North Central Bike Lanes - Carriles de Bici en North Central

Above: On New Year's Day last year, a 68 year-old bicyclist was critically injured in a hit-and-run crash on Humboldt Street in San Mateo. Humboldt Street and Poplar Avenue, the focus of the North Central Bike Lanes Project, have seen 11% of all bike-related collisions over the past 5 years. The bike lanes were intended to implement two of the highest priority projects on the city's roster. However, concerns about parking removal have delayed the project and threaten the safety of the thousands of kids who navigate the neighborhood streets on their way to school on a daily basis. Photo: KTVU news, SMPD

Thank you for your support! The City Council voted to implement the bike lanes.

Thank you to Mayor @RickBonilla, Council Member @EricRodriguez, and Council Member @joe_goethals for supporting a #VisionZero approach that will greatly improve safety, connectivity, & bike mode share in the city, while reducing vehicle miles traveled & greenhouse gas emissions.

Thank you for also supporting parking policy options that will help mitigate the impact of the parking removal, and will help provide reliable and safe access to mobility for residents and all road users.

Thank you Deputy Mayor @DianePapan & Council Member @amourence1 for highlighting important considerations that must be made for the North Central neighborhood and for striving to achieve consensus around a project with difficult tradeoffs.

We appreciate your strong history of bicycle and pedestrian advocacy, and hope that future city bike/ped projects earn your vote.

Move San Mateo is committed to staying engaged to advocate for further pedestrian and bike improvements, and ensure that identified parking policies are implemented quickly and with community outreach.

Check out this op-ed supporting the bike lanes in the San Mateo Daily Journal by our very own member and North Central resident, Lisa Rayle!

Background: The North Central Bike Lanes Project includes bike lanes on Humboldt Street and Poplar Avenue and a bicycle boulevard on Indian Avenue. These are some of the highest priority projects in the city's Bicycle Master Plan. North Central is one of the densest neighborhoods in the city of San Mateo with lower average incomes. The biking rates are high despite the lack of bike infrastructure, suggesting that many who ride bikes are doing so because it is the lowest cost transportation choice for them. There are multiple schools within 2 blocks of the bike lanes with a plan to add another elementary school within the next ten years. The school district annually spends $20k to provide Bike Rodeos for the 4th/5th grade students. Our city and community need to show the students that we are committed to helping create safe routes to school in our community by providing space on roads for bikes/scooters/active transportation modes by building these bike lanes.

Implementing the bike lanes will result in removal of 214 parking spots. Based on a survey that the city conducted, if the bike lanes are constructed, these parking spots can be absorbed within maximum 1-2 blocks (600 feet) of the suggested area. The city staff also has recommendations to move forward with parking policies that have been ideated with community input and will help mitigate the parking removal. The bike lanes will not only make it safer for those walking and biking, but also help reduce collisions, reduce car dependency, help mode shift and set precedence for implementing the remaining Bicycle Master Plan.

A Dangerous Transportation Corridor

The City of San Mateo proposes bike lanes (Class II) on Humboldt Street from Peninsula Ave to 5th Ave, and on Poplar Ave from El Camino Real to Eldorado St, as well as a bicycle boulevard on Indian Ave between Delaware and Humboldt. This project is located in North Central San Mateo, which sees some of the highest active transportation mode share rates in the city and state, according to city staff. Humboldt Street is a main roadway connecting several important destinations, including the King Community Center, multiple highway overpasses with bike facilities, San Mateo High School and several other schools, and downtown San Mateo. Unfortunately, Humboldt and Poplar are also notorious for being some of the most dangerous streets for all roadway users. The images to the left show the history of reported car vs. bicycle collisions near the project area. Humboldt Street and Poplar Avenue both see riders forced onto sidewalks because they understandably feel unsafe on this roadway. Bike lanes improve street safety for all road users by giving bicyclists dedicated space, so they don't feel the need to ride on sidewalks, and aren't in the path of high-speed cars trying to get to highway 101. Bike lanes would help the city achieve its stated goal of increasing bicycle mode share and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while reducing fatalities on streets that have unfortunately actually seen fatalities and severe injuries. In addition to helping vulnerable road users, the increase in bike ridership and walking will reduce parking demand in the neighborhood, providing a sustainable solution to the parking headaches experienced by folks in the neighborhood. What history has taught us is that building more space for parking, or not investing in sustainable transportation alternatives, only makes the parking problem worse in the long run. This is exactly the problem that the North Central neighborhood faces today.

Lack of Investment in Active Transportation and Ensuing Car-Dependence

Due to historical development patterns, North Central is a dense and diverse neighborhood compared to the rest of the city. This density, combined with the neighborhood's lower average income rates, flat topography, proximity to transit, and proximity to downtown San Mateo and other shops/small businesses, is part of what drives the high active transportation rate in the neighborhood. At the same time, the relatively dense neighborhood of single family homes, duplexes, smaller multi family buildings, and some larger apartment complexes does see high rates of on-street parking due to a lack of investment in safe space for active transportation, as well as a prevalence of multi-generational families and overcrowding due to high housing costs. Folks who are car-dependent report having to walk further and feeling unsafe navigating the neighborhood at night from their car to home.

Working to Address Community Concerns of Safety, Parking, and Mobility Access

As such, the potential removal of parking spaces on Poplar Avenue and Humboldt Street has raised concerns among members of the neighborhood. Humboldt Street would see removal of parking on one side of the street for much of the length of the project area. Initially, construction of the bike lanes was supposed to start in October 2021. However, due to the above parking concerns, the city council voted to recommend additional parking data gathering at night, and additional outreach/a survey of the project and potential parking policy solutions. Members of our group worked with a neighborhood focus group and the city on outreach and brainstorming parking policy solutions, such as a 24/7 residential parking permit program, extended red curbs, permitting residents to park in front of driveways, and opening up one of the several large parking lots in the neighborhood that go unused at night for overnight resident parking. We also support better lighting in the neighborhood to improve a sense of public safety.

We support the city's project and hope you do too!

While we understand the difficulty of parking, and support the parking policy solutions outlined by the city, hoping to see them implemented quickly and equitably, we recognize that improving bicyclist and pedestrian safety helps the most vulnerable road users, who tend to track heavily low income and nonwhite. Bike lanes are an equity issue. It is time the city of San Mateo addressed the high rate of collisions in the North Central neighborhood and reduced the number of vehicle trips by providing alternatives.

This project is important

  • Thousands of student from pre-school through high school and adult school navigate the streets around the North Central Bike Lanes Project Area. This includes San Mateo High School, the Adult School, and College Park Elementary School. Children bike and often cross the street.

  • Many low-income folks live in the neighborhood and are disproportionately dependent on biking as a mode of transportation, not recreation.

  • Bicyclists have been critically injured biking on Humboldt Street, and multiple people have died in car crashes on the street. Critical safety improvements are needed.

Why installing bike lanes helps everyone

This project helps bicyclists, would-be bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers too!

  • Adding bike lanes to a road reduces bike crashes by providing dedicated space separate from car traffic and sidewalks.

  • According to the City's Bicycle Master Plan, a significant amount of bicyclists are interested in biking but concerned for their safety. Bike lanes help more people feel safe when biking.

  • The bike lanes and parking removal on the street would help increase site distance and push cars more towards the center of the road, helping drivers and pedestrians see each other sooner and have more reaction time.

  • Drivers would no longer have to contend with cyclists in the same lane on Humboldt and Poplar.

  • By encouraging bicycle ridership, the bike lanes will reduce parking demand and help with mobility access for all.