Streetscape and Bike Improvements on Tap for Burlingame

The sidewalks on four blocks of Downtown Burlingame Avenue will be widened from 10 to 16 feet. Image: ## Architects##

Burlingame is moving forward on a project to give its downtown boulevard a much-needed facelift, and planning a number of citywide bike improvements.

Key features of the four-block Burlingame Avenue Streetscape Project include a gateway, wider sidewalks, shorter crossings, street furniture, large bulb-outs, “play areas” with public chess sets and parklets. The project was approved earlier this year by the city council, which got an update on the design at last week’s meeting.

“We have been looking at how to make the street more pedestrian-friendly and less vehicular oriented…and encourage more bike riding and walking,” said Jane Gomery, program manager for the Burlingame Public Works Department. The city hired San Francisco-based RHAA Architects to come up with the design, based on feedback from residents and merchants.

Burlingame, population 29,000, has a charming and historic downtown, across from the Caltrain station, but the streets are often congested with automobiles. Downtown Burlingame Avenue — billed as the liveliest part of the city with hundreds of stores and restaurants  — is surrounded by a number of surface parking lots, and narrow sidewalks are cluttered and uneven, creating an unpleasant environment for pedestrians. Angled parking also creates conflicts between autos, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Under the streetscape plan, angled parking will be replaced with parallel parking and about 10-percent of parking spaces will be removed to make room for pedestrian amenities. Gomery said the city plans to purchase smart parking meters, and set demand-based rates that will discourage long-term parking, and more turn around.

James Engels of RHAA Architects said the bulb-outs will be 80 to 100 feet wide, and the at-grade intersections and sidewalks will be comprised of pavers and concrete.  “The material palate will promote a richer experience,” he said, adding that the parking stalls can be used as parklets, allowing restaurants to spill out into the street.

The remade boulevard will also be ideal for weekend events — such as farmers markets and fairs — when the street can be closed to cars, and opened to pedestrians and bicyclists, said Gomery.

Parking revenue will be used to help fund the improvements. The rest of the nearly $16 million price tag is being funded by merchants through a special assessment district, property owners, a grant from the City/County Association of Governments and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2013, after the public works department finishes a sewer system upgrade that includes replacing 100-year-old storm drain lines.

Restaurants and shops will have the option of using parking stalls for parklets. Trellises can be used for farmers markets and special events. Kiosks will offer information about parking, and feature digital ads with deals from local businesses. Image: ## Architects##
Click to enlarge. Image: ## Architects##

Bike Improvements

The city’s goal is to get more residents biking and walking to downtown, but to do that, it will need to make getting there safer and more convenient. Just last week, a 75-year-old man was killed while riding his bicycle on Cortez Avenue, the first reported bicyclist fatality in Burlingame in several years, according to Gomery, who couldn’t recall the last one.

“I’m seeing a lot more kids on bikes, and a lot more older adults than I have in years past. And this has been in the last 18 months,” said Pat Giorni, a local bike advocate.

The city currently has one corridor with bike lanes, Howard Avenue, and other bike routes, including California Drive — a four-lane arterial — feature sharrows. Giorni said most of Burlingame’s pre-World War II-designed streets were left in tact, which means they’re narrow, and can’t always accommodate bike lanes.

“We are trying to put in as much bike-friendly facilities and infrastructure as possible in an old city that doesn’t really have a lot of wide roads, but we have major corridors. We’re doing what we can with the funding,” said Giorni, who added that she thinks the sharrows on California have slowed traffic a bit, and drivers are getting used to seeing bicyclists on the streets.

The city recently won a $372,000 grant from the San Mateo County Transportation Authority to install more bike lanes, and those improvements will be happening in the next year, and timed with resurfacing projects, said Gomery. The Burlingame Bicycle Improvements Project calls for new bike lanes on Hillside Drive, Grove Avenue, Rollins Road and Airport Boulevard.

Image: City of Burlingame

The four-lane Old Bayshore Highway is a popular street for bike commuters but is only slated to get sharrows. It’s a staple among SF2G riders, a “loosely organized and tightly knit” group of Bay Area cyclists that commutes from the city down the Peninsula to Mountain View (Google headquarters), Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and “all parts in between.”

John Murphy, a bike advocate named the San Francisco Bike Coalition’s 2010 “Commuter of the Year,” has traveled frequently on Bayshore, which has a posted speed limit of 35 mph, and said it’s ripe for a road diet with bike lanes.

“Bayshore is a road with not too much traffic, but two narrow lanes in each direction – so drivers go very fast – above the posted limit, and frequently we are passed at very close proximity despite an empty left hand lane,” he said. “This is complicated by some very bad potholes that are tricky to go around with traffic. The vehicles include a lot of big trucks and hotel guests unfamiliar with the area.”

Gomery said the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) felt sharrows were sufficient: “The BPAC reviewed this route and felt the type of bicycle rider along this route, primarily commuters and the width of the vehicle lanes were too restrictive to add bicycle lanes. There is a bicycle path along the Bayfront for recreational riders and the on street riders will be commuters who are used to sharrows.”

However, Gomery said the design is “not a done deal” and welcomed suggestions. Augustine Chou, the city’s traffic engineer who oversees the BPAC, described the Bayfront path as “more for families and casual recreational cyclists,” and said Bayshore is “for more seasoned cyclists.” He said giving Bayshore a road diet would require a thorough review, and that the city would have to be cautious because it’s a truck route, “and we wouldn’t want to put cyclists close to trucks.”

You can email your thoughts and suggestions on Bayshore, and other routes, to This story is part of Streetsblog San Francisco’s Peninsula coverage. Got a tip or story idea? Email

Click to enlarge. Image: City of Burlingame
  • Gneiss

    Sounds like Mr. Chou is still stuck in the mindset that cycling is for recreation rather than transport.  Looking at the proposed project location it is clear that the path does not take you anywhere near places that would be useful to travel to.

    And I don’t understand how he thinks eliminating a lane of traffic would put cyclists in conflict with trucks.  If anything, it would reduce conflict, given that you could buffer the lane away from truck traffic if you reduced the motorized travel by one lane.

    It is likely the real reason is to maintain current LOS on that road, as to do otherwise would probably require a costly environmental review and be politically unpopular.

  • Connects to Multi-modal transit station in Millbrae? Are they trying to see how badly they can piss me off?

  • Anonymous

    Believe it or not, at one point Burlingame Avenue was once going to be closed to ALL traffic and made into a pedestrian mall! This image is from 1967. 

  • Anonymous

    This is great to see. At least acknowledging that your city needs to more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly is the first step. However, would like to see some better bicycle infrastructure in the actual downtown, including more bike racks (how about bike corrals on the street like in SF?).

  • Laura

    What about making Burlingame Avenue one way.  That would guide drivers to Howard Avenue to complete the loop and bring more traffic (exposure) to those businesses.  I am also hesitant to link pedestrians with bicyclists until bicyclists realize they are actually under the same rules and regulations as vehicles.  They continue to ride on the sidewalks, pass red lights and stop signs and fail to stop at crosswalks for pedestrians.  However tragic the death of the gentleman this past week was I did read he was very close to the truck.

  • Making Burlingame Ave one way would also increase traffic speeds on the street. Which is the opposite of what they are trying to do – odd that you are worried about pedestrian safety but propose something that would bring the opposite. SF is currently converting roads away from One-Way to improve safety.

  • Anonymous

     @e44305e9e777d9d1d87259c4afb27ee3:disqus wrote: “I am also hesitant to link pedestrians with bicyclists until bicyclists
    realize they are actually under the same rules and regulations as
    vehicles. They continue to ride on the sidewalks, pass red lights and
    stop signs and fail to stop at crosswalks for pedestrians.”

    Are you serious or just trolling? You’re basically saying that because some cyclists break the laws (as crappy as these laws are since they weren’t written for cyclists), *all* cyclists should continue to be exposed to at best inconvenient conditions and at worst dangerous conditions? Well, by that logic, since cars continue to break the laws like speeding, running stop signs, and killing pedestrians like the one you just mentioned (and as an aside, tell me how many people cyclists have hurt let alone killed?), let’s get rid of roads for cars. That’s it, all roads in Burlingame are now closed to *all* motorists because some motorists break the law. How about that for taking your argument to its logical extent?

  • Laura

    Murphstahoe:  don’t see why changing direction to one way traffic would INCREASE speed.  The speed limit is the speed limit.
    jd_x:  Wow – angry?  I said I hesitate to LINK pedestrians and bicylists.  I am not against bicylists at all (cool your engines) but I would not want them on the street during any kind of vehicle free event.  I have seen many people hit by cyclists riding on sidewalks and seen many cyclist pass red lights and stop signs and fail to stop at crosswalks for pedestrians.  I have never seen a death contributed to a bicyclists, although two did occur just this past year in San Francisco.  This does however give me further cause to recommend they stay off the sidewalks.  i am hoping this will prevent such tragedies in our town.

  • Cathy

    njudah, I’d be interested to know if you have any other images such as this for Downtown Burlingame.  The Burlingame Historical Society would be very interested in obtaining copies for its Archives.

  • Anonymous

    Laura, “he was very close to the truck”? Don’t blame the victim who’s not here to tell his side of the story.  Take a look at the street view on Google for Cortez Avenue.  It’s a narrow residential street with car parking. There’s not much room for a tree trimming truck to pass. 

    Do you really think the elderly bike rider was riding too close?  My bet is that the truck passed the bike too closely.  But we’ll never know since the only witness is biased.

  • mikesonn
  • Anonymous

    @ Cathy: My brother found this somewhere (either the Burlingame library or something similar). let me ask him (and bonus: he’s a burlingame resident!)

  • Anonymous

    good luck with that. Burlingame debates shit into the ground as best as any SF Nimby, and something like this will be seen as a “threat” by the (insert group people irrational fear here), and well, see ya in 2022. No matter the merits, people down there LOVE to talk, especially the transplants who show up for Dot Com booms lol!

  • Anonymous

    @e44305e9e777d9d1d87259c4afb27ee3:disqus The problem with what you said is that it exhibits the classic bias against cyclists. You are (rightly) concerned about pedestrians interacting with cars but seem to have little concern about cyclists interacting with cars (which is just as bad … a cyclists is no more protected from a car than a pedestrian). Further, you had to bring up cyclists running red lights, riding on sidewalks, etc. when it is no more relevant to the conversation than drivers speeding, running red lights, talking on the cell phone, etc. Why can’t we just talk about improving the already poor infrastructure for cyclists without bringing up irrelevant points, just like society has no problem talking about improving roads without bringing up the millions each year that cars kill and maim?

    I understand you mean the best, but it’s a real problem that we are unable to see the big picture through our status-quo bias, and it jeopardizes the lives (and has taken the lives) of many cyclists. Pedestrians get their due via the sidewalk with separated space with a curb, a buffer, and often trees and parked cars as well as their own signals at lights, and obviously cars get all their own infrastructure and signals, yet somehow bicyclists are supposed to come to you and tell you that everyone of them is perfect to even get *basic* infrastructure like bike lanes (even ones that still squeeze them between parked cars and moving cars).

    My goal was to point out that your comment about some bicyclists breaking the law is irrelevant to the larger discussion and demonstrates a bias that continues to prevent cyclists from getting their due in terms of safety (let alone convenience) in urban design.

  • Anonymous

    @e44305e9e777d9d1d87259c4afb27ee3:disqus wrote: “don’t see why changing direction to one way traffic would INCREASE speed.”

    Ah, but it does:

    “The speed limit is the speed limit.”

    But it’s not. People will go as fast as the design of the road makes them feel like they should go:

    Bottomline: you can’t just pretend like the design of the street doesn’t influence how people will drive (or not drive at all!)

  • If the speed limit is the speed limit, that implies that nobody ever gets a speeding ticket, correct? Is that true?


    Biking to downtown is a great idea, but there is NO bike lane for us cyclists in the proposal of downtown.

  • KLW

    Actually, I remember this consideration.

  • Mike

    As a resident who lives in Burlingame who has small children, I am very disappointed in the speeding and running that goes on in the neighborhoods by various motor vehicles.  But also I have seen disproportionate traffic violations being committed by bikers that are equally as dangerous (I actually almost ran into a man the other day who completely ignored a stop sign while turning, luckily I have awesome brakes).   Recently, Burlingame Police had a crackdown on vehicles and traffic violations including not yielding to pedestrians and bikers, which is a wonderful idea.  I would like to see the same concept be applied for traffic violations with regard to bikers.  I would be willing to bet that such a crackdown would result in a higher % of bikers being cited vs. vehicles.  Based on my own observations of bikers in the neighborhood, at least 50% are violating some traffic law (with the top ones being running stop signs, no helmets, failure to yield to pedestrians, riding on sidewalks).  I live on a fairly high traffic neighborhood access street corner with a 4-way stop sign and can literally see and count every single violation from both vehicles and bikers by just looking out my window.  As a concerned father, the biking violations worry me just as much as motor vehicle violations, maybe even more so after reading some of the pro biker comments on this thread, laced with attitudes of “immunity” and “victimization”.  While it would be great to incorporate more biker-friendly improvements that improves overall public safety, I feel that it needs to be earned by bikers rather than automatically granted.  And by “earned” I mean let’s do some data gathering/enforcement and see really what is the % of violations relative to the number of bikers observed…and I think the results will not be pretty.

  • Mike

    Yikes..thank goodness this didn’t happen..  not the pedestrian street idea but that heinous architecture.  Today we’d be dealing with two problems instead of one.

  • Mike

    The parallel parking proposal isn’t going to help cyclists either.  With the very bad parallel parking skills in the suburbs, this will only increase the danger to cyclists

  • Gneiss

    Mike – I also am a concerned father who lives in San Francisco.  I bicycle commute every day to my job and this fall plan on bicycling with my kindergarten age daughter on a trailer bike about 1-1/5 mile to and from school every weekday.  I support new cycling infrastructure, because it’s not enjoyable to mix it up with cars and trucks during my commute.
    My biggest concern is not the fixie riders or recreational cyclists, but the 5500 lb Escalades driven by distracted teenagers, like the one who killed a father and daughter in Concord.  We would certainly be a victim if hit by a car or truck, while it’s very unlikely that my and my daughters life would be permanently altered if we were hit by a cyclist.
    Bike lanes, road diets, and separated infrastructure like what is being advocated in Burlingame would go a long way towards making it possilbe to have families and children out on the road doing things that currently are only considered ‘safe’ (like cycling to school) if you use a car.  That in an of itself would drive down the percentages of illegal actions you anectodally see happening at your 4-way stop sign, as you’d no longer have just one type of cyclist passing by your house.

  • Laura

    You said it much better than I did Mike, Thank you

  • Gneiss

    Laura,  we have numerous ‘car free’ Sunday street events in San Francisco that welcome cyclists as well as pedestrians, and the two groups do not come into conflict.  When you provide enough space for both cyclists and pedestrians, there just isn’t the same kind of competition for space that you get when the only safe place away from cars is the sidewalk.

    I’d encourage you to go to the next Sunday Street event in San Francisco and see for yourself how increadible the experience of getting the whole roadway devoted to people rather than machines can be.  Here’s their website:

  • Mike

    Gneiss, I totally agree with you on the motor vehicle dangers.  My point with biker traffic violations is that are they making life more dangerous for 1) pedestrians, and 2) for the bikers themselves.  Of course everyone knows that a biker is much less likely to cause death because a person biking is less massive object traveling at lower speeds.   Can biker safety be best improved through infrastructure improvements or by bikers as a group/overall just being safer riders (which would involve more rigorous enforcement traffic laws with bikers)… I’m not sure what the answer is.  It begs the question, in biker vs motor vehicle accidents, which party could have best prevented the accident and why?   If it is found that bikers disproportionately violate traffic laws that place themselves more in danger than is necessary, and traffic laws are enforced more rigorously with respect to bikers, it may actually be the best way to improve overall numbers of biker safety.  Before we spend a bunch of money making infrastructure improvements that make life more convenient for a very small number of people, lets study the issue and collect some data to see if these anecdotal incidents are in fact reflective of a larger problem.   I don’t see any reason why this approach should be opposed by anyone, regardless if they are a biker/non-biker.   In observing the intersection outside my house, it is actually what appears to be the non-recreational bikers committing the most dangerous violations, mostly because of ignoring the stop signs while riding at motor-vehicle like speeds, whereas the recreational guys also ignore the stop signs, but are riding much slower.  The definition of “non-recreational biker” is admittedly a loose one (“dresses like Lance or does not dress like Lance”)??

  •  Mike, by your statement we should be shutting down US-101, on which 90%+ of the motor vehicles speed, and upon which there are fatalities every week. Clearly those motorists have not “earned” a freeway.

    It’s good to hear that you are seeing a lot of cyclists in Burlingame, it sort of torpedoes the argument that we don’t need bike infrastructure in Burlingame because “nobody will use it”

  • Mike

    murphastahoe, actually I’m not saying that at all.  101 vehicle traffic is patrolled and enforced via the CHP, my argument is that biker traffic violations really aren’t enforced at all, ie no police department is really paying any attention to them.

  • Mike

    Also, no where did I say that I see more bikers than cars…  actually the cars probably outnumber the bikers by 30 or 40 to one.  What I am asserting is that I see a higher PROPORTION of bikers violating traffic laws vs cars.  Big difference.

  •  Mike – give me a percentage, if you will, of the violators on US-101 who are given tickets.

    My guess is .00001%

  •  Well, you can just take it into your own hands then. Someone from your fine city decided to dump a few gallons of motor oil onto a bike path, in the corner, this AM, and caused 3 bike riders to crash, sending one to the hospital.

  • mikesonn

    Please look up the meaning of “Beg the question”, all your comments “beg the question”.

  • Mike

    A very very tiny percentage of violating motor vehicles get cited on 101 for speeding, but it is patrolled.  Not sure what proportion are actually violating however which is what I’m getting at (at least when I’m driving on 101, it’s pretty tough to be speed if you even wanted to, but that might be because I’m on during commuting hrs).  All I can say is that from what I’ve seen on my intersection, there’s a lot of unsafe riding that appears to be disproportionate relative to overall numbers.  It is anecdotal and that’s why I’m advocating that studies be done on this to let the facts lead to the right decisions that are better for everyone involved.  Having lived in the Burlingame area for many years, the city actually does a pretty good job in listening to citizens’ concerns, doing some fairly comprehensive studies on traffic/flow patterns and development, and taking decisive action.

  • You said that “The cyclists” needed to “earn” this, and earning means being patrolled. Sounds like that is the responsibility of the Burlingame PD, not “The cyclists”

    As for Burlingame listening to citizens concerns…

  • Mike

    A) do the studies, which will involve data collecting/monitoring, b) if I’m indeed completely wrong and # of biker violations is really low, then the infrastructure improvements are deserved, c) if however, number of biker violations are disproportionally high, then yes, will need to result in patrolling/enforcement and ‘lack of infrastructure’ really isn’t the core  problem.

  • The Greasybear

    Public infrastructure projects are not now, nor have they ever been, denied a class of road users as a form of collective punishment for individual traffic violations. Mike, you are applying a self-serving double-standard as a means to justify your desire to stigmatize cyclists as uniquely dangerous, despite all statistics showing motorists cause almost all injuries and deaths on the road, and to oppose safe and sensible bike facilities.

  • Gneiss

    I don’t see why you belive there should be a link between better infrastructure and compliance with traffic laws by cyclists.  

    Consider this point: local transportation departments will recommend raising speed limits on streets where a large percentage of drivers speed, becuase the speed limits are no longer ‘legally defensible’ ( and police departments will not enforce them. 

    If the same logic you want for motorist as for cyclists, then we should be closing those roads where a majority of drivers speed, since they don’t “deserve” to have infrastructure devoted to them.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry @d7e5ddf46d7faafecddd82dc4b3ce4e9:disqus, but what you are saying is completely irrational. You have no evidence (statistics) that bicyclists are anywhere near the threat level to the citizens of Burlingame as cars, just your own anecdotal evidence. And we *never* decide policy based on anecdotal evidence, exactly because (as you demonstrate) it’s vulnerable to bias of perception. For every example of a cyclist breaking the law, I can give you 10 of motorists doing the same. Further, anybody can find an example of anything they want (I could also find you a person who claims that UFOs cause traffic jams), so where does that get us? If cyclists can’t get improved infrastructure without there being no violation of laws by cyclists (laws which, by the way, were not written for cyclists … but that’s another argument), especially as determined by anecdotal evidence, how can you justify doing the same for cars? To avoid being hypocritical, then you also must be opposed to any further road improvements for cars since motorists continue to drive drunk, speed, talk on the cell phone, run red lights, etc and hence kill and maim *orders of magnitude* more people than cyclists (never mind the destruction to the planet caused by cars, or to our own health via making us lazy and contributing to the obesity epidemic). Is that your belief? If not, you’ve got a philosophical problem … or else you’re just biased.

  • Mike

    Yeah, actually there is a “bias” or “small sample set”  (whatever you want to call it)  that is based on my personal observations on one intersection.  That’s why I think it’s a good idea to study the issue throughout the city and collect data…like I said I may be wrong on biker safety/violations being an issue (I happen to personally believe it’s a pretty big deal), and I do believe people have a say on how their communities should best identify problems, suggest new ideas to approach problems in a rational way, and have a say in the cost/benefits of how their elected officials spend the community’s money (and believe me there is quite a bit of activism in the city with regard to motor vehicle safety).   Actually several neighbors and I are involved in some proposals with the city to address the motor vehicle speeding violations on our streets (proposing speed bumps/real-time speeding indicator signs), so we actually share many of the concerns on motor vehicles (our children are bikers too).  But in my view there is a biker traffic violation problem that I think is also occurring that isn’t getting much attention and warrants further investigation.

  • mikesonn

    The real problem is that you feel infrastructure improvements should be tied to the actions of the class of road user that would benefit from said infrastructure. It doesn’t matter if your anecdotal evidence is correct or not.

  •  Why? If it turned out that the cyclists were all monsters, why does that mean no bike lanes? Nothing in our model of government works that way. And there is a very strong argument that better infrastructure, suited for cyclists, will *increase* compliance. Catch 22 – cyclists don’t behave well so we won’t give them the infrastructure that simplifies their existence and increases compliance.

    If you want the drivers to slow down on your streets, you know how to get it? That’s right – narrow the street by adding bike lanes…

    Note that as for enforcement, my anecdotal example of a motorist running over a cyclist, at fault, and not being given even a slap on the wrist by Burlingame PD.

  • Anonymous

    @de29707e645a320b2f81ae5f7f348029:disqus , if a city doesn’t build bike infrastructure that is perceived as safe then risk-averse, potential cyclists are not going to bike there. In effect the city is self selecting for more risk-prone bikers, which is probably why you are seeing a large percentage of them breaking traffic laws (regardless of the significance of the danger caused by this law breaking). I can guarantee you that we would see the same results if we subjected car drivers to the same conditions, well beyond the already antisocial and dangerous behavior displayed by drivers as a matter of course.

    The very fact that you are seeing people on bikes taking more risks is in itself a signifier that better infrastructure is needed, and once it is built the larger pool of potential cyclists with better behavior will be more comfortable taking to the streets, calming the status quo.

    Your idea of punishing all cyclists, even ones that follow the law to the letter, with unsafe riding conditions because unrelated individuals who also happen to be on bikes are taking too many risks is a fairly perverse one. People are just people regardless of whether they are riding in a car, driving a bike, or walking, and they all deserve the same expectation of safety and convenience, to the extent that it doesn’t infringe upon the safety of others.

    Education and enforcement is indeed a piece of the pie in encouraging more cyclists to respect traffic laws, as does ensuring that our laws make sense for bike traffic as well as auto traffic. A bigger piece of the pie is infrastructure, however, which has been proven over and over again by bike-friendly cities which almost always experience improved cyclist behavior.

  • Anonymous

    @d7e5ddf46d7faafecddd82dc4b3ce4e9:disqus wrote: “But in my view there is a biker traffic violation problem that I think is
    also occurring that isn’t getting much attention and warrants further

    How do you figure there is a biker problem? How do you define “problem”? Is it you being irritated that cyclists “get away” with breaking laws that weren’t written for them? Or is it by — what I think most people would objectively think matters — how many people get hurt? And wow many people are getting hurt by bicyclists in Burlingame? How many by cars? Without those numbers, you got nothing, but which do you think is higher?

    Here’s a tip: in *every* city for which these statistics are kept, the numbers are usually 2 orders of *magnitude* bigger for cars. Perhaps Burlingame is an exception though ….

    Again: all things being equal, it’s biased to claim that all cyclists need to obey all laws in order for improved infrastructure when you don’t ask the same of motorists. And since the two modes are far from equal (since bicyclists kill and maim a lot less people and since the status quo vastly prefers motorists over cyclists), it’s even more biased.

  • Mike

    murphstahoe, I think we are going to have to have agree to disagree about how our model of government currently works vs how it should work and the extent to which residents of the community have a voice in how resources are allocated.  I’m a big proponent of incentive based resource allocation particularly when the resources are finite and tough choices need to be made, but maybe that’s more of a philosophical issue.

    Having said that, you do bring up some points that I haven’t thought about, which actually ties into the concept of incentives, i.e. does the infrastructure result in better compliance for both cyclists and motorists–particularly the point about bike lanes and cars sharing the road.  Can you point to anything research wise in this regard?    

    I looked into some of the proposals into more detail with respect to Burlingame and I actually agree with the Bayshore rd and Hillside road recommendations with regard to biking infrastructure.. I actually think on those roads safety for everyone involved is improved given how wide/open these roads are.  As far as access to downtown from the main residential neighborhoods (not from the freeway side but the north of El Camino side), that’s where I take more issue given the streets are residential, old, extremely narrow, there are several schools and parked and that’s where I witness the most transgressions.  I also think the parallel parking idea in downtown burlingame is a terrible idea (suburbanites can’t parallel park), I think that it worsens safety (of everyone including bikers) and I don’t think that should be given up to make more room for bikes.

    I’m going to talk to the neighbors with whom I’m organizing with respect to vehicle speeding to get more perspective.  A couple of them are pretty avid bikers (and do share concerns about violations occurring by bikers and motorists alike) and see what they have to say about the proposals given they are bikers but are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods and the overall compliance issues that we face.

  • Sprague

    Mike, I know that you are looking for statistics but I only have anecdotal evidence to share.  Cities and suburbs that have chosen to invest in and improve their bicycle infrastructure have then enjoyed a mode shift of more trips made by bicycle and fewer trips made by car.  This has occurred in San Francisco, in Vienna, in New
    York… (I’ve seen the statistics but I don’t have them to share).  From my perspective, it appears that in suburban Marin County (where the bicycle infrastructure has gradually been improving over the past thirty + years) there are vastly more recreational cyclists and bike commuters (including school kids) visible today.  I’m also a father and I want my kids to grow up in an environment where a growing share of society chooses to travel in a manner that is least harmful to our planet.  As a dad, I want my kids to breathe non-polluted air and I want my kids to be safe on their walks/bus rides to school (my main concern is the threat of motor vehicles at street crossings).  There is no way to expect that the number of cyclists will grow significantly unless improvements such as bike lanes (or, better yet, separated bike lanes and bike paths) occur.  Much of Burlingame is fairly flat and therefore ideal for bicycling.  In the interest of all of our kids, and future generations, let’s make our streets become safer for sustainable transportation.

  • Sprague

    Good point, murphstahoe.  Every time I bicycle Millbrae Avenue over 101 I almost feel I am taking my life in my hands.  A multi-modal station, almost by definition, really should have good and safe bicycle access.  The Millbrae BART/Caltrain station only has decent bicycle access from the southwest (California Drive).

  • Anonymous

    Mike – angled parking is less safe (for people) than parallel parking. When backing out a drivers vision is impaired by the car next to them. Nothing can correct this. Cyclists ride to the right of the roadway and are obscured until the car backs out into their path. The same problem does not happen with parallel parking.

    San Francisco is modifying angled parking to be “back in” angled parking for exactly this reason.

    Suburbanites being horrible parallel parkers only makes things less safe for car bumpers.

  • mikesonn

    Probably the only redeeming quality of parking spaces in SF is being able to sit at an outdoor cafe and watch someone take 15 tries to parallel park into a space 1.5 times larger than their vehicle. There is no shortage of horrible drivers/parkers in urban environments, the suburbs do not have a monopoly.

  • Guest

    The comment that “sharrows on California have slowed traffic a bit” was probably taken out of context.  What’s slowing down traffic is the increased presence of cyclists, some of whom actually take the lane as they should.  So in response, Burlingame painted sharrows and has deemed those sufficient bike infrastructure.

    If Burlingame actually made things safer for cyclists on its arterial streets leading to downtown or the transit stations, we’d see less cyclists using the residential side streets where the observed STOP sign running or sidewalk biking are happening. 


Pedestrian Safety Still Starved for Funding in San Mateo County

On March 3, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) awarded $4.9 million to ten pedestrian and bicycle safety projects – $1 million less than the agency awarded two years ago. Agency staff had revised up the amount of funding for this year’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Program to $5.7 million in February, but explained in the Board’s […]

San Mateo County Bike/Ped Safety Projects Starved for Funding

Despite growing demand for better walking and biking infrastructure in San Mateo County, active transportation grants from the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG) cover only a fraction of the projects that cities want to build, leaving many residents without the sidewalks, bike lanes, and other basic ingredients they need to safely […]

San Jose Proposes Better Bikeways East and West of Downtown

On August 6 and 13, San Jose Department of Transportation officials will present plans to improve traffic safety on ten streets that its Bike Plan 2020 identifies as key links in the city’s proposed 500-mile bikeway network. The improvements include new striping for both conventional and buffered bike lanes, bike detection for traffic signals, sharrows, sidewalks and […]

In Search of a Better Pedestrian Realm for Broadway in Chinatown

On Broadway near the corner of Stockton, pedestrians jostle for space on a lively but overcrowded sidewalk. Photo: Michael Rhodes The stretch of Broadway between Columbus Avenue and the Robert C. Levy tunnel is an unheralded segment of San Francisco’s Chinatown: storefront after storefront of neighborhood shops and restaurants, with far fewer tourists than Grant […]