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This preliminary draft element was prepared by City staff on the basis of input from the CAC and members of the public received between October and December 2015. The element will be further refined following review by the full CAC in January and February 2016, and that refined product will be presented as a draft to Palo Alto City Council in the spring of 2016.
In the draft element below, edits to the original text of the 1998 Comprehensive Plan are shown, with additions double underlined and deletions show in strikethrough. Additionally, brackets after each policy or program indicate the source. New policies and programs recommended by the CAC are identified as such, while policies and programs carried over from the 1998 Comprehensive Plan are called out and the original number is noted in brackets.
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This preliminary draft element was prepared by City staff on the basis of input from the CAC and members of the public received between October and December 2015. The element will be further refined following review by the full CAC in January and February 2016, and that refined product will be presented as a draft to Palo Alto City Council in March 2016.
VISION: Palo Alto will build and maintain a sustainable network of safe, accessible and efficient transportation and parking solutions for all users and modes, while protecting and enhancing the quality of life in Palo Alto neighborhoods. Programs will include alternative and innovate transportation processes, and the adverse impacts of automobile traffic on the environment in general and residential streets in particular will be reduced. Streets will be safe, attractive and designed to enhance the quality and aesthetics of Palo Alto neighborhoods. Palo Alto recognizes the regional nature of our transportation system, and will be a leader in seeking regional transportation solutions, prioritizing Caltrain service improvements and railroad grade separations.
Meeting the transportation needs of residents, visitors, and businesses will demand innovative and forward-looking solutions. The Transportation Element provides a policy framework for these solutions, recognizing that future growth in transportation needs cannot be met by the automobile alone. Strong dependence on the automobile has resulted in air and water pollution, excess noise, increased energy use, and visual degradation in Palo Alto and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. There have also been impacts on Palo Alto neighborhoods, as motorists have used local streets as alternatives to overcrowded arterials.
This Plan is designed to address these issues comprehensively and acknowledges that the future will be different than the present and the past. Recognizing changing demographics and travel preferences, new technologies, and new opportunities, the Plan includes solutions for implementation today in order to lay the groundwork for the future. Together with investments in infrastructure, these solutions will lead to an integrated transportation system that serves local, regional, and intercity travel.
This Element meets the State requirement for a Circulation Element, addressing the various aspects of circulation, including complete streets, expressways and freeways, mass transit, walking, bicycling, parking, special transportation needs, and aviation.
CONNECTIONS TO OTHER ELEMENTS
Transportation choices and options are shaped by many factors including land use, economics, and community values. As such, the Transportation Element is strongly influenced by the Land Use Element and Housing Element because the distribution and density of residential, commercial, and office uses has a direct correlation to the type, frequency, and use of transportation options a community employs. In addition, the Transportation Element supports the objectives of the Business and Economics Element, the Community Services and Facilities Element, and the Natural Environment Element, and the Safety and Noise Element by paving the way for a transportation system that supports economic development and access to services in a manner that limits impacts to the natural environment.
Recent data compiled from surveys and other sources show that, in 2014, more than 60 percent of all trips made each day in Palo Alto involved single-occupant vehicles. Although this is a lower ratio of single-occupant vehicles than in many other Bay Area communities, Palo Alto’s most recent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory indicates that road travel to, from, and within the city is by far the single largest source of local emissions. As a major regional employment center, Palo Alto attracts commuters from throughout the Bay Area on a daily basis, but US Census data also show that Palo Alto residents make most of their trips by car. [additional data to come on trip origins and destinations, i.e. who is driving where] Building a more sustainable transportation system will require addressing both regional and local travel patterns, as well as trips made for work, school, errands or entertainment.
The key to a sustainable transportation system lies in providing more options and more convenience so that people will more readily choose not to drive. Palo Altoans recognize that, at times, the private automobile helps facilitate life’s daily activities, but we also understand that single-occupant vehicles are a major source of traffic congestion and GHG emissions in the region. To successfully address congestion, keep neighborhood streets safe, reduce air quality and noise impacts, lessen the effects of climate change, and improve overall quality of life, we must focus on providing convenient, affordable alternatives to the automobile.
Facilitating a shift to alternative modes of transportation will require creative collaboration among transit agencies, employers, and local jurisdictions as well as residents and commuters themselves. Technology also has a role to play, whether providing up-to-the minute information to inform choices or in delivering new and better modes of travel. A robust public transit system with both a regional reach and a local focus will be essential to rebalancing mode share, and improvements to the bicycling and pedestrian environment will help encourage more people to bike and walk on a regular basis.
Innovation and Collaboration
Palo Alto is currently pursuing a number of innovative tools to increase transportation options for residents and workers.
The Bay Area is at the forefront of an evolving shift toward the use of transportation services in place of private vehicle ownership, led by a number of prominent ride sharing and e-hailing car services.. Originally pioneered in Europe, the concept of “Mobility as a Service (MaaS),” also known as “Commuter Wallet” in Palo Alto, allowes on-demand trip planning enabled by smartphones and mobile devices. This concept also includes "pop up" bus services, as well as car-sharing and bike-sharing services. With the advent of self-driving cars, the cost of transportation services is widely expected to drop, making vehicle ownership a less attractive option.
Palo Alto is partnering with with Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), and the City of San Jose to develop a MaaS/Commuter Wallet smartphone app that provides access to a combination of transportation mode and employer commute benefits to help incentivize non-single-occupant vehicle travel. The app will house information about all transportation modes under one platform so users can easily make transportation decisions based on current traffic/transit conditions. Innovative initiatives like MaaS/Commuter Wallet can help facilitate a shift away from single-occupant vehicles and rebalance mode share in the future.
TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENT
The term Transportation Demand Management (TDM) refers to strategies that improve the efficiency of the transportation system by increasing the demand for an convenience of alternatives to the single-occupant vehicle. TDM programs can include a wide range of investments in infrastructure and incentives for the use of alternatives to the automobile, as well as parking management initiatives and marketing. Employers and local governments often collaborate in developing and implementing TDM programs, and activities can be coordinated through a Transportation Management Association (TMA) made up of local businesses in a commercial district or industrial park. Stanford University operates a TDM program designed to reduce university-related traffic impacts. The program is one of the most comprehensive in the country, with an array of initiatives from free public shuttle service to expanded bicycle parking and extensive marketing outreach and promotions. Since its inception in 2002, Stanford has reduced its drive-alone rate by 32 percent. In January 2015, the City of Palo Alto began the process to establish a TMA for the downtown area, with plans to pilot a variety of TDM initiatives in collaboration with local businesses. This effort has already yielded the first reliable data on commuter travel patterns and formal establishment of an independent non-profit TMA. Stanford University has initiated similar efforts to survey travel patterns and work with employers to reduce commute trips to the Stanford Research Park.
ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES
Alternative fuel vehicles—those that run on electricity, biodiesel, compressed natural gas and other alternatives to petroleum fuels—help reduce GHG emissions by utilizing cleaner fuels or zero emission alternatives. As the City encourages increased use of alternative fuel vehicles to help reduce GHGs, additional support facilities like charging stations or biofuel pumps may be necessary. However, while alternative fuel vehicles do reduce GHGs, they are still a contributor to congestion.
Palo Alto’s role in the regional economy and mix of land uses have endowed residents, workers, and visitors with an array of transit options to travel within the city and to the surrounding region. Residents can conveniently access many local destinations via buses and shuttles, while employees and visitors can travel to Palo Alto via regional bus routes and rail service. Map T-1 shows the range of public transit services in Palo Alto.
MAP T-1: EXISTING TRANSPORTATION SERVICES
Caltrain is Palo Alto’s primary regional transit service, with riders traveling to San Francisco, Gilroy, and all cities in between. Since introduction of the baby bullet limited express trains in 2003, ridership has more than doubled and today, Palo Alto’s University Avenue station is the second largest generator of weekday Caltrain trips, behind only the San Francisco station and ahead of stations in larger cities such as San Jose, San Mateo, and Sunnyvale. Long-range plans for Palo Alto Station and adjacent University Avenue underpass area will enhance pedestrian circulation and the prominence and visibility of the transit station, creating a vital link between Stanford and the University Avenue/Downtown area and further increasing transit usage. The planned extension of Caltrain to the Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco will improve regional transit connections for Peninsula communities, including Palo Alto, and electrification of Caltrain will speed service, allow for more trains, and decrease noise and air pollution.
Three transit providers, VTA, SamTrans, and AC Transit, provide bus service in Palo Alto, providing connecting residents to both local and regional destinations. The VTA operates local bus service within the city, with 14 bus routes in Palo Alto, and also offers connections to VTA light rail, Caltrain, Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) and AMTRAK Capitol Corridor. SamTrans operates bus service throughout San Mateo, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties, helping to connect Palo Alto to other parts of the Peninsula and Silicon Valley. AC Transit’s Dumbarton Express provides express bus service between the East Bay and communities on the Peninsula, including Palo Alto.
The VTA’s proposed El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project aims to improve transit operations and increase transit ridership along the El Camino Real Corridor. With curbside stations and signal priority (“queue jumping”), BRT in shared travel lanes will provide faster, more reliable service with target stops and specialized transit vehicles and facilities. The El Camino Real BRT Corridor extends from Downtown San Jose (Arena Station) to Downtown Palo Alto (Palo Alto Transit Center) passing through the cities of Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Los Altos.
There are three types of shuttle services operating in Palo Alto, including the City operated Palo Alto Shuttle, the Stanford University Marguerite shuttle, and private employee shuttles which transit through Palo Alto offering transportation for employees to other job centers on the Peninsula. The Marguerite, run by Stanford University Parking and Transportation Services, is a free public service that connects the Stanford campus to nearby destinations including the Palo Alto Station and Downtown. The Palo Alto Shuttle is a free, wheelchair-accessible shuttle provided by the City. This shuttle currently serves three routes that connect Caltrain stations and important destinations in the community, and the City is developing plans for enhanced service in response to community input. Marguerite and Palo Alto Shuttle routes are shown on Map T-1.
FIRST / LAST MILE CONNECTIONS
The concept of first/last mile connections refers to the level of accessibility to and from transit stations. Many people live or work approximately one mile from a transit station or bus stop, but distance, perception of safety or the availability of an enjoyable connection may deter them from using transit. The Palo shuttle provides first/last mile connections to and from Caltrain stations, as does the provision of bike share facilities. For now, walking and biking remain the best first/last mile option for most of Palo Alto, although rideshare services are increasingly attractive, In the future, ridesharing and other on-demand transportation services could be integrated into the City’s overall first/last mile connection strategy through MaaS.
Bicycling and Walking
Originally passed in 2008, California’s Complete Streets Act came into force in 2011 and requires local jurisdictions to plan for land use transportation policies that reflect a “complete streets” approach to mobility. Complete streets comprises a suite of policies and street design guidelines which provide for the needs of all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit operators and riders, children, the elderly, and the disabled. From 2011 onward, any local jurisdiction—county or city—that undertakes a substantive update of the circulation element of its general plan must consider complete streets and incorporate corresponding policies and programs.
Palo Alto dedicated its formal bikeway system—one of the nation’s first—in 1972. Bikeways have since become commonplace in surrounding cities and considerable progress has been made in overcoming barriers to bicycle travel in and around Palo Alto. Palo Alto’s bikeway network consists of on-road bicycle lanes, bicycle boulevards and bicycle routes, off-road shared-use paths and bridges, and bicycle parking facilities. Highlights of the system are 14 underpasses and bridges, spanning barriers such as freeways, creeks, and railroad tracks. Map T-2 shows the existing and planned bikeway network in Palo Alto.
The City has received national recognition as a leader in the development of innovative bikeways and programs and has been widely acknowledged for its successful Safe Routes to Schools program. Palo Alto is in a position to significantly increase its proportion of travel by bicycle. Its flat terrain, mild weather, grid street network, and environmentally- and health-conscious citizenry make cycling a practical option at a minimal cost. Future challenges include more routes for northeast-southwest travel and overcoming physical barriers like railroads and freeways. Better provisions for bicycles on mass transit would promote the use both modes by increasing convenience and accessibility of destinations.
The Palo Alto Bicycle + Pedestrian Transportation Plan (BPTP, 2012), adopted in 2012, contains a policy framework, design guidance, and specific recommendations to increase walking and biking rates over the next decade and beyond—rates that will be instrumental in helping to address the impacts of regional growth while maintaining mobility. BPTP 2012 seeks to encourage planning, construction, and maintenance of complete streets’ that are safe and accessible to all modes and people of all ages and abilities, incorporating best practices from the National Association of Transportation Officials (NACTO) Bikeway Design Guide.
MAP T-2: EXISTING AND PROPOSED BIKEWAYS IN PALO ALTO
Mode share data indicates that walking accounts for more trips than public transit in Palo Alto each day, yet is an inexpensive and often overlooked means of transportation. As shown on Map T-3, Palo Alto's pedestrians are generally well served by current facilities and will benefit from the attention given to street trees and bikeways. There will be more benefits in the future, as the City emphasizes walkable neighborhoods and pedestrian- oriented design. The most needed improvements are to fill in the gaps in the sidewalk system, make intersection crossings “friendlier,” and overcome the barriers to northeast-southwest travel.
MAP T-3: PEDESTRIAN FACILITIES IN PALO ALTO
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All modes of transportation in Palo Alto depend to some degree on the street network. The City’s street network has remained essentially unchanged since the 1960s, except for projects along the Sand Hill Road corridor, yet overall traffic volumes have increased.
Palo Alto’s streets fall into various categories, depending on their purpose and design and the amount of traffic they carry. This street hierarchy is defined below and is illustrated on Map T-4. Even before California adopted Complete Streets principles, Palo Alto sought to accommodate all modes of travel in the design and modification of its street system. Improvements to road surfaces, curbs, crossings, signage, landscaping, and sight lines must make streets safer for vehicles, but must consider the needs and safety of pedestrians and cyclists as well.
MAP T-4: STREET NETWORK
PALO ALTO'S STREET HIERARCHY
- Freeway: Major roadway with controlled access; devoted exclusively to traffic movement, mainly of a through or regional nature.
- Expressway: Major roadway with limited access to adjacent properties; devoted almost exclusively to traffic movement, mainly serving through-traffic.
- Arterial: Major roadway mainly serving through-traffic; takes traffic to and from expressways and freeways; provides access to adjacent properties.
- Residential Arterial: Major roadway mainly serving through-traffic; takes traffic to and from express- ways and freeways; provides access to adjacent properties, most of which are residential properties located on both sides of the roadway with direct frontages and driveways on that roadway.
- Collector: Roadway that collects and distributes local traffic to and from arterial streets, and provides access to adjacent properties.
- Local: Minor roadway that provides access to adjacent properties only.
Roadway and Intersection Improvements
[To be updated when Preferred Alternative and associated roadway improvements are identified]. Intersections are the most constricted points on the network. Many intersections are congested during the peak morning and afternoon travel periods. Some intersection improvements have been made over the years and a few others are planned. No major expansions of the City-owned road network are planned, although the City and County have collaborated on plans to address the intersection of Page Mill Road and El Camino Real, and nearby intersections.
Palo Alto desires to keep traffic flowing as freely as possible on major streets and to minimize the diversion of through-traffic onto local residential streets. For that purpose, several key intersections and roadways segments, as shown on Map T-5, have been identified for monitoring. A challenge is to balance the free flow of traffic with the safety of pedestrians and cyclists of all abilities, as well as with residents’ desire to maintain low traffic speeds on residential arterials. Most future improvements will be made within existing rights-of-way at intersections and will provide relatively small increases in roadway capacity. Intersection improvements are planned only at the major intersections noted below.
Additional turning lanes and other related changes are proposed at the following major intersections in Palo Alto: [list to be determined based on final decisions about the locations of future development]
MAP T-5: KEY INTERSECTIONS AND ROADWAY SEGMENTS
Level of Service
Level of Service (LOS) is a way of measuring traffic congestion based on average control delay per vehicle, and in some analyses, based on the ratio of the volume of traffic to the capacity of the road. LOS A is a free-flowing condition for cars and LOS F is an extreme congestion condition, with traffic volumes at or over capacity. LOS definitions for signalized intersections are shown in Table T-1. Intersections in the City of Palo Alto are subject to the City of Palo Alto LOS standards, which seek to maintain an LOS D or better, except at intersections that are monitored as part of the VTA’s Congestion Management Plan, where the agency seeks to maintain an LOS of E or better
Senate Bill 743, passed in 2013, will shift the State away from LOS as the metric for evaluating transportation impacts under CEQA, based on the idea that prioritizing the free flow of cars over any other roadway user contradicts State goals to reduce GHGs. Instead, the State’s Office of Planning and Research is developing alternative measurements of transportation impacts, which may include vehicle miles travelled (VMT), VMT per capita, automobile trip generation rates, or automobile trips generated. Once alternative criteria are incorporated into the CEQA Guidelines, auto delay will no longer be considered a significant impact under CEQA. However, because this Comprehensive Plan includes policies establishing the City’s LOS standards, individual development projects will still be required to analyze, disclose, and address LOS impacts as a part of the project review and approval process.
Multimodal Level of Service
Multimodal level of service (MMLOS) applies the concept of LOS to all modes of travel, not just automobiles. Within Santa Clara County, in response to State laws that require planning for complete streets and deprioritize vehicular LOS as a metric for transportation analysis, VTA is developing guidelines for multimodal transportation planning to include in all transportation studies, and the City of Palo Alto will have an opportunity to participate in this effort. One possible outcome could be the adoption of metrics for safety, convenience, and delay for transit, bicycles, and pedestrians similar to the LOS standards the City has adopted for cars.
Palo Alto is bisected by the Caltrain rail corridor, which creates a significant barrier to connectivity and circulation.
RAIL CORRIDOR STUDY
The Caltrain rail corridor was the subject of a significant planning effort from 2010 to 2013 to evaluate land use, transportation and urban design, particularly in response to Caltrain electrification and other possible upgrades and the potential for High Speed Rail. The study area encompasses approximately 1,000 acres, and is bounded by Palo Alto Avenue on the north, San Antonio Road on the south, one-half block east of Alma Street, and one half block west of El Camino Real. This effort was led by a 17-member citizen Task Force to working with staff and the community, and included a number of public meetings.
The City Council adopted the Rail Corridor Study policy document and incorporated it into the Comprehensive Plan on January 22, 2013 to “generate a community vision for land use, transportation, and urban design opportunities along the rail corridor, particularly in response to improvements to fixed rail services along the tracks through Palo Alto.” The Study provides land use and transportation policies under a variety of scenarios, allowing Palo Alto to be proactive to changes to the rail system. The Study will guide staff and the City as decisions are made regarding land use and transportation improvements, such as private development and the Capital Improvement Program.
To increase safety, enhance connectivity, and improve pedestrian and bicycle circulation, the City of Palo Alto is considering conceptual grade separation alternatives for a portion of the Caltrain right-of-way. Recent studies have focused on three existing at-grade crossings at Charleston, Meadow, and Churchill, however there is significant interest in analyzing and pursuing grade separations at Alma Street as well, in addition to possible establishment of a “quiet zone” for the near term. Options analyzed for Charleston Rd/West Meadow Drive and Churchill Avenue include:
- Trenching the Caltrain corridor at either a one percent or two percent grade from approximately San Antonio to approximately Oregon Expressway, which would grade separate both Meadow and Charleston by keeping the existing roadways at-grade and running rail traffic beneath it in an open trench.
- Submerging the roadway beneath the railroad tracks at Churchill Avenue.
- Submerging the roadway beneath the railroad tracks at West Meadow Drive.
- Submerging the roadway beneath the railroad tracks at Charleston Road.
Trenching the Caltrain corridor would be the most expensive alternative, and could potentially require rerouting existing creeks and adding infrastructure pump stations. While the roadway submersion alternatives would cost less, they would require the taking of existing homes and partial property acquisitions, eliminate turning movements, and have far more visual impacts at each intersection due to their larger footprints. In the 2013 Rail Corridor Study, the City affirmed that trenching rail was the preferred alignment.
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Most Palo Alto streets are bordered by residential land uses. Citizens’ concerns reflect chronic problems like speeding, commuter shortcutting, and too much traffic. The City has designated some streets as residential arterials to recognize that they carry large volumes of through-traffic but also have residential uses on both sides of the street. The objective is to address the desires of residents of these streets who would like to have slower speeds, safer conditions for bicycles and pedestrians, and aesthetic improvements. This must be done economically and without appreciably reducing traffic capacity or diverting traffic onto local neighborhood streets.
Additionally, to address community concerns, the City has developed a Traffic Intrusion on Residential Environments (TIRE) methodology that estimates resident perception of traffic impacts based on anticipated average daily traffic growth. Although not required under the California Environmental Quality Act or pursuant to VTA guidelines, the City of Palo Alto uses the TIRE index to measure the impact of traffic on residents along a street.
Traffic calming refers to projects that make permanent, physical changes to streets to slow traffic and/or reduce volumes, thus improving their safety and addressing residents’ concerns. Traffic calming measures can reduce speeds and return some through-traffic from local and collector streets to nearby arterials. Traffic calming also includes education and enforcement measures that promote changes in driver behavior. Where warranted by traffic conditions and residents’ desires, Palo Alto’s policy is to implement physical changes to local and collector streets that slow traffic close to the 25 miles per hour (mph) residential speed limit. Physical changes implemented are safe and take into account the needs of all road users. Some examples of traffic calming measures include:
- Curb and Sidewalk Design. In many of the areas of Palo Alto built since World War II, an integral curb and sidewalk design was used, resulting in sidewalks immediately next to traffic lanes. Adding planting pockets and street trees would promote pedestrian use and also provide visual cues to drivers to reduce speeds.
- Lane Reductions. In commercial areas, it may be feasible to reduce the number of lanes for through-traffic with- out losing too much traffic handling capacity. In these areas, curb lanes are often not very useful for through-traffic since they may be blocked or slowed by cars turning into and out of driveways and parking spaces.
- Street Closures. Street closures are effective at eliminating through-traffic, especially when safety issues are involved. They may be a necessary design element for a bicycle boulevard or transit mall, but closures can often be controversial because they disrupt the traditional neighborhood street grid, and may shift traffic to adjacent streets.
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MOTOR VEHICLES AND BICYCLE PARKING
A comprehensive parking strategy is an important part of Palo Alto’s comprehensive strategy to reduce traffic congestion, protect the livability of residential neighborhoods, and support local businesses. Reducing vehicle trips through transportation demand management, as discussed above, is one crucial component of this strategy. In addition, over the life of this Comprehensive Plan, the City will continue to explore innovative parking management tools and parking supply initiatives. These efforts focus on the Downtown area, where major local employers, thriving stores and restaurants, and residential neighborhoods coexist and share a finite parking supply.
Managing Palo Alto’s parking supply wisely can significantly reduce the number of parking spaces needed, reduce the costs of providing parking, encourage transit and alternative transportation, and support Palo Alto’s goals for livable neighborhoods. The City is managing parking by:
- Phasing in a pilot Residential Preferential Parking (RPP) district in the residential blocks around the Downtown commercial district and South of Forest Area (SOFA). Under the RPP, vehicles with permits are allowed unrestricted parking. Cars without permits are limited to parking for a maximum of two hours.
- Installing parking guidance systems that give drivers real-time information on how many spaces are available where.
- Designing clear logos and wayfinding signage for public parking to improve visibility and accessibility.
- Studying options for parking pricing, time limits, and space allocations. Free, unregulated parking makes it more likely that people will drive alone; charging for parking or limiting parking supply makes it more likely that people will carpool, take transit, walk or bike.
Providing access and revenue technologies to implement recommendations of the parking pricing study.
DOWNTOWN PARKING SUPPLY MEASURES
The City regularly monitors parking demand and supply Downtown and is considering several initiatives to increase parking supply, with the dual goals supporting local businesses and minimizing impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.
Bicyclists, like motorists, need a place to store their vehicle, whether a sidewalk rack to grab a coffee or a more secure bicycle locker or cage for all-day parking near transit. Vandalism, theft, and inconvenience are all main concerns for bicyclists, who typically expect parking close to their destinations. Providing dedicated bicycle parking makes it more convenient to bike rather than drive, and keeps sidewalks clear for pedestrians. The City manages numerous programs that provide bicycle parking facilities, including bicycle lockers at the California Avenue Caltrain station and several Downtown locations for a monthly fee. The Palo Alto Bikestation, located at the Palo Alto Caltrain station, provides secure storage for up to 96 bicycles accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week via electronic key access.
The City’s Municipal Code requires new private development to provide bicycle parking facilities, typically at 10 to 25 percent of the vehicle parking requirement. The 2012 Bicycle + Pedestrian Transportation Plan includes specific recommendations for the amount, location, and type of bicycle parking.
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Traffic safety will continue to be among the City’s top priorities in the future. City officials, city employees and community members are committed to working together to build better and safer streets, educate the public on traffic safety, enforce traffic laws, and adopt policy changes that save lives. The City is undertaking a comprehensive traffic safety program, and partners with Palo Alto Unified School District and the Palo Alto Parent Teacher Association (PTA) on a Safe Routes to School Program that encourages families to walk, bike, and use other alternatives to driving to school more often and to reduce the risk of accidents for students.
A new approach to roadway safety that has proven to be successful in substantially reducing traffic-related fatality rates without compromising mobility is the Vision Zero Initiative, developed in Sweden. At the core of this approach is the concept of shifting responsibility for safety from roadway users to the design of the roadway system. While local conditions and traffic culture in Palo Alto are different than in Sweden, the Vision Zero Initiative could potentially offer ideas and lessons for Palo Alto to draw on in pursuing the goal of roadway safety for all users.
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Many people cannot or do not wish to drive and some are not able to use all transportation modes. Young people, seniors, people with low incomes, and people with disabilities all have special transportation needs. Palo Alto is committed to providing reasonable accessibility and mobility for these populations and for others who do not or cannot drive.
As the baby boomer generation (i.e., those born between 1946 and 1964) ages, more and more people will forego driving or become unable to drive. Without proper access to affordable transit or families, friends, and/or neighbors who can provide rides, seniors face an increased risk of social and physical isolation. Seniors who do not drive have access to the public transit providers described under Goal T-2. VTA offers seniors 65 and over a discounted Regional Transit Connection Card. In addition, Outreach, a non-profit organization that serves seniors and the disabled, offers transportation services for seniors in Santa Clara County. These services include a subsidized transit pass and subsidized taxi rides. Residents must be 65 or older to participate and there are no income restrictions. Outreach provides transportation services to destinations within Santa Clara County only. While Outreach provides an important service to the community, there is a daily cap on the number of rides offered so all user requests may not be accommodated.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority operates paratransit service administered through a contract with Outreach and Escort, Inc. (OUTREACH). Riders may reserve paratransit trips from one to three days in advance, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. for service the next day. The paratransit service area is within a ¾-mile corridor around the VTA bus routes and light rail stations. For travel outside of the service area, customers can arrange a transfer to the paratransit operator in the adjacent county. Paratransit hours of operation are the same hours and days of week that bus and light rail run on their regular schedules.
The principle of universal design for mobility is to achieve roadways and sidewalks that can accommodate all users including automobiles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and the disabled. Examples of universal design to support the disabled include placing pedestrian push buttons at wheelchair level, audible pedestrian crossing systems, sidewalk curb ramps, increasing pedestrian crossing times, sidewalk widths of 6 feet or greater, roadway and sidewalk materials that reduce slipping and add stability, minimizing driveway crossings and obstructions, and avoiding steep grades and slopes.
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Increasing population and traffic congestion over the past 20 years have required an increased emphasis on regional solutions to transportation issues. A regional approach for some transportation issues is needed to avoid local solutions that simply shift the problem elsewhere or produce unintended results. For instance, a higher gas tax or parking fee in Santa Clara County or Palo Alto might shift business to other cities. Moreover, transportation facilities like Caltrain or the Bayshore Freeway need to be managed on a regional basis.
Congestion Management Plan
Palo Alto has been an active participant in the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Congestion Management Program (CMP). The CMPs in the various Bay Area counties are focal points for transportation planning and funding. Palo Alto representatives also participate and provide leadership in numerous Bay Area regional bodies affecting transportation, including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), as well as the various public transportation providers in Palo Alto, including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
HOV and Express Lanes
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and Express lanes are used as a traffic management strategy to reduce congestion on freeways and improve air quality in adjacent areas. HOV lanes are reserved at peak travel times or longer for the exclusive use of vehicles with a driver and one or more passengers, although motorcycles and some alternative fuel and transit vehicles are not subject to the occupancy requirement. Express lanes are open to single occupant vehicles for a fee, and are free for motorcycles and some alternative fuel vehicles. There are about 174 directional miles of freeway carpool lanes in Santa Clara County, including 84 directional miles along US 101 between the San Mateo County line and Cochrane Road. By 2018, VTA plans to convert 36 miles from Dunne Avenue in Morgan Hill to the San Mateo County line on US 101 to express lanes, with a second express lane will be added for the majority of the corridor.
[Additional suggested topics: County sales tax, Dumbarton Corridor, Caltrain modernization]
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PALO ALTO AIRPORT
Palo Alto Airport (PAO) is a general aviation airport owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto. PAO occupies 102 acres of land east of Highway 101 in the baylands and has one paved runway 13/31 measuring 2,443 × 70 feet. The airport is the tenth busiest single runway airport in California and functions as a reliever to three Bay Area airports. PAO facilities include an air traffic control tower operated by the Federal Aviation Administration and a terminal building with Wi-Fi, seating, restrooms and a small vehicle parking lot adjacent to the terminal. Airport operations, facility and field maintenance; and tie-down services are handled by Airport staff located in the terminal building. Flight clubs and fixed base operators operate onsite, offering fuel sales, flight lessons, pilot training, and aircraft sales, rentals, maintenance, and repair.
Prior to construction of PAO at its current location between 1934 and 1936, the airport operated at a location adjacent to Stanford Stadium in the late 1920s. From 1967 to 2015, PAO was operated by Santa Clara County under a lease agreement. Operations and control have since been transferred to the City and key challenges ahead include addressing deterioration of runway conditions and the need to re-develop onsite fixed base operator facilities.
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Transportation and land use are inextricably linked. Low-density land use patterns generally dictate the use of an automobile, while higher density and mixed use patterns generally translate into higher transit usage and pedestrian activity. Transit stations and bus routes present opportunities for higher density development. Palo Alto recognizes the relationship between transportation and land use and will promote a land use pattern that supports walking, bicycling, and reduced dependence on cars. In some cases, this may mean a shift away from prioritizing the free flow of cars.
Local governments have a range of trip reduction strategies available to them to help alleviate peak roadway congestion. Among the strategies identifies by the VTA Congestion Management Program are:
- Congestion Pricing. Congestion pricing consists of surcharging users of public goods during peak hours.
- Parking Cash-Out Program. An employer funded program where the employer pays an employee not to use a parking space.
- Unbundling Residential Parking. Unbundling the price of parking from residential units lets residents decide whether to own fewer cars to save money otherwise spent on parking.
- Parking Management and Pricing. Requiring payment for parking or increasing parking fees are ways to encourage drivers to find alternate modes of transportation.
- Subsidizing Ridesharing. Employers can promote carpooling by paying for fuel costs or subsidizing carpool costs.
- Employee Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits. Employees can offer pre-tax transit vouchers for purchase by employees.
- Transit Subsidies. Employers and residential developments can provide free or discounted transit passes to employees and residents.
- Alternative Cash Incentive Program. Employers offer gifts or prizes for commuting via an alternative mode of transportation.
- Express Lanes. Express lanes that permit non-carpool drivers to pay for the use of the lane.
- Alternative Modes of Transportation. Encouraging the shift of single occupancy vehicles to biking, walking, carpooling, vanpooling, car sharing, and transit.
- Employee Amenities. Encouraging employers to provide on-site amenities such as bike lockers and showers.
- Flexible Work Environment. Allowing employees to work flexible schedules to avoid peak rush hours or telecommute.
Employer TDM strategies are an important part of the solution for congestion management. In addition to incentivizing alternatives to driving alone, employer TDM programs can also include flexible work schedules, staggered hours, and telecommuting options. New technology is also contributing to the development and rapid expansion of ridesharing and car-sharing services. MaaS and other on-demand trip planning apps facilitate the use of this type of transportation service, making it easier and convenient to choose not to drive alone. While less effective in relieving congestion than other strategies, membership-based car sharing services allow drivers access to a network of shared vehicles at unattended self-service locations, thereby reducing the need for auto ownership.
To skip to the Traffic Congestion goals, policies and programs to provide comment, click here.
GOALS, POLICIES, AND PROGRAMS
Below, you will find lists of programs and policies for each area outlined in the sections above. You may leave your feedback about these programs and policies for each section, and can link back to the corresponding information section from each commenter box. Thank you for participating!
What do you think about the policies and programs for sustainable transportation?
Create a sustainable transportation system, complemented by a mix of land uses, that emphasizes walking, bicycling, use of public transportation, and other methods to reduce GHG emissions and the use of single occupancy vehicles.
To review the Sustainable Transportation information above, click here.
Consider economic, environmental, and social cost issues in local and regional transportation decisions. [(Previous Policy T-2) (Edited)]
Allocate funding to conduct an annual survey of mode shares downtown, and expand to other employment districts when feasible. [NEW PROGRAM]
REDUCING RELIANCE ON SINGLE-OCCUPANT VEHICLES
Collaborate with employers, the Palo Alto Unified School District, and other sources of commute trips to develop, implement and expand comprehensive, effective programs to reduce single-passenger auto use and associated GHG emissions and to reduce traffic congestion at the local and regional levels. [(PTC Policy T1.7) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-3 & Program T-5) (Merged & Edited)].
Create a long-term education program to change the travel habits of residents, visitors, and workers by informing them about transportation alternatives, incentives, and impacts. Work with the Palo Alto Unified School District and with private interests, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to develop and implement this program. [Previously Program T-8].
Coordinate with Stanford University on the development and implementation of transportation demand strategies via development of a Transportation Management Association in the Stanford Research Park. [NEW POLICY].
New development should not make traffic worse. Require new development projects to adopt effective TDM plans in order to meet specific targets and to offset remaining peak period motor vehicle trips through one of the following methods:
Complete a nexus study and develop a fee for offset. [staff suggestion from 1/7/16 call]
Encourage the Palo Alto Unified School District to use parking fees, regulations, and education to discourage students from driving to school. [Previously Program T-7]
REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Reduce GHG emissions associated with transportation by reducing vehicle miles traveled and per-mile emissions through use of vehicle technologies and other transportation technologies to meet the State’s goals for GHG reductions by 2030. [(PTC Policy T‑1.1) (Edited)]
Review the Zoning Ordinance to ensure compatibility with electric vehicle infrastructure ordinance through parking technology improvements, including vehicle lifts and electronic monitoring. Update the Zoning Ordinance to reflect changes that result from this review. [(PTC Program T4.7.1) (Edited)]
Continue to support the adoption and use of technologies that reduce emissions of GHGs and pollutants from passenger and transit vehicles to meet the City's 2020 goals for GHG reductions. [(PTC Policy T1.2) (Edited)]
Further encourage the installation of facilities that support alternative fuel vehicles by periodically reviewing requirements for electric and plug-in vehicle infrastructure in new construction. Consider and periodically review requirements for electric and plug-in infrastructure for remodels. [(PTC Program T1.2.1) (Edited)]
Require new development to install electric vehicle charging stations when feasible. [NEW POLICY]
Continue to measure the effectiveness of the City’s transportation network to make better decisions on transportation issues, and consider the use of parking fees and tax revenues to fund alternative transportation projects. [(PTC Policy T1.8) (Edited)]
Support mass transit access to regional destinations, multimodal transit stations and employment centers, including those within Palo Alto. [(PTC Policy T1.11) (Previous Policy T-6) (Edited)]
In concert with the study of expanded shuttle service, prepare a study that identifies other possible first/last mile connection strategies and considers trips for the purposes of local errands and commuting. [NEW PROGRAM]
Evaluate the feasibility of new transit routes on major corridors, including BRT and Ferry, to establish needed first and last mile connections at major corridors such as Bayshore, Alma, and Embarcadero. [NEW PROGRAM]
Support plans for a quiet, fast rail system that encircles the Bay, and for intra-county and transbay transit systems that link Palo Alto to the rest of Santa Clara County and adjoining counties. [Previously Policy T‑7]
In concert with the study of expanded shuttle service, prepare a study that identifies other possible first/last mile connection strategies and considers trips for the purposes of local errands and commuting. [NEW PROGRAM]
Support Caltrain capacity enhancements.
Continue to work with Caltrain, Amtrak, and public bus operators to expand bicycle storage on public transit vehicles during both peak and off-peak hours. [(NEW POLICY) (Previous Program T-27)]
Support efforts to integrate train, bus, and shuttle schedules at multi-modal transit stations to enable efficient transfer among public transit modes. [(PTC Policy T1.15) (Previous Policy T-11) (Edited)]
Work to ensure public and private school commute patterns are accommodated in the local transit system, including through schedule and route coordination. ([PTC Policy T1.13) (Previous Policy T-9) (Edited)]
Continue to encourage the provision of amenities such as seating, lighting, and signage, including real-time arrival information, at bus and shuttle stops and train stations to increase rider comfort, safety, and convenience. [(PTC Policy T1.14) (Previous Policy T-10) (Edited)]
Encourage transit service providers to provide subsidized transit passes for low income riders. [NEW POLICY]
Support continued development and improvement of the Caltrain stations as important transportation nodes for the City. [(PTC Policy T1.10) (Previous Policy T-5) (Edited)]
Continue improvement and operations at the Palo Alto Station including revisiting circulation and access improvements as necessary to meet current and future demands. [(PTC Program T1.10.1) (Edited) (Previous Program T-14& T-15) (Merged & Edited)]
Recognize the importance of the University Avenue Multi-modal Transit Station during special events and if dedicated funds are available, explore opportunities for station improvements, including circulation and access improvements to the station, in cooperation with Stanford University. [(PTC Program T1.10.2) (Edited)]
Improve the environment at the University Avenue Multi-modal Transit Station, including connecting tunnels, through short-term improvements and regular maintenance. [Previous Program T-15]
Work with Caltrain to identify joint development opportunities including shuttle services and parking structures to address Caltrain commuter parking intrusion into surrounding neighborhoods. [(PTC Program T1.10.3) (Edited)]
Work with Caltrain to identify appropriate locations for baby bullet stations, considering all stations that are located within Palo Alto. [NEW PROGRAM]
Support Caltrain modernization and its extension to Downtown San Francisco. [(PTC Policy T7.16) (Previous Program T-17) (Program changed to Policy) (Edited)]
Collaborate with transit agencies in planning and implementing convenient, efficient bus service in Palo Alto. [NEW POLICY]
Pursue expanded evening and night time bus service. [NEW POLICY]
Provide traffic signal prioritization for buses at Palo Alto intersections, focusing first on regional transit routes. Also, advocate for bus service improvements on El Camino Real, including queue jump lanes and curbside platforms. [EIR Mitigation Measure TRANS-6]
Continue and enhance the Palo Alto Shuttle Program to increase frequency and prioritize destinations of value to the community, including health centers, parks, schools, senior centers, and shopping areas. [(PTC Policy T1.9) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-4) (Edited)]
Conduct a study of the shuttle system that identifies routes, usage, and utility to inform system improvements. The study shall be based on collaboration with PAUSD and community members, especially seniors, to identify new routes and expanded schedules that will accommodate peak demands and coordinate with transit connections. Evaluate the feasibility of new shuttle routes that provide access within a 10- to 15-minute walk from most neighborhoods, including the development of new shuttle routes in communities not currently served, such as Barron Park and Palo Verde. Address costs, funding sources for ongoing operation and maintenance. [NEW PROGRAM]
Study the feasibility of evolving technology to increase the accessibility, reliability, and/or efficiency of local transit and shuttle service. [NEW PROGRAM]
Develop and/or continue to provide an app or other method of providing real-time arrival and schedule information for all Palo Alto shuttle routes. [NEW PROGRAM]
Encourage employers to develop shared shuttle services to connect employment areas with the multi-modal transit stations and City amenities. [(PTC Policy T1.12) (Previous Policy T-8)]
Encourage a responsive, private sector, fuel-efficient taxi service that contributes to reducing traffic congestion.. [(PTC Policy T.17) (Previous Policy T-13)]
BICYCLING AND WALKING
Prioritize investments for enhanced pedestrian access and bicycle use within Palo Alto and to surrounding communities. [PTC Policy T1.19]
Incorporate the 2012 Bicycle + Pedestrian Transportation Plan into this Comp Plan by reference.
Prioritize improvements from the 2012 Bicycle + Pedestrian Transportation Plan and the Parks, Trails & Open Space Master Plan, incorporating those improvements into the City's capital improvements plan.
Review and update the Bike Plan as needed every 5 years.
Complete a mobility and safety study for downtown Palo Alto, looking at ways to improve circulation and safety for all modes.
Conduct a study of, and, if feasible, provide support and dedicated funding for a recurring Palo Alto Sunday Streets program of events, potentially in coordination with local business groups, which would include street closures and programming. [NEW PROGRAM]
Increase cooperation with surrounding communities and other agencies to establish and maintain off-road bicycle and pedestrian paths and trails using that are integrated with creek, utility, railroad rights-of-way and green spaces in a manner that helps frame and define the community and avoids environmental impacts. [(PTC Policy T1.22) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-17, L-66 & L-68) (Merged & Edited)]
Support regional plans to complete development of the Bay Trail and Bay-to-Ridge Trail. [(PTC Program T1.22.1) (Previous Program T-25 & T-26) (Merged & edited)]
Support the development of the Santa Clara County Countywide Bicycle System, and other regional bicycle plans. [Previously Policy T‑18]
Require new private developments to provide improvements that improve bicycle and pedestrian connectivity as called for in the Bicycle Pedestrian Transportation Plan, and require dedication of easements where a nexus can be established. [(PTC Policy T1.20) (Previous Policy T-15) (Edited)]
Encourage the private schools within the community to develop Walk and Roll Maps as part of Transportation Demand Management strategies to reduce vehicle trips. [NEW POLICY]
Regularly maintain off-road bicycle and pedestrian paths, including sweeping, weed abatement, and pavement maintenance. [Previously Program T-29]
Improve maintenance of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. [Previously Policy T-20]
Adjust the street evaluation criteria of the City's Pavement Management Program to ensure that areas of the road used by bicyclists are maintained at the same standards as, or at standards higher than, areas used by motor vehicles. [Previously Program T-28]
Develop cooperative programs with the City and businesses to keep sidewalks clean in the University Avenue/Downtown and California Avenue business districts, and other centers. [Previously Program T‑30]
Maintain pedestrian- and bicycle-only use of University Avenue/Downtown alleyways where appropriate. [(PTC Policy T1.26) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-21) (Edited)]
Improve amenities such as seating, lighting, bicycle parking, street trees, and interpretive stations along bicycle and pedestrian paths and in City parks to encourage walking and cycling and enhance the feeling of safety. [Previously Policy T-22]
Encourage pedestrian-friendly design features such as sidewalks, street trees, on-street parking, public spaces, gardens, outdoor furniture, art, and interesting architectural details. [Previously Policy T-23]
Improve pedestrian crossings with bulb outs, small curb radii, and street trees near corners, bollards, and landscaping to create protected areas. [Previously Program T-32]
Increase the number of east-west pedestrian and bicycle crossings along Alma Street, particularly south of Oregon Expressway. [PTC RC Policy 3.1]
To provide comments on these policies and programs, click here, then click the speech bubble on the left side of the page.
What do you think about the policies and programs for streets?
Maintain an efficient roadway network for all users.
To review the Streets information above, click here.
LEVEL OF SERVICE
Maintain a hierarchy of streets that includes freeways, expressways, arterials, residential arterials, collectors, and local streets in a safe and appropriate manner. [(Previous Policy T-24) (Edited)]
Design and maintain the City street network to provide a variety of alternate routes, so that the traffic loads on any one street are minimized. [Previously Policy T-32]
Avoid major increases in street capacity unless necessary to remedy severe traffic congestion or critical neighborhood traffic problems. Where capacity is increased, balance the needs of motor vehicles with those of pedestrians and bicyclists. [(PTC Policy T2.8) (Previous Policy T-27) (No Change)]
Achieve and maintain acceptable levels of service for transit vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians and automobiles on roads in Palo Alto. [(PTC Policy T2.10) (Previously Policy T-28) (Edited)]
Maintain current thresholds for acceptable levels of service for intersections in Palo Alto and establish protocols for development proposals to evaluate Level of Service for transit vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. [PTC Program T2.10.1]
Monitor and publicly report on the previously identified twenty critical intersections annually and consider additional intersections to add to this list to monitor the effectiveness of the City's growth management policies. [(PTC Program T2.10.2 & T2.10.3) (Merged & Edited)]
Develop a transportation strategic plan, with an updated roadway classification system that reflects desired routes for transit, cycling and regional traffic as well as priorities for study and investments. [NEW PROGRAM]
Monitor and evaluate VMT and VMT per capita Citywide, and require traffic impact analyses for individual development proposals to include analysis of metrics adopted as part of the State CEQA Guidelines. [staff suggestion from 1/7 call]
Balance provisions for transit, bicycle, and pedestrians with vehicle level of service through implementation of a multi-modal Level of Service calculation that looks at all modes separately. [(PTC Policy T1.6) (Edited)]
Maintain the current program of not adding traffic signals on Alma Street north of Lytton Avenue and south of Channing Avenue to Churchill Avenue; and on Middlefield Road north of Lytton Avenue and south of Channing Avenue to Embarcadero Road. [Previously Program T-39]
Regulate truck movements and commercial buses in a manner that balances the efficient movement of trucks and buses while preserving the residential character of Palo Alto's arterial street system. [(PTC Policy T2.11) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-29) (Edited)]
Evaluate the feasibility of changes to Palo Alto’s through truck routes and weight limits to consider such issues as relationship to neighboring jurisdictions, lower weight limits, increased number of routes, and economic and environmental impacts. [Previously Program T-40]
Coordinate transportation and infrastructure improvements. [NEW POLICY]
Work with Caltrans, Santa Clara County and VTA to improve east and west connections in Palo Alto and maintain a circulation network that binds the city together in all directions. [(PTC RC Goal 3) (Edited)]
Continue to prioritize the safety and comfort of school children in street modification projects that affect school travel routes [Previously Policy T-40].
Provide bicycle facilities and sidewalks on roadways throughout the city as envisioned in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan. [(PTC Policy T2.3) (Edited)]
Ensure that additional through lanes are not installed at the expense of bicycle lanes, sidewalks, or landscaping. [(PTC Policy T2.4)]
Study the feasibility of smoothing and slowing traffic flow in commercial areas by reducing through-traffic lanes and trading the area for improved turning lanes, landscaping, and bicycle lanes. [Previously Policy T-31]
When constructing or modifying roadways, plan for use of the roadway space by all users, including motor vehicles, transit vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. [(PTC Policy T2.2) (Previous Policy T-25) (Edited)]
Update the comprehensive roadway design standards and criteria to be consistent with Complete Streets best practices and the Urban Forest Master Plan, focusing on bicycle and pedestrian safety and multimodal uses. ([PTC Program T2.2.1) (Previous Program T-33) (Edited)] Consider opportunities to incorporate best practices from the National Association of City Transportation Officials guidelines for urban streets and bikeways.
Establish procedures for considering the effects of street modifications on emergency vehicle response time. [Previously Program T-34]
Consider pedestrians and bicyclists when designing road surfaces, curbs, crossings, signage, landscaping, and sight lines. [(PTC Policy T2.5)]
Participate in the design and implementation of comprehensive solutions to traffic problems near Stanford Shopping Center and Stanford Medical Center. [Previously Policy T-26]
Support increased public transit, traffic management and parking solutions to ensure safe, convenient access to and from the Stanford Shopping Center/ Medical Center area. [(PTC Program T2.6.1) (Edited) (Previous Program T-35) (Edited)]
Extend Sand Hill Road to El Camino Real and construct related improvements consistent with neighborhood and community interests. Do not extend Sand Hill Road to Alma Street [Previously Program T-36].
Implement and monitor Development Agreement traffic mitigations at Stanford Medical Center. [(PTC Program T2.6.2) (Edited)]
Provide safe, convenient pedestrian, bicycle, and transit connections between the Stanford Shopping Center/Medical Center areas and housing along the Sand Hill Road/Quarry Road corridors to Palo Alto Station, Downtown Palo Alto, and other primary destinations. [(PTC Program T2.6.3) (Previously Program T-37) (Edited)]
Study extension of Quarry Road for transit, pedestrians and bicyclists to access the Palo Alto Station from El Camino Real. Also study the feasibility of another Caltrain underpass at Everett. [(PTC Program T2.6.4) (Edited)]
Redevelopment along the rail corridor shall take into account the land use and transportation policies discussed in the Rail Corridor Study Report. [Policy T-1 as amended by Council Resolution adopting Rail Corridor Study Report]
Participate in regional planning initiatives for the rail corridor and provide a strong guiding voice.
Pursue a below-grade alignment and not an elevated alignment for regional fixed rail in Palo Alto, including both high speed rail and Caltrain. [(PTC RC Policy 1.1) (Edited)]
When examining the potential impacts of vertical rail alignments equal attention shall be given to all Palo Alto neighborhoods. Adopted mitigation measures should be proportionate to the impacts identified in the studies. [PTC RC Policy 1.3]
Pursue grade separation of rail crossings along the corridor as a City priority. [NEW POLICY]
Undertake studies and outreach necessary to advance grade separation of Caltrain.
In collaboration with regional agencies and neighboring jurisdictions, identify and pursue funding for rail corridor improvements and grade separation. [NEW PROGRAM]
Consider supplementing external grade separation funding, if necessary to create below grade rail alignments. Local sources could include value capture options, assessment districts, and/or impact fees. [(PTC Program T7.16.2) (Edited)]
Keep all four existing at-grade rail crossings open to vehicular traffic. [PTC RC Policy 3.2]
Improve existing at-grade rail crossings to ensure the highest feasible level of safety along the corridor and provide additional safe, convenient crossings. [PTC RC Goal 2 edited]
Commission an Alma Street crossing study to identify opportunities to improve safety and convenience in the near term, including potential implementation of a “quiet zone.” [PTC RC Policy 2.1 and Policy 2.2 edited to reflect recommendations of Rail Corridor Study]
Coordinate implementation of crossing improvements with neighborhood planning efforts. [PTC RC Policy 2.2 edited to reflect recommendations of Rail Corridor Study]
Ensure that future grade separation projects include a community participation and review process, and undergo environmental review. Future grade separation improvement projects would have the potential to cause environmental impacts, such as impacts associated with construction-related emissions, noise, and traffic, and aesthetics and land use impacts. These impacts, and alternatives to these grade separation projects, would be evaluated in detail when the projects are more clearly defined. [EIR Mitigation Measure Trans-1c]
Improve safety and minimize adverse noise, vibrations and visual impacts of operations in the Caltrain rail corridor on adjoining districts, public facilities, schools and neighborhoods with or without the addition of High Speed Rail. [PTC RC Policy 2.3 edited]
Enhance connections to parks, community centers, recreation facilities, libraries and schools within the rail corridor or between the rail corridor and nearby facilities. Opportunities to increase school capacity and facility development and use should be evaluated and coordinated between the Palo Alto Unified School District and the City. [PTC RC Policy 4.1]
To provide comments on these policies and programs, click here, then click the speech bubble on the left side of the page.
What do you think about the policies and programs regarding neighborhood impacts?
Protect neighborhood streets that support residential character and provide a range of local transportation options.
To review the Neighborhood Impacts information above, click here.
Implement traffic calming measures to slow traffic on local and collector residential streets and prioritize traffic calming measures over congestion management. [(PTC Policy T3.4) (Previous Policy T-34) (Edited)]
Develop a traffic calming program with a tool box of specific improvements that can be used to discourage drivers from using local, neighborhood streets to bypass traffic congestion on arterials. [EIR Mitigation Measure TRANS-8]. Implement appropriate traffic calming measures when requested by the neighborhood. (Previous Program T-43) (Edited)].
Periodically review residential areas for traffic impacts, and use the results of that review to prioritize traffic calming measures. Consider development impacts fees as a funding source for this program. [(PTC Program T3.4.1) (Edited) (Previous Program T-43) (Edited)]
Study the feasibility of changing Homer and Channing Avenues to two-way streets. [Previously Program T-44]
Maintain a “guard and go” system of stop signs approximately every other block on local residential streets to discourage through-traffic. [Previously Policy T-38]
Keep all neighborhood streets open unless there is a demonstrated safety or overwhelming through-traffic problem and there are no acceptable alternatives, or unless a closure would increase the use of alternative transportation modes. [Previously Policy T-33]
Reduce the impacts of through-traffic on residential areas by designating certain streets as residential arterials. [Previously Policy T‑30]
The following roadways are designated as residential arterials. Treat these streets with landscaping, medians, and other visual improvements to distinguish them as residential streets, in order to reduce traffic speeds.
[Previously Program T-41]
Use landscaping and other improvements to establish clear “gateways” at the points where the Oregon Expressway, University Avenue and Embarcadero Road transition from freeways to neighborhoods. ([PTC Program T3.2.3) (Edited) (Previous Program T-42) (Edited)]
Minimize the danger of increased commercial ingress/egress adjacent to major intersections, and noticeable increases in traffic from new development in residential neighborhoods, through traffic mitigation measures. [(PTC Policy T3.1) (Edited)]
Employ Traffic Impact on Residential Environments (TIRE) analysis to measure potential street impacts from new development in residential neighborhoods. [(PTC Policy T3.1) (Edited)]
Require new residential development projects to implement best practices for street design, stormwater management and green infrastructure. [(PTC Policy T3.6) (Previous Policy T-35) (Edited)]
Make new and replacement curbs vertical where desired by neighborhood residents. [Previously Policy T-36]
Where sidewalks are directly adjacent to curbs and no planting strip exists, explore ways to add planting pockets with street trees to increase shade and reduce the apparent width of wide streets. [Previously Policy T-37]
To provide comments on these policies and programs, click here, then click the speech bubble on the left side of the page.
What do you think about the policies and programs regarding motor vehicle and bicycle parking?
MOTOR VEHICLE AND BICYCLE PARKING
Encourage attractive, convenient, efficient and innovative parking solutions.
To review the Motor Vehicles and Bicycle Parking information above, click here.
MOTOR VEHICLE PARKING
Provide sufficient motor vehicle and bicycle parking in the University Avenue/Downtown and California Avenue business districts and other centers to support vibrant economic activity. Limit under-parked development while there is insufficient public parking. [(PTC Policy T4.1) (Previous Policy T-45) (Edited)]
Provide adequate parking for customers and employees within each business district to avoid impacts on adjacent residential neighborhoods. [(PTC Program T4.1.2) (Edited)]
Manage parking supplies to encourage the use of alternative modes by employees within each business district. [(PTC Program T4.1.6) (Edited)]
Monitor the effectiveness of the Valet Assist Parking Program and regularly evaluate opportunities to improve or expand. [NEW PROGRAM]
Ensure that the City’s comprehensive parking strategy includes technology and transportation demand management solutions. [NEW PROGRAM]
New development projects should not rely on the use of on-street parking to fulfill minimum parking requirements, and should comply with parking regulations in the Municipal Code. [PTC Policy T4.6]
Study the feasibility of reduced parking requirements for developments that are well-served by transit and demonstrated walking and biking connections, including senior housing developments. [NEW PROGRAM to be added if PTC Policy T-1.9 & T1.12 are not sufficient]
Consider changes to the zoning ordinance to count partly or fully enclosed private garages dedicated to individual housing units as floor area in mixed use and multifamily residential developments. [PTC Program T4.6.2]
Consider updating parking standards for non-residential uses to better reflect occupancy and employee density. [(PTC Program T4.6.3) (Edited)]
To encourage the use of alternatives to the private automobile and reflect the true cost of providing parking, the City shall eliminate free or subsidized parking in new commercial and residential development (i.e. require employees and residents to pay for parking). The City should also consider eliminating minimum parking requirements in transit-served areas. [EIR Mitigation Measure Trans-1b]
Continue to implement a comprehensive program of parking supply and demand management strategies for Downtown Palo Alto. [(Previous Program T-49) (Moved to Policy)]
Continue working with merchants, the Chamber of Commerce, neighbors, and a parking consultant to explore options for constructing new parking facilities or using existing parking more efficiently. [Previous Program T-50]
Work with merchants to designate dedicated employee parking areas. [Previously Program T-51]
Conduct a paid parking study for the Downtown area to collect data on parking occupancy and turnover and to recommend pricing and management policies to prioritize short-term parking spaces closest to the commercial core for customers, garage parking for employees, and neighborhood parking for residents. [NEW PROGRAM]
Develop and implement a parking wayfinding strategy for the Downtown commercial core with the capability for changeable message signs indicating where parking is available. [NEW PROGRAM]
Encourage the use of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies to minimize the need for all-day employee parking facilities in the University Avenue/Downtown and California Avenue business districts and encourage the use of available spots for short-term customer parking. [(Previous Policy T-46) (Edited)]
Continue to encourage shared parking in order to reduce the overall number of new parking spaces that must be provided on site for new development, while still being completely self-parked. [PTC Policy T4.7]
Design vehicle parking areas to reduce stormwater runoff, increase compatibility with street trees, and add visual interest to streets and other public locations. Encourage covered parking in parking lots or on top of parking structures through the use of tree canopies or photovoltaic panel canopies. [PTC Policy T4.9]
Encourage the use of below-grade or structured parking instead of surface parking for new developments where feasible. [PTC Policy T4.10]
Parking regulation enforcement should focus on ensuring parking availability, rather than revenue generation. [PTC Policy T4.11]
Use technology to help identify parking availability and make it easy to pay any parking fees. Clearly provide information about regulations, reducing the likelihood that tickets will need to be issued. [PTC Program T4.11.1]
Protect residential areas from the parking impacts of nearby business districts. [Previous Policy T-47]
Evaluate options to ensure maximum use of the City parking structures in the University Avenue/Downtown and California Avenue areas. [Previous Program T-52]
Discourage parking facilities that would intrude into adjacent residential neighborhoods. [Previous Program T-53]
Coordinate with neighborhood associations and residents’ groups to monitor the availability of parking in residential neighborhoods and gauge the need for a residential parking permit program in areas outside Downtown Palo Alto. [NEW PROGRAM]
Encourage employee parking strategies at the Stanford Medical Center area that maximize the efficient use of existing parking and encourage the use of alternatives to single-occupant vehicles. [(PTC Policy T4.12) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-48)]
Increase the number of safe, attractive and well-designed public bicycle parking spaces available in the city. [PTC Policy T4.13]
Improve and add attractive, secure bicycle parking at both public and private facilities, including multi-modal transit stations, City parks, City streets and other public rights of way, in private developments, and at other community destinations. [(PTC Policy T1.23) (Previous Policy T‑19) (Edited)]
Determine where additional bicycle parking is needed by reviewing bicycle parking availability and use in heavily traffic areas such as University Avenue/Downtown, California Avenue, Midtown, and neighborhood commercial centers. Include merchants, employees, and the public in this process. [PTC Program T4.13.1]
Continue to require safe and convenient off street bicycle parking as part of the approval process for new development; prioritize retention of bicycle parking spaces, even if space is at a premium, whenever the Director of Planning and Community Environment permits a reduction in the total number of vehicle parking spaces. [PTC Policy T4.14]
What do you think about the policies and programs for traffic safety?
Provide a high level of safety for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists on Palo Alto streets.
To review the Traffic Safety information above, click here.
To the extent allowed by law, continue to make safety the first priority of citywide transportation planning. Prioritize pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety over vehicle level-of-service at intersections. [Previously Policy T-39]
Establish a comprehensive, proactive traffic safety program focused on safe routes to school, work, shopping and community services. [NEW PROGRAM]
Develop and disseminate maps of safe routes to school, work, shopping, and community services in collaboration with stakeholders, including PAUSD, major employers, TMAs, local businesses and community organizations. [(PTC Program T5.7.4) (Edited and enhanced)]
Achieve zero roadway fatalities in Palo Alto within 10 years. [NEW POLICY]
Continue to work with Caltrain to increase safety at train crossings, including improving gate technology, and signal coordination. [(PTC Policy T5.4) (Edited)]
Use engineering, enforcement, and educational tools to improve traffic safety on City roadways. [(PTC Program T5.1.1) (Previous Program T‑47) (Edited)]
Periodically evaluate safety on roadways and at intersections and enhance conditions through the use of signal technology and physical changes. Consider the construction of traffic circles for improved intersection safety. [PTC Program T5.2.1, edited]
Continue to provide educational programs for children and adults, in partnership with community-based educational organizations, to help promote the safe use of bicycles, mopeds or scooters, and motorcycles, including the City-sponsored bicycle education programs in the public schools and the bicycle traffic school program for juveniles. [(Previous Program T-46) (Edited)]
Identify and implement safety improvements for underpasses, including on Embarcadero Road. [NEW PROGRAM]
Provide adult crossing guards at school crossings that meet adopted criteria. [Previous Program T-45] [insert sidebar with adopted crossing guard criteria]
Use appropriate technology to monitor and improve circulation safety throughout the City. [(PTC Policy T5.2) (Edited)]
Evaluate the performance of safety improvements and identify methods to encourage alternative transportation modes.
Vigorously and consistently enforce speed limits and other traffic laws, including for vehicle and bicycle traffic. [(Previous Policy T-41) (Edited)].
What do you think about the policies and programs addressing special needs?
Provide mobility options that allow seniors and people with special needs to reach their destinations.
To review the Special Needs information above, click here.
Identify and address the needs of community members, including seniors and people with disabilities, and meet or exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the planning and implementation of transportation and parking improvement projects. Utilize the principles of Universal Design, and local and State design standards to guide these efforts. [(PTC Policy T6.1) (Previous Policy T-42) (Edited)]
Coordinate with social service agencies to fill gaps in existing transportation routes and services accessible to people with special needs no matter their means and design new bus routes that enable those lacking the resources to travel in timely and economical ways to access those service. [(PTC Program 6.3.1) (Edited)]
Continue to partner with the VTA to support demand-responsive paratransit service for eligible participants in Palo Alto and maintain existing paratransit services, particularly where bus service is discontinued. Encourage the VTA to emphasize service quality and timeliness when contracting for paratransit services. [(PTC Policy T6.2) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-43) (Edited)]
Expand transportation opportunities for seniors and those with mobility constraints by supporting a variety of methods, such as by funding discounts for taxi fares, coordinating transit systems to be shared by multiple senior housing developments, supporting a volunteer program to expand the supply of drivers, creating a database of volunteer drivers and other transit options. [NEW PROGRAM]
Collaborate with the Valley Transportation Authority, SamTrans, Stanford Marguerite Shuttle, Palo Alto Shuttle Bus, Dumbarton Express Bus Service and Caltrain in the provision of transit service that is accessible to people with special needs. [PTC Policy T6.3]
Support transit agencies in implementing or continuing reduced fare or no fare voucher systems for selected populations, including seniors and people with disabilities. [Previously Policy T-44]
What do you think about the policies and programs addressing regional leadership?
Influence the shape and implementation of regional transportation policies and technologies to reduce traffic congestion and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs).
To review the Regional Leadership information above, click here.
Take a leadership role in regional transportation planning and advocating for specific transit improvements and investments, such as Caltrain service enhancements and grade separations, Dumbarton Express service, enhanced bus service on El Camino Real with queue jumping and curbside platforms, and additional VTA bus service. [EIR Mitigation Measure Trans-1d]
Recognize the need for collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including regional agencies, neighboring jurisdictions and major employers, on issues of regional importance such as traffic congestion, reduced reliance on single-occupant vehicles, and sustainable transportation. Take the lead in forging regional partnerships and solutions. [(Previous Policy T-49) (Edited)]
Coordinate with local, regional agencies, and Caltrans to support regional efforts to maintain and improve transportation infrastructure in Palo Alto. [(PTC Policy T7.8) (Edited)]
Support the efforts of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to coordinate transportation planning and services for the Mid-Peninsula and the Bay Area that emphasize alternatives to the automobile. Encourage MTC to base its Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) on compact land use development assumptions. [Previous Policy T-51]
Collaborate with communities to the north and west to ensure that Palo Alto and its immediate neighbors receive their fair share of regional transportation funds, proportional to the need and demand for transportation improvements within these communities to address region-wide transportation issues. [staff suggestion from 1/7/16 call]
Collaborate with public interest groups as well as federal, State, and local governments to study and advocate for transportation regulatory changes, such as an increase in the gasoline tax and market pricing efforts. [Previously Policy T-50]
Work regionally, and in particular with adjacent communities, to establish a system of parking fees that discourages single occupant vehicle use and encourages other transportation modes. [(Previous Program T-54) (Restored)]
Support efforts by Caltrans and the Valley Transportation Authority to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow on area freeways consistent with Statewide GHG emissions reduction initiatives. [(Previous Policy T-54) (Edited)]
Support provision of a new southbound entrance ramp to Highway 101 from San Antonio Road, in conjunction with the closure of the southbound Charleston Road on-ramp at the Rengstorff Avenue interchange in Mountain View. [Previously Program T-55]
Support the application of emerging freeway information, monitoring, and control systems that provide non-intrusive driver assistance and reduce congestion. [(PTC Policy T7.13) (Previous Policy T-55) (Edited)]
Where appropriate, support the conversion of existing traffic lanes to exclusive bus and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV and express) lanes on freeways and expressways, including the Dumbarton Bridge, and the continuation of an HOV and express lane from Redwood City to San Francisco. [(PTC Policy 7.14) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-52) (Edited)]
Participate in seeking a regional solution to improve roadway connections, including HOV and express lanes, between Highway 101 and the Dumbarton Bridge without construction of a southern rail connection across the environmentally sensitive baylands. [(PTC Policy T7.5) (Edited) (Previous Policy T-53) (Edited)]
Support state and federal legislation to reduce motor vehicle emissions, noise, and fuel consumption. [Previously Policy T-56]
What do you think about the policies and programs regarding the Palo Alto airport?
Maintain an economically viable airport with minimal environmental impacts.
To review the Airport information above, click here.
Operate Palo Alto Airport (PAO) as a vital and efficient facility without significantly increasing its intensity or intruding into open space areas. PAO should remain limited to a single runway. Palo Alto will allow for improvement and only minor expansion of existing PAO facilities and safety improvements in compliance with federal and state requirements. [Previously POLICY T-57]
Relocate the terminal building away from the Runway 31 clear zone, allowing for construction of a new terminal. [Previously PROGRAM T-58:]
Prepare an Airport Master Plan in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration requirements to address long-term facility needs and the future of PAO. City staff will work to identify ways to align the Airport Master Plan and the Baylands Master Plan. [NEW PROGRAM]
Identify and pursue funding to address maintenance, safety and security improvements needed at PAO. [NEW PROGRAM]
Minimize the environmental impacts associated with PAO operations, including adverse effects on the character of surrounding open space and the quality of life in residential areas as required by federal and state requirements. [NEW POLICY]
Maintain landscaping consistent with the open space character of the baylands to screen the airport along Embarcadero Road and continue to provide a bicycle/pedestrian path adjacent to Embarcadero Road, consistent with the Baylands Master Plan and open space character of the baylands subject to airport federal and state regulations. [Previously PROGRAM T-57]
Maintain the native grasses planted on the abandoned second runway pad and leave as open space. This is subject to federal wildlife hazard requirements and guidelines for airports. [NEW PROGRAM]
Revise lease agreements with flight schools, clubs, and rental service operators to require that those parties inform pilots of voluntary noise abatement procedures. [NEW PROGRAM]
Establish a system for processing, tracking and reporting noise complaints regarding local airport operations. [NEW PROGRAM]
Encourage the use of alternatives to leaded fuel in aircraft operating in and out of Palo Alto Airport. [NEW POLICY]
What do you think about the policies and programs addressing traffic congestion?
Decrease congestion and improve transportation efficiency with a priority on our worst intersections and our peak commute times, including school traffic.
To review the Traffic Congestion information above, click here.
Promote mixed use development to provide housing and commercial services near employment centers, thereby reducing the necessity of driving. [(Previous Program T-2) (Converted to Policy)]
Monitor the traffic surrounding new developments and compare with the projections anticipated during the review and approval process of the development. Impose penalties if traffic exceeds projections. Include this information as part of TDM reporting. [(PTC Program T2.10.4) (Edited)]
Favor new development that is within 10-minute walk of a transit stop or station and provides walking and bicycling connections and facilities as a congestion management strategy. [NEW POLICY]
The City supports the establishment and operation of Transportation Management Associations to address transportation and parking issues as appropriate in the City’s employment districts. [NEW POLICY]
Work in partnership with the Downtown TMA and Stanford University to realize measurable reductions in SOV commuting in Downtown and in the Stanford Research Park. [NEW PROGRAM]
Encourage employers to inform employees and the public about alternate modes of transportation and parking options. [NEW POLICY]
Encourage the location of childcare facilities near major employment hubs to reduce traffic congestion associated with child pick-up and drop-off. [NEW POLICY]
Study ways to use parking management strategies to help alleviate traffic congestion, including paid parking in the Downtown area. [NEW PROGRAM]
Evaluate the City’s Transportation Impact Fee every five years to implement new transportation priority projects. [PTC Program T2.10.8]
Work with PAUSD to ensure that decisions regarding school assignments are analyzed to reduce peak period motor vehicle trips to and from school sites. [EIR Mitigation Measure Trans-1e]
Work with the PAUSD to resolve traffic congestion issues associated with student drop-off and pick-up. [NEW POLICY]
Continue to participate in regional efforts to develop technological solutions that make alternatives to the automobile more convenient and thereby contribute to reducing congestion [NEW PROGRAM]
Encourage the use of car and bike sharing to reduce single occupant vehicle trips, and support the provision of car share stations throughout Palo Alto, especially within 10-minute walk of transit stations and stops. [(PTC Policy T1.18) (NEW POLICY]
Implement a pilot program to test the effectiveness of subsidizing a taxi or rideshare program for Palo Altans to get to/from downtown.
Work with VTA to implement traffic management strategies, such as signal coordination, centralized traffic control, red-light, and speed enforcement cameras, and real-time travel information, to reduce traffic congestion in and around Palo Alto. [NEW POLICY]
Implement computerized traffic management systems to improve traffic flow when feasible. [(PTC Program 2.10.5) (Previously Program T-38)]
Implement a program to monitor, coordinate, and optimize traffic signal timing a minimum of every five years along arterial and residential arterial streets. [PTC Program T2.10.7]
Is there something you'd like to say that doesn't quite fit anywhere else?