Opinion: Before adding bike lanes to El Camino, we should answer these questions


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].


  1. 3. What happens when buses pull over for passenger pickup and drop off?
    4. Would all the driveways into businesses be blocked off? Deliveries and trash pickup has to be considered. You can’t expect a delivery truck to park around the corner and then hike in to a business.
    5. Many of the new apartments/condos have underground parking. You can’t block off their driveways.

    Bottom line: Some of the most avid bike riders I know say they would never ride on El Camino, even with bike lanes. This bad idea pops up every few years. It’s all virtue signalling. Ask yourself if you’d let your children ride this main artery, with or without bollards.

  2. Is the bike lane going to take an entire lane of traffic? If so, where does that traffic go — into the neighborhoods?

  3. This is insanity! We’re going to see many more fatal accidents. And then we’ll be asking ourselves, who is responsible for this? Who do we sue? Ourselves (for allowing this to happen)?

  4. Who is pushing for this anyway? I don’t hear any local cyclists demanding it. When the Palo Alto council was hounded into narrowing Arastradero, the bicyclists who showed up to the meetings were from the San Francisco Bike Coalition and the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition from San Jose. They tricked the council by going to the microphone to speak but never mentioning where they lived. They had scripts that made them sound like they were locals. Council members were gullible enough to believe they were from Palo Alto. They packed the room with so many people that the local voices were drowned out. When they eliminated the lanes on Arastradero, the traffic grew to dangerous levels on Maybell Ave. Then the city tried to put a pack-and-stack style housing project there, and residents went to the polls and stopped it. As I recall, we also got a few council members elected the following year.

  5. If they’re having secret meetings with Caltrans, then it’s a done deal. Public hearings won’t matter. Council will just get out the rubber stamp and finalize the deal.

  6. Why does this dumb idea keep getting resurrected? How much do the virtue-signalling unrealistic consultants make for pushing this nonsense?

    Regardless, this Caltrans proposal should be flatly rejected unless and until they fix El Camino! It’s shameful how long Caltrans has been allowed to delay fixing REAL problems.

  7. This has nothing to do with cyclists. It has everything to do with getting rid of the squatters and the tattered RVs. And that’s good enough reason for me.

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