On Wednesday, October 28, the Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commission convened to discuss several topics, including new bike lanes. The Menlo Park Bicycle Commission (MPBC), a sub-commission, has outlined a plan for a complete bike path through the city that would connect the east and west sides of Menlo Park to El Camino. The plan involves the removal of an estimated 112 parking spaces on Oak Grove Avenue, Crane Street, and University Avenue altogether.
Despite the possible increase in parking congestion, board members Jonathan Weiner and William Kirsch led commissioners support the measure to create new bike lanes because the areas in question are not heavily used. The city can therefore utilize this space to bring greater biking mobility throughout the city by connecting preexisting routes. Having originally planned the east-west route for Ravenswood Avenue, MPBC members have shifted their support toward Oak Grove as the main avenue for bike travel. The members recognize the advantages of Oak Grove Avenue over Ravenswood Avenue: less traffic— roughly half as much along El Camino Real, in fact— and a lower speed limit to better ensure biker safety.
The commission is working in conjunction with M-A, which plans to continue to install new bicycle stalls in the faculty parking area on Oak Grove and Middlefield Road as the administration anticipates another 500-600 students next school year. The planned route begins at M-A, with 7-foot buffered lanes, and continues down Oak Grove to Crane Street. From there, the bike lanes run up and down Crane Street connecting to existing bike lanes on Valparaiso Avenue and Santa Cruz Avenue. The bike lane also “jumps” Santa Cruz Avenue to the other side of Crane Street and joins to the University Avenue route which extends across the San Mateo Bike Bridge* (see map below).*
Weiner outlined the progress of this project in an official statement: “The plan the MP Bicycle Commission is proposing is for a trial of bike lanes along Oak Grove Avenue and University Drive in Menlo Park. The goal of the new lanes is to make biking to school and downtown safer. M-A has installed bike racks at the corner of Oak Grove and Middlefield and will be expanding the capacity later in the school year. The new racks are part of an effort to encourage biking in order to mitigate the effects of increased car traffic caused by expanded enrollment at M-A. The plan will make it easier and safer to access the new M-A bike parking. As far as implementation, it is hard to say when it might be done. The proposal has not gone before city council for approval and further study so it may take some time before it moves forward.”
M-A students who commonly bike to and from school expressed their opinions on the addition of a biking corridor to Menlo Park.
“I like the idea of a new bike lane,” said sophomore Scott MacDonald, explaining that “it adds another layer of safety for bikers.” Junior Allan Beilin confirmed this sentiment: “It’s great to see that Menlo Park is expanding its biking infrastructure. By building a new bike lane, Menlo Park not only reaps the immediate benefits of more bikers, but also alleviates traffic, and reduces smog and pollution.”
Students at M-A responded positively to this project and hope to see more changes in the future. While the new bike lane may not appear for some time, this initiative gives M-A students something to look forward to for their future biking experiences.
Click to enlarge photo.