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Get Us Moving, San Mateo!

Staff Perspective Brian Oh

Every Autumn when school is back in session, I find myself reminiscing about my own childhood. My brother and I walked everywhere, then when we were old enough we rode our bikes all over town. We knew our neighbors and I delivered the local paper to my neighbors on my way to school. I grew up in a leafy suburb in Los Angeles, lived ten blocks from school and my parents never worked more than 20 minutes away. This is not a typical experience in present day California.

Traffic feels like it has gotten so much worse over the last few years! We’ve all either felt this or heard someone tell you so. With increasingly longer commutes compounded by an even longer bull housing market, investments in our transportation network has never been more critical. From new mobility options such as e-scooters and rideshare to autonomous vehicle technology, there are plenty of investments being made at the moment. Meanwhile, the November 2018 General Election include many choices for voters as they consider quality of life in the Bay Area.

San Mateo voters, who will all be receiving a ballot by mail, by the way, will vote on two initiatives: Prop 6, the repeal of SB 1 that provides transportation funding, and Measure W, which is a 30 year half-cent County sales tax to fund transportation investments. Both will determine how we and our kids move throughout the region.

Disruption in the mobility sector is ongoing and changing how we move through our neighborhoods. I wish I thought to add different types of deliveries to my newspaper delivery route to maximize my earnings all those years ago! While new mobility options such as rideshare and e-scooters will no doubt play a critical role in how we safely move through our neighborhoods, it’s equally important to look at the humble bus carrying 60 people or a bike commuter who isn’t another driver sitting in bumper to bumper traffic in front of you on US-101.

We hear this everywhere we go and in every newspaper: it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to live in the Bay Area. Our health is being affected because of it. We are spending more time commuting to work and living further away from our workplaces. Communities that have some of the highest concentrations of people walking and biking involved in a traffic collision in San Mateo County are places where we see the highest health inequities. We recently updated our Data Portal where you can find a number of health indicators and view how healthy each city is in the County.

Fortunately, we have community leaders doing something about that. From community-led efforts such as TEAMC that advocate for equitable transportation investments to city-led efforts such as Daly City’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate traffic deaths, a San Mateo County where all individuals have an opportunity to thrive is possible. Much like every election, your vote this November matters, so don’t forget to mail in or drop off your ballot!