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Bicycle Routes to Future Facebook HQ Need Fixing

Cycling activist says “obvious improvements” needed to make the paths safe for employees who bike to work through Menlo Park.

Facebook is encouraging their employees to bike to work after the company moves its headquarters to Menlo Park.  But cycling activists say that the two most popular bike routes to get there are not as safe as they could be.

Cycling Activist Andrew Boone rode his bike down two of the most likely commuter routes to see whether this mode of transportation would be a suitable alternative to a car.  One of the concerns that Menlo Park residents have expressed in the past about Facebook’s move to Menlo Park is the increased amount of traffic that would course through the roads in town.

To mitigate that, that it would encourage its employees to take alternative transportation methods such as bicycles and the Caltrain.

Subsequently, Boone began his surveys.

He started off one trip from the station, and then one from Embarcadero Road and East Bayshore Road, which is on the south of the campus. Boone found a few areas on the way that are in need of attention.  He said Ravenswood between El Camino Real and Middlefield Road needs to be restriped to make the wider.  The lanes on the road are 15 feet wide for vehicles, and six feet wide for bikes.

Boone said while six feet is normally a comfortable width for a bike lane, a 15 foot vehicle lane encourages traffic to speed here. “It feels unsafe riding a bike," Boone said, “12 feet is the standard width for a freeway lane.”

"This really surprised me – that there is such an obvious improvement that hasn’t yet been made – right in the middle of bike-friendly Menlo Park,” he added.

One of the other problem areas on the route is the Ringwood Bridge, Boone said. Later this summer, that bridge will be widened and improved as part to a project that will revitalize that area after the bridge's supports are upgraded. Directors of this project are filtering through bids for contractors to complete that work right now.  Click on the photos to the right of this article to see images of that area.

The rest of the roads are just fine, he said.

Sources familiar with the matter say that Facebook is planning to open up an undercrossing under Bayfront Expressway at Willow Rd, so commuters who travel to Facebook by bike or on foot will not have to cross Bayfront Expressway.

Members of the Menlo Park Bicycle Commission expressed interest in working with Facebook to make the roads safer for people to to work during their last public meeting.

commuter April 20, 2011 at 11:40 PM
Many Facebook employees live in Palo Alto near the current Facebook campus. They should also be looking at bike routes from that area to the new campus. There are bike lanes on University Ave. near the new Facebook, but the road is in really terrible shape. Hopefully they can repave it soon.
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) April 21, 2011 at 12:25 AM
Thanks for weighing in, Commuter. What happens when the road is unpaved?
Andrew Boone April 21, 2011 at 05:49 AM
commuter, You're right, the Menlo Park Caltrain station might not become the most popular departure point for cyclists commuting to the new Facebook campus - it's just the safest route currently available. University Ave may very well become the most popular route. It's missing bike lanes over the Highway 101 overpass (a very dangerous part of this route), and the bike lanes through East Palo Alto need to be re-striped wider: they're 5 ft wide while the right-hand vehicle lane is 13.5 ft wide. Not only that, these bike lanes have already been completely worn away in sections. East Palo Alto just announced major layoffs of city staff and is unlikely to pay for bicycle improvements any time soon. Facebook should offer to pay for re-striping the University Ave bike lanes, since it's a very cheap traffic mitigation measure that will also allow Facebook bicycle commuters to get to work safely.
commuter April 21, 2011 at 02:37 PM
From the College Terrace neighborhood in Palo Alto (where the current Facebook campus is), bicyclists can take California Ave to the bicycle bridge over Hwy 101 near Embarcadero Road. This is a decent bike route with 2 flaws. First, the tunnel under the Caltrain tracks is too narrow and congested and really needs to be widened. Second, the Middlefield Road crossing can be dangerous because of cross traffic, especially westbound. After crossing bicycle bridge over Hwy 101, take Geng Road and the bike path along the creek to Bay Road in East Palo Alto. That takes you most of the way to Sun Quintin. University Ave. is in very poor shape, but bicycles with sturdy tires will probably be OK.

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