Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 25, 2014

Boy Scout advocates for street safety

Dangerous crossing at Middlefield Road and Everett Avenue had at least seven accidents in 16 months

by Sue Dremann

A Palo Alto Boy Scout is trying to get city officials to change a Middlefield Road crossing he says is dangerous.

Thibault Collignon, a 15-year-old Palo Alto High School freshman, says he has heard numerous crashes from his home near the intersection of Everett Avenue and Middlefield in the past six years. He was nearly struck one day as he crossed with his bike and now uses a safer crossing at a light at Lytton Avenue, he said.

Everett is a traffic-calmed street between Alma Street and Middlefield. Once a cut-through for drivers, traffic roundabouts now serve as deterrents, and Alma Street traffic is forbidden during rush hour. Many bicyclists and pedestrians travel up the relatively quiet street. But the traffic calming stops at Middlefield. On any given day, cyclists and pedestrians must run a gauntlet of speeding vehicles, he said.

"Lots of neighbors cross here and there is a lot of traffic here. It can take three to five minutes to be safe (to cross)," Collignon said of the intersection where there is no painted crosswalk or traffic signal.

Standing at the east corner on a Thursday afternoon, he pointed to a spot just south of the intersection.

"There was an accident there this morning. A car hadn't stopped in time and it hit the back of another car, which hit the car in front of it. It was a sandwich," he said.

The intersection had seven vehicle accidents between Jan. 31, 2013, and April 6, 2014, according to Palo Alto Police Department records. Five of those accidents occurred during afternoon rush hours. All but one took place on Middlefield, and one was on Everett, according to police data. Two persons were injured in two incidents.

Collignon said he would like to see a crosswalk with a pedestrian button that would activate flashing signs, similar to one near the Menlo Park Library on Ravenswood Avenue.

He is trying to earn a Scout badge through his efforts, which appear to be paying off. The Weekly contacted the city's transportation division after being contacted by Collignon.

Jaime Rodriguez, city chief transportation official, said a transportation engineer has examined the site.

"We will be moving forward with the installation of 'Pedestrian Xing' warning signs on each approach of Middlefield Road before Everett. The signs should be installed in the next four to six weeks," he said in an email.

But he said that adding a signal or another form of traffic control near Lytton Avenue would require study, as it might have unintended consequences on Middlefield traffic.

Also, the city is sparing about marking crosswalks along residential arterial streets such as Middlefield Road without adding controls, such as flashing lights or stop signs, he said.

"The signalized intersection one block south at Middlefield Road and Lytton Avenue is the best location for pedestrians to cross Middlefield Road," he added.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Jake, a resident of University South
on Apr 25, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Kudos for this boy scout's efforts to improve community safety. Why should it take so long to address this problem? Since Heritage Park opened in March 2006 I have been concerned about the safety of all the people who cross Homer Avenue between the park and the Museum of American Heritage every week end. This middle-of-the block crossing is used by many small children and people pushing strollers, and clearly needs striping and pedestrian crosswalk signage. I ask you, Jaime Rodriguez, city chief transportation official, can something be done to improve this hazardous crossing in heavy use for over 8 years now? Is there some way the City of Palo Alto could become more proactive in protecting pedestrian safety?


Posted by parent, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2014 at 7:58 pm

The entire length of Middlefield Road in Palo Alto is treacherous for pedestrians. The city knows this and has installed more stop lights over the years, but there are still far too few of them with lengthy gaps in between. Trying to cross Middlefield in any crosswalk without the protection of a red light is suicidal. Drivers mostly consider Middlefield to be an expressway, despite the 25mph speed limit and numerous homes, schools, and churches along the route. The police used to have more regular speed enforcement along Middlefield, but I rarely see them any more. Are they hiding better or have they just given up?


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