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A nice idea, but ...

On a recent ride to Menlo Park, I noticed some new signage along Willow Road and Middlefield Road: official trailblazers for the popular San Mateo County North-South Commuter Bike Route from San Francisco to Palo Alto.

I was immediately pleased and excited because parts of this 26-mile route can be especially tough to follow unless you've brought a copy of the route map with you. The southern part isn't that bad, but things change quickly north of Bay Meadows. (And I'll admit that I have not even attempted the far northern end of the route in more than a couple of years, mostly because I generally dread the San Francisco riding that awaits in any direction beyond the end of the route.)

So one afternoon last week, I decided to head up the Peninsula to see how well the new signs would guide me. The answer: Not very well -- or far -- at all. It looks like only Menlo Park has erected any signs in the lower part of the route. After the signs ended, however, I continued through Atherton and into the unincorporated retail district -- a rather unpleasant part of the route with diagonal parking, no bike lanes, a nasty railroad crossing, and other annoyances. From there I continued up Middlefield Road into downtown Redwood City, where I quickly lost the intended route and ended up on city streets that lacked any bicycle-capable signal sensors. North of downtown, I was able to navigate back onto Old County Road -- the designated route for the entire haul up to Bay Meadows -- but at that point I gave up and found a more pleasant way to get back home.

For those who need to regularly commute on the Peninsula and don't want the challenge of the longer foothills route, the North-South Route is useful if not particularly scenic. On weekends, it might even make a reasonable pleasure ride -- perhaps combined with a longer return along the Bay Trail through Foster City and Redwood Shores. But the signage project needs to be completed along the trail's entire length -- something that no doubt requires money that most of the host cities don't have.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yeah, commuting through the Peninsula is a well-intended, but horrifying mess. I tried being creative on my ride home to Santa Clara and then gave up. Central Expressway is nice, wide, and seems sparsely travelled, but by the time I get to it (San Antonio), there's not much point in deviating away from El Camino Real. Oh well.