Hundreds say stop traffic project that includes roundabouts

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

More than 460 people have signed an online petition urging the city of Palo Alto to stop its traffic improvements at busy intersections on Ross Road, which includes plans for roundabouts.

The city’s Neighborhood Traffic Safety and Bicycle Boulevard Project spans 7.1 miles and will cost $8.7 million. It includes 11 roundabouts, three raised crosswalks, five raised intersections and four intersection reconfigurations.

The project is intended to make intersections safer, but clearly, not all residents are thrilled.

“Many residents believe that the changes being made at busy intersections along Ross Road are unsafe and unhelpful,” wrote George Jaquette, who launched the petition last month. “In pursuit of traffic calming, the changes have created dangerous interactions between cars and bikes.”

Phase 1 of the project started in September along Ross Road, with other traffic-calming measures planned on Bryant Street, Louis Road, and Moreno, Amarillo and Montrose avenues through the next six months.

A roundabout was built on Ross Road at East Meadow Drive in December.

According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Highway Safety Manual, roundabouts reduce the types of crashes that seriously hurt or kill people by about 80% as compared with stop sign and traffic signal intersections.

Jacquette said that the roundabout would be a liability to emergency vehicles. Some signers have chimed in on the petition, posting complaints.

“I feel these roundabouts are too big and put bikers and emergency vehicles in danger,” Bambi Lynn Ware posted. “I don’t feel they are necessary to achieve ‘traffic calming.’ Other methods are available that do not (endanger) our public service vehicles or children.”

Palo Alto has the third-highest rate of commuter bike ridership in the country, with 8.5% of the city riding bikes to work.

More than 216,000 bicyclists ride on the share lane along Bryant Street every year.

“This is a boondoggle. The consultants are scamming you, once again. (They) profit at the expense of public safety,” Wesley Barton posted.

10 Comments

  1. All of the new “roundabouts” I have seen in Palo Alto and nearby cause confusion and dangerous situations. Many drivers inevitably come to a complete stop, when they need only yield to oncoming traffic. The “roundabouts” aren’t anywhere near the size of the European model they are based on so instead of space for gradual merging and exiting, you get an intersection with a dangerous circular blob of curb, rocks and even trees in the middle of it, just asking for someone to plow into it. Because of the awkward dimensions of these left coast “roundabouts”, what you end up doing is essentially dodging an obstacle in the middle of the road with a sharp turn to the right and immediately back to the left to continue on your path.

    Of course enlightened Palo Altans will never dare address the real cause of their woes, immigration and the politicians and Silicon Valley robber barrons like Facebook, Apple and Google that support it, which has overpopulated the once-great Bay Area beyond recognition. People aren’t going to get used to the “roundabouts” either when you have a constant churn of new, third-world drivers who are either more hesitant or reckless than native Californian drivers.

  2. Hi, as a resident of Louis Road, I for one am glad that some attention is being paid to the Louis/Ross and Louis/Charleston intersections.

    The Louis/Charleston intersection is the strangest intersection in all of Palo Alto and a recipe for disaster with a Stop on Louis, a block to prevent cars going straight into Montrose and none on Charleston. Louis can back up 10 cars during rush hour. The bend near Charleston/FabianWay makes it so difficult to judge the speed of oncoming traffic – this means the left turners have to make a split second decision to go for it or not. The pedestrian crossing can be activated very quickly with a push button and cyclists don’t bother with any of it anyway. So it only a matter of time before there is a major disaster involving school children on bikes.

    The Louis/Ross intersection Stop signs are not respected at all as the drivers can clearly see the traffic in all 3 other directions. Especially electric cars with their high acceleration pose a serious threat to those who pulling cars out of their driveways.

    While we don’t know what are the plans for Louis/Ross and Louis/Charleston, I am glad it won’t be status quo as some others want.

  3. These roundabouts create confusion. People don’t know whether to stop or drive around. I’m sure they’re fine in Europe or Third World countries, but they’re foreign here. I wish we could have stopped this before the city committed $8 million to install these things. We have more important priorities in this city.

  4. The problem isn’t just roundabouts; it’s the poorly conceived “traffic calming” designs and the unwillingness of city officials to respond to taxpayer feedback about before and after implementation.

    I’m glad to see the Ross Rd petition getting more than 515 signatures and I wonder how many signatures petitions against all future traffic calming projects and to remove the 4-year-old Middlefield Road barriers would get.

  5. I have to agree that the roundabouts on Ross make the intersections more cluttered and harder to notice small vehicles. I am also mystified but the areas where the road is made narrower with small side islands. Unless these areas end up closed off to through vehiclualr traffic, they willl only make things more dangerous for cyclists as they are forced to take the lane at a location where perhaps they did not intend to.

    Are the designs of these circles and narrow zones directly lifted from designs validated by safety studies, or are they just someone’s concept of a good idea? I would like to see the study papers supporting these designs.

  6. The Ross / Lewis roundabout is somewhat hazardous for larger vehicles as it is way too narrow. The radius is also too small. This is not Rue de La Place in France ! Bikes have a hard time maneuvering there, or sharing the road. Bottlenecks slow down traffic sure, but also forces cars to meet bicyclists in close confines. The expanded curbs also make people with larger vehicles swing out into oncoming traffic to get around without curb hopping. Whatever happened to modeling and simulation? All these problems could have been ironed out on a computer. All the cars and larger vehicles will now go down Louis or Middlefield…causing more traffic there and effecting noise. Too bad for those property owners.

  7. Guy, right you are. Middlefield’s already a disaster. I’ve seen cars have to back up to let larger vehicles make their turns in front of Jordan while traffic backs up behind them, often into the middle of Oregon. This has been an ongoing problem for 4+ years — and now the city’s moving to add more bulbouts and barriers etc. to other streets like Arastradero and Bryant.

    The petition’s now at 613. Please sign if you haven’t

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.