Traffic Flow Philosophy of Barron Park Neighborhood of Palo Alto, California

Barron Park has fewer stop signs than other neighborhoods in Palo Alto. Our experience is that slow-but-steady traffic flow is substantially safer than the stop-and-go traffic created by excessive use of stop signs (Resources on Stop Signs).

Our long-established policy is to try to use other mechanisms to control traffic flow and speed. One example can be seen on Los Robles Avenue. After Los Robles was re-paved, the average speed of the traffic went up dramatically -- the wider pavement and smoother ride gave drivers the illusion that these higher speeds were appropriate. The remedy was to move the lines marking the shoulders in, making the lanes narrower and making the road appear much narrower than it really was. The result was an immediate decrease in average speed by more than 5 mph. A secondary benefit was to reserving some of the pavement for bicyclists and pedestrians (although the shoulder area is too narrow for an official bike lane).

This solution works well on a residential collector street such as Los Robles, but is expected to be undesirable on lesser streets. Since most Barron Park streets do not have sidewalks, motor vehicles, bicycles, wheelchairs, and pedestrians all share the pavement. Current practice on these streets is for cars to give others a wide berth; often this results in cars briefly driving on "the wrong side" of the road. Experience from the resurfacing of Matadero Avenue show that a center lane marking noticeably decreased speeding, but also caused a signficant number of drivers to not move to the center of the road when passing pedestrians: Even when there are no cars within sight, these drivers pass uncomfortably close to pedestrians, including parents pushing baby strollers.

Version Info: $Revision: 1.7 $ $Date: 2004/10/07 02:11:25 $