When East Palo Alto repaved Woodland Avenue between Newell Avenue and West Bayshore Road in late March, one half-mile of the city’s bumpiest pothole-filled street was suddenly transformed into its smoothest one, complete with new striping and well-placed sharrows on top. City planners hope the sharrows will help residents bike and drive more predictably on Woodland’s streets, almost all of which are too narrow to accommodate both parallel-parked cars and bike lanes.
They may just be stencils, but the new sharrows are the first in East Palo Alto, and the very first bicycle infrastructure of any kind in the high-density Woodland neighborhood west of Highway 101. Most of the city’s multi-family housing has been built in this narrow slice of land that San Mateo County allowed developers to build without sidewalks, before the area incorporated and became part of East Palo Alto.
High population density, poor transit service, narrow streets, and missing sidewalks mean that people walking or bicycling must share the road with car traffic volumes that are very high for a residential neighborhood. Woodland Avenue carries 3,300 cars per day, including a significant proportion of cut-through traffic comprising drivers seeking a faster route to Highway 101 than University Avenue during the evening rush hour.