New bike lanes to be installed on El Camino Road next summer


Emily McNally

Bike lane installation plans on El Camino Road were approved after discussion during the Los Altos City Council meeting last Tuesday.

The City of Los Altos is set to install new bike lanes on El Camino Real next summer following discussion at last week’s city council meeting.

The new bike lanes will be funded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which is currently working with each city covering El Camino Road to determine the specific details of the installation. The bike lanes on El Camino will pass through multiple cities in the Bay Area, bordering Palo Alto and Menlo Park, down to highway 85. In Los Altos, bike lanes will be installed from Adobe Creek to the south of Rengstorff Avenue.

This project has resurfaced three times in the past year under the facilitation of Caltrans, each rejected by the Council Members for the lack of details included in the plan. Caltrans took the opportunity of this recent meeting to reconfirm an improved proposition.

The bike lane installations would remove approximately 248 parking spaces along the sides of the road. These spaces are currently used by business owners and workers who drive along this path.

During the public comments, residents of Los Altos referred back to the death of 13-year-old Andre Retana, who was caught in an accident while biking to Graham Middle School on Thursday, March 17 this year, claiming that bike lanes are necessary in order to achieve student safety.

Despite the vocal support from the community regarding new bike lanes, a sharp debate continued among the Council Members. Los Altos Mayor Anita Enander was strongly opposed to the plan, claiming that bike lanes would only create a “delusion of safety.” While she contended that a solution to safer biking paths for cyclists are necessary, she did not think that solution would be the creation of bike lanes.

Mayor Enander is one of the longest serving members on the Los Altos City Council. She referenced how she had already seen multiple changes occur to El Camino Road with an increase in housing over the years. Her main concern lay in the increase in population in this area, which would lead to high levels of traffic. This creates a potentially fatal situation for bikers, having to compete for road space with vehicles.

“I absolutely cannot fathom with increased housing, increased cars [and an] increased population, that we will actually have a situation on El Camino that’s anything but more dangerous than what we already have,” Enander said.

Enander also voiced concern regarding the lack of parking spaces along El Camino, emphasizing how cars would be “pushed into the neighborhoods.”

The Mayor commented that garbage handling in these sections of the streets were not specified in the staff report regarding this project. She was apprehensive that garbage may pile up on the roads because there was no direct solution offered for garbage pick-up.

However, several other Council Members such as Vice Mayor Sally Meadows and Councilmember Neysa Fligor were in adamant support for the new installations.

“Regardless of the change and the difficulty of the change, we have to weigh the safety of the cyclists,” Meadows said. “Not just the adult cyclists, but the children cyclists.”

Meadows raised her voice in concern for current and future students of Los Altos who would be biking through El Camino every day without a bike lane.

Following the discussion, the council voted on the proposal, with Enander and Councilmember Lee Eng opposing and Vice Mayor Meadows, Councilmember Fligor and Councilmember Weinberg in support.