San Mateo County has the third highest rate of driving mileage per capita in the Bay Area, behind Marin and Sonoma counties. Eighty-two percent of residents drive as their primary mode, due in part to a built environment that keeps people stuck in their cars. Low-income and transit-dependent populations who take the bus face dwindling service, while those who ride their bikes and walk face hostile street conditions, enduring dangerous highway overpasses to get to their jobs or school.
The county also faces a rising adult obesity epidemic and a population of people over 65 that is expected to double by the year 2050, according to the Indicators for a Sustainable San Mateo County report, issued in May. The report notes that automobiles are the primary source of pollution in San Mateo County, which contributes to a variety of health problems.
Bicycle, pedestrian and transit advocates interviewed for this story say the City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG) is partly to blame, with its history of favoring the automobile over other modes in the way it disperses state and federal funding to cities for transportation projects. It’s been slow to embrace sustainable transportation and livable streets principles.
“You look around Highway 101 and you’ll see huge new projects in place for additional expansion,” said Gladwyn d’Souza, a pedestrian advocate and Belmont planning commissioner. Read more…