Transitioning to two wheels involves planning

For the last four years, Gary Moore has commuted almost daily from his home in Redwood City to his workplace in San Mateo on his bicycle.

The approximately 9-mile ride is fun, he said, but it can also be a challenge. A system of bikeways — something San Mateo city officials are working to create — could encourage more people to take two wheels to work instead of four, while making it safe for everyone on the road, Moore said.

“I’ve been doing it long enough to know my routes,” said Moore, the owner of Talbots Cyclery. “But it’s not consistent from city to city.”

San Mateo’s goal is to develop a “safe and logical” citywide bikeway system, according to a request for proposals recently sent out by the city for planning and engineering services.

Such a system would fit with city goals to promote bicycles for transportation and increase the percentage of people who walk or bike for trips of 1 mile or less to 30 percent by 2020. Bicycle and pedestrian travel currently represent only about 3 percent of all travel, according to city documents.

San Mateo’s existing plan is a network of maps outlining routes in the city that mostly include city parks.

The development of a citywide bicycle network would include designated paths for cyclists to use for transit purposes, said Burlingame resident Adam Pallin, an employee of Cyclepath in San Mateo and an urban planning student at San Francisco State.

With the increase in gas prices, more people who commute short distances are turning to cycling as a way of getting to work.

“It’s more lanes and more pathways for cyclists to use,” Pallin said. “Bike plans are generally a good idea.”

Not everyone would agree.

In San Francisco, a citywide plan to create 34 miles of new bike lanes was approved in 2005, but an injunction filed by opponents has kept it from fully moving forward. Opponents argue the plan negatively impacts traffic and was authorized without undergoing an environmental impact report.

South San Francisco is also currently drafting a bike plan. The Request for Proposals has a submission deadline of Dec. 18.

According to a city timeline, the contract to draft the plan could be approved at the end of January.

Moore said encouraging bike commuting doesn’t have to be complicated.

“It can be as simple as some paint, so people know where to go to get from one end of town to the other,” he said.

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