Bikeway launched to connect Peninsula cities


September 8 marked the opening of the Peninsula Bikeway, a bike route on surface streets that connects Redwood City and Mountain View by way of Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Bike rides starting in the early morning on each end of the bikeway, an interim path that will be improved over time, culminated in the Menlo Park Civic Center.

Riders breezed into Burgess Park at about 10 a.m. – some 40 bicyclists who had started in Redwood City met about 50 riders hailing from Mountain View. A generally good time followed, with people trying out electric bikes and having miniature smoothies prepared by pedal-powered blenders. For the kids, there was a bike rodeo.

A number of officials spoke at a short ceremony at Burgess once the cyclists arrived. Russell Hancock, chief executive of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, commented on the flat landscape, the great weather and the health consciousness of Silicon Valley residents. "Silicon Valley really should be the biking capital of America," he said.

Joint Venture organized the Peninsula Bikeway by convening the "Managers Mobility Partnership" with the managers of the participating cities. The partnership was unprecedented, Hancock said for an earlier Almanac story.

Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki also remarked on the weather and how it is "perfect" for cycling.

The bikeway is part of a plan to create "a seamless and convenient bike network," Ohtaki said. Just 20 percent of students ride bikes to school, he noted, a figure that he said could be improved upon with more emphasis on the city's Safe Routes To School program.

Officials from Palo Alto, Mountain View and Redwood City also made remarks, but there were none by anyone from Atherton. "The Town was a participant on the Bikeways Committee but not to the same extent as the other communities," Atherton City Manager George Rodericks said in an email, noting that town officials had not received an invitation to speak.

Growing pains

The interim bike route is "not as direct as you would want it to be," said Hugh Louch, a principal at Alta Planning + Design, in the earlier Almanac story when describing the bikeway's temporary route. "At this point, it's really piecing together what exists," he said.

"One important goal of the project was to get something on the ground quickly that could serve as an interim or first route and help identify how we can advance a long-term route," Louch said by email.

The route was not even one day old when this reporter joined with the riders pedaling from Sequoia High School in Redwood City to Burgess Park. The group included several children and three or four people on electric bikes.

Blue triangular Peninsula Bikeway signs sit atop street signs to show the way if you know to look for them.

Among the growing pains:

• A couple of intersections on the route through Redwood City did not have stop signs that favored cyclists, who were expected to wait for vehicle traffic rather than the other way around. On the Bryant Street bike boulevard in Palo Alto, stop signs are set up to favor cyclists.

• We were not instructed on etiquette for when a group of cyclists mixes it up with vehicles on well-traveled roads. Instead of riding two abreast, the rule of the day seemed to be whatever riders felt like doing.

• At Elena Avenue and Faxon Road in Atherton, we encountered the odd middle-of-the-road curbs Atherton uses to keep drivers from even the slightest trespass into opposite lanes.

Cyclists not infrequently cut across intersections diagonally when there's no traffic, something this reporter did on a dark night some years ago at Elena and Faxon. With headlights on, I hit one of these curbs. My bike, new at the time, still shows the marks from the experience.

These medians, Rodericks said, "were installed to address vehicles that cut across intersections and cause significant safety issues for stopped vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. ... Vehicles and cyclists that cut across intersections in this manner can create a hazard."

The town painted them with "bright yellow paint with highly reflective beads to make them more visible to all users of the roadway, even at night," Rodericks added. A casual inspection showed the paint to be much abused by many encounters with foreign objects.


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13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 12, 2018 at 6:46 pm

The countless twist and turns through car traffic in this "interim bikeway" shows how difficult and dangerous bicycling is in San Mateo County. The Santa Clara County parts of the route look much safer. Hopefully the participating cities actually see how bad these conditions are and make an effort to create a safer, more direct and efficient route in the near future.

Like this comment
Posted by Hopeful Cyclist
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 13, 2018 at 12:47 am

"Blue triangular Peninsula Bikeway signs sit atop street signs to show the way if you know to look for them."

Love the irony.
Very quaint signage (or rather little tiny plaques).
Hard to see from across an intersection or against blue sky.
Having good and well visible signage helps both cyclists and makes drivers aware of their presence.
Moneys better spent than for some special "Events".

Like this comment
Posted by YES!
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 13, 2018 at 6:29 am

I've always enjoyed the bike blvd from PA to MV. Sounds similar, with similar but with better signage(good idea to not the plain white color).
Good stuff!

17 people like this
Posted by jimmae
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Sep 13, 2018 at 8:15 am

Connecting Peninsula cities, well how about a parallel trail along the Caltrain line?
There now exists an example of a functioning parallel path along the Caltrain tracks in Palo Alto, this path connects Churchill ave and PA Med Center-Homer+ University ave.
A multi use parallel path that runs the entire length of the Caltrain tracks.(yes,lets think-spend big,all the way from to Gilroy-SF)
Now that Caltrain has installed BIG fencing along the entire length of tracks,to engineer-install a paved -striped path and another BIG fence to still keep walkers-pedalers from getting near the train tracks when using this path would be super.
I believe many people could-would utilize this protected path to go short-long distances that now are safety prohibitive due to our busy streets.

4 people like this
Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Sep 13, 2018 at 10:18 am

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

A link to the Redwood City portion of the Bikeway map that allows zooming in ...

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Sep 13, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

It's important to note that officials describe the bike route as "interim."

One group leader told me that the route designated through Redwood City is not the route that experienced bike commuters would take.

The reason: traffic challenges that experienced cyclists encounter and deal with may not be appropriate for people new to intercity riding.

The absence in RWC of markings on the pavements -- sharrows, for example -- seemed to be another indicator of the tentative nature of that route.

2 people like this
Posted by Sarah Staley Shenk
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 14, 2018 at 8:29 am

I'm encouraged to see that there is a movement to make our streets safer for all. We are incredibly fortunate to live here and , while there are certainly challenges and details that can be noted and improved, I'm grateful for all who continue to look and volunteer for ways to make all of our communities better. Thank you!

2 people like this
Posted by Lynne
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:51 pm

The City of Santa Clara is looking to implement a protected bike lane on El Camino Real. Can't we all just stop whining and do that.

3 people like this
Posted by commutercyclist
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 14, 2018 at 8:04 pm

The City of Santa Clara is looking into "protected" bike lanes on ECL?

And what kind of protection do they think of: Paint?

The track record of this City regarding cycling is one of the worst on the Peninsula (dare I say deterrence?)

Bike Lanes on major arteries (unless grade separated) are equally as idiotic as High Speed Rail down the Peninsula on existing tracks.

I hope the coalition listens to the experienced bicyclists who commute through these areas. They are more than happy to share their knowledge and experience.

These are the experts, and not some car driving "urban planners" or weekend bike jockeys.

The route is certainly not ideal, and could use tweaking, but it is going in the right direction.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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