Thursday, March 26, 2009

Menlo Park Ringwood Avenue Pedestrian Bridge

Highway 101 separates the largely lower income and minority Belle Haven neighborhood in East Menlo Park from the higher income Flood Triangle enclave. These neighborhoods are connected at Ringwood Avenue by a pedestrian / bicycle bridge.

Caltrans wants to replace this pedestrian/cyclist bridge over Highway 101 in Menlo Park as part of a larger project to add lanes to Highway 101 between Marsh Road and Willow Road. Flood Triangle NIMBY residents have long complained about this bridge and used the public discussion over this bridge replacement to demand removal of this vital connection altogether, calling it an eyesore and a crime corridor.

Belle Haven residents use this bridge to travel to schools and jobs on the west side of the freeway. About 50 students in Belle Haven use this bridge to get Menlo-Atherton High School. I and several other people use this bridge to bike to our jobs in East Menlo Park.

The NIMBYs want Belle Haven residents to walk two miles out of their way and use this beautiful overcrossing on Willow Road. They also propose increasing the Belle Haven/Downtown shuttle service or busing the students to the school.

The short video below was taken as I rode onto the bridge from the west side of 101. Towards the end of the video you can see the stopped traffic below me on Highway 101.


Tony Bullard said...

A "Crime Corridor"? So instead of solving the crime issue, their answer is to just wall off the "bad" area and it's out of site, out of mind? That's some great community work there Lou.

chatterbox said...

Willow road is not a safe over-crossing for bikes/peds. There is the high speed merging lane where 101 northbound traffic exits and crosses with Willow road westbound transitioning to SB 101.

In addition, during the peak morning hours, there is severe gridlock around the Bay/Willow intersection caused by the school and VA traffic. There is often not even room to maneuver a bike through the crisscrossing, gridlocked cars.

Removing a bike/ped over-crossing of 101 is a huge step backward. There are so few crossings of this major obstacle on the peninsula. Each one is valuable.

Yokota Fritz said...

Solving crime: Well, yeah :-/ There is some property crime imported to the neighborhood from Belle Haven, but I think it's more perception than reality. East Menlo isn't nearly as dangerous as East Palo Alto. In 2008, out of 407 reported crimes in Menlo Park, about 25% were in the Belle Haven neighborhood. Most of the crimes are larceny, burglary and "simple assault." 5% of crimes were in West Menlo area immediately adjacent to 101.

Sarah, the Willow Road crossing is indeed hairy. I should probably video that portion sometime. I have a couple of photos here & here.

CyclistRick said...

We had the same argument against the Borregas bridge project in Sunnyvale. The neighborhood just south of 101 argued that putting a bridge over the freeway as going to be used as a gang warfare conduit, with the norteños from north of 101 coming to fight the sureños south of 101. Strange redefinition to what north and south in the gang names references. The Sunnyvale PD pointed out that the vehicle preferred by those engaged in gang activities was the car and that is highly unlikely they will change and that there will be an increase in ride-by shootings.

'Crime' is the NIMBY catch-all to obstruct any development they do not want, with or without data. The extension of the trail along the Hetch-Hetchy right of way in Los Altos was defeated when the NIMBYs cried that trails were crime corridors, and used inferences to try to blame past crimes on the presence of trails (stuff like 'my friend whose house is next to a trail had her jewelry stolen' though there was no evidence of causal relationship).

-p said...

Menlo Parkers also hate on the high speed rail proposal.

Anonymous said...

Tonight, Tuesday April 14, the NIMBYs will appear before the Menlo Park City Council with their petition asking that the city ask Caltrans NOT to replace the bicycle/ped bridge over HWY 101.
Sign our petition in support of replacing the bridge: or send an email to the MP City Council

standaman said...

First of all I'm an Afro-American male and I live in the Belle Haven neighborhood for 53 years. I also work in West Menlo and was a graduate of both Menlo Atherton High School and San Jose State. Also I played baseball and basketball growing up on the Westside. We affectionately call this bride the "Catwalk". I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for the "Catwalk". Also I agree when we had a crack cocaine epidemic a few years ago it could have been considered a crime corridor. I don't think their is big problem at the moment. The "Catwalk opened up a whole new world for me and thousand of children after me. Please don't let this happen.

Anonymous said...

What strikes me funny about all these comments is that they are so one sided. From the view point of "what is the impact to me"? I, for one, would like to see a resolution that solves for the needs of all: cyclist, pedestrians and homeowners. So far the design solutions that have been proposed do not solve for all 3 stake holders.