Caltrans pioneers friendlier new street designs for El Camino

If you talk to experienced community members, elected officials and staff about opportunities for pedestrian safety improvements along El Camino Real (or other roads and highways managed by California’s department of transportation), you are likely to hear a resigned sigh.   “That’s up to Caltrans, and they only care about cars.”  But Caltrans is turning over a new leaf.   In a pilot project coordinated by the Grand Boulevard initiative, and funded by a federal grant, four cities  - Daly City, South San Francisco, San Bruno and San Carlos – worked with Caltrans to create new designs for pedestrian  improvements, and the start of bicycle improvements, for El Camino Real.

The first step is to free up space for pedestrians, and encourage safer vehicle speeds, by narrowing travel lanes from wide 12-14 foot lanes to 11 foot lanes.   The space can then be used for curb extensions to shorten pedestrian crossing distance, and median refuges for pedestrians who are waiting in the middle of a light cycle.

Narrower lanes provide more room for pedestrians





The new designs also allow for more landscaping to separate pedestrians from moving cars.  The landscape pattern includes tall canopy trees providing shade, and low shrubs allowing visibility.  There are design alternatives without on-street parking, and with some onstreet parking.

Landscaping to protect pedestriansThe new designs make more progress for walking than bicycling.


The designs call for a 4′ to 5′ shoulder for cyclists. (The typical recommended minimum width for a bike lane is 5′. )  And the designs do not yet include options for protected bike lanes, which would help make bicycling less stressful on high-traffic roads like El Camino Real.   Riding next to large numbers of fast-moving cars is so disconcerting for most people that the intuitive response is for cyclists avoid El Camino, and for decision-makers to be reluctant to provide accommodations for cycling.

But as the development plans for El Camino start to add more housing and more pedestrian-friendly retail and office buildings, there will be more people who will want to access homes and businesses on El Camino without driving.  Designs with protected bike lanes will make more sense for residents, customers, and merchants.  Emma Schlaes of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition reports that the City of Santa Clara is considering its plans for The Alameda (the continuation of El Camino Real) in two phases.  In the first phase, narrower vehicle lanes and improved pedestrian accommodations will calm vehicle traffic. Then, in a second phase, bicycle lanes will be added.

Presenting to the Grand Boulevard Initiative Working Committee, Megan Wessel, Senior Planner at SamTrans (consultant) said that the pilot designs were intended to be helpful for future segments of El Camino, but not mandatory. Hopefully future segments will be designed with more consideration for bike accommodation in the future.

The “Complete Streets” designs also included “sustainable streets” features such as “rain garden” planter strips and pervious pavement in parking areas, allowing stormwater to percolate into the ground instead of rushing to the bay. These natural stormwater management features reduce pollution, and can reduce the cost of infrastructure needed to handle flooding and treat polluted runoff.  For example, a high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana spent $110,000 on a rain garden and bioswales to reduce flooding rather than the $500,000 it would have cost to re-pipe the site.

Sustainable Streets for El Camino Real


In Daly City, South San Francisco, San Bruno, and San Carlos, the pilot projects are moving toward implementation.   The first 3 projects the projects are funded through the the creation of a Caltrans “Project Initiation Document”, which will provide Caltrans approval of the project schedule, scope and budget, allowing them to move on to detailed design and construction. The San Carlos project has used a different Caltrans review process since it is a smaller project.   The South San Francisco project has funding to construct part of the design (Kaiser Way to McLellan Drive) – the South City project is expected to start construction in 2016.

Progress toward implementation

The segments are relatively short – about a third of a mile in San Carlos, half a mile in Daly City and San Bruno, and about a mile in South San Francisco.  The pilots represent a small fraction of the 25 miles of El Camino Real/Mission Street in San Mateo County.  But the new designs are great progress toward creating a more people-friendly El Camino Real over time.

Posted in San Mateo County, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Help make Google campus more accessible for Caltrain, bikes

The City of Mountain View is studying ways to make the North Bayshore area – home of Google,  Intuit, LinkedIn, and Microsoft’s Silicon Valley offices –  easier to get to the Caltrain station, by shuttle and by bicycle.

One of the reasons that Google relies so heavily on the Google buses is that it takes nearly 30 minutes by shuttle to get from Mountain View Caltrain to Google’s headquarters, even though it is less than 3 miles and 10 minutes without traffic.  Making the connection by bike saves time at the gym – but the freeway-style Shoreline ramps discourage all but the fearless and hardy.

On Monday, February 10, the City of Mountain View is kicking off a study of ways to improve the connections, with a workshop at the Adobe Building, across the street from Mountain View Caltrain at 157 Moffett Blvd. from 6:30 to 8:30pm.   The meeting will be an “open house” format, so you can stop by at any time.

For more information, see the city’s project website at


Posted in Adopt-a-Station | 11 Comments

Can the Diridon Station Area take advantage of its transit crossroads location?

The San Jose Diridon Station Area Plan Environmental Impact report is out for comments, with a deadline of February 13.  The plan has aggressive goals to evolve the parking lots and post-industrial warehouses into a thriving, walkable  urban neighborhood, jobs and entertainment center, with about 23,000 new jobs and about 2600 new residences.  The plan intends take advantage of its location at the convergence of local, regional, and statewide transit service to drastically reduce car commuting. 

Diridon Jobs and Housing

But the plan as written appears to have gaps that could undermine the goal.

Transit connections at Diridon

Transit connections at Diridon

Inefficient transit connections. Diridon will bring together Caltrain, BART, High Speed Rail, Amtrak, VTA light rail, two bus rapid transit lines, as well as local bus and shuttle service. Unfortunately,the proposed station area layout includes separate areas for each “brand” of service, requiring indirect walks, up and down escalators and stairs, to connect between services. More efficient connections would make transit a more competitive choice.

Pedestrian and bike infrastructure

Pedestrian and bike infrastructure

Lack of funding for pedestrian and bike improvements. The plan proposes a greatly increased network of pedestrian and bike trails, crossings of train tracks and creeks, and other pedestrian and bike infrastructure. But funding will be a challenge. To attract office developments, San Jose has been cutting developer funding for transportation infrastructure such as the bike/ped bridges. If San Jose wants the place to be walkable, the investments will be needed.

Underdeveloped transit support policies. The plan has an extremely ambitious goal of reducing solo car commuting to 40% by 2040.  This is even more aggressive than San Francisco’s 50% goal for the city, and more aggressive than Mountain View’s 45% goal for North Bayshore where Google is headquartered. To achieve the goal, San Jose proposes a Transportation Management Association to create an aggressive Transportation Demand Management Plan, but these policies are not yet defined.   Meanwhile, the plan proposes to require only enough vehicle parking to meet the 40% goal.   If parking is reduced, but driving still encouraged in other ways, the result will be a traffic and parking crunch. 

Need for Caltrain support. The top two transit services for Diridon Station will be Caltrain and BART, moving about 10,000 riders each.  But San Jose’s political leaders attention and support has been much stronger for BART than for Caltrain.  It’s difficult to get the attention of San Jose leaders for improvements such as level boarding and grade separations, which will make Caltrain service more reliable. Can the dependence of the Diridon plan on Caltrain help raise support for Caltrain among local leaders – in addition to the strong support for BART.

 If you are interested in commenting on the plan and participating in the decision process, Greenbelt Alliance is sponsoring a workshop on Thursday, January 30, at 6pm, at SPUR San Jose, 76 South First Street. Please RSVP  so there will be an accurate count for dinner!

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Diridon Station Area Plan Environmental Impact Report is out

The City of San Jose has released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Diridon Station Area Plan . Comments are due February 14, 2014.

Diridon Station Area

Do you use the Diridon Station Area and want to see San Jose make better use of Caltrain, and develop a prosperous, pleasant and lively place near Diridon Station?  There will be a training session coming up on how to read an EIR and make effective comments.  If you are interested in participating, sign up here.

I haven’t read the draft yet – are the nearby streets planned to have safer pedestrian and bike access than the earlier vision illustration above?  Will there be new apartment buildings in the shadow of high speed rail?  Bring your own questions and join the team.

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A gradually emerging birds-eye view of San Mateo Rail Corridor transportation

The San Mateo Rail Corridor Transportation Management Association is building a birds-eye view of car trips and mode share in the Rail Corridor between Hayward Park and Hillsdale Caltrain stations.   In November, the city issued its first report on the performance of the TMA.

The first chart below is the birds eye summary of the trip reduction requirements for each development, and the second chart is a report of the driveway trip count of the Peninsula Station development, showing that it is generating less than the maximum allowed peak vehicle trips.

The information in the bird-eye map is sparse, since only one of the 7 major developments in the Station Area is fully open, the Peninsula Station affording housing development managed by MidPen housing.   Delaware Station, also a MidPen affordable development just opened in November and has 53 of 60 units occupied.  Bay Meadows, an 1100 unit mostly market-rate complex, has some units open and is filling in. By next year the city expects data on all three of these.

This looks very prosaic, and yet these are key tools for cities to get a handle on the vehicle traffic impacts of development.  Some other cities in the region have  TDM requirements for developments, but have not had monitoring and reporting requirements, leading to under-achievement on the goals.

The City of San Mateo’s goal is to reduce trips in the Rail Corridor transit area by 25% compared to the car-oriented suburban norm, with programs including transit passes, shuttles, guaranteed ride home, carshare, and other benefits.

The SamTrans residential bus pass program, for which Peninsula Station was the pilot customer, has been helping Peninsula Station achieve their trip goal.  Based on results at Peninsula Station, SamTrans has made the pilot program permanent.  According to MidPen Housing’s survey 80% of residents are using the RPass, and on average are using SamTrans more frequently than before.

San Mateo TMA Overview






Peninsula Station trip count

In addition to the trip counts, the TMA will conduct surveys of participants, starting next year when there is a larger participating population.  According to Gary Heap, City of San Mateo Engineering, the survey will cover topics similar to the those in the surveys of successful major employer TDM programs, including:

  • travel mode used (driving, walking, bicycling, transit, etc)
  • if driving alone, reason for driving
  • trip origin/destination

This data will help the TMA and the city design programs that work for participants, and evolve the program over time based on travellers’ needs.


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How will Lawrence Expressway support the Lawrence Station Area plan?

While Sunnyvale works on a plan to evolve the Lawrence Station Area into a more lively, mixed use place, the County of Santa Clara is working on a parallel plan to grade-separate Lawrence Expressway.  But will the proposals for Lawrence Expressway achieve the Sunnyvale’s goals to make the Lawrence area a livelier and more pleasant place?

A public workshop in November described the issues and a set of options.  The major arterial is congested, serving 80,000 vehicle arterials per day.  Today’s Lawrence makes it difficult to get to the Caltrain station, and is challenging for people to cross on foot and by bicycle.   Any option would be a long-term project, potentially taking decades to fund and compete – and would have a major affect on how the Lawrence Station area functions as a place to live, work, and spend time.

Three options for Lawrence Expressway were proposed.

Lawrence Alternative 1

The first option has Lawrence depressed below grade, with local traffic on frontage roads, and bicycle and pedestrian crossings at grade. This option would be more costly and take longer to build.

Lawrence Expressway Option 2: Elevated with InterchangesThe second option adds interchanges at the cross streets of Reed/Monroe, Kifer, and Arqes, with Lawrence Expressway elevated above the local streets. This option turns Lawrence into an elevated freeway-like structure,  does not improve Caltrain access, and moves Central Expressway access to other local streets, and may take property at intersections.  However, it  can be implemented incrementally in phases.

The third option also raises Lawrence Expressway above Reed/Monroe and Kifer, but under Arques, and provides onstreet access to Lawrence via newly connected street grid segments connecting Apollo Way through to Kifer.   This is the lowest cost option and could also be implemented in phases.

Lawrence Expressway Alternative 3: Grid Network


However, none of the design options showed visual treatments helping community members see how this would affect the goal of turning the Lawrence station area into an attractive, lively, pedestrian-friendly place.

The presentation did describe how the each design proposal would physically provide pedestrian, bicycle and transit access. However, there was no analysis regarding the “level of stress” that this design would present  for cyclists.  Would it be a less stressful option, available to a wider range of ages and skill levels? Or a more stressful option, available to strong, confident and experienced cyclists?

Presentation material from Santa Clara County describes the Lawrence Expressway decisions as a set of tradeoffs. From the perspective of the County transportation agency, the top goal is moving vehicles more efficiently. Other goals to balance including visual impacts, local access, pedestrian and bicycle access, cost and constructibility. 

The goals of the Lawrence Station Area plan were to make the area a livelier, more walkable, and more connected place. Residents were asked to weigh in about the the designs, without relevant information about how this project would affect the goals of the plan to make Lawrence Station a livelier and more connected place.

The next public meeting is planned for January, and is expected to include what Santa Clara County considers a final alternative.

Lawrence Expressway



Posted in Adopt-a-Station, Sunnyvale | 1 Comment

Mountain View, Palo Alto take more steps toward managing trips

On Tuesday, Mountain View City Council wrestled with the steps needed to achieve the ambitious vehicle trip reduction goal they set in the development of a plan for North Bayshore, the office park area where Google is headquartered.

Council supported the proposal to have all businesses with new developments participate in a Transportation Management Association – not only employees in brand new buildings.  North Bayshore has four major employers, all of whom want to grow their office space.   Smaller business that are not changing their buildings can participate in the TMA’s programs, but they will not be required to join.

Council Members largely favored a land use pattern that would cluster larger buildings in the central area of the space, pulling away from the environmentally sensitive shoreline and creek.  This would make the area easier to get around walking and biking, easier to serve by transit, and better for small businesses providing services. But Council wanted to moderate that plan, allowing some more development – possibly parking lots, closer to the freeway.

Core focus land use pa

Council approved a new street hierarchy which would create a network of bicycle and pedestrian paths, some carved out of today’s parking lots, and create transit-focused streets.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 10.04.21 PM

North Bayshore Street Classifications

Jeremy Nelson of transportation consultancy Nelson\Nygaard, who presented to the Environmental Planning Commission last week, said that according to the plan “all the streets would be great bike streets.”  If barriers are overcome, said Nelson, bicycling could become a more important commute mode, since many employees live within 5-10 miles.

However, a majority of Council members preferred not to study a new bridges to North Bayshore across Stevens Creek, even though the proposed bridge would be for shuttles, pedestrians and bicycles only. The goal would be to get shuttles out of the current Shoreline traffic jam.  Council Members were concerned that a bridge in the environmentally sensitive Stevens Creek area would harm wildlife. Council members were also concerned bus bridge would eventually be used for vehicle traffic, driven by long-rumored major development plans for the Moffett Field area.

The consultant and staff warned that eliminating the bridge over Stevens Creek would make it very difficult to make the trip goal, and will bring more information back to Council for decision.   Several Council members indicated that they would rather reduce the proposed 3.5 million square feet of development allowed for the area instead.

According to city staff, proposals to improve transit, bike and pedestrian access to Mountain View transit center and downtown across Shoreline are still moving forward, with a Shoreline Study in the works expected to have public participation and decisions in 2014.

In Palo Alto, meanwhile, City Council heard from transportation managers – Google’s Kevin Mathy, Stanford’s Brodie Hamilton, and Contra Costa Transit Center’s Lynnette Busby about programs to reduce vehicle trips. Stanford has been able to reduce car trips from 72% of employees a decade ago to 42% in the last year – relying heavily on Caltrain and the Marguerite shuttle system. Google has recently gotten its drivealone rate below 50%, using the private Google shuttles.  Contra Costa Transit Center, which manages trip reduction programs for the areas near BART stations in Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill, gets 30% alternative transportation, combination of BART discounts, carpool programs, and other incentives.

While the programs have differences, there were several attributes in common:

  • Regular reporting of results
  • Regular surveys of constituents
  • Using survey data identifying people’s travel patterns, reasons for driving, and clusters with similar needs, enabling additional program improvements
  • Hands on education, coaching, and marketing

Brodie Hamilton described what he does as looking for the “yes, but” – the reasons that people drive, and therefore the barriers that need to be overcome. For example, someone who may need to go home to take care of a sick relative needs an emergency ride home program. Someone who needs to run an errand in the middle of they day may need a carshare vehicle or a bikeshare bike.

While the Palo Alto Council agenda item was just a study session –  in other words there were no policy decisions to be made – an overwhelming majority of council members seem to be favoring an approach to provide TDM programs for the city, and a business license registry to be able to get real data about employees transportation patterns.  As Council members discussed infrastructure funding later in the meeting, which they delegated to a committee, they talked about considering how to fund the city’s TDM programs. Previous conversations had focused on adding parking supply, but not how to fund reducing demand.

A sign of progress in the city was developer and business leader Chop Keenan saying “we need a Lynnette” in public comment – praising the role of a customer-service focused manager to help reduce vehicle trips to downtown.  Until recently Mr. Keenan and others in Palo Alto’s business community focused on parking as the main way to address the city’s access needs, and were skeptical of opportunities to reduce vehicle trips.   At the same time, neighborhood leaders who are highly skeptical of development promoted a more data-driven approach to understanding traffic and parking issues.  There is disagreement about development, but emerging agreement about the need to protect quality of life and business vitality by changing the share of driving.

The next Palo Council meeting to discuss research about potential TDM approaches for the city will be held in February of 2014.

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Democratizing the Google Bus

Many in San Francisco love to hate the Google buses that bring tech workers between Google’s campus in Mountain View and San Francisco’s neighborhoods. The buses are seen a sign of elitism and gentrification.

But Google is taking steps to reduce its role in the transit business – Google has joined Mountain View’s North Bayshore Transportation Management Association as a founding partner. This is a nonprofit with the mission of reducing the drivealone mode share to North Bayshore to 45%. The TMA will run shuttles to Caltrain, carpool programs, transit pass programs, and other benefits designed to reduce driving to the North Bayshore area of Mountain View. Businesses that want to expand their campuses in North Bayshore are required to participate, pay in, and commit to reduce driving.

The North Bayshore TMA is part of a trend where cities are starting to fill gaps in the transit system, starting in downtown and transit-rich growth areas. The City of San Mateo has set up a TMA for its rail corridor area (Hayward Park to Hillsdale) and downtown (which is just getting started). The Peninsula TMAs are the descendants of the Emeryville TMA, which now takes 1.4 million passengers to and from BART per year. According to SPUR, 80% of jobs in the Bay Area are within 3 miles of BART or Caltrain. So the TMAs are helping to make that connection.

With the help of its Marguerite shuttle system, Stanford connects nearly 25% of its employees to Caltrain. TMAs running shuttles provide this benefit – and other transportation benefits such as carpool programs and carshare spots for mid-day trips – to a wider variety of users than employees of the area’s largest businesses.

Another benefit of the city-based TMAs is that they can do what big employers have been doing – and perhaps transit agencies have been doing less well – to survey and analyze the transportation patterns of people in an area – and create programs to incent people not to drive.

The Google bus, and City TMAs, are filling gaps in the market left vacant by the public transit system. Another entrant filling this gap in the market is a startup company, RidePal, that has a web interface that allows organizations to request a shuttle route and list the number of riders who’d use it. When RidePal accrues enough riders they run the route. RidePal makes shuttles available to smaller employers that are not large enough to run their own shuttles, and the shuttles are open to the public. RidePal could potentially serve city-based TMAs as well. A city-required survey could reveal clusters of riders who could fill a RidePal shuttle, and contract with RidePal to provide the service.

So why does our public transit system fail so badly at connecting to the backbone transit services, and delivering routes needed by workers and by people who’d prefer not to drive. One reason is that our public agencies have the self-image that trains are for wealthy people and buses are for the poor (except, oddly enough, the Google and Facebook buses which serve the well-off). So the transit agencies they miss out on the opportunities to use bus technology to *connect* to backbone rail, to serve needed commute routes, and to serve the emerging market of Millennials who would rather not be driving. That gap is being filled by the private services (Google), by private market competitors and cities.

Not long ago, an article in a Stanford publication proposed solving Caltrain’s operating budget deficit by having Caltrain run as a nonprofit, like, say Stanford or a symphony orchestra. It is not at all clear to me that turning Caltrain’s management into a nonprofit with a nonpublic board would help it serve its constituents. But there is emerging role being played by nonprofits with private investment in our area’s transit system. That is the last-mile connection, and the range of transportation benefits serving downtowns and change areas.

Posted in Planning, Transit, Transportation Demand Management | 6 Comments

New Palo Alto transportation study suggests options to reduce driving

Results are out for Palo Alto’s transportation survey which was conducted in May, and will be presented to City Council on Monday night. The results of the study suggest a number of options for Palo Alto to reduce driving, which can help inform Palo Alto’s consideration of transportation demand management (TDM) policies. On Monday, Palo Alto is also holding study session to report on preliminary progress on TDM, and to learn from Stanford, Google, and other leading TDM programs.

A majority of survey respondents – residents and workers – drive to work, with sizeable minorities using alternatives.

Carshare for mid-day transportation needs

Out of the most common reasons people gave for driving to work – both for Palo Alto residents and commuters – was needing a car during the day for personal trips.

Why commuters drive to work

Why commuters drive to work


Carshare is one of the approaches that Palo Alto is exploring. Having carshare services such as ZipCar and CityCarShare available can help employees run mid-day errands without having to drive to work, and can help residents manage with fewer cars per household.


Potential to increase bicycling

Among resident respondents, bicycle ownership is very high.

Bicycle ownership in Palo Alto

Bicycle ownership in Palo Alto

93% of residents noted having at least one bicycle within their household and 53% noted their household having four or more bicycles within their household. Bicycle use was also identified as the travel mode of choice for school-aged family members consistent with growing bicycle parking data at each school within the community.

The survey reported very high commuting to neighboring cities. “Of the 44% who work outside Palo Alto, almost 25% travel to neighboring cities of Mountain View and Menlo Park.”   There were also sizeable numbers of people who commute into Palo Alto from neighboring cities, where bike mode share is already relatively high for the US and the region.

The data on bicycle ownership, and commutes to and from neighboring cities, suggests greater potential for bicycle commuting, in partnership with the neighboring cities which themselves have strong policies and programs to increase bicycling and motivation to decrease traffic.

In terms of inbound commuting, 142 respondents (18%) commute from the City of San Jose. Following San Jose, top commute generators are the neighboring cities of Mountain View and Menlo Park (14% together). A nearly equal number of people (14%) commute from cities within the Peninsula like San Mateo, South San Francisco, Burlingame, San Carlos, Belmont, San Bruno etc.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 3.28.36 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-08 at 3.27.01 PM


Improving access to Caltrain

For commuters, services that would help them choose not to drive include showers/changing facilities for people who want to bike or walk,  improved Caltrain service at the California Avenue  Business District, expanded bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and cheaper transit fares.

As Palo Alto’s  fleshes out its TDM strategy, cheaper transit fares can be provided by expanding transit pass discount benefits to more employer.  Caltrain’s bulk-discount GoPass is currently available for large employers and residential developments, not yet for TMAs or neighborhoods (Boulder, Colorado offers its bulk-discount pass to neighborhoods).  The rise of TMAs is an opportunity for cities to encourage Caltrain to expand the GoPass to increase mode share to more employee and resident groups.

And data collected by transportation surveys about about transit demand could be used to help encourage more service from Caltrain.

More than 50% of residents respond that they live within a mile from Caltrain, not even counting the San Antonio Caltrain station which is in Mountain View adjacent to South Palo Alto.  However, the survey does not report how close those resident’s workplaces are to Caltrain (in miles or Shuttle/bike time).  The survey does show that many commuters give poor transit connections as a reason to drive.

A creative way for a Palo Alto TMA to help reduce traffic would be to assess if there are clusters of residents who would choose not to drive if they had better connections from Caltrain to their workplace. Then, chip in to help improve shuttle schedules at the destinations in Sunnyvale and San Jose.

Residents near Caltrain


Shopping by bike?

Interestingly, the vast majority of respondents said that they do shopping by car. The survey does not differentiate among types of shopping trips. How many trips are big trips filling up a car with many grocery bags, and how many are quick trips to get a gallon of milk or some salad ingredients, with one person in the car?  Residents in Palo Alto express frustration at the amount of time it takes to drive 1-2 miles and find parking to run a simple errand during congested periods. It is possible that some of this frustration could be alleviated some attention to “safe routes to supermarkets” along the lines of the attention that has been paid to “safe routes to schools.”

More representative data

There were 3707 responses to the transportation survey, 77% from residents and 23% from commuters. The transportation survey was not random-sample and the results are not fully representative.  For example, the share of people living and working in Palo Alto is high compared to the census.   Also, the survey results show that more residents than in-commuters drive alone to work. This is different from Census results.

39% of residents noted working within Palo Alto or the Stanford campus. 44% of residents  noted working outside of the City, with Mountain View and San Jose being the two main commute destinations for residents

Also, East Palo Alto residents do not show up as a notable block of commuters. This may reflect under-representation in the survey. There are opportunities to help East Palo Alto residents commute to PA without driving as well.

The non-representative data from the surveys has some value, but over time it would be helpful help to have more representative surveys. One of the best practices of effective TDM programs is to survey people in the constituent groups, assess where they travel to and from, and identify incentives that would help them drive less. Palo Alto can take further steps validate these and other ideas suggested by this study, and conduct further studies that are more representative going forward.


Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Everybody wins – helping East Palo Alto residents drive less

Teresita works in healthcare in Redwood City.  Mona works at jobs in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and other locations. At the East Palo General Plan forum in the Costano School gym on Saturday November 23, both East Palo Alto residents said they would prefer to do less car commuting.

Mona would take a shuttle to her retail job downtown in Palo Alto, but the shuttle comes only every 30 minutes.  Teresita has tried bicycle commuting to her health care job in Redwood City, but does not feel safe. The Ringwood Bridge over the 101 freeway has had some crime, and she does not feel safe using it in the dark. There are also unsafe stretches of roadway in Atherton, East Palo Alto, and Redwood City.teresitamona

One opportunity to improve matters may come from the cities where they work.  On Monday night, the City of Palo Alto is holding a study session about transportation demand management practices at large employers and in other cities.   Early next year, the City Council will evaluate the opportunity to create Transportation Demand Management districts, similar to those in Mountain View and the City of San Mateo.

Redwood City has a pilot grant-funded program, Connect Redwood City investing in several methods to help workers and residents drive less.  As part of the pilot, they will conduct surveys to assess the effectiveness of the programs and identify opportunities for improvement.

Effective TDM programs, for employers and cities, conduct surveys to find out people’s travel patterns.  Then they create programs to help people make choices other than driving.   Employers and cities that invest in these programs, can incur major savings in parking costs and help reduce traffic problems.

When Palo Alto and Redwood City do surveys, they will find clusters of employees in East Palo Alto.  If there are enough EPA residents with common needs, the job centers may find it in their own interest to partner with the City of East Palo Alto and other neighbors, investing in shuttles, bike and pedestrian improvements, and other programs that reduce the car impact burden on the employment centers, and the cost and health impacts of driving for workers.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments