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Bicyclist, 64, badly injured in collision with car

Original post made on Aug 24, 2011

A 64-year-old bicyclist was taken to the hospital with what police described as life-threatening injuries after a bike and car collided in Menlo Park today.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 2:35 PM

Comments (25)

Posted by Test-Everyone-Equally, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm

> who said the driver of the 2008 Lincoln Town Car showed
> no signs of alcohol or drug impairment.

And what about the cyclist? Will he/she be tested too?

If not, why not?


Posted by speeding, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Some people drive double the speed limit on that street. No wonder Facebook is building a tunnel underneath it to protect their employees.


Posted by Donald, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Jay, a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2011 at 7:49 am

I'm the co-worker to the bicyclist. Testing him- He was on his lunch break from work riding his bike after he had promised his wife we will take care of his health after he had a heart attack few months back. Great guy, husband, grandfather and co-worker. Will be missed, so people needs to get their facts straight before making asumptions.


Posted by rest in peace, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2011 at 9:19 am

Rest in peace.

There are going to be a lot more bicyclists on this road when Facebook opens. I hope that Menlo Park and the county can make the roads safe for all road users.


Posted by Mac Clayton, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2011 at 10:42 am

This one hits close to home. A guy close to my age doing what I do every day. So sad for him and his family.

That same afternoon, I was crossing El Camino at Embarcadero on my bike, coming home from the Stanford campus, in the crosswalk, with a walk sign. A cab turning north onto El Camino came right at me. I was watching her, and her window was open, so I shouted, "Hey" to get her attention, so she wouldn't run over me. She stopped a foot from me and looked up angrily and shouted "Hey, yourself, I didn't see your ass!" As if it were my fault she wasn't paying attention. But the thing I didn't understand, still don't, was her anger. Why would someone in two tons of car ever be angry at someone lawfully riding a bike? There is something in the car/bike sociology/psychology that we still need to wrok on. It's not a contest between the two (which bikes always lose). Sure bikers do stupid things sometimes, run stop signs, that sort of thing, but so do cars. We need to get past the anonymity of whizzing by one another to see each other as average folks, just trying to share space in one of the most beautiful and privileged places on the planet. It should be easy if we think about it that way.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

My sympathies to the victim and his family. So sorry to hear that he didn't make it.

I have no idea of the situation in this particular case, but do cyclists involved in accidents ever get checked for dui? It is always easy to assume the driver of the car was at fault, speeding, dui, on phone, etc. but it could just as easily be the rider of the bike at fault.


Posted by DaveV, a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2011 at 11:09 am

Mac - there but for the grace of whatever goes I as well.
We bike riders need to be super extra vigilant. As a 67 year old rider who rides for health and well being, I would not like to have my life ended prematurely!
To all: be safe out there and watch out for yourselves and the other guys.
My condolences to Mr. Buckley's family and friend.
Dave


Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2011 at 11:41 am

Mac...re the puzzle of why the cab driver was angry... I know that when my son (much younger then) felt guilty about something he'd done and was called on, he'd get angry. I suspect the anger really needs to be directed at self, but that is the natural response some folks experience when they know they messed up.

As for this instance, my heart goes out to the families and people touched on all sides by this incident.

Whether anyone was "at fault" or not in the situation, I know that the driver of the Lincoln Town Car has been touched tragically as well. No one can cause harm or loss of life to another without suffering from that experience.


Posted by Not Balanced, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 25, 2011 at 11:47 am


It's not a level playing field out there! MANY more drivers not paying attention than cyclists, believe me. The people who say "test the cyclist" are obviously biased in one direction -


Posted by interested, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Mac - sounds like you were riding against the flow of traffic; not along the right most portion of the roadway....if so, you would have been the one most at fault for the collision believe it or not....

The cyclist will most likely have his blood drawn and tested at the Coroner's office.


Posted by more details please, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Please post more details when the police report is available. Were the bicyclist and car heading in the same direction through the intersection? Or was the car turning from a different direction? More details will help us understand what happened and prevent future casualties on this (already too dangerous) road.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm

When a crosswalk sign says walk, that is what it means. It doesn't mean ride a bike.

Bikes should stop at red lights and if a sign says walk then they can only cross when they walk their bikes.

Bikes are faster than pedestrians and can appear so much more quickly than a driver is anticipating while looking for pedestrians.

Don't ride your bike on crosswalks when it says walk, after all you might hit an oncoming pedestrian walking towards you.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Very sorry to read about this.

Cars can be an are every day deadly weapons.

The should be operated by people who pay attention to what they are doing and can avoid hitting a bicyclist, even if that bicyclist happened to be drunk or whatever. bicycle has extremely small chance of injuring let alone killing someone.

Test the bicyclist was a real nasty smartass comment, the kind I am getting very tired of having to read and ignore - maybe because it makes it sound like there are just too many unintelligent people in the world - and way too many who feel their opinions and mental problems must be expressed on the internet.


Posted by Bud, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I am 64. I was stopped next to the curb at a stop sign 5 years ago with my helemet off, was run into from behind, and knocked off my bike. I donated my bike, and have been walking for my excercise ever since.


Posted by Commuter, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm


Bud, too bad! Many of us don't ride for exercise, however - a common misperception. Many of us ride because that's how we get from one place to another - work, school, shopping, events, etc.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I just see major decline in the driving skills, and particularly the attention skills, and even understanding among drivers these days. There are multiple factors in the environment that lead to people just not being able or willing to concentrate on their driving, and even when they do they are mentally incapable it seems to making good decisions to drive safely.


Posted by Donna Andrews, a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Mr Buckley was my cousin. Our family is devastated by this sudden loss. He was on his lunch break ride. As another writer above said, as a post heart attack sufferer, Richard was caring for his health, getting exercise in one of his favorite ways.

The accident is still under investigation so we won't know for awhile what the actual error was or who made it. We don't know if the driver of the car was on the phone.

I know that we're all aware now how willing everyone is (WILLING!) to be distracted in daily life by the pull of this or that shiny thing. Look around in traffic and you see how willing people are to be distracted by their phones, and they will participate in that distraction intentionally. While driving. It's scary. We are living in a time when human attention is fragmented to unprecedented degrees. Where should attention be when we're driving? Where is it actually? We experience the interior of our cars as little cocoons; little homes away from home with a certain false sense of security. Look around the next time you're at a busy red light and witness all the human distraction at a time when attention ought to be one pointed.


Posted by Don T., a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2011 at 10:51 am

I rode by there as I do most days for my daily ride - it was a little after the accident (on the bike path). It looked to me by the debris that was left and the car's position, that the car hit him while he was near the northeast crosswalk as Bayfront just touches Chilco. So the limo driver was heading away from the dumbarton to 101. The bike was thrown into the weeds on the side of the road about 20 feet or so by the parallel bike path.
The fact that the cyclist was thrown into the windshield seems to indicate that he was either sideways (in the crosswalk) or heading in the wrong direction. Or if he was roiding on the shoulder - he'd have to be riding in the opposite direction of traffic flow - which no one does since there is a bike path all the way to the new Facebook facility.
From where I saw the car stopped, it looked to me like the car hit him in the crosswalk. I am guessing the driver missed the light and the cyclist, just saw the green light had just started into the crosswalk. I don't see where the cyclist speeding could have been an issue unless the driver is saying the cyclist ran the light. Of all the places to run a crosswalk light, bayfront isn't a likely one for someone on a bike - there are six lanes of traffic and almost no one is doing under 50mph.


Posted by pedestrian in traffic, a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Cars and bikes should be operated by people who know the rules and follow them. I have no idea of the circumstances of this accident but I've seen many a quasi accident because of unpredictability. A cyclist who behaves switching from being a cyclist to pedestrian and vice versa creates a hazard just by doing it. You expect pedestrians at pedestrian speed on the crosswalks, not a sudden 15 miles/hour coming from where a driver didn't expect it
(the sidewalk, for example, and many times the wrong way ). Drivers should be concerned with what's on the road, not sidewalks, because pedestrians have no right of way UNTIL they start crossing and that's if a vehicle has not already started the crossing. Recently, driving on Santa Cruz Ave (MP), I saw 2 girls on the bike path, in the wrong direction a hidden by trees. A car towards downtown MP turned right on a side street just as the teenagers crossed the street suddenly, the wrong way, with no concern for their safety . The car stopped an inch from them and they continued merrily on their way and said a prayer. They need it as well as lots of luck. Their crossing was very unpredictable (and actually illegal).
Cars have no eyes, only drivers do and no human has a 360ļ vision field.
I have also seen bikers on phones and iPods.
I have seen car drivers who pay no attention to traffic, be it horses, strollers, bikes, pedestrians or other cars and I've seen bikers doing that too.
A bike and a pedestrian are small and subject to deformed shadows specially if seen sideways, so in order to be seen they should add some props to themselves, be it color of clothing, flags etc, in non downtown areas where they are not expected to stroll.
What bikers and pedestrians have to realize is that their size and predictability of behavior
are many times the cause of accidents, but some seem to be more inclined to assign blame than to assume behavior that makes an accident less likely.

I do think that bikers should be allowed to run red lights or stop signs, ( at their responsibility) when there is no traffic (including pedestrians) crossing and no bike lane (for logistic reasons and flow of traffic) and that they should be allowed o ignore right of way signs when in convoy with some limitations, of course, not a free for all.
If a bike is in front of a vehicle and stays that way until a green light comes on then the vehicle cannot gain enough speed to overtake the bike and that creates an unsafe situation and impedes the flow of the traffic. Likewise, I think that to expect a convoy of 30 bikers to wait for a one-by-one stop sign rules is nor conducive to safety or reasonable traffic flow ( I know that Woodsiders do not agree with me).

It's sad to have to read about one more death. But we must know the truth, not the delusion that either driver is at fault. The analysis of the accident will tell us what happend. That's the truth. We can use it for promoting safety -thats' the goal.


Posted by facts, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm

The Mercury-News, quoting Menlo Park Police, say that the bicyclist was heading east on Chilco Street through the intersection. The car was heading north on Bayfront. Photos show a smashed windshield on the car and also damage to the right front of the car.

Web Link

Other reports say that the bicyclist worked at one the companies west of Bayfront and was heading to the bikepath along the east side of Bayfront to get some exercise during his lunch hour.

In my experience, the bike path is hidden from the expressway by a concrete barrier. Speeding car drivers don't expect traffic to be crossing there, so sometimes blow through the red light.


Posted by member, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2011 at 10:04 am

It is very sad to hear about the loss of life. My best to the family of both the driver and cyclist.

Every time there is an article posted about a negative bicycle/car interaction the same debate ensues about road safety. Being a cyclist I am very much in favor of doing everything reasonable to make dangerous intersections and roadways safer. Unfortunately I believe many people are looking for a level of safety that is not attainable. Riding a bike on the streets of any city with the population we have is dangerous and trying to change drivers behavior or level of awareness is unlikely. I ride on the streets frequently and have learned one thing that trumps all else. Ride defensively. This is not a comment about the tragic accident or who may or may not have been at fault but rather a general statement about cycling on the road. If a cyclist assumes that no driver sees them and rides defensively at all times most of the driver/bicycle crashes could be avoided. No matter how much money is spent trying to create bike lanes and fix dangerous intersections crashes will still occur if a cyclist assumes they are safe riding in a bike lane. Be safe out there!


Posted by member, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm

i just heard about this story. i feel so sorry for Rich and his family. they were both committed to good health and happiness. i hope whatever the cause, something can change to help avoid a future accident. this has devastated at least one family.


Posted by Kashana, a resident of another community
on May 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm

He was in the crosswalk. He had pushed the button to activate the pedestrian crossing. I witnessed this accident and my life was forever changed because of it. He was caught in the intersection when the cross traffic apparently over rode the signal.


Posted by rest in peace, a resident of Midtown
on May 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I bicycle through this intersection all the time. This is the main bicycle route from downtown Menlo Park and the Bay Trail near Facebook. I would never think about running a red light to cross a 4+ lane highway and I have never seen any other bicyclist or car driver do that. Everyone on Chilco waits for the green light before crossing, but distracted drivers speeding to and from the Dumbarton Bridge do sometimes run their red light. If you're already 3/4 of the way across the street when a speeding car approaches, there would be nowhere to escape to.

Does anyone know if charges have been filed in this fatality yet? The police report must be complete by now.


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