It's election season again, and SVBC has been working with our local teams to prepare questions for candidates running for office in our area. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, SVBC cannot and does not endorse any candidate, but we can ask them for their thoughts on promoting the bike for everyday use and share the answers.
Our San Mateo County Committee reached out to candidates running for city, county, and state offices. The responses will be published as they are received.
From Shelly Masur, candidate for San Mateo County Supervisor:
1. Where do you see bikes fitting into the overall transportation plan?
I see bikes as a viable transportation choice if supported by a complete public transportation infrastructure that connects to bike trails and lanes. In considering further this county's approach to helping people get to and from work and school as well as running errands and leisure activities, I believe including bikes should be an important piece.
We must continue to improve our public transportation infrastructure, make it safer to bike by using best practices in bike lanes as well as providing consistency across jurisdictions, and offering last mile alternatives, like the bike checkout stations in Redwood City. By so doing we will make it more possible for people to use their bikes as a mode of transportation.
2. If elected, what are three things that you would do to improve cycling opportunities for your constituents?
As a supervisor, I would seek to play a role in helping to secure funding and by taking a leadership role in efforts to collaborate and coordinate among the various agencies and other groups working on connecting walking and biking trails across the county. The County has already obtained and will continue to seek grant funding to extend trails that comprise segments of the Coastal Trail. I will continue to ensure that all county properties that could play a role in the continuity of these trails will be utilized as well as possible.
Our trails are a wonderful asset to our county. I personally appreciate the access to trails across the county and regularly take advantage of them. A system that connects our trails and makes it possible to access and travel them safely could greatly increase the ability of people to bike to work and other locations. It will be important to examine the environmental impact of the construction, but I look forward to better connected trails across the county.
In addition, in May I participated in a Bike to Work day to better appreciate improvements that have been made and where upgrades are still needed. To that end, the County can work to make county roads more bike-friendly through development of bike lanes that are well articulated with the contiguous cities. For example, riding down Middlefield Road in the county area, there are no markings for bikes. But upon entering Redwood City, the right lane includes sharrows. This creates confusion for both bicyclists and cars and makes for unsafe situations. The County can be a leader in this area both by better marking and improving options for bicyclists and by coordinating with cities that abut county roads and I would be willing to address this as a supervisor.
Finally, the county can serve as a continued partner in the Grand Boulevard Initiative and a leader in the Healthy Community Forums to address the needs of cyclists in these discussions and plans. I have participated in many of these and currently sit on the GBI Community Leaders Roundtable. I am looking forward to continuing in this work as a County Supervisor.
3. What have you done or worked on in the past that shows your record of being involved in bicycle, active transportation, or road/trail improvement campaigns?
My background is in public health and I bring this perspective to my work as a school board member, founder of, and board representative to the District's Wellness Committee, and member of Redwood City 2020, a collaborative of the City, the County and the School District. Therefore, I have worked to support Safe Routes to Schools and walking school buses in our district. Redwood City 2020 has recently secured Safe Routes to Schools funding that we are working to leverage through further collaboration. We recently had six schools participate in walk to school day – the most ever. As a district, we have also ensured proper training of crossing guards so it is safer for children to walk and bike to school.
As indicated above, I also sit on the Community Leaders Roundtable of the Grand Boulevard Initiative, which includes cycling as a consideration in the plans and outreach.
4. With dedicated funding for cycling projects under fire on the regional, state, and federal level, what would you do to keep those dollars flowing?
As indicated above, I would be willing to take a leadership role in securing funding for trail and transit improvements. In addition, County Supervisors can serve as advocates at the state and federal level to ensure that such funding continues. I have been an effective advocate for public education on both levels and would continue to work in this way for issues, like cycling projects, that contribute to improved quality of life for our county.
5. The south part of the county has a few key roads under its jurisdiction that have historically been used by cyclists to connect several "activity" centers, yet these routes can be daunting to ride as there is a mix of multiple traffic lanes and parking but no dedicated bike facilities. Examples include the Fair Oaks section of Middlefield and Santa Cruz/Alameda de las Pulgas (West Menlo Park). Do you believe that these and other similar roads already used by cyclists should have bicycle facilities? If so, then how would you implement this?
As indicated above, I think the County can do a better job of working with cities to improve connectivity and infrastructure. I do think it is important to try to improve safety for bicyclists and I will work with groups like the SVBC to understand the needs. As a supervisor I will work to ensure county staff has the tools to make improvement projects happen. An example is the restriping of Alpine road at 280. In this project the Public Works Department has been working to identify funding. Recently it found a potential funding source and has put all the pieces in place so the project can move quickly thereby ensuring all deadlines can be met.
All this type of work, however, must be done in concert with local community engagement. By working in this manner, we can lessen negative responses by understanding community concerns and providing accurate information. The Farm Hill Road project is an example in Redwood City. Initial meetings led to an examination of decreasing the number of car lanes on Farm Hill Road and adding bike lanes. Two subsequent community meetings have been held which included estimates for increased driving time if the project were to be implemented. Staff is leading this community engagement process before taking a recommendation to the City Council. By operating in a collaborative and open manner, the likelihood of implementing bike facilities projects increases and leads to better results.