Midpeninsula Post

Los Altos’ street plan promotes safe bike and walking routes 

Intersection between El Camino and Miramonte Ave. in July 2023. (Ryan Janes)

Construction for Los Altos’ Complete Streets Master plan, an agenda outlining the city’s construction needs, began this summer. The Complete Streets Commission finalized the plan last year, with the main objective being to make the roads more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.

The plan also promotes non-automobile transportation methods, according to Aida Fairman, director of the Environmental Services and Utilities Department.

“[The plan] focuses on improving bicycling and walking in Los Altos,” Fairman said. “For example, the plan includes a goal to increase the share of people walking, biking and riding transit to work by 10% by 2030 and 20% by 2040.”

The planned decrease in automobile transportation provides an opportunity for the city to reduce its annual carbon emissions significantly.

The Complete Streets Plan runs through Menlo Park, Mountain View and Palo Alto. While the goals of promoting bike and pedestrian safety remain consistent throughout each city, how that’s carried out is determined by each city individually.

Bicyclist safety has been a pressing matter in the area, especially in light of an accident last April where a 13-year-old bicyclist was killed at the Grant Road intersection. The incident sparked community concern regarding bicyclist safety in the area.

The Mountain View city council implemented class 2B bike lanes, which provide additional protection between bikers and vehicles using poles. These lanes are more expensive than what CalTrans grants each city, but commission members said that the additional safety — in this case, lanes with more barriers — is needed to ensure cyclists’ safety. Although CalTrans will construct the bike lanes the cities choose, the cities will have to pay for any additional costs.

City commissioner and Complete Streets committee advisor Neysa Fligor said feedback from the public played a large role in determining the new El Camino safety measures.

“We’re talking to residents [and] we’re reaching out to colleagues and other councils, depending on what the issue is,” Fligor said.

The council took feedback from workshops that analyzed how local businesses would be impacted by the plan before making any permanent decisions.

The Los Altos Streets Commission also created polls centralized around the needs and habits of citizens, with questions ranging from most used mode of transportation, to how their children get to school. One poll reported that up to 43% of community members utilize walking as a form of transportation every day.

“With policymaking, there’s no perfect depiction, and that’s a responsibility placed on us to do the analysis and weigh the risks and the pros and the cons and make decisions that we think are in the best interest of our community,” Fligor said.

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