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Safe Routes and Complete Streets - Just Words or Real Action?

From: domainremoved <Jennifer>
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2017 14:37:05 -0700

Dear Honorable City Council Members,

Much lip service has been paid to the concepts of "Safe Routes" and
"Complete Streets". In theory, providing safe biking (and walking)
infrastructure for our kids sounds great. In fact, you, the Menlo Park City
Council, on January 24, 2017 took two actions that supported these concepts:
- You voted to add the development of an institutionalized Safe Routes to
School program to your 2017 work plan, thus prioritizing Safe Routes to
School, and,
- You merged the Bicycle Commission and the Transportation Commission into
one, Complete Streets Commission.

Following your forward-thinking acts of leadership, we would then assume
that when it comes time to actually implement Safe Routes and Complete
Streets projects that you would act in a way consistent with your earlier
stated priorities. Unfortunately, you may not do this. We will find out at
tomorrow night's meeting.

In December 2016, you approved the Oak Grove Bike Pilot that provided,
among other things, buffered bike lanes across El Camino Real for kids
traveling East/West to and from M-A and Hillview. The project was 2 years
in the making, involved a considerable amount of outreach (over 1800
postcards were mailed to those near the route, meetings were held with key
stakeholders, etc.), was debated in public and then approved. The final
approved pilot (yes, it's a one year pilot, not a permanent change), while
filled with compromises and not perfect, provides a much safer biking
experience for our community's kids to get across El Camino Real than any
other alternative.

This map illustrates the route you approved in December 2016:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5BGvPHdC67QR2lPSzg0OEc4SXhORXk1TGQtS0ZMcWJtUnJJ/view.
Please note that Green = buffered bike lanes both directions, Orange =
sharrows both directions, Blue = parking on side as shown.

Unfortunately, last minute objections related to loss of parking along the
route (which had already been minimized and safety compromises had already
been made to address), have made you second guess your previously approved
project. You are now considering delaying the project to allow further
feedback and compromise.

At tomorrow night's meeting you will vote on one of three options regarding
the Oak Grove Bike Pilot (Staff Report 17-086-CC -
http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/13410):
- Option 1 - Delay the project to get more feedback.
- Option 2 - Move forward with the previously approved project.
- Option 3 - Conduct a 2 Phase Process. Move forward with the bike route
west of El Camino, but delay the project east of El Camino to allow time
for more feedback.

Parents for Safe Routes feels strongly that the only acceptable choice is
Option 2 - to move forward with the project as planned. Option 3, while
presented as a public compromise, and I fear, likely to be favored by you
as one, delivers a route to nowhere...half of a safe route...which is not a
safe route at all. Just as Option 1 (a full delay) is troubling, Option 3
is also problematic for the following reasons:

- Delays both this project and other projects, including the Willows
Neighborhood Complete Streets project (outlined in the Staff Report)
- Adds costs
- Leads to additional compromises which will result in a less safe route
- Fails to get kids safely across El Camino to/from Hillview or M-A. A
route that dumps someone on the other side of El Camino to danger seems
even worse than no route.
- Opens mid-year, not at the beginning of a school year.
- Sets a terrible precedent for how our city is run and decisions get
made...that an approved project can be derailed at the last minute.

While Parents for Safe Routes (and I personally) had nothing to do with the
development of and the original approval of the Oak Grove Bike Pilot, and
while it has some flaws, we are strongly advocating for its implementation
for the following reasons:

- There is currently no safe way to cross El Camino Real for school kids
traveling East/West to and from M-A and Hillview. Crossing El Camino Real
at Ravenswood/Menlo and Santa Cruz are not viable options. Kids need safety
now.
- There is an approved project (this one) that provides some steps towards
developing a true Safe Route to/from Hillview, etc.
- This is a pilot. Maybe the parking woes that many are concerned about
will be realized and our community will decide that the safer biking
benefits do not outweigh the cost of lost parking OR maybe more families
and others will come out, try the route, and realize that even further
safety enhancements are needed for the route. Maybe a parking crisis
doesn't happen and some even realize that they could live with less
parking. Maybe the downtown businesses and restaurants see a surge in
customers because people feel safe coming downtown. Maybe those who need to
drive feel safer doing so because bikes are separated from them and there
are fewer cars on the road.

You must make a decision. Either you value kids biking or you do not. If
you do not value kids biking, please give up your Multi-Modal, Vision Zero,
Safe Routes, Complete Streets vision. Using all of these buzz words means
nothing if when it comes time to actual projects you don't support them.
You can then add back all the street parking people want and we can all get
in our cars and drive our kids to school one by one. We can deal with the
traffic and live our lives, knowing that we live in a place with certain
values. However, if you claim that you really want to reduce traffic and
have Safe Routes and Complete Streets, including biking, then you MUST move
forward with this pilot and even more projects. You are at a crossroads.
What's it going to be?

This is about kids AND quality of life. Do you want Menlo Park kids to get
to experience the independence and freedom that we felt as kids when we
biked to schools near our homes? Do you want our kids to get their blood
flowing and their minds cleared on their way to and from school? And what
about the rest of us? Do you want us to be forced in our cars in bumper to
bumper traffic as we travel less than 2 miles around town? Do you want us
to be stuck in a vicious cycle of dangerous streets - more driving - more
traffic - more dangerous streets?

And as for drivers and those who can't bike...removing bikes from "sharing"
the road will make drivers feel safer. I know that when I drive (and I
drive a lot), I feel very nervous when I interact with bikes. And, if more
people bike, there will be fewer cars, and the roads will be safer for
those who need to drive.

And regarding parking, I am very sympathetic to inconveniences for seniors,
people with mobility issues, gardeners and service providers. I welcome
them to this civil public discussion. However, up until now, all of the
inconveniences and alternative arrangements have been put upon another
group of vulnerable community members...our kids. Parents for Safe Routes
was founded to speak for them. Please consider their need for safety (and
all the benefits that biking to school provides our youth) when weighing
the needs of other groups.

This pilot must move forward so we can continue to weigh the trade-offs
this project has uncovered. If this pilot gets delayed, for the reasons
that are presented, what hope do we have of ever having Safe Routes or
Complete Streets?

Please move forward with the approved Oak Grove Bike Pilot.

Respectfully,

Jen Wolosin
jenwolosin_at_(domainremoved)
Parents for Safe Routes
www.parents4saferoutes.org
Received on Mon Apr 17 2017 - 14:42:25 PDT

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