Town Square

What happened to motorcycle officer on Churchill?

Original post made by Peter on May 18, 2007

Yesterday afternoon, Churchill Ave. between El Camino and Alma was closed to traffic because a motorcycle was down in front of the driveway to 25 Churchill. I couldn't find any coverage on it. There were police from both Palo Alto and Menlo Park, EMTs, and a fire truck.
Anyone know what happened?


Posted by anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2007 at 6:08 pm

it would appear that all of this went unseen
to the naked eye

Posted by Peter, a resident of Southgate
on May 19, 2007 at 10:01 pm

Perhaps it wasn't visible or was in a parallel universe. Seems odd that there was no coverage, since it totally blocked a busy street about the time school was letting out (Paly contributes to the traffic there) and the traffic is usually heavy. Six or seven police cars and a parking control machine were there in addition to the fire truck, the EMT truck and a large tow truck. Neither the Weekly nor the Daily covered it. Maybe the rider wasn't hurt, just embarrassed. Or maybe the rapture happened and he was the only one in the world who went to heaven.

Posted by Don Kazak, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2007 at 9:30 am

A PA motorcycle officer eastbound on Churchill saw a violation and pulled out to catch up to the offender but an eastbound car turned into the PAUSD lot at 25 Churchill, knocking the officer off his motorcycle, Capt. Dennis Burns said. The officer was examined at Stanford Hospital and released. Menlo Park police are investigating any possible traffic violations because a PA officer was involved.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2007 at 9:38 am

Does this sound as if the officer was hiding in the bushes and came out quickly, causing an inexperienced teen driver who was perhaps not paying enough attention to knock the officer of his vehicle? If this is the case, then more investigation should be done by the media to let us know just what is happening to teen drivers and hiding officers near Paly.

Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on May 21, 2007 at 10:02 am

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Here's the story we just posted on Palo Alto Online related to the accident: Web Link

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2007 at 10:10 am

Thank you Tyler. I hope you will also give any information about the investigation when it comes out.

Posted by anon., a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 21, 2007 at 11:04 am

This block of Churchill is very busy at this time of day, and officers should think twice before they begin hot pursuit in this area- right in front of the highschool- not very safe thing to do- sorry about the mishap, but perhaps the ticket hungry officers need to simmer down a little bit, and realize where they are.

Posted by enough already, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2007 at 11:23 am

Although it's unfortunate that this officer went down, I welcome the police presence on Churchill. I'm appalled at how many cars routinely disregard the "Stop for pedestrians" sign that's prominently posted smack in the middle of the road amid a yellow zebra stripe crossing. (You can't miss it.) Ask any Paly student or local resident and they will tell you that more drivers whiz by them than stop.

Bring on the police - we could use your presence on this stretch of Churchill!

Posted by Paly Parenty, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2007 at 11:28 am

This entrance/exit for Paly is really dangerous, I agree. There should be lights otherwise it is almost impossible to get out of Paly and turn left. If there is someone crossing it makes an ideal opportunity to get out into the traffic, still letting the pedestrians cross. It may be illegal, but it is the only way to get out.

Gunn has lights, why not Paly?

PS I rarely drive my child into/out of the parking lot because I know it isn't necessary for me, but when I do, it is always terrible!

Posted by Oh, please, a resident of Gunn High School
on May 21, 2007 at 7:13 pm

Gunn has one (1) legal entrance into the school for vehicles. Paly has, mmm, 3? Please let us keep our light with out begrudging us...:)

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2007 at 8:06 pm


Not begrudging you your light at all, it is very necessary, likewise the work that has been done recently to improve the situation, filters, two left turns, etc.

No, I think the Churchill entrance to Paly is equally in need of improvements. Apart from the fact that there are 3 entrances, this one in particular is in need of improvements. We have all the school buses using the entrance to get to their depot and we also have to negotiate the tail backs from when the train barrier is down (although sometime that can actually help to get us out if a kindly driver does not block the road and leaves us space). If we don't have lights, then maybe we need an old fashioned four way stop.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Southgate
on May 21, 2007 at 9:37 pm

Add to the Paly confusion the entrance/exit to the Palo Alto School District office, where the officer went down. That is a chaotic situation, with people trying to turn in (left turn) and people trying to exit right and left from the driveway, while traffic in the northbound direction roars on by.

Posted by Oh, a resident of Gunn High School
on May 22, 2007 at 7:42 am

Hi Paly Parent - thanks for not taking me so seriously. I agree that both schools aren't able to handle vehicle capacity very well. I like the sign at Churchill and Alma that says you can't enter during certain times. We tried to get one as well, keeping communte traffic off of a residential street with elementary kids on foot and bike, but it fell on deaf ears. I hope that someone doesn't have to get hurt before we get a sign like yours. I know there's a committee just for this discussion, but I don't have an opportunity to get to it to voice my concerns. Good luck to us all...

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2007 at 8:53 am


The sign on Alma helps a little, but the times are wrong for Wednesdays all year and Thursdays for 1st semester when Paly starts late both days. It only stops cross traffic on Churchill and not turning traffic from both ways on Alma. I know that a lot of the Churchill traffic do a detour round residential streets so that it comes out on Alma at Coleridge (or so) and then continues up Churchill on its merry way.

Posted by k, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2007 at 8:42 pm

It is really, really tough to make a left turn out of Paly onto Churchill after school (and not always easy to turn right) - I strongly urge that a light be installed.

Posted by Churchill driver, a resident of Southgate
on May 31, 2007 at 5:32 pm

I strongly urge that a reading and comprehension test be required for driving this stretch of Churchill. There are | KEEP CLEAR | signs painted at each intersection, yet drivers still clog them up.

It's a major hassle getting out of the Southgate neighborhood streets in the morning, largely due to drivers who can't comprehend that the entire space between the two lines are the zone that is to be kept clear.