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Bicyclist hit by car on Middlefield Road Monday

Original post made on Mar 5, 2012

A bicyclist was taken to the hospital after a car crashed into him, sending him flying through the air, at the intersection of Middlefield Road and Seale Avenue in Palo Alto Monday afternoon.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 5, 2012, 4:44 PM

Comments (64)

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Posted by Driver
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm

This was bound to happen sometime. Bikes not stopping at stop signs are a plague around here.

Please make sure to tell everyone you know who bikes to stop at stop signs and point this story out to them.


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Posted by Cyclist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm

This was bound to happen sometime. Speeding car drivers are a plague around here.

Please make sure to tell everyone you know who drives to be a bit more careful around cyclists and point this story out to them.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Ah, yes. Proof not only of the laws of physics, but of the theories of Darwin.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm


It is very doubtful that the woman driver was speeding, at that time traffic in that are is at a crawl with tons of parents who have picked up their kids from Jordan etc.
Anyway the skid marks and the onboard computer will let the police and insurance company know who is at fault.

If it is the biker he should be prosecuted for endangering lives by his reckless behavior and should be held accountable for all property damage and police/ court time.

Bikers in PA consistently ignore stop signs and take dangerous stupid risks that threaten other road users-the drivers who actually pay for the roads.

-this case may teach bikers an important lesson about their financial liability and road safety


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Posted by Driver
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Cyclist

Your ridiculous comment after mine shows that you did not read the article.

Where in the article does it talk about speeding car drivers? Nowhere.
Where in the article does it talk about stop signs on Seale but not on Middlefield and that the bike was crossing Middlefield at Seale? Well, you would know if you read the article properly.

The article indicates that this accident was caused by the bike and not by the car driver.


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Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Mar 5, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I think there was a minor crash involving a bike on Alma Street at San Antonio this morning. My leisure ride on Saturday was plagued with bad drivers. What is up? Is the price of gas causing road rage? Slow down and you'll burn less fuel.


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Posted by Cyclist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Driver,

You are correct, the article doesn't talk about speeding car drivers. The driver in this case doesn't seem to be at fault.

I was simply throwing out a condescending, knee-jerk reaction based on a generalization. That's all. I hope you understand.


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Posted by NorthPA
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 5, 2012 at 6:49 pm

It would be nice to have a cross walk somewhere in between Embarcadero and California Avenue to give walkers an bikers a safe place to cross.


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Posted by Adam
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

@NorthPA Technically if a pedestrian wanted to cross at any intersection along the street they would have the right away, with or with out a crosswalk painted. A cyclist on his or her bike is bound to the same right of way as a vehicle however, regardless of a crosswalk.


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Posted by Trudy
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

This morning off Embarcadero, I saw an SUV on its side. Does anyone know anything about that accident?


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Posted by bicyclists have to realize
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm

The speed limit on Middlefield Road is 25mph, but most cars go 35 or 40mph. Cops rarely enforce the speed limit, except sometimes around San Antonio Road. You need to allow 50% more space then on other 25mph streets.


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Posted by Billy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Unless there is something weird about this accident, it's unlikely if we will find out who was at fault. The paper will will be filed by the police, and the public will not be informed as to whom they believe to be at fault, and why.


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Driver and Cyclist: both of you made big assumptions.
The article actually doesn't say anything about who was at fault. Look at it again; you've both assumed the cyclist ran the stop sign, but it doesn't say that. If every person involved had followed the letter of the law the article would read exactly the same. Maybe they did, and it was just an accident.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm



There are enough home surveillance cameras at that location to solve the matter--together with multiple eye witnesses and the cars on board computer--together with skid marks.

At that time, at that location, it is impossible to drive at more than 15 MPH--traffic is backed up in both directions--because of the schools

Hope the cyclist has a lot of money and a lot of insurance--actually the insurance may not pay if he ran a stop sign

He may be facing very major economic and very serious criminal consequences if he is at fault in this matter


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Posted by Big Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm

To say that the cars had to be travelling 15 mph is simply an assumption, and having lived here my whole life, I would argue a false assumption at that. Often when there is an unfortunate occurence between a cyclist and a car we get people chiming in, releasing their negative vibes in favor of one side or the other, as if they were there at the site of the collision, so sure of themselves in their misguided beliefs which they have formulated to fit their already made up minds. How convenient. To get on here and repeatedly make statements like the cyclist should be prosecuted if at fault is simply out of line, and only serves to further divide an already polarized society. Ease off the accusations, and come down from your high horse and try to muster up a little compassion instead of adding insult to injury.


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Posted by Bob-F
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:53 pm

NorthPA - a crosswalk would only be relevant in this situation if the bicyclist got off his bike and walked it across the street. As long as he's riding it, he is a "vehicle" and subject to all vehicular laws


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

How fast would a car have to be going to throw a bicyclist 20 feet into the air?


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Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 5, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I'm surprised by all the post rage. Some poor guy got banged up pretty bad. I'm sure the driver of the car feels terrible too. I don't think we need to jump to conclusions and point fingers. A better takeaway from this, for me as a daily cyclist, and for me as an occasional driver, is to be more watchful and careful. Biking here is a pleasure. Many of our kids bike to school every day. Mine did. We need to look out for one another, not condemn each other.


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Posted by bill g
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Driver. The last line of the article states, "Seale Avenue has a stop sign at the intersection while Middlefield does not."

The time of the accident was not given. It merely said, "Monday afternoon". The speed of cars on Middlefield, which may or may not have been slowed due to student pickups, is conjecture.

I have frequently seen both drivers and bicyclists run stop signs.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Whoa! That's terrible. My kids ride back and forth to Jordan along Webster and I insist they cross at N CA at the light.... Though I have found even crossing with the light to be pretty hair-raising as a driver AND as a cyclist. The light at Embarcadero is just as scary and I've been in too many close calls there in spite of 4-way reds, mobs of kids and parents and crossing guards. Regardless of who was at fault, the cyclist always loses. Let's ALL slow down, stop pointing fingers and be grateful that the cyclist wasn't killed.


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Posted by poor cars
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:52 pm

cmon car drivers stop playing innocent, you all know you look down at your cell phones


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 5, 2012 at 11:07 pm

@Sharon
"very serious criminal consequences" ?
[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


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Posted by South PA Cyclist
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm

The accident at Alma and San Antonio: The cyclist
was crossing with the light, when a south-bound auto
apparently did not see the light (glare from a low sun
at 7:00 AM), and ran right into him. As I was going past
the ambulance had already taken the cyclist to the hospital.
He was apparently knocked out briefly on impact, and thrown
some distance through the air. "Good thing he wore a helmet"
I heard this from a witness and the MV police who had responded.
The car, a mid-sized sedan, had a smashed windshield.
the bike was there, waiting to be picked up by the
PA police. The rear wheel rim had been bent and
cracked on impact. My best wishes for that cyclist's recovery.

Sobering.


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Posted by not real
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Re: Sharon's comments. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] "At that time, at that location, it is impossible to drive at more than 15 MPH--traffic is backed up in both directions--because of the school" I liove near there and that can only be labeled as a complete fabrication. The traffic, generally speaking back ups up maybe to N CA SOUTHBOUND. The car here was NORTHBOUND (I couldn't keep my finger off the caps lock, sorry) when it would be an extemely rare occurence for any backup to occur at any time since the light at Embarcadero is several hundred yards ahead.


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Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Mar 6, 2012 at 12:49 am

Thanks South PA Cyclist. I saw the broken bike on Alma and wondered what happened. I went past it around 7:50am. PAPD was on scene.


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Posted by rose
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

Bikes not stopping at stop signs are a big problem. I see the JLS kids ride their bikes home after school everyday ignoring all the stop signs on Meadow Drive. the schools should have traffic workshop in middle school for cyclists.


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Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

"Bikes not stopping at stop signs are a big problem."

You know, how big a problem can that be, really? Does it mean you have to drive a little more cautiously? Does it mean you have to linger at a stop sign, or approach an intersection more watchfully? Biking is such a good alternative to cars, I think we should do everything possible to encourage and accomodate it, even to the point of tolerating some heedlessness by bikers. Many of them are kids, after all.

I understand that bikes should follow the same rules as cars. Most do. In fact, I'll wager that bikers follow the rules of the road, on average, as well as drivers. It's hard to break the speed limit on a bike, for instance. But driving two tons of metal means you have a greater responsibility to those who are walking or biking. You can kill them. They can't hurt you. Meanwhile, you're not having to breathe their exhaust.


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Posted by Confused
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:15 am

South PA Cyclist:

Really confused by your comment "The accident at Alma and San Antonio: The cyclist was crossing with the light". The accident was supposed to be at Middlefield and Seale - where there is no light. Also, there is no light at Alma and San Antonio - San Antonio has an overpass over Alma.

Bikes not stopping is a problem!!! Just yesterday I saw a woman with a front "bucket" on wheels run a red light crossing El Camino. The front bucket had what appeared to be two children in it and the light for El Camino had changed to green before she even passed the half way point. She counted on every driver in the three lanes with a green light noticing that she was still approaching. I agree they should look before starting up from the stop, that is the best way - but putting two children in harms way (ahead of her!!), when there is no guarantee, just does not make sense. Why is it a cars should be more careful vs bikes should stop at stop signs/lights? IT SHOULD BE BOTH, that is the way to save lives and live healthier!!


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Posted by bikertoo
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

As a regular biker I must completely agree with drivers who complain about some bikers ignoring stop signs. The law says complete stop, bike physics and risks might safely allow a slow (< 5MPH) rolling stop after insuring you haev right-of-way,but I see many bikers blast through at 10-15 MPH with a get out of my way I'm coming through attitude. That is just plain incendiary poor citizenship and selfishness, same as the packs of cyclists who take up the full traffic lane when there is a bike lane, forcing cars into the oncoming lane.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

@Mac, I think the bikers who really bug people are the ones who blow through stops signs (and traffic lights at times) with no regard to other traffic. I don't see those often, but even once in a while leaves a big impression. It is something you very rarely see cars do - it is not a rolling stop. I see it at Bryant and Homer from time to time and as a result I am paranoid every time I drive down Homer.

I am an avid biker, and that behavior makes me angry because it reflects badly on all bikers and makes drivers less willing to accommodate them. Many, even most, drivers wave bikers through if they meet at a controlled intersection and most are quite careful of bikers. But a small percentage of drivers AND bikers make it tough for the rest of us.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:23 am

Parent, I agree w/your good post. I'm so glad it wasn't worse!! When my spouse was hit while cycling, the driver was at fault & I'm glad her car was damaged because it gave me hope that the cost to her would remind her to be more cautious.


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Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

@Me Too

You're right, of course. There is no excuse for bad bike behavior like aggressively blowing through stop signs. Still, my plea is that we not get mad about it. A bike/car collision is not a fair contest. Drivers of cars must accept, I believe, a greater responsibility for avoiding those. I'm not suggesting we give bikers a pass. Write them tickets for traffic violations. Have the schools do more to train kids. But when push comes to shove, it should be up to the person driving the car to do everything possible to avoid hitting a pedestrian or a biker, even stupid pedestrians or bikers.


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Posted by Appalled Rich Eccentric
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:48 am

This is why I never ride my recumbent bike down Middlefield Road.


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:54 am

I agree that drivers of cars need to be extra cautious because of the great number of bicyclists in Palo Alto. Drivers need to assume that bicyclists will make mistakes like running stop signs or riding in pedestrian crosswalks.

However, bicyclists needs to realize that their carelessness can cost them their health or even their life.

Other than running lights, what frightens this driver of cars are those bicyclists who ride at night in dark clothing and with little or no illumination or reflection.


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Posted by Caution
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:05 am

The Seale-Middlefield intersection is a hazard for everyone. The city should not allow parking along Middlefield so close to the intersection. The view of traffic coming on Middlefield is hidden from anyone -- cyclist OR motorist OR pedestrian -- who is trying to cross Middlefield at Seale.


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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:05 am

Okay, is just me or does anyone else KNOW that a car vs bike...car wins.
It's great to be right, but how about dead right?
I would think that bikes should be the more aware and cars should definitely be more cautious around bikes who think they are cars!

I live on E Meadow and 2 of my kids have been hit on the corner of E Meadow & Middlefield, both in the crosswalk on a green light. After that, they paid more attention to cars - we also told them to make sure they make eye contact when crossing.


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Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

This topic is a good opportunity for the Palo Alto Police to do some community outreach in a positive way.

There is widespread misinformation about what is expected from bicyclist.

As an illustration, the day after my 11-year-old daughter partipated in "Bike to School" day, she was riding with me in the car and said, "Dad, don't stop at the stop signs. You don't have to stop unless someone is in the intersection." (Needless to say, we turned that into a teaching moment about bicyclists needing to obey ALL car laws.

She had learned this protocal at "Bike to School day." There are no shortage of Palo Alto intersections that have bikes racing at 30-plus MPH through stop signs, and failure to enforce has normalized that behaviour.

When someone gets hurt or dies, it does not matter that the bicyclistat fault -- nobody wants injury or harm.

We have much to gain towards being a "Bicycle Friendly Community" by establishing a community standard of rules for sharing the road, having clear rules to teach our children, and having the biking community consistently demonstrate compliance with those rules.

This calls for a solid Community Service education effort by the Palo Alto police.

All this is offered in the Spirit of keeping our children alive.

Tim Gray


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Posted by cyclist too
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

I must respond to "confused". When starting across el camino on a bike from a complete stop, the standard light cycle often does not give a slow cyclist time to cross the street.....when pushing a heavy weight as well, the cyclist is even slower. The alternative to being patient for the few times you need to wait for a cyclist to complete the trip across the street would be much longer waits everytime the light cycles. At the same time given cars crossing well after the light turns, don't you already check to see if the intersection is clear before proceeding.


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Posted by rem
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:18 am

rem is a registered user.

HAY or is it HEY cyclist::::

STATE law REQUIRES cyclists to FOLLOW the same laws as a motor vehicle i.e., car or truck.

I have been on Middlefield Rd., mornings and afternoons, going to and from work at Onizuka Air Force Station and if I had a "dime" for every moving target that crossed in front of me I WOULD BE RICH..

How about this one - You are on Middlefield, East of Whisman where the center divide ends and an IDIOT in the East Bike lane "cuts" in front of you to West Bike lane on the other side STILL GOING EAST. That is four lane plus a Suicide Lane in the middle. Let see vehicle 4000 lb - cyclist, maybe 150 to 200 lb. Car during 25 MPH..

JUST REMEMBER - STATE law REQUIRES cyclists to FOLLOW the same laws as a motor vehicle


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Posted by Alex
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:38 am

"STATE law REQUIRES cyclists to FOLLOW the same laws as a motor vehicle"

No. Motorists and cyclists both have to follow the same laws as drivers of vehicles, but there are additional laws addressing each group that do not apply to the other.


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Posted by Seale neighbor
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:57 am

I live at Seale and Middlefield. One post above, Caution is correct - cars allowed to park on Middlefield block the view of everyone, either crossing the street or continuing on Middlefield. In addition, traffic on Seale is fast and furious going crosstown. The only worse intersection is the one at Fulton, a half a block away, where there is no stop at all (someone is going to get killed there at Christmas time when drivers turn off their lights to look at the holiday lights). We try never to cross Middlefield traffic but head north on MF to Tennyson and then west to get to Paly. Another solution is to at least put a speed bump on Seale.


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Posted by A driver
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Tim Gray always has excellent, common sense comments. But here in Palo Alto, when misinformation is repeated enough, it just becomes accurate for many bloggers.

The Weekly is not likely to follow up on details of this particular accident, because history shows that follow-up is not their strong suit. Speculation and misinformation seems to be enough to satisfy most. Am I correct, sirs and madames?


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Posted by Bottom line
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm

The bottom line is that the feeling of entitlement that is so pervasive in Palo Alto implies that both cyclists and drivers feel like they own the road and use roadways as if they are alone on them or as if they naturally have the right of way over anyone else on the road. With the results we see more and more often...

The blame is both on drivers and on cyclists IMHO, and more generally on the insufferable sense of entitlement that reigns in this town.


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Posted by Davey-o
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm

"It is very doubtful that the woman driver was speeding, at that time traffic in that are is at a crawl with tons of parents who have picked up their kids from Jordan etc."

Not true. The pickup rush is well over by then. At that time it's the "Golden Hour" (the last hour before the evening commute stops-up most of the roads, when drivers drive 15-20 mph over the limit to get where they're going before the gridlock.)

I know; I bike the local roads daily!

Both bike-riders and drivers need to use caution and pay full attention. Of the two, drivers, including myself, are most often less attentive than they need to be.


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Posted by Driver and biker
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I'm amazed at the anti cyclist sentiment of some of these posts. What's the downside to the driver? A broken windshield. Downside to the cyclist? Who knows what his injuries are after being hurled 20 ft. in the air? I'm very concerned about my kids biking to school and sharing the road with some of these drivers.


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Posted by Jimmmy
a resident of Monroe Park
on Mar 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I've read all of these comments and I think you guys are all missing the big picture.

Sean Connery was the best Bond. Hands down.


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Posted by Peter Smith
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

It's true that intersection needs daylighting. We need to get rid of all the car parking on Middlefield and install cycletracks, so normal people can actually bike on Middlefield instead of being shuffled off into the dark alleys of adjacent neighborhoods. If Middlefield is for transportation then it should be for...transportation, not car storage.

It is most likely the driver was speeding and engaged with various other activities -- gabbing on the phone, texting, checking directions, fiddling w/ the radio, etc. To point out the obvious, it's not possible to hit another human being full-on unless you're just not paying attention -- or, if you intend to hit someone -- too many drivers get away with that -- dead men tell no tales.

Many of those streets are super-dark, too -- with daylighting or not, speeding cars in low-light situations will inevitably produce terror and injury and death. I used to walk/jog/bike/drive that area often -- just getting across the street on foot required one to scurry like a cockroach -- not a very dignified existence. It doesn't have to be this way, but after being a pioneering bike town, the Palo Alto council couldn't be bothered for the last 30 years. Maybe that will change someday.

Web Link


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Posted by AM Driver
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Let me preface this with - Both my husband myself are bike riders. As a driver, I think that I "get" both sides of the risks and dangers of cycling.

Each morning on my way to my teaching job, I drive down Ross Rd at the same time students are ridiing to elementary and middle school. It is a nightmare. Students often ride in wide pack and the majority breeze right through most stop signs. I have been driving this route for many years and each time I approach a stop sign and prepare to continue, I wait, because often a lone cyclist will appear and not stop. The packs of riders are actually harder to miss. To compound matters, the sun is often blinding at that time of the day.

I worry about drivers who are not familiar school rush hour chaos. Education and awareness needs to be on both the driver and rider.


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Posted by stay safe please utmost
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I agree with Mac and Timothy.
Pedestrians and bikers get the brunt of a crash with a car! so keep your eyes out, and wait or walk the bike if there is a real issue of safety.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

My husband was also hit by a car on Monday, March 5, 2012. He was biking across Alma on his way to the San Antonio train station when a car ran a red light. Is there any other city street in Palo Alto where cars drive faster than Alma at the Mountain View border?

Jim's condition is stable; the doctors have stopped the bleeding in his brain cavity. I am so relieved in finding that he will survive that I have ignored his other injuries. Nevertheless, Wednesday, he's scheduled to leave the ICU and start physical therapy.

Unfortunately, the Palo Alto Police are so overworked that police report has yet to be released. Not only do we not know the details of the accident, but I just found out the location of the accident occurred this afternoon.

If you witnessed this accident, and would like to share some of the details, I would like to hear from you.
Please contact me at sundback@gmail.com


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Posted by Another Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Driver,

It doesn't say the cyclist ran the stop sign or was at fault. Here's what it it does say,

"Police said the bicyclist may have misjudged the amount of time it would take him to cross Middlefield..."

Official blame has not been assigned. Perhaps you could suspend judgement for the time being.

Basically, you don't bike and you don't think bicyclists belong on the road. I think everyone gets the point.


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Posted by Driver
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I think it is time I defended my comments again.

Although I am a driver, I also ride my bike and my kids ride their bikes to school every day.

I am a very cautious driver and I am also a very cautious bicycle rider. I am well aware that as a bicycle rider I should obey stop signs and other requirements of road vehicles. I am aware that if a car hits me on my bike, I am likely to be more injured than the car driver. This fact alone makes me very cautious. However, I am probably the lone bike stopping at a stop sign on many occasions.

As a driver, I know my responsibility, but I find that bikes are most unpredictable in their behavior. They not only often fail to stop at stop signs, but they are unlikely to signal their intentions to turn, cross the street for no reason, and change lanes without looking over their shoulder to see if it is clear to overtake a parked car (for example).

As someone above says, it is better to be cautious than dead right. It is better to make it safely than to get in an accident.

I would like all drivers to pay attention to this story. I would like all bike riders to pay attention to this story.

I have no idea if the bike stopped at the stop sign. If he had stopped at this intersection and looked before crossing, he may not have misjudged the time it would take to cross. Since he is an adult, the likelihood is that he is also a driver. If he had been in his car, he likely would not have misjudged his ability to cross Middlefield. For this reason, I urge reason.

No one has a right to ignore safety or flaunt the laws of road use. This includes those that drive, those that ride bikes, and those that walk.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm

It is interesting how these events bring out the accusations when information is incomplete. Possible scenarios:

1. No one's fault. Driver going speed limit but couldn't see cyclist because of ???; cyclist's judgement (after stopping at stopsign) was that there was more than enough time to cross. Accidents do happen.
2. Driver at fault. Cyclist stopped at stop sign, but driver was speeding or on cell phone or distracted in some way and did not see cyclist.
3. Cyclist at fault. Ran stop sign or a dare devil tempting fate, or ???; driver going speed limit or slower and did their best to stop.
4. Some other version.

Reality: NONE of us knows which scenario applies, thus blaming/ judging seems a bit foolish at this stage. Expressing the best of our humanity seems wise and compassionate, thus wishing the cyclist and the driver the very best seems appropriate -- both need support to heal after such an awful physical and psychological trauma.


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Posted by just me
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

just gotta love palo alto.


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Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

It's a pretty un-level playing field out there. Cars have big lanes all to themselves. More often than not, bikes have to scurry along between parked cars and cars overtaking them from behind, choosing between the risk of being "doored" and the risk of being clipped (or worse) from behind. It's just not right to talk about bikes as if they enjoy the same road privileges, and therefore bear the same responsibility, as cars. Maybe one day, but not as things now stand. In view of that, I say again, the burden for not causing a car/bike collision should be on the driver of the car. I assure you, no biker wants to collide with a car, so you don't have to worry that this would give carte blanche for chaos. What it would do is put the greater burden on the one who can cause the greater harm. I would even support a local ordinance imposing strict liability, without regard to fault, on any driver of a vehicle that hits a cyclist. I know this sounds harsh, and vaguely un-American, but we have to do something to stop this carnage. Especially since so many kids are involved. We just can't expect them to be as careful as adults.


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Posted by Jimmy
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Dont you people have jobs or something else to do? This is crazy... Cyclists and drivers alike, please proceed with caution and respect for one another. peace out.


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Posted by Kris
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I just don't think this town's infrastructure is designed to safely integrate the volume of both bicycles and cars that are out there. It is quite congested and dangerous to navigate in any kind of efficient way for either.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

Bottom line & Kris have both nailed the problems accurately. I'm so sorry this person was hit & the cyclist on Alma.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

I use this intersection often and I have seen a couple of car vs car accidents there. One definitely was a driver that misjudged how long it would take to cross Middlefield and hit another vehicle.

In addition to parked cars, there are two bus stops, large trees and an oleander bush (the bush should should just come down) making the visibility less than ideal. Seale is a major crossing point - the only one that goes from Newell straight to Alma between Embarcadero and Oregon. Adding a stop sign or at least a crosswalk would make it a lot safer Lots of car traffic, lots of bikes, kids walking to and from school etc. As mentioned earlier, the only crosswalks are at Embarcadero and at North California, way too far apart for all the school traffic.


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Posted by Penny
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Tim Gray,

If your daughter attends PAUSD schools, she either misheard or misunderstood what was taught. At district bike safety programs children are taught to follow CA vehicle code which REQUIRES bicyclists to come to a full stop at STOP signs. We teach them that they must "put their foot down on the ground" and come to a full stop and look all directions for oncoming vehicles, and to look drivers in the eye to make sure that they are seen before proceeding into the intersection.

She is a child, so she made a mistake. Please check your facts before attacking an excellent program in a public forum.

Nonetheless, I'm glad to know that you are bicycling with your daughter. The best way to teach children how to be safe on the street is to REGULARLY practise, practise, practise with them, providing thoughtful reminders until safety skills become HABITS. You'll be very glad you took the time to teach your child skills that will keep her safe her whole life.


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Posted by newdowntown
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Cyclists are very vulnerable but many are sport unpredictable behavior and lack of visibility. If it is hard for me to figure which direction they want to go how very hard it must be for new drivers of every age, the elderly and the unfamiliar with local roads? Drivers' reaction time is not all the same and trusting that by miracle the biker won't be hit if they decide to dart across the road, seems to me a recipe for suicide. The cyclist in this accident doesn't seem to have been at fault-after all misjudging distances or speeds is not a matter of fault- but the cyclist is nevertheless responsible for the accident (assuming the article is correct). It's an accident, not a criminal act.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Parent, I agree also. Alan, running a stop sign is not a 'mistake', it is a decision to do the wrong thing. Yes, it may have terrible consequences for the cyclist, but also for the driver, who has to live with having harmed someone, however inadvertently.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm

With these 2 recent accidents in mind, I watched today how poorly cyclists & drivers handled the road. Cars of course speeding, & if you stay close to the speed limit, as we did, folks zip dangerously close, then around you. Then of course there are the spaced out meanderers, who're dangerous not because they're slow, but because they're clearly idiots behind the wheel.

Then, there're the cyclists...ignoring stop signs, cycling fast at dusk, dodging traffic. The best was when we were stopped at a stop sign, watching the teen blow through the same sign & while we'd signaled to turn left, he cut us off in our car - at night, sans helmet, then to cap it all, he continued by riding on the wrong side of the street. Crescent Park almost lost a young one today, but since I was being careful, he didn't hit us or vice versa. What could possibly have inspired him, or the other lousy cyclists & speeding drivers, to behave so dangerously? I have many theories, of course, but whatever their supposedly important reasons, none of the reasons is as important as our safety & theirs. On the positive, I didn't see any of these idiots on their phones.


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Posted by Walker and Driver
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I am so sick of cyclists ignoring traffic laws, stop signs, riding two by two outside the bike lane lane, riding on sidewalks, going the wrong way, and so many of them arrogant and rude on top of everything. I hope they hold the cyclist responsible financially if he is found at fault. I am also sick of the aggressive and impatient drivers. A pedestrian can barely cross the street with his life (and I am talking about rude drivers AND cyclists here).


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