Biking to Work in San Mateo

Good thing ET didn't need a neighborhood bike ride in San Mateo to get home. Odds are he never would have made it.

In an effort to stave off aging, get more exercise, have fun, torture myself, etc. I recently purchased a bicycle. And being me, God forbid I just get a normal bike. No, mine has a matching basket and looks like I stole the whole thing from Dorothy while she was pedaling away with Toto. Well, might as well do these things with style! Also it is designed to have low impact on a back and has the pedals in front of you rather than underneath. An old person's bike.

My goal was to commute to work everyday by bike rather than car. Save money on gas, stop and smell the roses , and all that malarkey. As I hadn't been on a bike in some years, I went for a practice run a few times around the neighborhood. So far so good.

Day one of my bike to work experiment. Up an hour early to be sure to leave enough time for my slow poke butt to get there, I jam packed my basket with essentials like lunch and lipstick. Hey, if you can't look cute on the bike what's the point?

Very excited, but a little nervous I set out. Mind you, my destination is a mere mile and a half away. However, the route isn't very bike friendly and I wanted to be considerate of the drivers as well as pedestrians. My goal was also to take some pictures along the way.

Fast forward to my arrival at work. It didn't take much longer than driving, a good thing. But the fear factor had my heart racing and hands shaking. Note to self: Just walk the bloody thing across El Camino. It is as if cars are aiming for you. Note to others: Don't honk to say hello and wave. It startles me right off my bike!

So here are a few things I discovered this week.

We do absolutely need to support the bike plan being worked on for our city. Bike lanes such as Palm Avenue just end abruptly leaving you to the mercy of the drivers speeding by.

There are lots of gems tucked away in the corners of our city. I rode through two hidden parks in the neighborhood that had tennis courts, lawns for picnicking, and children's play-stuff.

A camera mount is a solid investment for my bike. I would have loved to share photos of the commute, but stopping in or near the traffic to show a picture of said traffic would have probably resulted in me being flattened by a car. Perhaps after UPS delivers this new accessory I can share that photo.

There are plenty of places to lock up that new beauty of a bike around town. If only I could figure out just how to open my fancy lock set up. Here are a few from the City of San Mateo's website:

In the Downtown area:

  • Main Library
  • Main Street Garage
  • Transit Center
  • Central Park
  • San Mateo Drive between 3rd & 4th Avenues
  • 4th Avenue between Ellsworth & B Street
  • B Street between 3rd & 4th Avenues
  • Ellsworth Avenue between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
  • Claremont Street between 3rd & 4th Avenues
  • Claremont Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
  • Claremont Street between 1st & 2nd Avenues

In City parks:

  • Mariners Island Park
  • Shoreview Park
  • Central Park (in front of the Recreation Center)
  • Beresford Park (in front of Recreation Center and in the upper parking lot)
  • Lakeshore Park
  • Laurie Meadows Park
  • Los Prados Park
  • East Hillsdale Park
  • West Hillsdale Park
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Park (adjacent to the basketball courts)
  • Joinville Park (adjacent to the restrooms)

For a bike friendly map of our city and other useful info visit www.cityofsanmateo.org.

So dear neighbor, it is worth the effort. I saved a stupidly high amount on gas this week. Helped the planet, in a small way, discovered why we need, and I do mean need, the bike plan, and enjoyed (sort of, if you mean sweated, wobbled, and was terrified) myself. Just remember to keep an eye out for a rider in cute shoes and no laughing!


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Rod Hsiao May 07, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Good for you Denise! Our town really isn't all that big and if folk are willing to take back streets they can zip to places pretty darn quick! Now if we could only get kids to bike/walk to school as well. Fortunately, the SMC Office of Education is working with local schools to try and develop alternatives to driving to school. But it's going to require a push to make it happen in our neighborhoods.
commuter May 07, 2012 at 05:48 PM
A good way to find safer bicycle routes around town is the bike route mode in Google Maps. I've found this to be more detailed and much more recently updated than the official bike route maps from the city or county. An easy way to take photos from your bicycle is a high-definition handlebar-mounted video camera like GoPro (a Half Moon Bay company). Image quality is fine for web images. And if you get hit-and-run, the police can use your video to read car license plates (like that driver that was arrested in Berkeley the other day).
Denise Nelson May 07, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Hi Rod! Biking to school would be just like when I was a kid. We had the wheel but not fire yet it was so long ago... Thanks for the info on the SMC Office of Ed. And for taking the time to comment.
Denise Nelson May 07, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Hi Commuter! Great info on the bike routes on Google. Thank you. GoPro is a good way to video. I ordered the mount made by the bike company for my camera already but if it doesn't work out I now know where to go. Thank you!


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