Where Buena Vista Doesn’t Mean Good View

25 Sep

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter complaining about “Keep Right” signs on downhill Page Mill Road near Moody Road. I had assumed the signs were prompted by drivers who wanted cyclists to “stay in their place” so they could pass more quickly, without regard for cyclist safety. The County Traffic Engineer responded that the signs were installed because residents on Buena Vista Drive complained they couldn’t see cyclists descending Page Mill when they turn left onto Buena Vista. Somehow, they believe that cyclists who keep right are more visible.

But the signs may come down soon, and not because cyclists like me complained. In their place, the residents now want a stop sign installed on Page Mill for the downhill travel lane only! Does this sound like a good idea to you? Not me. So I wrote back saying I thought a downhill only stop sign would be confusing and merely shifts the burden of safely yielding the right of way from the uphill traffic to the downhill traffic.

Today, I went up Page Mill to check the intersection out again. I took this series of photos as I walked up Page Mill Road toward the Buena Vista and Moody Rd intersections. The photos were taken from the vantage point of a car driver, at approximately 20 feet intervals.

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My take: Downhill traffic is visible to uphill traffic at the Buena Vista intersection if the uphill traffic slows to nearly a stop before turning, something I guess the residents of the eight homes on Buena Vista don’t want to do. After all, it’s far easier for them if all other traffic stops just for them. If they want a stop sign, I think it should be four-way stop, like the traffic consultants recommended in their report.

What do you think? Does a downhill-only stop sign make sense? What about a four-way stop?

If you care about this issue, let the county supervisors know about it! You can attend the meeting on Tuesday, September 27 or write a letter. Details on how are courtesy of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

Speaking of passing without regard for safety, while I was taking photos I also videotaped a driver passing a cyclist on this blind turn. What was the driver thinking? It’s a good thing that the white SUV that appears around 0:12 wasn’t there 10 seconds earlier!


Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Backroads, Issues & Infrastructure


10 responses to “Where Buena Vista Doesn’t Mean Good View

  1. Rick Warner

    September 26, 2011 at 6:03 am

    I think that no stop sign is a better idea. Buena Vista is a poorly designed private road that does not meet state design standards in that the intersection with Page Mill is too close to another intersection (Moody). A better idea is to have the owners of the private road re-design it to meet state standards, e.g., have it intersect with Moody downhill from the Page Mill. Put the burden of the problem, it there is a problem, on those who created it … the owners of the road.

    • ladyfleur

      September 26, 2011 at 7:04 am

      You’re right, Buena Vista should never have been built this way. And it does bug me that we’d all be stopping for a private road, what is essentially a driveway for a small number of houses.

      But I’m still pissed that their first solution was a Keep Right sign for bikes, cause you know it’s the bikes coming down the hill, not cars or motorcycles that’s the problem. After taking my photos it was clear to me that a bike on the right side of the road is no more visible than in the middle of the lane.

  2. ladyfleur

    September 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I just got an email from my county supervisor: “The issue of the proposed stop sign at Moody/Page Mill/Buena Vista will be NOT heard by the Board of Supervisors on September 27. At the request of the Town of Los Altos, the issue has been deferred to the meeting of November 22.”

  3. Brian

    September 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    If the CHP patrols it, is it a state road? If so, someone has to basically get killed before they can slow down traffic with a stop sign. State rules are all about traffic flow in California. Therefore, a stop sign is pretty extreme by CalTrans standards, and since, as you point out, the current signage is wrong, someone could make a good case for better notice of the 15 mph speed limit. The only thing they have on their side is the sight distance, which is sufficient for the posted limit, but not for the measured speed. Since nothing has been tried to bring speeds down to the limit and there are no actual accident reports, signage or rumble strips would be a better first step.

  4. ladyfleur

    September 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    It’s not a state road, the county and City of Palo Alto share jurisdiction for this segment (county on downhill lane, city uphill). Also, the 15 mph is the suggested speed for the turn, not the speed limit for the road. I’m all for caution signage warning of blind driveways, but rumble strips sound dangerous for bikes.

  5. Dan Connelly

    September 26, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Excellent comments, Janet! Completely agree this creates a right of way ambiguity and should not be implemented. The corner is dangerous if cyclists are descending recklessly, but a 4-way stop sign is overkill, and a 1 way is perverse.

  6. jay keehan

    September 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Thank you for the enlightening posting. I hope the delay in consideration of the issue means the supervisors won’t be bullied into approving the stop sign(s). I actually hadn’t considered the possibility of a four way stop; I had assumed a stop for downhill traffic only.

    I was thinking earlier if there actually has to be a stop sign, it would be more logical to place it for uphill traffic only. Your photos confirm this for me.

    There are a lot of places where Page Mill is potentially dangerous. It seems pretty arbitrary that a stop should be placed here. I’ve had more problems with cars exiting Foothill Park.

  7. Brian

    September 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Singapore had rumble strips that seemed to be just thick paint. Somehow, they weren’t slick in rain. Riding over them was no problem. The grooves they use in Wisconsin are bad, I agree.

  8. ladyfleur

    September 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I hate the center line rumble strips on Hwy 9. Not because they’re dangerous for a bike to roll over (which they may be) but because they encourage drivers to stay in the lane when passing vs giving you a wider berth.


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