There are a number of alternatives to the traffic light, as proposed by Menlo Park
1. Do not allow left turns at the Hillview School Driveway Exit (on Elder)
Left turns always take longer and are much more likely to cause traffic. Case in point: UPS eliminated left turns from it’s delivery routes years ago and saves millions of dollars due to increased efficiency. This solution would be very beneficial to drivers coming to Hillview School during pick-up and drop-off rush hour. Plus, this solution helps keep the traffic flow more consistent. Ultimately, fewer left turns will mean less traffic congestion in the neighborhood.
This solution could be implemented with a ‘no left turn’ sign at the exit of the school during peak school drop-off/pick-up hours. Better yet, the school could eliminate any chance of left turn violation by simply working this traffic flow into their driveway exit curbs. Strategically placing a few feet of curb is all that would be needed to prevent drivers from breaking the rules of the road.
2. Do not allow left turns at Elder & Santa Cruz Intersection
Similarly, installing a no left turn only in effect during school pick-up and drop-off is another viable, low-cost solution. This type of traffic management tactic is widely in San Francisco and many other major cities across California. This would prevent nasty back-ups in traffic and keep more drivers moving at a fraction of the cost of installing a traffic light.
The other obvious benefit of this no left turn sign, is that it actually targets the source of traffic that is causing the overall congestion at Elder & Santa Cruz. During the other 23 hours of the day Elder is rarely used, whereas Santa Cruz is always a main thoroughfare for Menlo Park residents. In absolute terms, the proposed traffic light would negatively impact more drivers than it would actually help.
3. Encourage walking, bicycling, and using public transportation
This truly gets at the heart of the issue: investing in personal health and environmental awareness would improve our community as a whole. Children would benefit from regular exercise, while the neighborhood would see a decrease in traffic and pollution.
Other communities are already working towards similar solutions. Sequoia Healthcare District is government organization currently working with many San Mateo school districts on campaigns to promote health awareness for children – ranging in issues from insurance and healthy lifestyles. One of their district programs is encouraging students to walk to school.