High winds topple tree onto bicyclist

Firefighters use chainsaws to free injured man

A Palo Alto bicyclist suffered severe injuries after being trapped under a large tree toppled by powerful winds on Saturday.

The cyclist, a man in his mid-30s, was riding along Hanover Street at around noon when the tree fell into the roadway, trapping him under its branches, according to the Palo Alto Fire Department.

Firefighters were on the scene for about an hour using chain saws and other rescue equipment to free the man, who was rushed to Stanford Hospital. An update on his condition wasn't immediately available.


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18 people like this
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 17, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Bike Commuter is a registered user.

Sending wishes dor speedy healing!

13 people like this
Posted by More info could hlep?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Would a few more facts make the story better?

They include the proximity of street address, the reason why it took one hour to free the guy and injuries he suffered.


5 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Welcome to "Tree City US!"

11 people like this
Posted by Barron Park
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Anybody with acreage knows that branch and tree fall is a regular and normal occurrence for un-maintained trees. The problem with Palo ALto is that we love our trees, but we don't take proper care of them. Trees need to be maintained, pruned and inspected for health regularly. The liability for this accident lies with the owner of the property on which that tree is growing.

4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2017 at 5:57 pm

A couple of questions.

Was the cyclist wearing earbuds, not sure if it would have made a difference to whether he could get out of the way or not, but it would be useful information? The same could be asked about a bike helmet.

Was this a city tree? From my experience whenever I have called about a city tree that appears to be diseased or dead, the City takes a long time to send out a city arborist who often says it is OK but there are times that they then have no leaves the following year.

Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 18, 2017 at 11:35 am

Annette is a registered user.

How awful; I hope this fellow will be okay. The first picture showing the blue bike on the ground gives a much different impression of tree size than the second tree picture. The 2nd photo shows an ENORMOUS old tree. Scary.

All good wishes for a swift and full recovery.

14 people like this
Posted by Earbuds?
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 18, 2017 at 12:05 pm

To Resident:

I thought the same thing ... Personally, I never bike with earbuds in, I want to be totally aware of the surroundings, especially around here, where cars drive by ...
I will never comprehend why someone would want to do otherwise.

Like this comment
Posted by Eric
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 18, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Eric is a registered user.

I had the same curiosity about where it happened. From the pictures it appears to be where Hanover curves near Varian and Cooley and the Bol Park Bike Path, roughly 3100 block of Hanover.

16 people like this
Posted by rocket
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Earbuds are irrelevant. In free fall an object would take 1.4 seconds to drop 10 meters. It would be traveling at 14m/s when it hit the ground.

Because it is falling in an arc, the tree would take slightly longer to hit the ground, but still under 2 seconds (maybe less if you include the velocity provided by the wind at the time). Not enough time to react if you are on a bike going at 15-20mph.

Whether the cyclist was wearing earbuds is completely irrelevant, as the only warning people have when trees fall are branches snapping against other trees. No other trees at this location to have branches break off against.

Could you when cycling at 15 mph avoid a tree that suddenly fell less than 30 feet in front of you? quick! you have less than a second to react!

2 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

"Could you when cycling at 15 mph avoid a tree that suddenly fell less than 30 feet in front of you? quick! you have less than a second to react!"


33 people like this
Posted by Lets see
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 18, 2017 at 2:29 pm

How can I try and make this the victim's I don't have to feel bad that I lack the ability to compassion for others...hmmm. Oh I know! Earbuds!
It's a world full of all different kinds of people, that's for sure

8 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 18, 2017 at 4:19 pm

All bike-related news here will inevitably attract bike haters who will take any chance to fault cyclists. As far as I can tell, the guy was riding on a Trek road bike. Very few road cyclists would ever wear earbuds on the road, and this is not because of the safety. See #62 THE RULE of road cycling. Pushing 300W itself is hard enough, we don't need any distraction. So I am pretty sure the person was not on earbuds.

2 people like this
Posted by JC
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm

We used to have a large and very old 4 foot wide oak tree in our cul-de-sac. It used to have 5 large branches then one branch broke off then another leaving the tree with 3 main branches but it was stable for 60 years. A neighbor became concerned that one branch was creaking more and more loudly and was afraid it was going to fall on her house. The city arborist saw to it that the branch was cut back so her house would be safe.

Unfortunately with only two main branches and part of a third main branch the tree lost its symmetry and when it rained one day the weight of the water on the leaves and branches caused first one branch to break off then the other. Our old specimen oak was now occupying most of our street.

Now the scary part. My next door neighbor and wife were backing out of their driveway. They reached the street and turned to go around the cul-de-sac when they heard the thump of the first branch. They went around to leave the street when they had to stop because the second branch had covered the street preventing them from exiting. IF THEY HAD LEFT 2 SECONDS LATER THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN CRUSHED BY THE HUGE FIRST FALLING BRANCH. A FEW SECONDS EARLIER THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN HIT BY THE SECOND BRANCH.

I hope my little tale will cause you readers to realize that no tree lives forever and they can be very dangerous when they get old and rickety. Arborists can also make errors when managing trees. They surely did mess up with "our" tree!!!

Let us hope the bicyclist recovers. A poor lady in San Francisco was paralyzed by a falling branch.

3 people like this
Posted by Another bike commuter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 18, 2017 at 8:28 pm

Sorry, I bike with earbuds. I can still hear more environmental noises with most buds than I can in my car with just the windows closed, let alone with the radio on. Let's face it, unhampered hearing may be a safety plus, but we do not really demand it of most road users.

(Usually I just use one bud out of deference to everyone else's feelings and the law despite being pretty sure it's unnecessary.)

4 people like this
Posted by No earbuds
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 22, 2017 at 11:25 am

I talked with him yesterday. He wasn't wearing earbuds. He was wearing his helmet, which took a lot of damage. (Wear your helmet, folks!)

Like this comment
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 22, 2017 at 11:44 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

Wearing earbuds is no different than a car driver listening to the radio, and surely less distracting than a driver engaging in a conversation with a passenger.

Like this comment
Posted by Name
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 22, 2017 at 1:18 pm

For those asking, he was NOT wearing earbuds and never does while biking.

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

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