Walking downtown from the Redwood Village neighborhood — a distance of less than a mile — can feel a little like running the gantlet.
To get there, pedestrians must cross Woodside Road, where at least four pedestrians have been killed in the last four years. The closest place to cross Woodside, which doubles as a state highway, is a footbridge many say is unsafe, according to Hoover School Principal Greg Land.
To remedy the dangers of traversing Woodside Road, Redwood City leaders have started opening their ears to residents in the area and hope to put a $170,000 grant from the California Department of Transportation to good use. With that money, the city will study how to help walkers and bicyclists get from Redwood Village and nearby Stambaugh-Heller to other parts of the city without risking their necks, Economic Development Director Pat Webb said.
“Woodside is a huge barrier,” said local and transit advocate Adrian Brandt, who attended a workshop recently aimed at providing a forum for locals’ concerns. “To get groceries, many are going to Foodsco on Broadway, and there’s no good way to walk there on foot.”
Those who brave it may be risking their lives. Four pedestrians have died crossing Woodside Road — both in crosswalks and jaywalking — since April 2004. Police routinely hold stings and issue tickets to jaywalkers and to drivers who fail to yield at crosswalks, Redwood City police Detective Eric Stasiak said.
“We receive a lot of complaints from people who walk along Woodside, and we’ve done campaigns, but unfortunately people don’t always yield,” Stasiak said.
In addition, many pedestrians are scared to cross the footbridge at Stambaugh Street because it’s the chosen meeting spot for juveniles who want to fight after school, Land said. However, as much as 70 percent of Hoover School’s 830 students walk to school daily, and many cross Woodside Road to do it, he said.
Redwood City is also busily working on plans to re-stripe parts of Middlefield Road, narrowing traffic lanes and potentially adding a bike lane, Webb said.
That’s good news to cyclists, who currently don’t have any designated north-south corridor through the city, according to resident Billy James.
“I’ve got to hand it to the city — they’re doing things to make traffic safer, and without loudmouth advocates such as myself asking them to,” James said. “I’m just thrilled to pieces.”