Red Light Runners & Speeding - Loma Verde/Middlefield Palo Alto Issues, posted by Nikki B., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 24, 2006 at 2:29 pm
We have resided on Middlefield and Loma Verde for 4 years and I can not believe the amount of daily red light runners and speeders who travel North and South bound on Middlefield Road. Daily I see a minimum of 3 red light runners and though the posted speed limit is 25 miles an hour, 35 plus is the norm.
I have witnessed a hand full of accidents at the intersection of Loma Verde and Middlefield. I have seen children, adults and vehicles hit by people who are speeding or running red lights. The scary and infuriating thing is I have seen people run lights when the police have been visibly present and nothing was done. It goes the same for those who speed. I understand that the police can not be everywhere at once but these issues are blatantly obvious to me so do others not care or am I the only one who has voiced this issue? The speed limit is 25 and I have people of all age’s tail gating me or passing me at speeds that are ridiculous. Many of which are mom’s with children in the car or commuters who use Middlefield to get to and from Highway 101.
If we had officers sit on Loma Verde beginning at 8:00am until after 7:00pm, I would bet that there would be a surprising number of people pulled over for not obeying the traffic laws. By doing this the city of Palo Alto would amazed by the amount of funds which came from traffic tickets on Middlefield alone. With those funds they could place cameras at each intersection between Colorado and San Antonio where they are so desperately needed. It might slow down the traffic and if not, send them a notice in the mail with a photo and documentation proving their traffic violation.
Posted by Fuzzonub, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 24, 2006 at 5:44 pm
Thank you, Nikki B, for pointing out the scofflaws on Middlefield. I couldn't agree more about the reckless disregard for public safety that occurs on Palo Alto streets in general, and on Middlefield, in particular.
In fact, two weeks ago, while I was driving on Middlefield around Meadow Dr, there was a rare occasion when traffic was moving at about the speed limit of 25. One driver became so infuriated to be faced with a blocade of law-abiding citizens that he swerved over the double yellow line into the lane traveling in the opposite direction to pass the traffic.
He then swerved back into the rightmost lane to make a right onto Charleston. Unfortunately for him, he was forced to wait behind a number of other cars waiting for pedestrians to cross before he could proceed with his turn while the traffic that he was in such a hurry to circumvent passed him by. I fear for those pedestrians if there were not other cars to protect them from this maniac
Posted by Sout PA Pedestrian, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 24, 2006 at 6:07 pm
This type of disregard for others' safety is not limited to Middlefield Rd.! Just the other day, I was taking a nice evening stroll to Rick's Ice Cream with my husband. I was waiting for the light at the corner of Meadow and Waverly, right in front of the middle school. The light turned, and I was just about to step off the curb on to the crosswalk when a minivan turned off Waverly onto Meadow right in front of me with great speed. How is it that pedestrians, even ones walking near schools, must be subjected to such peril?
Posted by Sherry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 24, 2006 at 8:19 pm
You might be the first to voice this on this venue, but not the only one to see it. I have been on Loma Verde at a red light and been amazed by how fast some cars run the light on Middlefield. It is scary. I have kids, and I tell them over and over to not start walking when that light turns green because there are so many reckless drivers going down Middlefield.
I once saw a deliver truck run the light going around 50 mph, while two police cars were parked outside the coffee shop. I thought to myself, "Where are the police when you need them?" I also once saw a large black truck run the light going extememly fast and almost hit an elderly man who had just stepped into the cross walk. It was extrememly upsetting.
I do wish the police would do something to make it harder to get away with driving like that around here.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Greater Miranda neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2006 at 7:30 am
I saw an "unrepentant" driver run a red-light yesterday on the light on East Charlston heading east just before the E. Charlston/Middlefield intersection, yesterday. ...it looked like s/he intended to run the red, not that it was an accident.
What "gets" me, though, is the behavior of bicyclists I have twice seen this year at the light on Middlefield & E. Charlston. One time, I was behind a large group of young bicyclists at the light, waiting for the light to change. So far so good. But, at some point, long before the light changed, they all decided to cross "on red" and rode across the street. And, then last week at ~5:00pm, I was driving down east down East Charlston and the light at Middlefield was green for me. But, I saw a lone bicyclist begin riding her bike across the street against the light. (Just like in the old driver education films.) She crossed my intended path exactly when I should have been entering the intersection on that green. The entire time she was crossing the intersection the light was red for her.
...lucky for all of us that my view across the street wasn't blocked by a bus.
Posted by Safe But Not Slow, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2006 at 11:22 am
Shannon, Hear hear! Drivers who think that it's their mission to slow traffic down are crossing a "good neighbor" line. Slower drivers should pull to the right and allow those who want to drive a safe (but faster than 25) speed.
Posted by lwr73, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2006 at 1:42 pm
You might consider setting up a video camera to catch these guys and turn them in to the cops. Videotaping cars driving on public roads seems perfectly legal: there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in your car on a public road. (But I am not a lawyer, and not giving legal advice.)
I don't know if marking the road or curb at regular intervals to compute the car's speed (eg with chalk) would have constituted vandalism. One frame of video is approximately 1/30th of a second, so a car that travels across 5 lines, each spaced 1 ft apart, in 1 frame is traveling at 150 ft/second -- 1/6th the speed of sound! OK, bad example, but you get the picture. :)
Posted by Nikki B., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2006 at 2:37 pm
Safe but not slow....
Speed limits are posted for a reason. 25 is usual for a residential neighborhood. Middlefield is just that.
“Slower drivers should pull to the right and allow those who want to drive a safe (but faster than 25) speed.”
Comments and beliefs such as this prove complete ignorance. Law abiding citizens should move aside so that others can pass them? Middlefield is 2 lanes and no one should have to pull aside when they are driving the limit in order to let an impatient driver pass. Children ride along this road to get to and from school. The 25 max limit is posted in order for you to be able to stop in time should there be a reason too. If you want to drive fast, why not join the Alma speed racers as it is parallel to Middlefield and the limit is 35 which in turn to folks around here seems to mean 50. By the way, I saw 2 red light runners today and both were at Colorado and Middlefield.
Posted by Chris, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2006 at 4:40 pm
1) The 25mph limit on Middlefield is absurd and outdated. It should be bumped up to a 35mph zone (and Alma a 45mph zone). A question for these almighty law-abiders: have you ever exceeded 25mph on Middlefield? If your response is no, you are either lying, or over the age of 60. You guys speak as if there is a death epidemic going on at Middlefield/Loma Verde. In over 10 years of living in Palo Alto, I've seen a handful of red light runners and I've never seen an accident at that intersection.
On a sidenote...
2) What's the deal with the Colorado light at the Middlefield intersection? It takes upwards of two minutes for this light to switch from red to green - and this is without any other cross traffic. In comparison, the Loma Verde/Middlefield light only takes 5-10 seconds to switch from red to green. I'm hard pressed to find any sort of logical reason why I must wait over two minutes for a light to switch when there is absolutely no cross traffic during my entire waiting period.
And one more...
3) What is the deal with all of you self-righteous bicyclists? Is it really necessary to jut four feet of the appropriated biking lane into traffic? It's great that you're saving the earth by reducing gas usage, but why is it that so many bikers feel it necessary to impede those that choose to drive.
Posted by Geoff, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2006 at 5:20 pm
What's the deal with people who can't spare 2 minutes at a traffic light, let alone 5-10 seconds for pedestrians/bicyclists? Chris, while I agree that the speed limits are a bit low for both Middlefield and Alma, it's your statements that I find to be absurd. You may have lived here for 10 years and only seen a handful of red-light runners - but that's your experience only. In 3 years, I've seen many many red light runners, and many near misses of pedestrians and cyclists due to red light running and rolling through right turns at red lights and stop signs. Perhaps that's b/c I'm on my bike, and not rolling around in my steel cage talking on my phone and futzing with the radio worried about the seconds I'm gonna lose due to the person crossing the street in front of me or that cyclist who is on the road (egad!), probably b/c of the crap in the bike lane they're trying to avoid.
It's funny that you talk about "almighty" and "self-righteous" citizens, and yet your tone is one of an almighty and self-righteous individual, who's time is oh-so important that seconds matter.
As for those darn self-righteous bicyclists, while I agree that there are many who are doing things they shouldn't be doing (just like drivers), most aren't out there impeding traffic on purpose. While bike lanes are usually in fair to good condition, quite often, bike lanes are filled with crap like broken class, pebbles, tree branches, trash, etc. - by law, cyclists are required to stay as far to the right as they feel safe and is practical. If they feel they need to take the lane to be safe, they have the right to - it's not to impede the drivers, but to protect themselves. Why don't you try riding your bike around for a while? - you may like it!
Posted by Sherry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2006 at 8:50 pm
I wanted to let Chris know that I have lived in midtown for only five years and am aware of two accidents at Loma Verde and Middlefield and one at Colorado and Middlefield. One accident I personally witnessed and the other two I came upon shortly after they had happened.
Posted by Leslie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2006 at 11:25 pm
I live on Loma Verde just a few houses from Middlefield. I have been yelled at, honked at, and berated by impatient drivers who cannot wait the few seconds for me to turn into my driveway. I have had a cat hit by a car in front of my children and had the driver just keep going, too busy to stop? I have seen at least three accidents at Loma Verde and Middlefield that resulted in ambulance calls in the past 8 years (two of these involved SUVs and were roll overs). People do not drive safely on my street. They speed. Now with the new development planned for Loma Verde and Bayshore, this is likely to get worse. I think its time that those of us who deal with this on a day to day basis do something. I like the idea of Round-a-bouts but I would be happy for anything that just slowed people down to the speed limit.
Posted by Nikki B., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 26, 2006 at 12:34 pm
I brought up the issues of speeding and red light runners because I fear for the safety of my step-son who is a 7th grader at JLS. We live on Middlefield and I have watched him cross over Middlefield almost on a daily bases. He would have the “green go ahead” to cross and he would have to wait for an impatient driver who was not paying attention while turning the corner much less those who speed up at the yellow and run the light because it turns red before they even reach the middle of the intersection. One time he was crossing over Middlefield and he tripped and fell in the center of the road. While getting up and picking his bike up the light turned green and cars that were going north in the far lane actually drove across before he was safely to the sidewalk. The sick thing is he was hurt, not badly but his face was bleeding and no one got out to help him. This is an isolated incident but how many isolated incidents are there that we personally are unaware of? What happened to enforcing the law that no vehicle can cross over any part of the cross walk on either side when a pedestrian is in the cross walk? These issues may be trivial to those of you who think 25 is too slow but it is obvious that the speed has not been raised because no one has demonstrated that they can drive safely in this area. Not to mention if the speed was raised to 35 then wouldn’t people go 40 or 45? What is infuriating to me is that those who dispute the 25 mile an hour zone only care about the actual speed being too slow. Meaning they only care about themselves. What they FAIL to mention is the safety of others. That is the big picture. Adults and hundreds of children walk or ride their bikes up and down Middlefield Road daily. Unfortunately unless people are seriously injured or killed no one cares about driving the limit. It is pretty sad that in today’s society it is more important for people to dispute driving slow rather than accept, obey and believe that there is a reason for speed limits. The safety of others! Nuf said!
Posted by Pablo, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 26, 2006 at 2:38 pm
I find it hard to believe that in 10 years Chris hasn't seen any accidents at this intersection. I've been living on Middlefield and
Loma Verde for three years now and have personally assisted two injured people from seperate accidents. I also witnessed a bicyclist get hit at low speed by a right hand turner not yeilding to pedestrian traffic.
And it would have been hard to not hear the news about the kid who was killed after being ejected from his car when it rolled into the Safeway parking lot. Police estimated he was traveling in excess of 100mph.
Its the entire length of Middlefield between Oregon Expwy and San Antonio Rd that is the problem though. I rarely witness people exceedng the 25MPH speed limit North of Oregon, but maybe that has more to do with the median house price in that area and the clout a higher tax base carries with the PAPD? Pure speculation on my part though.
Personally, I wish this section of Middlefield would get more attention from the police. I really don't have a problem with drivers going, say 35mph on this road, its the people who treat it like mini freeway that I have a problem with. As much as drivers would like to ignore it, this section of Middlefield is a residential street with numerous schools and churches on it. People need to treat it like any other residential street and drive safely!
Posted by Bob Gardiner, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 26, 2006 at 8:35 pm
The issue is overdevelopment, and the subsequent traffic congestion. Rezoning by prior and current city councils has brought increased traffic, much from out-of-towners who do are in a rush to drop their kids off at the Challenger School and/or for child care at the church near hoover park, and then get to work. They do not care about Palo Altan's safety.
A case in point, a few years ago, the city council: Kleinberg, Birch, Mossar et.al, approved a significant increase in attendance at Challenger School, which draws from out-of-town. Their plan for the increased traffic was to route it westward down charleston and back East Meadow to Middlefield, along the already overcrowded JLS route. This reflected complete ignorance of traffic patterns, and put child safety at risk. Nevertheless, the council approved the plan.
As a result of this, and other projects, the increased traffic has made it even more dangerous to use the street, especially for kids and senior citizens.
I think it is safe to assume some posters hereon do not have kids, and do not care much about the safety of our kids.
Posted by MikeW, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2006 at 4:01 pm
Look, I'm a young man who likes to drive my car fast. I just pissed off some of you. Sorry. When I first got my license at age 16, I drove way too fast in many situations. Indeed, like lots of young people my friends and I did lots of stupid things when we were growing up that were dangerous. I don't know why I did it, and there is no excuse.
When I drive in Palo Alto now, I drive the speed limit the vast majority of the time. In residential streets I go 25-30, but usually go 20-25 taking in the beautiful surroundings of Palo Alto, for coming back home always hits me with that feeling of being blessed to call Palo Alto my home. It's really nice here!
That being said, I think that Bob was spot on about poor city planning. It's simply a fact that streets like Embarcadero and Middlefield have developed into relatively major streets with lots of traffic. That is not a desireable situation for people living there, I get pissed when people speed on my block. I have little sisters that are toddlers. I worry about their safety when I see Teen X speed by in Monster Truck Z. That being said, I just had some lady yell at me to, "slow the hell down" on my street when I was going less than 25 miles an hour because there were kids in the area. I reversed my car, and in a gentle voice asked her, "excuse me?" She said in a hostile, protective manner "There are kids here, you need to slow down." I calmy responded, "I was going the speed limit (actually I was going below it) and I went all the way to other side of the road to avoid the kids as much as possible." She didn't say anything so I said "Peace" and was on my way. I thought to myself, "maybe you shouldn't let your kids play in the street and, it's probably not a good idea to scream the word hell in front of little kids.
Sorry, I'm rambling. People are going to get pissed when they see people speeding around their homes, especially with little loved ones around. Accidents happen, we've all driven poorly at various times in our lives. As our small town evolves into a city we're going to start getting city problems, and I think that people running red lights, while definately dangerous, is not the biggest concern. How about the drug problems in Palo Alto public schools and kids stealing from houses and cars to feed their habits? That's a problem for concern. Who cares about marijuana, I'm talking about meth and cocaine.
The speed limit should be 25 on Middlefield and Embarcadero. People live on these streets, but who knows, maybe in 50 years the city will use eminent domain to remove everyone living on these evolving thoroughfares? Scary thought huh. Not many citizens obey the speed limit. It's just one of those things. Even if the limit is increased people will still break it.
Last comment, people who are driving slowly in the outside, or passing lane, need to get over for faster cars. Stop your whining about being a law abiding citizen, I don't care. Get out of our way and help the traffic flow. C'mon. All the best Palo Alto, and be grateful for the good life we live!
Posted by Nikki B., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2006 at 5:02 pm
Mike W. and all in between -
I appreciate all the comments (some interesting perspectives)and yes this issue may seem unimportant to such issues as drugs and stealing and personal rights and so on.... We actually could go on and on...either way,the pros or cons of the 25 speed limit. I am 34, live and work in this area and walk these streets daily and I am tired of almost being hit because people are driving too fast or running the lights. My office window faces Middlefield and Colorado and I see idiots of all ages all day long, peel out and speed by. The worst are the older females if you can believe it. Sorry, I tell it how I see it. Soccer mom's save the speed for the field! Sit on Middlefield and Colorado or Loma Verde for half a day or 1 hour and then come tell me your thoughts.
Posted by Nikki B., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 28, 2006 at 11:11 am
That is an interesting question. Do you think someone from the PAPD reads these on-line posts? I mean it does state Palo Alto Issues. I find it hard to believe that there is not at least a City rep. or someone of that nature who reviews what the people of PA are saying. If it is about money, this would be a good way for the city to make money, meaning the amount of funds that the City would get from the speeding and or red light tickets. That is if those monies are more than what it might cost to have the extra man time on Middlefield. I am not sure how that works or even how many officers there are on a given day patrolling this area alone.
Posted by Vernazza, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 28, 2006 at 12:23 pm
Are laws respected (or even good common sense followed) when there is no consequence for defiance? The police never are seen proactively preventing speeding, red light stopping. Instead, they are reactive, and complain how busy they are pursuing "real" crime, with no time to follow car thefts, red light enforcemenbt, etc. The only proactive thing visible is that pit stop at Peet's for coffee, where you see two to five police lingering to share what? Tales of how unfair it is to work in a city which you cannot afford to live in?
But let's not just blame enforcement. "We have seen the enemy, and he is us." True, we live in "special" Palo Alto, where "Enlightenment" philosophy dictates that educated, thoughful citizens will by their very educated nature "do the right thing." Unfortunately, we also live in Control Center of Entrepreneurship; conditioned to be individualists (and reaping greedy rewards), manners reflect the self-driven egoist for whom others are to be manipulated. This is the culture we approve of. Surprised when drivers "show initiative"?
cut corners to "get there first"? act first and examine later?
The race is to the swift, so kids and grandpas get squished. Cell-phone addicted, caffeine-stimulated, greed-driven, self-centered
split personalities who become demon possessed behind the wheel.
Where will it end? Maybe with the next depression and World War III, when people had to sober up, slow down, and reset priorities.
Posted by Bill Johnson, publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly, on Jul 28, 2006 at 1:26 pm Bill Johnson is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
The Palo Alto police chief (and all other city officials) are well aware of Town Square and the key ones have been given logins and passwords by us so they can post responses with their names and titles identified. We're told that the police are assigning an officer to respond on Town Square to citizen questions and comments, but obviously that hasn't started yet.
We are actively encouraging the city staff and members of the City Council to jump in and comment on these discussions when they have something to offer, in the interest of creating more dialogue between average citizens and city officials.
but not very hopeful; becasue the last time it was there, I routinely saw 45+ flashing on it and the motorists didn't care -- that's because there was no officer to enforce the speed limit. So, this time I requested one, I will see if we get one.
Please see the 'Neighborhood Traffic Survey' link at the bottom of the link above, which I also filled out.
Finally, don't be surprised if you don't get a live person at any of the phone numbers listed there, because they never get picked up, or messages get ignored -- but you might be luckier then I.
Posted by Pissed off tax payer!, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 28, 2006 at 4:03 pm
I was crossing Middlefield from Colorado walking west about 5 minutes ago and as I stepped off the curb to cross a girl and guy in a big grey truck ran through the light at what seemed to be 40 miles an hour.
I caught eyes with the driver before she ran the light, she knew I had the right away and that I was going to cross because I stepped off the curb and she ran the light anyway. This is just after a man was hit this afternoon at the same intersection?
Posted by mike naar, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2006 at 12:07 am
Regarding Nikki B post above, here is Palo Alto online news item about the accident:
An 87-year-old Palo Alto man suffered a broken hip after he was knocked from his bicycle in a collision with a left-turning vehicle at Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue Friday.
Police Sgt. Sandra Brown said the unidentified man was crossing Middlefield when his bike was "tagged" by a vehicle making a left turn, driven by a 21-year-old Menlo Park man. She said police are still investigating the case and interviewing witnesses.
The accident, which occurred about noon, was reported to the public by a resident posting an item on Town Square, www.PaloAltoOnline.com.
Brown said from preliminary reports, "It looks like the pedestrian was actually on a bike crossing the street and was tagged by the vehicle," which was making a left turn. The driver remained at the scene, she said.
The bicyclist was taken to Stanford Hospital, and Brown said as of early Friday evening she was still awaiting word on his condition.
Posted by Leslie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2006 at 8:03 am
It seems that there are many people concerned. What can we do? I used the link provided by "a middlefiled road resident' 2 posts above to request radar trailer and filled out the traffic survey.
How are decision made for traffic calming things like speed bumps and round abouts for high traffic residential cross streets like Loma verde and Colorado? How do we lobby to get cameras on traffic signals on Middlefiled? It seems to that there are many traffic calming tools around downtown that would be useful to consider for Midtown.
Posted by Leslie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2006 at 8:06 am
It seems that there are many people concerned. What can we do? I used the link provided by "a middlefiled road resident' 2 posts above to request radar trailer and filled out the traffic survey. How are decision made for traffic calming things like speed bumps and round abouts for high traffic residential cross streets like Loma verde and Colorado? How do we lobby to get cameras on traffic signals on Middlefiled? It seems to that there are many traffic calming tools around downtown that would be useful to consider for Midtown. Does anyone know what to do next?
Posted by Resident, a resident of another community, on Jul 29, 2006 at 5:17 pm
If I were you, I would call the police department to voice your concerns. Don't offer solutions, just tell them that you are concerned about that intersection. You could even request one of those radar trailers be deployed to somewhere near that intersection to help people realize how fast they are actually going. I know that where I live, the road has been surveyed (Oregon Expressway) which is posted 25mph, but it was surveyed at 35mph. So that means in order for police to run radar they have to be doing well over 35mph in order to receive a citation. Do you notice any particular time that the lights are being run? And also, fyi out of each citation at around 280 a pop for red lights, the city gets about $30. The rest go to court clerks, filing fees, roadway repair, and a number of other designations before the city actually benefits from it. As far as a camera goes on intersections of red lights, that is currently under heavy scrutiny. #1 you have to prove it was the owner of the vehicle driving (photo), #2 the driver has to admit that it was him, or prove via dl photo or coming in that it was not him.
Posted by keep kids alive-drive 25, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2006 at 6:53 pm
This is a response to those drivers who assert that driving 35 on Middlefield (or Charleston, or Embarcadero, or University Avenue...) is "safe".
We have been conditioned by all the car ads to focus on road safety from the point of view of the driver: how fast can you drive on a particular roadway under perfect conditions **with no one else on the roadway**. This is a very dangerous and uninformed attitude about traffic safety.
In fact, public roadways are not just for drivers. They are for pedestrians (including the young, old and disabled), bicyclists etc. And residential arterials (which is what the 4 streets above are called) in this town are heavily used by people who choose to get around without burning fossil fuels.
Anyone who thinks that 25 mph is too low a speed for shared roadway space should study how long it takes a driver to stop his vehicle at 20, 25, 30, 40 or 50 mph. Also, what are the consequences of hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist at those speeds. On the latter point, here's a study commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that provides some sobering statistics. See URL at end for full article.
Literature Review on Vehicle Travel Speeds and Pedestrian Injuries
Among Selected Racial/Ethnic Groups
The relationship between vehicle travel speeds and resulting pedestrian injury was reviewed in the literature and in existing data sets. Results indicated that higher vehicle speeds are strongly associated with both a greater likelihood of pedestrian crash occurrence and more serious resulting pedestrian injury. It was estimated that only 5 percent of pedestrians would die when struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour or less. This compares with fatality rates of 40, 80, and nearly 100 percent for striking speeds of 30, 40, and 50 miles per hour or more respectively. Reductions in vehicle travel speeds can be achieved through lowered speed limits, police enforcement of speed limits, and associated public information. More long-lasting speed reductions in neighborhoods where vehicles and pedestrians commonly share the roadway can be achieved through engineering approaches generally known as traffic calming. Countermeasures include road humps, roundabouts, other horizontal traffic deflections (e.g., chicanes), and increased use of stop signs. Comprehensive community-based speed reduction programs, combining public information and education, enforcement, and roadway engineering, are recommended.
Posted by police speed too, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 31, 2006 at 8:28 am
if the PAPD are going to take this matter seriously, they need to look at themselves first.
one time i was driving at night, and i saw a cruiser behind me. i was going the speed limit. and he was tailgating me. about 30 seconds of tailgating, he passed me on the left, going into the opposite lane to get around me.
besides this, does anyone rarely see a cruiser going 25 mph, with the exception they are driving code3?
Posted by South PA Resident, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 1, 2006 at 2:23 pm
It's true. On Saturday morning, while on Homer, in front of Whole Foods, I had a cruiser speed pass me, have to slam on his brakes after nearly hitting a pedestrian crossing to Whole Foods and then steer around the pedestrian who was still in the cross walk.
Posted by Possum, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2006 at 10:31 am
So I was driving down Middlefield at 25MPH. The light at Colorado was red, so I slowed to a stop. I paused for a moment, checking the near and far street corners to see if any pedestrians were crossing the street. The coast was clear of both cars and pedestrians, so I executed a right turn on to Colorado. All involved parties survived the incident without sustaining any injuries. However, if someone had emerged from a nearby bush and lunged forward into my path, they might have been injured.
This forum is not 'proof' of anything, Lori. A basic course in statistics would perhaps soften your unreasonable temperament. You claim to have grown up in a town smaller than Palo Alto, that heavily enforced a 25MPH zone. Well, Palo Alto is not exactly as small as it used to be say, 5-10 years ago. Heavy development combined with out-of-town commuters has increased traffic on the major arteries through Palo Alto. I appreciate your concern that this issue is of the utmost importance, but try telling that to the individual that just got their house robbed of all their valuable possessions yesterday.
If you want to do something about this issue, I'd recommend you get in contact with the City Council, rather than continuing to post inane rants on an online discussion forum.
Posted by Hagrid, a resident of the St. Claire Gardens neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2006 at 9:59 pm
To all of you who have read the suggestion that we install radar cameras at every intersection in the city: Do you really want to live your lives under this kind of constant surveillance? How is this suggestion any less abhorrent than the alleged NSA wiretaps of all Americans? Try to maintain some perpective -- there will always be a range of human behavior, a range of speeds driven. We want safety. Middlefield is one of three major north-south arteries in the city. We concentrate traffic onto Middlefield. There will be conflicts. Let's encourage enforcement of the speed limits we agree to have, but let's also be reasonable about the enforcement measures we are willing to accept.
As Frankiln said, "Those willing to give up their liberty in exchange for security deserve neither."
Posted by Alan, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2006 at 10:02 pm
>> I appreciate your concern that this issue is of the utmost
>>importance, but try telling that to the individual that just got >>their house robbed of all their valuable possessions yesterday.
I'm not sure if you are implying that you were robbed yesterday. But, as someone that was robbed last month, I'd like to support the original posters point. The posted speed limit along Middlefield IS 25 MPH and many Palo Alto drivers are ignoring it. These people should not ignore the speed limit, simply because it does not suit their mood, or is inconvenient for them. They are a hazard to the pedestrian's and bicyclist in the area (of which I'm often one along the Charleston Rd.). These drives are why 87 year man on a bicycle broke is hip when hit by car.
I drove past the radar sign this morning, and was passed by a car that registered 38 MPH. After passing the sign the driver immediately speed up, since 38 was too slow for him. So, yes speeders along Middlefield road (and Charleston Rd. too) are an issue.
Posted by Nikki B., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2006 at 11:09 am
If you have issues with us posting “inane rants” on an online discussion forum DON'T READ THEM!
Some of us care about our community. We are not stating that speeding is more important than burglary by any means. We are discussing the ISSUES that surround the safety of those who live on and near Middlefield.
Like I said if you have issues with our posts, then you should not subject yourself to reading them. Doh!
Posted by Possum, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2006 at 11:46 am
Actually, I believe Lori did in fact state that she felt speeding was a problem of more importance than burglary (which often includes intentional violent actions). I, too, care about our community; however, I feel that attempting to truly 'make a difference' via posts on an online forum is an ineffective and inefficient method. Lori goes on to postulate that a handful of posts on an online forum with a biased sampling of individuals is "proof enough" to bypass standard voting procedures.
"I don't know how much of a priority this is with police- to me it's much more of an urgent problem than break-ins since this happens everyday, all day in front of my nose. Maybe the city council should just get off their processed-to-the-n'th degree duffs and just put in the traffic calming devices already or provide more patrolling of some sort- I think this forum is proof enough that no vote is needed for a resounding "JUST BLOODY DO IT!!!""
Lori, instead of criticizing the city council, maybe you should get off your self-righteous duff and take steps and actions yourself to alleviate the problem. Again, if this is such a serious issue to you, contact and continue to contact the city council and press for changes. I think you will find more success through actual real world interactions than sitting at your PC hoping that 'someone else' will take the initiative for you.
Nikki, I believe that criticizing and insulting the city council when one has not even made an effort to take action, sensationalizing an incident where one 'could have' been injured, and making sweeping generalizations regarding the majority opinion of Palo Alto residents by extrapolating from the posts of 20~ users on an online forum definitely qualifies as an inane rant. In addition, insinuating that I don't care for the community that I live in was a nice touch that definitely contributed to constructive discussion regarding the issues that surround the safety of those who live on and near Middlefield.
I'm not sure if you're aware, but this is an online discussion forum where people will have different opinions and ideas. I look forward to your continued constructive replies to the actual issue at hand, rather than suggesting that I refrain from reading further posts. Also, since when did you become the spokesperson for the entirety of individuals in this forum? Perhaps if you had read more carefully, you will see that my post was in sole reply to Lori and not anyone else. How about you take a second to think before hitting that 'submit' button next time?
Posted by MikeW, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2006 at 1:11 pm
This is a nice little debate we got going here folks, seriously.
Perhaps we can borrow from the past and start a vigilante group. When someone runs a red, or breaks a traffic law, we can shoot out their tires and hope that they'll die in the crash. Then they won't create any more problems in our community. I'm just kidding. It's a joke, lighten up.
In a respectful voice---I thought the camera idea was a sensible one. Nikki, maybe you could ask the City Council to do some analysis to see if, financially speaking, it would make sense to install ticket enforcing cameras at the corner you are most concerned about? Of course, you have to be aware that some people are definately going to complain about what they might percieve as an eyesore on "their" street corner. It's a vicious cycle. I think the best rule of thumb for pedestrians, as always, is to look both ways...
Posted by JW, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2006 at 1:21 pm
I've been meaning to post to this forum for a while and now the topic fits enough add my comments. I'm a driver and cyclist and have a healthy respect for the responibilities of both sides.
I myself was "T-boned" last year on the driver's side while entering Colorado at green. The northbound driver on Middlefield said she "didn't see the signal" - it was determined she was traveling over 35mph before she braked. I count my blessings because my Volvo provided a barrier for the pregnant woman pushing a stroller in the crosswalk next to me.
I live on Waverley and Meadow, so I have to cope with the ever-increasing JLS auto traffic (my parents always made me bike to my schools which were on the other side of town). I've lived here long enough to remember the stop sign at this intersection - I preferred it. Yes, a few people ran the stop sign (mostly in the middle of the night), but nowhere near the numbers who run the red today at all times. I'll add that my household supported the speed-bump project on Waverley(we've suffered an animal casualty from a speeder), I only wish the bumps were narrower (more jarring) at higher speeds.
My local complaint are the cars which pass left-turn-waiting cars between Alma and Waverley. If one car decides to slide by in the bike lane, any behind it tend to get the same idea too. Really, how is the wait? 45 secs. at most? Meanwhile, there seems to be total disregard for safety in the bike lane.
I was heartened when I saw an orange traffic post protecting the lane at the corner of the JLS entrance - it seemed like a great idea. My heart sank when I saw the post jammed under the chassis of a neighbor's SUV. We casually replaced it at the spot it stood before, but by the next day, it was gone for good.
Let be reasonable...and safe.
I'm guilty of traffic crimes too - it months for me to get used to the new left-turn light from Middlefield onto Meadow, so I'll admit to just "going for it" when the coast was clear. It was always a challenge 'cause its hard to predict which cars are going 25 and which one are going 55 from across the intersection.
Posted by Sgt. Sandra Brown, a resident of another community, on Aug 3, 2006 at 5:40 pm
I would first like to thank everyone who has written in about the red light runners and speeders in Palo Alto. We at the police department take traffic violations very serious and work on a daily basis to issue citations to those drivers that decide to violate the traffic laws established by the State of California. Last year in the City of Palo Alto, Police Officers issued 517 red light violation citations. This year, to date they have issued 376 red light citations. It may appear that we could be slightly behind last year's numbers and that might be due to the fact that we have increased our patrol staffing in the neighborhoods because of the increase in residential burglaries.
Next week, August 6-12, Santa Clara County is targeting red light runners in several cities throughout the County. (See the Press Release Below). Three intersections in Palo Alto have been selected and will be monitored for red light violations. Pagemill Road at El Camino Real, Embarcadero Road at St. Francis and University Avenue at Middlefield Road. We will continue to enforce the laws of the State in the City of Palo Alto. We ask everyone driving in the City of Palo Alto to obey all of the posted speed limits, right-of-ways and intersection signal lights.
Sgt. Sandra Brown
Palo Alto Police Department
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Red Light Runners Target of County-wide Campaign
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA –
In an ongoing effort to reduce roadway injuries and fatalities, Traffic Safe Communities Network (TSCN) in Santa Clara County is working collaboratively with local law enforcement to bring attention to the dangers associated with red light running. Increased enforcement in 12 cities throughout Santa Clara County will
occur at almost 50 intersections (see attachment) across the county during National Stop on Red Week, August 6-12.
The enforcement activities will be coupled with a public awareness campaign that will be running on local radio stations throughout August and will coincide with the national campaign. The goal of TSCN’s STOP on Red Campaign is to reduce collisions, injuries, and
fatalities associated with red light running. Santa Clara County’s Health Officer and TSCN co-chair, Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, states, “Red light running is a significant contributor to
the number of people who are unintentionally injured on our roadways. The focus of this campaign is to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes caused by red light running.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis
Reporting System, each year more than 1.8 million intersection crashes occur nationally.
Of those in 2003, about 206,000 are due to red light running. In 2003, there were 1,086 collisions in Santa Clara County where running a red light was the primary factor. The crashes resulted in 1,092 injuries and three deaths.
Running a red light is not only dangerous but it can be costly. The minimum fine for a citation is $335. If one gets in a collision further costs will be incurred, such as car repair costs, increases in auto insurance, lost wages, and medical bills.
Since 1998, TSCN and its partners have been successful at installing “rat-boxes” at over 100 intersections in the county. The boxes are low-tech electronic devices that allow police officers patrolling an intersection to easily determine when a motorist runs a red light. Intersections where rat boxes were previously installed will serve as this year’s enforcement sites.
The following public safety agencies are participating in TSCN’s STOP on Red Campaign: Campbell Police Department, Office of the Sheriff, Gilroy Police Department, Los Altos Police Department, Los Gatos Police Department, Milpitas Police Department, Morgan Hill
Police Department, Mountain View Police Department, Palo Alto Police Department, San Jose Police Department, Santa Clara Police Department, Sunnyvale Public Safety and the California Highway Patrol.
TSCN’s members represent law enforcement, injury prevention advocates, elected officials, traffic engineers, court officials, community advocates, public health and emergency services personnel. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety
A Project of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the California Office of Traffic Safety, and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department
Posted by MikeW, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 4, 2006 at 1:29 am
Now this is democracy in action! I appreciate JW's post---honest, coherent, positive, and fair.
I think it is commendable that programs like TSCN exist. It's hard for me to be too criticle of them because I feel lucky that they exist in our society. I also think that the police officers do a commendable job day-in and day-out, and like so many of us, go underappreciated for the role they play in society (at least some of us). The following is meant as constructive criticism:
1) The intersections that are primarily discussed in this forum are not monitored by the program.
2) While patrolling the intersections selected by the PAPD, TSCN, Gov, etc?, will surely net some violators (I was tempted to say criminals, but most of us wouldn't like that because we speed on the freeway or something, i.e., break traffic law), I think the corner of Page Mill and El Camino should be changed to Colorado and Middlefield, or a bunch of motorcycle officers in the Middlefield corridor between Charleston and Colorado?
3) Say a prayer, send some positive vibes and memories of home, whatever it is you do to our soldiers, our Allies, and all the innocent civilians who have to live with every day threats to their lives. A little bit of a downer, but something I am thinking about.
Re above discussion on police enforcement of red light running at Middlefield intersections:
Here's a suggestion that might help folks understand why PAPD and TCSN might have chosen the intersections they did. First try doing some comparative observations of your own:
* Go to your pet peeve intersection at whatever time of day you believe is most likely to show the most violations. Find a place where you can observe drivers, cyclists, pedestrians etc without causing a safety problem. Record the different traffic violations that you observe for a set period of time (minimum 15 minutes but half an hour or an hour is great). Pay particular attention to drivers making left turns on red and those who respond to yellow/red lights by speeding up, because these are more likely to cause serious crashes. Also note whether there was anyone else in the intersection at the time, especially any "near misses". ** See Note at end.**
* Then choose any one of the 3 intersections targeted by next week's Stop on Red campaign (Page Mill/El Camino Real, Embarcadero/St. Francis or University Avenue/Middlefield Road and follow the same procedure.
Here's a bet: you will almost certainly see many more violations at the TSCN target intersections than at whatever south PA Middlefield intersection you choose. This means, of course, that at the highest volume roadways and intersections, police get more bang for their $$ and time invested, i.e. they will issue more tickets. Also, more people witness the flashing lights, people pulled over etc, the more likely they are to pay attention to the National Stop on Red Week safety campaign messages.
Second, drivers are more likely to see a patrol car and change their behavior at relatively low volume intersections, i.e. the PAPD will be much less likely to observe the behavior that you observe. And unfortunately, as much as we all would like to believe that driver behavior will be different once the police car is no longer at the intersection, the research is clear: 15 minutes after the police cars leave, there is NO difference in driver behavior.
Third, standard enforcement of red light running carries a real risk, because many drivers do not actually pull over when the police car's lights start flashing! If a high speed chase is involved, there is a substantial risk of innocent third parties being injured in any resulting crashes. In residential areas like those around Colorado/Middlefield or Loma Verde/Middlefield, the risk of injuring or killing pedestrians, bicyclists, people in their front yards or even inside in their living rooms would be substantially increased relative to the same time period when red light enforcement is NOT occurring.
The combination of the second and third factors above has caused standard police enforcement of red light running to become controversial in many cities recently, including San Francisco.
Does this mean we citizens should NOT be pushing for "something to be done"? Absolutely not. But we should be looking for solutions that work to reduce speeding and the inattentive driving in our town and elsewhere -- red light running is just an egregiously dangerous symptom of these two much bigger problems.
Finally, a couple of links for those who'd like more information on what's being done nationally:
** Note: The more specifics you can add (time of observation, direction of travel, which lane, anything else that affects the safety of pedestrians and cyclists especially), the better. In fact, such specifics will give your complaints much more credibility than "we've just got to do something" rants.
Posted by PatB, a resident of another community, on Aug 7, 2006 at 3:07 pm
I am an American living in England and recently visited Palo Alto. I witnessed a number of red light runners and speeders. Here are some solutions that I have seen work effectively in England and other European countries:
(1) Replace many traffic lights with roundabouts as they do here in England. Traffic flows smoother, accidents are reduced and an immense amount of fuel is saved by not having drivers sitting in their cars while waiting for a light to turn green.
(2) Install cameras on traffic lights. In Germany these cameras would take a picture of any car running a red light and the offender would receive a ticket in the mail.
(3) Raise the speed limit on Middlefield to 30 mph.
Posted by Jeff Bedolla, a resident of another community, on Aug 8, 2006 at 10:21 am
"PatB" (commentor 47): The proposal to raise the speed limit on Middlefield seems reasonable. If the speeds were set in the hope of getting 30 or 35, that was a ruse. However that may be, 25 is the limit now, and people tend to exceed it. Raising the speed now would send the wrong message. What is wanted is for drivers to voluntarily obey the laws. I find the driving experience to be more rewarding by exercising self-restraint. I enjoy driving in Palo Alto. Perhaps 30 would be right, but that would mean people being willing to stay under the limit.
For more on this please see my entry in Proposed Colloquium on Driving.
Posted by A Monroe Drive Resident, a resident of the Monroe Park neighborhood, on Nov 16, 2006 at 12:10 pm
Currently on Monroe Drive and Miller Avenue in Palo Alto, we have a posted speed limit of 25 MPH. We also have "No Sidewalks" and daily stream of blatant speeding motorist sharing the road with "The Palo Alto Bike Path", "Monroe Park" (with swings and with children) and with "No Stop Signs!" A daily stream of Speeders; sharing the road with many children, many pets, joggers and bikes all on the streets day and night. These people are at risk! These residential streets have "No traffic enforcement and No traffic control! "
We have an ongoing problem of speeders using Monroe Drive & Miller Avenue as a short cut bypassing the stop lights at San Antonio Road and El Cammino Real. Every day.... morning and night... We have a daily stream of motorists driving at speeds from 35 MPH to 70 MPH. After numerous attempts with The City of Palo Alto to make our streets safe for our families and children... The City of Palo Alto has not made even an attempt to enforce the speed limit! The city has not made even an attempt try to keep it's citizens on Monroe Drive and Miller Avenue safe from this daily stream of blatant speeders using our neighborhood as a commuter short-cut and expressway.
If.... we put enough stop signs or block the streets or add a few speed bumps in the straight sections of the road (as they have done in other parts of Palo Alto) to make it "not attractive" to use as a short cut and expressway. Maybe... we could all avoid any future injuries to the residents of Monroe Park from these speeders.
The fact is... we're all tax payers & property owners here... We pay the city to provide services and to keep us all safe. We can force the city to meet "their obligation" by citing the city charter "to provide a safe environment for our children and our families". We can get the results we need and as long as we don't believe the bureaucratic protocol and excuses that they give us not to treat Monroe Park as they do with other parts of Palo Alto; other areas with existing traffic control. As Tax payers and citizens of Palo Alto, we need to demand that the city to meet their obligation to keep our streets "as safe" as other streets in Palo Alto. Before any more people and pets are hurt by speeding vehicles on residential streets... "Residential streets with no enforcement and no traffic control!" we need to act!
Posted by John Neves, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2010 at 11:17 am
2010 - Revisiting the problem - Most of the postings above are from 2006-07. Today is Feb 27, 2010. Vehicles speeding on Middlefield Rd have increased both in miles per hour and in quantity. Yes we know that 25 mph is unrealistic but how about the rampant speeding now moving very often at 45 mph? Yes I have clocked quite a few a day. Technical points - The modern vehicles provide a super smooth and quiet ride that fools the driver's senses. "Officer I can't believe I was going THAT fast".
When I went to traffic school at Cubberley in 1987, our instructor mentioned that Middlefield is 25 mph posted but 35 mph is a "de facto" accepted speed. So let's forget about fixing this problem with a "more realistic faster limit sign". Let's enforce this accepted 10 mph up slide but let's prevent (us) people from going above that. I have requested a "speed limit trailer or permanent sign" from the city, but I think the City of Palo Alto budget crisis is affecting all services. Maybe we, residents, should pass the collection hat and buy a few of them machines...