It is no secret that regional growth is impacting our rural, residential community. We have become a “pass-through” commute route and most of our north-south routes are jammed at rush hour. To add to the increasing congestion issues, bicyclist and pedestrian safety problems along El Camino Real are well known, as there have been a number of serious accidents, too many of which were fatal over the past few years. There are also problems with “pass through” on Atherton Ave., Alameda de las Pulgas, Middlefield and Marsh Road. While Atherton council members are working with county boards to address overall traffic problems in the region, much of this problem needs to be tackled on a local level. I believe there is much that Atherton can do. It is important to engage Atherton residents who are concerned about these issues to get involved both on the local and at the regional level, so that Atherton needs can be addressed and its voice will be heard. If you are interested in helping solve this problem, please let me know.
El Camino Real – The recent pedestrian death on El Camino Real underscores a serious safety concern that many residents living near El Camino have been concerned about for a long time. It is very difficult to safely cross El Camino. I have heard from many parents that it is a travesty that there is no safe way for their children to ride their bicycles from the west side to Holbrook-Palmer Park. The Town has received approval from CalTrans to deploy Hybrid Pedestrian Beacons (street lights initiated by pedestrians) at both Isabella and Alejandra. This is definitely good news, but these need to be deployed in 2015, rather than in 2017, as appears to be CalTrans’ schedule. Further, there needs to be a serious study of the entire Atherton ECR corridor to understand how to improve pedestrian crossing at Selby Lane, Stockbridge and Almendral. Rick supports a proposal to engage a comprehensive study of the ECR corridor in Atherton in order to consider how to improve its safety for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
High Speed Rail – There continues to be a significant threat to the Atherton community and specifically to the Civic Center area from the California High Speed Rail Authority’s intention to add high speed rail along the Caltrain corridor. It isn’t realistic to believe that there will be funds to tunnel the train in order to reduce the project’s construction or operational unsightliness or noise. The Atherton Rail Committee has worked hard to voice opposition to a 4-track or elevated high speed rail system, which would impact many residences along the route. The Rail Committee has also articulated very clear and reasonable opposition to the ill-considered proposed electrification of Caltrain. While this project appears to reduce greenhouse gas generation by converting Caltrain from diesel to electricity, that analysis fails to take into account the significant and very disruptive environmental impact of the electrification process, including the destruction of more than 1,000 heritage trees to make way for the wiring. Further, the Rail Committee has consistently advocated a more environmentally sound conversion of Caltrain engine technology from diesel to a newer hybrid technology. This committee needs continued support from the Council and community. This support and continued support for Caltrain to stop at the Atherton station is important for our community.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Routes & Safety — This is an issue that was not previously well addressed by prior Councils but fortunately, the Town of Atherton received some funding from Facebook in 2013 to study the issue of bicycle and pedestrian safety in Atherton. The Council launched an Atherton Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan in 2013, which will begin to be available to the community in late 2014. I hope to learn more about the issues uncovered and the proposals once those have been released by this committee. I do believe that increasing bike lanes from those that currently exist along Middlefield, Valparaiso and Alameda de las Pulgas is important to Atherton. This is of particular urgency for those streets that kids would use to ride there bikes to school.