The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve $10 million to boost SamTrans service and $156,000 to create a new full-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator position over the next two years. The funds come from Measure A, a ten-year, half-cent sales tax approved by voters last November, which is expected to generate $64 million this year.
The approval will allow the San Mateo County City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG) to hire a full-time bike/ped coordinator to oversee the implementation of the county’s Comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which was adopted in 2011.
Advocates have long pointed to the lack of coordination among the county’s 20 cities and towns as a major barrier to implementing improvements for walk and bicycling in San Mateo County. Former C/CAG Executive Director Richard Napier, who retired in December after 17 years of leading the agency, had been opposed to hiring a bike/ped coordinator because, he argued, the existing level of staffing was sufficient to support active transportation projects.
“Cyclists want to see bike routes that are contiguous, and designs that are consistent,” said Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Deputy Director Colin Heyne, adding that the future bike/ped coordinator would provide a “single, accessible resource to explain and move forward funding, design, and coordination priorities” for bicycle and pedestrian projects. In a letter to the Board of Supervisors, the SVBC pointed out that Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties all “employ staff in a similar bicycle/pedestrian coordinator capacity.”
Bob Page, a Woodside resident who has commuted by bicycle in San Mateo County for 40 years, says that cycling has become more difficult over time as traffic has increased and cities have install more traffic signals and wider roads while bicycling conditions go neglected. ”The county, with its 21 jurisdictions, makes it difficult to develop regional bikeways,” he said. “A coordinator at the county level can do a lot to facilitate and promote inter-jurisdictional facilities, which are badly needed.”