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Pedestrian Safety in Midtown

Original post made by Jamie Jarvis, Midtown, on Sep 23, 2007

I'm a Midtown resident who walks my dog around the neighborhood twice a day. Drivers on the side streets near my house are usually good about stopping at the crosswalks, but I feel like I'm taking my life in my hands every time I cross Middlefield due to cars not stopping for red lights and not yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

On Sunday afternoon (9/23) a dark colored BMV (5NVW722) driven by a young woman talking on her cell phone nearly ran me and my dog over at the intersection of Middlefield and Loma Verde. We were in the crosswalk with the pedestrian walk sign. When I saw her bumper coming at my knees and could see she wasn't looking at us, I slapped the hood of her car with my hand to get her attention. She looked surprised, but instead of stopping, got annoyed and kept coming towards us. I slapped her hood again and yelled that she needed to stop for pedestrians.

At this point she pulled over to the side of the street and called the police, because I didn't have the right to touch her car. The police arrived and said it was fortunate I didn't damage her car, because I could be charged with vandalism. Does this seem absurd to anyone besides me?

Comments (19)

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Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Rights of Car Owners > Rights of Pedestrians and Cyclists.

Any questions?

(Hint, guess who generates TONS of tax revenue buying the device, fueling the device, repairing the device, etc. Which BTW, kill another car driver with a car and it is usually 'manslaughter'. Kill a cyclist or pedestrian with car, it is usually an 'accident'. hmmmm....)

I feel your pain. :/

qq


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Posted by Bob Wenzlau
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2007 at 3:16 pm

As bad as it sounds, I think you got the message to the driver.

The other day I felt that I was successful in getting this type of message across. A car went driving way to fast down the street --- and I knew the driver -- a neighborhood high school student. She was quite surprised to get a call from me as she sped by. I told her to slow down. It was awkward, but effective. In this case I was glad the kid had a cell phone in the car because it gave me a chance to get real time feed back to her. People drive fast in neighborhoods when it is anonymous.

Perhaps with our student drivers, we might someday have a system where the license plates are registered, and if you see them speeding or driving badly, you could get an email to the parents using the plates as an identifier. I know that parents (like myself) generally respond constructively to this information. It would be a car "wiki" -- sort of community policing.


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Posted by JFP
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2007 at 3:54 pm

If you were already in the crosswalk, she was the one violating the law.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 23, 2007 at 4:11 pm

JFP said...
"If you were already in the crosswalk, she was the one violating the law."

Precisely! Your rights as a pedestrian in a crosswalk are paramount. Weren't you protecting yourself by "touching" her car? Any law experts want to chime in?


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 23, 2007 at 7:09 pm

I'm just wondering whether the officer, in addiion to chastising you for touching her car, gave her a lectu about stopping for pedistrians. If not, that is a problem and I would take thetime ot mention it to the police department. The fact is, had you not alerted her, she would have hit you. Had you not hit her car a second time, causing her to pull over (albeit to call the police on you -- seriously, what nerve!), she could and may wll have clipped you nad gone on her merry way, leaving you to report another hit and run by an oblivious driver. Would the police have taken the time to follow up with her had that been the case? I don't know thatthey wouldn't have, but I really do hope the officer explained pedestrian rights to her.

I would report her to the DMV or call back the police department and insist on seeing the incident report, actually.


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2007 at 7:51 pm

There are two sides to every story, I assume the police got both of them.


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Posted by Apples
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2007 at 8:56 pm

How many times have I been almost run over at that very same intersection... It is really dangerous.

I can't believe you were cast as the villain...

And the police wants us to vote for new headquarters when they don't protect us? Long shot.


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Posted by Midtown Walker
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2007 at 9:12 pm

There are two sides to every incident like this, I can see qq that you are quite mad; take a deep breath and move on.

I cross Middlefield at Loma Verde many times on my walks around town. The intersection is no more dangerous than many others along Middlefield. Just because the little man on the pedestrian sign is indicating you can cross the street, doesn't mean that vehicles will automatically stop. Look twice and if necessary three times before crossing, and be prepared to wait.




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Posted by leslie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 25, 2007 at 6:39 am

This is not an isolated incident. We live on Loma Verde near Middlefield and have seen this behavior by drivers before. What makes it even more frightening is that this is a intersection frequented by kids going to and from school. My son has been hit (luckily not hurt) by a car in exactly the same situation. People drive dangerously over the speed limit on Middlefield and Loma Verde. They often do not properly stop.


Was the driver cited for failure to stop? That would be good to know.

Leslie


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 25, 2007 at 8:03 am

Leslie,

I believe officers generally dont cite what they don't observe unless there is an accident involved. Maybe a modification on your question would be "did the officer explain to the driver how she should have done things differently?"

I assume that the driver was doing a right on red. I have noticed a lot of cars lately not stopping for a right on red. Taking the turn full speed and only looking left for oncoming traffic, not looking right for pedestrians. My unsolicited advise, try to make eye contact with drivers before enter the crosswalk.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 25, 2007 at 8:48 am

To Leslie and RS

The problem is bad, but to give drivers a break, it is difficult for them when if they want to turn right on green, they have to give way to pedestrians. What is wrong with the system is that the little white man is there when the lights are green for through traffic. Those drivers who want to turn right or left then have to stop to give way to pedestrians who have a little white man and if they are stopped here long enough, they miss their green light. Then, if they wait for the next green light, the same happens again. The problem is poor light design. If a pedestrian presses the button to stop the lights, it should stop all four ways of traffic, that is the only safe method. Otherwise, they are not doing anything to stop turning traffic, just speeding up the change. Even in midtown when the "voice" says the traffic is stopped, it does not mention that traffic may be turning to get into that street. It is very dangerous.

Lights in other countries do use this method. It would be much safer here if the white man or go for pedestrian signal meant that all traffic was stopped and even better if these intersections had no turn on red signs.

Yes, cars have to give way for pedestrians, but pedestrians must also cross with caution. It is not a safe system and unfortunately in an accident, it will be the pedestrian who suffers.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 25, 2007 at 11:33 am

When turning right, and one has the light and pedestrians in the crosswalk to their right, move slightly forward, and enter the intersection, but not the crosswalk. After entering the intersection, that car has right of way when the light turns red to complete their turn. No light cycles need to be missed.

Rarely do I have a pedestrian that does not clear the crosswalk before the light changes. On that rare occasion that I do, I don't mind waiting; usually that person has it rougher than me.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 25, 2007 at 12:13 pm

And what about turning left, usually a much more dangerous turn for a driver? Often, if you wait for the oncoming traffic to pass and also the pedestrians, you often get stuck in the middle when the light changes and the cross trafic starts?


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Posted by Apples
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Am I the only one to be a little shocked that some people on this forum speak in terms of "dangerous" turns for car drivers, when in fact it is the pedestrian that get hurt in encounters between cars and pedestrians ?


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 25, 2007 at 1:26 pm

In that left turn scenerio, cross traffic can not legally start until you clear the intersection, cars in the intersection have right of way. Just make sure you are close to the center of the intersection, so your intent is obvious.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2007 at 2:05 pm

Apples. I get your point. But whatother word would you choose when talking about making a potentially ____ left turn. The danger is the fact that there is the potential of hitting a person, bike, or car. It is not that the car itself is in any danger, it is that the turn itself is dangerous for all.


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Posted by Pati
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 25, 2007 at 11:08 pm

Drivers on Middlefield Road between S. Meadow and Loma Verde ROUTINELY and with impunity (apparently) are going 45 mph or more. When I see kids trying to cross Middlefield across from Ames it scares me to death. I've seen those things that flash the speed all over palo alto, but never there. Does anyone know who is in charge of placing those things ? Or could we get a pedestrian light there at least ?


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 26, 2007 at 7:48 am

I think that police department responds to requests for the radar trailer, but I dont know for sure. I'd call their business number and ask. I dont know how many the city has, I assume 1. It is currently on California between Louis and Newell.


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Posted by Slow Driver
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2007 at 10:27 am

Patti and RS, the Police Department will loan you a radar gun for you to monitor vehicle speeds. However, you will find, like a lot of people in the program, that nearly all vehicles are traveling at or less than the 85th percentile which is the speed on residential, connector and arterial through streets in PA. The Police Department can tell you what the 85th percentile is for Middlefield at that location.


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