Ross Road roundabout remains despite petition

The city of Palo Alto is putting the finishing touches on a roundabout at Ross Road and Meadow Drive. Post photo.
The city of Palo Alto is putting the finishing touches on a roundabout at Ross Road and Meadow Drive. Post photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The city of Palo Alto has made some slight changes to its plans as hundreds of residents have signed a petition calling for a stop to the traffic-calming project on Ross Road, which includes roundabouts.

The city is making minor adjustments to the locations of curb extensions and is adding new drainage structures to avoid underground utilities, city spokeswoman Claudia Keith told the Post.

“We are aware of the petition signed by a number of residents regarding the changes to Ross Road,” Keith said. “The city has received numerous communications about the project both in favor and opposed to the changes now under construction.”

More than 650 people have signed a petition to stop the project, claiming the changes have begun to create “dangerous interactions” between cars and bicycles. The changes also impede the safe travel of emergency vehicles, petitioners said. Keith didn’t say where the curb extension locations were.

“The Ross Road project is one piece of a larger effort to improve the city’s bicycle network as we look to reduce traffic, improve safety and expand the regular use of bikes for travel around Palo Alto,” Keith said.

The 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.

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 over the next six months.

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

“We recognize that the construction has been disruptive and the overall goals of slowing traffic, providing more visibility for bike riders and filling gaps in our bike network are not yet fully realized,” Keith said. “We are planning to conduct more concentrated outreach, including a survey, one-on-one notifi-cations and meetings, as well as updated information and communication on the project website.”


  1. One form of crazy is to keep doing the same thing, hoping for a different result.
    The roundabout at East Meadow and Ross Road violates every design guideline for “roundabouts”, and every study in favor of roundabouts cites an 80-foot inside diameter. The circle at Meadow and Ross is 64-feet across, with 15-foot lanes. It is dangerous, and prevents emergency vehicles from turning either direction on Ross Road.
    The city of Palo Alto has agreed to spend up to $9.2 million to address a problem that doesn’t exist, badly.

  2. If you’re running for City Council this fall, and you pledge to remove roundabouts and curb bulb-outs, you’ve got my vote.

    • Actually, Carol, I encourage you to make your decision after objectively observing how the street works after construction is finished. Compared to 4 way stops (with which many drivers do *not* comply), roundabouts drastically reduce the chances for head-on crashes and for “t-bone” crashes (at 90 degree angles) simply by their design. There’s lots of research on this, and it applies to mini-roundabouts as well as the big ones at higher traffic intersections. Plus, driver delay is actually reduced since queuing on each leg will be less, and in non-rush periods, “slow and go” will definitely be safer, faster and more fuel efficient for drivers, and much less scary than the former norm for the many other road users. I hope that all Council members and candidates will make sure they have accurate information on safety for all Ross Road users, as well as the environmental benefits.

  3. The city is always preaching about reducing your carbon footprint. But these traffic calming devices slow down traffic and result in more pollution. The sustainability crew at city hall doesn’t practice what they preach.

    • False.
      Modern, slow and go, roundabout intersections have less daily delay than a stop light or stop sign, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work (it’s the #2 reason they’re built). Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average daily delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. ‘At best’ because traffic signals must have the yellow and all red portion (6+ seconds per cycle) for safety, and modern roundabouts do not. At a modern roundabout, drivers entering from different directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized

  4. I realize construction hasn’t finished on the roundabout, but why do they have stop signs? I thought a roundabout was supposed to eliminate the need for stop signs?

    • Stop signs during construction are common. they set up the cautious behavior needed for when the yield signs go in. Otherwise, it’s just a neighborhood traffic circle, and not a modern roundabout.

    • Good news for Martha and others needing information on this point: In fact, yield signs will be installed as soon as other intersection work is complete!
      Today’s roundabout designs use yield signs at all approaches, along with engineering to reduce travel speeds for drivers so that safe yielding to traffic already in the intersection is natural. As a bonus, delays for drivers are actually much less than complying with a 4 way stop, especially when many users need to make left turns. As a bonus, the sun glare safety issue that happen in mid-fall and mid-spring will no longer plague drivers headed south on Ross!

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