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Transportation Frequently Asked Questions

Traffic Calming

What can be done about cars speeding down my street?
You may participate in the Neighborhood Pace Car Program and encourage your neighbors to do the same. You may initiate the Neighborhood Traffic Calming program for your street. 

What is Neighborhood Pace Car program?
The Neighborhood Pace Car Program is a new citizen-based initiative and has two elements- a bumper sticker and a pledge. Motorists are asked to sign a pledge and implement it in their driving habits and lifestyles. A bumper sticker is then sent to each participant, which identifies the participant as a pace car driver. Pace car drivers set a prudent pace for the drivers following them.

What is Neighborhood Traffic Calming program (NTCP)?
The primary goal of NTCP is to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and neighborhood livability by responding to neighborhood traffic problems such as speeding and "cut through" on residential streets.

How to request Traffic Calming in my neighborhood?
Your request for Traffic Calming must include a petition signed by 25% of households on each block where action is requested. Each household represents one signature only .

How will my request qualify for Traffic Calming?
To qualify, at least two of the following three criteria must be satisfied:

  • Minimum 85 th % speeds of 32mph for local streets and 35mph for collector streets.
  • Minimum volume of 1200 vehicles per day for local streets and 4000 for collector streets.
  • Unusual accident history (6 or more crashes or one fatal crash in the prior 3 consecutive years)



What is the Way2Go program?
This program is designed to address the City's priority to increase use of alternative forms of transportation. The unique identity of the program will be used to raise awareness of alternative forms of transportation.

Why is the City of Palo Alto implementing the Way2Go program?
The City has set alternative transportation as a high priority and is implementing the WAY2GO program because increasing amounts of traffic, traffic congestion and the associated noise, pollution and conflicts with school children, other pedestrians and bicyclists are perceived by citizens as adversely affecting the quality of life in Palo Alto.


Stop Signs

What can be done about cars running the stop sign?
If the violations appear to be a result of an obstructed stop sign, contact the Transportation Division at 329-2425. Otherwise, contact the Palo Alto Police Department at 329-2683.

How can I request for a stop sign at an intersection?
Contact the Transportation Division at 650-329-2520.

Are Stop sign effective as a tool for speed control?
No. Where stop signs are installed for speed control, there is a high incidence of intentional violation. In those locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign, and frequently speeds are actually higher between intersections.

What are the criteria for installing a multi-way stop sign?
A stop sign should be installed only where it is necessary in order to assign right-of-way. Consequently, high vehicle and pedestrian volumes, and/or a history of accidents, is necessary to warrant a multi-way stop sign installation.



Are marked crosswalks safer?
Many studies have been performed in an attempt to determine the effectiveness of marked crosswalks in increasing pedestrian safety. The results generally indicate that there is no safety benefit associated with installing a crosswalk on a two-lane roadway, and in fact marking a crossing across a four-lane, high volume roadway may result in a less safe condition for pedestrians. This is because pedestrians tend to be less cautious at a marked crossing, and because a driver yielding to a pedestrian on a four-lane roadway may block the view of the pedestrian to a motorist approaching in an adjacent lane, who fails to yield and then strikes the pedestrian.

Where are crosswalk normally marked?
Crosswalks are normally marked at locations of high pedestrian demand, where a pedestrian can cross in reasonable safety. For example, crosswalks are normally marked at heavily traveled controlled intersections where there is a high pedestrian demand.



How do I know if my parking time limit has expired? After the time expires, where can I park if I have more shopping or business to do in downtown Palo Alto ?
You need to keep track of your time! Parking enforcement officers do not chalk tires in the color zone, but rather track your license plate number in a hand-held computer. Once the time expires in a given color zone, you can move to another color zone or park in a private pay lot.

I am a part-time downtown worker. Can I share a permit with someone?
Yes, you can purchase transferable permits. For a transferable permit, call (650) 329-2317 or visit Revenue Collections in the City Hall lobby.

How much do parking citations cost?
Cost of parking citations vary significantly. A citation for parking beyond time limits, as indicated by signs, generally ranges from $29 to $39.

I work downtown and am on a waiting list for a permit. Where can I park in the meantime? 
Purchase a permit in another lot or garage while you are waiting for a permit in your preferred location.

What permit is required in order to park large commercial vehicles or construction vehicles?
Construction workers who want to park all day may purchase a weekly on-street parking permit at the Development Center.  On-street parking permits currently cost $66 per week.

What does the different color curbs (like red, yellow, green, blue and white) indicates?
Red curbs indicate no stopping, standing or parking except that a bus may stop in a red curb. Yellow curbs indicate stopping only for the purposes of loading and unloading freight for the time as indicated by signs. Green curbs indicate short term parking as indicated by sign, not exceeding 30 minutes. Blue curbs indicate parking limited exclusively to the vehicles of disabled persons. White curb indicates loading or unloading of passengers for the time specified by signs.

How can I appeal for a parking citation?
If you believe a citation has been given in error, you may contest the ticket in two different ways:

  • You may go to Revenue Collections, located in the lobby of the Civic Center , 250 Hamilton Avenue , and complete the necessary forms to start the review process. Revenue Collections is open Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • You may submit a written appeal, along with a copy of the parking citation, and mail it to: City of Palo Alto , Processing Center , P.O. Box 10550 , Palo Alto , CA   94303-0908 . Do not include any fees. 

Your appeal will be reviewed and the results will be mailed to you in about three to four weeks. If you do not agree with the findings, you may appeal to the Parking Examiner within 21 days from the review/mailing date. The instructions of how to appeal to the examiner will be included in your initial review letter.


Traffic Signals

What is the process for signalizing an intersection?
An intersection must meet certain warrants of traffic volume, delay, accident history, and/or functionality in order to qualify for a traffic signal. If the signal is warranted based on one or more of those criteria, there must be funds available for its installation. A typical traffic signal can cost $200,000 or more, including design and construction.



Are there any guidelines for the installation of "Children at Play" signs?
Palo Alto does not install "Children at Play" signs. These signs are "nonstandard", meaning they have not been approved for use by federal and state transportation departments. These signs do not provide clear direction on how a driver is supposed to behave, and may encourage children or parents to view the street as a playground.

Can 15 miles per hour signs be posted on any neighborhood street?
No. The California Vehicle Code allows a 15 mile-per-hour speed limit posting only under specific circumstances, such as on an alley or on a narrow street (25 feet wide or less) if justified by an engineering and traffic survey. Otherwise, a 25 mile-per-hour speed limit must apply on a residential street.


Truck Routes

What are the truck routes in Palo Alto?
In general, vehicles under 7 tons can use any and all streets in Palo Alto at any time. However, vehicles over 7 tons (including any load or materials) shall enter or leave the City only by using a through or local truck route. Entry and exit points are shown in circles such as Page Mill Road/Foothill Expressway or San Antonio Road/US 101. All trucks passing through the City (with no local destination) shall only use through truck routes, such as Alma Street or El Camino Real. All trucks (within Palo Alto ) shall use the shortest and most direct route from the through or local truck route to their local destination. Trucks traveling to Stanford University campus should use the through truck routes. Due to the significant number of complaints from our residents, truck route violations will be strictly enforced. Please be mindful of the speed limits within Palo Alto . Speed limit signs are prominently posted throughout the city. Several streets have been surveyed under CVC 40802 and speeds can be enforced using radar. Alma Street and Oregon Expressway are posted at 35 mph. El Camino Real is posted at 35 mph south of Stanford Avenue and 40 mph north of Stanford Avenue. All residential streets, including University Avenue , Embarcadero Road and East Charleston Road are posted at 25 mph. Trucks stopped for truck route violations or speed violations will be cited. The minimum fine for a truck route violation is $270. The minimum fine for a speeding violation is $76. We appreciate your cooperation in using the designated truck routes. Please feel free to contact the Traffic Sergeant at 650-329-2683 should you have any questions.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2017