Opinion: Bike lanes on El Camino are dangerous and would kill businesses


Daily Post Editor

I love how Palo Alto and the mid-Peninsula have become a mecca for bicyclists, with great paths and protected lanes nearly everywhere.

But I think we can all agree that bikes don’t belong in certain places — like the Highway 101 freeway, Interstate 280 or El Camino Real.
But the state Department of Transportation, Caltrans, is threatening not to repave the pothole riddled El Camino Real unless Palo Alto’s City Council goes along with a plan to add bike lanes to the busy thoroughfare.

Bike lanes will invite unsuspecting cyclists to believe the street is safe.

There are parallel routes for bicyclists riding between Menlo Park and Mountain View, on streets that are more peaceful than the bustling El Camino. And bike lanes will have the unfortunate effect of enticing children to ride on that street, putting their lives on the line.

Parents need to teach their children to stay away from El Camino. You teach your kids not to touch the hot burners on a stove and not to run with scissors. This is the same thing.

Harming small businesses

Caltrans’ plan is to take away parking along El Camino to make room for the bike lanes. That will harm businesses along the street, many of which don’t have parking lots or side streets for customers to park.

After the forced shut downs during the pandemic, small, locally-owned, independent businesses are still trying to recover. Losing their parking will be a kick in the teeth for them. Some will go out of business.

All of this will come to a head tonight at a Palo Alto City Council meeting. The bicycle advocacy groups have already been sending emails to their members across the Bay Area telling them to go to tonight’s meeting wearing biking gear and holding their helmets. The emails give them talking points if they go to the microphone to speak.

Many of them will be from out of town, places like Antioch or San Rafael. Not sure why their comments will be relevant to Palo Alto.

And parents will have their kids read scripts during the public comment period. The point is to make the hearings more emotional, since some elected officials base their decisions on emotions rather than facts.

So, council members tonight will feel the pressure from bicycling groups and Caltrans.

The council needs to remember that they represent the residents of Palo Alto, who use El Camino every day.

Again, I’m not against bike paths or ambitious ideas to expand cycling. But this proposal is dangerous and will hurt local businesses in the process. And it’s a decision that should be made by local officials who are accountable to residents here, not Caltrans.

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Euphemism of the day
A Wall Street Journal article on Wednesday said the FDA had approved a wearable glucose tracking device that can be purchased over the counter. The story said the devices are often used by people who have “an unhealthy relationship with food.” I guess that’s one way to put it.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].


  1. Maybe someone can explain why permission and participation by the State Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is even necessary to repair potholes or construct a bike lane along El Camino in Palo Alto? Is El Camino a state highway?

  2. It would seem that if Sundance Steakhouse is to loose nearby parking on El Camino, the least the city could do is to reopen the streets of Leland Avenue and Park Avenue. (These two streets are currently closed between El Camino and Ash Street.) If this can not be done, the other alternative is for Sundance to move its business, and its city business tax revenues to Menlo Park. I expect the very loyal customers, of over 50 years, will follow Sundance.

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