Clinging to Summer

School may have already begun, but summer isn’t quite over yet! According to the meteorological definition, the last official day of summer is August 31. And although summer vacation season may well be over, Redwood City isn’t quite ready for fall. As I write this, this year’s Music in the Park series has just wrapped up, but Music on the Square still has two more concerts to go: Friday, August 24, and Friday, August 31, both from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. And Movies on the Square will present one final showing: Black Panther on Thursday, August 30 starting around 7:45 p.m. Finally, you still have one final weekend to see Shakespeare in the Park: this year they are showing A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Saturday, August 25 starting at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, August 26, starting at 4 p.m. All of these events are free, and I highly recommend any or all of them.

Music in the Park is held each summer in Stafford Park, on Hopkins Avenue between King Street and Lowell Street. With the summer coming to an end and traffic patterns getting back to normal, some visible progress is being made on the Hopkins Avenue Traffic Calming Project. This project is still in the design phase, and just this week folks from our Public Works department used white spray paint to mark the street where traffic islands might someday appear. The purpose of these markings, as I understand it, is to enable members of the design team to show residents along Hopkins just what might be coming to their part of the street, and to then get feedback on the proposed changes from the residents. Once the project team has finalized their design, it will be presented to the City Council along with the corresponding construction budget. Only if and when the Council approves money for the project would it then be built. Currently, the assumption is that the project would be built just about a year from now.

Infrastructure projects typically take a long time and often cost a lot of money to implement. One such project that seemed to go very quickly (and that seemed to be implemented pretty cheaply), is the Peninsula Bikeway. This project mostly flew beneath my radar, but recently I noticed new Peninsula Bikeway signs on Hopkins Avenue at Duane Street. The Peninsula Bikeway is (or will be; I’m not sure how much progress the other communities have made) a well-marked route between Redwood City’s border with San Carlos and the far end of Mountain View.

The bikeway is a project of the Managers Mobility Partnership, which is an agreement between the managers of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Redwood City, and Menlo Park, plus Stanford University, to “work jointly to address the transportation and mobility challenges facing the region in the wake of population growth and economic expansion.” The goal for the bikeway is to more closely link the four cities, with the hope that it will someday span the entire peninsula. The initial route follows existing bikeways on local streets, but the desire is to someday develop a more direct route (think El Camino). For now, though, the new Peninsula Bikeway is a fairly safe path along mostly quiet streets, implemented entirely with signs plus markers in the roadway.

To get a proper feel for it, I followed the roughly three-mile route from one end of Redwood City to the other. Normally I do my investigations on foot, but it seemed only appropriate that I do this one by bike. Therefore, I hauled out my long-unused bicycle, dusted it off, pumped up the tires, and checked the gears and brakes. After donning my helmet, I headed off to where Warwick Street crosses Cordilleras Creek.

Cordilleras Creek serves as the boundary between Redwood City and San Carlos, and currently is the northern end of the Peninsula Bikeway. There isn’t yet a permanent sign marking the start of the bikeway, but head south on Warwick and you’ll see one between Edgewood Road and Arlington Road. Along the bikeway watch for signs with a blue “topper”: a dome-shaped blue sign with the image of a bike and the words “Peninsula Bikeway” (or just “Peninsula”) on top. They’re placed above official bikeway signs of course, but also atop many regular street signs, assuring the rider that they are on the correct route. Sometimes you need to look carefully to see the signs—the toppers are aligned in the direction of travel and don’t always face you—but whenever the path makes a change of direction, additional signs clearly indicate what you are to do. Significant points of interest that don’t lie along the bikeway—for instance, Redwood City’s Transit Center—are also called out by these “wayfinding” signs. And these signs helpfully include the distance to the named destination along with an estimate of the time needed to ride there.

The route through Redwood City jogs back and forth a bit. You’ll almost never find yourself in a striped bike lane; the streets are mostly quiet residential ones that you share with vehicular traffic. Of course, the bikeway cannot help but cross a handful of major thoroughfares. Whipple is no problem: the bikeway crosses at a four-way stop. Jefferson Avenue, though, proved a bit of a challenge. The chosen route uses Cleveland Street; at Jefferson and Cleveland there is a marked crosswalk but no nearby signals of any kind to stop traffic. Personally, I chose to walk my bike across the street there.

At Woodside Road, there is a signal (you cross at Hess Road and then jog over to Cypress Street), but signs recommend that you walk your bike. Given my experience, that is very good advice indeed.

The southern city end of Redwood City’s segment, at Selby Lane, comes as a bit of an anticlimax. Because Atherton is not one of the four original participants in the project, the Peninsula Bikeway signs end there. To continue on, ignore the large “Bike Route” sign that directs you towards El Camino Real and instead turn right and follow Austin Avenue, then Elena Avenue, to Valparaiso Avenue. At this point you’ll be in Menlo Park, where the bikeway signs should resume. Me, I turned around here and followed the bikeway back north.

I really enjoyed my ride and suggest that, if you have access to a bicycle, you spend one of these last few days of summer by riding the new Peninsula Bikeway. My trip involved a bit of investigation, but once the bikeway project is complete you shouldn’t have much trouble following the route: there will be markers in the pavement that should help enormously (and you can find a set of maps detailing the entire route here). Today the bikeway follows an interim route that seems good for commuting and casual riding, but Redwood City hopes to someday build a physically separated bike lane along El Camino that will become the permanent route: a route that is not only more direct but also provides easy access to shopping and other Redwood City destinations. If and when that day comes, I’ll dust my bike off once again and do something that today is unthinkable: ride my bike on El Camino Real.

I should note that there will be a “Launch Event” for the Peninsula Bikeway on Saturday, September 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in Menlo Park’s Burgess Park. There will be food trucks and events for both kids and families, along with, of course, rides to celebrate the official opening of the bikeway. They suggest that you RSVP on Facebook, or you can simply show up and join in the fun. For more information, check out the Peninsula Bikeway web page.

The Veterans Memorial Building/Senior Center-YMCA project is taking the next step in the long process that, if successful, will result in the construction of a new Veterans Memorial Senior Center Building. At this time the City is requesting input for the Environmental Impact Report—the EIR. An EIR details the significant environmental effects of a proposed project, identifies ways in which those effects might be minimized, and lists reasonable alternatives to the project. The actual EIR will be written by the City, but before that can be done, the scope of the EIR—the areas in which the project might possibly impact the environment and the surrounding community—must first be determined. If you feel that this project will have particular impacts that should be addressed in the EIR, or simply want to make comments on what should be in that document, you have until the close of business on September 25, 2018 to submit your feedback, in writing, to the City. For more details, see the Notice of Preparation.

10 thoughts on “Clinging to Summer

  1. I question the logic of routing the bikeway through the 400 Block Of Duane Street. We have three public schools on this block and Sequoia High School right across James Street. I live on this block and we have have had school kids hit by cars, constant problems with parents driving their kids to school while commuting in haste with no regard to traffic laws involved in more altercations then one could imagine, a new high density townhouse project being planned at Duane and Cleveland street, and now a bikepath?


    Who on the planning commission approved this travesty? How many more traffic incidents and injuries or death must occur before we get some traffic relief? Overcrowded areas of schoolchildren, bikes, and cars do not make a good mix. Unfortunately nothing will change until another innocent child gets run down.

    • Interesting. Some would say that the route, passing as close as it does to a number of schools, is ideal since it presumably encourages more people to ride bikes to school rather than drive (for instance, see Matthew Self’s comment, below; Matthew is the current chair of Redwood City’s Complete Streets Advisory Committee, a group that advises the City Council on ways to “increase safe, attractive, comfortable and independent access and travel for the Redwood City community”; they focus on all modes of transport). Providing truly safe routes for all modes of transport is something we should all aim for, and is something that Redwood City is working on on. But this is a difficult problem to solve.

      Traffic relief in your area is certainly needed. As I understand it, the bulk of the problem seems to be from people driving to and from the schools. Encouraging people to cycle, rather than drive, seems to be a small step in the right direction. but obviously we need to take bigger steps. When I was a kid the solution was school buses; do they still run any to the schools in your area? I certainly don’t see many of them driving around where I live. I know that a lack of money is one (maybe the only) reason why there aren’t as many school buses as there once were. If you have any other suggestions for reducing the number of cars going to and from our schools, I’d love to hear them.
      Thanks for the feedback.

      • Greg,
        The only time school buses are used is for field trips and transporting teams for sports or cheerleading. I would like to propose to the planning commission to shuttle students in on buses from an area that can be used as a drop off point. Perhaps one of the CalTrain parking lots.

      • That’s an interesting idea. It may be more appropriately directed to the City Council, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to suggest it to the Planning Commission as well.

  2. There are a few peninsula bikeways signs in Atherton, largely along the route you mentioned. It seems only Austin is missing them, perhaps they’re not done installing them? I noticed they had been put up recently.

    • That’s great to hear. When I got to Selby Lane the only sign I saw pointed me towards El Camino so I didn’t follow the defined route through Atherton and thus didn’t notice whether or not there were any signs up at that time. I’ll have to check again; I’ll probably wait until after the kickoff event on September 8; presumably all of the signs will be up by then. Someday I do want to ride the bikeway all the way to the far end, just to see how well it works in the other communities through which it passes.

  3. Hi Greg! Not sure where you came up with your “meteorological end of summer” being August 31st… back in the day, we would have said “Labor Day, since school starts the day after.” But that is broken with School starting in mid-August. The technical, one may even say meteorological, end of Summer is the Autumnal equinox, on September 22 this year…
    —Donna Holm

    • I will admit that I chose “meteorological summer” vs. the more common astronomical summer because it better fits with both the school schedule and Redwood City’s events calendar: both seem to ignore September 22 and more closely hew to an end-of-August date (with the school calendar varying from district to district, and from year to year, of course). And that worked better with what I was talking about: the final public events of summer. FYI “meteorological summer” is very much a real thing: meteorologists divide the year into four seasons of three months each, and summer is June-August. If you are truly curious, here is an article comparing the two definitions: But you are absolutely correct in noting that September 22 is the more common definition for the end of summer. And I have fond memories of going back to school just after Labor Day; that always seemed to work well when I was a kid. Not sure why that start date needed to be changed…

  4. Glad to hear that this project got you to dust off your bike and take a ride!

    The City was awarded a grant to install a HAWK (pedestrian) signal at Jefferson and Cleveland to make this crossing much safer. And we’re also working with Caltrans to improve the crossing at Woodside Road — but that may take quite a while.

    Note that the route goes right behind Sequoia High School (where the access to student bike cages is) and in front of McKinley/North Star middle schools, so we expect a lot of students to use this route.

    • That HAWK light at Jefferson and Cleveland would be wonderful–not just for the bikeway, but for pedestrians as well.

      It did indeed get me out on my bike, something I haven’t done in quite a while. One of these days I’ll have to ride all the way to the southern end of the bikeway; that would be an interesting excursion. Hopefully more cities will jump on board. I can see that this kind of thing may really encourage more cyclists, although I for one plan to keep walking… 😎

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