Is bike safety for children really an issue? To many people it is not, because they feel it is not safe for children to bike in our streets and thus they don't bike with them. To me that is part of the bigger issue, that we accept unsafe streets for our children as a given and then use our cars to bring them everywhere. In my opinion we as a community should provide a safe traffic environment for all modes of transportation, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Especially the routes to our schools deserve our undivided attention to ensure that all our children make it safely to school.
My youngest daughter and I bike every day to Laurel Elementary School. Parking on the first 0.4 miles of shoulder along Ringwood Ave, starting at Middlefield Ave, is not allowed. For reasons beyond me parking is allowed on the last 300 feet before the guarded crosswalk at Edge Rd. That makes biking on these last 300 feet very dangerous as you can see in this video:
I thought it would be a no-brainer to extend the existing no-parking zone by roughly 300 feet to make it safe for our children. But I was wrong. I'm dealing with the County of San Mateo since September and as a last effort wrote the following email to the President of the Board of Supervisors and included the video you just saw. So far I didn't receive an answer - which is a common experience for me in my dealings with the County. No one at the County of San Mateo is willing to answer the very simple yes-no-question whether this situation is safe for our children.
After doing this on my own for several months I'm now reaching out to our Laurel Community as well as the extended Menlo Park and Atherton Communities in the hope that bigger community support helps to convince the authorities to act - and act fast. I certainly don't want them to wait until a child gets hurt in an accident. Do you think this situation is safe for walking and biking children? Do you think extending the no-parking zone along Ringwood by another 300 feet - so that it stretches from Middlefield Ave all the way to Laurel School at Edge Rd - can easily be done to allow our children to reach their school safely?
Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 8:15 PM
Subject: Safe Routes to School - Bike Safety along Ringwood Ave near Laurel Elementary School
Dear President of the Board of Supervisors,
I write this letter to you as a last effort to get an answer to a couple of questions I'm asking the Department of Public Works for several months without getting answers.
Please find attached a 35 second video (that can be played on any Windows computer) to understand the situation I'm daily confronted with, when I bike with my daughter to her elementary school.
The very simple question I have is whether this situation along Ringwood Avenue near Laurel Elementary School is safe for 5-7 year old children who bike to their K-2 elementary school. Neil Cullen, the former director of the Department of Public Works refused repeatedly to answer that question and instead responded on 12/11: "I believe the more appropriate question is whether or not a 5 to 7 year old should be biking on Ringwood Avenue"
You can imagine how upsetting such an answer can be for a parent who is concerned for the safety of school children during their commute to school and who looks to the County to provide safe routes to schools. I believe the Public Department of Works is responsible to provide safety for all modes of transportation throughout the county including pedestrian and bicycle safety. I further believe that the highest standards for safety have to be applied around schools and along routes to schools.
Based on this belief that the engineers at the Department of Public Works do their outmost to ensure the safety of our children in the streets that are designed and maintained by them I find it hard to believe that they not only wouldn't answer such questions but would respond in such an unbelievable way.
In the course of my interactions with the Department of Public Works more and more questions have come up that were not answered despite repeated reminders to please answer them. The current situation at Ringwood Ave is in my daily experience dangerous for our children and it is hard to understand that the existing parking restriction that stretches for 0.4 miles along Ringwood Ave can not be extended by roughly 300 feet to make it safer for our children to reach the marked and guarded crosswalk that leads into the school property.
So why does the Department of Public Works that wrote "…there is a short section of shoulder suitable for pedestrian use that starts at the intersection of Coleman and extends easterly along Ringwood approximately 60 feet …" not answer my question why the remaining 240 feet (that look the same to me) wouldn't be suitable? I find this behavior unacceptable and feel it is their duty to the public to answer such questions in a timely manner and to act swiftly when made aware of safety issues that involve little children on their way to school.
This has been a very frustrating experience and I look to you to intervene and make this particular stretch of road safer for our children. It is my understanding based on an email from Neil Cullen who pointed me to you, the President of the Board of Supervisors, that you and the Board of Supervisors can vote on extending the existing 0.4 mile long parking restriction by the final 300 feet that are needed to reach the school more safely.
Thanks for you support in this matter,