Caltrans officials on Wednesday, June 21, gave an update on the development of a bike safety project along State Route 82, which would eliminate parking spaces and add bike lanes along El Camino Real.
The virtual public meeting was intended to address some of the concerns brought up by community members regarding cyclist and pedestrian safety on Redwood City’s El Camino Real Corridor.
Much of these concerns had previously been voiced in a 2022 letter signed by El Camino Real business owners, Redwood City students, residents, commissioners and healthcare workers.
Nick Jones, a project engineer with Caltrans, said that the project would cover the area of El Camino Real between Selby Lane in Atherton and Brewster Avenue in Redwood City. The project would remove on-street parking and the right-most travel lane to create space for new, protected bike lanes. Intersections along the project area would also be reconstructed to enhance the safety of bicyclists. Several parking spaces parallel to El Camino Real would have to be removed.
Redwood City Council member Chris Sturken reiterated the importance of Caltrans developing that specific stretch of El Camino Real.
“It’s really important for us to have visible and safer bike routes for bicyclists to get where they need to go safely,” Sturken said.
Transportation Manager and Acting City Engineer Jessica Manzi said driving behavior is another potential cause of bicycle accidents that needs to be examined.
“We’ve definitely seen an uptick in bad driver behavior, increases in excessive speeding and DUIs, which can contribute to the severity of crashes that are happening,” Manzi said.
Manzi also said that a recent report from the Transportation Mobility Subcommittee showed increased DUI-related crashes.
“The update for the subcommittee was on the 2022 traffic collisions,” Manzi said. “One of the things we’ve highlighted is that of all the crashes, 14% involved DUIs. That’s the highest percentage we have had in the last six years.”
She said that in addition to the plans for the new bike lanes and safety features along El Camino Real, officials from both San Mateo County and Redwood City are working with the Redwood City Police Department to see what enforcement activities should be done and if the number of DUI checkpoints should increase.
In February 2022, El Camino Real business owners, Redwood City students, residents, commissioners and healthcare workers co-signed a letter to the city council titled “3,500 students, 100s of affordable housing units, 1 high-collision corridor”.
The letter called for the city council to prioritize installing protected bike lanes on the northbound side of El Camino Real, from the Target near the North Fair Oaks neighborhood to Sequoia High School on James Avenue. The letter also said that for the bike lanes to be installed, several parallel parking spaces in this stretch would need to be removed.
The letter included a bicycle collision heat map from the Transportation Injury Mapping System at the University of California Berkeley. The data from the map, which was recorded over the span of the last ten years, showed that some of the highest concentrations of bicycle collisions in Redwood City took place on El Camino Real, with two hotspots at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and El Camino Real and the Jefferson Avenue and El Camino Real intersection.
Peninsula Velo is one of San Mateo County’s largest competitive cycling clubs. Andrew Hsu, the cycling club’s director for advocacy, has been a club member since 1998 and also serves on the board of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. An advocate for bicyclist safety himself, Hsu believes that Redwood City is leading the charge for safety across the entire Peninsula.
“I kind of look sort of with envy at all the things that Redwood City is able to do. The temporary road designs and the infrastructure changes to make cycling safer on the roads,” Hsu said. “I think that there’s always more that can be done, but I know that city has a reputation among mid-Peninsula cycling advocates as a town that is very progressive in wanting to improve cycling infrastructure.”
Caltrans’s project for El Camino Real is expected to begin construction in 2028.