Shared Streets Program
This program ended on June 15, 2021, as many COVID-19 restrictions were eased.
In May 2020, the City of Palo Alto responded to the Coronavirus pandemic by providing easier access to recreational space while keeping the community safe. Shared Streets was a way to support physical activity by making more space available to the public while maintaining physical distancing on local streets.
What was a Shared Street?
The City of Palo Alto limited vehicle access to local traffic only on certain streets. This created more space for residents to walk, bike, and run while complying with physical distancing requirements. Low traffic allows people to enjoy the outdoors and feel more comfortable getting out for a walk, a bike ride, or some fresh air during this time.
The City of Palo Alto held the program on three streets: Ross Road, Park Boulevard, and Bryant Street, based on the existing bike routes, traffic volumes, thru- traffic movements, and high biking and walking areas. The City of Palo Alto did not support self-selected street closures.
Local access was still allowed, which meant people who live on the street or need to access a destination on the stretch of roadway for deliveries or other purposes were allowed access. Other non-local access was strongly discouraged; however, the City did not issue citations or formally close streets. The City provided signage at select intersections. There were no restrictions on cross streets.
People in cars were urged to go very slowly and use extreme caution in these high pedestrian areas.
Signs designating local traffic only were sited on these road segments:
- Bryant Street: From Embarcadero Rd to Forest Ave (North of Bryant at Embarcadero/Bryant will be restricted for vehicles. Bike and Pedestrian access remained open.)
- Park Blvd: From Birch Street to Cambridge Ave
- Ross Road: From Colorado Ave to Louis Road
On June 15, 2021, these street segments reverted to full access streets.
What was allowed on a Shared Street?
- Using the street while walking and running to pass others when the sidewalk was occupied, to maintain physical distancing and be mindful of vehicles and each other regardless of the mode of travel.
- Emergency vehicles and people who live on the street were allowed access.
- People carrying out essential business activities such as deliveries or take-out orders that start or end on the stretch were also allowed access to the roadway.
- On-street parking regulations are unchanged.
- Refuse collection and street sweeping activities still occurred on these temporarily-restricted streets.
What was not allowed on a Shared Street?
- Group gatherings
- Sport activities
- Set up of tables, chairs, play equipment, etc.
The City used an online survey to gather resident feedback about the program which was generally positive. Ninety-eight respondents completed the survey in May through July of 2020. Survey highlights included:
- 80% of the respondents had used one of the Shared Streets for walking or exercise.
- 84% of respondents witnessed people using the roadway on Shared Streets to maintain physical distancing.
- While 59% of respondents reported fewer cars on these street segments, 56% reported vehicle speeds remaining the same. Interestingly, 39% of respondents reported reduced vehicle speeds, while 5% reported higher vehicle speeds.
- 60% of respondents reported feeling more safe using the street for walking/exercise, and 49% reported that the neighborhood had become more inviting for walking/exercise.
The Shared Streets program ended on June 15, 2021.