Bike Lane SUCCESS! A Safer Route to Middle School

07 Feb

Boy, am I jealous of the kids who go to JL Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto. When I was their age I was stuck on the school bus with annoying boys who called me giraffe (I was tall) or gorilla (my arms were hairy) depending on their mood. There was no safe way for me to ride my bicycle the 1.5 short miles to school.

Palo Alto recently repaved Cowper Street, a key route to JLS Middle School, and marked it with super-sized sharrows and an virtual bike lane through the intersections. The markings make it very clear that bikes own the lane and don’t need to weave in and out of cars parked along the curb.

Cowper Super Slot Sharrows

The new bike markings are just the latest in a well-organized effort to get more kids biking and walking to school in Palo Alto, turning around the sharp decline that started 30 years ago. In 2000, only 17% of JLS students biked to school. By 2010, the rate was up to 45%, roughly the same rate as in 1985.

And the success is not limited to JLS Middle School. Overall, over half of the students at Palo Alto’s three middle schools bike or walk to school. Way to go kids! And way to go City of Palo Alto!

Location: Cowper Street near East Meadow Drive in Palo Alto, California, USA


Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL


4 responses to “Bike Lane SUCCESS! A Safer Route to Middle School

  1. anniebikes

    February 8, 2014 at 8:02 am

    And, I have to ask, how are the young commuters respected by cars? As a mom, when I see sharrows covering the automobile lane, I wonder if a driver will truly look out for my child. I don’t know the traffic level and pattern here, obviously, but I’m justifiably skeptical. According to your stats which are much better than two decades ago, I presume 50%,of students are still driven to school. Would it be along this same route?

    • ladyfleur

      February 8, 2014 at 8:58 am

      I’m not a fan of sharrows in general, but this is a residential street with a 25mph speed limit. More importantly, with such high rates of kids riding to school, the drivers are very attentive and patient. It helps that the drivers almost all live in the neighborhood or are taking their own kids to school. The numbers are so great the kids take over the streets. People expect it, and respect it.

      Of the other 65% of students who don’t bike at this school, I imagine a significant number walk and the rest are driven. This street is a secondary (but frequently used) driving route to the school. Middlefield or Waverley or Alma to E Meadow is probably primary. The driving entrance for teachers aligns with Waverly and drop-off is on Meadow. (see map

      • anniebikes

        February 8, 2014 at 5:34 pm

        Phew! Thanks for the clarification. I can rest easy now, knowing those children are safe.

    • ladyfleur

      February 8, 2014 at 9:11 am

      One more clarification. The bike-to-school numbers made their outstanding increase *before* these bike markings were painted. The 45% number was 2010. This was painted within the last year.


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