Handful of roads much better epitomize the frustrations of Peninsula’s bicycle advocates than El Camino Real, a vital north-south connector that gives both of those the most immediate and, arguably, the most perilous route in between Redwood City and Menlo Park.
Living up to its moniker as “The King’s Freeway,” the first connector amongst California’s network of Spanish missions is currently dominated by cars and trucks in just about every single Peninsula jurisdiction by which it passes, inspite of decades of speak all-around the location about converting it into a multimodal “grand boulevard.”
And even as each city has been producing its very own bike-security improvements (Palo Alto, for instance, is now finishing construction of a bike bridge around U.S. Highway 101 as effectively as setting up for even further bike improvements alongside East Meadow Push and on the Charleston-Arastradero corridor), these initiatives have largely steered distinct of El Camino.
A modern site visitors evaluation commissioned by town professionals from Peninsula cities concluded that the 12.5-mile stretch of El Camino amongst Redwood Town and Mountain See has a “higher focus of bicycle collisions” and nearly no bicycle infrastructure.
But even as it poses a steep problem for city leaders across the Peninsula, El Camino also represents their best hope. During the pandemic, the metropolitan areas of Redwood Metropolis, Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain Watch collaborated on a Peninsula Bikeway research, a study of bicycle features in each metropolis with recommendations for even more improvements to bicycle connections amongst the jurisdictions. The review, which was introduced in November, evaluates a few distinct opportunities for separated bikeways that would stretch together the Peninsula. Following taking into consideration other routes, including Alma Road and Middlefield Road, the examine concluded that a bikeway on El Camino, in spite of the enormous difficulties it would entail, “signifies the most viable option to apply these kinds of a vision and help increase security and connectivity for all bicycle buyers.”
The Peninsula Bikeway analyze is an outgrowth of a partnership that metropolis supervisors from four metropolitan areas shaped in 2016 to focus on much better connections among their jurisdictions. Recognised as the Managers’ Mobility Partnership, the effort and hard work at first focused on using current bikeways and routes to layout an interim “lower-strain bicycle link” concerning the north and sound ends of the section.
The hottest effort and hard work is far extra ambitious. The new analyze payments alone as “the first period of implementing a superior-affect bicycle superhighway network in the Bay Location aiding people and workers enhance connectivity and safety to employment and action facilities.” Its target is to give a “extended-term, substantial-top quality, bikeway acceptable for bicyclists of all ages and skills.”
In contrast to the interim route — a meandering path that forces riders to cross El Camino Genuine the moment and the railroad tracks twice to stay clear of dangerous street segments in the a variety of towns — the new bikeway would be immediate. All three of the study’s options aspect a straighter route amongst Redwood City and Mountain Watch. Just one would depend predominantly on Middlefield Street a different would stay in just El Camino Authentic the third would operate alongside the Caltrain correct-of-way and rely on Alma Avenue in the northern part and on Central Expressway and Evelyn Avenue in the southern stop.
But El Camino was selected for the reason that it offers a “cohesive route” and has enough proper-of-way to aid the improvements. Middlefield, by contrast, already has some bike lanes, but simply because they are not contiguous, bicyclists are demanded to maneuver and blend with car or truck traffic, a problem for a lot less professional cyclists. And Middlefield’s present ideal-of-way “would not enable for the implementation of a continuous and seamless divided bicycle facility,” the study states.
The research also concluded that the Alma Street and Central Expressway route falls short since the corridors together that route “involve fences, knowledge significant targeted traffic volumes and speeds, as well as several travel lanes generating it not comfortable for cyclists to traverse.” And for the reason that there is no continual bikeway north of Menlo Park, the route is “circuitous and not quite functional,” the examine concludes.
But the review does accept that El Camino comes with important barriers: It now has no bicycle infrastructure and incorporating protected bicycle lanes right here would extra significantly impact parking, which in turn affects enterprises that count on El Camino for their parking areas.
Any changes to the corridor’s configuration, the examine states, “will will need to consider the trade-offs and potential effects on parking source, loading/unloading, garbage select-up, and other operational capabilities involved with retail businesses.”
In the meantime, the research proposes a set of “interim enhancements” that every collaborating city can undertake to its segment of the present-day Peninsula Bikeway. In Palo Alto, the advancements concentrate on Bryant Avenue and concentrate on the intersections of Bryant with East Meadow Travel, Embarcadero Road, Churchill Road and Lytton Avenue.
For the East Meadow intersection, the study endorses painted bulbouts to gradual cars as they transform and “conflict striping” (a line of eco-friendly rectangles for bicyclists parallel to the pedestrian crosswalk) to maximize visibility of bicyclists.
In the vicinity of Embarcadero, the review recommends high visibility crosswalks and environmentally friendly bike lanes close to the intersection. At Churchill, the review recommends a website traffic circle to lower auto speeds. And on Lytton, the metropolis ought to insert a eco-friendly “bicycle box” in close proximity to the street’s intersection with Bryant to increase bicycle connections in between the two streets, the research endorses.
In Menlo Park, the review endorses improved signage and striping at the intersections of Elena Avenue and Valparaiso Avenue Valparaiso and Crane Road Laurel Street and Ravenswood Avenue and Willow Position and Willow Street, an place the place the analyze also endorses a “refuge island” at a position wherever there is at this time a central turn lane.
The interim advancements proposed for Mountain Look at aim on the intersections of El Camino with San Antonio Road, Showers Generate, Rengstorff Avenue and Castro Road. The review calls for “large-visibility crosswalks” and secured intersections in these parts (marked with inexperienced paint and flexible delineators) for bicyclists and tighter radii for autos, made to slow auto speeds.
The examine acknowledges that even these steps are not likely to sway a key phase of populace to use their bikes for Peninsula commutes. Around half of the inhabitants of prospective bicyclists falls into the class of “interested but concerned,” in accordance to a 2016 survey done by Jennifer Dill and Nathan McNeil. These bicyclists are fascinated in biking far more but generally feel cozy on streets with buffered or protected bikeways, in accordance to the study.
“A bikeway with a lot less separation these types of as a common bike lane on a chaotic suburban arterial road with high pace site visitors will are unsuccessful to deliver reduced-anxiety situations wanted to draw in a the vast majority of potent
ial cyclists,” the Peninsula Bikeway review states. “By captivating to the drive of the bulk of users’ demands … for increased separation, the implementation of a divided bicycle facility will support the community be strategic about investments and implementation, whilst also serving to to stability competing community demands, such as for transit and freight.”