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Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 9, 2012

News Digest

Student hospitalized after bike, SUV collide

A Palo Alto High School student was hospitalized after his bicycle collided with an SUV on his way to school Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Sophomore Ken Shin, who keeps a photography blog on Tumblr, posted Sunday, Nov. 4, that he's in stable condition "but it'll be awhile until I'll be shooting again."

Paly Principal Phil Winston confirmed Monday that the student was hospitalized, "has undergone a few surgeries and is doing well recovering."

An accident matching the time of Shin's collision was logged by police as "accident minor injury" at the corner of Cowper Street and Santa Rita Avenue, but police would neither confirm nor deny that it was the same incident.

"It's under investigation by our specialized traffic team that does accidents and I have information but I cannot give it to you," police Officer Marianna Villaescusa said.

Fire department logs indicated rescue vehicles were at the scene for about an hour and a half.

On Sunday, Shin posted his own description of the collision on his Tumblr blog: "I got run over by a Lexus SUV four days ago while riding my bike to school."

"Both wheels went over my head and took out a couple ribs and most of my jaw. I would have died instantly, but my $10 helmet saved me. I'm in stable condition, but it'll be awhile until I'll be shooting again. Or eating solid foods."

Palo Alto's bicycle pioneer Ellen Fletcher dies

Ellen Fletcher, a former Palo Alto councilwoman who spearheaded the city's transformation into a nationally recognized bike-friendly community, died Wednesday, Nov. 7, according to her friends.

Fletcher, who was often seen riding her bike through the city into her early 80s, has been involved in local issues since the early 1970s, when she served as safety chair at the Fairmeadow Elementary School, where her son was a student. She became a leading proponent of bicycle improvements and joined the council in 1977.

A Berlin native, she fled Nazi Germany in December 1938, moving first to London and later to New York City. She fell in love with bicycling while riding her mother's bike in England and brought her passion to America in 1946, when she immigrated in New York. As a 17-year-old student at Hunter College, she rode a bike on campus year-round, a rare sight at the time. In an interview with the Weekly last year, she said she was the "only one in college who had a bike on campus."

Fletcher moved to the Peninsula shortly after her college graduation, settling first in Menlo Park and later in Palo Alto. She lobbied persistently for biking improvements as a volunteer in the school district and as a council member. The city recognized her leadership on the issues in 2002, when the council officially named Bryant Street as the "Ellen Fletcher Bicycle Boulevard." Her efforts helped the city attain the designation of "Bicycle Friendly Community" from the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington, D.C.-based organization.

Fletcher's local legacy is expected to stretch for decades as the city embarks on a slew of other bicycle projects, including trails, a bike bridge over Highway 101 and new bicycle boulevards modeled after Bryant Street. In July, the city approved an ambitious new bike master plan that aims to make Palo Alto the nation's top bicycling destination. Even at 83 and suffering from cancer, Fletcher rode her bicycle to City Hall to attend public hearings on the plan and to advocate for bike improvements.

Though Fletcher owned a car, a 1964 Plymouth Valiant, she was famous for almost never using it. The site of her pedaling through the city streets has been a common one for decades. She continued the tradition even in her early 80s, while afflicted with lung cancer. A lifelong champion of bicycling, she told the Weekly that she hopes to demonstrate to people that just about everyone can do it.

Information about services for Fletcher will be posted on PaloAltoOnline.com as it becomes available.

Are you a holiday volunteer? Tell us your story

Do you celebrate the holidays by giving back to the community? Does your family have a tradition of volunteering during the holiday season? The Palo Alto Weekly wants to hear your story.

Practices could be anything from ringing the Salvation Army bell to volunteering at a soup kitchen or encouraging your children to perform a random act of kindness.

Submit short write-ups (100-400 words) on your personal/family tradition, to be published in the Weekly at the end of November.

Please email Online Editor Tyler Hanley at thanley@paweekly.com or contact him by phone at 650-223-6519.

— Gennady Sheyner

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