This Area Report comes to us courtesy of Adina Levin.
On Tuesday, October 4, the Menlo Park City Council decided to move the Downtown Specific Plan forward, with some modifications based on the evening’s discussion.
In discussion, Council members were divided on strategic decisions about El Camino – should it be widened to 6 lanes of traffic? Should bike lanes be added? Should bulbouts be used to protect pedestrians crossing the street?
But the council didn’t take any votes, so their recommendations about El Camino stay the same. Council wants to keep its options open. So the plan’s language is ambiguous – the goal is to either expand to 6 lanes of traffic or add bike lanes. Council members are keeping the Planning Commission recommendation to remove bulbouts because it might conflict with expanding to 6 car lanes.
The Downtown Specific Plan still contains the strong recommendations of the Bike Commission to choose Bike Lanes over Sharrows where possible.
The Downtown Specific Plan will come back to Planning Commission and City Council for final approval in the winter.
The good news is that in recent months, people have been more vocal and visible about the need for safer streets in Menlo Park. This contributed to the Bike Commission recommending and Council adopting improvements.
Clearly, Menlo Park clearly has more work to do in order to decide whether to add more car lanes and head back to a 20th century view of El Camino as an automotive thoroughfare, or whether to add bike lanes, moving toward a 21st century vision of a El Camino as a space that is friendly to pedestrians and cyclists and transit, not just cars. Those of who want safer streets for cycling and walking have an opportunity to spread that vision in the community.