The Daily Journal Guest Perspective

Sustainable transportation solutions
By Emily Beach

Feb 27, 2018

Gridlock on Highway 101 and our local streets reminds us how transportation investments have not kept pace with growth in our region. To maintain our quality of life, we need safe and convenient transportation that doesn’t increase traffic and cause irreparable harm to our environment.  59515f6fcf238.image.jpg

Pedestrian and cycling infrastructure provides cost-effective solutions to help reduce congestion in ways that benefit everyone — including highway commuters. These improvements, however, require funding, community support, and the political will to enact them.  

When more people leave their cars behind, roads become less congested, parking becomes more plentiful, travel times more predictable and fewer tax dollars are required to maintain public roads. Moreover, people who walk and ride bicycles gain additional benefits to their physical and mental well-being. Why then do relatively few people do so? Safety and convenience are big challenges. Many people fear riding a bike or walking on roads near speeding drivers without robust bicycle and pedestrian spaces.

But if we build it, they will come.

Research shows that people of all ages and abilities will choose walking and cycling for short trips when it is safe and convenient. Low-stress bike routes through neighborhoods, dedicated paths protected from cars, designated lanes which separate bikes from motorized vehicles, well-maintained sidewalks and visible crosswalks are proven methods to encourage people to walk or ride to nearby destinations. When these facilities connect with commuter rail and other public transportation, all travelers benefit exponentially. Given our mild weather, population density and more frequent electrified Caltrain service coming soon, our county is well suited to embrace cycling and walking in our daily commutes. Now even electric-assist bicycles in local bike-share fleets provide us access to the hills without breaking a sweat. Better infrastructure will make these choices easier.

Despite the known benefits, communities often struggle to secure active transportation dollars. For example, 44 San Mateo County bicycle/pedestrian projects recently requested a combined $16 million from our countywide sales tax Measure A funds ($5 million available) and a state grant program for local projects ($2.26 million available). In other words, the requests outpaced the available dollars by $9 million — which meant funding fewer than half the projects. Compare $9 million of high- impact bicycle and pedestrian network improvements to the price tag of a new highway interchange ($90 million-$160 million), the proposed Highway 101 Managed Lane Project ($500 million), or even a local parking garage ($10 million-20 million). For a fraction of those costs, active transportation investments help address the root cause of our traffic and parking problems.

For the Peninsula to thrive, greater investment in sustainable transportation options must be a priority. Congestion management is a complex issue. Robust public transit, intelligent land use decisions and thoughtful highway improvements are important parts of the puzzle. Thankfully, alternative fuel vehicles pollute less, but they don’t reduce gridlock or road maintenance costs. Cycling and pedestrian improvements will not solve all traffic problems, but they are a cost-effective and healthy way to connect transportation hubs and local destinations. Because these investments reduce congestion, every commuter benefits.

Active transportation has additional perks: it’s good for the body, spirit and pocketbook. I haven’t always been an advocate, but about five years ago my husband (who is an avid bike commuter) installed a bag on my old mountain bike. Quite unexpectedly, that tiny retrofit transformed my bicycle into a practical transportation solution. With the ability to conveniently carry a heavy briefcase or a bag of groceries, cycling liberated me from our car. I was hooked. I felt happier and was amazed how much faster I arrived at nearby destinations — mostly because I didn’t need to search for parking. Bicycles help our busy family get where we need to go with only one car, which may even save us about $10,000 annually in per-vehicle ownership costs.

Please join me in supporting sustainable solutions to our traffic congestion. This week, if you are able, try walking or biking on a short trip. See how you feel and think about what improvements would make you safer. Also, participate in the survey sponsored by the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) to gather public input about possible future transit investments at before Feb. 28. This is a unique opportunity to advocate for active transportation in our communities. Your voice makes a difference.

Emily Beach is a member of the Burlingame City Council and serves on the San Mateo County Transportation Authority Board of Directors.


February 2018

Here are some noteworthy items in February:

  • Wednesday, 2/14: Coffee and Conversation with Emily at Il Piccolo Caffe
  • Tuesday, 2/20: City Council Study Session on housing impact fees (tentative) 
  • Monday, 2/26: El Camino Real Improvement Proposal 
  • Wednesday, 2/28Get Us Moving San Mateo County transportation priority survey closes; Town Halls on 2/15 and 2/22
  • Best of Burlingame Spotlight: Opt-up to ECO 100 clean energy 


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January 2018

Happy New Year! Please engage locally in the weeks ahead:

  • Saturday, 1/27: City Council Annual Goals Session
  • Monday, 2/5 (tentative): Study Session about the Affordable Housing Development and Parking Garage on Lots F&N
  • Monday, 2/5: “Get Us Moving” Traffic and Transportation Presentation
  • Saturday, 2/10: Burlingame Community Discussion about Housing: What does the future of housing look like in Burlingame?  What mix of housing options and programs will help our community thrive?
  • Wednesday, 2/14: Coffee and Conversation with Emily at Il Piccolo Caffe
  • Best of Burlingame: Welcome Limebike & Carolan safety improvements


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October 2017

October highlights here -- scroll down to read more:

  • Monday, 10/16*: City Council discussion about use of future affordable housing funds & short term rentals (*new date!) 
  • Saturday, 10/21: Coffee and Conversation with Emily at Il Piccolo Caffe
  • Tuesday, 10/24: Public Art Community Workshop (Part II) 
  • Wednesday, 10/25: Candidate Forum for three seats on Burlingame School District Board of Trustees
  • Please remember to VOTE & Emily's endorsements


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September 2017

It's a busy fall!  Here are some highlights in the month ahead -- scroll down to read more:

  • Tuesday, 9/26: Public Art Community Workshop (Part I)
  • Wednesday, 10/4: League of Women Voters' City Council Candidate Forum
  • Wednesday, 10/11: Draft General Plan (road map for Burlingame's future growth) Workshop & Open House  
  • Saturday, 10/14: Neighborhood Emergency Drill 
  • Monday, 10/16: City Council Study discussion about use of future affordable housing funds (new date & time!)
  • Saturday, 10/21: Coffee and Conversation with Emily at Il Piccolo Caffe
  • Tuesday, 10/24: Public Art Community Workshop (Part II) 
  • Study Session on Short Term Rentals / Airbnb (date TBA) 
  • Thank you Bayfront Clean-Up Volunteers!


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August 2017

Happy summer!  This post includes information about: 

  • Tuesday, 8/8: Silicon Valley Bicycle Summit 
  • Wednesday, 8/23 at 6:00 p.m: Caltrain Electrification Outreach Meeting hosted by Caltrain staff
  • Thursday, 8/24 and Saturday, 10/21: Coffee and Conversation with Emily at Il Piccolo Caffe
  • Upcoming community discussions related to our General Plan Update and cannabis (marijuana) policy 


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June 2017 Update

As promised, I'm confirming City Council will address the following important topics this coming Monday, June 19th starting at 7:00 p.m. in City Hall, 501 Primrose Road:

  • Consideration of placing a quarter cent local sales tax on the November 2017 ballot
  • Commercial linkage fees for new commercial developments
  • Eucalyptus tree evaluation and removals on Burlingame Avenue
  • Joint Use Agreement with Burlingame School District 

Click here to read our agenda and supporting documents for each of these discussions and more.  I hope you can join us.


June 2017

Here are a few important community discussions that will take place in the month ahead:

  • Monday, 6/5 at Burlingame City Hall: future affordable senior/workforce housing and new parking garage on downtown parking lots F&N, plus a public hearing for a new commercial development fee
  • Monday, 6/5 at Redwood City's City Hall: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Community Meeting to discuss the U.S. Route 101 Managed Lane Project in San Mateo County to improve congestion on 101
  • Near future June/July discussions at Burlingame City Hall: possible local revenue measure, Burlingame Avenue Eucalyptus Tree update, Mills Canyon update
  • Friday, 8/25: Coffee and Conversation with Emily at Il Piccolo Cafe


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May 2017

Greetings Friends,

I hope to see you tomorrow afternoon for coffee and conversation!  Also, here are a few noteworthy upcoming events: 

  • Coffee and Conversation with Emily, Saturday 5/6, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Il Piccolo Cafe
  • City of Burlingame Annual Budget Study Session, Wednesday, 5/10, 6:30 p.m., City Hall
  • Bike to Work Day, Thursday, May 11th
  • U.S. 101/Peninsula Avenue Interchange Project Community Meeting hosted by the City of San Mateo, Tuesday, 5/16, 6:30 p.m., Burlingame Recreation Center
  • NEW LOCATION & MEETING UPDATE: City Council Special Meeting regarding the Burlingame School District's request to financially contribute to re-turfing Franklin and Osberg Fields, Wednesday, 5/24, 6:30 p.m., City Hall, Conference Room A


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April 2017

Just wanted to make sure everyone is aware of a few noteworthy upcoming meetings:

  • California High Speed Rail Authority Community Open House in San Mateo, Thursday, 4/13
  • Burlingame City Council and Planning Commission Annual Joint Meeting, Saturday, 4/15
  • Discussion about senior/workforce housing on downtown Parking Lots F&N, and Burlingame School District's funding request to help re-turf district fields, Monday, 4/17
  • Senior Listening Session with Councilmembers Beach and Colson, Tuesday, 4/25 
  • Coffee and Conversation with Emily, Saturday 5/6 at Il Piccolo


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