Peninsula is still far from bike-friendly

As Peninsula bicyclists gear up for Bike to Work Day, bike advocates are seeing little progress when it comes to making the region friendlier for two-wheeled commuters.

The City/County Agency of Governments last week approved $2.5 million in federal money for local bike and pedestrian projects — the biggest sum to date — but most of the money will go toward improving off-road bike and pedestrian trails. Only one on-street bike project — improvements to the bike path along Delaware Street in San Mateo — won a share of the money, according to Sandy Wong, transportation systems coordinator for C/CAG.

Ironically, when that path is reconfigured to allow for angled parking on Delaware, many Peninsula cyclists say it will disrupt a long-standing effort to create a north-south route from San Francisco to Palo Alto.

That route is identified as a top priority in the county’s Comprehensive Bicycle Route Plan, adopted in 2000.

Very little of that plan has been implemented, according to Steve Van Der Lip, director of the Peninsula Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition. “As far as I know, nothing’s been done,” he said.

In some places, bike access has gotten worse. Many of Highway 101’s street overcrossings have been adapted so vehicles can get on and off quickly. That makes routes less safe for bicyclists, Van Der Lip said. One good alternative is a separated center lane for cyclists on Third Avenue in San Mateo, but such improvements are expensive.

“For that money you can do important things like widening areas, striping, removing obstacles or buying timed traffic signals,” according to Mike Harding, a member of C/CAG’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee.

There are some bright spots. Cities are learning that they can attract funding if they establish bike-related committees, and San Carlos and Menlo Park both have active groups. Redwood City’s new 25-member committee will hold its first meeting May 31.

But, when compared with San Francisco’s 5,300-member bicycle coalition, the Peninsula’s 75-member group has its work cut out for it. “It’s intimidating to a lot of people, and it’s more scary because you’re exposed [on the road],” Van Der Lip said.

Harding, who has been riding his bike to work since the gas crisis of 1974, proves that it can be done.

“Chicago has traffic and terrible weather and people bicycle all the time. We have no excuse,” he said.

The Peninsula Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition will run Bike to Work stations this morning at the Belmont, San Mateo and Redwood City Caltrain stations, and from 3 to 6 p.m. at the San Mateo station.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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