Scheduled to coincide with the Palo Alto Unified School District break, preliminary work will start this week on a new roundabout at the intersection of Ross Road and East Meadow Drive as part of a series of traffic calming and safety features included in the first segment of the City’s 7.1 mile Neighborhood Traffic Safety & Bicycle Boulevard Project. Studies have shown that roundabouts are safer than stop signs or signal controlled intersections with a 75% reduction in injury crashes. In conjunction with other planned traffic calming measures they may also discourage “cut through” regional traffic as overall speeds along neighborhood serving local streets are reduced. The majority of the construction of the Ross Road and East Meadow Drive roundabout is expected to be completed by the end of winter recess in the New Year, weather permitting. Additional finish work such as landscaping and permanent signage and striping will be installed in the months ahead.
Previously at this intersection, many student bicyclists riding to and from school were forced to make unsafe left turns at East Meadow Drive, often with the danger of approaching high speed vehicles. The new roundabout will alleviate the need for such a maneuver. In roundabouts, motorists and cyclists must both yield to any vehicle (including bikes) that is already in the roundabout, and bicyclists will be able to more easily – and safely navigate the turn. The roundabout will also include additional street lighting, landscaping and signage.
“My family and I like to get around by bike as much as possible, and bike boulevards are safer and more pleasant for cyclists and pedestrians,” said Christy Moision, Fairmeadow Safe Routes to School. “I welcome the traffic calming measures being installed along Ross Road, and I am looking forward to the roundabout at Meadow and Ross, which is an intersection my children cross everyday on their way to and from school. I know the Safe Routes team has long been aware of the difficulties at that intersection, particularly during school commute times. The roundabout will decrease points of conflicts between cars and bikes, and help lots of elementary, middle, and high school students stay safe on their way to school.”
Construction on Phase 1 of the Neighborhood Traffic Safety and Bicycle Boulevard project, which includes more than seven miles of traffic calmed local streets, started in September 2017 along Ross Road. The project aims to calm motor vehicle traffic, ease bike travel and enhance pedestrian safety through the use of traffic calming elements including speed humps, curb extensions, raised intersections and improved roadway markings. For a complete project map, click here.
Bike boulevards were identified in the Council-adopted 2012 Bike and Pedestrian Transportation Plan as part of the City’s strategy to increase bike ridership. Palo Alto enjoys the third highest rate of commuter bike ridership in the United States with 8.5% of the population riding their bike to work. One of the goals of creating additional bike boulevards, such as along Ross Road, is to provide better connections for bike commuters, both increasing ridership levels, as well as reducing traffic congestion. For example, more than 216,000 bikers currently ride annually on the shared lane along Bryant Street, which has incorporated similar traffic calming elements to reduce motor speeds and make biking safer.
City staff is expanding its community outreach efforts on the project, including conducting more one-on-one conversations with neighborhood residents, a future townhall meeting planned for early 2018, as well as mobile bicycle coffee carts along the route as an additional opportunity to foster dialogue on the project.
Additional information on the project is on the City’s webpage at www.cityofpaloalto.org/bikepedsafety. The page also includes a street-by-street construction map, an FAQ, as well as links to videos on bike boulevards and traffic calming elements.
For additional information, questions or concerns, please contact Community Relations Manager Sarah Ratliff at email@example.com or call (669) 225-1617.