A Palo Alto Boy Scout is trying to get city officials to change a Middlefield Road crossing he says is dangerous.
Thibault Collignon, a 15-year-old Palo Alto High School freshman, says he has heard numerous crashes from his home near the intersection of Everett Avenue and Middlefield in the past six years. He was nearly struck one day as he crossed with his bike and now uses a safer crossing at a light at Lytton Avenue, he said.
Everett is a traffic-calmed street between Alma Street and Middlefield. Once a cut-through for drivers, traffic roundabouts now serve as deterrents, and Alma Street traffic is forbidden during rush hour. Many bicyclists and pedestrians travel up the relatively quiet street. But the traffic calming stops at Middlefield. On any given day, cyclists and pedestrians must run a gauntlet of speeding vehicles, he said.
"Lots of neighbors cross here and there is a lot of traffic here. It can take three to five minutes to be safe (to cross)," Collignon said of the intersection where there is no painted crosswalk or traffic signal.
Standing at the east corner on a Thursday afternoon, he pointed to a spot just south of the intersection.
"There was an accident there this morning. A car hadn't stopped in time and it hit the back of another car, which hit the car in front of it. It was a sandwich," he said.
The intersection had seven vehicle accidents between Jan. 31, 2013, and April 6, 2014, according to Palo Alto Police Department records. Five of those accidents occurred during afternoon rush hours. All but one took place on Middlefield, and one was on Everett, according to police data. Two persons were injured in two incidents.
Collignon said he would like to see a crosswalk with a pedestrian button that would activate flashing signs, similar to one near the Menlo Park Library on Ravenswood Avenue.
He is trying to earn a Scout badge through his efforts, which appear to be paying off. The Weekly contacted the city's transportation division after being contacted by Collignon.
Jaime Rodriguez, city chief transportation official, said a transportation engineer has examined the site.
"We will be moving forward with the installation of 'Pedestrian Xing' warning signs on each approach of Middlefield Road before Everett. The signs should be installed in the next four to six weeks," he said in an email.
But he said that adding a signal or another form of traffic control near Lytton Avenue would require study, as it might have unintended consequences on Middlefield traffic.
Also, the city is sparing about marking crosswalks along residential arterial streets such as Middlefield Road without adding controls, such as flashing lights or stop signs, he said.
"The signalized intersection one block south at Middlefield Road and Lytton Avenue is the best location for pedestrians to cross Middlefield Road," he added.