Bicyclist injured on San Antonio-101 overpass


A 16-year-old boy riding a bike over the San Antonio Road overpass at Highway 101 was injured Sunday afternoon when a car slid out of control on rain-slick roadway and collided with him, police reported.

The boy reportedly suffered a broken leg and lacerations but his injuries were not life-threatening, according to Palo Alto police spokeswoman Lt. Sandra Brown.

Initial reports were that an eastbound Volvo at 4:20 p.m. failed to stop for slowed traffic and tried to avoid a Toyota Prius. The Volvo spun out and struck the bicyclist.

Brown said today that officers were still working on the accident report to confirm the sequence of events.

-- Palo Alto Weekly staff

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Like this comment
Posted by George K.
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

This is a tough area to cycle and should be avoided if possible. Motorists heading towards 101 have been plugging along in local traffic and are eager to speed up, and those just coming off 101 onto San Antonio are reluctant to slow down. Bad combination and a pity as this route is a nice connection for cyclists wishing to pedal the sloughs and parks across 101.

Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

Yes, George is definitely correct about the danger of biking across 101 on San Antonio Road. I always use the sidewalk on the "north" side of the road, and I recommend others do the same - including you hardcores. Even there, I sometimes feel vulnerable. Better to use the under-crossing a few blocks north, but unfortunately it's only open for 6 months of the year. It just closed for the winter a few days ago.

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 18, 2010 at 11:29 am

Ironically, the Adobe Creek trail underpass just closed for the winter, which means this dangerous overpass is going to get more bike traffic until the underpass reopens in mid April. Underscores the need for a bike/pedestrian overpass here like the one at Embarcadero.

Like this comment
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 18, 2010 at 11:35 am

With the closing of adobe creek underpass for winter, that's the only way for bike/ped to cross 101. There are so many new, dense housing going up around the area, all of them involve so called PC zoning change, city leaders should have demanded a year round bike route over 101 built as a "public benefit" for these zoning changes.

Like this comment
Posted by Bike Commuter family
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2010 at 11:57 am

We NEED a year-round south PA bike route on the bay trails. My husband rides his bike to his job in Sunnyvale on that route. During the winter he is forced to ride the 101 overpass. It is a horribly uncomfortable and extremely dangerous bike route. The city can't fix this soon enough for me.

With the new Moffett bike trails open, more and more cyclists will be taking this fabulous new trail, we need a way to get to it year round from south PA. It could be a great connector to points south.

I agree with the previous writer who commented on the increased demand for a year-round connection because of all the new housing.

It's overdue. I'm really glad to see that Palo Alto has a feasibility study underway for this. Let's move on it, Palo Alto!

I hope this rider will recover from his injuries quickly. Best wishes.

Like this comment
Posted by Kirsten
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

My hubby rides along the bay trails to his job in Redwood city. Even more frightening to me, is that this is the route my 13 year old son takes when he wants to go to the baylands. He loves exploring the natural world, and I love giving that freedom, but it is scary to think of the danger he is in. I agree that attention needs to be paid to decent, safe infrastructure for bikes, both recreation cyclists and commuters.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm

No coincidence - the tunnel is closed and bike with a child gets hit on San Antonio crossing 101.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm

The tunnel is not just used by commuters getting to Google, or people visiting the Baylands, but teens getting to Twisters Gym, Lazerquest and the Movies.

Like this comment
Posted by Scott
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I would like to disagree with George and Brian who say that bicycling the overpass is "dangerous." If something is designated "dangerous" many will ask, "Why should we let anyone do it?" I'd like to bring the hyoerbole level down a bit. Many cyclists use this section of road every day, and would be extremely unhappy to lose access to it. I will admit that it's not particularly bicycle friendly, but for an experienced cyclist, it is not difficult to negotiate safely. I certainly wouldn't want to send an inexperienced child over it. If I had a child, I wouldn't let him or her on this section of road until old enough to be safe in traffic and only after adequate safe bike training. I'd like to point out that the cyclist in this instance was hit by a motorist who was not paying attention to traffic, a motorist who reportedly nearly crashed into the car in front him/her, before swerving out of control and striking the cyclist. This driver could just as easily have had his/her lapse of attention on the freeway and killed someone in a car. The bicyclist did not make this situation any more dangerous.

In addition, I really want to point out that George's excuses for the motorists in the area,

"Motorists heading towards 101 have been plugging along in local traffic and are eager to speed up, and those just coming off 101 onto San Antonio are reluctant to slow down."

are unwarranted and excuse nothing.

Brian's suggestion,

"I always use the sidewalk on the "north" side of the road, and I recommend others do the same - including you hardcores."

apparently works for him, and he's welcome to it, but it wouldn't work for me. (I have a feeling that if he used his bike a little more, he would change his mind.) The bicycle is a vehicle on the roads of the USA, and except where specifically prohibited, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as the operators of other vehicles.

I, too, would like a better route to the Baylands and the East side of 101, and I hope one will be built. In the meantime, please don't exaggerate the hazards of bicycling. We're not wingnuts, nor "hardcore" crazies with a deathwish. We're just trying to get from here to there like everyone else, but without using a car.

Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Although the San Antonio overpass is not very bike-friendly, that had nothing to do with this crash. This was caused by driver stupidity and loss of control, and it could have happened on any slick street yesterday. The all-year crossing being studied will be nice, and Caltrans is looking at replacing the San Antonio overpass sometime in the next 10 years or so, and eliminating the ridiculously short Charleston on-ramp. At that time they will be required to build decent bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the overpass.

Like this comment
Posted by old bikeRchick
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I think it's lunacy to close the bicycle undercrossing at Adobe Creek for 6 months of the year. If the creek is high and it is flooded, that's different. I would hope that common sense would prevail. We have a creek monitor website--could that not also reflect the status of the bike path undercrossing? At least, until we get a year round south Palo Alto alternative.

Like this comment
Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Oct 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I agree with Scott, however I recommend biking on the sidewalk on this overpass. That is my route to work everyday when the Adobe underpass is closed. Based on white police survey marks, it appears that the bicycle may have been on the sidewalk at the time. There are now nasty scrape marks on the sidewalk there.

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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm

The Adobe Creek crossing is indeed under mud and water much of the winter. The fencing must be removed to allow full flow through the channel. The city has an arrangement with the water district to close and open the underpass once each year. It would be a lot of work to remove/install the fencing and clean the mud off the path over and over again through the winter to close and open the path every time it rains. Neither the city nor the water district wants to do that, and the chance of someone slipping there due to some unexpected rain is high. A true year-round crossing is in the works and that is the best solution.

Like this comment
Posted by jj
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm

The 101 bike underpass on west bayshore opens from 4/15 and 10/15 each year. I don't see why they close so early in the season when there is no flooding danger in sight. Can't they make the dates more flexible?

This accident could have been avoided if they closed the gate there a bit later in the season.


Like this comment
Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Oct 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

ummm jj,

Did you not notice that it rained yesterday? In fact the rain was the root cause of the accident. They closed the Adobe undercrossing per the specific date requirements of the Water District and just in time for the first rain of the season. October 15th is the Water District's official start of the rainy season, and sure enough it rained within 2 days of that date. Statistics work.

Like this comment
Posted by Scootin' Granny
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 19, 2010 at 12:37 am

I hope the "year-round" crossing will take scooters and wheelchairs into account. For a town proud of its bicycle- and pedestrian-friendliness, Palo Alto is often very hostile to the vehicles of the disabled. I can't get over 101 on my scooter, and I too would like to visit the Baylands. There are frequently light fixtures and other posts stuck into the sidewalks which make it too narrow for me to pass, and steep "ramps" that a large bicycle tire can handle but the small wheels on a motorized wheelchair or scooter can't. A bicycle barrier that requires the rider to dismount and push the bike through a narrow offset-gate, as at California Avenue, is impassible for me.

The underpass at Homer and Alma should be the model. Above ground, wider unblocked sidewalks, more gradual ramps and a clear view of oncoming traffic are needed.

Like this comment
Posted by Stop the reckless drivers
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2010 at 5:20 am

The football cause of this crash is a selfish reckless driver. We need to increase police patrols and enforcement during bad weather to get these people off the street.

Also year round bike crossing is years away. Until then, the city should paint bike lanes on San Antonio to give bicyclists a little space.

Like this comment
Posted by George K.
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm


I'm confused by your disagreement. I don't think calling an area "tough to cycle" is hyperbole. Although I didn't specify, I'm really thinking of less-experienced riders when I say this, many of which I have seen taking this bridge across 101. In fact we're saying the same thing--that if you are a young or casual rider, this isn't a bike-friendly area.

I wouldn't at all suggest banning bikes from this crossing.

And I really don't understand why you think I've given excuses for motorists. I haven't. I've given my reasons why this area is particularly hazardous--because drivers are exceeding the speed limit.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 20, 2010 at 2:07 pm

In case you doubt the roads were slippery on Sunday: I was sitting on San Antonio at the light @Charleston a couple of minutes after the accident, and one of the responding police cars spun out while turning from Charleston onto San Antonio. The police car was not driving unreasonably fast, and I presume that police officers are trained in high-speed driving.

The roads were slick.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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