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Prioritizing Safety over Traffic Congestion

From: domainremoved <Sara>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2019 18:03:00 +0000

Dear MP City Council,

I'm writing in advance of the meeting Tuesday to express my concern over the possibility of adding "Congestion Relief/Management" as a top city transportation goal. While I live off of Willow and Gilbert (787 Gilbert Ave) and experience congestion around my neighborhood every morning and evening during rush hour, I also have two children who have gone to Menlo Park Schools (Laurel, Encinal, and Hillview).

As a parent, I was more comfortable with my son biking to Encinal as a 4/5th grader down Middlefield (on the sidewalk and dirt paths) than I am with my daughter biking to Upper Laurel.

Early in 4th grade, Evie and I were biking to school together, anticipating that after a few successful runs we would let her bike alone as many of her friends do. We were waiting to cross Willow Rd from Gilbert. We were off our bikes and waiting for the crosswalk sign to turn to walk. When the cross walk sign came on I saw only one car slowly approaching and assumed it would stop at the light, so I stepped off the curve with Evie behind me. I was 12 ft into the cross walk when I heard a horn and a tires screech. I turned around to see an elderly man in a red car 2 ft from my daughter walking her bike across the cross walk. As we were on the side of the intersection closest to Middlefield, this man had already run the red light through the middle of the intersection before stopping. He only stopped, I believe, because a neighbor who was in his car traveling across Willow also had started to move on the green light and honked when he saw the man running the light. My daughter was very shaken, but untouched. The man continued to drive away and I did not get his information. I am simply lucky that he was not traveling fast that day.

Is this the only time I've seen terrible behavior in that intersection? No. I've seen people speed up to make the light, I've seen people take fast left turns without noticing pedestrians in the crosswalk, and every day I see people going straight from the left turn lane off of Gilbert (leaving the Willows) because there's congestion going toward the freeway when kids are coming home from school and they want to travel straight, so they do so from the left hand turn lane.

But this was the time that my daughter decided she no longer felt safe with the idea of biking to school on her own. This is a terrible intersection now and the fact that it is the main intersection between the Lower and Upper Schools at Laurel, but is such a dangerous one is so unbelievable to me. Not only that, but there's Willow's Park, a VA hospital with disabled veterans, and the Willows school and Alto School nearby. This area is COMPLETELY different than Marsh Rd or University Avenue, or other main arteries to the freeways.

I understand a goal is to “Manage traffic congestion to reduce travel time on city streets and minimize cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets.” But I would please have you consider, as you set priorities and determine what goals you have for "managing congestion" that you don't overlook the safety of our neighbors and children. I believe that Willow Rd. is already unsafe. Any measures that seek to widen it, remove medians, reduce bike lanes, or allow traffic to travel more quickly on it will only worsen this safety issue.

Every year I encourage my daughter to bike to school again. As the rain is letting up, I'm hopeful that she'll feel safe enough now that she's "older" to do that trip on her own. Please consider her and the hundreds of other children in our neighborhoods as you prioritize your transportation goals.


Thank you,

Sara Filipek

787 Gilbert Ave

Menlo Park, CA 94025
Received on Mon Mar 25 2019 - 10:58:33 PDT

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