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East Palo Alto Bicycle Plan Nearly Finished

A bicycling tour in EPA. Photo: City of East Palo Alto

East Palo Alto’s 2017 Bicycle Transportation Plan, an update of a 2011 predecesor, still lacks the true vision needed mainstream walking and bicycling for the city’s residents. But EPA just might move the needle a little and get more people walking and on bikes, especially after the ped/bike bridge over Highway 101 at Newell Road/Clarke Avenue is finished in late 2018. The city’s Planning Commission reviewed the new bicycle plan on September 11.

“In 2011 the bike plan focused on community health, air quality, and connectivity to schools and shops,” said East Palo Alto Assistant Planner Yeni Magana at the meeting. “The [2017] Bicycle Transportation Plan looks to create a more balanced transportation system where bicycling is a viable, attractive, and convenient way to travel in the city.”

Everyone acknowledges existing conditions for bicycling remain poor in East Palo Alto.

“It’s very dangerous if you’re ever riding on University Avenue, especially through rush hour,” admitted Magana. “We can only continue to emphasize how much we need updated Class II bike lanes [on University Avenue].”

The People to the City of East Palo Alto: There’s nothing stopping you from installing wide, green buffered bike lanes on University Avenue and standard bike lanes on the University Ave / Highway 101 overpass. Where are your plans for better bike lanes?

Fortunately the benevolence of Stanford University continues to rain down upon lucky East Palo Alto, as the school seeks to invest in ways to cut automobile trips in order to meet Santa Clara County’s strict “no new net commute trips” policy.

“In order to continue to grow, and to facilitate people moving to alternative modes we need to reach out to our communities and build bicycle projects,” declared Stanford Lands, Building, and Real Estate Division representative Leslie Low during public comment. “The improvements we’ve identified address gaps in the bicycle network in East Palo Alto.”

“Stanford intends to provide the funding upon the approval of the 2018 General Use Permit by the County of Santa Clara.” Low promised the proposed bike and pedestrian projects will “help both Stanford commuters who live in East Palo Alto as well as your local community.”

East Palo Alto wants that and more, including Marguerite shuttle service.

“I live next to 1735 Woodland Avenue, and high percentage of the residents are graduate students and post docs at Stanford [University], many of whom bicycle,” said Planning Commissioner Robert Allen Fisk. “One thing that would be helpful is if the campus would extend its Marguerite shuttle to loop through the Woodland Park community, north and south of University Avenue.”

“I’m very excited about this plan and about biking improving in our city,” exclaimed resident Tina Keegan. “I hope the city as much as possible can expedite the the pedestrian and bike bridge going across [Highway 101]. I would love for it to happen before my kids get out of elementary school.”

East Palo Alto’s Pedestrian-Bike Bridge over Highway 101 just began construction. Image: City of East Palo Alto

Alta Planning + Design representative Lorenzo explained that improved bicycling networks would be built on both sides of the Highway 101 bridge once it is completed next year.

“We’re looking at linking the bridge to existing facilities, including the Bay Trail, the bike lanes on Bay Road, and on the other side of [Highway] 101, connecting to Newell Road and to University Avenue,” said Lorenzo.

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the City Council adopt the final draft Bicycle Transportation Plan at its October 3 meeting. Please send your comments to Assistant Planner Yeni Magana, ymagana@cityofepa.org, 650-853-3148.