Maybell Avenue in the Barron Park neighborhood of Palo Alto is a bike boulevard and major route to FOUR schools
- Juana Briones Elementary
- Fletcher Middle School
- Gunn High School and
- Bowman International School
During the 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM commute hour, over 300 children on bicycles use Maybell Avenue as their route to school
It needs to be said that Maybell Avenue is a ‘sub-standard’ street. It is not wide enough for a bicycle lane, except for one block from Thain Way to Pena Court. And this is where the auto transport trucks park when unloading to the car dealership on the south side of Maybell Avenue, forcing bicyclists to ride out into the middle of the street. Although this is a violation of the zoning code for auto dealerships, the city has failed to take any action to enforce the code.
The ‘traffic calming’ project on the Charleston/Arastradero commute corridor resulted in a significant increase in rush hour traffic on Maybell Avenue as drivers sought to avoid long delays on Arastradero Road. On a typical school morning the line of cars stretches from Juana Briones School at Coulombe Drive all the way back to El Camino Real. This increased traffic only heightens the danger to our children riding to school as cars and bikes competed for the narrow space on Maybell Avenue.
Proponents of the Maybell Avenue senior housing project claimed that the project will have little or no impact on Maybell Avenue. The outdated traffic model used by PAHC and the City predicted only a few trips out of the property in the morning rush hour. They claimed that “seniors don’t drive.” Statistics from the California DMV show that 83% of the seniors over the age of 65 in Santa Clara county are licensed drivers.
Look again at the proposed plans for the Maybell Avenue property. The 12 private homes will be 3 and 4 bedroom units with a 2-car garage and 6 will have space for 2 additional cars. The most likely buyers will be young professional couples, both of whom will drive to work in order to pay the mortgage for these expensive homes. In fact, the 12 market-rate homes will have the same number of parking spaces (36) as the 60 senior apartments and the lack of adequate parking spaces will force many seniors to seek parking on the adjacent neighborhood streets.
The ultimate insult to the community came in the form of a veiled threat by the mayor and city council. The current plan calls for the PAHC to grant an ‘easement’ for the senior housing to exit via the driveway of the Arastradero Park Apartments (also owned by PAHC) to Maybell Avenue. The ordinance passed by the City Council requires that if this easement is not granted, as is likely to be the case if PAHC doesn’t get to build the senior housing and sells the property to an independent developer, the current traffic barrier at the intersection of Maybell and Clemo avenues will be moved to a point east of the entrance to the orchard property, forcing ALL traffic from the property to enter and exit via Maybell Avenue. Rather than install a traffic signal to allow properly controlled ingress and egress via Arastradero Road, they will deliberately increase the danger to the children.
And all the while the Chief Transportation Officer for the City of Palo Alto continues to proclaim that Maybell Avenue will be a ‘Safe Route to School’. He will paint the street green to insure that autos and bicycles ‘share the road.’