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Cyclists complain loose gravel from San Mateo County's resurfacing project makes roads unsafe

Cyclists fear resurfacing project in San Mateo County will make roads unsafe
Cyclists fear resurfacing project in San Mateo County will make roads unsafe 02:22

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- Miles and miles of popular roads for cyclists in San Mateo County are getting resurfaced. The problem is, the riders complain the type of resurfacing being done means they can't use the roads safely.

Riding along what should be some of the most enjoyable coastal roads in San Mateo County, Rob Waring is worried.

"This is not fun. It requires constant focus. And there's a fear factor because of the gravel," Waring said.

Fifty rural roads on the west side of Skyline Boulevard are getting a chip-seal resurfacing in which a layer of tar is laid down on a road and then covered with gravel.

It's part of a massive resurfacing project by the San Mateo County roads department from now until late September. But it has Waring and the greater bicycling community in an uproar because the current loose surface is dangerous.

The county itself installed signs warning against bike riding because of the project.

"People can crash if they hit a loose patch, especially if they are descending and turning."

The county says the chip-seal method is cost-effective and it can be used by vehicle traffic soon after it's laid down. Road crews plan to sweep the roads of loose gravel for about three months until the surface is solid.

In a statement, the county said it's always looking to improve service to residents but, "It should be noted that the roads to receive a chip seal as part of the project have all received chip seals previously and the existing roadway surface is a chip seal, which the bicycling community have been enjoying."

Local residents are please the roads are being redone, but they, too, have mixed feelings.

"I pay the same tax as everyone, but I get a gravel road and you get pavement. I don't want to be a stick in the mud about it, but it's not the right product for these roads," said one resident on Higgins Road who did not want his name published.

Waring says cyclists lobbied against the chip seal surface, but he thinks county policymakers already made up their minds.

"If you're doing something that's going to cause detriment to somebody, even if it's just for a few weeks or months, you need to check in with them to see if they have any ideas on how to minimize that," Waring said.

Waring says he plans to avoid riding on the resurfaced roads until it's once again safe for people on two wheels.

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