Petition – Safer Santa Cruz Ave at Alameda Intersection

Petition to Address Critical Safety Issue at
Alameda de las Pulgas and Santa Cruz Ave
West Menlo Park

TO:  San Mateo Board of Supervisors and Department of Public Works

 Critical Safety Issue:

Santa Cruz Ave – Alameda de las Pulgas – West Menlo Park

The northbound Santa Cruz Ave roadway in West Menlo Park where Alameda de las Pulgas begins and Santa Cruz veers right (the intersection known as the Y) poses critical safety issues.  It seemed the original design was attempting to speed traffic through the area, but unfortunately it ignored safety and the chaotic traffic flow has resulted.   For instance, instead of creating a steady flow of traffic, the current road configuration forces dangerous last-minute lane changes and has resulted in collisions  not only between cars (including cyclists) but also between these vehicles and residences and other property.  The current design has also created a safety risk to pedestrians, especially to school-age children since this is a school crossing. In addition, residents at the Y are at high accident risk when exiting or entering their driveways.   However, it seems that the County has not taken any of these safety risks into account.

We, the local community, would like to see these unsafe traffic issues resolved at this location as well as further north as the road narrows.  Well marked lanes and a straightforward, less complicated traffic flow design would greatly reduce the safety risks that are now present. This could be implemented first as a 6 to 8 week trial period if County desired.

This extremely dangerous configuration is detailed more in the Background section at the end of this petition and on the  website’s safety page where these serious issues are documented and there is a list of the many safety benefits achieved by the simple solution.

The solution we propose has minimal cost and is simple to understand and implement.  It would turn this dangerous intersection into one where people driving, cycling, walking or just living in their houses are significantly safer.  County can easily, with virtually no cost, make these simple changes that would address these important safety issues, considered by many to be among the most dangerous issues along the Santa Cruz/Alameda corridor.  

  1. Remove the confusing and chaotic 3rd lane that forces 50% of the traffic (5,500+ vehicles/day) to change lanes just prior to the intersection.  Elimination of this unneeded 3rd lane provides a significantly calmer flow of traffic, reduces dangerous conflicts with cyclists, and provides a much needed pedestrian buffer from traffic  (Current distance between cars and people measured in inches near the crosswalk).
  2. Re-program the traffic light to be a normal traffic light, where all northbound traffic stops on red and thus provide significant increase in safety to residents that live at the intersection as well as those further north on Santa Cruz Ave.
  3. Paint the outside lane marking to define the slow lane to help calm traffic and provide a defined safety buffer for resident’s parked cars.

This petition requests County to provide these safety measures as soon as possible and preferably before the start of the school year in mid-August.

Request of the Undersigned:

We, the undersigned, urge San Mateo County to act and implement these important safety changes at the intersection of Santa Cruz Ave and Alameda de las Pulgas for northbound traffic, for the reasons stated herein:

  1. Remove the added 3rd lane just before the intersection, thus reducing the chaotic lane changes forced there. 
  2. Change traffic light to behave normally where all northbound Santa Cruz traffic stops on red, thus removing the problematic ‘always green’ light pattern.
  3. Paint right lane definition striping so that the lane is properly defined.


Additional information and reference:




 The northbound Santa Cruz Ave roadway, just at the Alameda de las Pulgas intersection (also known as the “Y”) contains a road configuration that is extremely dangerous to all users: Cyclists, motorists, pedestrians, and residents.  It has a high accident history, including many accidents crashing into residential properties.  This short segment of Santa Cruz abruptly adds a 105’ 3rd lane right before the intersection forcing 50% of the traffic (5,500+ cars a day) to change lanes, causing confusion to motorists, creating chaotic and distracted driving, and is an extreme danger for other reasons:  

  • Cyclists trying to negotiate through the chaotic lane changing zone into one of the two shared bike lanes created there and having to do this with distracted drivers.
  • Pedestrians walking there (sometimes just inches from the car lane, at the crosswalk).
  • Pedestrians and residents at risk by red light running due to the current almost ‘always green’ traffic light behavior.
  • Residents are at extreme risk and have no safe means for  ingress/egress to their properties 
  • Residents just north of this intersection have difficulty entering Santa Cruz due to unbroken flow of traffic.
  • Tendency for Santa Cruz Ave motorists to drive faster as they make this northbound turn towards downtown Menlo Park — due to an ‘always green’ light and higher speed limit on Santa Cruz just north of this intersection.


  1. Remove the added 3rd lane, that 105 foot lane that forces over 5,500+ vehicles per day to change lanes from the current 2 lanes of traffic, into this short lane.  

    It is this 3rd lane and its associated forced lane changes that cause such dangerous distracted and chaotic motorist behavior, creating high risk to  cyclists and to pedestrians waiting at the crosswalk.  (Solution Cost, about a gallon of paint)  


  1. Re-program the northbound Santa Cruz Ave traffic light to behave as a normal red light, where all NB traffic stops on red and goes on green, thus eliminating the almost ‘always green’ lane on Santa Cruz.  (Cost, none – programming  the light)
  2. Paint outside lane stripe on Santa Cruz Ave to define the right most northbound lane.  Virtually all roads in the County have this outside lane painted and the ‘slow’ lane defined. (Cost: paint)



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