San Mateo Releases Draft Plan for Improved Streets

Did you know that the city of San Mateo is on the cutting edge of urban planning? In October, the city released its draft Sustainable Streets Plan. In it, the city proposes street infrastructure improvements to make streets safe and even delightful for all modes of traveling. The plan is available for download here:

In a recent discussion on PenVoice Ken Chin, San Mateo Public Works Project Manager, outlined the numerous reasons for the city to update its transportation infrastructure.

What brought about the Sustainable Streets Plan?
The Sustainable Streets plan came after we looked at the Bicycle Streets Plan and Pedestrian Streets plan. We looked at those two modes of transportation really in depth. And when we looked at those, we really saw there was a confined amount of space, so you have to start balancing the different modes. [This project] is a combination between complete streets and green streets.

What are “Complete Streets”?
Complete streets is dealing with the different modes of transportation – pedestrians, bicycles, motor vehicles and mass transit – all on the same network … for a long time, streets tended to be only for the automobile. You’d have a sidewalk, maybe a bicycle lane. The reality is how we balance all that for mobility throughout the city.

Bikes delightfully decorated with yarn art.

Bikes delightfully decorated with yarn art.

So are communities concentrating on bringing housing into their downtowns because people are not looking to get into their cars so much; they’re living and working in their same communities?
There’s a strong link between transportation and housing and as we grow as a city, there are going to be more needs. The transportation landscape is going to be stressed, so we have to think about how we’re going to move these people around.

The reality is when you look at Millennials, they’re not driving as much … they care more about smartphones than drivers licenses and you consider the baby boomer generation is not going to be driving as much either, so we need to make sure we have plans for them.

Will there by any infrastructure changes? Re-striping? Putting in safety measures?
There will be some changes initially but we’re talking about changes that will happen over decades. We’ve been living in an auto-centric society since probably 1950s… as we move toward a more multi-modal society, it’s going to take decades.


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