Cyclists veto $6M bike bridge

Members of the Peninsula Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition say they will not endorse the city’s plan to build a $6 million bicycle and pedestrian bridge across U.S. Highway 101 at Hillsdale Boulevard.

Travelers on foot or on two wheels currently share the road with cars on the six-lane vehicle overcrossing. City officials and bicycle advocates will meet Thursday in their second public workshop to nail down which of six bike/pedestrian bridge designs the city will build, according to city engineer Gary Heap. City engineers introduced six bridge options during a workshop in July, and have since narrowed down the choices to one: a bike/pedestrian crossing on the south side of Hillsdale Boulevard, Heap said.

“It ties in from Hillsdale Court to Norfolk Street [and] doesn’t cross any of the freeway ramps, but it is a bit circuitous getting over the ramps,” Heap said. “It’s the one that’s been identified as the most feasible.”

But many cyclists and pedestrians would prefer a bridge on the north side, which would cross offramps — often thought of as unsafe — but connect riders and walkers more directly with the Whole Foods shopping center on the west side of 101 and residential areas on the east, according to Heap. Thursday’s workshop will determine whether the “feasible” option will become the preferred option.

“They’ve ignored whether it’s convenient,” coalition head Steve Van Der Lip said. “Would this encourage more people to walk and bike? They really should study these questions.”

While seasoned cyclists like Van Der Lip say they’ll keep using the vehicle overcrossing because it’s more convenient, others say a new bridge will make it possible for newcomers to cross 101 without having close encounters with cars.

“I have ridden on Hillsdale and it’s scary,” said Matt Jordan, chair of the city’s bicycle and pedestrian committee. “Someone who doesn’t ride as often would definitely take the bridge option.”

Funding for the project is expected to come from Measure A transportation sales-tax funds, which will become available in 2008. “We hope to be far enough along so that we can be one of the first projects to apply,” Heap said.

The workshop takes place Thursday at 7 p.m. at San Mateo City Hall, 330 West 20th Ave.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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