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Please Do NOT Approve An Oak Grove Bike Corridor Field Trail

From: domainremoved <dana>
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2016 15:48:25 -0800

December 6, 2016

To: Menlo Park City Council

From: Dana Hendrickson

Let me be clear upfront. *I strongly oppose the idea of building a bike
corridor on Oak Grove Avenue for two primary reasons.* Its importance
(value) has not been convincingly demonstrated (nor do I believe that’s
possible). And even if it were a “good idea”, I believe continuous
University-Menlo-Ravenswood bike corridors would provide superior
“east-west bike connectivity” for both crossing El Camino and accessing
downtown destinations. So how did we get to the point where the Menlo Park
City Council is now considering the approval of a one-year field trial of
new bike lanes on about a half dozen streets including Oak Grove without
considering an alternative east-west bike corridor that might be safer,
more comfortable for bicyclists and motorists, more convenient for reaching
a greater number of popular destinations, sacrifice fewer street parking
spaces and include a much more attractive environment for biking?

The problem lies in our city planning processes. Both the recent El Camino
Corridor Study and the current Oak Grove Bike Study have followed a similar
pattern. The city Bike Commission proposes and lobbies for a particular
solution, the City Council acknowledges that the idea appears to have merit
and approves what amounts to be a feasibility study, city staff is
authorized to manage the study and hires “subject matter experts to create
the best design concept and describe how it will impact streets, traffic,
parking, etc., city staff recommends the City Council approve a one-year
field trial.

*There are many glaring flaws in the city bike planning process*. First,
bike network design requires a system view that evaluates how individual
projects not only contribute to the overall value of a community bike
network as perceived by bicyclists, motorists, businesses, safety service
providers and pedestrians but also produce negative impacts on these
constituencies. The City Council did not adopt this approach for either
bike study. Two problems result: neither the true value nor the negative
impacts of the projects have been reliably estimated. Instead, the City
Council and residents are forced to rely on anecdotal evidence and
unreliable opinions. There is NO bike network design expertise available
within the bike commission and city staff. So the services of a
professional design firm are essential but none were used in the El Camino
Corridor Study, and the firm involved with the Oak Grove Study was directed
to only study this individual proposal (= not any alternatives). Finally,
the City’s current use of field trials is unsettling. These should be used
to demonstrate that a project had achieved its goals – and to identify
potential refinements - yet there can be no reliable criteria if measures
for value and negative impacts were not clearly defined BEFORE the trial is

*So what makes an Oak Grove Bike Corridor undesirable?* It duplicates the
nearby Valparaiso-Glenwood bike corridor that extends from the Alemeda to
Laurel and is easily accessed from Santa Cruz and Middle Avenues. (note:
additional improvements to this bike corridor are possible). The Oak Grove
solution requires bicyclists to ride on sections of downtown Santa Cruz
that are not suitable for most bicyclists. They must share narrow lanes
with faster moving and parked vehicles; plus, there is too little space for
motorists to pass bikes. Also, the use of bike routes on multiple streets
between University and Oak Grove will be unappealing for many bicyclists.
Finally, how will bike lanes impact the busiest District fire station and
loss of parking impact businesses on and near Oak Grove?

*So what makes University-Menlo-Ravenswood bike corridors appear more
promising?* These would offer a larger number of bicyclists greater access
to more destinations on both sides of El Camino including downtown. The use
of cycle tracks and bike paths would improve safety and comfort for both
bicyclists and motorist because continuous bike facilities would fully
separate bikes and vehicles, i.e., no bike routes. Simply adding cycle
tracks to University and Menlo would improve the experience of the many
bicyclists who already share these streets with motorists. The existing
sharrows are woefully inadequate and need to be replaced with real bike

I recommend that the City Council not proceed with an Oak Grove bike
corridor unless it fully understands and quantifies the project value and
negative impacts, has established clear success criteria for any field
trial, and thoroughly evaluated a University-Menlo-Ravenswood bike

I have prepared (1) a detailed analysis of a University-Menlo-Ravenswood
solution and (2) a comparison to the Oak Grove Bike Corridor.

The latter is enclosed. Contact me for access to first document as the file
is too large to email.

As is always, I welcome the opportunity to discuss my ideas with you.

Best regards,

Dana Hendrickson

Editor & Publisher

Re-Imagine Menlo Park


650-521-7908 (m)

Received on Tue Dec 06 2016 - 15:53:27 PST

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