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Bike and Car Sharing Programs Coming to Peninsula

San Mateo County approves grant funding to promote clean forms of transportation.

As San Mateo County encourages people to move away from their old- fashioned commuting habits, local residents will be offered a variety of opportunities to get to work in a different way.

Under an approval Tuesday by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, more than $5.75 million in grant funding will be spent in order to put into motion the Regional Bicycle Share Pilot Program and the Last Mile Connection Pilot Program.

The bicycle share program aims to use $4.29 million in grant money secured by the county last year to provide more than 1,000 bicycles to the public. The pilot project will include putting the bikes at 100 kiosks along the Peninsula, in cities such as San Jose, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Redwood City and San Francisco.

Bike kiosks will be located in Redwood City and in nearby unincorporated areas of San Mateo County, according to a county report.

The public will be able reserve and track the location of bicycles through the Internet, which will also serve as a vandalism and theft deterrent system, according to the report.

The project is brought forth as a collaboration between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Mateo County Transit District, the City of Redwood City and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

The project's goal is to promote a zero emission transportation source, by offering a bicycle share program in urban centers near bus and train routes.

"The Project will test the potential to effectively reduce single-occupancy vehicle travel to and from transit stops by offering bicycles as a transportation alternative, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled," said the report from the office of Peggy Jensen, Deputy County Manager.

The County plans to promote the program to employees and visitors as a change from the old fashioned means of one person commuting per car, as well as a way to encourage healthy living, wellness and recreation, according to the report.

The Climate Initiatives Program, stemming from the the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, supplied the grant funding for the project.

San Mateo County will contribute $105,000 to the project, through the San Mateo County Transit District.

Furthermore, the San Mateo County Transit District, and the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance as well as the City of Redwood City have elected to use $1.48 million in grant money to increase participation in ridesharing programs.

The money, which again comes from the Climate Initiative Program, will be used to develop and implement programs offering carpool and vanpool opportunities, as well as other projects which aim to reduce the amount of individuals commuting alone in their car.

Similar to the bike project, the goal of the Last Mile Connection Pilot Program is to reduce vehicle miles travelled and green house gas emissions, according to a report from Jensen's office.

During an initial two year demonstration period to kick off the program, electric and hybrid rideshare cars for public use will be located at the Redwood City Caltrain Station, and at two more downtown locations to be determined, according to the report.

No regular gas powered cars will be used in the program, according to the report.

As well, vanpools will be offered from residences and Caltrain to worksites in Redwood City, according to the report.

The County is also considering implementing telework programs and flex scheduling with its employees in hopes to, when possible, reduce or eliminate time spent in traffic commuting to work, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report.

According to the report the County, through telework and flex scheduling, aims to eliminate an average of two single-car commutes a month for half its employees.  

San Mateo County will contribute $120,000 to the project, through the San Mateo County Transit District.

Ultimately, the project homes to reduce vehicle miles travelled in Redwood City by 5%, according to the report.

No definite timeline has been set for either program to be launched.

After the meeting in Redwood City, local residents said they would embrace the programs.

"I'm really excited about the opportunities both these programs will offer," said Miles West, a Redwood City resident. "I probably drive my car more often than I need. So if there's a chance for me to get to work or school in a different way, I would definitely consider it."

Sarah Ingram, a Woodside resident, agreed.

"I think it is great that our local government is being so proactive in bringing residents these kinds of chances. If the projects get off the ground right, and people take advantage of them, I think we could do a lot of good," she said.

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