In October, I (Art Liberman) published a post on this website about the proposal by the City to create a Bicycle Boulevard on Matadero Ave.
While this was one of the “priority proposals” in Palo Alto’s new Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, it was never really vetted within the Barron Park community. In fact, the Plan’s input came through the PABAC (the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee) that reports to the Chief Transportation Official, without any real consultation with the neighborhood groups.
In the past week, there’s been a lively discussion on the Barron Park issues email list, BPAemail@example.com (if you are not already on the list and want to subscribe, just click on the “BPA Email Lists” navigation tab and enter your email address under the name of the list).
What precipitated the recent online discussion was an indication that the City was about to go ahead with the design of the Bike Boulevard on its own, without community outreach or soliciting its input.
The lively back and forth indicated that some people didn’t understand what was being proposed, or why this project was going forward at this time. Others chimed in and helped by providing some historical background and context. And still others came up with a number of suggestions and ideas (about striping, parking, signage on cross street, etc..) that would not have been included in a design without it coming from those who use the road frequently for riding, for walking and for driving. And especially from those who live on it.
In responding to these concerns, the Department’s Director, Curtis Williams, wrote to Lynnie Melena, BPA President:
The City of Palo Alto has not started any type of design work for the Matadero Bicycle Boulevard project and staff does not anticipate proposing bicycle lanes, as we know they wouldn’t fit on Matadero Avenue. Project elements likely to be studied will include “Share the Road” bicycle markings (Sharrows), signage to designate the bicycle boulevard, crosswalk improvements at the Bol Park Path, and traffic calming measures at the Josina intersection.
…….Based on the limited work scope, staff had hoped to design the project in-house, with staff working through a community outreach process. However, given the recent level of concern expressed, we will use one of our on-call transportation consultants to assure we can look at any and all options brought forth by the residents. Staff wants to begin and an outreach process with the Barron Park community and work through the design together.
When the consultant team is on board, probably mid- to late-April, we’ll notify residents via post card and e-mail regarding meeting schedules, and coordinate with you and the Board. We’ll do our best to try to have the meetings held at Barron School to accommodate residents.