Burlingame focuses on bike safety 

Several days a week, Josh Perez bikes along the bay from his Mission district home in San Francisco to his job at Summit Bicycles on California Drive in Burlingame. At times, the ride can be a harrowing experience.

"[California Drive] is a congested road and there’s no shoulder for bikes," he said. "There are parked cars, and people open doors when they get out of them without looking. You’re at risk of getting doored."

To become a more bike-friendly city, Burlingame is slated to receive grant money to create bike lanes on California Drive and Howard Avenue, the first step in a larger effort to provide more safety for bicyclists, said Councilwoman Cathy Baylock, who sits on the county Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

"There is major room for improvements," Baylock said. "The goal is to make Burlingame safer, not just for those traveling in Burlingame but for people traveling through Burlingame. A lot of people end up in their cars because they don’t feel safe biking or walking."

The plan includes installing a "shared-lane" bike route on California Drive — a major commuter thoroughfare — north of Burlingame Avenue, and would embed bike-lane markings into the middle of lanes. Since the road is already tight, especially north of Broadway, motorists won’t have room to pass bicyclists.

"You would basically need to drive as though a car is in front of you," said Augustine Chou, city traffic engineer.

Baylock said the county wants to turn California Drive into a connecting bike route between San Mateo and Millbrae.

"It is tight and it’s one of the [bike] routes adopted by the county as a north-south route," she said. "And right now, you take your life in your hands."

The total cost for the bike lanes on California Drive and Howard Avenue is about $120,000, Chou said. Both projects should be completed next year.

The two grants, which will be formally awarded Thursday, will cover almost $76,000. Another grant of $40,000 will pay for an illuminated crosswalk at Broadway and Paloma Avenue.

The three grants were among 11 pedestrian and bike safety projects that won funding recommendation — awarded by the City/County Association of Governments — totaling $1.6 million.

Les Austere, owner of Summit, is excited about the California Avenue project.

"All you have to do is ride your bike and you begin to appreciate the place you live in," he said.

Perez said if Burlingame does more for bike safety, drivers would become accustomed to looking out for people like him.

"People don’t pay as much attention here as in San Francisco," he said. "I feel safer pedaling in The City than in the Peninsula, just because there’s a lack of awareness here. There aren’t many indicators that there are bikes on the road."


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