When school starts at Woodside High School in August, students on bikes and other bike commuters may have the town of Woodside to thank for relieving the hazards of traveling from the north: the Town Council has approved a bike lane on Alameda de las Pulgas over the last fifth of a mile leading up to Woodside Road from Redwood City.
The council voted 7-0 on April 25, approving a pilot project to create a pocket bike lane -- a bike lane with vehicle traffic on either side of it -- on the Alameda between Fernside Street and Woodside Road.
For cyclists heading south, this project will end the competition with fast-moving vehicles headed in the same direction as they merge onto the Alameda from Fernside. That merge lane will close, requiring vehicles to continue on Fernside at the Alameda and stop before heading either north or south.
During the first year, the town will evaluate effects, including on traffic queuing, driver and cyclist behavior, collisions and traffic safety when school is and is not in session, Town Engineer Sean Rose told the council.
If the changes are made permanent in the summer of 2018, the town would make slight modifications such as using thermoplastic paint on the pavement instead of simple white paint, Mr. Rose said.
The pilot project includes painting the new bike lane green; adding a "pedestrian refuge" for people to pause while crossing the Alameda; adding a crosswalk across Fernside; adding pedestrian and disabled access to a median; resurfacing sections of the Alameda and Fernside; and adding white pavement markings, including warnings to watch for pedestrians, according to plans provided to the Almanac.
Funding includes $275,000 from a half-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation and $70,000 in matching funds from the town, according to a staff report.
"Not only is this a great boon for all the commute cyclists that use (the Alameda), but it's also the only way to make it safe for a Woodside resident's child to ride a bike to Woodside High School," Woodside resident Millo Fenzi told the council. "For that reason, among many others, I strongly recommend and request that you support this thing."
Mr. Fenzi, who said he was speaking as a private citizen, is also a member of the town's Circulation Committee, which reviewed this project as it made its way to the council. He said he would not allow his son to take Woodside Road to school, given the unsafe behavior of student-drivers turning into the campus at Churchill Avenue.
Bob Page, a cycling advocate and former Woodside resident now living in Redwood City, recalled setting up a table near the site on a Bike-to-Work day five years ago, and gathering 30 signatures for a petition for a bike lane.
Bike commuters from Redwood City and points north use this route to Santa Clara County destinations, he said. "It isn't in the middle of (Woodside), but the town really needs to own up to its regional responsibility, I think, and to go forward with this project," he said.
Councilwoman Deborah Gordon commended Mr. Page. "His persistence and his dogged attention to detail has been fabulous," she said.
"It's a great project," said Councilman Dave Tanner, "and I know Bob you've been working on it a long time. ... You're finally getting it."
"It's about time," said Councilman Peter Mason.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that we're at this point today," said Councilwoman Anne Kasten.