Bicyclist killed by big-rig on Alpine Road identified

Lauren Ward, 47, hit Thursday afternoon near 280

A 47-year-old woman was killed in unincorporated San Mateo County near Portola Valley Thursday afternoon when she was hit on her bicycle by a big-rig, the California Highway Patrol said.

Lauren Perdriau Ward was riding on Alpine Road at northbound Interstate Highway 280 when she was hit at about 3:39 p.m., the CHP said. She was hit by a 26-wheeler and was trapped under the big-rig, according to initial reports.

She was riding a pink Trek bicycle and died at the scene. Ward was a Los Altos Hills resident.

Both Ward and the big-rig were going west on Alpine, the CHP said.

It is not known how or why they collided, but the point of impact was on the left side of the big-rig, CHP Public Information Officer Art Montiel said.

"We don't know if she ran into the big-rig. It doesn't appear it was making any turns," he said.

The driver's name is Gabriel Manzur Vera, Montiel said. He works for Randazzo Enterprises Inc. The big-rig was carrying heavy equipment from a construction job at Alpine and Sand Hill roads.

Ward's family was notified Thursday night, Montiel said.

The 280 on and off ramps were closed for three hours Thursday night.

Ward, a trained nurse, won state Sen. Joe Simitian's "There Oughta Be a Law" contest after suggesting a bill to add a bittering agent to antifreeze so that children and animals would not be accidentally poisoned.

The law was passed in 2002 and was introduced as a federal bill by Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-New York)in 2004. The "antifreeze bittering" law has been adopted in several states but has not yet been passed federally.

Ward had a letter to the editor about cycling safety published last year in the Los Altos Town Crier:

"Remember what it may be like to ride a bike alongside cars. Most people are not out there to ruin your day by getting in your way. A bicyclist is very vulnerable, like a pedestrian, to any sort of accident."

Investigators are asking for witnesses to come forward. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer K. Nielsen at 650-369-6261.

Bay City News contributed to this report.


Posted by rest in peace, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 5, 2010 at 8:54 am

Rest in peace, Ms. Ward.

Posted by robit noops., a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 5, 2010 at 9:43 am

Sucks. That is a dangerous crossing, not as bad as Page Mill/280 crossing or Sand Hill/280 crossing. Cyclists please be careful out there.

Posted by Adrian, a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2010 at 9:52 am

So sorry to hear about this, Lauren was always upbeat and positive.

Posted by Cyclist, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 5, 2010 at 10:13 am

Lauren had a letter to the editor about cycling safety published last year in the Los Altos Town Crier. It now reads very bittersweet and tragic:
Web Link

"Remember what it may be like to ride a bike alongside cars. Most people are not out there to ruin your day by getting in your way. A bicyclist is very vulnerable, like a pedestrian, to any sort of accident."

Posted by Fritz Knochenhauer, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 5, 2010 at 10:25 am

This is so tragic and heartbreaking. I'm so sorry for the victim, Lauren, who leaves behind her husband, Bob, and two incredible children. I know them all as a wonderful, loving family. Lauren was an incredible person, wife and mother. Please pray for the Ward family.

Posted by So Sorry, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 5, 2010 at 11:07 am

I'm so terribly sorry to hear this. When I was younger I rode Alpine and Page Mill, but ... now that I live up here? I would never ever ride a bicycle on these country roads. All it takes is for a driver to sneeze, get blinded by afternoon sun (a huge hazard on Altamont Road headed west in the afternoon), reach for a kleenex, whatever. Bicyclists, go to San Jose velodrome for your exercise!

Posted by sadness, a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2010 at 11:25 am

So sad!!! My condolences to Lauren's family & friends. Sounds like she had a beautiful soul and cared deeply for others. Hopefully her spirit will carry on in those she touched.

Posted by Facts Please, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm

The wording within the initial two paragraphs is rather presumptive and leading
"she was hit on her bicycle by a big-rig"
"she was hit at about 3:39 p.m"
"She was hit by a 26-wheeler and was trapped"

The statements leave a very strong impression of fault on the truck driver's part unless the reader continues onto the fifth and sixth paragraphs:
"It is not known how or why they collided, but the point of impact was on the left side of the big-rig
"We don't know if she ran into the big-rig. It doesn't appear it was making any turns"

I'd urge PA Online to be more cognizant in situations like these, using descriptions such as "A big-rig and a bicyclist collided..."
"The collision occurred at 3:39pm"

Posted by YIMBY, a resident of University South
on Nov 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

I read all comments up to Agatha's "we all drive" assertion - had to stop there.
but first, @Bikes2work, a member of the Santa Rita (Los Altos) community, 13 hours ago, who wrote:

Perhaps the time has come that all drivers should realize they have the equivalent of a loaded gun with their hands on the steering wheel. They should all approach driving with the same care as if their finger was on the trigger. Even clerks behind counters in pizza shops aren't safe.

I truly appreciated your referencing the recent crash on Alameda de las Pulgas where the driver mistook the brake for the accelerator pedal and plowed into the storefront. While these two crashes lack much in common - they both show the inherent danger of motor vehicles on others - whether they are using the roadway or simply doing their job in a store with diagonal or straight-in parking outside it.

As to, "the fact is, we all drive" is categorically false - in fact, that relates in part to the 'pizza crash' - I suspect that person SHOULD NOT have been driving - and what happens to all of us as we age - do we continue to drive?

Posted by YIMBY, a resident of University South
on Nov 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

oops - make that 'mistook the accelerator for the brake pedal' - I'd leave a :-) there, but this was not an incident to laugh about....

Posted by uphill, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm

A bicyclist riding uphill will not likely try to pass a truck, especially when the truck is accelerating up to freeway speeds.

This intersection badly needs stop lights and bike lanes to keep the traffic organized.

Posted by janet, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Alpine is just too dangerous for large trucks. They speed, swerve into the bike lane and cannot stop in a safe distance to prevent accidents. The speed limit itself is way too high for a residential neighborhood, especially given all the driveways, cul de sacs, Portola Valley Training Center, the Dish, Webb Ranch and the Stanford traffic. Also, the bike lane is substandard. Local residents have tried for many years to get the road, the speed limit and the bike lane safer for all. It is likely to get worse with the Stanford Hospital expansion. It is tragic that someone had to die and I feel sorry for the truck driver too. Hopefully bicycle clubs will also petition the county to do something to make things safer for them.

Posted by Jan Brown, a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Alpine Road would be a fine place to ride a bike if only it had wide, safe bike lanes. I've read that Stanford, San Mateo & Santa Clara Counties have been fighting for years about creating safe trails along their borders. How many deaths & injuries will it take?

Posted by Jan Fisher, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm

My husband especially and I also ride this route. In order for the motor traffic to get onto 280 south bike riders must leave the right side of the road and go left to another bike lane to the left. Might this account for the left side of the truck with damage?
In any event what a tragedy!

Posted by your friend, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I feel so sad for you and you family,children and husband. May you rest in peace, my friend.

Posted by cycling safety advocate, a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm

If anyone knows about a memorial for this apparently wonderful lady, please post.

I ride these roads quite a lot. I am also in my late 40's and ride a Trek bike. What's more, I'm in the medical profession too and was to ride that road that afternoon but something came up.

I hope to try to make a difference to advocate for cycle safety in our community.

Posted by College Terrace Mom, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2010 at 5:15 pm

On a dark night, this past week @ Hanover St.& Page Mill, I noted 2 bike riders wearing dark clothing, obviously coming home from work, w/o lights, day-glo vests or reflectors. Initially, I didn't see them at all. I am concerned for the safety of bikers, and for drivers, many distracted by their cells phones. We need wide, clear bike lanes w/ reflective lines. Bikers need to be illuminated, and to stay within the lines, not on the lines for their own safety.

Posted by 3:39pm, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm

There is plenty of sunlight at 3:39pm. Don't blame the victim!

Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 5, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Twice now I have seen a father and his daughter riding on the sidewalk on Bowdoin St. blow right through the stop sign at Pine Hill and Bowdoin. She is about twenty feet behind him. They are not very visible on the sidewalk. This happened once at night and once before school started. I was turning left and had to brake sharply. What are the parents teaching their children?

Posted by More cycling safety on these busy roads!, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Lauren was an incredible women who absolutely loved being a mom and was so proud of her two children!!! She will be missed.

Posted by Gordon, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Rest in peace, Lauren. I came upon the scene yesterday while riding my bike through that intersection. The truck had a humungous green "cherry picker" machine, and I assumed the problem was that it was too big to fit under the freeway.

An interesting aspect about Alpine is that there are good lanes and even trails along the South (East) side. There is even a nice tunnel under the freeway on that side. But going West on bikes is a disaster. Especially at that 280 intersection where you don't really have a bike lane. If the city can't add a bike lane on the North side of Alpine, perhaps they could expand the South side bike trails to handle two directions.

Posted by Carole, a resident of Woodside
on Nov 6, 2010 at 1:30 pm

When will something be done to protect cyclists? I commute to Stanford from Woodside on my bike and actually often choose to take the long way on Alpine instead of Sand Hill where I was hit by a truck at the 280 intersection several years. I also go home on Woodside Road and pass where a cyclist was killed at the 280 intersection. It is a crime that nothing much has been done to make these crossings safe. It shouldn't be that difficult to provide a safe way for bicyclists.

Posted by Fred, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I want everyone to listen and take to heart what I am about to say because it is the truth and reality of everything concerning roads, bicyclists, and motorists. First, just by physical nature the bicyclist will always be the loser in any altercation with a motor vehicle. Therefore riding a bike on the open road must at all times require the utmost in diligence, defensiveness, alertness, visibility, ability to control the bike in all conditions, and adherence to all traffic laws. To not do so becomes a matter of just what risk do you want to put yourself in for the purpose of riding your bike. Even with wide bike lanes such as on Foothill expressway, why, in my mind, would anyone put themselves in a position of being killed, as many have been on that road, with automobiles whizzing by several feet away at often freeway speeds. It is a fact of life that there are roads, such as Alpine and Page mill that to put it bluntly are not safe at anytime for bicyclists, yet people continually want to assert their right to ride even at the risk of losing their life. Because of this I only ride my bike in parks and for those that must ride because it is their only mode of transportation the only sane thing to do is to minimize the risks of injury as much as possible by staying away from 'bad' roads and riding as defensively as possible. It is just a matter of reality that there are too many cars on the road today, and that there is little or no state money to widen, incorporate additional bike lanes, or generally improve many of the roads in California. This is truly a very tragic accident that could have been avoided it what I have said was taken to heart by all bicyclists to just stay off roads and intersections like these, especially during times of heavy industrial traffic. It is just not worth the risk, and in this case it cost the life of the bicyclist. I also often see parents riding their bikes with their children in tow in an attached two wheel buggy that is just plain insanity. What rational parent would put their child at such risk to injury or death if a car veers into the bike lane? Yes, this is a sad reality of life on the road. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Richard Thiede, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:06 am

In response to comment by Fred:

Many of us have made a responsible choice, for our mental and physical health and the health of the planet to ride to work, to the store, to where ever on a Bike. Some of us even try to teach our children that our world needs to change for the better. Lifestyle changes need to be introduced that are good for us and those around us.
I hope that people will realize that our future is filled with bikes...just like every other country on the planet.That our attitudes will change to the point that we will take our fat butts out of our cars get on our bikes and ride down a safe clearly marked bike lane.

I would suggest that the department of motor vehicles add an additional 100 dollars to the registration fee of every vehicle or add 100 dollars to the price of every car....that money should be earmarked for road construction/bike lane improvements/public transportation improvements.

make driving a car exactly what it is, a privilege.

Take the memory of this wonderful woman, honor her by making sure this loss is for not, but for good. I did not know reading of her life...I am certain I would have liked her.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 20, 2010 at 9:40 am

I find this correlation extremely upsetting: Web Link

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