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Boy on bike collides with bus in Palo Alto

Original post made on Nov 8, 2010

A 13-year-old boy suffered a broken nose and cuts to his face this morning when he collided with a school bus while riding his bicycle in Palo Alto, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

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Comments (32)

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Posted by jeffrey Llyod Wilkinson
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Wts wrong with kids now a days? Didnt there parents teach them to be careful when riding a bike an look out for cars? This kid is really lucky that he wasnt hurt alot worse than a broken nose. Hope his parents have a talk with him

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Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Instead of blaming the victim, why doesn't someone CPRA the bus/intersection video and then we can make a decision.


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Posted by ha!
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

--- begin quote ---
The boy, who was not wearing a helmet, was coming through a passageway from Oregon Expressway to Oregon Avenue, according to Montiel.

"He basically ran the stop sign and hit the right front of a school bus that was traveling east on Oregon Avenue," Montiel said.
--- end quote ---

No helmet? Ran a stop sign? Sounds like a future Stanford student to me!

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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I know exactly where this happened. A contributing factor may have been the hedge that blocks a view of Oregon Avenue both ways.

The kid was lucky he wasn't a split second earlier. He could have been under the bus instead of bouncing off the side.

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Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 8, 2010 at 6:27 pm

We need to talk a serious look at getting bike bridges over some the the busy streets, especially El Camino near Charleston Rd. Lots of kids riding bikes to school near there.

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Posted by poorly designed bike routes
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Many bike routes in Palo Alto follow obscure routes with lots of confusing turns and poor visibility around corners. Years ago, the city said they were going to build more "bicycle boulevards" to improve bicycle safety. Is that ever going to happen?

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Posted by Occasional Cyclist
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I was riding my bike recently during commute hours on Loma Verde where there are no bike lanes and tree branches were touching my head. Since there was traffic I was unable to avoid them. A car may hit them without any problems, but someone on a bike can get hurt or knocked off.

Many of our roads have overgrown trees, hedges and bushes blocking view and actually impeding travel in bike lanes. Sometimes this overhanging vegetation belongs to residents, but usually they are in verges and on city owned trees. When the tree trimmers come and move branches they should also be thinking of visibility and encroachment on bikes.

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Posted by Mary Hansen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm

As a neighborhood resident of over 40 years, all I can say is... Unfortunately, I'm not surprised. Hopefully this kiddo is OK.

This intersection basically channels a crosswalk that goes across Oregon Expressway RIGHT INTO TRAFFIC on Oregon Avenue. Since we live on St. Francis, we often go home via Oregon Expwy/Oregon Avenue, and we always slow down before this intersection. There have been many occasions where I've had to swerve quickly to avoid someone coming out of that crossing. If you don't already know the crossing is there, you'd never suspect it - it literally looks like they're coming out of the middle of a huge hedge.

I complained to the city years ago about the safety issue of this intersection, but they didn't do a thing. There is a "stop sign" for the pedestrians/bicyclists crossing into the road, but it's so high (probably 7 feet up) that you don't even notice it when you're on a bike.

Jeez, maybe now the city will finally address this totally unsafe crossing.

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Posted by Henry
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Very impressed by the care given to the bicylist from the Fire Dept.

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Posted by Amusing
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Megan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I feel really bad for the kid and his family and the bus driver. I'm sure the child didn't mean to ride his bike into the front of the bus. Last time I checked, most 13 year old boys were still learning the concept of cause and effect.
Maybe as a community we shouldn't kick the kid while he's down.? Maybe we should support the family and wish them well. I have a 13 year old and I tell him to wear his helmet and look for cars and be careful and make good choices and wait a few extra seconds at the light when it turns green...but I can pretty much guarantee the minute he's out of ear shot he's thinking about other things. We do our best. This is unfortunate, and I'm sure sickening to the family.
I hope your kid as a speedy recovery and is up and around in no time.

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Here's the link to what I believe is the right street-view image.

Web Link

As Mary H said above, this is a little scary when you look at it. Partially obscured stop sign governing a cross walk. Pretty confusing. Better signage or a "walk your bike" gate would help here.

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Posted by EcoMama
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 9, 2010 at 9:24 am

This is a sad incident all around, no doubt, and yes, our sympathies need to be with the injured boy and his family as well as with the children on the bus and the driver, who were probably frightened. All that said, I'd love to see the city/police crack down hard on kids who don't wear helmets and/or on their parents. Does child safety matter in this town or not?

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2010 at 9:28 am

Biggest issues with kids on bikes:

No helmets or helmets unlatched
Riding through stop signs
Riding next to each other, outside the bike lanes
riding against traffic

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Posted by St Francis Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:31 am

I agree with Mary H.'s comments on how obscure that opening is. I live on St. Francis and also travel on Oregon Ave. often. Once I was driving pass this intersection and a bike ran into the side of my car. I stopped and luckily this person was ok. But everyone was shaken and I filed a police report afterwards. This opening from Oregon Exp onto Oregon Ave. is unsafe. Better signage and or a fence at the curb to stop bikes from continuing to cross would be good. Anything would be better than what it is today.

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Posted by pamom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

I'm very sorry for all involved in this accident, especially the boy with a broken nose. Rather than beat up on this kid and his family, let's have a discussion about bicycle safety. As a long-distance cyclist well aware of bicycling dangers, I am frequently shocked to see kids riding with helmets hanging from their handlebars (!!) running through stop signs without even LOOKING for cars. I always stop and let them continue through the intersection because I don't want to hit them, but, my goodness, this is so ridiculously dangerous. Please, let's have a serious talk with our kids about basic safety. Kids too young to drive often lack insight into how quickly a driver must react.

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Posted by PA Mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:50 am

All vehicle operators (including bikes) are required by law to come to a full stop at stop signs. This is not optional. Youth riders are required by law to wear a helmet in CA. It is simply reckless to enter an intersection if you do not have a good line of sight to see oncoming traffic, and this intersection has limited sight lines (that could stand to be fixed). Nonetheless, the vehicle operator, in this case a cyclist, is responsible to LOOK and insure that he is not pulling out in front of an oncoming vehicle that has the right-of-way.

If this child has been through PAUSD schools in-school bike programs, he has been taught this. His family may not be practising bicycling with him. Parents, please BIKE WITH YOUR KIDS. Supervised practise, practise, practise is the key to building and hardwiring good street skills in children and riding together is a great way to spend quality time with your kids. Bike safety skills translate to good driving skills later. It is well-worth the time investment. Ride a little BEHIND your child so you can watch what he does. Teach him at a young age to stay within voice command, and coach him until he consistently does it right.

This young person broke two laws, causing a crash that could have had much worse results. He was really very lucky. I hope his parents will take his egregious errors in judgment and ILLEGAL behavior very seriously. Taking away his solo bicycling privileges for a while and making him walk everywhere might work. That would be an appropriate repercussion. For a middle-schooler, this can be like taking away car keys (IF you don't drive him everywhere AND you make him walk.) You might also sign him up for a bike safety class so he can learn better skills. A good one is offered "Middle School Bike Skills" through the Palo Alto Parks & Rec Dept.

Riders and drivers with good safety skills and knowledge of the law are safer on the street.

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Posted by KC
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:50 am

I drive through there everyday. The hedge blocks the view for both bikers and drivers. The stop sign for the bikers is easily ignored, and they are rushing to complete crossing Oregon Exp. I've seen similar intersections where they impede the biker with an obstacle to slow down the biker from flowing directly into the next street at full speed. 1) Lower the hedge and 2) install the obstacle/barrier seems like an easy solution worth the safety benefit.

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Posted by George K.
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

This isn't a "kid these days" event. 40 years ago I almost knocked myself out when I rode into a parked car. No helmet, not obeying traffic signs, riding against traffic. Kids have been stupid for generations.

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Posted by Jordan & Paly mom
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

We live on North California near Jordan Middle School. I am continually amazed at the number of kids riding bikes to both Jordan & Paly who have helmets dangling on handle bars, helmets unlatched or incorrectly situated on their heads or worst of all no helmet at all. Most middle school kids do not have parents riding with them anymore so they do what they want to once they leave the house, whether to be comfortable or to just be cool. Although our neighborhood is very fortunate to have a crossing guard at Louis & N. California & at Newell & N. California, kids continue to jaywalk or cross N. California on bikes in the middle of the street without looking either direction for oncoming cars as soon as they are out of sight or earshot of the crossing guards. If some of these kids got a few traffic tickets for these every day violations it might be helpful to remind them they can be cool wearing helmets correctly also. Unfortunately, the police only have so much staff to oversee this. Residents can however call to have the police monitor the intersection or other unsafe areas during commute times. Parents, don't assume your middle & high school kids are wearing helmets while riding to and from school- follow up and ask! Hopefully the only negative consequence will be a ticket or a stern warning vs another dangerous accident.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm

The old Duveneck principal would "take" the bike or scooter of any student who rode to school without a helmet and required a parent to come get the bike/scooter from school. I suspect that wouldn't have to happen too many times for kids to get the point.

The elementary kids are good about bike safety, its the middle and high school kids who are dangerous (I especially like the biking while texting combo!)

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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm

hahaha George K, your comment cracked me up, and I agree with you 100%. PA Mom, my opinion is that you are WAY too severe... kids AND adults either follow rules or they don't- some learn from mom and dad who teach the right way, sure, but realistically others learn best from their mistakes or close calls. When I drive, I see what crazy things bikers do, but when I bike, I see how ignorant drivers can be. Both bikers and drivers need follow the rules, it's not all about practice or who teaches you.... I'm glad the kid is all right, and that no one was hurt....

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Posted by betcha
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

betcha he learned something the hard way. Others will learn through his mistake

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm

PA Mom - spot on!!

Yesterday, just before dark, we drove down University from downtown PA towards Home Depot. There were two high school boys riding bikes next to each other, the left one riding slightly outside the bike lane. We travelled at their speed (~ 15mph), as it was not safe to pass them. As we approached the large intersection, we stopped for the red light and the two boys went right through the red light. I did not see them look in the direction of cross traffic.

The weekly should do a study on bike behavior - would make a very interesting piece. More times than not, when I see an adult (parent or caregiver) with a young person riding either along side or attached (bike seat or trailer), the adult shows the worst bike behavior. Adults should be emphasizing the safest bike behavior when accompanied by a child. The child will likely push the boundaries anyway, why not give them the best possible example as a starting point. I have seen...
1. Rushing through a rail crossing sign that is on the way down.
2. Moving from the bike lane into the car lane at intersections, so they don't have to use the crosswalk.
3. Peddling through stop signs without even slowing down.
4. Not wearing helmets.
5. Cutting around traffic because they are small enough to do so ??
6. Wearing ear plugs and basically ignoring everything around them.

I used to think my husband was a little too extreme on the cautious side. One of the examples was making the kids stand behind the poles at intersections - just in case a car cut the corner (they would hit the pole first). Year later, someone we know passed out at an intersection and ran into a family of four killing them all. While the family was not "at fault", they lost their lives. Very very sad for everyone. I really wish people would focus less on fault and rights and just be more careful.

Many readers may not remember, but "Pedestrians, Cyclists, and Equestrians" were prohibited from traveling on most Palo Alto streets with speed limits above 30mph. It was only due to environmental concerns that cyclists were allowed. Unfortunately, cyclists had not been planned for originally and the process of upgrading roads does take time.

if you have a care giver delivering your kids to school by bike, check them out - they may be the ones I see riding like they are the only ones on the road.

a Gunn grad lost his life just last year, please don't become a statistic!!

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Posted by Occasional Cyclist
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I see so many elementary age kids riding with parents who are breaking the law. How can we expect kids to learn to ride safely when their parents are not practicing it. There are just as many bad adult riders as there are kids who ride badly.

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Posted by Practise what you preach
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Adults, MODEL what you want your child to do. They are watching YOU! Wear a helmet EVERY time you ride. Stop at stop signs, even when it is inconvenient. Always signal before you turn. Ride on the right. Teach by example.

If you behave like a fool, your child will, too. If you behave safely, you child is very likely to honor you by keeping himself safe.

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Posted by Correction
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:02 pm

There were 5 not 2 students in the school bus. And they were in shock. Yes, physically the students were fine, but not emotionally.

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Posted by I agree
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I agree with KC resident of the Duveneck neighborhood. This spot needs improvements. The bushes make it hard for drivers to see if anyone is coming into the street from that specific crossing. You really see what is wrong with that spot. I hope the police in city people see it too.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I know (when driving) to be ULTRA careful in Duveneck neighborhood because of the inattention of Jordan bike riders (male and female). They swerve into and across our neighborhood streets, even busy ones, without a GLANCE. They ride two across, also. Very dangerous in some cases; definitely inattentive at a minimum. Please remind your kid bicyclists that there are cars on the roads.

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Posted by Anon
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I live on Alma and sometimes have to travel up Meadow to ECR or Loma Verde to Middlefield. Several stop signs on these roads and the kids getting off school NEVER stop at the stop signs, they do not even slow down. I have seen some close calls and even had some myself with these kids. I don't think there is enough education out there that bicycles have to follow the same rules of the road as vehicles.

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Posted by betcha
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2010 at 11:38 am


"2. Moving from the bike lane into the car lane at intersections, so they don't have to use the crosswalk."

What are you talking about here?
crosswalks are not extensions of bikelanes.

Are you talking about when a bike uses the sidewalk?

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Posted by George K.
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm


Thanks for catching that. "Mom" shows a serious misunderstanding of a bicycle's place on the road. Bikes are allowed--or in some cases, like downtown Palo Alto where sidewalk riding is illegal--even compelled to use the "car lane" when there is no bike lane.

And crosswalks are for pedestrians (otherwise they would be "crossrides" LOL). If a cyclist is using the crosswalk, he must dismount and walk the bicycle across the street.

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