New barbed wire on a bike path

What do you think of this newly installed barbed wire fence immediately adjacent to the Ralston Bike Trail in San Mateo County CA?

Newly installed barbed wire Ralson Ave bike trail

Edward Hasbrouck reports he was riding this path last Saturday when he and his riding companion watched the installation of this barbed wire fence. This fencing was apparently installed at the behest of Caltrans to stop deer and people incursions onto I-280, which is immediately adjacent to portions of this popular path. I don’t know how or why the decision was made to install this Hoogerland barrier on San Mateo County Parks right-of-way.

I tried contacting the San Mateo County BPAC about this, but the email bounced. If you have a good contact info please let them know about this. Any member of the public is also free to attend a BPAC meeting to raise this.

The image is a screen capture from this video that was uploaded on Monday.


  1. Thank you for bringing this to a wider audience! The photos on your link show that there was barbed wire before, but that fencing was not as high as the new wire, and was further from the path. I know that the previous barbed fencing was so unobtrusive and unthreatening that it hadn’t registered.

  2. Barbed wire, at head height, 12 inches off the trail.

    What could possibly go wrong!?

  3. You’re right, the previous fencing was completely unmemorable, which is a good thing. I haven’t been that way since the new barbed wire was installed, but that video makes it look potentially punishing.

  4. So they are using a First World War trench warfare technique to weaponize the path boundary? This must be part of their recent new push for safer bicycling.

    The shared path design guidelines seem to only call for railings or chain link fences, not barbed wire, and there must be a minimum of 2 feet of setback from the path edge when available. If the setback for a chain link fence is 2 feet, then the setback for barbed wire should be significantly further. Typically pre-existing fences are recreated with the same dimensions, If they are changing the design, then the design guidelines should come into place, and if they are not following the guidelines, then they loose design immunity with regard to lawsuits that could result from cyclists hitting the barbed wire.

    If fencing for dear, it is not necessary to fence so close to the path, or on both sides of the path. Also if the area between the path and the freeway was previously accessed by wildlife, as would be indicated by their justification, then there are also significant environmental impacts to the land from closing this area off to wildlife, and placing the fence closer to the freeway should be considered. California native plants evolved to be adapted to wildlife grazing, and removing grazing great hinders their ability to compete with non-natives, resulting in basically a noxious weed patch.

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