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Specific proposals for SCA sidewalk signs

From: domainremoved <Horace>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2017 10:02:21 -0700

City Council Members:

We are so close to a great success on the Santa Cruz Avenue sidewalks, but a proposal to obstruct those sidewalks with dozens of unnecessary signs threatens to undermine this accomplishment. The sidewalks are fully installed, commendably pedestrian-friendly, and folks are using them in droves. I understand there is now work planned for Santa Cruz that involves installing signs on steel poles embedded in the new sidewalks.

This sounds like an ill-conceived idea that has had no public attention until now, and seems to lack any compelling justification. It would ruin the pedestrian experience, is completely unnecessary and would be a major retreat from the Council’s vision for high-quality, high-use sidewalks.
SCA is no wider or narrower today than it was a few months ago, and it has the same traffic lane configuration. The only change is that an area formerly devoted to parking is now devoted to curbs and sidewalks for pedestrians to use. Existing signage (speed limits, crosswalk, no passing) worked fine a few months ago (before the construction), and works fine now that it is done. Why not just continue using the existing signage? Of course, this would be by far the least expensive alternative.
The Council wanted wide walkways to accommodate parents with strollers, groups of school kids, couples walking hand in hand — you steered away from narrow sidewalks, so installing pedestrian obstructions is fundamentally contrary to the Council’s vision.
At a minimum, Council should declare a moratorium on any changes until we all get a year of experience to learn if there are in fact any problems that need to be solved.
Some signs clearly are necessary. Speed limit and school speed limit signs are good examples – drivers need reminders to ease off the gas.
The existing speed limit signs work fine – they are perfectly visible.
If the existing signs do get moved, please think hard about placing them more sensibly rather than just replicating existing placement. For example, place the 30 mph speed limit sign for westbound drivers at Johnson Street, and install signs primarily at corners, where they are the most prominent and the least intrusive.
Some signs clearly are not necessary, such as signs reminding motorists that the center turn lane is for turns, not for passing.
The street markings make it completely obvious that the center turn lane is only that, and not a passing lane.
These signs never prevented drivers from passing in the turn lane, nor will they in the future.
A half-mile series of “No Stopping” signs (every 100’ - 200’) lining SCA would be a most unwelcome (and most unwelcoming) development for what currently is a sidewalk success for the community.
No Stopping signs are unnecessary. No responsible driver needs a sign to know they cannot stop in and block a buffered bike lane. The green paint that is going in will make this even more obvious.
No Stopping signs are no panacea. Irresponsible drivers will stops in a buffered bike lane will ignore any “No Stopping” sign (remember that the “turn lane, no passing” signs don’t eliminate that behavior).
We know that some vehicles will stop on the street, signs or no signs – such as USPS and delivery trucks and Recology pickup.
I’ve been told that the police cannot ticket a motorist for stopping unless the signage exists. Surely, with or without the no stopping signs, the police will simply instruct a motorist to move along. Rules can be enforced effectively without writing citations.
Here’s a practical suggestion: try an easy experiment.
Try the moratorium I mentioned above, just wait a year, using the existing signage to see how it works. If next year it’s clear that signs would be helpful, go ahead with them, or consider other solutions such as red curbs.
Try installing install temporary orange plastic pylons where the signs are proposed; then take a walk with a friend to check it out, and ask the other walkers what they think. The only certainly bad idea is to proceed with the signs without thinking things through.
Hope you all recognize this as a moment where a big (and permanent) error can be avoided. Please declare victory. No signs in SCA sidewalks.

Horace Nash

Reminder: The City of Menlo Park Sidewalk Master Plan (http://www.menlopark.org/documentcenter/view/475 <http://www.menlopark.org/documentcenter/view/475>) (page one) says:
"Menlo Park strives to improve walking conditions throughout the city. Several communities in Menlo Park … have sidewalks that suffer from missing segments, discontinuity, or numerous obstructions in the pedestrian right-of-way.”

Received on Tue Sep 12 2017 - 10:08:06 PDT

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