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East Palo Alto Bike Plan Approved

A rather unambitious new bicycle plan was approved by the East Palo Alto City Council on Tuesday October 17, an update to a similar 2011 predecessor. The bike plan calls for completing the San Francisco Bay Trail through the city, a new pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Highway 101 at University Avenue, and a number of new signed Bike Routes.

“There was a need to update the collision data, and by having an updated bike plan we are eligible for certain grants,” reported Planning Manager Guido Persicone at the meeting, who noted that the plan was written by former Assistant Planner Yeni Muñoz without any dedicated city funding. 

“She’s a very self-motivated employee. This would be a $50,000 to $100,000 report [if contracted out to a consultant],” said Persicone.

“The first [2011] bike plan was also done in-house,” said Assistant City Manager Sean Charpentier. Former Planning Manager Brent Butler wrote the city’s 2011 Bicycle Transportation Plan.

But Vice Mayor Ruben Abrica questioned why a consultant wasn’t hired as in neighboring cities including Palo Alto. “I think it’s great that staff does their share, but we let out contracts all the time,” said Abrica. “Does that mean the bicycle plan wasn’t as important?”

“It’s well put together,” admitted Abrica.

Mayor Larry Moody complained that the new Euclid Avenue & Donohoe Street intersection wasn’t designed with any dedicated space for bicycling.

“I watch cyclists come through there, and they don’t have a lot of wiggle room,” said Moody of the intersection.

City Council member Carlos Romero expressed similar frustrations with city staff, which has for years allowed hazardously designed streets to languish unfixed, and ignored Complete Streets requirements when repaving streets.

“When we do road work in this city, you need to come to us with a checklist and explain why you can’t install bike lanes,” exclaimed Romero to Public Works Director Kamal Fallaha.

“We can make our streets safe enough so that parents feel that their kids can bike to school,” said Romero. “We need to change the streets. It’s probably more than just sharrows.”

Romero also spoke in support of striping a wider shoulder on University Avenue over Highway 101 and of a multi-use path along the Dumbarton Rail tracks connecting to University Avenue.

City planners will incorporate minor changes into the plan based on city council feedback before composing a final version to be posted on the city’s website.