El Camino Bike Lanes in Palo Alto

Well, the Palo Alto meeting went pretty well. There was massive interest from the cycling community and nearly zero opposition from Palo Alto residents. That was good. Sadly, cyclist echo chambers can often seem like a clown car of people asking for things that just won’t happen given the current context, funding, and timelines.

It does seem to draw out people who want agencies like Caltrans to simultaneously fix homelessness and force cities to fix other roads that aren’t under Caltrans jurisdiction. In this case, Caltrans is just running a repaving project and they’re already in the construction phase. They’re not gonna be able to move curbs significantly. They’re not gonna be able to remove vehicle lanes during a repaving project.

No amount of asking is really going to change the circumstances already baked into a project. But folks ask anyway. I think it makes public comment into really ineffective noise and makes cyclists seem totally unrealistic in their demands.

Here is the presentation that Caltrans made: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/files/assets/public/v/1/transportation/caltrans-2.29.24-presentation.pdf

I will say that Caltrans staff seemed much more willing to put themselves out there than the Palo Alto staff did. There were 8-10 folks from Caltrans, and as far as I could see, only one from Palo Alto City.

Hopefully, the Palo Alto PABAC and city council will make the right decision here and remove parking so that Caltrans can proceed with their plan to add bike lanes to El Camino Real.

To be clear, going from nothing to something is the only goal here. We can want the moon, but the only thing we’re going to realistically get is representation and visibility on the roadway. Once we have that, we can work for more protection, fewer gaps, and take up more space.

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