Editors note: Many thanks to Bob Page, long time SVBC member and tireless advocate, for authoring this blog post about his years-long campaign to bring bike lanes to a high-stress section of Alameda de las Pulgas in Woodside. Congratulations on your victory, Bob!
Roadway improvements for cyclists require dedication and persistence!
As a long-time bike commuter and advocate, I was concerned about a gap in the southbound Alameda de las Pulgas bike lane north of the Woodside Road (CA 84) intersection, along the fence of the Menlo Country Club. The western half of this segment of Alameda lies in Woodside. It is the only segment between Jefferson Ave in Redwood City and Avy Avenue in Menlo Park—a distance of four miles—that has two general travel lanes but no bike lane.
Way back in 2010-11, as a member of the Woodside citizen task force proposing updates to the Town’s General Plan, I successfully argued that the Alameda bike lane be included as a “desired improvement.” Getting words into a plan can be relatively easy. The big challenge is how to transform an idea in a plan into reality on the ground.
Bike to Work Day is an opportunity to move toward action. As an experienced co-host of the BTWD Energizer Station at Woodside Rd/Alameda de las Pulgas, I had a sign-up sheet in 2012 on which cyclists could indicate support for a bike lane on the Woodside (southbound) segment of Alameda. Thirty signed their names; this number of advocates was communicated to the Town Council.
In 2013, Woodside High School staff and students wrote letters to the Woodside mayor about the dangers of cycling to school and the idea of a bike lane.
In 2014, the Woodside Town Council honored the request to add a study of a bike lane on Alameda to the 2014-16 road program. Also, the Roadway Safety Solutions Team (RSST), led by SVBC and Stanford Trauma, examined the Alameda/84 intersection and thought about possible short-term safety solutions.
In December 2015-16, Woodside, in collaboration with Redwood City and with support from the RSST, successfully applied to San Mateo County’s Measure A Pedestrian and Bicycle Program for a grant for bike/ped improvements on Alameda de las Pulgas between Fernside Street and Woodside Road.
The application proposed converting the right, southbound motor lane into a buffered bike lane, adding a buffer to the existing northbound bike lane, and making ADA-compliant pedestrian improvements.
Conversion of one southbound lane into a bike lane has raised serious concern among motorists. For 20 minutes on school-day mornings (7:40-8:00), long queues of vehicles, wanting to turn right on 84, back up on Alameda as far as Fernside Street (more than 30 vehicles). In contrast, when Woodside High School is on break, the right-turn queues are fewer than five vehicles. Two community meetings to air concerns and develop understanding were critical for optimizing the final project design.
The final design plans for the project were unanimously approved by the Town Council on April 25th. The project soon goes out for bids. If there is an acceptable bid, the project will be implemented as a pilot effort this summer, when school is on vacation. Performance will evaluated in early fall and early 2018. If needed, the initial configuration could be modified to improve performance.
School-morning traffic passing through the 84 intersection should be mitigated in August, when SamTrans will implement a new bus route to Woodside High from the Farm Hill/Alameda areas of Redwood City.
The take-home message from this experience is this: Changes to the infrastructure to allow and encourage safe, healthful, active transit are possible, but they require engagement and persistence!