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California Ave auto safety

Original post made by Andrea on Sep 20, 2011

As an Evergreen Park resident we spend a lot of time on California Ave. In the last year or so I have noticed a very dangerous trend that needs to be addressed by the PAPD. For one, drivers are blowing through stop signs on a regular basis. Just sit at the corner of Ash/California one day and see for yourself. This is a crosswalk area..and most drivers just blow through it without even looking. Second, to all of you who have crossed the double yellow to park on the OTHER side of the street..yes you...this causes a variety of issues. For one, its rude and dangerous to cut off a driver going the right way just to steal a spot. Two, most of you who park this way are parked at a funny angle making it impossible for anyone else to park next to you. Three, I cannot tell you how many times I have either had a car pull across the double yellow right in front of me while I was going the other way, or those who make illegal u-turns or feel that theres no issue in making a 3-point in the middle of Cal Ave at lunch time...well..I have an issue with it and so do lots of other people.Just recently there was a car racing down Ash and lost control of his car hitting the brick wall across the street. Thank goodness for that wall or he would of gone straight into the mexican restaurant. Then he just backed up and screeched off as if nothing had happened. It is this kind of driving that is making Cal Ave a dangerous, unfriendly place for bikes and pedestrians. My daughter along with hundreds of other kids riding to school are not safe because of drivers who do these types of things and it is just a matter of time before someone gets hurt. I have already mentioned this issue to the PAPD on several occasions but due to cuts in the traffic dept. I am assuming they haven't been able to look into the problem. This is why I totally support making Cal Ave a TWO lane road with a big median in the middle so drivers cannot do this kind of thing. I think wider sidewalks would be wonderful for outdoor eating, more places to sit and more room to walk. I think that this could be a wonderful Santana Row like area if given the chance but everyone needs to stop arguing and just fix things. I would also like to see the fountain fixed and turned on and it is rather sad sitting there dry for as long as it is. Things really don't have to be that difficult I don't know why PA can't just get things done like other cities.
Back to the traffic issue, if you visit Cal Ave please remember to drive safely and respectfully of others so we can all enjoy "our" little downtown area.

Comments (17)

Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Instead of implementing traffic restricting measures to mitigate the acts of incompetent drivers, you should strive to remove the incompetent drivers.

Bringing everyone down to the level of the worst amongst us fixes nothing. Removing the worst amongst us fixes everything.

Posted by reckless drivers, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I agree that there are lots of reckless drivers on California Ave. This is extremely dangerous for pedestrians since they are exposed to the danger for a much longer time when crossing a 4 lane road vs. a 2 lane road. In addition to running stop signs when going straight, car drivers often also run stop signs when turning. I agree that stepped up police enforcement is important until some more permanent fixes can be made to this road. A family crossing the street was nailed by a car last month.

Posted by Lies, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Really a family crossing the street was "nailed" by a car last month? In what fantasy world did this happen? Why was this not reported? Really the lies that the "cars are evil" clique make up are ridiculous.

Posted by reckless drivers, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2011 at 8:58 pm

The crash in the crosswalk at the corner of California & Birch was definitely reported in the Palo Alto Weekly. I recall that 2 pedestrians were hit by a car and hospitalized (I believe a mother and daughter). I'm sure you can find an incident report in the city police log as well.

Posted by Truths, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm


Web Link

Cars aren't evil, but there are a lot of careless drivers.
Drive 5 miles over the speed limit on just about any road in PA.
You will be passed by most everything on the road.
There is a real reason that the city is being littered with speed humps lately.

Posted by Shopper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

Folks, that is why the City is planning this massive redesign of California Avenue costing over $1.Million. Four lanes will be reduced to two which will make is easier for drivers to see, also they should be traveling slower. Meanwhile, we have to go through a law suite and public hearings.

Posted by Andrea, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

Unfortunately I cannot do anything about all the bad drivers in the area..(response to Outside Observers comment)..believe me I wish I could.

Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 23, 2011 at 10:26 am

svatoid is a registered user.

There are bad people in each group--drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians--that do not obey the laws. However in Palo Alto we love to just blame the drivers--it meshes with our "too much traffic" mindset.

Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

Agree with svatoid that there are reckless people in al groups.

I live on Louis Rd., North side, and I see drivers blowing through the traffic lights on Embarcadero Rd. and Oregon Expressway often.

I also see cars illegally turning right at Embarcadero/Louis Rd. Cars are supposed to pull into the bike lane when the lines break, drive in the bike lane until they reach the corner to turn right. This gives bicyclists fair warning that they are about to turn right. Many drive up to the corner and then quickly turn right.

Paly alumni who attended driver's training at Paly know this law because we were taught how to drive on Palo Alto roads.

Posted by reckless drivers, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2011 at 10:51 am

How often does a speeding pedestrian kill someone? Reckless drivers are the killers.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

True, speeding pedestrians do not kill anyone.

But pedestrians, like bicycles, acting unpredictably can cause accidents. Pedestrians in particular can stop much quicker than a vehicle, they usually do not have lights in the dark, and are much more often distracted by a phone conversation or ipod music or even intoxicated.

All road users, whether inside a vehicle, on a vehicle or on their feet, need to realise that they are ultimately responsible for their own safety when sharing a road. Putting all the blame on cars and drivers when they are only part of the problem is erroneous.

After all, drivers have to pass a test to drive. Any fool can ride a bike or cross a street without any kind of test.

Posted by reckless drivers, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Reckless drivers may only be part of the problem, but they are the biggest and heaviest and fastest part of the problem. Reckless drivers may think that pedestrians can get out of the way, but in most cases, the cars are going so fast that pedestrians really cannot do much. A car can travel several blocks in the time that a pedestrian needs to cross a street in a crosswalk, especially a 4 lane street (like California Ave). What do you expect the pedestrian to do if they are 3/4 of the way across the street when the car bears down on them?

Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm

svatoid is a registered user.

Reckless walkers and reckless bicyclists are part of the problem as well. No point in trying to just blame drivers--even though that is the Palo Alto way.
Bottom line, everyone needs to use common sense when driving walking or biking.
BTW, reckless driver, ever get rammed by a speeding bicyclist that has ignored the traffic laws and sees you as an impediment to his biking? There is too much blame put on drivers and not enough enforcement on law breaking bicylists.

Posted by Truths, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm


There is not enough enforcement on cars either. I'd like to see more tickets all around. Enforcement is how people learn. I seldom see cars obey stop signs unless they have to yield to something, they seldom obey speed limits. Bikes dont obey stop signs, and pedestrians downtown, dont respect traffic lights.

"ever get rammed by a speeding bicyclist...?" Nope.
But thats probably just the luck of the draw.
Got rammed by a pedestrian, sharp elbows, but I lived.
Been rammed by a car more than once. Getting rammed by city vehicles is a pain. Palo Alto is a hard city to get to pay up.
Trouble with cars is they tend to hurt more than pedestrians or bikes. Bikes have a vested interest in not ramming things, it tends to hurt the rider and the bike.

You imply this happened to you and the bicyclist was less than nice about it. Ever have anything bad happen to you when its clearly the other person's fault? Cars? Bikes? Big wheels? Seldom do the people that weren't paying attention in the first place admit fault. They weren't paying attention, so they dont know they did it, or they are just jerks. ;-) Road rage is not term that came from bicyclists with hot heads, its from car drivers. Point is like you started to say and deviated, we could all do better no matter how we get around town.

Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

"I seldom see cars obey stop signs unless they have to yield to something,"
Gross exaggeration. Very Palo Alto--exaggerate a problem. Yes, some drivers do not come to a complete. But all drivers? Quite the blanket criticism--oh wait, I know in Palo Alto those that drive cars are evil. I bet you more bicyclists ignore stop signs than drivers.

"Point is like you started to say and deviated, we could all do better no matter how we get around town."
Agree with you on that and that is my point.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm

The point is, a pedestrian is unlikely to harm a driver, but a pedestrian is quite possibly going to harm him/herself by being unpredictable.

A car usually shows a turn signal, bicycles may use hand signals, but I have never seen a pedestrian signal that he is about to step out right into a crosswalk instead of going straight. I rarely see a pedestrian stop at the kerb and look before stepping out into an intersection.

No a pedestrian is unlikely to hurt a big powerful car, but is very likely to be hurt by a big powerful car if he/she is not paying attention. Forget about who is going to be hurt or who is going to be at fault and take the blame, instead start thinking how to make yourself safe.

And very few cars can travel several blocks in the time it takes a pedestrian to cross a street. Most cars approaching can be seen by a pedestrian much easier than a pedestrian can be seen by an approaching car, because pedestrians tend to be smaller, poorer lit (even in bright sunny days) and don't move fast - all things that make them harder to be seen.

Posted by Truths, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm

"But all drivers?"

Did I say all? I said seldom if they dont have to yield and I'd be willing to wager that. Stopping means a complete stop behind the limit line wheels must stop turning. Watch sometime, You'll see. Most cars slow down, but dont stop.

" I bet you more bicyclists ignore stop signs than drivers"

I'd take that bet, only because there are more cars. Now If you are talking pecentages, I agree, bikes are easily over 90%, but cars are easily over 50%. Its an illusion as cars seem like they stop because of the speed differential. Walk somewhere and watch. Remember behind the limit line and wheels have to stop.

Like I said, I vote for ticketing more and I dont care what the mode of travel is, but if anyone thinks their favorite mode of traveling is saint like, I challenge that. One of my neighbors got a ticket for running a red light on University and griped that it was late and there was no one around, it was safe, so he should not have gotten the ticket. Obviously his powers of observation were poor as he did not see the police officer that ticketed him. I think we just suffer from too much entitlement and I have no solution for that.

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