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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I hate to start back to writing again with a pet peeve, but driving on campus is just getting silly. They've added another stop sign between Quarry and Via Ortega. So, within a quarter of a mile, that makes five stop signs. Getting through there in the morning takes forever. Two of the stop signs aren't at intersections at all. They're at crosswalks, one of which goes to an empty building still under construction. And the three intersections all have crosswalks as well. Trying to get to work on the northwest side of campus in the morning, coming from the southeast is an exercise in patience at best, and more often an utterly maddening waste of time and fuel economy. At lunch time yesterday, we went a mile out of our way to avoid this gauntlet of stop signs and single lane traffic.

Add to this the 25 mph speed limit on Embarcadero Road. Palo Alto has installed LED signage that displays the speed limit in bright golden lights, and then alternates to your current speed. No one on Embarcadero drives 25. It's a four lane roadway that is the main thoroughfare from Highway 101 to Stanford University as identified by the signs preceding the offramp and at the exit. Palo Alto believes it's a quiet residential street. Palo Alto is delusional. Were this street in any other city, the speed limit would be posted at 35 or 40 miles an hour. But it's in Palo Alto. So, instead of providing some incentive to go the speed they desire (like timing the lights so that you are rewarded for travelling at 23-25 miles an hour) or actually reevaluating the street to recognize it as a main thoroughfare, they create more expensive signage to be threatening and make drivers feel like there might be increased enforcement. This typifies Palo Alto to me. It wants to be an exclusive gated community, but unfortunately has to let the riff-raff in to go to work at all those places providing the nice tax base. I hate Palo Alto. It's Palo Alto's fault that we don't (and won't ever) have BART going to San Jose down the peninsula, looping the bay, and making one unified public transit system. Palo Alto doesn't want it in their nieghborhood, let alone have to pay for it. Of course, they don't want the cars in their neighborhood either, as evidenced by their efforts to restrain and complicate traffic patterns whereever possible. But without Stanford and the other companies that have grown up around it, Palo Alto would be just another suburb. And Stanford and those other companies have a lot of people who have to go to work to continue to provide the revenue and innovation that makes Palo Alto more than just another suburb. Palo Alto needs to wise up and be part of the bay area community instead of believing itself to be an island. I'm afraid only Alameda gets that privlege.

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