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Concerns about Laurel bike lane proposal

From: domainremoved <Alvin>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2016 16:06:19 -0700

Dear Menlo Park City Council Members,

My name is Alvin Chow and I am a resident in the townhouse complex on
Gilbert Ave at the corner of Willow. As you are probably aware, a parent of
Laurel school, Jennifer Wolosin, has come up with a proposal to improve
bike safety for children who will be biking to the new Upper Laurel school.

These proposals include parking restrictions right in front of our homes on
Gilbert during daytime hours. My family and I are strongly against such
proposals as it would cause a huge inconvenience for us.

Below are my thoughts (that I’ve also shared with our neighbors on the
Nextdoor website as well as the survey that Jen has put together).

Negatives of Parking Restrictions
I live in a townhouse complex on Gilbert, and they would be a major
inconvenience for my family as we do not have a driveway, and the only way
for visitors (family/friends, babysitters, handymen, etc) to visit is
street parking. I am sure that this is also an issue for residents of the
condo complex across from us, as they only have a limited amount of visitor

A partial (morning+afternoon) parking restriction would still be very
challenging. I have a baby, and our babysitter would not be able to park
there during the day (they can’t just leave the baby unattended at home to
go out and repark the car).

For us townhouse/condo residents, we already have to deal with and find
workarounds for Menlo Park’s overnight parking restrictions. We would
greatly prefer to not have any additional parking restrictions imposed on
us as that would significantly affect our day to day activities.

I also imagine it would be nontrivial to enforce a time-based parking
restriction either. We would need to add signs throughout on both sides of
the street, which would be an aesthetic detraction.

Questionable Benefit of Bike Lanes
While I appreciate the proposal author’s intent of improving children’s
bike safety, I don’t feel it is necessary to remove street parking for kids
to bike.

(1) The residential streets in the area are already relatively low traffic,
wide, and safe, even with cars parked on the road. I’ve lived in other
cities and areas, and Menlo Park already feels very bike-friendly. As a
parent, I would have zero qualms of having my child bike anywhere in our

(2) If a child is biking to school to begin with, they should already be
taught basic bike safety if they’re biking on the street, bike lanes or not
(signaling, watching out for surroundings, etc). The reality is that in the
real world, there will not be convenient bike paths everywhere. In my view,
we are doing a disservice to children in a way by overly protecting and not
teaching them how to bike safely on typical streets.

(3) Children who are not comfortable biking on the street can bike on the
sidewalk for certain stretches. While biking on the street is encouraged,
it is perfectly acceptable for small children if they don’t have confidence
biking on the street. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s
website states: “Children less than 10 years old are better off riding on
the sidewalk.” (

(4) How many children would even be biking to school anyway? We are talking
about 300 students in grades 3-5, of which I can only imagine a small
percentage will actually be biking. After all there are other means of
transportation (bus, walking, driving). It doesn’t make sense to impose
inconvenience on hundreds of households, for what will likely be a handful
of children. The vast majority of the time, these lanes will just not be

Other Thoughts
I myself am a cyclist (I used to bike to my office in San Francisco) and am
generally a strong advocate of biking. And even then I don’t feel that we
need new bike lanes in our neighborhood. Bike lanes are more necessary in
commercial districts/downtown, city streets, work commute paths, etc -
environments where there is much more potential bike usage, car traffic,
and narrow streets.

I don’t understand why we need to preemptively make all these changes
before even understanding real-world biking usage, whether kids are really
having problems biking, etc? Overall it feels that this proposal is making
a lot of strong assumptions. It doesn’t make sense to cause real
inconveniences just for speculative benefits.

Alvin Chow
Received on Mon Aug 22 2016 - 16:12:37 PDT

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