By Dave Price
Daily Post Editor
Every couple of years, the idea of adding bike lanes to El Camino Real comes up in a Mid-Peninsula city. Mountain View and Los Altos are adding bike lanes while Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton have not been as enthusiastic.
The Post has learned that officials from Caltrans, the agency that controls El Camino, met with Palo Alto officials privately to talk about bike lanes on El Camino.
After the Post printed that story, Menlo Park Mayor Jen Wolosin said she’d like to have a discussion about adding bike lanes in her town, an idea that hasn’t come to fruition in the past.
But before we add any bike lanes to busy El Camino, we need to answer two important questions:
1. Are they safe for kids? The thought that comes to mind is the March 17, 2022 death of a 13-year-old Graham Middle School student at the corner of Grant Road and El Camino. He was hit by a large truck that couldn’t see him at the intersection.
Would bike lanes have prevented that tragedy or make it more likely?
Would bollards (plastic poles that extend up from the pavement to separate a bike lane from traffic) keep cars from hitting kids?
2. Will the removal of parking harm small businesses along El Camino? To create bike lanes, Caltrans will have to remove street parking. Small, independent businesses along El Camino depend on the ability of consumers to use those parking spots.
Can Caltrans and a city mitigate the loss of parking, perhaps by opening up parking on adjoining streets?
This isn’t a criticism of bicycling whatsoever. It’s great to see more people on their bikes, and our local governments should spend money to improve and extend bike routes. But if we’re going to add bike lanes to El Camino, let’s do it in a thoughtful way that’s safe and doesn’t hurt small business.
Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].