Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a pop-up two-way cycletrack, or separated bikeway, demonstration on Park Boulevard, put on by City of Palo Alto and Fehr & Peers consultants.
Pop-up bikeways and other temporary projects, like parklets, are sweeping the nation as tools used by local cities and advocates to demonstrate how a potential project could work, gain direct feedback from people biking and walking, and generate support for new, innovative designs. They also help to educate people on how to use a separated bikeway – still a relatively new concept in California – and create excitement as people experience them firsthand.
Locally, Safe Mountain View has organized several such pop-up separated bikeway demos during public street events. Bike East Bay has used them to create support and ultimately achieve success for a campaign for separated bike lanes on Telegraph Ave. in downtown Oakland. Parklets have gotten similar exposure: Park(ing) Day is an annual event nationwide which encourages people to use parking spaces for parks, art projects, or other interactive projects for a day. San José has participated in the past.
This Sunday’s pop-up two-way cycletrack was organized as a test project. Park Boulevard has the highest bike counts citywide in Palo Alto. With new construction on this stretch and existing high traffic of people walking, biking, and driving, a better solution for circulation is being discussed. The proposed two-way separated bikeway would stretch from California Avenue, where there is a bustling business district and connections to the California Avenue Caltrain station, to Lambert Avenue, where currently the bike lanes turn to sharrows. This would allow people biking to avoid the west side of Park Blvd., from which people driving enter the Oregon Expressway. Heading north, people biking would be connected to the bike lanes on Park on the north side of California and on to the Castilleja bike boulevard. Park is also the connector to Mountain View in the south.
The demo project was two blocks long (not the full length of the proposed project) and utilized pop-up planter boxes provided by Safe Mountain View as well as donated plants from a local nursery. The planners and volunteers used tape and spray paint to change the existing striping temporarily and traffic cones and signs to direct people biking and driving. Even with a rainy, cloudy day on Sunday, there were plenty of people biking down and past Park Boulevard, particularly to access the popular weekly California Avenue Farmer’s Market. Consultants set up booths at both ends of the demo and received comments from many passersby, people walking as well as biking. Most of the feedback was positive – people really enjoyed the experience.
Next steps: The City of Palo Alto will analyze the feedback received on site and discuss whether to move the project forward. If you have comments or questions, you can submit them online via the city’s website. Would you like to see or organize a pop-up bikeway in your community? Let us know in the comments!