County encourages cycling with workshops 

Every day for more than two decades, Brent Steelman has commuted to work on two wheels rather than four.

The Redwood City resident and Steelman Cycles bike shop owner said he doesn’t like cars and tries to encourage others to ditch vehicles and ride bicycles whenever possible.

“I’ve never had a bad experience,” he said. “I’m very courteous and I tend to respect motorists.”

Steelman said the biggest worry he hears from customers or friends is that they are afraid to ride their bike on the streets.

“The biggest concern people have is safety,” Steelman said. “People are really afraid to ride on the road. I tell them not to be afraid. Fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You need to be bold and put yourself out there and not worry about it.”

To help address any fear and encourage safe riding, the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance is helping San Mateo County host free workshops to encourage commuting to work via bicycle.

Christine Maley-Grubl, executive director of the alliance, said the group’s main goal is to help workers find alternatives to driving.

“We encourage people to try biking,” she said. “It’s a part of our mission.”

Though there has not been an increase in safety concerns over bicycle commuting throughout San Mateo County, Maley-Grubl said these workshops are meant to answer questions about safety and rules of the road.

During the workshops, the alliance tries to answer safety questions and focuses on sharing the road with cars and safe maneuvering in traffic, according to the brochure “How to bike safely in San Mateo County.”

“Be predictable,” the brochure says, “follow traffic rules, motorists will come to respect bicyclists as drivers of vehicles.”

According to the San Mateo County library officials, the cycling workshops are a part of the countywide effort to “go green.”

Steelman said he has noticed an increase in interest in bicycle commuting in the past two years, not only for environmental reasons, but also for health reasons.

“I think a lot of people have been told by their doctors to get out and do something,” he said. “I certainly encourage people to do it, but the main thing is to not be afraid to do it.”

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