Response to Grand Jury Reports:
Bicycle Safety; Handling Forensic Evidence and
Warrant Enforcement by Police Agencies in San Mateo County
July 3, 2003
Hon. Beth Labson Freeman
Judge of the Superior Court
Hall of Justice
400 County Center, 2nd Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063-1655
Honorable Judge Freeman:
Thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on the Grand Jury findings and recommendations regarding bicycle safety in San Mateo County as well as the County crime lab and due diligence process on warrant arrests.
Let me preface our comments by stating that it would have been beneficial if our staff had a copy of the Grand Jury survey results and information that formed the basis of the Grand Jury’s findings and recommendations. Some of the linkages between the findings and recommendations were not always very clear and there was not much information regarding safety. Having the survey results would have greatly facilitated our effort to provide you with informed responses and ensure the type of feedback that you may find useful. Our comments to the findings and recommendations are contained in the following sections.
The following are Grand Jury’s findings and our responses:
There is a general lack of bike lanes and connectivity between bike lanes in many cities.
City Response #1
We concur that there are not many bicycle lanes in the cities or the county however, it is unlikely that there ever will be given the design and layout of streets and the expense of construction. It is possible to have a greater number of bicycle routes (signed only wherein bicyclists share the road with motor vehicles). Bicycle routes as opposed to lanes (striped) are in fact the predominant form of designated routes due to a number of factors including, but not limited to, the low cost of construction and maintenance, safety and flexibility.
Several of the major corridors consist of wide shoulders with striping that has deteriorated in many places.
City Response #2
We cannot respond to the validity of this statement without knowing the location of the major corridors.
The cities of Menlo Park, Redwood City and Foster City have the most extensive network of bike lanes and paths.
City Response #3
We cannot respond to the validity of this statement without knowing about the bicycle facilities in all communities. We are not clear why the Grand Jury did not make a conclusion regarding bicycle routes. San Mateo for example has a very extensive network of lanes, paths and routes that rivals the other cities. What would be important to explore is why these cities have such an extensive network so that other communities can seek to emulate their efforts.
Survey responses showed that, with the exception of Redwood City and San Carlos, all cities in San Mateo County have at least one staff person designated to oversee bicycle-related issues. The time spent on bicycle issues varies. Staff in over half of the cities devote less than one hour per week to bicycle-related issues.
City Response #4
We believe that this finding is a direct correlation to funding availability. Funding available for bicycle projects is minimal in comparison to major roadway construction projects. Cities are more inclined to apply for grants that will support projects impacting automobiles because they may receive more funding for their efforts. Funding for Bikeways and Pedestrian projects in the entire county has been allocated a very small fraction of the Federal, State and local monies available for roadways. Were more funds available the cities would have more actively pursued such grants and more improvements would have been constructed.
Transportation funding from the state is contingent upon a county's adoption of a Congestion Management Plan. San Mateo County's Congestion Management Plan is under the jurisdiction of C/CAG.
City Response #5
Concur. However, it is the individual cities that bear primary responsibility for implementing the plan and thus its success.
San Mateo County does not have a bicycle advisory committee to address bicycle-related issues in the unincorporated areas of the county. Less than half of the cities in the county have bicycle advisory committees.
The roles of the advisory committees that are in place include:
- addressing issues and complaints
- recommending improvements
- assisting with developing city bicycle objectives and plans
- project recommendations
- providing advice to city councils
City Response #6
We cannot comment on the validity of the statement. However, our Pedestrian
and Bicycle Advisory Committee in addition to the functions described above
also designs facilities, seeks grant funding, and makes public presentations.
Survey data regarding city master bicycle plans is inconsistent with information received in interviews.
City Response #7
Without further background information we cannot comment on the validity of
Approximately half of the cities have bicycle plans, with varying degrees of detail and depth. Most cities report that they coordinate projects with neighboring cities on issues involving: the development of continuous bicycle lanes and paths between cities regular communications for continuity and project planning partnering for funding opportunities and co-authoring grant applications
City Response #8
We do not have any background information that would permit us to comment on the validity of this finding.
The issues also involve pedestrian facilities and bicycle routes within each community as well as between cities.
The C/CAG Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee provides general support for bicycle-related issues in the cities within the county. C/CAG currently has a $600,000 budget for grants to cities in support of bicycle transportation projects. Grants are awarded based on criteria established by the C/CAG Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Regional, state, and federal funding sources are also available to cities, and over the past three years, $2,158,200 has been awarded to half of the cities in the county.
City Response #9
C/CAG is given an annual budget allocation from MTC. Grants are awarded if they meet criteria set forth by C/CAG and the State. C/CAG’s grant recommendations are subject to approval by MTC. Over the recent past more communities have expressed interest in the TDA grant program. In prior years very few cities participated in the TDA grant program.
The Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance offers to employers a bicycle safety education program and provides funds for bicycle racks and lockers at the worksite.
In 2002, the Alliance conducted safety and education programs at two companies.
With funding from a federal grant, the alliance teaches bicycle safety courses and distributes bicycle helmets to low-income bicyclists in the community. These programs amount to less than 10% of the total staff time of the alliance. Except for special projects, the Alliance does not undertake community outreach programs related to bicycle safety
City Response #10
The Alliance does provide some related services. However, it should be noted
that City’s can and do perform many of the same or similar functions. Many city
and school district staffs conduct bicycle related safety programs and provide
bicycle lockers and racks. Police Departments license bicycles.
The following are Grand Jury’s recommendations and our responses:
Within one year, San Mateo County and every city without a long-term strategic bicycle safety and transportation plan should develop one that includes:
- The priorities set forth in the San Mateo County Comprehensive Bicycle Route Plan.
- A bicycle advisory committee.
- At least one city employee whose job responsibilities involve bicycle transportation and safety issues.
- Coordination of roadway construction projects with neighboring cities.
City Response to Recommendation #1
- The City of South San Francisco has and incorporated the Bicycle Route Plan as part of the General Plan Land Use Element adopted October 1999.
- The City of South San Francisco formally established a Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee in 1998 although the City had an informal committee established in 1990.
- The City of South San Francisco’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee is the official designee and the contact for all matters relating to pedestrian and bicycle transportation and safety issues.
- The City of South San Francisco continues to work with neighboring jurisdictions to coordinate public construction projects that may affect other communities. Projects that increase capacity are subject to compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act that includes analysis of impacts to other communities.
The county and cities should seek grant funding to support bicycle projects and programs in their communities.
City Response to Recommendation #2
We concur, however, that the County and Cities should also contribute local revenues to funding bicycle improvements and make them a part of the CIP. The City of South San Francisco has actively south grand funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs for many years. To date with approved grants the City has constructed 3 miles of bicycle lanes, 1 mile of bicycle paths, installed several bicycle lockers and is the first City to install bike route signs on all designated C/CAG routes. Not to rest on our laurels, we will be installing another 2 miles of bicycle lanes and are in the process of completing a 2 mile portion of the bay front trail. The City has also required all developments along the San Francisco Bay front to install bicycle trails. Due to our efforts we are now poised to complete the trail in the next year.
C/CAG should increase its efforts to address bicycle issues within the cities by:
- Developing a community outreach program for bicyclist that includes the distribution of designated bicycle route maps and safety tips, and provision of free maps to local bicycle shops and the non-profit bicycle organizations.
- Incorporating in its Congestion Management Plan the requirement that consideration must be given to bicycle safety during new construction and roadway improvement projects.
City Response to Recommendation #3
- C/CAG should provide the maps to local communities to distribute or unless the City either requests C/CAG to distribute the material or expresses no interest in the program. South San Francisco would appreciate the opportunity to distribute the materials in our jurisdiction so that we can develop closer ties with our local bicycling community.
- We concur with the recommendation.
C/CAG should prioritize and fund projects that demonstrate inter city coordination of bicycle projects, e.g., bicycle lanes and paths.
City Response to Recommendation #4
C/CAG should fund all projects that meet current design requirements and should not give a higher priority to projects that demonstrate inter-city coordination. The Grand Jury recognized that many City’s have few if any bikeways. In this environment C/CAG should focus its effort on:
- a. Raising awareness of the importance of bicycle travel as an alternate travel mode.
- b. Assisting communities that do not have bikeways to develop plans and facilities.
- c. Continue to fund all projects that meet design standards as the TDA budget permits.
We do not dispute that the primary commute routes identified in the C/CAG Bikeways Plan should be assigned a high priority. However, they should not be assigned a higher priority than local projects for grant funding purposes. Instead each project should compete on its own merits, as has been the practice of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee and its predecessor for over 25 years. This practice allows local projects to receive grant funding without which many of such local serving projects would never have been constructed in the past.
County Crime Lab and Due Diligence Process on Warrant Arrests
After reading your report, we concur that there should be some type of follow-up by the Police Chiefs to address the concerns you discuss on these two issues.
The San Mateo County Police Chiefs and Sheriff Association will focus on these two topics as a group. It is important that we take the perspective as one agency for San Mateo County rather than viewing the subject matter from individual communities.
Thank you for your efforts in the study and investigation of these areas. The opportunity to provide comments is very much appreciated. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact our City Manager, Michael Wilson at (650) 877-8500.
Very sincerely yours,