Posted by Neighbor, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 9:39 am
What sort of selfish inhumane jerk runs someone over in their car and just keeps right on going? Lets find him and arrest him...lovely this all happened in a school zone minutes before the kids got out.
I hope he gets sued into the stone age after they catch him.
Posted by I, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 10:41 am
It may be that the car signaled to turn right and the bicyclist didn't stop in time, so as the car was turning the corner didn't feel he had hit anyone. Yes, the car could be at fault, so could the bike rider. Sorry to hear the bike rider had to go to hospital.
Posted by resident, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 10:49 am
Don't blame the victim. The SUV driver clearly cut off the bicyclist. The bicyclist was extra visible wearing a reflective safety vest, so the driver must have seen him, but then the driver cut the corner anyway. The driver is required by law to wait behind the bicyclist until the corner was clear. Never ever try to pass a bicyclist near an intersection, especially if you are turning across his or her path.
Posted by Cyclist, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 11:00 am
I ride that stretch frequently, and there are often drivers who cut that corner. The worst offender I've experienced was a woman who cut the corner, and then proceeded to stop dead in the bike lane to have a chat on her cell phone... these are BIKE lanes folks, NOT convenient cell phone chatting lanes...
As for "seeing" the cyclist, it's not clear what happened. All of us drive cars more on "auto pilot" at times than we might care to admit, and our brains have not always been trained to see cyclists as vehicles (as they should). I've seen this happen when I cycle up to a 4-way stop in full sunlight, wearing bright colors, and a car comes after my arrival to the 4-way stop, but still doesn't seem to "see" me and proceeds forward (or starts to) without giving me the right of way.
At the same time, there are also many courteous, thoughtful, and careful drivers who do respect cyclists -- thank you! The reason cyclists have to ride super-defensively is because there are too many "auto pilots" and in a collision, the cyclist always loses, even when in the right...
Thanks to all drivers who pay attention to cyclists, and grant them the same status and courtesies as they do for other vehicles on the road.
Posted by Annette, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm
It's terribly unfortunate that someone was hurt. I often bike that route to work and the "scary" factor is increasing all over town and on campus. The SUV driver may be an irresponsible jerk who disregards bicyclists OR he may be a driver who just didn't see the biker. I know when I am out there I am quite certain that many drivers honestly do not see me, regardless of lights and reflectors. It can be treacherous out there, especially at dusk (which I know this was not). Cyclist: I hope you are healing well.
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of Los Altos, on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm
@I: Let's be clear about right turns. If a motorist makes a right turn with no stop sign or light (which is true in this case), and a bicycle hits the rear of the vehicle, then that means the motorist cut off the bicyclist. Period. The proper way to make a right turn is as follows: (0) Turn your signal on. (1) Check your mirrors and blind spot. (2) If a bicycle is coming from behind you, slow to let the bicycle pass, *just as you would if you were merging into a motor traffic lane* and a car was coming from behind. (3) Pull as close to the curb as possible. (4) Now you can turn.
@Mom: I'm very glad you brought up the point that you "routinely see student bicyclists flying through the stop signs without stopping." That's an extremely subtle and important finding whose significance for the collision this article is describing -- particularly because there is no stop sign controlling the turn from Middlefield onto N CA and no student cyclists were involved -- would be hard to understate.
Folks: The right hook is dangerous. Cyclists, learn to be aware of the possibility when you're coming up to an intersection. Drivers, try to use your signals more. Even if you fail to yield to the bicyclist or pull near to the curb -- even if you don't bother to look for bicyclists at all -- a turn signal can do so much to help the cyclist maneuver out of the way. Not sure whether the SUV driver in this article used a signal, but I bet the driver didn't. As an experienced cyclist myself, I have standard, very effective procedures to accommodate a right-turning signalling vehicle that is mutually beneficial. If the vehicle pulls ahead of me (setting up to hook me unintentionally), then I just merge into the traffic lane behind and coast past as the vehicle turns right. Very simple and effective. But if a car doesn't at least signal, I can't set up for that maneuver.
Posted by A, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm
I have to say some of the worst driving and most congested traffic I have seen occurs around schools during the mad dash to drop off kids in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. I think the best thing Palo Alto could do to alleviate traffic is to have school buses. Even if the city can not afford them, I have a feeling the parents of kids who could use them would be willing to chip in for their cost. Kids pay for the VTA bus to Gunn and that is always packed in the morning.
Posted by Ducatigirl, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm
I bikeride in this area almost daily, and cars never, ever stop before turning right at this intersection. Many do not even slow down. I am honestly amazed that this hasn't happened sooner, or to a school kid .
Posted by Martha, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm
I moved to Mountain View, but my old nabe (much missed) was Midtown. I worked at Jordan, and have driven by and turned at that intersection many, many times. I agree with 100% bicycle commuter. Bicyclists need to know that the rules of the road apply to them, and the same for motorists. They need to FOLLOW those rules. The turn off Oregon Expressway onto Waverley is particularly hazardous, as students don't look and just breeze through the intersection. I think there should be a sign there warning the students. Also for the motorists to be sure to look to their right as they're turning.
Posted by Sonny, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm
@ 100% bicycle commuter;
I bicycle regularly as well as drive a motor vehicle. I agree with most of what you are saying;
however, how does one check his blind spots? Blind spots are just that--blind spots. When i bicycle I am always in a defensive position (assuming that the larger more dangerous vehicle
has the right of way). The cyclist may be right or he may be dead right. There was a bicyclist fatality some years ago at northbound Bryant at Oregon Expressway. A city contractor was driving a dump truck and waiting at the stop light. A cyclist rode to his blind spot and waited for the light to change as well. Unfortunately, the dump truck driver took the right turn by swinging wide (as most large vehicles do.) Cyclists, I am with you all the way, but please ride defensively! Most motor vehicles have a blind spot. Be aware
Posted by resident, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm
The article says the bicyclist and SUV were both heading north on Middlefield when the SUV turned right. Sounds to me like the SUV sped past the bicyclist, then cut off the bicyclist before the bicyclist could stop. There is nothing that the bicyclist could do to avoid this kind of collision, except perhaps to ride in the middle of the lane to force cars to change lanes to pass him. That kind of safe bicycling does work if there are multiple lanes in each direction, but can get you run over from behind on streets with lots of reckless drivers.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm
Jan's right. I turn right there often & I'm very careful. If there's too much traffic and/or the lame student cyclists who are dangerous, and/or their parents, I just skip turning there.
I see WAY too many students blow through stop signs. The most recent was the other day, on Churchill near Waverley. And what's up w/the idiot cyclists riding w/the cars in the underpasses, instead of on the sidewalk? You can't even see them well enough.
Certainly in this case, it sounds like the driver was at fault; moreoever, if he knew about the collision & kept going, he needs to be nailed for it. But some of these comments make it sound like all cyclists are perfect darlings who obey the traffic laws & the big bad cars are always the ones making the mistakes - not even close.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm
PLEASE. Although not regarding this particular intersection, it is absolutely crazy on Newell between Embarcadero and N. Calif. The kids going to Jordan in the morning NEVER stop at the stop signs. A cop car posted nearby, AND ticketing the bikers would help the situation. At least, it would get the students' attention....
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of Los Altos, on Dec 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm
@Sonny: "how does one check his blind spots?"
Good point. I was using language geared toward motorists, so it's definitely fair for a non-motorist cyclist to ask. A "blind spot" is one of many areas not directly observable when driving; however, part of driver training is learning how to use multiple observation means -- moving one's head, using mirrors, gathering information over time -- to reduce the missing information in theory to zero. See here for more: Web Link)
On the subject of blind spots, I strong recommend all cyclists use a rear-view mirror. So very helpful. Certainly any serious adult cyclist should.
By the way, I see at least one commentor missed my dripping sarcasm in my reply to @Mom. Bringing up irrelevant and tired complaints about cyclist behavior (especially that of kids) in *every single article* about bicycling is annoying and counterproductive. It shows that the complainer has no interest in thinking about what he or she can do to make commuting better for everyone.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Dec 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm
What, you're the arbiter of all that's counterproductive? Get a clue. The local kids absolutely NEED to change their dangerous behavior. So do Stanford students. Amazing how you can read minds about what commenters may or may not be doing "to make commuting better for everyone." Here's an idea: Cycle more carefully. Stop at stop signs. Those two actions will be a good start.
I see fewer cyclists than drivers, but far more cyclists that behave as if they want the rights of pedestrians AND drivers w/out obeying the requisite laws.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm
Couple of things. Yes, it does sound like the driver was at fault, but I wasn't there.
However, most bike riders (and this was a grown man, not a student) seem to think that they are invincible, that no matter what they do, cars will get out of their way, will see them, and have divine knowledge as to what they intend to do. Yes, this guy was wearing a vest which is unusual in Palo Alto (kudos to him) but riding a bike defensively means looking out at what is going on.
Bike riders need to watch the traffic, look at cars turn signals, brake lights, watch if someone has just entered the car and it is about to move, etc. etc. Bicycle bells are good too because in a situation where you think a driver (or a pedestrian or even another bike) isn't aware you are there, you can ring the bell to help you be seen.
As I said, this sounds like the driver was at fault but it doesn't mean that it can't be a reminder to all of us that we all have to be aware of other road users.
Posted by Paly Alum, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Dec 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm
I learned to drive in Palo Alto, at Paly after school, and since we have bike lanes here, we were instructed to pull into the bike lane when the line breaks when turning right. This way, a bike can clearly see the car is going to turn. Many drivers in town break this law so often and do not realize it.
The SUV driver may have freaked out and left the scene, hoping it didn't occur. Also, bicyclists here are often very vocal so maybe the driver wanted to avoid it. Not saying any of this is the correct reaction, just pointing out that the driver had poor judgement and is not the Devil.
Posted by Janet L, a resident of Mountain View, on Dec 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm
For everyone who thinks the bike rider has fault in cases like these:
Imagine you're driving your car on a four lane road (e.g. Embarcadero). You're going 25 mph in the right lane and a UPS truck passes you in the left lane going about 35 mph and then suddenly crosses your lane to turn right.
That's what a right hook is like for a bike. You can't see the UPS truck coming from behind you and if you did you have no reason to expect that it's planning to turn in front of you.
I know. It happened to me riding in the bike lane on Middlefield in Mountain View years ago. A guy driving a Suburban turned right in front of me to enter a gas station. I crashed into his rear fender and broke my arm when I fell.
Because his SUV was so big, he had no idea we collided. He was shocked when got out to pump his gas and everyone yelled at him. What he said: "I was focused on getting through the light before it turned red and getting into the gas station."
Posted by Driver&Bicyclist, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm
As someone who bikes and drives, it's my impression that both bicyclists and motorists break road rules and/or drive/bike carelessly, as though they're the only type of vehicle on the road. I could go on and on about motorist behavior in town and on the freeway, but see loads of scary biking behavior as well. I think we need much better biker AND driver education. I confess that I did not know that as a motorist you're supposed to pull over into the bike lane (close to the curb) before turning right -- after checking that no one's in the lane of course. It makes sense, as it's the same logic that requires that you pull into the right-hand car lane before turning right, but I was unaware. Thanks to 100% bicycle commuter for mentioning it.
By the same token, bicyclists who zoom across the street in the pedestrian walk, or travel the wrong way down the street (which happens daily when Paly lets out), or turn left from the bike lane rather than moving over into the car lane when it's safe to do so are also ignoring the rules of the road. I agree with Hmmm that Palo Alto kids (but not only kids) need to learn how to bike on the roads safely. We could do with some support from police near the schools to help educate everyone.
Posted by resident, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm
I can't believe that people are saying that the victim was a Paly student bicycling on the wrong side of the road. The article clearly states that he is a man in his 50s who was obviously bicycling legally on the right side of Middlefield. The man was injured seriously enough to be hospitalized. Out of respect for the victim, please stick to the subject. Don't whine about what he obviously was not doing.
Posted by musical, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm
The next victim may be a Paly student bicycling on the wrong side of the road. Did anyone claim that for this victim? All road accident threads turn into and combo of education and griping.
Thanks for the link, 100% bicycle, but as a driver I still need clarification whether I should pull into the bike lane even when the delineating line is still solid, as it usually is at driveways, and how to argue the resulting citation if an officer is present.
And perhaps one of my courtesies is misguided: On approach to a red light where I plan a right turn, but will be waiting behind one or two other vehicles going straight, do I leave room for bikes to pass on my right or do I plug the bike lane completely?
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm
Paly students do ride their bikes the wrong way down Churchill but not excusing them, it is quite apparent why they do it. They are riding along the left side of the driveway on campus, turn left onto a wide bike/pedestrian path designed to meet up with the path beside Caltrain tracks. Then they continue onwards to cross Alma and stay on the left because it is almost impossible at that stage to cross to the right.
Crossing at the exit to Paly and then staying in a bike lane that is in the middle of two lanes of traffic seems pretty dangerous, particularly for the large number of bikes that are there after school. There just isn't enough space for the bikes to wait for the light to change, particularly if there is a train coming and the gates come down.
I am not sure of a solution, but something needs to be done to address this.
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of Los Altos, on Dec 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm
@musical: "Thanks for the link, 100% bicycle, but as a driver I still need clarification whether I should pull into the bike lane even when the delineating line is still solid, as it usually is at driveways."
You raise an excellent point. At intersections, the solid white line marking the bicycle lane becomes dashed, but at commercial driveways, it often does not. This might be a good question for Gary Richards over at Roadshow.
Above all, however, I simply recommend that drivers use turn signals. A right-turn signal helps both the the cyclist and the motorist, so there's no reason not to use it. If a driver does nothing right except use a turn signal, and a bicyclist does nothing right except pay attention to what's going on to his left and in front of him, a right hook won't happen. (Nobody has to say it; I know: two big ifs.) As an experienced cyclist, I can tell you that the difference between a car turning with and without a turn signal is just huge.
@Outside Observer: "Cycling is dangerous. So, a question for the cyclists. If you acknowledge it is dangerous, why do you do it?"
I can answer only for myself. I've never owned a car, am a vegetarian, etc. because I place the importance of trying to live in harmony with the earth above my own personal safety or comfort.
21717. Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100.
Section 22100 says "Both the approach for a right-hand turn and a right-hand turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway ..."
Posted by Sensible, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 9:08 pm
Outside Observer says "Cycling is dangerous. So, a question for the cyclists. If you acknowledge it is dangerous, why do you do it?"
This is a myth. Cycling per se is not dangerous, certainly not more dangerous than driving a car. Only in the United States is cycling considered inherently dangerous so that helmets are required. In other countries cycling is considered so safe that nobody wears helmets. In the US many more people die every year from car crashes than bike crashes, yet nobody questions why people drive.
If you consider single-vehicle crashes, bicycling is far safer than driving a car. It is very unusual to hear of someone dying in a single-bike crash, but people die in single-car crashes all the time (there have been 3 in the local papers in the last week). The hazard of biking in this area is from incompetent drivers, as in this case. We should not be questioning why people ride bikes but why we allow incompetent people to drive cars and endanger others on the roads.
Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community, on Dec 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm
>"we allow incompetent people to drive cars and endanger others on the roads."
Agreed, but until we get the incompetent drivers off the road, it's still dangerous, wouldn't you agree?
I'd like to see our licensing standards on par with Japan or some European countries where it really is a privilege, but as with most things here, it's become a right and is given to the least worthy among us.
If you want to get the incompetents off the road, you will have to make it politically advantageous, and I just don't see anyway that will happen in 21st century America.
Posted by Health, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm
@OO: the health benefits of biking outweigh the danger from traffic, so biking is not dangerous. Driving is dangerous to the health of the driver and anyone else in the area who needs to breath. Ask why people drive when it is not needed and causes so much damage.
Posted by resident, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm
"Agreed, but until we get the incompetent drivers off the road, it's still dangerous, wouldn't you agree?"
If we allow incompetents on our road then biking, walking and driviing are all dangerous. Driving is arguably even more dangerous because of the high speeds involved. If a car cuts me off on the freeway the way this bike got cut off the result will probably be worse than a broken arm. Let's stop blaming the victim here and put the blame on the driver where it really belongs.
Posted by All Will See, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2012 at 6:01 am
Many cyclists have started riding with these new remote cameras. They come in handy when and are sometime needed since so many (as seen here) are so quick to blame the cyclists.
I know of at least 1 instances where the camera has recorded the lic plate of the hit/run driver and it resulted in a conviction.
OK drivers, don't change how you drive, blame it all on cyclists, but get a good lawyer because a moving picture of the violation is truly worth 1000 words in the court room. The truth is now avail for all to see...rationalizing away blame won't be possible when the truth has been recorded for all to see.
Posted by daniel, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2012 at 6:59 am
That corner is one of the most dangerous in the entire town for cyclists. I wish I had a dollar for each time a car cut me off in order to turn right onto N California. The underlying problem is that N. california is a major cut-through option for drivers who want to get to 101 and don't want to use either Oregon or Embarcadero. As long as N. California, which is a residential street with two schools provides this option, there will be massive cut through traffic through it and reckless driving.
Posted by Janet L, a resident of Mountain View, on Dec 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm
Daniel nailed it: "The underlying problem is that N. california is a major cut-through option for drivers who want to get to 101 and don't want to use either Oregon or Embarcadero"
My experience riding across Palo Alto in commute hours is that people on their way to a freeway drive like they're already on it. I could always tell when 101 or Oregon was backed up because streets like Greer would suddenly have a huge bump in aggressive drivers.
Posted by All Will See, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm
Doubtful that cameras will change anyone's core behavior on the road, but it certainly will tell the tale of what happened, so if a bike runs a red light and a car hits him, it will show the driver not at fault.
All of the folks I know that ride with cameras do so because they do obey the laws and have still had issues. I think everyone has had experiences on the road with some whacked out angry operator, and wished "Man, if I only had some sort of lightweight mounted camera".
Well, technology has now given that tool to us.
I know the yayhoo in the blue pickup who threw a full beer bottle at me on Hwy 9 years ago would have had a nice visit from the police if I had my GoPro back then.
No more hiding or running away...lots of cameras watching and always recording. I use it in my car and on my bike. I look at it as insurance that the guilty will pay if I'm ever in an accident, and yes, I'm ready to accept any responsibility if the camera shows I was at fault.
Seeing the way so many drive in this area, I'm not surprised this news isn't very popular, but the truth shall set us all free.
Posted by Physics in play, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm
"It always amazes me that they ride like they have the rights of a pedestrian & the protection of a car! "
True true. The fact that there are not more car/bike accidents with all these cyclists zooming about is a quandry.
I attribute it to the fact that that though they do not have the rights of a ped. and they don't have the protection of a car they do have the maneuverability and ability to quickly avoid accidents of a bicycle.
Lets face it, either bikes are not acting crazy all the time, OR they have an ability to stop/avoid accidents that most people do not understand. Otherwise, there is no reason for the lack of more frequent bike/car accidents.
Posted by Deck the Halls, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm
Having lived here a lifetime, and having observed many, many drivers at the aforementioned intersection, it is fair to say that very, very few stop before turning right, and fewer slow down before turning.
A lot of drivers do cut through there as a shortcut to 101, and may not be Palo Alto residents, but maybe they work here. Does that make them Palo Alto drivers?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm
This corner has a bright yellow laddered crosswalk. Is it possible that this created even a slight diversion or distraction to the driver of the car, diverting his attention toward the crosswalk, away from the cyclist on his right as he approached and made the turn? State law requires only a yellow stripe at a crosswalk in proximity to schools. Palo Alto is installing laddered yellow crosswalks in proximity to schools and in school corridors under
the blanket assumption that this is always safer and appropriate. While these crosswalks are certainly appropriate and needed in some locations, are they always beneficial, as the City assumes? Anybody have any thoughts on this?
Posted by Gonna Catch You, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2012 at 6:16 am
Cameras are becoming a worldwide hit and run catching trend worldwide, and this is just the start. Nothing to fear if you're a law obeying driver, which basically means most every driver should re-evaluate thir actions on the road, and if you do mess us(it happens) you'll need to stop...or face felony charges: