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Palo Alto cyclist injured in Portola Valley collision

Original post made on Jun 11, 2013

A 58-year-old Palo Alto bicyclist was thrown 8 to 10 feet in the air and was injured in a collision with a vehicle on Alpine Road near Interstate 280 on Sunday morning (June 9), according to the California Highway Patrol and the Woodside Fire Protection District.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 2:58 PM

Comments (56)

Posted by resident, a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

"he inexplicably turned left" is the statement of the car driver or of the bicyclist? Statements like that should not be presented as fact without any attribution of the original source.


Posted by Sally, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2013 at 4:14 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by wow, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Resident

If you read the entire sentence you will see the comment "he inexplicably turned left" is attributed to Officer Art Montiel of the CHP.


Posted by Clem, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I drive Alpine Road all the time and the number of bicyclists has dramatically risen in the last 10 years. The problem is that many of them think that its the car drivers responsibility to watch out for them. Then ride three abreast and block flow. They ride in the road way. They cross in front of cars to make left turns. Its a hard road to negotiate on Saturday mornings. I hope that anyone riding a bicycle has good health insurance. Its dangerous business.


Posted by Maria, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I live in Los Altos Hills, and we have to deal with this and the cyclists on Arastradero Road. I find a lot of cyclists that visit our town are simply rude, inconsiderate, and righteous. If they had some humility they would realize how mortal they are, and how one bad move will completely ruin their and our lives. On top of it all, we pay much in taxes to use our own roads.


Posted by David , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2013 at 7:10 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm

There was an article in today's Daily Post that they were looking for a bicyclist that hit a woman on the sidewalk in downtown palo alto this weekend. He of course got away and she fell and hit her head.
If they catch him, then hit and run charges need to be brought against him.


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm

The self-righteous entitlement that most recreational cyclists exhibit comes from the CVC that says they have the "right" to use the motor vehicle roadways.

What they need to learn is that the laws of physics trump the laws of man.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Tom Arnold, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Really? Read the vehicle code, everyone. Bicycles are vehicles and have the right (no quotes needed) to be on the roads. It IS your obligation to look out for bicyclists, just like you look out for pedestrians, horses, other cars, and kids.

Not all cyclists are saints on the roads, but that doesn't provide an excuse to make veiled threats about hitting them or relishing in their untimely death due to the fact your car is big and the bike small. Guido is in hospital, and you are complaining about traffic on Alpine road? Are your proud of that comment?

On the topic of cyclist "righteousness", just because you pay taxes does not make your road a private road. Gas taxes, property taxes and sales taxes all fund the roads around your house. Cyclists pay those taxes.

Cycling in the Bay Area is here to stay. You can continue to shake your first, or slow down smile and maybe take a ride on Alpine yourself one day.


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm

@Tom Arnold,

You are a much better advocate for my position than I could ever be.

Thanks!



Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm

For those of you writing some of the insensitive comments on this board, please remember that family members of those involved may be reading your comments. You do not have all of the facts to make the statements you are making with the limited (and not necessarily factual) details in this article. So please this into consideration when making your posts.


Posted by Actually, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 6:40 am

Outsider observer,

Why do you seem to dislike bicyclists so much?


Posted by Anon, a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 12, 2013 at 7:44 am

I was a bicycle rider. I live in Portola Valley so cope with the riders on a daily basis. The numbers of riders has increased in the last few years. They have become bolder in the last few years. They ride in the car lane two or three abreast talking to each other. They ride along and decide they want a drink and flip out into the car lane trying to get their water bottle. Large groups of 20 or more ride in the car lane at 10 mph and refuse to get in the bike lane even though there is a line of cars trying to pass them. Bikes should be taxed and the money be used to build a bike road around the Portola loop. They do it in Holland why not here?


Posted by Daniel, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:12 am

I am avid road and mountain cyclist and local resident since 1981. For the last 4 decades I have ridden ride Alpine road to and from Portola Valley innumerable times. From my perspective, the most dangerous situations for cyclists are places where autos exceed the speed limits and the speed differentials between bikes and cars are the greatest.

Advice to fellow cyclists: drivers are generally in a hurry to get somewhere, don't get in their way! As a cyclist you simply represent an impediment to their progress.


Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:14 am

Bike haters gonna hate no matter what.


Posted by YES YES YES!, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:14 am

Yes, lets get to where Holland has gotten (From Wikipedia)

Cycling in the Netherlands is a common and popular method of transport and recreation, accounting for 27% all trips nationwide, and up to 59% of all trips in its cities.[1] Tourists also like to cycle around the countryside or the city. The country is well equipped with cycle-paths and other segregated cycle facilities. The network reaches all parts of the nation and into the bordering nations of Belgium and Germany. The cycling surface quality is good and the routing tends to be direct with gentle turns making it possible to cycle at speed for considerable distances. Cycleways come with their own sets of rules and systems - including traffic signals/lights, tunnels and lanes.

How else can we make PA more bike centric, where bike trips are the norm, and traveling by car in the city takes a minority role in local transit?

Anon, I love how you got the ball rolling on this topic. Holland should be our goal, with the slow elimination of cars using roads as they convert to bike only. GREAT IDEA!


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

Vehicular rules apply to bikes. If they are going less than the speed limit, they are either supposed to be as close to the curb as possible or if there is a bike lane "Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride within the bicycle lane".

That means bikes going under the speed limit are supposed to stay in the bike lane. If they are traveling at the speed limit (possible on those downhill runs) they have the right to use the road, just like a car.

The one thing I have never quite understood is why cyclists are just a little more cautious. When bike meets car, car wins.


Posted by Worry About Yourself, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:43 am

I loathe the mindless stereo-typing of cyclist and drivers whenever one of these incidents occurs.
Cyclists do this, Drivers do that. The only thing I know is that I've seen jerks using both, and the jerks never have outnumbered the nice folks.
Live your life and quit sniveling about all the horrible things "Those other people" are doing. Good grief, what a steaming pile of whiners


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:54 am

There are many good comments on this thread regarding cyclists and cars. I certainly agree that riding 2-3 across and blocking traffic is obnoxious behavior and that cyclists should stay in the bicycle lane when one is available.

It is good to keep in mind that when you see a cyclist riding to the left of the bicycle lane, it is often because there is glass, a pothole, gravel, or object creating risk of injury. You sometimes have to choose between the risk of merging into traffic or crashing your bike because of a pothole (I'm referring to a single cyclist or row of cyclists here, not lane hogs).


Posted by Downtown Resident, a resident of University South
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:20 am

We live on a city designated bike route. What I don't understand is why one set of rules applies to drivers and another to bikers. Example: Bikers do not stop, often do not slow, at the stop signs in our neighborhood. I have observed this time and again -- even with a policeman nearby; if I followed suit, there would be consequences.


Posted by Raymond, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:23 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Mike, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:36 am

There is room for everyone. Stop and think about the fact that more bicyclists mean fewer cars, which makes your life better in many ways. So what if you get to your destination 30 seconds later? is that worth getting angry about? let alone threatening or possibly injuring a person? Get a grip people. Slow down and live, and that applies to cyclists also. If everyone tried to follow the law and be courteous, we'd all live longer, for several reasons.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:56 am

I don't know what happened in this particular incident, but one thing that is certain is that the bike lanes/trail on Alpine on both sides of the 280 intersection are suboptimal, and dangerous. There is too little margin for error for either drivers or bikers. Unfortunately, in the face of some vocal minority community opposition, the county voted 3-2 to reject $10M to fix this corridor, which is now being used to improve the bike paths on almost every road around Stanford, except this demonstrably dangerous one. A bicyclist was killed not far from this spot a few years ago, and it sounds like this one was lucky to have survived.

This should be (another) wake-up call for the county the safety of this very heavily biked corridor needs to be improved. If the county felt it could reject $10M to fix it, it now has to come up with other money or plans to do so. Another collision here is inevitable; close calls happen frequently. What are they waiting for?


Posted by moi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm

>>>> ". . . was thrown 8 to 10 feet in the air and was injured in a collision with a vehicle." <<<<

I would have written that he had TWO opportunities to be injured. He was injured, thrown 8 to 10 feet in the air, and then injured some more when he landed "inexplicably."


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm

This should be another wake up call to cyclists that that area is dangerous for them so cycle elsewhere. That means taking your business elsewhere, too - spend your $$$ where the roads are safer.


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

@Actually,

Anon sums up the reasons quite well in his post immediately following yours.

However, let me add one more point, and one that is particularly relevant to Alpine Road.

The Motor Vehicle Roadways are a transportation facility, not a recreation facility. 10 feet from where this incident happened there is a dedicated recreational bike path that parallels Alpine road. Cyclists, however, refuse to use it. Instead they intentionally impede traffic and intentionally put motorists at risk by using the motor vehicle roadway.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Some roads have restrictions in which trucks cannot travel. Why? It is often due to safety issues. Perhaps it is time to do the same thing with bicycles. Some roads are hazardous when shared by both cyclists and motorists. It might be time to designate certain roads as "motor vehicle only."

That said: If everyone -- both motorists and cyclists -- followed the law, then I think that most of these accidents would be avoided. In this case, the cyclist is alleged to have made a sudden turn. If true, then the cyclist is at fault.


Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I live in Los Altos Hills, and we have to deal with this and the cyclists on Arastradero Road.

If you weren't using Arastradero as a cut through to avoid traffic on 280, you would not have this problem.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I agree w/Nayeli. Various vehicles are prevented on different types of roadways. Either funds need to be dedicated to really improving the safety of these roads for cyclists, or they should be banned. Most of the cyclists in the hills aren't commuters, so it wouldn't increase traffic.

John Murphy - I don't understand your latter comment. I only use Arastradero for itself, not to avoid 280. And if people do, what's wrong w/that?


Posted by Actually, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm

"It might be time to designate certain roads as "motor vehicle only."

They are called freeways.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2013 at 2:24 pm

No, Actually, they're not. There are various types of roads that have various designations for what type of vehicle can be on them & freeways are just one of them.


Posted by sls, a resident of Southgate
on Jun 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm

what many dont realize, even some bike riders, is that cycling is almost like being a professional acrobat! real bike riders have much experience and instinct. but now cycling is much more popular and novice people are taking it up casually. thats why there are so many accidents. they are casual cyclists due to proliferation and promotion of bikes these days. true cyclists approach bike riding almost like its a professional athletic or ballet or gymnast. you have to be that agile and aware. bikes are not toys ,they are almost akin to balance beam in gymnastics. you have to bev constantly prepared for anything.


Posted by Actually, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm

ok, hmmm.

I am open to your comment
Give me an example of a public road that is not a freeway that bikes are not allowed on.
I cant think of one.


Posted by Oughta be a Law, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Isn't there a law that states that bicyclists must ride single file on public roads? What if the road is very narrow and there is barely room for two cars to pass in opposite directions? What if there are no bike lanes because there is no room for them to be painted--wouldn't that indicate lack of room for a bicycle!

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm

There is no law requiring bicyclists to ride single file, but there is a law so confusing that some people think it says that.


Posted by Actually, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm

"wouldn't that indicate lack of room for a bicycle"

no many streets wide enough for a bike and a car do not have a painted bike lane.

Also if there really is not enough room for both a bike and a car, the bicycle is supposed to take the lane until there is room.


Posted by Crease, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Bicycling breeds anarchy. Let's get more bicyclists.


Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm

"Either funds need to be dedicated to really improving the safety of these roads for cyclists, or they should be banned."

Federal and state transportation policies call for the former, not the latter. Changing the law to reduce bicyclist's access to roads is a non-starter in Sacramento and Washington. Education for drivers and cyclists on how to share the roads safely would be a cost-effective measure in the short term while we wait for the long-term fixes.


Posted by Biker Dude, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I am an avid rider, as well as a daily drives. Keeping bikes off some roads makes sense - usually the same roads that also ban pedestrians, like highways. Alma comes to mind ("Central Expressway") and other narrow, high-speed arterials. The lightly traveled hill roads - Page Mill, Alpine, Skyline - would make no sense to ban, since the # of riders at any time is small and the car traffic fairly slow and light. Arastradero of course has a bike lane from El Camino up almost to 280, where it disappears for about a quarter mile, after which is re-appears. Alpine is similar - I believe it has a bike lane from the bottom up past Portola Valley Road, beyond which the cars are very sparse.

If someone can name narrow roads with lots of car travel, that would be helpful - Alma is the only one that comes to mind.


Posted by Actually, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Pedestrians aren't banned on highways, they are banned on freeways. Alma is a 35 MPH street that needs traffic enforcement badly as drivers go 50+ on it. Central is wide enough to allow bikes, maybe the real answer is to widen Alma. Personally I think you would have to have a death wish to ride a bike on Alma, but that said its legal and I dont see the state changing that.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Paly parent has it wrong. The prevailing speed of traffic has nothing to do with speed limits. It's the speed most of the vehicles are traveling. If most of the vehicles are bikes (as in a group ride), then slow down if you're in your car. The bikes define the prevailing speed.

Alpine road is a nightmare. Westbound the bike lane disappears at the Webb Farm and reappears at Ladera. The only safe way to ride a bike under 280 is to wear the brightest jersey you can find and take the entire middle lane. Completely legal.

If you're whining about "recreational cyclists" using the road, you should ask yourself why you believe driving to the shopping center for "shopping therapy" or to Shoreline to see the new Superman movie takes precedence. When it's an emergency, there will be a black and white motorcycle up front with a siren. The rest of the time it's first-come, first-served.


Posted by Dan Connelly, a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm

This article is an embarrassment. The quote from the officer is made without justification: "inexplicably turned left into the traffic lane"? The officer should have stated the source of this information assuming he was not himself a witness, and if he did not, then he should have been asked. And whether Mr. Arnout was wearing a helmet or not is completely irrelevant and has no place in the article.

As to the "might makes right" faction which so loves to grace the comments sections of articles like this: I suggest you consider the consequences of your view, as there are vehicles on the road bigger than yours, and people who are stronger and more powerful than you. We live in a civil society with laws and customs born from a respect for each other. The roads like most public spaces are for a diverse range of use. Please show some respect for Mr. Arnout, who managed to make it 58 years in this life.


Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:18 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by danielle, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:21 pm

we need more bicycles, not less

everyone slow down please


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 8:16 am

People who know those involved are undoubtedly reading these comments. Think about whether you would want your families to see these comments if you were the one involved. While message boards tend to be great places to start debates, we should refrain from making judgements on either party as they can be hurtful and harmful. You have good drivers and bad drivers, safe cyclists and unsafe cyclists. This article doesn't do anything to assess it for this accident. Unless you were there, you have no justification for assessing blame.


Posted by Sue, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 13, 2013 at 8:17 am

Aquamarine, If you hit a cyclist and you're in the wrong, the financial outcome for yourself could be disastrous. I have a friend who is still getting payments 16 years after getting hit, the lady that hit him had to move out of her condo due to the monthly payments she has to make as ordered by a judge.
The reality is that few cyclists die when hit, and personal injury lawyers love that. Be careful when you drive, you might not only buy me a new bike, you may be working for me the rest of your working days.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 13, 2013 at 11:45 am

Yeah, whatever - if I'm still alive and unhurt, it trumps death and injury, which is why the attitude of many cyclists is stupid. I have a relative still collecting payment from the cyclist who mowed her down as a pedestrian as she has permanent injuries. She didn't owe cyclist, also injured a dime.

You better watch how you cycle, because if you're like most of the cyclists I see, blowing through stop sides, riding in crosswalks, talking on your phone, not wearing a helmet and a host of other stupid behaviors, you may end up in the hospital.


Posted by responding to aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Your relative who mas mowed down had no relation to this accident. I'm sure you're frustrated, but making assumptions about this accident is wrong and inappropriate. For every cyclist that is making poor decisions, there are plenty that do everything right to ensure the safety of themselves and others. There are also many drivers I might add that aren't careful as well as pedestrians that carry out reckless behaviors. But again, none of that explains what happened here, so I suggest your stop trying to make conclusions from limited information.


Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

@ Actually:

I agree with what you're saying about Alma. Bryant Street is just a few blocks away and is DESIGNATED as a bike route. Yet, you still see cyclists using Alma. It slows traffic from the designated speed limit, causes congestion and is something of a danger to cyclists and motorists alike.

I never understood why cyclists didn't just go a few blocks over to Bryant. It is like that oddly located crosswalk on San Antonio Rd. (near the Ross parking lot). There is a poorly visible crosswalk cutting across San Antonio Rd. and located just a half block from a well-lit intersection with additional crosswalks.


Posted by Actually, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Nayeli,

Bikes prefer Alma the same reason cars do. Not many lights and its an easy way to get from one side of town to the other and it keeps going into the next town. Bryant is only good for commuting within Palo Alto. Get to either end and the path into the next town is confusing or poorly thought out, especially towards mountain view, so I get the convenience of it, but with the lanes so narrow and the cars driving 50 MPH, its suicide.


Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 13, 2013 at 9:29 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Dave Ros, a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I've ridden my bike in Portola Valley (and all over the area) since 1973. There are more bikes on the road now than back then, but the more dangerous truth is that there are very many more motor vehicles on our roads, too. I'll bet that daily traffic counts on Alpine and Portola Roads are 10x above their level 40 years ago. Is it the cyclists that create danger, or the drivers?


Posted by Gave it up, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I gave up cycling to work and now pollute the air with my car daily. It isn't safe anymore, given the number of hostile drivers out there, whose posts above only confirm my decision. Very sad for the environment.


Posted by Duke, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm

There are many stop signs at which it makes no sense for bicycles to stop. A simple solution would be to change many stop signs to yield signs for bikes only.


Posted by Bill vanCleemput, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

I am very shocked by the rudeness of this discussion. I have known the victim for at least 35 years. He has always been a kind person. He certainly was NOT one of these "rogue bikers".

This was a grave accident and so far no one knows why.
This column and this subject matter are a most inappropriate forum for venting pro-bike AND anti-bike opinions.

Please respect the victim and his family and stop this non-sensical and rather rude opining.

Thank you!


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