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City Asks: 'What Would You Do To Improve Ralston Avenue Traffic?'

A community forum to discuss traffic concerns will be held Aug. 2 at 9:30 a.m. in Belmont City Hall.

Understanding that no one knows the roads better than the people who drive them every day, the city is asking the public's input on traffic flow and operations along Ralston Avenue.

The will hold a community forum to on Thurs., Aug. 2 to discuss traffic concerns as part of its Parking and Traffic Safety Committee meeting.

According to a press release sent out by the department last week, "If there are problems, your comments will help us identify them, and deal with them quickly."

As part of budget year 2013 the Belmont City Council has and Improvements Initiative. The intent of this project is to conduct a comprehensive corridor study to identify the general levels of traffic operations, and to determine the level of service for major intersections and traffic signals.

The study also reviews traffic safety issues, the adequacy its Share the Roads policy (non-motorized forms of transportation), and to recommend operational and capital improvements to mitigate traffic-related issues.

During the forum city staff will share some operational information, answer questions, and collect comments and feedback about traffic, bikes and pedestrian uses of this main roadway in Belmont.

Community Forum details:

  • Parking and Traffic Safety Committee meeting
  • Thurs., Aug. 2 at 9:30 AM,
  • EOC Room of the Belmont City Hall (second floor), One Twin Pines Lane.
  • If you cannot attend the meeting but would like to share your concerns, call (650) 595-7425 or send an email to pworks@belmont.gov.

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Roy jorgensen July 24, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Take out the stop sign - use a yield sign for the cross traffic.. as the amount of cars that travel through Ralston, especially through rush hour, or use a electronic sign that can change to Yield during rush hour and change back to stop during non- rush hours.... just some out of the box thinking....
Joan S. Dentler (Editor) July 24, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Thanks Roy....I believe that's exactly the feedback the city is looking for. And if you can't make the meeting, let the city know: (650) 595-7425 or send an email to pworks@belmont.gov.
Annie July 24, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Roy, you don't need to take out stop signs, most people use them as yield sings anyway. I have been driving this road for 33 years. That would make it so much worse.
Adele Della Santina July 24, 2012 at 04:01 PM
The School-Walk-Bus proposal would reduce traffic congestion around our schools tremendously. Children meet at designated Walk-Stops and walk together 30-45 minutes to school. They would wear reflective vests (or ponchos if raining) and be supervised. Parents who typically drive their children to school would drop them at a designated Walk-Stop instead of congesting in the immediate vicinity of the school. This is how it is done in Europe.
Lisa Meltzer Penn July 24, 2012 at 04:24 PM
The Belmont bike bridge is great, but it is still difficult and dangerous to ride a bike on Ralston to get to the bridge. There is bike lane here and there but it's all broken up and the markings where to ride are unclear. Arrows seem to point ahead as if to say, keep going, you might find a path somewhere up there! I never take my children that way on bikes, so we end up driving to the trails and bypassing the bridge anyway, which is a shame as it cost a lot of money to build the bridge. Also we are fans of the walking school bus or similar alternatives. Again, we need more safety measures in place to protect our children, as many routes do not have sidewalks and are on narrow, curving roads (i.e. Notre Dame going toward Middle) with cars rushing by. Finally, Ralston is a hard street on which to be a pedestrian. Drivers mostly don't bother to stop at cross-walks for pedestrians. It would be helpful to have a crosswalk somewhere between Notre Dame and Twin Pines. Thank you.
Mike Swire July 24, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I agree with Adele and Lisa. The best way to fight traffic and improve quality of life is to encourage people to get out of their cars. This means making Ralston (and the rest of Belmont) safe for pedestrians and cyclists. The current 40 mph speed limit is too high. Traffic often moves at speeds in excess of 50 mph in the areas where kids cross to Fox and Ralston. By comparison, the City of SF just lowered speed limits to 15 mph around schools (http://sf.streetsblog.org/2012/05/14/sfmta-completes-implementation-of-15-mph-zones-at-181-schools/). The hill is too steep to support these speeds. Slower speeds means less cut through traffic. In addition, the City should continue bike lanes all the way up Ralston. There is no shoulder on parts, forcing cyclists to take the entire lane at <10 mph. Bike lanes on Old County will also help make it easier to bike to Ralston, decreasing cars on Ralston.
Steve Hayes July 24, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Some ideas Cars 30MPH throughout town I like the designated walk stop idea for schools (mentioned above) One lane of through traffic lanes from South Rd all the way to the top of the hill Eliminate all parallel parking along Ralston (less conflict with bikers) Add a meter light at South Road - allowing 10-20 cars through at a time with a 20-30 second break - that would make it easier for people to get on to Ralston from the side streets. Speed bumps in front of Ralston School Bike Bike lanes throughout town Add bumps to the bike lane markers on curves to help keep drivers out of the bike lanes Pedestrians Maintain the sidewalks- clear overhanging branches and dirt slides that now cover the sidewalks - the slide debris is on the north side of the road just east of Ralston School. Need sidewalks on both sides of Ralston the entire way Much more paint markings to make cross walks more visible Eliminate trees and bushes that reduce the visibility at crosswalks
Lisa Rothstein July 24, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Off topic a bit -- but make it SAFER for pedestrians to cross at Ralston/Chula Vista by installing the flashing lights on cross walk like at Ralston/by China Village.
Coralin Feierbach July 24, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Some very interesting ideas from Mike, Adele and Steve! I put this item on the priority calendar so we can make Ralston Ave a beautiful, useful road that it should be. It's really nice between Villa and South Road. Keep the ideas coming - we are listening!
Tom July 24, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Increase speed limit on Ralston. Eliminate the stop sign at South Rd. Increase the green light time at El Camino and Old Country Rd. Intersection stop lights. Widen Ralston to add a turn lane in the middle.
Claire Karoly Ard July 24, 2012 at 09:18 PM
It would be helpful if there was enough room to keep bikes totally separate from motor vehicle traffic. It's scary riding your bicycle on Ralston! One of the green bike lanes that have been popping up would be useful, with no break in the lane from one end of Ralston to the other. Or perhaps a combined ped/bicycle trail that runs the entire length of Ralston?
Claire Karoly Ard July 24, 2012 at 09:19 PM
And that combined path should hook up somehow with both bike bridges.
Claire Karoly Ard July 24, 2012 at 09:38 PM
If only we could continue the ped/bike path that runs by NDHS - it's ideal having the tree break between the street and the path.
Mark H July 24, 2012 at 10:59 PM
One of the biggest problems with Ralston is the Old County/Ralston/El Camino area. Every day when I return home I notice that the biggest contributor to Belmont-bound travelers has to do with the aggressive drivers that (rather than queing up properly on Ralston) decide to cut in on the pack and go around Ralston by taking Masonic Way to parallel Ralston then take Old County south one block and turn right onto Ralston. Those drivers lock up all Ralston lanes with their right turn into all 4 lanes at the Ralston/El Camino light. Many times they're blocking the empty right turn to El Camino lane. Sometimes they impeed the entire crosswalk and hang in the intersection. If you put a "right turn on green light only" sign on the southbound Old County onto Ralston turn lane you'd see a lot of the gridlock problems go away. We need to discourage the aggressive work arounds people take from blocking all Ralston lanes just to get a 3 car leg up. I turn left onto Ralston from northbound Old County and I can't even begin to articulate the number of left hand turn signals I miss due to these people constantly blocking my routes just to sneak in front of the west bound Ralston people. I also witness the affect it has on the people who actually wait in line from Ralston. As always, it just takes a few bad apples to ruin it for everybody.
Mark H July 24, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Also....I've nearly been hit 3 times crossing Ralston with my baby in a stroller at the s-curve crosswalk at Chula Vista. I'm the guy nosing out with my baby and having to pull back as every car rips past me at 40+ mph. May drivers actually making eye contact with me as they do so. It's really bizarre. As a driver I always stop for pedestrians and cyclists...especially with a child! I don't understand why people cannot break for a family. Maybe they're texting...but the whole matter is rather disappointing as far as "looking out for one another" goes.
bob malina July 30, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Many commuters are using Ralston as an alternate to 92. I would retime the light from the 92 exit going on to ralston during commute times....these commuters will relearn that 92 is the better route when traffic stacks up on the exit.
Clarissa D August 01, 2012 at 05:55 AM
I am so glad Belmont is engaging the community like this. I ride my bike on Ralston at least once a week. I just want to say something about the gaps between bike lanes in areas between the Ralston bike trail and the new Childrens Bridge. I want to point out what a great connection Ralston could be between the bay trail and Canada Road if only the bike lanes would be made continuous. The section between Alameda and Polhemus definitely needs a bike lane since it is up hill and is used as a connection to road and mountain biking routes. Ralston goes from a 2 lane local street to a highway where cars go as fast as they want and it is scary. I am glad part of it was given bike lanes, but It is not complete. And something needs to be done about the down town area of Ralston just past the park where the bike lane ends and Ralston funnels across El Camino. There is definitely a problem with car traffic coming from 101 there. It would help if the signal time for through traffic was longer there which would make slowing down traffic through the downtown seem not so bad. that is my other suggestion. right now down town Belmont is the Safeway parking lot while Ralston Ave. between the park and El Camino has such potential if we just get rid of some car lanes and add wider sidewalks and room for bikes. The trail through Belmont Park has potential to go strait into downtown. Wouldn't that be fun!
Claire Karoly Ard August 01, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Yes yes yes! I second this!
Eric Dentler August 01, 2012 at 04:37 PM
If Ralston Middle School would allow bikes (need to re-install the bike racks) and parents south of Ralston Ave (750 Hallmark area homes) encouraged their kids to ride instead of motor, you could eliminate a couple hundred car trips and improve fitness, which improves test scores. Not sure about those 50 pound backpacks on 50 pound kids.
Justin August 01, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Are you kidding me--a middle school kid riding a bike to school? That would just not be "cool." Belmont kids' feet rarely touch pavement! lol
Claire Karoly Ard August 01, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I for one would ride my bike to work more if I felt safer on Ralston and a clear bike lane ran the full length of Ralston (see Clarissa's comment). I don't know how many people who commute on Ralston could bike to work (including bike to Caltrain to then get to work) but wouldn't it be nice if we had more people commuting on bicycles and less vehicular traffic?
Steve Hayes August 01, 2012 at 07:03 PM
That seems very possible, but the solution should involve an improved (for road bikes) Lake Road Trail - only about a quarter mile from Hallmark Dr. A new and very short path could be added at the west side of the school- from the trail up to campus. The path would be great for both bikes and pedestrians.

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