Motorcyclist collides with deer on I-280 | News | Palo Alto Online |


Motorcyclist collides with deer on I-280


A man on a motorcycle was struck by a deer Wednesday, Oct. 31, after the animal ran onto an Interstate 280 exit ramp and into the vehicle, Palo Alto Fire Battalion Chief Niles Broussard said.

The accident occurred during rush hour at 8:54 a.m. as the driver was headed northbound on 280 at Page Mill Road. The man was about halfway up the off ramp when the deer ran into the road and struck the motorcycle's front wheel, Broussard said. The man was thrown onto the ground and he received minor injuries. He was transported to the hospital by paramedics.

The deer did not survive.

In December biologists from UC Davis's Road Ecology Center and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) began an 18-month study of deer movements across 280 in San Mateo County along a 13-mile stretch of freeway between Millbrae and Woodside. The researchers aim to find ways to construct deer passageways or barriers to the movements.

Between January 2001 and December 2010, there were 928 reported automobile collisions with deer in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to Melanie Brent, Caltrans District 4 deputy district director for environmental planning and engineering, which is funding the study.

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Like this comment
Posted by Homer
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by quercus
a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

Hwy. 280 is a slaughter house from Daly City on South. I have counted more than 8 dead deer on one trip from SF to Redwood City. Really sad. Glad there will be some action to protect the animals and drivers. Hard to imagine it needs more study...

Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2012 at 11:55 am

Homer's comment made me laugh, which I needed to do today. Thanks.

I try to drive more slowly and look sharp left and right on 280, also on Page Mill, especially at night.

With the beauty and open space of our area, there are some downsides, of course.

Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Bicyclists have the same problems with squirrels running across the road, causing the cyclist to lose control of steering when the animal goes under the front wheel. I know, squirrels aren't QUITE as big as deer, but the end results can be just as bad.

Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Squirrels are not that big a problem for bicyclists. I have hit several on my bike and I have been surprised at how minor the disruption was. They are small and squishy and don't throw your front wheel much. Trying to avoid them by swerving or braking sharply is more dangerous than just ignoring them and letting them try to avoid you. Deer can be a hazard to bicyclists, too. I had a young one run across the road in front of me in Stevens Canyon last weekend as mother and sibling watched.

Like this comment
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm

@Homer: Good one.

Quite often I (bicycle) commute on Foothill at night. Right now the PG&E work is keeping the deer away, it seems, but otherwise I often see a lot of them. Once I saw a large family ambling about in the intersection of Page Mill and Foothill. Another time I inadvertently startled a deer in the trees to my right, and it ran parallel to me for a good distance. Foothill is lightly trafficked at night, so it seems to me drivers might stay in the left lane to give themselves the most opportunity to see deer coming in from the shoulder.

Like this comment
Posted by Wrong!
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm

"A man on a motorcycle was struck by a deer"? More likely the other way around! A deer was struck by a man on a motorcycle. More accurate, I think!

Like this comment
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm

David and Donald: I can't help disagreeing with your take on squirrels. I'd feel awful if I ever hit one. (As it is, I once accidentally ran over a newt and subsequently killed it with a rock so it wouldn't suffer, and another time I luckily didn't hurt a snake even though I accidentally ran it over.) I agree that swerving is a bad idea. But one can do a lot more.

First, like most bicyclists, you have probably noticed the key oddity of squirrels' response to (perceived) predators: they run *toward*, not away from, the predator, then reverse direction. I imagine this has something to do with their acceleration advantage over larger animals. In any case, since we know this pattern, we can predict it. As soon as I see a squirrel ahead of me, I immediately get ready to brake, knowing it might dart right in front of me, then reverse. Swerving is probably ineffective because it's hard to predict the squirrel's exact trajectory. Importantly, it's not necessary to come to a stop: just a ~20% decrease in speed is generally more than sufficient.

Second, in a group, people should call "Squirrel!" so everyone knows the squirrel braking protocol is in effect.

Like this comment
Posted by aim for his head
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Easy way to avoid a squirrel when bicycling is to aim directly for his head. He will jump out of the way (in a random direction) every time. If you try to swerve, he is just as likely to jump into your new path as to jump out of the way.

Aiming for his head usually also works for cats, dogs, and muggers. Deer are probably too fast and big for this technique, though.

Like this comment
Posted by needed the laugh
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Thanks all!! having a rough day and for the first time in a really long time, i might add, the comments made me laugh instead of cry. Classic! thanks again..

Like this comment
Posted by Ducatugirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

This time of year is known as "The Rut" , when does in heat are being chased by horny bucks. Wild hogs breed at this time of year, also. As a driver of any kind of vehicle it is important to watch out for them when you are driving in or near hills. They are not thinking of their own safety during the rut, just chasing the opposite sex.

As a motorcyclist, I go slowly on curvy mountain roads with this in mind, but I am surprised the noise of 280 wasn't offputting to the deer. Then again, it is highly possible for a deer on an exit ramp to run into a motorcycle head on when he/she has other thing in mind.

Like this comment
Posted by bob
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I go on about a 20 mile bike ride nearly every morning. During fall, I encounter a deer spooked by me or run in front almost every day, often multiple times on the same ride. Especially on Mountain Home Rd. or Portola. I've also had near misses with turkeys while descending hwy 84 and with coyotes jumping across kings mountain while also descending. I think turkeys may be the most dangerous hazard, as they don't move and will likely get all caught up in a wheel.

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Very sad. I hope they can establish deer crossings so these beautiful critters can be safe.

Too bad some people find such things amusing.

Like this comment
Posted by mmmmMom
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2012 at 1:41 am

Although I am very sorry for the dead deer, & the injuries to the motorcyclist, I do think this is the funniest Town Square in a long while. Y'all crack me up!

Yeah... And Homer's comment didn't need to be deleted. That's overkill, pun intended.

Like this comment
Posted by Disturbed by lack of humane thoughts
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Wow, people. Your lack of humanity for both the wildlife that belong here, and concern for those involved in the crashes is disturbing. Do you really think any of these animals are trained to know what to do with oncoming vehicles? Their flight instincts, as well as their mating ones are pure and natural. It's really sickening to hear these encounters, injuries and deaths are "amusing" or "funny".
For all we know, karma could bring you back as one of those animals whose deaths are amusing to you. Disgusting lack of empathy for the animals and humans.

Like this comment
Posted by Highway 280 Steward
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Hello all-
A very unfortunate story for the deer, I'm glad the motorcyclist is ok. Always be moving your eyes from left to right to see oncoming, sprinting animals, and keeping a "bubble" of space around your car on I280 is a very good idea.

I work with UC Davis on the above mentioned "Study," really what we're doing is gathering vital data to show Caltrans where and how the road needs to be fixed to reduce wildlife collisions. Then, we're working with many others to repair it. This doesn't end at a study.

Your stories will help! Please email any stories you have about collisions or near collisions with ANY animal, not just deer, to Please include LOCATIONS you see live or passed away animals, and if you're NORTH or SOUTH bound that would be greatly helpful.

Thanks in advance. Please note anything vulgar or rude will be ignored.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Monroe Park

on Jun 5, 2017 at 2:23 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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