Commission Envisions Bike Lanes Along School Routes

Commissioners say installation of bike lanes on major thoroughfares in Menlo Park will increase safety for children who walk or bike to school.

The Menlo Park Bicycle Commission voted unanimously Monday night to encourage the installation of bike lanes along major thoroughfares in town, including Encinal and Ravenswood Avenue, as the City Council finalizes a document that will set the rules for land use in town for the next 30 years.

“It’s pretty treacherous out there in the morning,” said Scott Lohmann, Vice Chair of the Bicycle Commission. 

“Five days a week, nine months out of the year, there’s a lot of activity on the roads by Encinal,” Lohmann said.

One of the projects that Commissioners have been working on for the past four years is a map of safe bike routes that children can take to get to school. But the legal liabilities of publishing such a document have impeded the process, according to Commissioner MaryAnn Levenson, who is the principal compiler of information for that endeavor.  

In the meantime, the Commission is supporting the introduction of bike lanes into the areas of town upon which children traverse to travel to class, with the goal of reducing the amount of vehicles on the road that are destined to drop off an eager young mind or two. 

The Commission's primary goal last night was to generate language that will guide city staffers as they negotiate developments within the city along a path that will make Menlo Park a place that’s more conducive to cycling. 

“Bike routes aren’t going to cut it,” said Greg Klingsporn, Chair of the Bicycle Commission. “We need bike lanes, wherever you can put in a bike lane.”

This goal is echoed in the letter that the Bicycle Commission will hand to City Council today.  

“Using bike lanes will increase the use of bicycles by giving far greater comfort to those who would like to bicycle but are uncomfortable riding directly in traffic,” it reads.

The letter details nine specific things that the commissioners think City Council should include in the El Camino Real / Downtown Specific Plan. See attached .pdf to read them in detail.

City Council is scheduled to decide what language is and what is excluded in the plan tonight at 7 p.m., among other things. Council members have been receiving from each of the town’s about what should be included this month, and may make the final decision on what is inserted into the document this evening.

The plan is not a project per se, but it is a series of goals that the city can realize in the next three decades, stresses  Adina Levin, Environmental Quality Commissioner, who attended both of the last two Bicycle Commission meetings as a Menlo Park resident. 

Levin says the creation of this document presents a chance for city staffers to ask themselves, “Are we thinking big enough?”

“This downtown plan is an opportunity to be more visionary and be able to say, within a longer time frame, what we really want as a community is to enable more people to get around walking or biking, without needing to get into a car," Levin told the Bicycle Commissioners during their Sept 12 meeting.  

The City Council meeting will take place tonight at 7 p.m. in , which are located at 701 Laurel. It is open to the public. 

commuter September 20, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Really scary that the city is so embarrassed about their "safe routes to schools" that they are refusing to publicize them. Protecting our kids should be a top priority.
Vanessa Castañeda September 20, 2011 at 04:03 PM
I don't think they're embarrassed; I think they don't want to get sued if someone gets hurt while on a route.
commuter September 20, 2011 at 09:38 PM
They shouldn't get sued unless their routes are terrible.
Andrew Boone September 21, 2011 at 07:02 AM
Palo Alto publishes a School Commute Corridors map that parents can use to determine the best way for their children to get to school safely. Kathy Durham, who works in Palo Alto's Transportation Division and has led their Safe Routes to School program for over 15 years, would know how they deal with the legal liability issue. You can contact her at kathy.durham@cityofpaloalto.org, 650-329-2568.


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