rather than have them cause a bike/car accident, if they don't know how to ride a bike.
Posted by Member, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2013 at 5:59 pm
There seems to be a spate of bike haters on the comments. They were the kid that never could learn how to ride their bike, like Calvin in the comic strip. They were jeered at by the other kids and taunted with 'Can't Ride! Can't Ride!'.
Now they just troll The Voice.
The kid riding in the middle of the street? It's a dead end into a parking lot. The kid was protected by the photographer, who had his back to the non-existent traffic.
Posted by BvP, a resident of another community, on Mar 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm
"... I don't see any blinkers on that car signalling a lane change..."
Maybe the driver is not using his or her blinkers. Not all drivers do. But you knew that. Then again, maybe you didn't. And I didn't say the driver was definitely changing lanes. The word "perhaps" should have been a clue.
And you missed my point about my riding. Not surprising...you miss a lot apparently.
I always think twice before getting out on the bike because of people like you. Fortunately, the people in this area in general are very considerate of cyclists. I appreciate those people.
Posted by Jeff Walden, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2013 at 2:16 am
I'll be that one weird guy -- a regular cyclist! -- who finds some of this overwrought. I acknowledge and even somewhat agree on the weirdness. :-) Biking on El Camino, as I do occasionally, isn't normal and likely shouldn't be. (And I've biked on much worse before, on a few very rare occasions, when necessity demanded it.) But even still some of this goes a little off the deep end.
Complaints about the California/Escuela incident seem batty. When someone's doing 80 on a residential road, like the police officer said at the October traffic safety meeting (I think it was about this incident): it's not because the laws are out of whack, it's not because of inadequate traffic enforcement, it's not because of a lot of things. It's an outlier laws can do nothing about. Bring down the hammer, hard, afterward. But before, what could you possibly do that's worth the money for any minuscule increment of prevention of such edge cases? Such stunts are a special class all their own.
Regarding "Yet, look at that street, it's wide, people are driving fast, this street just screams, 'Drive quickly!'" To me it says drive the limit like on any street. California's clearly a street for efficiently getting between Castro and San Antonio, possibly beyond. Why's it surprising cars use it that way? There's obvious demand for that end. What would they use instead if California flow lessened?
Regarding "As for California Street, 'If you want to take your bike, you have to take the sidewalk'" and "the bike lanes are too narrow [because of] parked cars and cars going over 35 miles per hour." A half foot or a foot of extra space past the parked cars would make a pretty big difference, particularly on the southern side of California just east of Rengstorff. I don't really like that bit, and I bike almost anywhere. But even if they're slightly narrower than desirable, California still has fair bike lanes both ways, and there's no reason for someone who bikes on roads with traffic to take the sidewalk. Biking on California's entirely reasonable; I do it all the time for groceries or to go to downtown Palo Alto. About 35-40mph California being "dangerous", um, well, it's got a normal limit for the kind of road it is. Is this to say any road with traffic above ~30mph is unbikable? Because that seems 1) unrealistic about how roads are used, and 2) crazy, to say we cyclists can *expect* to have super-low-speed roads. I'd be leery about letting an under-10 kid (if I had one) ride on it unattended, but I could see getting over that with some practice/training (which parents surely should do in any case).
About the Latham/Escuela honking: I think it depends how quickly they crossed the intersection. You should -- possibly not as a legal matter, but as a matter of getting along with everyone -- give a little to get a little. You shouldn't be shutting down the intersection to other traffic, rather at least occasionally giving a window for some cross traffic to get through. The pictures give some lower bounds on the crowd size but don't say how courteous they were in crossing the intersection. As vehicles they should cross about one or two (side-by-side) at a time, permitting traffic flow on both roads. There's something to be said for road-rules leeway (even if it's not actually legal, I suspect it's not but could be wrong) for bevies of bikes to cross in larger groups. But it has to give at some point. You can't keep the intersection closed for a huge group passing through a stop sign, most without stopping. There's too little detail about how they crossed. Maybe it was all perfectly legal or perfectly courteous, and it was an idiot (maybe semi-rushed) who'd honk at cyclists no matter how nice they were. Those people definitely exist. But just getting honked at doesn't necessarily and immediately shout "harassment!" to me. Those people exist everywhere: one incident of honking, that might (I don't know) be a little justifiable under a courteousness standard, can't possibly mean we're not a "bike-friendly community".
Regarding "You'd have to be nut-case to ride your bike on El Camino". I see no reason why experienced near-adult/adult cyclists can't occasionally (even perhaps regularly, if you're a bit motivated) bike on it. It's at the higher end of the danger scale; I'd definitely want anyone biking there having practiced road cycling some before doing it. But I don't think it's completely crazy. Definitely undesirable, with left turns especially demanding considerable care, but it's not a bike road. If we (speaking inclusive of Palo Alto and the enjoyable bike boulevard there) can have roads much for biking, cars should have roads much for cars, like El Camino, or Alma for that matter.
Regarding the "Villa left" past the police station under Shoreline. I take Shoreline nearly every day from southern Castro to where I live on Villa (the opposite on the way in). I agree this intersection's messy on bike. Unless you hit the breaks in traffic right, you're probably standing in the bike lane waiting for a break to move to the left turn lane. But it's a well-trafficked three-lanes-each-way road, one of the big ways to get north of Central and 101 in Mountain View. Doesn't this come with the terrain? (For making the left as a group, the roundabout way makes perfect sense. Big cyclist groups, traveling as groups, will never work well on bigger roads.)
Regarding Villa. Sure, ticket the speeders, maybe step up enforcement. I don't know what the tradeoffs are for that, or if it pays off (in the non-financial, safety/enjoyability sense), to say "should"/"must". But I've lived on Villa several years. Almost every day (80-90% of them) I bike, I bike along it. I honestly cannot remember any drivers along it ever having been the least bit courteous to me as a cyclist on the road. There's always going to be somebody (see the honking bit earlier). But Villa itself is way down the list of streets I've had any issues biking on, and it fares especially well for the moderate traffic on it.
Better roads for cycling would be nice, but cars need to get places too. California particularly is a useful road for car traffic to get to and from useful places, and it's really not that bad for cycling, although there are bits that could be improved. But there are physical limits, and monetary limits, on how much it can realistically change without unduly hurting other legitimate users. I'm a cyclist -- only (don't own a car) -- but I don't think cyclists need all that much help here. And I think some of what's considered here would unduly hurt cars, who have as much right to the road, and to efficient travel, as we do to enjoyable and safe travel.
Posted by kman, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2013 at 11:43 am
BVP "The word "perhaps" should have been a clue" Your statement with the word perhaps was trying to change the obvious, therefor i was trying to clue you in a little better, but some people do not see the obvious even when it's in clear view.
"And you missed my point about my riding" So tell me, what did i miss about your riding bike point, that i haven't already answered?
I'm glad you think twice, that shows you have some concern about your safety, unlike some.
I'm not one to advocate more laws, but there should be a law against riding side by side in a bike lane, because it's obvious some people do not have common sense.
My words are not hatred at bikers, just pointing out the many problems us car folks have with some uncourteous rude bikers. If you ride your bike in a way that is safe, i'm totally cool with you, period. There is no hate.
Posted by Janet L, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm
@Jeff Walden: From the point of view of an experienced, adult cyclist your comments are reasonable. But these changes are not being requested for people like you.
They're being requested for mothers who worry as they push their babies in strollers because cars are blowing by so fast. They're being requested for families with kids who want to ride their bikes to school. They're being requested for old people who can't cross streets safely even in the crosswalk because cars whip around corners too fast.
No one is asking that cars be prevented from using California St. We're just asking that the street be slowed down to a more reasonable speed than the usual 35-40 mph. No one needs to go that fast in a densely populated area with so many driveways and so many people walking and biking around.
People who want to make a quicker cross-town trip will be able to use nearby Central Expressway and El Camino if they don't want to drive a more pedestrian and bike-friendly speed on California Street. Those alternatives are within 1/4 mile each direction, that's less than a minute in a car.
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of another community, on Mar 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm
@Jeff: I was going to write the same thing as @Janet. As an experienced bicyclist (I also have never owned a car), I don't need anything special built for me. The shoulder works fine, and I negotiate traffic with ease. (A rearview mirror helps.) In fact, I'm not particularly fond of special trails and painted areas for bicyclists. But the issue being discussed here is making the streets around an area of dense homes safe for pedestrians and children and casual bicyclists. Totally different issue than that on which your comment focused.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm
As Mtn View density goes up, so do traffic and congestion (thank you, city). Reducing the traffic carrying capacity of California St, then suggesting drivers simply detour to already overcrowded parallel streets is not a workable idea.
Parents worried about your kids? Don't let them ride on the busy streets.
Posted by Rights is Right, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm
Steve, Sorry but the thinly veiled argument of "Don't like it? Well don't do it" or "Get out of my way" doesn't fly. Its akin to saying "Don't like getting your store robbed? Relocate"
How about walking? Any advice there similar to "stay of the busy streets"? Walking seems to be a good way to get killed by our less than attentive drivers lately.
Here's a better idea. We start ticketing drivers WAY more frequently and then we start revoking driver's lic's for aggressive driving. Its a right to be on a public street (where legal) for a bike or a pedestrian. Its a _privilege_ to be on the road in a car.
Posted by Jeff Walden, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:23 am
Janet, 100% bicycle commuter: yeah, I pretty much agree. (And on the rear-view mirror, too -- even if it shakes a little too much to rely on 100% for knowing exactly what's behind me, where.) Which is why, notwithstanding Manny's sentiments, it wouldn't be good for me to be some sort of point man for this. :-) Definitely more voices than just me, or someone like me, are needed.
But I'll continue to maintain that California's a reasonable street for kids to bike on, if they've been taught how to bike on roads with traffic. 35-40 with a bike lane alongside, for someone who's been coached a little, still seems perfectly fine to me. And to the extent I wish there were a little more lane in places, it's mostly because I'm moving along at 17-20mph, so I have to be more alert to cars entering road and doors opening. School-age kids would be going a good bit slower and would have greatly reduced issues from a smaller bike lane.
Posted by Jeff Walden, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:28 am
And while I'm thinking about it: to the extent California's unsuitable for kids to bike on it, what makes the residential streets parallel to it unsuitable for them as well? If it's just that there's no bike lane, it seems to me there's something seriously wrong with us if we can't let our kids experience even that minimal amount of risk.
Posted by Janet L, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm
@Jeff Walden, It's definitely about more than bike lanes on California Street. That was only one of a half dozen issues highlighted on the tour. The problem with 35-40 mph streets is not just that they're stressful for people riding bikes, the increased car speeds make crossing them very dangerous for people on foot or bike, even when they have the right of way.
When people drive fast, they cannot stop quickly to avoid collisions and the results are often deadly. At 40 mph a driver that attempts to stop for a person 100 feet ahead of them will be traveling 38 mph at impact and has about 85% change of killing the person. At 25 mph the driver has time to stop and not even hit the person.
Speed matters more in saving lives than saving time on our city streets. Want more evidence? See page 12 of this report from AAA: Web Link
As for parallel streets, most people use them when they can, but they don't work for all trips. And you still have to cross streets like California St, Shoreline, San Antonio and El Camino.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm
As Mr. Walden stated earlier, there are different roads for different types of traffic. California is a main vehicle artery, and has been for 40+ years. I'll wager there aren't 5 people still living there who remember it being any different. Practically speaking, everyone living on California moved there with full knowledge of the traffic situation.
The speed limit is still the same, and given the increase in traffic volume city wide, I suspect the average speed has fallen over the years. From a speed perspective, California street might actually be safer?
So what accounts for the increase in car/ped (or bike) contact? We hear alot about our increasing density. Perhaps that reffers to the average resident and not just our increasing numbers. Reducing lanes or lowering the limit won't help us with that!
Posted by California Dan, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm
People's attitudes on the road were much different than they are today. 40 yrs ago people weren't concerned with passing the other guy and staying ahead of him. As a 2 x daily user of Calif. Ave this is by far the biggest issue of safety I see: cars darting from one lane to the other the keep ahead or be in some sort of lead in their imaginary race. Every single day I see it each and every time I'm on that road. I whole heartedly welcome traffic calming on Calif Ave. PLEASE! Lets get it done before someone runs into me next time.
Posted by Jarrett M., a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:22 am
California street only operates somewhat well for drivers. The lack of a center turn lane along most of the street causes sudden and unexpected backups because people often make left turns into the numerous apartment complexes on the street. These stops and inevitable merges from people waiting behind those who are turning left creates not only a dangerous situation, but it causes traffic delay.
While it seems counterintuitive, the road diet solution often improves traffic flow on streets like California because there's enough space for a new center turn lane, allowing people to clear the through lanes. Speeds will go down, but a driver may actually be able to traverse the street *faster* than before since a lower consistant speed is faster than a trip punctuated by periods of high speed and sudden stops.
Of course, the road diet would also provide a much more livable street for the city's densest neighborhood, provide opportunities for new landscaping, tree planting opportunities, and safer intersections for cyclists and pedestrians. There are many city services in the area that are oriented to populations who don't drive as much, such as the elderly and kids, so it's important that the road design take their needs into account as well. Providing choices for safe, active, and healthy mobility is especially key for our growing senior population and given climbing childhood obesity rates, it's increasingly important for youth.
Posted by No diet needed, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 1:14 pm
Janet, road diets do not work, look at Arastradero Rd. That is a nightmare, just ask anyone that travels there. Only thing road diets do is move traffic to parallel streets going the same way. Yes, the residential streets, where kids play.
If there is a problem with cars making left turns, then restrict it to where there is a u turn accessible.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Trimming lanes in order to improve traffic flow is not only counter-intuitive, but also counter-productive. Lok at Evelyn Ave in Sunnyvale. What was once a nicely flowing traffic corridor is now a jammed mess around peak times.
If 'studies indicate...', I suggest we look a little more closely at their statistics and the motives of those pushing them. Do they show a reduction in traffic volume? If so, what route are the missing cars now taking? And beware the term 'negligable', it is very different than 'none'. If we're concerned about the sudden disruption from left turns, then limit the opportunity for left turns.
Posted by Palo, a resident of another community, on Mar 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm
Road diets don't work if all your concerned with is speed. I LOVE that they put Arastradero on a diet. My commute is FAR less stressful now that everyone is in a single line. Just be patient and cruise.
I use the dieted Arastradero every day sing the praises almost daily of that road improvement.
Posted by Simon, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm
@ No Diet needed,
I do occasionally travel Arastradero and have not seen the "nightmare" you mention... undeterred I spoke to a commuter, who "travels" there (so also meets your criteria), he told me that the road diet had improved the flow - and he drives it daily.
Where is the nightmare you speak of?
I looked on google maps, it's peak travel time for the three schools on that road and the whole street is green... maybe all those kids in the bike lane has reduced traffic.
Think about it how many students on a bike does it take to eliminate 100 car journeys a week ?
Safety is the main goal but traffic reduction is not a bad side effect.
(ans - 5)
Each student arriving in a car generates 4 trips a day, 20 a week.
Posted by No diet needed, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 4:53 pm
Talk to the people that live on the side streets, ask them were all the new traffic came from since the diet went into effect. Early mornings is the prime example. I know of people that will take Embarcadero rather then deal with the mess on Arastradero.
Posted by Ari, a resident of another community, on Mar 15, 2013 at 8:25 am
"But i agree, on Sundays it's quite nice."
The data reported was peak time Thursday afternoon. It seems the factual data is the worst enemy of the anti-road-dieter. Now we have to knock on doors of particular streets to find some nimbys? No thanks, I'll stick with the factual data provided 24/7 by realtime observations online showing the arastradero road improvement succes.
Posted by No diet needed, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm
@ari, you believe what you want to believe, but do you really think the traffic just magically disappeared? No. If you're factual data shows that it did, please let us see. The truth is the side streets get hit the hardest because of these diets, like los altos ave. That is probably one area your biased studies do not show.
Road diet is like plaque build up in your arteries, an inconvenience to block free flow.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm
And let's ignore common sense and our own eyes, and believe that eliminating traffic lanes will improve traffic flow. It may yield the impression of better flow, as drivers seek alternate paths. Yet the traffic hasn't vanished. It's merely taking a parallel path, probably through a neighborhood that wasn't designed for it. Let's also denounce anyone upset about that increase as a 'nimby'. How dare they complain about such wonderful progress!
VTA is planning to remove one lane each way from El Camino, from San Jose to Palo Alto. Even with the (supposed) improvement in bus service, El Camino will be plain nasty. Traffic bypassing the mess will travel through adjacent neighborhoods. Will we still believe that removing lanes will improve carrying capacity?