Five candidates for San Carlos council have different views of combating traffic

Daily Post Staff Writer

With the explosion of development on the mid-Peninsula, cities such as San Carlos that are seeing booms in construction aren’t sure how to deal with the increased traffic.

All five candidates for San Carlos City Council can agree that something needs to happen in terms of reducing traffic, but their approaches on how to relieve congestion and make the city safer for travelers is where they differ.

Ken Castle, who organized the Neighborhood Watch program in the White Oaks area, said that a big area that needs to be improved is El Camino.

“We have pedestrian crossings, such as at Belmont Avenue, that are unsafe and should have full traffic signals. We have bus stops along the east side of El Camino that are difficult to access because there are no paved sidewalks to them,” Castle said in an email.

El Camino bike lanes

Castle also said San Carlos ought to look at the possibility of installing bicycle lanes along El Camino.

He said he would support measures that would discourage out-of-area commuters from taking shortcuts through town.

Sara McDowell, a city economic advisory commission member, said the city needs to strike deals with developers that entice employees at new buildings to take public transit.

If more workers do take transit, she said sidewalks and bicycle lanes need to be added and improved so people can safely get to and from Caltrain or SamTrans stops.

“San Carlos should continue to work with SamTrans to improve access to consistently reliable and affordable public transportation for all of our residents. Those who live and/or work in San Carlos need better public transportation options for getting to and moving around within our community,” Mc-Dowell said in an email.

Laura Parmer-Lohan, who was on the Single Family House Advisory Committee, also said the city needs to be more walkable and bike-friendly.

She said she lives about a half mile from downtown, but doesn’t feel safe enough to ride her bike there.

Safer routes to schools

Parmer-Lohan said the city needs to get parents and kids out of cars and make routes to school safer. There are a few schools in the city that parents just don’t feel safe letting their kids bike or walk to, she said.

If those routes are put in place, then it would take some cars off the road during the morning and afternoon commute.

John McDowell, who was on the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury from 2017 to 2018, said the city’s traffic crunch is a result of unchecked development.

All projects need to be looked at in a larger picture in order to see how bad traffic will get, he said.

Reducing cut-through traffic

McDowell suggested installing speed bumps or signs on the edges of neighborhoods to reduce cut-through traffic. He also said the city needs to work with Caltrans to synchronize the city’s traffic lights, particularly at the El Camino and Holly interchange.

Furthermore, McDowell said he thinks the city ought to look into bike-sharing programs.

Adam Rak, a former San Carlos School District trustee, said a host of solutions will need to be considered to help alleviate traffic.

Rak said the city will need to consider bike lane improvements, sidewalk upgrades, road diets and additional bus routes in order to improve things for commuters and residents.


  1. McDowell’s position does not take into account the fact that you cannot change a person’s behavior pattern. If someone prefers to commute via their own vehicle, you cannot mitigate over development by changing their behavior toward public transit.

    The only solution is to curb further development.

  2. …and looking into bike-sharing? Give me a break. This is San Carlos, not San Francisco. For the most part, people are commuting FROM, not TO here. How about some real, honest solutions, people.

  3. The more I think about bike-sharing, the more concerned I am about John McDowell’s qualifications. Has he ever been around such a program? Streets become littered with idle bicycles, and my non-scientific assessment is maybe 15-20% of bike are in use at any time. This is a small, affluent town, where many residents own their own bikes. The cycling issue as stated by other candidates is that, given the parking angles and blind corners, it is not safe to ride around town. I have been hit by a car pulling into a parking spot on San Carlos Ave. I fear for my daughter riding in town, and I won’t allow my son to do so until he acquires far more experience.

  4. I’m afraid the majority of new residents will not necessarily take mass transit. I live in the hills of San Carlos and can confirm that every morning, Brittan and Crestview are packed with vehicles working their way toward 280. These residential streets weren’t designed to handle such a volume of traffic, but now that the cat is out of the bag, I’d like to hear some creative solutions. Maybe open another on-ramp off Crestview to 280? Remove the barrier between Belmont and San Carlos? It’s not just El Camino and downtown areas that need traffic remediation.

  5. Halting development is just sticking our heads in the sand and waiting until the next recession reduces the area’s desirability enough that people move away. It’s not a solution, and it doesn’t change the current state at all, just locks it in!

    To me, improving congestion means enabling people to continue to get where they need to go but via multiple modes of transit, not just single occupancy cars. The more that people can and want to get around with alternate modes (on foot, bike, scooter, bus, train, etc), the less road congestion there is for those still driving.

    I’m a solo driver most days to work, and I’m a huge supporter of bike lanes, walking paths, and bus networks because it makes my commute better by taking mostly-empty cars off the road and out of my way. And if we make these modes of transit so attractive I want to take them too, all the better!

    More non-car transit is better for everyone. For concrete changes I’d like to see the proposed bike boulevards trialled in downtown, commuter shuttles and bus networks frequency and geography increased to help people make the last mile between Caltrain and work/home, and trialling bike/scooter share programs so that person-sized transit is always nearby. These help drivers and non-drivers alike!

Comments are closed.