News


UPDATE: Bicyclist struck, killed by car near Palo Alto identified

Incident occurs at Page Mill Road intersection with Christopher Lane, near Old Page Mill Road

A 52-year-old man on a bicycle who was fatally struck and killed by a car just outside of Palo Alto Tuesday morning has been identified as Jeffrey Donnelly of Palo Alto, the Santa Clara County Coroner's office confirmed on Tuesday night.

The crash was reported around 6:50 a.m. when a black 2014 Volkswagen Golf hit a bicyclist near the intersection of Page Mill Road and Christopher Lane in Los Altos Hills, CHP officials said.

The Volkswagen, driven by a 19-year-old man, was driving west on Page Mill, east of Interstate 280, when it collided with the bicyclist, who was also traveling west on Page Mill, having come from Old Page Mill Road, CHP Officer Art Montiel said.

The driver remained at the scene, Montiel said.

Investigators said they don't believe alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash.

The inside lanes of eastbound and westbound Page Mill were closed while the accident was being investigated.

The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office was called to the area at 7:26 a.m.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff/Bay City News Service

Comments

38 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2015 at 9:18 am

Several years ago, Caltrans and Santa Clara County proposed bicycle safety improvements to the I-280 & Page Mill Road interchange. Does anyone know what the progress on that project is?

Right now, the (westbound) bike lane jumps from the right side of Page Mill to the left edge of the road when the freeway onramps take over the right side of Page Mill. The Page Mill speed limit is supposed to be 35mph, but few cars obey that.


18 people like this
Posted by Jimmy
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:19 am

So sorry for the family of the victim. Horrible accident.


34 people like this
Posted by worried citizen
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:25 am

This intersection is extremely dangerous; the speed limit is 50 mph which means cars are going approximately 60 mph around a blind curve on a road with bicyclists.

I thought CALTRANS was going to put in a traffic light a while ago (which would have saved this person's life) but I guess that never happened.


52 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:33 am

RIP to the person who lost their life...and can't but feel bad for the driver too. Tragedy all around.


6 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:34 am

[Post removed.]


47 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:56 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Common Sense - sunrise today was 6:36AM, so visibility shouldn't have been an issue.

The intersection design is inherently dangerous for cyclists. Not only do westbound cyclists have to merge across fast moving lanes to get to the center bike lane, cars continuing west then have to merge across the bikeline. It's hard to imagine a worse set up.


42 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:23 am

We should really fix that intersection. That bike lane in that area switches from the right side of the road to the left side requiring bikers to cross over in order to continue on Page Mill. The crossover point is near the base of the hill so cars tends to speed all the way down. That leaves very little margin of safety.


39 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:39 am

I hope all the people, including members of the City Council, continually pimping for more bicycles read this and understand that when a bicycle and car collide the bicycle always loses.
I have seen 6-7 bicycle collisions and whether the driver is talking on their cell, distracted, not paying attention, texting, or the bicyclist is riding side by side into the lane on Foothill Expressway it is always a tragedy, but the bicyclist is injured or worse.
Provide more parking for cars in Palo Alto and don't trade parking places for some "favors for the city" and stop the building, hotel and condominium development in Palo Alto so people are not forced to use bicycles and expose themselves to so much danger.


18 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:39 am

No surprise given the location. It is nearly impossible to get across Page Mill to the bike lane on the far side during morning or evening rush hour. Two lanes of traffic traveling at nearly 50 mph is hard to merge across. I am sorry for both parties and their families. Better facility design could be employed to mitigate addition incidents. A trade off between maximizing the number of vehicles/hour verse promoting alternate forms of transportation which is the ultimate solution in the end.


20 people like this
Posted by @jerry99
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Carla
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Carla is a registered user.

That is a tough intersection for both cars and bicyclists.
I'm sure s the transportation department knows it needs to be redesigned such that these two have little interaction.


21 people like this
Posted by So sad
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:16 pm

I live on Page Mill Road. So many bicyclists, so many cars. It's bound to happen sometimes, no one's fault most likely, just a terribly sad accident. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone concerned.


36 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is no excuse for not having protected bike lanes on Page Mill Road:

"96 percent of people using protected bike lanes believe they increased safety on the street and they reduce bike-related intersection injuries by about 75 percent compared to comparable crossings without infrastructure."

"New York City's protected bike lane on 9th Avenue led to a 56 percent reduction in injuries to all street users, including a 57 percent reduction in injuries to people on bikes and a 29 percent reduction in injuries to people walking, as well as an 84 percent reduction in sidewalk riding."

"Streets with protected bike lanes saw 90 percent fewer injuries per mile than those with no bike infrastructure."


76 people like this
Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm

As Midtown resident noted above, the complete interchange of Page Mill & 280 has been up for a redesign for several years. I attended a meeting in Los Altos Hill at least two years ago where they presented several new designs intended to make bicycling and walking safer, as well as prevent the morning backups of southbound drivers onto 280.

The most common response from the Los Altos Hills residents was "don't add a traffic signal, we want to preserve our 'rural character'" I was angry then, and I'm even angrier now.


26 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:58 pm

@ Janet Lafleur, agreed that the focus on "rural character" in a metropolitan area with 7 million people is patently absurd, and is killing people.

For those who really are looking for rural character [portion removed], move, and let the rest of us build some real, useful infrastructure.


20 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:58 pm

This interchange could really use some traffic signals. One at the Arastradero and I-280 South gore point so traffic isn't backed up on the Freeway itself. And another at the base of the hill so bicycles can safely cross the freeway on ramp traffic to continue on Page Mill.

If the LAH residents prevents these safety improvements, then it should be possible to sue them in civil court.


40 people like this
Posted by Sad cyclist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:58 pm

I saw this crash on my way to work this morning, moments after it happened. It was horrific. That intersection is a complete disaster. But knowing the intersection, looking photos of the impact, and learning that both the driver and victim were traveling west, I have to think driver error played a larger factor.


42 people like this
Posted by David V
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 3, 2015 at 1:04 pm

David V is a registered user.

I grew up in the area, I'm now in my late 50's. Yes, we are guilty of selling our old home for a trillion dollars.
As Janet mentions LAH hypocrisy stated "don't add a traffic signal, we want to preserve our 'rural character'"
Think about that; these are people living behind large gates, high walls, electronic surveillance systems, private security, fake water features & landscaping. THey did this by destroying our pastures, stables & orchards. And don't forget the cars, traffic, and construction. I do believe the town code calls for constant construction on every street all the time.

Rural? I don't see any of that in LAH. It's gone.


26 people like this
Posted by NOT AGAIN!
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 1:14 pm

DO SOMETHING to improve bike safety in the Palo Alto area and surrounding cities. Stop talking about it and having a million meetings DO SOMETHING!


10 people like this
Posted by Rose A
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 3, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Rose A is a registered user.

My condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. My thoughts are with you.


11 people like this
Posted by David V
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 3, 2015 at 1:27 pm

David V is a registered user.

...and another thing, no wonder so many adults ignore the bike lanes and ride on the sidewalk !!!!

Thanks for listening...


43 people like this
Posted by Only Native Palo Altans Know
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Somewhat off-topic but related to cars/bikers: Most drivers do not know that when turning right, one must drive into the bike lane when the bike line breaks up so the car warns bikers of the impending turn. Do not pull up to the corner and then turn right. Drive into the bike lane prior to reaching the corner. They clearly taught us this at Paly back in the day.


23 people like this
Posted by Also a cyclist
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2015 at 1:53 pm

I drove past the accident as I was heading west on Page Mill and north to 280 this morning about an hour after it happened. I saw the mangled bicycle and small car on the median, and tarp with a body underneath and foot sticking out. It was horrific to see that and a reminder that we all need to pay more attention and slow down!

I have bicycled the Old Page Mill - Page Mill corridor for over 30 years but typically not at rush hour. I remember when they put the bike lane in more than 20 years ago. It is very difficult to get across from OPM to Page Mill on a bicycle with so many cars going at high speed trying to get to the freeway entrances. It goes against my bicycling instincts to immediately try to go across two lanes of traffic to get into the left lane to where they put the bike lane, being vulnerable to motorists changing lanes and and trying to quickly get to the exits. Almost seems safer to continue west while staying to the right of the lanes and then stop before each exit to get across when there are no cars or hope that some cars will slow down or stop to let you go across the freeway entrance. But they did not design the bike lane that way and which forces bicyclists to trying to cut across all those lanes of fast moving cars which may also be trying to change lanes.

My condolences to the family of the cyclist and I am sorry that the cyclist lost his life. I suppose putting a cross walk in with a light would help a bicycle get across, but regardless, there are just too many cars going at high speed to try to get across and possibly not paying attention due to distractions.


32 people like this
Posted by Pahills
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Pahills is a registered user.

As a resident of Palo Alto Hills, driver who goes by that intersection every day, former active cyclist who now only rides on occasion and is afraid to ride on certain roads, it pains me deeply to have learned of the cyclist's death. I saw the ambulance and lights from a distance and took Arastradero Road instead. I'm always careful when driving around the hills, as there are always cyclists on roads that are not safe for riding. I treat cyclists like cars and go slowly behind them until it's safe to pass. Lots of drivers get upset and start honking at me to move faster. As a cyclist, I've had cars almost hit me many times. How many more deaths will it take for the city to do something about these roads? Cyclists will (and should) continue to enjoy our beautiful area. The Page Mill intersections need to be clearly labeled just like Alpine Road (which got better bike lanes after the death of another cyclist). The drivers on the hills are not the problem. The problem lies in the lack of proper bike lanes and green markings on the roads. The Page Mill/Christopher Lane intersection is very dangerous for bikes and cars alike. How about a traffic light there?


12 people like this
Posted by jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm

My thoughts and prayers go out to all victims and their families. This could have been avoided! I came upon the seen in my car this morning around 10am and immediately understood the situation when I saw the damaged bicycle on the median between the East and West bound lanes of Page Mill Road. I was home safe and sound from my own ride this morning by 8:30am. This as many have already noted is an extremely dangerous crossing area for bicycles from the far right lane to the far left lane with traffic coming from behind with no warning signs for the drivers and what always seems to be an unlimited speed zone as drivers rush to enter both directions onto the 280 Expressway. The same is true on both sides of Sand Hill Road and the 280 Expressway...........both sites have major design flaws which are the responsibility of the local transportation departments. They need to be corrected immediately before another tragic event occurs. It's a crazy world out there.


57 people like this
Posted by Grrrrr
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm

This is one of the reasons I finally gave up bike riding! It is simply too dangerous. The last time I was hit by a car, it permanently ruined one knee and the opposing elbow.

Yet, in this area, if you are seen to be riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, even on a busy thoroughfare, the police will write you a citation. Mine actually went on my DMV record. Then, as if that was not enough, even though I had identification in my bike bag, along with my cell phone, I was also cited for not carrying a CDL or State ID card!

As for the riding on the sidewalk, though, like I told the PAPD cop who cited me: I'd rather be in front of twelve than under six!

Rest Well , biker friend


17 people like this
Posted by Cheri
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm

I commute from Santa Cruz to Page Mill exit every day for work at Stanford. I watched amazed as Bicyclists would zoom accross the lanes of traffic to get to the center, shaking my head and saying "what an idiot" to myself.. I had NO IDEA that this was by design, the bike lane. INSANE, I hope the family of this man sues the #%!* out of the city.


11 people like this
Posted by wheelman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 2:41 pm

We'll see what an investigation reveals in this case. But it may point to the folly of crossing a busy road in order to stay within a bike lane.

My understanding is that a bicycle has full right to all the road. See Calif. Veh. Code. There's no requirement to stay within any bike lane. Indeed, doing so is often dangerous. Bike lanes abruptly change sides of the road, as here, and are almost always littered with road debris. Bike lanes simply aren't cleaned/maintained by localities in a similar manner as the rest of the road.

I ride in a bike lane at times, but there's no reason to slavishly follow them.


17 people like this
Posted by LAH resident
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:02 pm

I live in LAH up Page Mill above this intersection.

I think the LAH objections to lights are centered around the western portion of this intersection. I think in reality the objections have little to do with rural character (the intersection is the marriage of a 4 lane expressway with 6-lane interstate superslab, about as non-rural as you can get), and more to do with not wanting to be inconvenienced by having to wait at a red light which will inevitably favor traffic exiting 280 heading into Palo Alto. I think a little inconvenience is merited to achieve a safer intersection. It'd even be possible to install a sensor so traffic coming from the hills wasn't too badly delayed. However there are people in my community who will fight anything. This type of person always seems to be well organized and have a lot of extra time on their hands. The responsible authorities need to have the authority to overrule unreasonable objections.

With all that said, this accident occurred on the other side of the freeway, and it's not clear to me how lights would help. In this area cyclists are herded across 2 lanes of 50mph traffic into a strange center bike lane where cars cross over the bike lane from westbound Page Mill to head into the hills. This is a disastrous alignment. It feels like there should be a grade separation here for bicycles to navigate this intersection. There is no safe way to traverse it the way it is currently configured.


Posted by Very Sad News
a resident of South of Midtown

on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:15 pm


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28 people like this
Posted by Question
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Don't hate me or don't delete me, but since I don't know how to correctly ask this question, i just ask:

Why bicyclists insist on riding in the dangerous areas? Wouldn't they be better off avoiding them, at least for now until they get fixed?


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Those of us who live around here know that this idiotic (yes idiotic) bike lane exists.

I would like to know if the driver was someone from out of town who was unfamiliar with this intersection and this idiotic bike lane.


24 people like this
Posted by Maren
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:31 pm

To Question:

I am a lifelong Palo Alto Resident, bicycle commuter, in my 60s, who also likes to ride for recreation.
I am not offended by your question. "Why bicyclists insist on riding in the dangerous areas? Wouldn't they be better off avoiding them, at least for now until they get fixed?"
The answer is: there is NO SAFE way to get to the hills on a bicycle in this area. Page Mill, Alpine, Sand Hill, and Woodside Roads all require interfacing with freeway on and off ramps. And all have had fatal accidents.
So unless you expect us to never ride West of 280, and always ride on the city streets, there is no where to ride.
Traffic congestion would be even worse if those of us who commute by bicycle went back to cars.
There are several bicycle/pedestrian overpasses over 101, but between Sunnyvale and Belmont Ave in Burlingame, I can't think of any over 280.
I don't know what the solution is either short term.
As Mr Carpenter pointed out, it is possible to create protected bike lanes. NYC has done so, with great success.
I personally avoid these intersections at rush hour, but we need to make safety a priority.

I grieve for the cyclist, his family, and for the young man who killed him.


11 people like this
Posted by Awful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:32 pm

The driver is 19 - still relatively inexperienced. I drive this route regularly, from Palo Alto to beyond 280, and it is the worst configuration I have ever seen. It's actually pretty hard to follow the lane markings since there is so little room to move over to the left lane (to go straight, rather than getting on 280 south) in the short dotted line section of the bike lane. Add a car coming off of southbound 280 and turning left and it is an accident waiting to happen even without a bicyclist.

It looks like this accident occurred east of where the bike lane shifts to the left side of the road. Maybe the bicyclist tried to cross early to avoid the lane-changing congestion further up and the car driver didn't seem him on the left shoulder.

Very sad for all involved. My heart and prayers go out to the cyclist, his family, and the driver.


26 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:33 pm

I have been a cyclist living in Palo Alto for the past 35 years. Currently I ride past this exact spot a number of times every week. And I have had some scary near misses on several occasions.

Cars are going 70 mph plus, where cyclist must cross three lanes of traffic to get to the actually bike lane! Really!?!

I know of no more dangerous a place for cyclistis in the whole area surrounding Palo Alto. It's glaringly obvious to me that there was/is a real problem here. It's unconscionable that traffic authorities have done nothing about this truly dangerous intersection.

Appearantly it takes a death of a cyclist to initiate change. I say, fellow cyclists, let us honor our dead compatriot as a martyr and take action!


13 people like this
Posted by Maren
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Dan
What action do you suggest?
Perhaps we should start by putting up a "Ghost Bike" at the location as is done in some venues?


13 people like this
Posted by MEJ
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:38 pm

I have seen a few of the 'proposed' plans for the redesign of the entire Page Mill Road / Hwy 280 interchange. Some of them include a Bike Lane that takes westbound bikes off the road to the right, travels under the Highway entrance and exit ramps, and reconnects with Page Mill after Arrastrdero. When I first saw those plans, I thought 'What a crazy detour for the cyclists?!' But I can see they are just looking for ways to avoid tragedies like today's. Too little, too late.

Also, as dangerous as it is for Westbound Cyclists to cross 2 lanes of traffic to stay in the bike lane, try cycling EASTBOUND! It's even worse. You also have to cross two lanes of traffic that are exiting Northbound Hwy 280 at 60-70 mph and merging onto Eastbound Page Mill Road. I did that once. . . and I'll never do it again. I now bike on Arastradero to avoid that entire exchange.

I'm sick to my stomach about today's tragedy. RIP fellow cyclist.


22 people like this
Posted by E.B.
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:38 pm

To: "Question"

Bicyclists ride where they need to ride to get from A to B. Their reasons for getting to B are often varied: commuting to work, getting some exercise, going to the store, taking kids to school, etc. Most of the cyclists you see around here are not driving their car to a biking destination and then biking. They are biking from their home/work to somewhere. There is usually no way to avoid all dangerous spots.

There are very few ways to cross 280. Alpine was recently improved after a fatal accident. Sand Hill is terrible. Page Mill is terrible. Unfortunately, these crossings were designed long ago with a very car-centric view in a time when there were a lot fewer road users.

You are right that bicyclists might be better off avoiding dangerous spots, but they don't have that luxury since the infrastructure is not present.

The same question could be asked of car drivers. They insist on driving on freeways when it is well known that driving on 101 is far more likely to be fatal than driving on a suburban street.


45 people like this
Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:56 pm

@Question from Professorville You asked why bicyclists ride on dangerous roads, but the real question is why do we allow high-speed roads be built with little to no provision of safety for anyone that's not in a vehicle?

The answer is that these roads were built for people who had the money to spend on cars without any consideration of the safety or convenience of those who didn't. And unfortunately, things haven't changed much today. In any discussion related to making bicycling, walking and transit more convenient or safe, there's a huge outcry if the change impacts drivers at all.

So we get people driving 40 mph on El Camino and Embarcadero, and people driving 60 mph down Page Mill barely slowing down with sweeping entrances on 280. Traffic engineers and planners have known for years that the higher the vehicle speeds on surface streets, the more people die in car-related crashes. And the ones who suffer the most are those who aren't encased in cars with crumple zones and airbags.

Instead of saying "don't bike there" or "don't walk there" we need to be pushing hard for road designs that force drivers to slow down so they don't have tunnel vision and have time to react. Otherwise this will keep happening again and again. I'm sick of it and I'm not going to shut up about it.


12 people like this
Posted by Bike commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 3, 2015 at 5:10 pm

My sympathies to the families and friends of the cyclist.

There is a protected pedestrian/bike path under 280 in the center of El Monte. Google street view shows two women walking east of 280 on the path with barriers on both sides.

Maybe this could work on Page Mill?


23 people like this
Posted by Experienced bike rider
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2015 at 5:28 pm

I ride over 3000 miles each year. I frequent the various 280 crossings, to get from my home, up into the foothills. Sand Hill is pretty safe; the crossover for bikes is actually safer in heavy traffic, as car speeds drop to a crawl (unlike Page Mill near 280). Alpine got better after the improvements, but I still avoid it. Westbound Page Mill I will ride only outside of commute hours. I prefer the rural underpass at Elena best, although I have been harassed by cars when riding uphill on Arastradero past Deer Creek. The west/downhill side of Sand Hill recently got some lane painting improvements, but more could be done. I always ride with flashing lights front and back. I need to use a rear view mirror more. And I should probably get a GoPro helmet cam. I will try to make some noise at City Hall.


32 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2015 at 5:32 pm

To answer some of these questions I would like to add my 2 cents.

Some if not all the bicycle laws have remained unchanged for decades. True we have laws about bike helmets, but most bike laws have been around for a long time and are not obeyed, e.g. lights and often reflector laws.

Saying this, there used to be fewer bikes in relation to the numbers of cars on roads. I would hazard a guess to say that 50 years ago most people around here commuted to and from work by car. Bicycle commuters is a relatively modern phenomenon around here. We have relatively flat roads and an ideal climate which makes a bike commute a lot more attractive than other places.

In Europe, bike commuting has been around for a lot longer. Laws about visibility, lights, high visibility vests, etc. are strictly adhered to. The laws look to prevention and separation rather than share and protection. The PageMill 280 bike lane scenario would just simply not exist in Europe.

I think it is high time that bicycle laws were updated to fit the modern usage. I think we need to invest in more bike infrastructure with bike traffic lights built into the sequence of lights, banning bikes from certain streets and putting in more bike paths on wide verges that are completely separate from the roadway.

I would also like to see more bike recreation areas in the hills, and I would like to see more separation of bike trails and pedestrian trails.

I know I am alone in all this, but I feel that my opinion is worth stating.

RIP to the rider who died today and to his family. I also feel so much for the young driver who will carry this with him for the rest of his life.

Please let us not argue who deserves better treatment. I think it is time that we all deserve to have the best infrastructure to keep vehicles, bikes, pedestrians safe and separate.


19 people like this
Posted by Mr D
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2015 at 5:49 pm

This is truly an unfortunate incident and my thoughts and prayers go out to both families. This part of Page Mill Road is hard for both cyclists trying to cross two lanes and drivers coming down the hill from the posted speed limit of 50 mph trying to avoid cyclists merging from Old Page Mill Road.

That said, I live in the Palo Alto Hills area and it is truly upsetting when cyclist take up the whole lane on Page Mill Road. If you'd ever traveled on PMR there are many blind spots. It becomes very difficult maneuvering around the cyclists especially in my 3/4 ton truck. When I beep my horn to let them know that I'm approaching them, I usually get the finger. Also, there have been many times when cyclists feel they do not need to abide by the stop signs that are posted at both intersections of Arasterdero.


18 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2015 at 6:08 pm

I just checked Google Street View. The speed limit on Page Mill Road is 50mph from Foothill to the top of the hill, then coming down the hill towards I-280 there are two 35 MPH SPEED LIMIT signs and several bicycle route signs. All you people who are continuing at 50mph (or higher) are driving recklessly fast for this congested road.


11 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

It a minimum it seems like the bike paths could be repainted green like they are on Alpine. Also, it would make more sense to maintain a contiguous bike lane, and not have it jump from the right to the center.

@E.B. - There are almost three times as many fatal car accidents on suburban streets as urban highways like 101. Highways are safer for the same reason protected bike lanes are - limited cross traffic, similar speeds.


11 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@resident - there are "35 MPH zone ahead" signs on the way down the hill, but the actual 35mph sign/zones doesn't start until right after the 280N onramp, after passing Old Page Mill and Christopher Ln, where the accident appears to have happened.


10 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 7:47 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Something I noted about the 2 bike involve incidents in the bay area today:
It was still mostly dark out at the time. Were the riders aiding visibility (clothing and lights)?


6 people like this
Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 3, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Why not build a bike bridge which is a Y, one part goes up to page mill road towards Foothill Park and the other part of the Y goes to Arastradero. That way no interference. Pedestrians can go on it as well. Both directions.


31 people like this
Posted by Grrrrrr....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2015 at 8:43 pm

When I lived in another community for eight years, I rode my bike almost everywhere I went. I averaged 170 miles per week.
I never was hit by a car while living there, though I did have two close calls.

Within a few months of living in Palo Alto, I was hit by a driver running a stop sign and making an illegal left turn into me!
The Peninsula being much more compact, I was only averaging 100 miles per week.

Over the next nine years I was hit two more times and injured badly, the second set of severe injuries ending my ability to perform yoga or ride horses any longer. It just isn't worth it-- bike riding on the SF Peninsula is just too dangerous.


34 people like this
Posted by La Honda
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2015 at 9:19 pm

@Resident
"In Europe, bike commuting has been around for a lot longer. Laws about visibility, lights, high visibility vests, etc. are strictly adhered to. The laws look to prevention and separation rather than share and protection. The PageMill 280 bike lane scenario would just simply not exist in Europe."

Having lived in Europe, I have no idea what you are talking about. In the safest country in the world for cyclists, the Netherlands, there are no helmet laws, no laws regarding attire, and very few special accommodations for cyclists. Instead, there is an inherent cultural understanding that cyclists have every right to the road and have the right of way any time and any place a conflict occurs. The situation is similar in other European countries, many of which I have lived and ridden in. In France, a particular very dangerous, huge, multi-lane, multi-exit, roundabout that connects to a freeway and has a horribly-configured encircling bike lane near where I lived was the site of many car accidents, but never a bike accident of which I was aware. This was only because automobile drivers truly looked out for cyclists there, not because of any (nonexistent) requirements for visibility, lights, vests, helmets, or roadway design.

That said, as a cyclist that rides thousands of miles a year and commutes to Stanford from La Honda, I can understand that the automobile culture here isn't going to change anytime soon. So... here in the US, a more structured approach is required, and it is absolutely clear that the design of the Page Mill/280 interchange needs to be improved. Without a doubt, the most dangerous place I ride is crossing 280 on Sand Hill, but it's still the best 280 crossing for miles.

Fortunately, I do most of my riding in rural areas near where I live. Unfortunately, the road-entitled texting-while-driving masses take over my quiet roads every weekend, honking and yelling in every circumstance for me to get off *their* roads. The best thing about winter? Most of the weekend tourists stay at home.


17 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2015 at 9:46 pm

I have to agree with the posts asking why bicyclists insist on riding their bikes in these dangerous locations. Page Mill Road in this area is really an expressway rather than a road. There is a high volume of traffic nearly all day from before sunrise to 9 or 10 pm. Traffic speeds are high, the road is curvy, has significant inclines and declines, and has little street lighting. Still bicyclist insist on mixing their little bikes with thousands of pounds of kinetic energy. These bicyclists then attempt to swerve across multiple lanes of traffic at 5-20 mph while vehicles are traveling down hill, on a curve at 35-60 mph. These bikes may have the legal right to be on the road, but they will always be dead wrong if they misjudge their dash across the traffic lanes.


39 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:20 pm

I am confused by statements of some of the posters here as to why bicyclists ride on these dangerous roads which seems like a shorthand way blaming the bicyclist. I live here, I pay taxes here, this is a public road, there are bike lanes painted on the pavement in critical areas to guide where I ride, there are traffic laws that state bikes have an equal right to be on the roads as cars. Why am I not entitled to the same level of respect and concern on the roadway as someone else in a car? And, why shouldn't modifications to the roadways be made to protect bicyclists similar to what would happen if a local road was found to be hazardous to drivers in cars? Let's do something about these dangerous roads and intersections to make them safe for all who use them.


30 people like this
Posted by @Janet
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2015 at 10:54 pm

You don't have to shut up about it, you can push/shout/argue all you want but frankly, quite honestly and minimally to the point: we are a sprawling car-centric community. You want to push your cycling agenda, push it. You want to insist it's your right to be on the road, push it. But STOP trying to make cars evil. And understand that the main lanes on roads ARE FOR CARS.

It's lovely that you can bike where you need and want to go and get everywhere and do everything that you need to do on your bike. But the MAJORITY of us do not and cannot. In our everyday lives we need our cars. Our roads were meant to convey traffic in CARS at FASTER SPEEDS.

Your most damning, or perhaps telling, statement: "we get people driving 40 mph on El Camino"

What do you expect them to do Janet? Would 20mph suit your cycling style?

OK, everyone else out there reading this, commuting, running errands, getting your kids to and from events, how do you all feel about Janet's personal opinion that her right to ride a bike safely usurps your ability to drive 40mph on ECR? Because guess what? It's her and her group that are pushing this reduction of lanes on ECR and other highly trafficked thoroughfares through our cities.

It sure sounds great, "lets be nice to cyclists" but think about the reality of what that will get you. I'm also sick of it and I also won't stop talking about it.

that said, my prayers go out to both the cyclist and the poor driver who has to live with this, what an awful tragedy.


18 people like this
Posted by @La Honda
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:09 pm

Interesting. Having live in Asia it's inherent understanding that roads with lanes wide enough to accommodate cars are built specifically for cars and cyclists and pedestrians respect that.

Where has the incessant push that bikes and people have more rights than cars come from? Honest to G, I just don't understand why you would ever push this issue? Growing up we were taught that you didn't cross a street if a car was coming (even with a crosswalk). And when riding a bike you hugged the side/curb best you could, stay out of the way of cars. I grew up riding my bike on streets that had no bike lanes but I didn't insist my best friend ride side-by-side next to me so we could chat, I didn't push that I should get in the way of cars. the roads were for CARS GOING FASTER and I respected that.

I do think it's awesome that we have the ability to make more streets safer and when possible we make good, safe lanes for bikes. I love that we live in an area that we can encourage biking and walking and hopefully continue to develop better access for these.

[Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by @Mark.
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Again, my deepest condolences to both families.

I agree. Tax paying cyclists have every right to the road as well, but they need to abide by the posted traffic signs and the safety rules of cycling as well, i.e., riding single file, stopping at stop signs, using hand signals, staying in their lane (I've seen cyclists cross over into on coming lanes before when going around a bend), wearing helmets, etc.

If you're ever out on PMR west of 280 on the weekend, there are hundreds of cyclists out who think they own the road. They refuse to stop or even yield at stop signs and ride single file. Furthermore, there isn't a bike lane designated for them which makes it even more hazardous to navigate around them, especially on the curvy stretches of PMR.


32 people like this
Posted by another cyclist/citizen/parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:13 am

It's very troubling to know with absolute certainty, that should I experience the extreme misfortune that befell Mr. Donnelly or my friend that was killed while cycling in SF last month, that any online news item about my passing will be dominated by rants about why cyclists insist on riding in places where they don't belong. RIP, Jeffrey Donnelly.


7 people like this
Posted by Awful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:48 am

@another cyclist/citizen/parent:

We are all very sorry for what happened to Mr. Donnelly, and most of us have expressed that directly. That said, this thread is not, in any way, dominated by "rants about why cyclists insist on riding in places where they don't belong."

To the contrary, this thread has been dominated by bicyclists and sympathetic motorists whom all agree this is a very dangerous place for bicyclists, and are advocating for improved safety.

If this were Mr. Donnelly's obituary I would understand your resentment, but it's not. This is a news story for the community to take in, process, and share thoughts on how to avoid future, similar accidents.

Again, my thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Donnelly, his family and friends, and the 19 year-old driver of the vehicle.

The best thing we can do as a community, at this point, is figure out how to ensure this never happens again, at least at this location, and hopefully, at any location.


37 people like this
Posted by Awful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 1:33 am

The US, and especially the west coast, is VERY different from Europe in that the initial dirt roads became paved due to the advent of vehicle traffic. Roads here in Palo Alto were paved for the first time in the last 100 years, and they were paved and built for automobiles as they steadily replaced horse-drawn wagons and carriages. Many European cities had cobblestone roads when pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages, cyclists, and (eventually) cars had to share the road.

It is very true that the roads here were built for cars, and the culture of our local community is that of a vehicle-dominated society. Sidewalks were installed in most areas for pedestrians, but there has never been a concerted effort to accommodate bicyclists because they were not a significant aspect of the population.

In recent years, bicycling has risen as a popular mode of transportation and exercise, and now we have an infrastructure problem accommodating this relatively new form of transportation. This does not make the cars wrong, or the bicyclists wrong, it just makes for an infrastructure problem that we all need to respect and resolve.

Of course vehicles need to watch for bicyclists, and of course bicyclists need to ride defensively to keep themselves safe.

I think the main issues are vehicle drivers that are not trained or aware to look for bicyclists on roads not built for bicycles, and bicyclists who don't understand that their "right" to the road does not resolve the lack of proper infrastructure and culture that makes bikes a natural part of the commuting environment.

Here are two things I hope we can all agree on:

1. No motor vehicle driver wants to hit a bicyclist, and
2. No bicyclist wants to collide with a motor vehicle

With those two truths in mind, and the knowledge that our local area was not built with bikes in mind, we all need to work together to make our town safe for all modes of transportation.


7 people like this
Posted by wheelman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 4, 2015 at 5:05 am

The San Jose Mercury news reports that the CHP said that the victim, Jeffery P. Donnelly, was aged 52, not 63 as reported by this site. [Portion removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 4, 2015 at 6:36 am

I just returned from a bike trip in Europe. Drivers in Europe consider bicycles to be an integral part of the road population. They do everything to prevent any chance of collision with a bike, including a gentle honk of the horn to alert the cyclist they are behind him and plan to pass. I have biked in Europe for many years now and have never come even remotely close to a collision with a vehicle. Not even once have I seen a Eurpean driver text while driving, the main reason I stopped cycling in this area.


11 people like this
Posted by Jimmae
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2015 at 6:55 am

Sincerest Condolences to the cyclist who lost his life..
We had an opportunity to provide at least 1 trail around this brutal stretch of roadway for cyclists back in 2011, but for idiotic(imo) reasons it was never implemented:
Web Link

There is also an under Ca 280 crossing that is accessed via the dish trails that skirts the northernmost section of
Christopher ln and directly connects to Enid Pearson-Aratradero Prsve that Stanford has denied all non motorized access through(even though it is a formerly paved rd.)
Not saying that these 2 alternatives are THE answer to the westbound Page Mill-280 mess, just that they exist,and should be considered as part of a final answer to reduce pedalers-pedestrian danger.
RIP my fellow rider...Too many times we grieve


3 people like this
Posted by Walter
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 4, 2015 at 7:03 am

You must Just be lucky , Mauricio. While talking and texting may not be as prevalent as in the US it still happens in Europe

www.cdc.gov/Features/dsDistractedDriving/


11 people like this
Posted by Steven
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 4, 2015 at 8:18 am

For those wondering why a cyclist would traverse such a dangerous intersection: Many cyclists come down Old Page Mill road, which is quiet and has almost zero car traffic, and are headed up Page Mill Road into the hills, or over to Arastradero road, both of which are also relatively low-traffic. There's only this 200-meter gauntlet separating what is otherwise a very safe and enjoyable bike route, which is why many cyclists cross through it.

I imagine the discussion about safety improvements will be brought up again soon at the city or county level. Does anyone know where I might look to be notified of these meetings when they occur?


4 people like this
Posted by Gail
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2015 at 8:18 am

With all the horrible, out of control traffic issues in Palo Alto, the city is still trying to get its residents to ride their bicycles and negotiate the dangerous roads with motorists? Really? Even with bike lanes, careless motorists are distracted by texting and talking on their cell phones. They can easily veer into the cyclist lanes.


7 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:09 am

Mauricio - I think it's smart you stopped cycling in this area. My spouse did the same and uses public transpo instead. We also mostly gave up driving in the hills on weekends due to the encountered danger from cyclists and motorcycles. I've adjusted my awareness and driving style to encounter the increase in cars and cyclists, and it's not that difficult to do. This still means of course that there are plenty of factors that can lead to accidents. It's the drivers and cyclists who don't factor in others that are terrifying. Cycling on ECR and Alma - utter idiocy. Rights don't help when you're dead.

I'm so sorry about Mr. Donnelly's death, and I feel terrible for the young driver. How many tragedies do the cities and counties need before they think they have to really do something about the car/bicycle problems?


5 people like this
Posted by CyclistandDriver
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:34 am

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:42 am

Jeff was a friend of mine from our work in the same industry. Today I learned that he was a fellow bike rider and now is gone. My deep condolences to Jeff's family and friends who have lost a very good man. Our industry has lost a very good man.

Rule zero of driving is "Do not hit the thing in front of you." The reckless driving people exhibit around pedestrians, bicycles, and even motorcycles is largely due to the "Volvo effect" of "No worries, my vehicle makes me safe." Even soccer parents, who should know better, are sometimes subject to this lapse of logic as they drive their mini-van or SUV around town.

There are no fender-benders when you walk, run, or ride. The milliseconds that motorists "save" getting to the next red light or car in front makes zero difference in their arrival time.

Slow down so you don't have to hit the thing in front of you.


13 people like this
Posted by MJM
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:43 am

My condolences for the families of both parties involved in this horrible accident!

This area has not been safe for bicyclists since 280 was built. At that time, the Los Altos Hills Town Council requested the state to incorporate safety elements for bicyclists, to no avail. None of the current proposals by the County 2040 Plan provide a safe route through this area, though there are improvements. Safety measures in this area would require stopping all on ramp traffic on both sides of 280 to permit bicycles to cross. But the only truly safe route would be to physically separate bicycles from cars (Peter Carpenter in an earlier post suggested a barrier). However, there is no money for any bicycle bridge or flyover at this location, though they have been suggested. And there is the question of whether or not bicyclists would use a separate path or route--very few bicyclists ever use the off road bicycle path on Arastradero between Purrisima and Deer Creek, which has been there for many years and is well marked.

With 4 entities (Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills, Santa Clara County, and Caltrans) having jurisdiction over parts of Page Mill and 280 and the elements needed for handling so many more cars, there is no easy solution (traffic lights at on and off ramps, adding lanes on Page Mill Road west of Foothill, grade separation at Foothill and Page Mill and signal synchronization from 280 to El Camino). While the county is coordinating efforts and taking the lead for this area in the 2040 plan, the list of projects for the county sales tax increase is much longer than the revenues generated by the tax to be voted on in 2016. So, the likelihood of this getting fixed any time soon is questionable. Fixing one element of the corridor, just moves the problem and it still doesn't make it safer for bicyclists.

One thing that has exacerbated the traffic in this area is the ever expanding Stanford Industrial Park and the current office boom in Palo Alto. The jobs/housing imbalance means more commuters driving in and out every single day. While Palo Alto may be a great place to locate your company, it is becoming a nightmare to reach your job, let alone live here!


7 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:48 am

Pending building a multi-million-dollar pedestrian/bike bridge or tunnel across 280, they should put in those embedded flashy lights often seen in crosswalks, 'Yield to Bicyclists' signs, better lighting the lights up the jerseys at dusk and dawn (when everything otherwise looks gray), & paint the lane green where it crosses the freeway lanes.

I hope families of slain bicyclists successfully sue the City for poor safety design, so that suddenly that bridge doesn't seem so expensive after all.


1 person likes this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:53 am

"MJM" background information was helpful.

With this accident, will officials go back and see what was suggested to them, when 280 was built? We do not bike on roads known to be dangerous, but almost anywhere can be dangerous now.


20 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:08 am

Another family in mourning!

How terribly, terribly sad. My thoughts and prayers are both with the family of Mr. Donnelly and the driver, as I do believe it is an accident, despite any mistakes that may have been made.

As a Dutch national, I grew up riding my bike. In second grade, all the children studied the traffic rules and had to take a "rider's" test, both in writing and in actual traffic. It was a very big deal for us, and we all celebrated when we received our diplomas. I still have mine from nearly 60 years ago!

Since the Dutch culture has always included biking in their thinking, the infrastructure is built on taking bicycles into complete consideration. Many bike paths are separated from the main road by a strip of grass. Moreover, the bicycle paths have separate bicycle traffic signs. Also, most, if not all Dutch adults grew up with bikes, and as such, they innately know how to deal with bicyclists as drivers.

How can we once again learn from this tragic and unnecessary accident, so it does not happen to someone else?



32 people like this
Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:18 am

To the anonymous reader from MV who responded to my previous comment:

How is my expectation that people drive at or under the speed limit somehow a radical thought? El Camino is has a speed limit of 35 mph because it is lined with businesses, sidewalks & parallel parking. 40 mph is speeding.

Over 32,000 Americans die in car-related traffic collisions each year. Most are in cars, followed by people walking, then people bicycling. My safety concerns go well beyond bicycling safety. It's street safety.

I'm angry that Michelle Montalvo died crossing El Monte Rd in October.
I'm angry that Eric Palmquist died riding his bike on El Camino in July. I'm angry that Robert Schwehr died crossing Charleston Rd in February.
And I'm angry that Jeff Donnelly died yesterday bicycling on Page Mill.

How can you defend high speeds that contribute so many deaths just to save drivers seconds or at most a minute or two of travel time?

Finally, if you're going to call me and my motives out, have the courage to put your name on it instead of hiding behind an anonymous comment.


1 person likes this
Posted by MJM
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:21 am

@ A Neighbor

What was suggested in the 1960's would not be relevant now as so much has changed on Page Mill, the traffic volume has increased, and bike safety practices and technology has improved. Afraid we need to start over with solutions.

The county weblink shows alternatives:
Web Link
Please note that the roundabout concepts under consideration west of 280 do not protect bicyclists and the county has finally acknowledged that but will not be updating the design at this time (no money). This needs to be continuously monitored if and when funding gets approved and before design gets finalized.


8 people like this
Posted by ofer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:43 am

ofer is a registered user.

I knew Jeff and he is a father and an avid and experienced cyclist. I'm a cyclist (and a father) and like Jeff use cycling as a way to keep in shape while enjoying the great outdoors.

We need to keep cycling safe by doing tow things:
1. As many other people indicated making the road safer with biking lane and traffic lights
2. Make car drivers behave. Most drivers do but the few that don't are dangerous. [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Awful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:53 am

Folks,

So far, all we know is that there was a collision and a man lost his life. Please don't jump to conclusions about how the accident happened - let the police do their job investigating. Vilifying the driver, accusing him of recklessness, speeding, texting, etc is simply not fair. Neither would it be fair to vilify the cyclist for riding unsafely or swerving in front of the vehicle without looking.

I suspect the reason the Weekly did not identify the driver by name is for exactly this reason - some people will presume guilt without evidence. Attacking a 19 year-old will not bring back the cyclist.

All we know is that a tragedy occurred, so let's wait for the police to determine who was at fault and what happened.


6 people like this
Posted by Gary Bradski
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:07 pm

I knew him from Parents Nursery school in Palo Alto -- he was a really good guy and I am very sorry to hear this.

I obviously don't know what happened beyond the fact that the car hit the bike not the other way around. But, cars do not pay their way on the road, taxes do and with more European style bike lanes and focus, you'll have much lower death rate with much greater use of bikes and other electric modes of transport.

Please look at the top down satelight view of this area:
Web Link
He was clearly going towards or in the bike lane -- look towards 280 as that lane goes right in the middle of high speed traffic. It is terrifying, I've ridden it and never tried it again. This is bad design. Bikes get at most a few dashes of paint and a "good luck". Very very dangerous when it doesnt' have to be. So sorry for him and his family. I bike because I love it, but I honestly advise others NOT to.


9 people like this
Posted by ofer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm

ofer is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

These deaths will continue to occur until there are physically separated, protected bike lanes with their own traffic signals.

It makes no difference who is right or wrong, the bicyclist will always lose in a collision with a car.


13 people like this
Posted by mike
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm

After 45 years of road riding, I'm done with riding in the street. I'll stick to the trails. I was struck by a car on Sept. 19 when I was merging from a bike lane that turned onto a right turn lane. The first 2 cars didn't let me merge.The driver of the 3rd car that hit me stated that I didn't signal. As I lay on the street in severe pain (bad fracture of left femur at the hip) the Palo Alto police officer only asked me my name and phone #. The police report states that it was my fault. The car struck me from behind, as I was attempting to merge. As of today, I have not yet been asked for my version of the event. Cyclists are not equal in the eyes of the police. The risk vs. reward of street cycling does not measure up. My recourse has been to engage an attorney...


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:39 pm

I just want to add to say that 19 year olds are adults in the eyes of the law, but they are still teenagers.

Many 19 year olds have never had a paycheck, never voted, never made a decision for themselves and although they have a license are still very inexperienced drivers. We allow 16 year olds to drive, but we don't allow anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol because their brains are not fully developed. There seems to be a dichotomy here.

I remember being 19. I thought I was a great driver. I thought I was invincible. I thought "it" would never happen to me. At about 25 I realized I was none of those things. It takes a few years to really become mature enough to be thought of as an adult even though the law says otherwise.

I have no idea how the accident happened. But the young man stayed at the scene and is probably feeling awful today. He will carry this with him forever.

It is so sad for the family of the cyclist. I also happen to think it is also very sad for the driver and his family. Without knowing any more facts, let's not be too judgmental.


20 people like this
Posted by Marikke
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I lived in the Netherlands for half of my life and just can't believe there are STILL no separations, i.e., separate lanes with curbs or berms, for bicycle riders. I am also surprised about the light sentences for drivers who hit or kill a bike rider or pedestrian.

Riding in the Netherlands is easy due to its flatness ( historically, that made it easy to invade, like Belgium). However, on certain roads, bicycle riders are forbidden due to inherent dangers ( road construction, heavy equipment, large trucks in use, narrowness). Sometimes there are roads where cars are forbidden ( shoppers, daycare, etc). Why not here?

What worries me is that there are narrow mountain roads that are very steep, allowing almost a freefall going downhill. There is no room for a bike lane, so why allow bike so? On roads too narrow for both cars and bikes, especially when there is no room to pass, either the bikes or the cars should be forbidden, but both should not be allowed.

Have a care, California!


9 people like this
Posted by Greg
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:46 pm

I am an active cyclist and knew Jeff. I am so sorry for his family and close friends. It is a heartbreaking loss.


7 people like this
Posted by Awful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:54 pm

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

I wonder if there were eyewitnesses to the accident? The police probably have more information about what happened than they are overtly saying publicly, which may influence the comments they are making. Who knows.

@Mike: Were there witnesses to your accident? On what basis did the police report determine you were at fault? While I am very sympathetic to injuries sustained when car meets bike, that doesn't mean the car was at fault. For example, one of my pet peeves is all of the kids on bikes after school that approach an intersection in the bike lane where it merges with a right turn lane, and simply ignore all of the cars already there with their right-turn signals on, and pass on the right, expecting all of the cars to yield to them. Of course I always do because I don't want to hit them, but it scares me so much to think how easy it would be for a driver to not see a bicycle approaching from behind, trying to pass on the right, especially if the car is clearly signaling an intent to turn right. If another car did that and there was an accident, I'm pretty sure that car would be deemed at fault.

Anyway, this is getting off topic, and I am certainly not suggesting Mr. Donnelly was at fault, I'm simply asking folks to stop blaming the 19 year-old driver without any evidence that he was at fault.


6 people like this
Posted by John Kelley
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:55 pm

This was a very tragic accident. I hope that we can all learn from it to prevent similar accidents in the future.

I second all those who have expressed their sympathies to the members of the families involved in this accident. I particularly want to express my condolences to Jeffrey Donnelly's family.

Thank you, @Awful for making these crucial points:

"1. No motor vehicle driver wants to hit a bicyclist, and
2. No bicyclist wants to collide with a motor vehicle"

Thank you, Peter Carpenter, for providing statistics on the enormous benefits of protected bike lanes and for writing, "There is no excuse for not having protected bike lanes on Page Mill Road..."

And thank you, Gary Bradski, for noting, "Bikes get at most a few dashes of paint and a 'good luck.'"

It doesn't have to be that way. Whether through physically separated bike paths, grade separation, barriers, or other means, we need to invest in creating protected bike lanes to protect cyclists. If we want to learn from and do something about this tragedy, we should do so with great urgency.


9 people like this
Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 4, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Besides restriping the road the bridge on the west side of 280 needs widening there's a dreadful pinch point for cyclists there. I hope that can be done before too long.

Re: paved bike trails. It would be really good if Stanford could make a paved trail through the Dish property that connects with Arastradero Preserve and then if Palo Alto could make a paved bike trail alongside Arastradero on each side, separate from the horse/pedestrian/mountain bike trails in the Arastradero Preserve that would make for much safer cycling.

I know this is not a cheap proposition, but Page Mill near 280 and Arastradero are areas fraught with peril, especially when the sun is low in the winter and blinding motorists.

So drivers - please put your cellphones in the trunk and observe the speed limits. Cyclists - cycle defensively, dress in bright clothes and use bright lights - even in daylight.


7 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 4, 2015 at 2:03 pm

I am not making any judgment on this particular and awful accident, not knowing the details. However, I stopped riding my bicycle altogether about a year ago after having being hit by car once (it was a hit and run, with fortunately, only minor injuries), and having numerous close calls, about a third of them with drivers, even on narrow, dangerous roads, who weren't even aware I was on the road due to texting and cell phone use. I just realized that with the current attitude in Palo Alto and surrounding areas, the very heavy traffic and roads and streets that are nor bicycle friendly, riding a bike was a form of death wish that I wasn't prepared to engage in.


20 people like this
Posted by pamom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2015 at 4:11 pm

i am a serious recreational cyclist and the location of the accident is notorious among cyclists. The design is the worst i have seen. I join most posters here in sadness for the man who lost his life. I also feel terribly for the young man who hit the cyclist. He was in my daughter's class at Paly and is one of the kindest young men i've had the pleasure to meet. I cannot imagine what he is going through and I doubt he will ever be the same. A tragedy for all of us. Let's hope something is done about this horrid intersection before it ruins more lives.


4 people like this
Posted by nobodyLikesTruth
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2015 at 4:14 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Bicycling is a life wish. Driving with disrespect to freedom and safety of others is the wrong. As we hurtle toward global climate catastrophe more people need to demand that roads become bike safe.

In other countries (Japan and Germany to name two) drivers are required to take lessons from professional instructors who teach the correct way to approach and pass a bike on the road. Here we rely on Mom and Dad to pass on their knowledge. Clearly, from many of the motorists' comments above, very few the state's Driver Handbook.

Web Link

See, for example the first paragraph at the top of page 65.


1 person likes this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 4, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@John - Teens (under 17 1/2) in California also must take lessons from a professional instructor. 30 hours in a classroom, 6 hours with an instructor behind the wheel, and another 50 hours of practice (usually with parents).


9 people like this
Posted by Stephen Meier
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Condolences to all parties involved, it was an accident. As an avid cyclist I have a couple time looked back and not estimated speed of approaching vehicles accurately. At the same time as a driver I have often opened it up on a straight approach to a freeway entrance. Truly tragic and I'm so so sorry.


4 people like this
Posted by anti-Cycling Coalition
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:43 pm

@Janet, we respect that you're passionate about this subject. And we try to give credibility and understanding to your statements. But when you say things like "we need to be pushing hard for road designs that force drivers to slow down" and "El Camino is a retail shopping district for pedestrians" we have to question your motives.

You ask for my name...how about I'll be the Donald Trump here and say what many people think but no one wants to say. Cars are our primary, necessary mode of transportation and take precedence over bikes. We are not a small European village with cobblestone streets. ECR is NOT a walkable, bikable shopping district. It's a major thoroughfare meant to transport cars more quickly.

Of course we want to reduce carbon footprints. But I ask each and every one of you reading this, more importantly those of you who purportedly support cycling. Reach down and don't react with the expected PC bs. Be true with yourselves (because frankly, on an anonymous msg board who else are you being honest with?) Could you really, truly, function day to day with highly reduced traffic lanes for cars? Could you really get from work to grocery to errands in a timely fashion? Could you honestly get your kids from school to sports to home/dinner/homework quickly?

Janet and her minority cycling coalition are promoting, supporting and pushing the removal of a lane in each direction of ECR. They are promoting the removal of traffic lanes on California Ave in MV for the sole use of bicycles. It's lovely thing to "support" but think of the actual ramifications. Can you really live with this?


2 people like this
Posted by @Awful
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:19 pm

"The US, and especially the west coast, is VERY different from Europe in that the initial dirt roads became paved due to the advent of vehicle traffic. ...they were paved and built for automobiles as they steadily replaced horse-drawn wagons and carriages. ... It is very true that the roads here were built for cars..."

You might want to read the book "Roads Were Not Built For Cars" by Carlton Reid. It is a well-researched tome providing ample evidence that roads were initially built for motor vehicles, as the truth is that the initial political push to pave roads in America came from 'keen' cyclists - many of whom went on to found car companies (like the Dodge brothers, of Dodge & Evans Bicycle Company).

Yes, it's true that roads *evolved* to focus primarily on motor vehicles, especially through the post-war era, but transportation will continue to evolve (i.e. autonomous cars, hyperloop, high speed rail in the US... OK that last one might be a stretch ;), and transportation infrastructure will as well (i.e. V2V, V2I, adoption of NACTO standards, etc.).


7 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:39 pm

It's a tragic accident. Condolences to the family.

Some people asked why people bike on Page Mill. Well. It's an empty mountain road with extremely light traffic. Even during morning rush hour. The part once you are past I-280, and especially once you are past Foothill park. Most people know Page Mill up to I-280, but not past it. Some mornings, I'd climb it and not be passed by a single car going uphill. Some, there'd be a car or two that pass me. Most of the traffic that time of day is downhill, but even that traffic is extremely thin. I can probably recognize half of the cars I see either climbing or descending and know driving styles of many of those drivers. There's really very few people who drive on that road for commuting on weekdays, and most are regulars. They range from awesome to one dude whose driver license should be suspended for life, before he either kills somebody or himself or both (and I'm typing this part with my driver hat on). The problem with Page Mill is really only with those 100-200 yards or so around I-280 interchange where the accident happened, which are truly a death trap. To add to the problem, what feeds into that death trap is Old Page Mill, a road on which I never saw a single car. Ever. Then it throws you right onto 50 mph expressway.

There is a lot more people using bikes commuting than most drivers would realize. You don't see them, because, well, nobody likes biking on streets like Alma or El Camino, and you'll not spot many if any bikes on such streets during rush hour. I bike thousands of miles each year. I don't think I ever biked a single foot on Alma. And probably less than a mile cumulative ever on El Camino. There's plenty of alternate routes preferred by cyclists in Palo Alto, and those streets see not too much car traffic. For some odd reason, city put sharrows and "bike route" sign on San Antonio recently. Which made me laugh. You'll rarely if ever spot cyclist there during rush hour, it's just such a terrible street to be on a bike during rush hour. I don't know what city planners were thinking when they did that. If you pass by middle schools such JLS during morning drop off hours (not advisable, I did try to drive once on Meadow at that time of day, never again), you'd likely notice that huge amount of kids do bike to school. Place where I work overflows with bikes. I'm tempted to say it's just as hard to find spot to park a bike, as it is to find spot to park a car. Many more people are interested to try commuting at least some of the time, but they are concerned with safety due to badly designed infrastructure. It takes only one sketchy intersection on the route to put people off.

I think the reason for recent popularity of bikes is that area has evolved over past few decades from suburb (place where people live, but mostly work elsewhere) to real urban setting where most people both work and live. If it takes 15-20 minutes to bike to work, for many people it is much more convenient and less stressful to simply bike than to drive.


4 people like this
Posted by Hipocrisy of Cycling Community
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:40 pm

What most people don't know is that the same folks in the bicycle community that preach cycling safety and obeying traffic laws are some of the worst offenders when it comes to adhering to traffic laws and stop signs. They put it in their cycling club/team, bike coalition etc. bylaws/literature but the majority of the members including team/club officers, owners and sponsors don't even practice what they preach. I see you and your representatives blowing through stop signs every weekend while riding your bikes and then you all come out of the woodwork when a tragedy happens to preach safety and how something should be done but your actions on the open road tell different story.


5 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:00 am

@Hipocrisy of Cycling Community: I'll go out on a limb, but I don't think median speed of cars going through stop signs is any slower than that of bikes. It's just that cars usually go much faster, so it's more obvious they slowed down. Both cyclists and drivers are equally bad at "not exactly stopping" at stop signs. It's not really cyclists vs. drivers. If you park close to a 4-way stop, and observe the wheels of cars, you'll see that most do not fully stop turning unless driver had to yield to another car. Especially if there was no other cars anywhere near the intersection.

Another point for hypocrisy: I got yelled at by drivers when I did stop at stop signs few times. Because they were waving me through, and I was supposed to see that through the glare off their windshields. Go figure.


6 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:14 am

@Mr D: If people constantly give you a finger, maybe you are doing something wrong? Just saying ;-)

Seriously. Don't honk at pedestrians and cyclists. You may not realize it, but car horn is EXTREMELY LOUD. You are inside cabin with decent soundproofing (to minimize engine noise, road noise, etc). The horn is designed to project most of its energy forward. It's designed to be herd by another driver long distance away from you over the noise of his own car. It's LOUD. There's no such thing as "friendly" or "curtesy" or "just announcing myself" honk. You are scaring shit out of those people. If you drive truck, trust me, the cyclist in front of you knows you are there. Most will move to the side when it's safe. Groups will usually re-group single file (though, that may sometime make it harder to pass).

Don't take my word for it. Stand in front your truck and have somebody blast a horn. You'll jump out of your shoes.


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Posted by Awful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:28 am

@"@Awful" (It's so confusing when people use a moniker of another, only preceding it with an @. A little creativity would be appreciated.):

I was specifically thinking about local roads, but I realize I did not communicate that effectively. Roads here in Palo Alto and nearby areas were not paved for bikes, they were paved for motor vehicles as the deep mud in rainy weather made it nearly impossible to move farm goods, industrial products, or highly educated and well-to-do citizens.

It's true that bicyclists petitioned to improve roads, but they were not responsible for getting roads paved - only the advent of motor vehicle made that happen. Roads were not built for bicycles, they were built for automobiles. There was no "evolution" from bicycle use to automobile use on paved roads.

And again, this goes completely off-topic. My post was meant to respond to people who don't understand why bicycling in some European locations is so different than bicycling here, in Palo Alto. My comment was about the difference in the history of how and why roads were built as well as the CULTURAL evolution of road use.

FWIW, I spent three days in Amsterdam, and never had an incident with a car, but twice was nearly run down by bicyclists.


5 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:52 am

@Awful: Actually. USA did have decent infrastructure in the early days. But it was mostly destroyed in post-war era. Alongside public transit systems. In favor of cars and suburbia lifestyle. Which didn't scale very well. Cars are great, and I love them. I've nothing against cars, I really do like to drive my car for fun. But cars are great only as long as other people don't have them. The moment everybody has a car, it becomes traffic nightmare.

USA is also home to many innovative and large cycling companies. Specialized, for example, has head quarters just around the corner in Morgan Hill. And it is no coincidence they are located there. To say America and Americans are exclusively car-centric nation simply doesn't hold, as strange as it may sound.


2 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2015 at 8:25 am

I am a life-long resident of MP/PA who drives to work (too far and too dark)and rides a bike in the hills for fitness - can't run any more. I follow the rules of the road on the bike and in the car.
My wife has been rear ended twice - on ECR and the Alameda - in the past few months by distracted drivers. First time she was stopped in traffic brake lights on second time slowing down brakes on, turn signal on! Everybody needs to slow down, put down your device, pay attention and share the road - as the law states. Bikers should obey the rules of the road as should drivers ...only way it works....

Hear goes out to families of both the cyclist and the driver.


13 people like this
Posted by Marikke
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 5, 2015 at 8:29 am

It WAS an accident, the driver did not hit the cyclist on purpose.

They are called "accidents" for a reason; they are not called " intentionals".


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Posted by Peter Spicer
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 6, 2015 at 4:09 am

Godspeed Jeff. You will be sorely missed.


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