Bike Lane Gap in Menlo Park Bay Trail Route

Menlo Park plans to include just one five-foot wide bike lane on the south side of Haven Avenue, and no bike lane at all on the north side, where parallel parking will be removed. Photo: Andrew Boone
Menlo Park plans to include just one five-foot wide bike lane on the south side of Haven Avenue, and no bike lane at all on the north side, where parallel parking will be removed. Photo: Andrew Boone

On Tuesday evening the Menlo Park City Council approved the construction of a new streetscape for Haven Avenue that will bring wide sidewalks to the block nearest Marsh Road where there are none today — but also leave a gap in bike lanes at a key location along the popular San Francisco Bay Trail route. The formerly industrial-only area is expected to see heavier pedestrian and bicycle traffic after a total of 540 apartment units are completed at two new housing developments further west on Haven Avenue, where the city installed wide buffered bike lanes earlier this year.

But designers somehow weren’t able to find any space to install bike lanes nearest to Marsh Road, where the street is a massive 80 feet wide. City planners instead hope to lure bicyclists onto the new sidewalks with signs reading “Bicycles OK to Use Sidewalk” and direct bicycle traffic across the street on green stripes adjacent to the crosswalks called “crossbikes”.

Menlo Park's design for Haven Avenue include only 5-foot wide bike lanes, and no bike lanes at all in the westbound direction. Image: City of Menlo Park
Menlo Park’s design for Haven Avenue include only 5-foot wide bike lanes, and no bike lanes at all in the westbound direction. Image: City of Menlo Park

“So the idea is that the cyclist is on the sidewalk with the walkers, it’s a shared use,” said Mayor Kirsten Keith at the meeting.

But cycling advocates are disappointed. “There is only a 4′ striped shoulder. This is despite the fact that the travel lanes are up to 23′ wide,” wrote Redwood City Complete Streets Advisory Committee Chair Matthew Self in an email to the Menlo Park City Council. “There is plenty of room for a 6′ bike lane on this section, and redirecting bikes onto the sidewalk is not an acceptable alternative. Cyclists will continue to use the roadway in the narrow 4′ striped shoulder.”

Where bike lanes will be added, they’ll only be five feet wide, around a 90-degree corner with travel lanes ranging in width from 12 to 15 feet. City staff declined to consider widening the bike lanes or adding a painted buffer, as suggested by City Council member Peter Ohtaki.

Menlo Park installed wide buffered bike lanes on a section of Haven Avenue the passes in front of two housing developments. Photo: Andrew Boone
Menlo Park installed wide buffered bike lanes on a section of Haven Avenue the passes in front of two housing developments. Photo: Andrew Boone

“The [travel] lanes are wide around the corner in order to provide adequate space for buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles,” said Assistant Public Works Director Nikki Nagaya.

While the major intersection at Haven Avenue and Marsh Road will see its three crosswalks restriped, no other improvements will be made. And designers chose standard crosswalks rather than high-visibility crosswalks. The intersection features very wide curb radii and long crossing distances for pedestrians. The east side of Marsh Road will remain without any crosswalk at all in order to maximize automobile volumes. Facebook employee Sam Felder died in April 2014 from injuries he suffered after being struck by a left-turning car while bicycling through the intersection on his way to work five months earlier.

The massive intersection at Haven Avenue and Marsh Road will remain the same, including wide curb radii and a missing crosswalk. Photo: Google Maps
The massive intersection at Haven Avenue and Marsh Road will remain the same, including wide curb radii and a missing crosswalk. Photo: Google Maps

“There are ways you can redesign this to make it safer,” said Sunnyvale resident Scott Lane. “Four and five foot wide bike lanes – that’s not acceptable.”

The nearby Marsh Road and Highway 101 interchange presents even greater hazards, including free-flowing traffic on-ramps that people walking and bicycling must cross. Menlo Park has no plans to fix the interchange’s safety hazards.

  • Rx

    With the right lane being right turn only, and the 2nd lane being a right-through, that really removes the possibility of a safe through bike lane. Putting bikes in the crosswalk may work at the start of a cycle (though no guarantees, with 2 right turning lanes), but sets up a right hook once the green light is stale.

    Better to remove the right turn option from the second lane, and put a bike lane there. Does this street need 2 lanes for right turns, with such a short length?

  • murphstahoe

    the right turn onto Marsh leads to US-101 and is the primary use there.

    In practice most bikes crossing Marsh there are making a left turn onto the bike path that runs along the N side of Bayfront.

  • Cynara2

    Doesn’t matter what you do. Cyclists will fly up on the sidewalk out of the bike lane at every intersection. They do not want to stop at the stop sign or red light. And they have absolutely no regard for pedestrians. No more should be done for them until they are held responsible for their behaviour toward pedestrians.

  • “The [travel] lanes are wide around the corner in order to provide adequate space for buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles,” said Assistant Public Works Director Nikki Nagaya.

    Pretty sure that the buffers would be painted, not concrete barriers. Buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles would be just fine. Someone needs to call out this quack of an APWD stuck in the 1950s on this nonsense.

  • Alex

    Here in the real world there are relatively few conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians, and motor vehicles remain the greatest danger to both groups. It is possible to walk or cycle on trails with no incident, and to observe cyclists stopping at red lights and yielding to pedestrians. One can not, however, observe bicyclists flying.

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