News

Mother struck, seriously injured by car

Accident in the Barron Park neighborhood occurred while walking child to school

A woman who was walking her young child to school was struck by a car in Barron Park Tuesday morning, Dec. 10, Palo Alto police said in a statement.

The woman in her 30s was struck at 7:49 a.m. by a car driven by a minor. The teen driver called police dispatch to report that he or she had just struck a pedestrian in the 3800 block of La Donna Avenue, between Paul and La Para avenues.

Responding officers and personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department found the woman unconscious with major injuries.

Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department transported her to a local hospital, where she is being treated. Police said no update on her condition is available.

The teen driver remained at the scene and has been cooperative with investigators. The driver has not been arrested or cited, as the investigation is still ongoing. He or she was not injured. No additional information about the driver is being released in accordance with standard operating procedures involving juveniles, police said.

The victim was walking her young child to school at the time of the collision. The child was not struck and was not injured. No additional information about the victim or her child is being released, police said.

Personnel from the Palo Alto Police Department's Specialized Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) Team are handling the investigation. Police will release additional information as it becomes available.

The Palo Alto Police Department has been in contact with the Palo Alto Unified School District to share information about the case, and the department is working collaboratively with the district to find any witnesses to the collision.

Police are asking anyone with information about the accident to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

Comments

Posted by parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I hope the cops have confiscated the driver's cell phone and are studying it carefully. There are so many speeding careless distracted drivers on the narrow streets on Barron Park.

Best wishes to the victim for a full recovery. So sad that the child had to witness their mother getting run down like that.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Such a sad story, but unfortunately, it was an accident waiting to happen.

Lots of questions.

Was the pedestrian and child in a crosswalk, walking on the sidewalk (if there was one) or walking in the street?

Was the minor driver driving on a permit or a license? If on a permit, was there an adult over 25 in the car? If on a license, were there others under the age of 25 in the car at the same time?

The answers to these questions are important particularly as we talk to our kids about this. This is not to accredit blame but to use this as a teachable moment to those who drive to school, those who use the drive to school as part of the 50 hours practice, to those who walk and or bike to school.

I hope the parent recovers swiftly and that both students recover from the shock of what happened also. I hope we all learn about how dangerous it is on the commutes to and from school for every student.


Posted by Bruce, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I heard the sirens this morning and felt that something bad had happened. I pray that the mother's condition has stabilized and that her child is safe with loved ones. Moreover, this incident reminded me of the tragic accident on Miranda in winter of 2003, when 2 elementary school students, while riding their bikes to school, were run down by a local high school student. It reminds all of us to slow down a bit in the morning, especially during these cold winter days when ice accumulates on our windshields and dawn sunlight can be blinding.


Posted by mom, a resident of Woodside
on Dec 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm

prayers for all families of those involved in this horrific accident


Posted by bystander, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Note the time of the accident. On that street at that time, the sun is directly in the eyes of the drivers heading southeast.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm

This accident occurred near my home. The police told me that speed was not an issue, but the issue of direct sun in the eyes of the driver is definitely a possibility at that time of the morning as may be other things as well. Unfortunately, La Donna is one of the main through streets in Barron Park and gets a lot of traffic. Speeding cars, oblivious bike riders (witness some time the flagrant disregard for stop signs and bike lanes by students riding their bikes to Gunn on Los Robles as an example) and no sidewalks all contribute to the problem.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm

To restate bystander's comment, heading southeast on La Donna or Laguna at that time of the morning the sun is in the driver's eyes and there is a tremendous glare off the street, particularly if wet. My kids walk/ride to Barron Park school on Laguna and I caution them this time of year to always be aware of cars coming from the west who may be blinded by the sun.

At this time of year the sun and street are perfectly aligned at the very time that kids (and parents) are traveling on those roads.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Very few streets in this section of BP have crosswalks, let alone sidewalks.


Posted by parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

If the sun is in your eyes and you hit someone, then speed is an issue. You need to slow down, perhaps much slower than the speed limit, so that your speed is commensurate with your visibility and your ability to avoid collisions.


Posted by parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Regarding crosswalks, all intersections are legal crosswalks unless there are explicit pedestrian barriers. The lack of painted lines does not mean the intersection is not a legal crosswalk. All drivers need to understand this and look for and yield to pedestrians in the intersection.


Posted by La Donna resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm

yes, the sun has been a factor heading down the street at this time for the past week. Also, Paly parent & others, there are no sidewalks on La Donna, so cars, bikes and pedestrians have to share the road. Many parents walk their elementary children down La Donna to Barron Park, and Gunn students bike and drive the route. This morning there were cars parked on the street, making the block where the accident happened a difficult stretch to maneuver, especially for a young driver. I don't know if there was a car headed the other direction, but if so, it's a very tight squeeze, and easy to misjudge. Trying to avoid getting hit, our daughter had a bike accident there (hitting her handle bars on a rear view mirror) just a few years ago. In general, pedestrians and bikers need to pay extra attention and drivers need to slow down.

I'm annoyed though because when I went to ask what happened, the Police were very off-putting. And now, hours later, there's a sign asking for witnesses. PAPD may be working collaboratively with the district, but their behavior this morning didn't feel collaborative to me as a neighbor - who, with ties to the families in the neighborhood, could be useful to the investigation.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Note, this didn't happen in a cross walk. The individual was walking down the street which is often crowded with cars parked on the street in front of homes. I don't think the police were off putting. They came to my door and asked me if I had seen anything. I think they didn't want curious bystanders who did not actually witness the accident.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Thank you La Donna resident for pointing out that there are no sidewalks on the street.

I wonder if the pedestrians were walking facing the oncoming traffic (walking on the left) or walking with the oncoming traffic approaching from behind (walking on the right). It is much safer to walk so that approaching traffic can be seen.

As a parent of an about to start driving teen, I have great reservations about using the drive to school as suitable for 50 hours practice required for a license. My teen rides a bike to school and I feel that the student drivers, both those on permits and those who have licenses, make the commute to school a hazard to everyone.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I feel heartbroken for both families, the mother struck, the teen driver, and everyone in both their families. As the mother of a very responsible teen (but a beginning driver), as well as a younger child who is a pedestrian to school every day... there but for the grace of god go I and my children.

My prayers are that the mother struck recovers fully, for everyone's sake.

My further prayer is that the city of Palo Alto stops allowing overdevelopment in our town, and take that one step further - that city council starts actively fighting back against ABAG mandates and other development forces making our routes to school nearly unpassable.


Posted by another parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm

@Paly Parent,
Unfortunately, statistics on car vs pedestrian collisions show in the vast majority of cases, the pedestrian is doing what they are supposed to be doing, in a crosswalk, on the sidewalk, etc.

Barrown Park has no sidewalks. This is, by the way, a busy feeder street in the same neighborhood as the Maybell property (only Maybell is even busier). It's why many neighbors were so up in arms about a big development going there especially without a trustworthy traffic analysis. It's unfortunate but probably statistically not unexpected that the driver in this case was a teen, probably on the way to school. Maybell neighbors did bring up statistics such as that senior drivers have mileage adjusted accident rates and fatalities as bad as teens, and that maybe that should have been factored into a location that needed cars to get around - but they were screamed down as NIMBYs for worrying about safety in what is already a clearly unsafe situation.

It's really time for our City to start putting things like safety first. Green stripes everywhere can only do so much.

I'm so sorry for this family. I hope the mom will be okay. What a horrible tragedy.


Posted by So sad, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Big message of support for the juvenile driver who stuck around and reported the accident and acted responsibly. No one wants to hit anyone. I'm so sorry this happened.

Big good wishes for the woman injured and her family. Hope the wonderful network of Palo Altans is getting dinner, doing errands, and generally helping her, and that she recovers quickly.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Got to wonder if teenagers would not be better off riding bicycles to school, rather than driving irresponsibly? (Previous poster correctly pointed out that if the sun is in your eyes, then any speed that results in hitting a pedestrian is most certainly too fast.)


Posted by Kay, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm

So sad to hear about the accident this morning. I was driving the same route on La Donna at around 8:15, when I saw the police barricade and we had to turn our car around. I told me son, it looked like a serious accident, with police taking pictures, gathering backpacks, blocking off access. La Donna has no sidewalks, kids and parents walk on both sides of the street, sun was directly in our eyes, hard to see, lots of frost/ice on our windshield this morning, which made us late for school. Barron Park always has lots of traffic, with a long wait in the morning to drop and pick up children. We see many children accompanied/unaccompanied walking from La Donna to Barron Park School, plus Gunn/Terman kids on bikes riding through lots of side streets to get to school. My prayers are with the families involved. Further thoughts: please Palo Alto stop overdevelopment and fight back against ridiculous ABAG mandates.


Posted by La Donna Res., a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I live a half block from the site of the accident.
I know that at that time in morning and this time of year, drivers can be completely blinded by the sun. It has been so bad some mornings that I reversed course and just went the other way.
I have no idea if that was the reason for the accident but it would not surprise me if an inexperienced driver tried driving this blinding stretch of sidewalk-less road in the morning.


Posted by John Tomes, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm

To "If You (a resident of southgate)",

To say that witnesses won't (and you wouldn't') come forward because of a mistrust of police is a moronic thing to say. A mother was ran over in front of her child. I think getting to the truth should trump your mistrust of the police. I would hope it would also trump everyone else that you speak about. I say the following in the most general of terms. It doesn't always have to be about you. Society is screwed because of people like you who continue to insert themselves in everything that occurs. Stop being a victim and start being a contributing member of society. What happened to doing the right thing because it was the right thing? I hope and pray for a speedy recovery of the pedestrian and a speedy psychological recovery for the child and driver.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm

@another parent, a resident of Green Acres - There have been studies showing a dramatic decrease in pedestrian accidents (71% in Florida) when sidewalks are added to roadways. Walking in the road is a just asking for trouble.


Posted by Solana Resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Barron Park needs side walk for kids!


Posted by Martha Shirk, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm

I find all of the speculation and blaming in many of these comments very off putting. Let's wait for the facts to come out before speculating that the teen driver might have been on a learner's permit or driving too fast or using a cell phone, or that the mother might have been walking with traffic as opposed to against. And to use what happened today to justify opposition to the Maybell project is really appalling, as LaDonna and Maybe are completely separate school corridors. I live in the neighborhood. Right now, the sun is truly blinding at that time of the day, and the lack of sidewalks makes walking on La Donna (or Los Robles or Matadero or most other Barron Park streets) at any time of day extremely dangerous, especially during commute hours. My heart goes out to all the parties involved. (And, by the way, the driver was at the scene for more than two hours afterwards.)


Posted by sadden, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:32 pm

We also live right next to where this tragic accident took place and I have been thinking about it all day.

Many people seem to agree that it can be dangerous to walk/ride bikes down La Donna and other nearby streets. But this is our neighborhood. What can change this.

What are our options? Could speed bumps help? More stop signs? How does one go about trying to make this change? I am new enough to Palo Alto that I am not sure where is the most effective place to begin.

My thoughts and hopes go to the mother and her family.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm

It is necessary to be careful when operating a huge motor vehicle, and when the sun is in my eyes I am ultra cautious and focused, but in my side of the city we do have a lot of young-ish bike riders who often swerve across the smaller streets without even giving warning or glancing backwards to see if cars are coming along and some ride side by side. So there are a lot of risks. I therefore drive with extreme caution. We have teen drivers driving to/from PALY and it isn't easy with heavy auto traffic, pedestrians (usually doing the correct, cautious thing) and young middle school bikers who are often very, very casual. Please remind your kids that everyone should look out for each other. Finally, please do not text or deal with your cell while driving; it is illegal yet I see tons of grownups doing this in Palo Alto and I find this frustrating and worrisome.


Posted by Kay, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I wanted to add another comment about a very dangerous situation that happened to us driving to Barron Park School this morning. At around 8:08, driving Page Mill west, just after making a left onto El Camino (south), we heard sirens, but couldn't see where they were coming from. The traffic going N on El Camino was backed up from about Portage to Page Mill. All of a sudden near intersection of Olive/El Camino, we saw an ambulance driving on the wrong side of the street (because of backup traffic on El Camino) heading straight toward us. The car on my left did a quick swerve to get out of the ambulance's way, nearly hitting our car. We tried to move over as fast as we could, to make way for the ambulance, since we have never seen an ambulance going this fast, heading directly toward us. Luckily we made it to school safely. Then after drop off at Barron Park School, we ran into the police barricade on La Donna. What a dangerous morning for so many of us just trying to get our children safely to school


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Barron Park would be a lot safer place to walk with sidewalks even if the streets became narrower. A curb isn't much protection against vehicles with monster tires but it's a lot more than none.


Posted by Fairmeadow Parent, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Prayers to all those involved.

Please stop jumping to conclusions and blaming the teen driver. How do you know the parent wasn't jaywalking or texting while walking her kid to school? I witness these types of behavior every morning wile walking my kids to school. Parents cross (not necessarily in the crosswalk) when they have the red light, their faces glued to their palms (texting while walking?). Why are they putting their kids and themselves at risk of getting hit by a car?!


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2013 at 8:38 pm

> How do you know the parent wasn't jaywalking or texting while
> walking her kid to school?

Short of running out in front of a car--the driver is supposed to be in complete control of his/her car, with pedestrians having the right-of-way in California.

Frightening how some people don't seem to grasp the basics of safe motor vehicle operation, and the rules of the road.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Please, people, please stop with all this nonsense speculation. God forbid a victim such as the one today READ all this commentary, it's so disrespectful. Those close to the situation have been asked to stay quiet out of respect for them. Until you hear more news about her condition, please just stop the political and unwanted advice. You just don't know what happened!

And yes, if u live in Barron Park you understand the sun glare optimization at 8 am on Orme, Laguna and La Donna. You probably slow down to a 5mph crawl or hang out the window (as I do) to see approaching traffic. And this morning the first on our windows was thick.


Posted by Smita, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I think the important thing here as someone rightly pointed out is that a mother is lying in critical condition and a child witnessed his/her mother being run over, that we pray for her recovery. Safety of our children at times of going to school are so important. I bike and drive past La Donna everyday. Today I witnessed the mother lying inert on the road about a minute after the accident. It is a very sad situation. Lets not use up our energy on negative feelings. Let us focus all our positive energy on the mother and the child and the rest of the family.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I live near where the accident occurred. I never walk my dog at school opening times, I did it once. So many of the drivers are in such a hurry to get their child to school, that they seem to be paying no attention to anyone walking down the streets. Many of the household owners have also extended their yards into the parking/walking shoulders of the street preventing safe navigation of Barron Park streets forcing one to walk in the street. We need to re-establish the street shoulders on many of the streets. I think that on some of the streets, an emergency vehicle would have difficulty approaching some residences. The roads are almost blocked by parking on both sides of narrow streets with lost shoulders. We don't need sidewalks, but we do need street shoulders.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I live near where the accident occurred. I never walk my dog at school opening times, I did it once. So many of the drivers are in such a hurry to get their child to school, that they seem to be paying no attention to anyone walking down the streets. Many of the household owners have also extended their yards into the parking/walking shoulders of the street preventing safe navigation of Barron Park streets forcing one to walk in the street. We need to re-establish the street shoulders on many of the streets. I think that on some of the streets, an emergency vehicle would have difficulty approaching some residences. The roads are almost blocked by parking on both sides of narrow streets with lost shoulders. We don't need sidewalks, but we do need street shoulders.


Posted by PA student, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm

@Kay

It's true that this morning was pretty hectic for many people, on what should have been a normal day. However, I think that a speeding ambulance on their way to save a injured victim and a police barricade were completely necessary.

@Wondering?

It's statistically-proven that teen drivers are at a greater risk of accidents then other demographics of drivers. But I can say for myself as a student, and for the majority of students in Palo Alto, are safe drivers and have never gotten into an accident. It's hasty to claim that it was all the driver's fault just because "some people don't seem to grasp the basics of safe motor vehicle operation, and the rules of the road."

Sometimes you can do everything right, but an unfortunate accident occurs.

Perhaps the driver was texting, perhaps the walker was texting. We cannot jump to conclusions without further investigation. Many unsafe factors have been agreed on, such as the sunlight and the lack of a sidewalk.

Prayers to everyone involved. Props to the city for being organized and speedy with ambulances and help.


Posted by Patrick Muffler, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I second the suggestion to reserve comments and accusations until the facts are made available.

Also, have the courage and character to use your real name rather than "anonymous", "so sad", "sadden", "if you", or "parent". It is easy to be critical or judgmental when one is anonymous. If you identify yourself, it makes you much more careful and thoughtful about what you write.


Posted by another parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm

@Kay,
Thank God the ambulance WAS able to drive on the wrong side of the street (which is why you are supposed to pull over on both sides if you hear a siren), depending on the conditions and time, BOTH directions of traffic can be blocked on Maybell and other narrow streets in the vicinity, with no way to get around them. I'm sorry you experienced such a scare, though.

@Mr. Recycle,
There is no infrastructure to turn Barron Park into a sidewalked place. There are a lot of cars parked on these narrow streets as well, effectively narrowing many of them to single lane.

@Wondering,
Maybe so, but nearly half the teens already bike to school, and failure to plan accordingly has resulted in some safety conflicts there, too, but that's a discussion for another day. Many of the kids biking across to Gunn shortcut across the JB elementary school campus, and I'd say that's an accident waiting to happen too, except I've witnessed more than one collision already between older kids on bikes and very young kids on the playground, luckily no one was hurt badly. The major safety improvements on Maybell a few years ago were supposed to move all the bikes onto Maybell but did not. Can't say I blame them, but it's a hazard for the little kids.

@Martha Shirk,
You wrote: "And to use what happened today to justify opposition to the Maybell project is really appalling, as LaDonna and Maybe [sic] are completely separate school corridors." Your facts are wrong, and your twisting around what I said to make this a political attack was the appalling thing here.

I said "This is, by the way, a busy feeder street in the same neighborhood as the Maybell property (only Maybell is even busier). It's why many neighbors were so up in arms about a big development going there especially without a trustworthy traffic analysis."

I mentioned the proximity, compared the traffic levels and reminded about the safety conditions. When I said, "It's why many neighbors were so up in arms about a big development going there, the "it's" obviously refers to the previous sentence, not the accident itself, meaning, the similar infrastructure and busy traffic conditions on Maybell (and La Donna) are why neighbors were so up in arms about putting a lot of development in the middle of that.

You are completely incorrect about La Donna and Maybell being "completely separate school corridors". If you live over here and pay attention to the kids and safety, I don't see how you could get that so wrong. The only school going the other direction is Barron Park Elementary. The schools most of the kids on this whole side of town attend, Juana Briones, Terman, Bowman (private), and Gunn are all in Greenacres direction and just beyond. The JB school boundary is at Los Robles, about a 200m from where this accident happened, but there are families beyond there that attend JB.

Since you seem unfamiliar with the school commutes, here is a safe routes to school map
Web Link

To get to Gunn, Bowman, Terman, and even Juana Briones from there, you go up La Donna to Los Robles to Amaranta to Maybell. A lot of kids peel off and go across the Elementary School right between the classrooms and the playstructures to get to the back entrance of Gunn on Georgia. To get to Terman, kids go up Donald to Arastradero. Depending on where kids live, they can bike up Barron or Matadero to the bike path that runs to Gunn. By the way, with the traffic on El Camino these days, that same route through the neighborhood is getting used by cars to cut through the neighborhood to Arastradero and avoid El Camino at Arastradero.

Do you wear a safety belt in the car? I hope so, it's the law. Why is it the law, since there are lots of drivers who go their whole lives with no accidents? The reason you take safety measures is not because something bad will necessarily happen every second if you don't (depending on what it is), but because it decreases the chance of something bad happening, and lessens the consequences if it does. Even when you do everything right, people can still get hurt. But that's not a justification not to prioritize safety and take safety measures to minimize danger and serious consequences, especially for children. You don't say, "Nobody in my car has been killed since 2009 so basically I don't need to wear my seatbelt or worry about safety."

This side of town has 4 major schools, nearly 4,000 kids trying to get across to them, nearly half on foot and by bike. Its busy. The streets are narrow. The infrastructure is not optimal for safety. That's why people didn't want to make it worse with overdevelopment. During the Maybell meetings at City Hall before the vote, one mom who had just witnessed a car accident that flipped a car onto its roof just a block or two from this one, spoke forcefully to the City about the traffic safety conditions in just that same area where this accident happened. Did the Council do anything about it (except approve the development without missing a beat)? No, because people who wanted the development did nothing but belittle and aggressively dismiss the safety concerns of those who live here and know how bad it is.

It is a shame if your takeaway from my commenting on the bad conditions and how that motivates people in the area to improve the conditions/not let them get worse because of safety, is to continue to make reactionary dismissals of safety concerns in the neighborhood.

I hope this mom is recovering. There hasn't been any news. I hope no news is good news.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:58 pm

This is being discussed among our high school students.

It is true that there is some speculation, but really there is a lot of concern. Accidents do have causes and we can all protect ourselves against accidents by taking sensible precautions.

It is important to have more details as soon as practically possible because the learning window for our teens is open now. They are deeply saddened for all concerned. They will soon look on this as old news and it may not be possible to have these good discussions in a week, a month, or however long it is for the inquiry to become public knowledge.

Some of our kids know the driver's identity. Others know the injured mother's identity.

I sincerely hope the mother recovers quickly and that the driver and child can get over their trauma quickly with the help they need.


Posted by a neighbor, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I walk around Barron Park regularly. Often young drivers pass me at too high of a speed and within a distance of a few inches. It is terrifying.
Walking in Barron Park you have to be vigilant and watch for cars no matter what the age of the driver. But I wish to ask the parents of teen drivers to ask their children to be extra cautious when passing pedestrians or bikers.
Let us pray for the injured Mom and use this as a teaching moment.


Posted by Close Calls, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2013 at 11:41 pm

There had been very close calls in this area. I remember that a Barron Park mom, almost hit a child, but luckily a school bus, honked at her and made the mom stop. Then she came out of the car and cursed the child, who was doing the right things. When he got to school the kids was crying because she was very rude and use F language. I feel sorry for the people who live there. Once I thought that maybe because there are no sidewalks the houses were cheaper, I was surprised to know that they were as expensive as other neighborhood that had sidewalks.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2013 at 1:13 am

@another parent, a resident of Green Acres - I'm not advocating it, I'll leave that to Barron Park, but there is obviously room for sidewalks on La Donna. You know that 6 feet of dirt on either side of the road where people parallel park their cars? Cement it. Cars can park in their driveways. If there needs to be street parking, make it one side of the street only, or make the street one lane, one direction.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2013 at 7:38 am

I seem to recall that when Barron Park was incorporated into Palo Alto one of the terms was that no sidewalks would ever be built. The residents liked the "rural feel" of their neighborhood. I wonder if it is possible to re-visit that prohibition?


Posted by Susan, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

Even if sidewalks could be built in Barron Park and I'm not sure there is enough space on many of the streets for that, you would still have the issue of people parking along the street, which does narrow the street for bicyclists and cars and makes driving hazardous. But given that in the almost 20 years I have lived on La Donna, the street has never once been paved even though it is a major thoroughfare through the neighborhood, only cut up and patched several times, it is hard for me to believe that the city would ever construct sidewalks. We seem to get short shrift from the city when it comes to infrastructure projects.


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:23 am

Devastating for the families of both the pedestrian and the teen driver. I implore everyone to have compassion for all the warm-hearted human beings involved in this incident. Each one is experiencing agony and the prospect of a future that may be different from what they had planned for themselves and their families. Put yourself in the shoes of every person involved and then plan to be supportive to all. Let the healing of all these good people be our first priority.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:29 am

Adding sidewalks so that roads are effectively one lane except where cars are not parked would significantly slow traffic. And this isn't necessarily bad.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

> It's statistically-proven that teen drivers are at a greater risk of
> accidents then other demographics of drivers.

That's generally well known. That's why eighteen is the age for the granting of driving licenses in many states.

> But I can say for myself as a student,
> and for the majority of students in Palo Alto,
> are safe drivers and have never gotten into an accident.

And how can you speak for the majority of any group? As for your claim about students not getting into accidents, the reality is that most drivers don't get into accidents. So--what's your point?

> It's hasty to claim that it was all the driver's fault
> just because "some people don't seem to grasp the basics
> of safe motor vehicle operation, and the rules of the road."

The point has been made before in this thread that one of the fundamental rules of driving is that the driver must be in complete control of his/her vehicle at all times. Failure to be in control can cause accidents. Accidents ultimately end up with someone being at fault--which is more likely to be the driver than the pedestrian.

Claiming that "I couldn't see because the sun was in my eyes" is not going to be a defense for this driver--if he/she is cited. In addition to possible criminal charges, there will likely be some sort of civil action to recover damages--and it's a fair bet that the Court will not accept that reasoning either.

Accidents don't "just happen". There are always root causes, and those root causes involve poor judgement by a person behind the wheel--typically driving too fast, or impaired judgement due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are cases where a pedestrian (typically a child) might run out between parked cars to retrieve a ball in the street and gets hit by on-coming traffic. In those cases, it's rare that the driver of the car is cited. As to civil damages in those cases, it's hard to know without some time digging around in Lexis/Nexis.

The fact that you don't seem to understand this "basic principal" involving the use of motor vehicle use is unfortunate, and should give adults reason to not want sixteen and seventeen year-olds behind the wheel.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

As a Barron Park resident I would wholly support speed bumps on all of the roads that the kids use as regular routes to and from school. Kid safety greatly out weighs the inconvenience visitors to the area will have to endure.

The narrow streets in Barron Park aren't the problem, it's the drivers that go at speeds completely inappropriate for the driving conditions. Even on Chimalus Drive that parallels Matadero behind Varian, when walking in that neighborhood I have encountered cars going WAY too fast, and invariably they are cars that enter on one end and then drive through and exit on the other. This is not a street that leads anywhere but to the residents homes. Why cars would be driving (racing) through is a mystery.

Wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery for the mother, and for the teen driver. Even if the driver is not at fault it will be a life changing event.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:33 am

What a tragic collision. Best wishes for the woman's recovery.

As a cyclist, at this time of year and that time of day I am always worried that a car driver going into the sun will be driving too fast for the conditions on one of our South East pointing streets, and not see me. When it is below 40 F then the morning overcast is gone, and the glare is terrible. When it is below 32, then drivers starting out often have fogged up/ iced up windows, and start driving before the windscreen is clear. Sometimes I do. The responsible thing to do is pull over and wait until you can drive safely. Everyone who drives a vehicle needs to be held responsible for driving safely. I don't know the facts of this collision, of course, but it was a collision, not an "accident".


Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

I wonder if the pedestrians were walking facing the oncoming traffic (walking on the left) or walking with the oncoming traffic approaching from behind (walking on the right). It is much safer to walk so that approaching traffic can be seen.

Interesting. If the pedestrian is on one side of the street, and would need to walk the "wrong direction" on that side of the street to walk facing traffic, they either have to walk the opposite direction to where they are headed for up to a block, and then cross at the crosswalk, or they have to jaywalk.

Of course, this should be expected. Pedestrians should accept this inconvenience.


Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:38 am

But I can say for myself as a student,and for the majority of students in Palo Alto, are safe drivers and have never gotten into an accident.

Don't confuse what might be luck, with skill. An unskilled driver who has yet to be unlucky enough to be faced with a situation that is beyond their meager skills might have a clean record.


Posted by resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

@Susan
Not to worry. Palo Alto's Chief Transportation Official is going to solve all those problems with a bucket of green paint.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:52 am

I may be wrong but a gunn student driving on La Donna to school would indicate to me that they live in Barron park. That route would not be a cut through from the other side of El Camino. Gunn is clear that parking passes woukd not be issued to Barron park students. It is a no brainer that someone so close should either walk or drive. Reducing traffic reduces accidents. Parents should rethink the efficacy of letting their kids drive to school. Congested traffic, parking spaces and inconsiderate drivers will not help keep students stress at bay. Walking or cycling on a crisp cool morning will help alleviate stress and give some time to contemplate or plan their next application essay.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:01 am

@Wondering? - Its true some states don't grant full license until 18, but they all have provisional licenses that would allow driving to school in the morning. New Jersey is the most restrictive state in the country, and even they grant a provisional license at 17. Every other state is 16.5 or less.


Posted by KF, a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:05 am

It constantly stuns me to read comments in this forum. What happened to being kind, considerate and respectful in our written discourse? This is a semi-anonamous setting, but we all should do the right thing because we a have an inner conscience that tells us that being kind to our fellow human beings is the moral and correct thing to do.

Please, Be kind to each other, learn from each other, and when differing, know that everyone is entitled to an opinion.

The thing about being wrong, is that right up until you find out you are wrong, if feels exactly like being right. We should all be open to learning more from the other intelligent people in our town.


Posted by Patrick Muffler, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

A partial answer to KF's question is the use of "anonymous" or pseudonyms. If contributors were required to use their full names, they would be a lot more careful and thoughtful in their statements and not hide behind "anonymous", "so sad", "sadden", "if you", "parent", or even "KF". It is easy to be critical, judgmental, or disrespectful when one can not be identified.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:26 am

> but they all have provisional licenses that would allow
> driving to school in the morning.

License Age By State:
Web Link

Yes, it seems that most offer provisional licenses, but that doesn't mean that teenaged drivers are rational, or responsible.

The CA DMV offiers this data for fatal teen accidents for 2008--

FATALITIES IN CRASHES INVOLVING YOUNG (15- TO 20- YEAR-OLD) DRIVERS
BY STATE AND PERSON TYPE
2008 FATALITY ANALYSIS REPORTING SYSTEM (FARS) – ARF
Web Link

Cerainly for a small town like Palo Alto, bikes would be safer for everyone than teens driving cars.


Posted by Member, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:53 am

Just wondering whether the teenage driver is also a high school student driving to school, perhaps in a rush, perhaps sleep deprived, or disoriented by the sun ray, etc. It reminded me of a tragic accident when a local high school student driving to school killed an elementary student biking to school a few years ago.

There have been discussions about the neuroscience of decision-making and a lack of full development of the frontal lobe of teenagers brains. Driving involves a lot of decision-making, and it is not brainless or automatic.


Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:00 am

Best wishes to the parent who was injured for a speedy recovery. Props to the driver who stopped and acted responsibly. Not many people, teens or adults, stop anymore and do the right thing. Very impressive display of maturity and character.

Last, the sun has been brutal this fall. We have been discussing that at my job for weeks, that it seems somehow much brighter and more glaring than in recent memory.


Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

Thank you, Susan, for noting that the sun was a factor in this tragedy. I doubt there's a driver out there who hasn't experienced the sort of blindness that a December sun can cause.

Thank you, Patrick, for your comments and suggestions about using one's given name.


Posted by Joinpa, a resident of Community Center
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:07 am

I would like to caution ALL drivers during the morning school commute. I live across the street from Walter Hays and parents drop off and pick up by my house. Almost all the time EVERYONE seems to be in a rush, a rush pulling into a spot, speeding off to get to work and just plain in a hurry.

It is the worst time of day for crossing the street. Please take a breath and be a bit more cautious. When a person and a car collide, the car wins!


Posted by BP Changes, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

It seems reasonable to speculate on practical solutions to enhance safety. In my over thirty years in BP, I've seen it denigrate from a pleasant country style neighborhood to a gritty city place like many other parts of PA. Regrettably, our beloved 'no sidewalks', have likely seen their day and are no longer in the best interest. It will also be great to see folks' usurped property, those who built past property lines, returned to it's rightful owners...freeing up more parking/biking/walking.

I would also consider allowing only permit parking for cars outside of garages since many build one car garages for multi-car families and fill garages with storage…so they can park in front of your house, of course.

Finally, return Arastradero/Charleston to the multi-lane road it was build to be. Clearly, the traffic and pollution has dramatically increased…and, as anyone would expect, the we see the insanity of drivers using small streets to get to Gunn, BPS, etc.


Posted by Any news?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

Is there any news on how the mother is doing?

Wishing her well.

Also thinking about the teen and family of the teen driver. It's not easy to have to handle driving at a young age, most countries have 18 or 21 as the requirement.

That hour before school there are many areas in Palo Alto that have literally blind moments and it happens very suddenly.

A lot of smart people here, could anyone figure out a way to create reflectors to steer the sun away from drivers?


Posted by pearl2sea, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:15 am

I was at the time of the scene minutes after it happened - I did not witness it. I took the same street to drive my kids to school (it was too cold for them to be on the bike).

I could tell you that I was blinded by the sun and stopped the car immediately in the street paralell to the one where the accident occured. Once I cleared my windshield (it had some ice that reflected sun), I was able to proceed at the slower pace and told my kids how it is dangerous when drivers are blinded by the sun and if they are on their bikes, they needed to stay in the far right corner of the street to avoid getting hit by accident.

Then I made a turn and got on the parallel street to the one where I was blinded, I saw the police cars, ambulance, and firefighters in front of me. While I went around the block, my kids said they saw a pink backpack being lifted by a firefighter.

There is a possibility that the driver was blinded by the sun as I was yesterday at the exact time on the parallel street and did not see a pedestrian.

I am really sorry the accident happened and I hope for the speedy recovery.

Barron Park does not even have sidewalks and someone in this discussion suggested speedbumps...


Posted by litebug, a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:22 am

I hope the mother soon recovers and the child and driver are also helped to deal with this accident.

As a long time former P.A. resident I was always rather shocked by Barron Park's poor infrastructure, as far as sidewalks and streets. I was always puzzled by just what Barron Park is. Is it part of Palo Alto or a separate town? It seemed to be in some kind of gray zone between the two.

I hated to have to go to Barron Park for anything due to challenges of just driving through it on bad streets full of parked cars. When I'd ask why things are so primitive there, I was told the B.P. residents considered it more "charming" that way and that they valued their "independence" more than good streets. I don't know if any of that is true but I heard that many times during the 38 years I lived in P.A. so it was always my impression that the poor streets were something the B.P. residents cherished, for whatever reason.

I grew up in a very small, poor, Midwest farming community of 1300 people in the 40s-50s. The town was too small for even one traffic light but we were proud that most of our streets were paved, there were sidewalks and street lights. What is with Barron Park anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.


Posted by Saddened but Alert, a resident of Community Center
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

A teen that wouldn't want this to happen, a family that wouldn't want a member to be gravely injured, and everyone involved, are in shock and saddened.

It could have been any of us driving with the sun in our eyes, a bit distracted at just the wrong time, and...the results can be suddenly, horribly, unstoppable.

The lesson I take away is that I will be more careful driving and I am very sorry for this situation for all involved. May all involved begin the healing of self-forgiveness and self-care with the support of your community.


Posted by Wish the streets were safer, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

Ii would like to correct an often cited misconception of California law, referenced by some of the comments here. Pedestrians DO NOT have unlimited right of way. The vehicle code is explicit that they have the right of way within marked crosswalks and unmarked intersections. Even then, they are required to use due care, and can be held liable and cited if they recklessly move into the intersection. Outside of the intersections, PEDESTRIANS DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY. If you walk in the middle of the street you are jaywalking.
I mention this because many pedestrians wrongly believe they can move in the street with impunity. A car cannot hit you if they can avoid it reasonably, but you need to get out if their way. And, to all the walkers and runners who run down the middle of the street, you can be cited for jaywalking. If there is a sidewalk, please comply with the law and use it. If there is not, please be careful and do not assume you have the right if way.


Posted by Jill Knuth, a resident of Nixon School
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

I'm not familiar with the details of the neighborhood where this accident occurred, but I know that around Nixon school in our neighborhood, parents often walk their kids in the middle of the street, cross the street any old place and in general, behave as if the street is theirs. I shudder to think what example this sets for the kids when they're walking on their own.


Posted by Barron Park Resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:38 am

Hello,

If you have ever walked in the Barron Park Neighborhood you would know that everyone drives way, way too fast - speed limit is 25 people!!!!

On Vista which leads into Barron Park people do about 45 - you take your life into your hands to try to cross the street and not get run over. Plus they are speeding while texting. To cause a human "major injuries" you were speeding when you hit them.

The PA police need to spend more time giving speeders tickets.

I am so sad to say I won't let my son ride his bike in this neighborhood for fear he will be hit by a distracted speeding driver.

I had a co worker say he would rather take his chances with a drunk driver than someone driving while texting - at least the drunk driver may see you and try to avoid you - the texter won't even realize they hit you because they weren't looking.


Posted by Palo Alto Mom, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:47 am

My prayers to the mom, her child and family, and the teen and his or her family.

People drive terribly in Palo Alto, texting, speeding, talking on the phone, lack of common courtesies, coupled with a lot of traffic coming from non-residents. I've seen so many Palo Alto police drive right by drivers flagrantly doing all of the above. I'm terrified to let my kids walk or ride their bikes. Our community needs to come together to solve traffic issue problems and stay true to the original Palo Alto, not the current one that lacks adequate infrastructure and traffic management, and is ruled by selfishness, entitlement, disrespect, and greed.


Posted by grandmakk, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2013 at 11:51 am

Something I've been thinking about for some time, and this incident causes me to write: Why don't we have "Public Service Announcements" as in days gone by? I think so many people fall into two categories: those who don't know the rules of the road, and those who could use a reminder. One simple example is the "merging" technique of "zippering." If the public saw a video of this being used, with a plea to practice it, wouldn't there be a good chance people would think about and practice it? Same with the sun-in-the-eyes problem. Bring back PSAs.


Posted by Another parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm

@wondering,
Actually, according to the CA DMV, if you use mileage adjusted accident rates - since some demographic segments drive more miles than others in total and drive on the freeway more, etc - teens and seniors are equally bad, and I think seniors over 85 are the worst. I can dig up a DMV link if you can't find one. No one is suggesting seniors only be allowed to take bikes.

Many of the safety measures people are suggesting that restrict traffic further, like one lane roads and speed bumps, also negatively impact emergency vehicle access. Too much of it, coupled with the terrible congestion, increases frustration which then increases dangerous behavior.

I doubt any of that was at issue here. I don't care about any of the accident info now - does anyone know if the mother is going to make it and if there is anything the public can do to help in a nonintrusive way?


Posted by Lindsay, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm

@Wondering.
Good points made of course, but the conclusion is too rash. Just because it was a teen driver, you cannot conclude that the only option now is for CA to change their law and change the license age. It could have easily been an adult driver, because accidents DO happen.

I hope for the quick recovery of the mother.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm

> teens and seniors are equally bad,

Yes, this is true. It raises some serious questions about driving licenses for both groups. At least it suggests that some sort of review of how to reduce accidents in both groups is overdue.

Mobility is very important for seniors, whereas it's not as important for teens--at least in towns like ours. Not certain that the high schools can refuse parking passes to people under eighteen, but it's a possibility to think about. (Technological solutions are on the horizon, but that's a discussion for another day.)

> you cannot conclude that the only option now is
> for CA to change their law and change the license age.

That's correct. But when you look at the issue from a long-term point-of-view, the argument becomes more compelling. There was no intent to suggest that this accident should trigger CA law change. However, there is a lot of state-wide data held by the CHP that makes the case.


Posted by litebug, a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I was amazed when I moved to Oregon that cars actually stop for pedestrians as a rule rather than as the exception and people don't flip you off every time you go out in your car. I find that drivers, and people in general, are far nicer and more courteous where I live now than they were in CA. There is just a lot more of a "dog eat dog" and "screw you" rudeness there. In a way, too much success has spoiled Palo Alto.

True, I live in a smaller city now, off the freeway, but I don't think that explains all the difference in attitude. The town I live in now is a lot like Palo Alto used to be, friendly, supportive, cooperative, strong sense of community. I watched the Palo Alto area get more nasty, selfish, competitive, physically unattractive and superficial during the 38 years I lived there.

I used to get furious at the big bunches of joggers going right down the middle of neighborhood streets like they owned the place when they could have gone to any number of parks or open spaces for group running. Bike riders rarely stop at stop signs and often ride like they think themselves immortal.

Drivers, bikers and pedestrians routinely ignore the laws there and are routinely rude. They routinely obey them here and are routinely courteous. You've got a *culture* problem there and this is but one manifestation of it. Whether it's the cause or the effect of undesirable changes in recent times is open to debate.


Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I don't know enough about the details of this accident, but it is my general observation that most pedestrians in Barron Park don't walk on the left side of the street and so expose themselves to the risk of accidents more than is necessary. I think there is a dual responsibility of the driver and the pedestrian to avoid accidents, and the pedestrians aren't dong their part. This includes mothers/sitters pushing baby carriages and staring at their cell phones instead of looking for passing autos.


Posted by Don't Forget, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Yesterday many drivers still had ice on their windows and were driving with minimal vision. (I don't know if that was the case with this accident). It is essential to completely clean your windshield so you have unobstructed views (a minivan this am hit a cat in front of our house and never even realized because she could barely see through the ice.) It could have easily been a child on a bike. If your windshield is clean you can be better equipped when the sun blinds you. Slow down.


Posted by Brava, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Kudos to the teen driver, who u like many of his ilk, would have taken off. But this young person bravely adhered to the law and called 911, then waited for police and ambulance to arrive, and has been fully cooperative.

So eone's please keep us posted on the condition of this poor mom, and her young child who had to see all of this.

My heart is with all three of these people.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm

@Litebug, to answer your question about Barron Park - my understanding (perhaps to be enhanced or contradicted by someone who is a longtime resident) is that it used to be "in the county" (of Santa Clara), meaning it was less-improved road and infrastructure-wise, similar to a section of what is now part of the city of Cupertino. I think the folks in BP had far cheaper property taxes. And, thank you for you insightful posts from time to time on this forum; I entirely agree about the spoiled, entitled mentality that is very prevalent in Palo Alto now. And don't get me started on our city government!!! Yes, I am seeking to relocate as soon as that is possible. And no - I don't have the requisiste Beemer or Mercedes with huge hood symbol (what vulgarity!), so it's correct that I do not fit in with our current crop of Palo Altans and PA investors.


Posted by BP resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Thank you Susan. Another street which is very dangerous due to the sun and pedestrians is Amarantha. Even though it is wider, it is a longer stretch of blinding sun with Briones, Terman and Gunn students and parents walking, driving and biking.

Pedestrian families going down my street to school often fan out across the street with the mom at one side, a walking student in the middle of the street and an older biking child all the way on the other side of the street. Pedestrians should walk defensively in that neighborhood due to the lack of sidewalks, narrowness of streets and poor visibility for drivers pulling out of driveways.

There seem to be no rules regarding large hedges being planted right next to driveways, making it nearly impossible to see when entering the street. We have had innumerable close calls due to the neighbor's hedges and trees planted practically on the street and perfectly blocking our view.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm

@Wish the streets were safer - You are partially right in your understanding of right of way. Jaywalking is only applied when between two controlled intersections (street lights, not stop signs). In a residential neighborhood like BP, or most of PA, there is no jaywalking possible. You are right that pedestrians don't have right of way except in crosswalks and intersections. So walking in the street is legal, and not jaywalking, but you don't have the right of way.


Posted by SAD, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm

That poor woman, I hope she'll be all right. Her poor child, what a traumatic experience. This is SO sad. I would hope that she/he wasn't texting or on the phone. If so I would hope she/he enjoys life in a facility for irresponsible "children". Maybe then she/he will suffer as this woman is. I am saddened by this event and sincerely hope that she/he can't afford a good lawyer.


Posted by prof, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm

This is virtually a word-for-word copy-and-paste job from the PAUSD and PAPD press releases. Palo Alto Online, why even bother putting a byline?


Posted by Palo Verde Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

As the parent of two teenage drivers, I would like to answer @Wondering and everyone who says to me "well, your kid should be biking to school, not driving." Between sports and zero period, my child is at school from 7:10 to 6pm and carries school work, sports equipment, and band equipment which is very hard to do on a bike. Buses do not run at a convenient time for zero period and Palo Verde is the edge of the Gunn district so the bike ride is a 4 mile ride (currently in 30 degree weather). They rode the bus when they didn't have their licenses but I had to do a number of pick up and drop offs to accommodate them (which is huge hassle for working parents). In these conditions (ice on windshields, commute time, sun in your eyes), it could have been anyone.

I hope the mom recovers quickly and that we focus on that.


Posted by Mike Alexander, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Dec 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Compared to other PA neighborhoods, BP is cozy (dense), quaint (narrow streets, few sidewalks), and insular (few ways in or out). When annexed to PA in 1975, it was with the proviso that these semi-rural features would remain. Since then, many small houses have been up-sized, most large and/or vacant lots have been subdivided, development has pressed in on all sides, and wealth in the neighborhood has caught up with the rest of the city. Lots of busy families. Lots of cars, trucks, bikes, and pedestrians. Much more activity than ever before in the same compact space.

I lived in BP for several years, and realized that in order to stay safe, whether walking, riding, or driving, I had to move more slowly, and be more attentive, than in most other places.

I believe an enforced speed limit of 20 mph, at all times, or at least during commute time, is justifiable. No trip in Barron Park is longer than 2 miles. At 20 mph, 2 miles takes 3 minutes; at 30 mph, 2 minutes. What need could possibly be so urgent that ONE MINUTE couldn't be spent to make a trip through this gorgeous space more safe.

The easiest way to implement a 20 mph limit is to just start doing it. If enough of the neighborhood slows down, everyone else will have to do the same.


Posted by Gunn Student, a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm

It's difficult to not believe that the pedestrian hit was somewhat on the road. La Donna is thin, but wide compared to many roads in Barron Park. Then there is there are the arguments being made. You assume that because it was a teenager he/she MUST have been texting. Invariably, teen drivers are not texting because their worst fear is to crash and/or hurt someone. In fact, many of the drivers I see texting are more "experienced" and/or older. Just because you are of greater age doesn't mean your inherently better at driving. Another argument made is that if it wasn't a teen, then there wouldn't have been a crash. Which is fallacious, since there are many terrible drivers, that aren't teens, in Barron Park/ Palo Alto. Many of which shouldn't be on the road, *cough *cough. Plus I haven't heard ANYTHING, not even rumors, about the incident at my school. The school where, supposedly, the driver was from. Finally, i'd like to say that I desperately hope the woman hit is allowed to see her child again. I urge the readers of this,to think before they write. Thanks.


Posted by Another parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm

@ Gunn student,
I'm glad to know your friends are responsible, but as a parent with younger children, I have witnessed many teenagers driving in the neighborhood while texting. I have seen a teenage driver wander right into the opposite lane of traffic while texting.

It's also very dangerous to the little kids walking to school that the older kids on bikes never stop at stop signs and are often not paying attention. The police have stood at some of the corners and issued tickets, but it never changes anything and only makes the few kids who are unlucky to get ticketed to be worse than miserable.

In many parts of Barron Park, you kind of have to walk in the road. The entrance to Juana Briones Park can only be reached from much of Greenacres by walking on a stretch of Amaranta with no sidewalks and people who drive very fast. Drivers who live here should know to be very careful. Schools and the City are telling people to walk and bike, and making it hard to drive, but they aren't improving the conditions to make those activities safer. As one of the above posters discussed, the City doesn't seem to invest much in the infrastructure on this side of town.

But I will agree with you that there are many unsafe older drivers, who do all kinds of idiotic things while driving, including applying makeup.


Posted by Another parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Correction to what I wrote-

The entrance to Juana Briones SCHOOL can only be reached from much of Greenacres by walking on a stretch of Amaranta with no sidewalks...


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Mike Alexander: good suggestion. As a former resident of Barron Park I agree with you. Too bad our stupid state laws make it impossible.


Posted by PAPD Needs To Step Up On Traffic Safety, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm

I agree that we should not make any assumptions or judgements about this accident when we know so little. My heart goes out to the injured mom and her family, and we are praying for a quick and full recovery. I'm equally concerned and praying for the teen driver and his/her family. The teen acted very responsibly by immediately calling 911, staying put, and fully cooperating with police - not traits of an irresponsible kid. Assuming anyone was texting or not paying attention is just ignorant. I agree with PA Student - sometimes bad things happen even when everyone is doing the right thing.

I look to the city managers to make our streets safer. Stop over-crowding by allowing high-density housing, assess unsafe streets and school routes and make them safe, and use our PAPD to keep our kids safe! The PAPD must have one of the easiest jurisdiction in the country - have them monitor and TICKET drivers breaking the law near our schools while they wait for calls from dispatch - 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes in the afternoon!

I'm not saying a cop sitting there would have prevented this particular accident, but we are reporting a lot of traffic violations in front of our school right now and the PAPD response was to send a motorcycle cop out to sit in plain site... and he did NOTHING about the violations in plain view. Are the PAPD "above" citing dangerous drivers, or just lazy?


Posted by Wish the streets were safer, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Mr, Recycle,

The language of the Vehicle Code is actually that pedestrians must yield the right of way to cars when they aren't in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. That means that if you are walking down the middle of the road and a car comes, you need to get out of the way, off of the road. It is more than just you don't have the right of way.
There are people who both run and walk down the middle of the road, believing it is safer than the sidewalk. Many of them believe that as pedestrians, they have the right of way and cars should wait for them. In fact, they are breaking the law and could be cited and have liability assessed against them in the case of an accident,
We all know that there are drivers of various ability and experience, regardless of age, on the roads. Pedestrians and bicyclists must also obey the laws in order to have our streets be as safe as possible. And, to be clear, I am writing this because of what I see on the streets every day and the responses I see here to this accident: I don't know the facts of this accident or what could have been done to avoid it, and I feel for both families involved.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

Sun in the eyes can be an explanation behind the accident, but it is in no way an excuse. Anyone who hits a pedestrian due to blindness is just as culpable as someone who hits a pedestrian due to intoxication.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 12, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Someone made a slight mention in a post on this about the negligent high school girl in Greater Miranda (neighborhood across Arastradero from Gunn) back in about 2002...I don't think all reading this thread know about this but presumably can look it up:
she caused a huge tragedy by killing someone -- a young innocent child -- with her large motor vehicle, then she continued on over to PALY (where she was later pulled out by police and charged with various offenses). [Portion removed.] I am not saying it is easy to drive around here - it isn't - however driving is a major responsibility and think carefully before you hand over the keys to that teen, please.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Shame shame SHAME on city of palo alto for turning Arastradero into an impassible traffic jam by choking off that obvious auto throughway with vastly narrowed streets, too many cross walks, lanes that reduce and create bottlenecks, too-wide margins. Their full on assault on auto traffic on that corridor has choked traffic flow so horribly that drivers now flood through the streets of Barron Park to move east to west.

And city of palo alto and their bike huggers are so arrogant that they keep ignoring the truth. Arastradero is the ONLY south palo alto route from east to west up to 280. Pure and simple - its an auto commute route, and it should be maximized as such, not minimized as such, in order to protect our neighborhoods.

They should widen it back to 2 lanes and patrol it for speeders. They should force student bikers and pedestrians then into parallel streets in Barron Park, and only allow crossing Arastradero at the major lights. (Adult bikers then proceed at own risk, much as they do on Alma or El Camino.)

The traffic geniuses in the city government , and the council that approved the gravely aggravating and dangerous street changes on Arastradero should bear the entire responsibility for auto on bike accidents in Barron Park until this is fixed. And in exchange for this restoration of Arastradero as an auto maximized route, the pedestrian routes to school in Barron park should be modified with sidewalks.


Posted by Another parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm

@parent,
Many of the roads through Barron Park are not wide enough for sidewalks, and the city does not have an easement. Maybell underwent a $200,000 multi-year safety improvement that involved significant effort and public input, and the result is still dangerous because there just is no room for a real sidewalk or bike path, and there was no realstic way to take over people's very short setback yards to add them. And there isnt another way except Arastradero for kids to get to school. So the City designates it a safe route to school, even though it's not a particularly safe route to school. ( Kids and parents are encouraged and badgered to walk and bike, so this parent was only doing what they push us to do, on a safe route to school no less.) They said in planning the erstwhile development on Maybell that it would be safer if they forbade parking on Maybell, but they gave no thought to where the cars would go (onto the even narrower side streets and in front of the school and park) because they were starting with the fantasies that one space per unit at APAC is enough and that the cars could just choose to park onsite, that Arastradero restriping doesnt create spillover traffic in the neighborhood, and that adding an underparked high-density development there would have no impacts. The City staff doesnt factor in that they could be wrong and thus any mistakes they make propogate into later development. I'm just pointing out that if you expect ths Council to do anything intelligent and responsible about safety, especially on ths side of twn, you're dreaming. Development comes first.

I think we should wait for the facts here, though. Given the time of day, and the possibility of frost on the windshield...it could be anything not necessarily cut through traffic. More likely a kid who didnt understand the consequences of light hitting frost on the windshield at that angle. It's not an excuse, and surely the street issues could be a factor, but I doubt it's cut through traffic.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2013 at 6:44 am

"the council that approved the gravely aggravating and dangerous street changes on Arastradero should bear the entire responsibility for auto on bike accidents"

Sorry, the people operating the vehicles still have the responsibility, no matter how much you would like to shift it elsewhere.


Posted by Get Real, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2013 at 8:59 am

To all of you PERFECT people, accidents DO happen. Accept it and move on. When will there be a place where chickens can cross the road and not have their motives questioned? Not in Palo Alto, for sure.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2013 at 9:00 am

Any news on the condition of the mother?


Posted by parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 13, 2013 at 10:12 am

Donald - absolutely true that motorist bear all of the responsibility legally for an accident between a motorist and a bike. Also true that the bicyclist bears 100% of the bodily injury.

Both are very excellent reasons (THE reasons) to separate motorists and pedestrians by returning Arastradero to the cars, and Barron park streets to the bikes/pedestrians - for everyone's safety and protection.


Posted by Gunn Student, a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 13, 2013 at 10:31 am

@Another Parent
I respect your opinion, but just because you've seen students texting and driving(which is true, they do. Just not as much as people think) Doesn't mean that texting played a part in the accident. For instance, once I was driving on and on ramp and someone was going head-on with me, it wasn't a student. Actually, it was someone of middle age. Although, this doesn't really prove anything other than that all sorts of people are bad drivers. This is particularly problematic in Palo Alto for reasons I will not state. I understand your concern.


Posted by colleen, a resident of Woodside
on Dec 13, 2013 at 12:12 pm

i know palo alto pd said there would be no updates, but this story continues to haunt me. does anybody know how the mother is doing? i understand the privacy issue and i respect that.. just hoping she is doing OK. keeping her and the family in my thoughts regardless. thanks.


Posted by Any news on the mother? , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Colleen,

"i know palo alto pd said there would be no updates, but this story continues to haunt me. does anybody know how the mother is doing? i understand the privacy issue and i respect that.. just hoping she is doing OK. keeping her and the family in my thoughts regardless. thanks."

Same here. Really hoping the mother is ok.


Posted by Edgarpoet, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Wow,0ver 75 experts commenting!
I was a school crossing guard for 7 months in the great city of Palo Alto.
I have seen EVERY moron and EVERY baboon trying to drive a vehicle. I have
almost been run over three times, Honked at, flipped off, you name it.
Then there are the hot shot middle school kids who think its just so cool
to come blasting past the crossing guard right when the pedestrian light
has 1 second left on it. I have witnessed a black BMW racing at 80mph to "beat the light" Red light runners were common. One day a lady in a real hurry drove up onto the sidewalk to get around a car turning left ( in congested traffic). Signs all over the place telling drivers not to turn right when children are present, IGNORED!! When I tried to educate a parent
NOT to teach his kids to ride bikes across the street where there are no crosswalks, his response was to call my boss and complain about me.
High school kids just make up their own rules, which are "nothing",
All in ALL, I had an impossible job. The Public at large do obey the laws
its just those 4% who make things dangerous intersections, whose fault is this? I will answer that; THE PARENTS who do not acre enough to teach their own kids better behavior, probably the very ones who tried to run over me!


Posted by Lauren, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm

"i know palo alto pd said there would be no updates, but this story continues to haunt me. does anybody know how the mother is doing? i understand the privacy issue and i respect that.. just hoping she is doing OK. keeping her and the family in my thoughts regardless. thanks."

Same here. Really hoping the mother is ok.

Ditto... Would really appreciate an update.


Posted by Cindy, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm

My toddler and I have almost been hit twice in Barron park. We no longer Go for walks. It's sad and outrageous that Palo alto can't find a way to put sidewalks in on one side of the street. I have a very small front yard but am still willing to use some of it for a sidewalk so our kids can walk to school safely. The Barron park community board refuses to support sidewalks. I even mentioned to the last years board president - specifically stating that someone will get run over if this doesn't change.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Scott’s Seafood Mountain View to close, reopen as new concept
By Elena Kadvany | 4 comments | 2,047 views

Breastfeeding Tips
By Jessica T | 10 comments | 1,292 views

Who Says Kids Don’t Eat Vegetables?
By Laura Stec | 6 comments | 1,219 views

How Bad Policy Happens
By Douglas Moran | 6 comments | 352 views

Call it a novel: Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III
By Nick Taylor | 1 comment | 305 views