Downtown North Neighborhood Association (DTNNA)

Section A, September 24-th Traffic Calming meeting notes

DTNNA > Traffic > 2.1 EASTERLY REGION Cowper to Middlefield

2.1 EASTERLY REGION Cowper to Middlefield

    1. Introduction
    2. Discussion of problems
    3. Brainstorm solutions

1. Introduction

  1. What does the "6 months" actually mean, when did it start (Dan estimated June 6-th) and when will it end (we currently think that the survey will be at the end of November)
  2. This does not satisfy the legal definitions of the state
  3. DTNNA is not in control to the exact start and finish of the project
  4. Note: there is some info on the web: Mail from Transportation department on the evaluation of the trial http://www.dtnna.com/eval.htm Mail from Transportation discussing the plan summary http://www.dtnna.com/020725.htm

  5. The ground rules of the meeting were discussed and the Notes of the general meeting http://www.dtnna.com/20030918.htm (Note: the hardcopy was a re-ordered version) were passed out
  6. Thanks to Erica for her work on generating the notes on the September 18-th meeting.!!!
  7. We then put marks on a map of our area: Palo Alto from and including Middlefield road thru Calper street, showing:
  8. Red -- areas where traffic or speed increased Green -- areas where traffic and speed stayed the same or decreased Blue -- Areas where there are problems that may not be primarily traffic or speed increase.
  9. Once this was done, the areas where there are problems were identified:
  10. There were 5 areas that were identified as having problems, as follows and then we discussed the areas and their problems.

    A) Middlefield Rd. -- next to Lytton

    B) Byron St -- between Lytton and Everett

    C) Hawthorne Ave -- between Middlefield and Webster

    D) Tasso St -- between Palo Alto and Ruthvan

    E) Bulb-outs -- on Middlefield at Hawthorne and at Everett

  11. There is the request to document where counters will be located and the dates involved in the rest of the plan and when the city will complete its evaluation and act on it.
  12. It was agreed that there would be no proxies, e.g. only the people attending could note their problems

 


3. Discussion of the problem areas

 

A) Middlefield Rd. -- next to Lytton

    1. We see children in the front yards and they are not safe
    2. Speed has increased to 40, 50, 60 Miles per hour.
    3. This area seen no benefit and yet sees worse response times for Fire and Police
    4. Future plans are to move Bike lanes on to Middlefield, from the sidewalk, thus decreasing its width thus making it even more difficult to handle the excess car traffic.
    5. There seems to be no plan for Bike lights to allow easy crossing on Everett. If these are implemented, then of course this will also increase the problems of traffic at this intersection.
    6. There is a continuing Middlefield problem not to be solved by the current Traffic calming plan.
    7. Dan commented that the Transportation department does not develop solutions pro-actively, but only based on initiatives from the neighborhoods. Thus it will probably be most effective for the people in this area to identify a "new" problem, in addition to the problems caused by traffic calming and work directly with the transportation to solve the Middlefield problem. -- Of course there could be a DTNNA, Middlefield neighborhood association, "West-Downtown" Palo Alto association, project to identify the Middlefield problem and to work with the Transportation department to solve it.
    8. Middlefield in Menlo park narrows as it enters Palo Alto to 4? lanes, thus making the traffic "congest".
    9. Clarify the right turn problem from Middlefield to Lytton
    10. There has been a shift of the line on Middlefield 20 feet back, why. It causes major uncertainty in turning.
    11. We are told that the intersection can not be widened because there is property there that does not allow a widening.
    12. Traffic is very fast as it then goes into the "C" area via Hawthorne.
    13. Palo Alto should make it apparent that when cars enter the city, via Middlefield that they need to observe reasonable speeds. via tickets, via automatic speed displays (discussed elsewhere) Then the cars will tend to observe the speed laws through out the rest of the area and city.
    14. Note: The original plan was to use both Middlefield and Byron to take traffic that feed into Palo Alto from Menlo Park. THIS WAS NOT IMPLEMENTED, thus the narrowing of Middlefield cause major traffic problems on the Palo Alto section.
    15. Since Middlefield does not satisfy the requirements for a "slow" street, it is not legal to enforce the speed limits on it.


B) Byron St -- between Lytton and Everett

    1. This area has also not been benefited from the Traffic Calming plan!!!
    2. There is increased traffic from, or to, Middlefield, via Everett, via Byron, turning toward Lytton or toward Hawthorne to avoid the congestion at Middlefield and Lytton or to cut thru the neighborhood.
    3. As Byron is a narrow street, it is difficult/impossible to have 2 way traffic when parking is on both sides of the street.
    4. Lytton to Byron there is No left turn painted, Lytton narrows and thus rven to do yellow line?
    5. There are no signal lights on Lytton and Byron so these turns are dangerous.
    6. It may be that traffic counts measure "average" counts, but the problem is probably most serious during a rush hour and thus the counts may not represent the true problem. THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM.
    7. The backup at Lytton / Middlefield cause a temptation to avoid that intersection, thus turning into Everett and then using Byron.
    8. Note: also there is a gutter on Byron.
    9. The trucks that service Lytton Gardens are parked in this area, thus increasing the problems of traffic.
    10. There is additional traffic as the Cut Thru passes along Byron toward Haw throne.
    11. The heavy traffic tends to move toward Byron from Lytton / Middlefield
    12. People are getting ticketed in this area now and are getting Flet?
    13. Due to the barriers these locations outside of the barriers are no longer part of the Neighborhood!!!
    14. It is cut off from houses that want to use Everett to get to them.
    15. The previous measured counts are probable not going to be correct.
    16. There are 6 million people in the bay area and a plan based on rough neighborhood considerations will not be correct, we need a scientific study, set of metrics, plan, implementation, measurements, etc.
    17. Dan -- Discussed why this was not done this way, I think because it would have cost too much, there was not time... and we should get Joe Kott to admit that the study was BAD!!!
    18. Hawthorne is traded unfairly and thus extra Byron traffic flowed to Hawthorne.
    19. There is vast traffic that is backed up on Middlefield that flows into Everett.
    20. It may not be true -- it is difficult to "parse" as the problem is due to Rush Hour.
    21. Middlefield / Everett did have a high accident rate but now there have been no accidents. If this intersection is so bad now, why have we not seen it in increased accidents? -- Never Mind.
    22. It was expected that the commute traffic would be on Lytton, but there is only a single line - which has more to do with light timing.
    23. The condominium complex on Lytton has a Garage at Byron and Lytton that also causes an increase in the traffic in this area.
    24. A resident does like the dead end on Everett at Byron.
    25. The reason is that another house blocks the noise that another resident hears and the other resident sees the increase in Byron traffic.
    26. Another resident likes the Everett blockage.
    27. It makes it difficult to move out of their driveway and makes them look when they pull out.

C) Hawthorne Ave -- between Middlefield and Webster

  1. There is major cut thru traffic which speeds up and runs the stop signs and goes between Middlefield via Hawthorn to Webster.
  2. The problem is both during rush hour and off hours
  3. It is caused also by the lines on Middlefield that makes drivers want to avoid the intersection by cutting thru.
  4. The traffic is:
  5. Middlefield - Everett - Byron - Hawthorne
  6. Palo Alto ave - Webster - Hawthorn - Middlefield
  7. Webster or Tasso - Lytton
  8. Middlefield - Hawthorn -- Byron or Webster - Ruthvan
  9. Also there is a lot of resident traffic as this is the single exit to Middlefield
  10. There is cut thru traffic form Middlefield or Alma that goes thru the maze via Hawthorn
  11. There was some difference of opinion as to whether this area was better or worse
  12. Typical maximum observable traffic was from 100 to 3,899 Vehicle Trips Day and the reasonable that Stoffel stated was 2,500
  13. There is a classification of verities of streets Freeways, Expressways, Arterials, Residential Arterials, Collectors, and Local streets. <<I will try to get a reference that discusses these MLL>
  14. We need to be informed, resolute so that we can know where we are -- we need a timely scientifically study and plan not based on feelings and need to know what we are discussing.
  15. There is a green dot at 580 hawthorn
  16. Even though there is less traffic, people don't stop so it is less save.
  17. Byron traffic should be less then Everett as Byron has bad access, bad speeding - what was the goal of the Traffic Calming project
  18. Everett had too little traffic.

D) Tasso St -- between Palo Alto and Ruthvan

    1. There is a lot of cut thru traffic on Ruthvan - there are too few police to properly patrol the area, (only one?), with the parking in the area drivers can not be around and thus can't see when it is safe to turn or cross
    2. Lytton stinks -- the lights were to be synchronized but they are not and thus the traffic flow is bad and pushes people off to the neighborhood
    3. <<<I think>>> the streets were build in the 1910- 20's and thus don't match the current load.
    4. The situation was gotten worse.
    5. We should try to distinguish between neighbors and commuters as Tasso may be used by neighbors who are trying to get around.
    6. Dan -- thinks that the increase in traffic is mostly commuters!! as Neighbors learn.
    7. We need an engineering antidote -- People who live there
    8. The problem is not mainly at night thus indicating that the problem is commuters.
    9. Long had a great idea -- Temporary signs telling people that of the best streets to use to cut thru the neighborhood.
    10. There is a large consistency who belive in Law enforcement, not re-routing -- we should insist on police both local and others.
    11. Palo Alto only has 4 full time police
    12. If the residents demand endorsement, then they can get it. It requires that we call the police regularly.

E) Bulb-outs -- on Middlefield at Hawthorne and at Everett

    1. Everyone agrees that they are bad -- dangerous, cause people to zoom thru them swerve and barely get thru them.
    2. What should they be replaced by, some other measure, put something else in, signs that identify the entries as neighborhood streets.
    3. They seemed to reduce accidents but they are ugly and reduced available parking.

3. Brainstorm solutions

    1. Move the bulb-outs back from Middlefield
    2. Generally want less traffic --
    3. Prevent turns into the neighborhood by having no right turns into Hawthorn or Everett, perhaps only during rush hour and no left turns out of the neighborhood EVER.
    4. Another point - reduce volume -- how many during rush hour on Everett.
    5. Can we get more blockages
    6. Dan -- This was discussed:
    7. The original plan was to Install the plan, see what problems it cause, tune it by moving things, etc., measure the traffic and then determine how is was working.
    8. Instead the original plan was installed and no changes are permitted until the end measurement, then a recommendation, based on measurements, surveys, feedback, proposals, will be given to the city.
    9. The TUNING of the plan was eliminated in actuality, thus not permitting us to improve it before the final recommendation is made.
    10. Even then, it is felt that only incremental changes can be made.
    11. Perhaps we could get turn restrictions during the trial?, but probably we could not add closures during the Trial
    12. The original plan was to synchronize lights during the trial, making traffic easy during the morning westward and then during the evening changing the lights to make the traffic easer eastward -- It was agreed that we did not see this and wanted to have the Lytton lights improved to make it easier to travel on Lytton.
    13. There was a proposal for what was REALLY desired:
    14. MOST DESIRABLE -- move the barriers to where they should be, e.g. to Middlefield and Alma rather than to be within the neighborhood. -- The plan as implemented is a maze makes it difficult to get within the neighborhood and at the same time, as we see, there are sneak paths, parts of the neighborhood that are not "in" the neighborhood, etc. --The neighborhood wants to block traffic from Middlefield
    15. If we can't get a correct plan, then a less effective plan would be:
    16. No right turns from Middlefield on to Hawthorne or Everett during rush hour.
    17. No left turns off Hawthorne or Everett to Middlefield
    18. Move the Everett blockage from Byron to Webster
    19. <Even though it is not in this discussion> the similar things would also have to be done at Alma.
    20. We need to know what restrictions the state would place on the plan,
    21. We want to recognize that we want to do the "right thing" and not be tied up with considering if a solution is "not likely" As in normal life we need to push past where we want to go to get what we really want.
    22. The simple proposal is to Block Middlefield and Alma -- WHY NOT
    23. If there is a blockage at Middlefield and Alma then there is also a parking problem for the people who live on middle field,
    24. Every trip to and from the neighborhood would require one to go to Lytton, thus increasing the traffic on Lytton too much. The streets should be "filters" used for Neighborhood traffic not cut thru traffic. If the barriers are moved to Alma and Middlefield then this also defeats the "filter" option.
    25. This blockage plan was not thought to be able to "win" as it would be labeled as making the neighborhood a "gaited" community. Note: It was felt that this objection would be made both by the rest of the city as well as by some of the neighborhood residents.
    26. The result is like gaited, but the real solution is to build the willow expressway to provide an adequate path for the traffic.
    27. In fact most of the traffic excess is cut thru, most of the traffic doe do thru Lytton
    28. But there is still some neighborhood traffic.
    29. We gain simplicity if we block the streets at each end.
    30. Dan -- We did want to block at the ends by everyone we talked to said don't try to propose it, it will not be accepted.
    31. If we rip the barriers our and replace them it would be more expensive that if we move some of the barriers.
    32. We may have to accept the current barriers but we may be able to get the total blockage plan
    33. Dan -- Originally proposed the total system but the transportation did not accept it.
    34. There was a proposal to remove the Palo Alto Barrier so that some of the traffic would be shifted to that street.
    35. Anyone who wants to work on a better traffic calming solution should contact: Michelle Hamilton <michelle@hamilton-reed.com>
    36. Is there money for modifying the plan, e.g. did the city think there would be modifications.
    37. Dan -- There is only money for the trial, but if we need reasonable modifications and the city agrees, there will be money.
    38. The city has never ripped out a temporary plan but the next City Council will be needed to allocate money to tune or remove.
    39. The plan was budgeted at $95,000, and to implement it has cost $45,000 <Note: the $500,000 figures were for much larger plan, full mini parks, etc MLL>
    40. Remove the Everett - Byron barrier
    41. Put up a Light Radar, e.g. a sign that shows the speed at Middlefield at Palo Alto ave, as people enter Palo Alto
    42. This will remind people that Palo Alto considers speed important.
    43. Kids enjoy breaking the lights and running the radar
    44. We need some way to slow traffic down on Middlefield
    45. The no Left Turns may no work -- people tend to ignore them unless there is active enforcement, that costs money.
    46. No left turn comments:
    47. they are good, they may be a violation of the state lay, they are removable

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