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Bicyclist struck, injured in College Terrace

Original post made on Aug 24, 2009

A bicyclist was injured after he was hit by a pickup truck while riding across El Camino Real in Palo Alto's College Terrace neighborhood Monday afternoon.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 24, 2009, 3:22 PM

Comments (62)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Should a bicyclist be riding in a crosswalk? It sounds as if the first car nearly struck him before he was struck by the truck.

Posted by McGrude
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Kenneth
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Shouldn't a bicyclist be *walking* his bike in a crosswalk?

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 24, 2009 at 4:02 pm

I believe that intersection is lighted.

Questions then are...

Did the bicyclist have a green light?

The fact that another motorist had to slam on his brakes suggests maybe not...but then cars running red lights seems to be Bill O Faire lately so why not "the more the merrier"?

While true that cyclists should not ride IN the crosswalk, if the light was green for him then also a Pedestrian could have just as easily been struck. There is no reason that a cyclist breaking the "don't ride in the crosswalk" should then expect to be hit by a car. That rule, I believe, is for the safety of pedestrians and not to allow cars to intrude on the crosswalk.


the car was gunning a red light and a cyclist in the crosswalk appeared sooner than "his cheating ways" could detect.

Or a combination of the above...the cyclist had a red light, but knew it was going to turn green momentarily, and went ahead. The motorist, all to happy to run a bit of a red light, contributed from the other side.

Do ANY cars not run red lights anymore? I see this so much, both as a driver, pedestrian, and a cyclist.

Posted by VoxPop
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2009 at 4:53 pm

There's no light at that intersection.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2009 at 9:40 pm

For all the efforts the PAPD are pursuing to keep pedestrians off railroad tracks; to prevent suicides, the same efforts should be pursued to keep bicyclists off motor vehicle roadways.

In both cases neither are designed for usage by the other. Not pedestrians on railroad tracks, or bicycles on motor vehicle roadways.

In the case of bicycles, they are the number one cause of injury accidents in the USA. One can only assume that bicyclists who enter onto the motor vehicle roadways are at a minimum uninformed, or perhaps suicidal.

Train vs pedestrian = Truck vs bicyclist.

As a society, we need to do all that we can to prevent both types of suicide.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2009 at 11:10 pm

A few years ago near this same spot I witnessed a woman riding a bike across El Camino at a crosswalk across from the Shell. She was hit by a car and tossed about 8 feet in the air.

Almost every day I witness a person riding in the crosswalk thinking they have the same rights and 'protection' as pedestrians. Saw a Google guy do it today right in front of me on Charleston near Google HQ. Stanford students do it all the time on campus. Motorists do not expect a bike to come into the crosswalk at 10-15 mph.

It is a wonder there is not an accident every day.

Cyclists are under the same rules as motorists-not pedestrians. I have stopped by the sheriff's office on the Stanford campus to suggest that they inform students of the crosswalk danger every new school year, but the 'official' person for this was not there and the note I left was never answered.

Posted by Serge
a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 24, 2009 at 11:33 pm

I think that the problem in the crosswalk is motorists are very rude and never want to yield to pedestrians or cyclists. They just see cyclists as hindrances and want them out of their way. I also think that motorists should be more sympathetic towards cyclists because even though they are supposed to have the same rights, they are way different. Cyclists rely on their legs and energy to move/stop the bike while motorists just step on the accelerator and breaks to get the vehicle moving.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 24, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Bicycles are allowed on roadways, unless specifically marked (Freeways and some Expressways). The police would be breaking the law if they followed "Outside Observer"'s dictates.

To compare such to the a pedestrian walking in front of a train is ludicrous. And in light of recent events........bizarre is a charitable way to characterize it.

Posted by resident 1
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2009 at 7:57 am

The bicyclist also wasn't wearing his helmet.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2009 at 8:01 am

When a motorist approaches a crosswalk, they are looking for pedestrians. Pedestrians tend to cross from sidewalks and are fairly slow. If a cyclist uses a crosswalk to cross a street, they usually do not come from the sidewalk, often come from the side of the street or bikelane without signalling, and are much faster than the average pedestrian.

Cyclists should dismount and become pedestrians to use a crosswalk, or else they should follow the rules for vehicles. They cannot be vehicles one minute and pedestrians the next while still on their bikes.

Blaming drivers for not knowing what a cyclist is about to do when a car takes much longer to stop that a bike does is unfair. A car can move a long way in the time it takes a driver to realise what is happening and put their foot on the brake. A bike takes much less distance to stop.

Posted by Ride/Walk Defensively
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2009 at 9:12 am

The key is to expect the unexpected, ride/drive/walk defensively. You don't know if someone is going to lose control of their car due to mechanical or even health problems. Just last week a proud new mother pushed her stroller across the street right in front of me. Yes she was in a crosswalk and yes I had a stop sign. But why wouldn't someone pushing such a precious gift wait to make sure I was fully stopped.

Everyone is looking for blame, yet the true issue is someone got hurt (or worse). We have all read about people who have blacked out while driving - realize that is always a possibility and drive/ride/walk like you need to be ready to avoid the rare but serious situation, then we wouldn't be writing and reading about more issues and who is to blame. We can all help with avoiding these situations. [And STOP running those red lights!!!]

Posted by PASTEVE
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:16 am

How about getting the "facts" first?

Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:24 am

Outside Observer: you are way out of line here. Read the California Vehicle Code sometime (or the equivalent for your jurisdiction). Bicycles are vehicles with all the same rights and duties as motor vehicles. I've been riding on roads for more than 30 years in California, Indiana and Wisconsin with only very occasional run-ins with rude or ill-informed drivers. If everyone is paying attention and roads are properly designed, there is absolutely no problem with bikes and motor vehicles sharing the roads.

I'd much rather ride on a street or road than on a bikepath. Bikepaths are usually full of pedestrians and little kids on training wheels. Trust me, motorists are way more predictable in their behavior than the average denizens of bike paths. Real cyclists actually prefer the road.

You should rightfully expect to get roundly flamed for your statements.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:46 am

First my bad for the brain fart in which I mistakenly assumed there was a light at that intersection.

That changes my default impression of this incident a bit.

IMO one of the most dangerous situations is for a child cyclist to be going fast on a sidewalk and going the wrong way. A real recipe for disaster.

As regards cyclists in either a bike lane or the road. I prefer the bike lane when it's available and safe. But one example....if one is going west on Vaparaiso just past El Camino the bike path then at the intersection with University (Menlo Park) becomes essentially a sidewalk. I stay in the road as cars turning right aren't expecting a fast cyclist, and cars coming from the school jut out into the bike lane/sidewalk. But up ahead the bike lane goes out around a tree. In that case I stay with the bike lane.

I don't ride my bike on Alma, or some sections of Middlefield. There are other much safer and less stressful options.

I think there are some people out there who adjust their "Holier than thou" attitude to match whatever mode they are in. If they are behind the wheel then cars are the uber thing, if they are pedestrians they walk right out in front of people with arrogance, and when on a bike they give the rest of us a bad name.

Posted by Sheesh
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:52 am

Outside Observer = obvious nutcase. Ignore her/him/it.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:52 am

Cyclist/car story

A friend of mine starting bike commuting from Palo Alto to Menlo Park.

Going up Laurel Street and at the crossing with Ravenswood she was continuing on up to Oak Grove. And every lane had cars in it. So she, being new to the bike commute route, assumed that the right lane was "right turn only". But it isn't, it's right turn and straight. So she went into the left turn lane and then mistakenly cut off a car to his right as he continued on Laurel. This car driver then got back at my friend by getting just ahead of him and very suddenly slamming on the brakes. He must feel proud of such bravery in the face of the insolent cyclist!

Posted by Bicyclists are vehicles
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

1. Bicycles are considered vehicles when ridden. That means stopping at stop signs (which many bicyclists don't), and yielding the right of way when approaching an intersection with cross-traffic that has no traffic control. However, once the bicycle has entered the intersection, vehicles in the "through" direction must yield to it.

2. Pedestrians are supposed to be given the right of way at crosswalks (marked or unmarked) once they have stepped off the curb. A bicyclist who dismounts the bicycle is considered a pedestrian.

3. The City of Palo Alto should work with Caltrans to determine whether a traffic light should be installed at this dangerous intersection. It will take years to install. The same kind of dangerous situation was remedied by a traffic light at Ventura and El Camino a few years back.

Posted by Hugh
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Aug 25, 2009 at 11:26 am

Bicyclists are to obey traffic laws as if the were vehicles. Crosswalks are for pedestrians and not vehicles. Cars and trucks obeying the traffic laws can assume that crosswalks are for people moving at pedestrian speed and not bicycles at bicycle speed.
Cyclists can't have it both ways, either they are vehicles on the street allowed to use the street as if they are vehicles, or they are pedestrians WALKING in crosswalks, in which case they have all the rights of pedestrians in crosswalk, i.e. right of way.
Cyclists seem to think it is OK for them to run stop signs, ride towards traffic on the wrong side of the street and apparently across state highways in the crosswalk.
I'm sure the driver of the truck didn't intend to collide with a cyclist, however the cyclist was at fault here and we should all take note of the regulations and obey them,
The cyclist caused this accident by not obeying the law.

Posted by Hugh
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Aug 25, 2009 at 11:30 am

"The City of Palo Alto should work with Caltrans to determine whether a traffic light should be installed at this dangerous intersection"

This is ridiculous, there is a light 300 ft in either direction, Every intersection is "Dangerous" use common sense, if you want to use the light, go north or south 300 feet, if you want to cross without a light, use your brain.

Posted by Ex Cyclist
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Reading these posts confirms my decision to give up cycling. Too much hostility from the motorists. I'm sure the truck didn't even have a scratch and the bicyclist is hauled away on a stretcher...

Posted by Hortense
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 25, 2009 at 12:24 pm

None of us saw the accident, but that doesn't keep us from having informed opinions. There are certainly suicidal bicyclists who enter a cross walk at a speed higher that a pedestrian and present a motorist with a problem he could not anticipate. There a joggers who do the same thing. They may have the right of way, but it may be a right of way to heaven.

Posted by katie
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I got a ticket while riding (coasting through, actually) in a crosswalk in L.A. Yep, I deserved it.

Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Here is the logic that gives rise to bicyclists crossing El Camino at that location. I disagree with it, but I understand why people think this way: "There are too many cars on California and Cambridge, so I will bike on College to stay away from them. Now that I need to cross where there is no light I should ride my bike across because I will get across faster and minimize my exposure to traffic."

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 25, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I think we've all seen car drivers,motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, even equestrians, do various stupid things.

What is interesting to me is that a car driver might have 20 other car drivers do stupid or dangerous things and not blame other car drivers in general. But let one cyclist do likewise and suddenly blame abounds for all cyclists (I know the car drivers will chime in with "it's not just ONE!").

Similarly for a cyclist, other cyclists might be doing stupid things all around them, but they will focus on "that stupid driver" who cut them off.

Or for a real humorous time listen to equestrians complain about mountain bike riders!

As a commuter cyclist it's really something to ride down Bryant Street towards the creek during rush hour. The streets are now open for "business" and that is one dangerous gauntlet to run. But I have my big Air Horn!

Posted by LivingSage
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2009 at 1:09 pm

While motorists should be much more cautious, the sad fact is that some are not. Men, women, and children on bicycles are hostages to fortune, and dependent on the good will and driving skills of others. Parents should think twice about sending younger children to school, given these facts.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Of course we should all drive defensively. However, there are certain things that should be given. We have traffic laws for a reason. It makes for sensible driving habits. We expect the traffic laws to be obeyed and therefore that is what we expect. If we spend all our time waiting for traffic laws to be broken we might as well go back in time to when we drive our cars behind a person carrying a flag.

Our expectations as drivers are that other vehicles (bikes included) obey the rules. We also expect pedestrians to follow the rules. When we come across the unexpected we react accordingly, but in a car going at the posted speed limit this takes time. A driver has to see the hazard, react and by that time has traveled a distance. A bike or a pedestrian on the other hand can stop within a much shorter distance even though it may take the same amount of time to see the hazard and react (brake). Think about it.

Drive alert to the surroundings, but we can't possibly anticipate every unexpected action of other road users who are not obeying the rules.

Posted by been here
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2009 at 1:40 pm

There are crosswalks-without-traffic-lights across El Camino in various locations but to me they don't mean anything. It simply is unsafe to use them because you can't expect drivers on El Camino to see them as crosswalks. Why that is, I don't know, but I know it is.

Posted by FS
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I rode the streets of Palo Alto for over 40 years and learned a few practical rules (some were actually the law).
Walk bike in crosswalks!
At some intersections it's wise to dismount and become a pedestrian and walk the bike.
Stay clear of other bicyclists when possible. Some are very bad "riders".
Me against a car is no-contest!

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm

"but in a car going at the posted speed limit..."
Whens the last time you saw that happen. ;-)

The bicylist appears to have been in the wrong assuming it was reported accurately. He never should have been riding in a crosswalk with an expectation that cars would stop for him. Cars seldom stop for pedestrians in this town, so a bike riding illegally, fat chance.

Posted by rRichard
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2009 at 2:08 pm

The problem with any crosswalks on El Camino is that cars do not even stop for pedestrians even though pedestrians have the right away in a crosswalk. That intersection of El Camino and College Ave is one of the most dangerous intersections for cross traffic and pedestrians in Palo Alto. There really needs to be a signal at that location.

Posted by Pat Giorni
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 2:13 pm

To Outside Observer:
AB 1581 (Fuller) passed the legislature and was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on October 8, 2007. It states that “The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. (a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares the following: (1) Bicyclists and motorcyclists are legitimate users of roadways in California.”

Posted by Opus the Poet
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Having looked at the intersection using Google Street View it appears the crosswalk is about equidistant between 2 light controlled intersections, so it may have been the cyclist had a clear road when he started to cross but by the time he got to the other direction of travel the light had changed for that direction up the street and the traffic got there before he could clear the street. As he was in the street prior to the other vehicles he would have had right of way, but the other vehicles (the ones with motors) violated his right of way and failed to yield it to him. But for some reason I bet the PAPD doesn't see it that way.

Posted by MikeOnbike
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 2:26 pm

In response to Outside Observer:

Your assertion about bicycles and injuries is just plain wrong:

Web Link

Posted by Opus the Poet
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Since they only reported the direction of travel for the motor vehicle, all this conversation is pretty much useless except for complaining about cars/bicycles/trains/pedestrians in the roadsmaking life dangerous. And for the user that complained about bicycles being dangerous, only to themselves and the rare pedestrian. Motor vehicles killed 40,000+ people last year, including 700 cyclists. In NYC from 1995- 2006 bicycles killed 11 pedestrians, about an average week for cars killing pedestrians there.

Posted by Hugh
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Aug 25, 2009 at 3:07 pm

In a civil society, there are rules that govern behavoir, when those rules are followed, injury rarely occurs, when rules are not followed, the outcome is unpredictable and often less desirable.

Posted by valet
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2009 at 4:21 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Sandra
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 25, 2009 at 4:26 pm

We need a traffic light in that intersection... YESTERDAY-!!
I have contacted the City several times in the past 13 yrs, only to be re-directed to Cal-Train.
We have two very prestigious schools on the east side of that intersection.
Not to mention one of the best parks in the area, Mollie Stone. Some of the most relevant convenience stores, and services are on the east side as well.
Parents with children are known to bike to school, also to the California train station to commute to work.
The intersection of College & El Camino is a tragedy ready to happen.

Posted by Vicky Ching
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Maybe we should have a cyclist license test so that all cyclists learn the cycling traffic rules. Just because cycling is politically and environmentally correct, Cyclers have no right to be above laws.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 5:50 pm

For those of you who justify the dangerous activity of bicycling on motor vehicle roadway because it's legal, may I remind you of the Jim Crow laws. Eventually they were repealed, because they were wrong.

Bicycle laws will also be repealed once the fad is over, and society is no longer willing to tolerate the misuse of facilities and cost to society of this dangerous activity.

If there are any laws that truly do apply to bicycling, its the laws of physics.

Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2009 at 6:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 25, 2009 at 6:13 pm

"... once the fad is over"

Ummm, bicycles have been around longer than cars.

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 25, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Vicky Ching,

"Maybe we should have a cyclist license test so that all cyclists learn the cycling traffic rules"

Motorists have such a test, I dont see that helping them to comply with speed limit laws.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 7:28 pm


Yes, and horses have been around much, much longer than either, and are still used for recreational activities in our area.

Most notably in Woodside and Portola Valley, yet you will never see an equestrian using the motor vehicle roadways.

Unlike the herds of recreational bicyclists who don't live in these areas yet plug the roads there constantly.

Guess there is something to be said for "Horse Sense".

Posted by Longtime Cyclist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2009 at 8:40 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] If you've ever encountered The Noon Ride, then I guess I don't blame you for resenting some cyclists. But what you need to realize is that those guys (and gals) are simply scofflaws. Not all cyclists are like them. I have been riding the roads of Portola Valley for more than 30 years. I am a not a racer. I only ride by myself. I always wear a helmet. I obey all traffic laws. I even stop at the intersection of Canada Road and Jefferson in both directions. I am 58 years old. I own a home in Palo Alto. I also am the owner-of-record of 5 cars (a Porsche, 2 BMWs, an Audi and a Prius). So I am a driver as well and I'm pretty sure that I pay as much DMV fees, gas taxes and other taxes as you do. I have every legal right to ride as I do and I fully intend to keep doing it. You should get outside and try it someday instead of sitting home and stewing in your censoriousness.

On the issue of banning things that are dangerous, how about cigarette smoking? Or how about gun ownership? The statistics show that owning a gun poses a much greater risk of injury to the gun owner and other members of his family than it does to any potential miscreants. So would you extend your argument to those two dangerous activities as well? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2009 at 9:33 pm

“We need a traffic light in that intersection... YESTERDAY-!!
.... The intersection of College & El Camino is a tragedy ready to happen."

Sandra (quoted above) and two others on this thread have discussed the need for a signal at the intersection of College and El Camino.

Early last year as part of a preliminary Transportation Impact Analysis for the “JJ&F Block” redevelopment plans, the developer’s traffic consultant discussed the desirability of improving the unprotected pedestrian crosswalk at College Avenue. But the analysis also went on to say that it “would almost certainly not be supported by Caltrans (the State's Department of Transportation), and indeed, a subsequent letter from Caltrans to the city stated that a signal was not warranted.

Caltrans did however recommend that an “In-Street Pedestrian Crossing Sign” be mounted on the raised median island on El Camino on the north side of the intersection. There currently is one south of the intersection. (Does anyone know when it went it? It is not shown in Google Street View.)

And Caltrans also requested that the existing striping and pavement markings (e.g., marked crosswalk) within this intersection be refreshed. I do not think this has occurred.

Caltrans also was not in favor of garage ramps on El Camino Real leading into the proposed 2-level underground parking garage, stating that it “will have an adverse impact on pedestrian traffic especially when a bus stop is located very close to the proposed driveway.” But that is what is now proposed, and city staff has expressed confidence about Caltrans approval.

Sandra and others, you may want to follow-up on your safety concerns with regard to the College Avenue/El Camino crosswalk with the JJ&F developer, city staff, and Caltrans within the context of this project application now scheduled to return to Planning & Transportation Commission after the environmental assessment is completed.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Longtime Cyclist,

Thanks for expressing a more rational opinion that the other bicyclists here. Your opinions and actions are admirable, especially in light of the PC pressure and herd mentality that seems to drive most bicyclists.

Perhaps one day you will say that when you are on, say, Alpine Road, that you use the bike path, and not the motor vehicle roadway. After all, your tax dollars paid for the bike path and it IS your infrastructure for bicycling.

As for my residence, I no longer live in any community you have mentioned, though over the years I have lived in all. The "noon rides" have no direct effect on me, but any misuse of infrastructure has a cumulative effect on all of us.

As for other dangerous activities, I agree on all but gun ownership. Yes, it's dangerous, but its the only thing that stands between the citizens and government tyranny. Indeed, that is why our wise founders made it the 2nd amendment.

Posted by Longtime Cyclist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Outside Observer,

I ride Alpine Road all the time. It has a perfectly adequate bike lane that is about as safe a bike lane can get. The only thing you need to watch out for is the traffic entering and exiting the Ladera Oaks shopping center and the two tennis clubs. Serious cyclists actually prefer riding on a good road over any bike path. The other traffic you encounter on bike paths is mostly pretty flaky. The best guarantor of safety in traffic is predictibility by all parties. When I'm on a bike, I'll take cars over pedestrians any day. If there's a collision, I lose in either case, but the chances of colliding with a car are a lot lower.

I strongly disagree that bikes using designated bike lanes on public roads constitute a misuse of infrastructure. That bike lane is my infrastructure for bicycling. If other people prefer the bike paths, that's up to them.

I'm sure you realize that you're on the wrong side of history on this question. As other contributors have observed, bikes have been around long time and they aren't going away. My personal opinion is that the world would be a better place with more cyclists and fewer drivers, regardless of the venue.

Posted by Longtime Cyclist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Oh, and one more thing:

It seems pretty ironic to me that you need your gun to protect yourself from Government Tyranny (which already suggests that perhaps you're missing the whole concept of Democracy), but that you'd be more than happy to see the Government tell me where and when I can ride my bike. Some libertarian.

As my Dad used to say, Liberty, like Free Speech, isn't a very interesting concept if it only applies to people you already happen to agree with.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 11:00 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Longtime Cyclist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Outside Observer,

Sorry, but I can't sleep and have a few more comments to make on this subject. You are just plain wrong about the bike path issue. The problem is that you have never "walked in the shoes" of a serious cyclist. Have you ever in your life ridden a bicycle faster than 15 mph when you're not going down a hill? Do you know what that feels like? My guess is that either you haven't ridden a bike since you were in college or you've at most tootled around the neighborhood or a park at a speed not much faster than a brisk walk. Trust me, going 15 or 20 mph on a bike feels quite a bit different than that. I've been doing it for more than 30 years. I'm not bragging. I'm slow compared to most of the people out there. The racers are doing better than 25 most of the time. That may not sound like much to a driver, but try to imagine what it would feel like to be a pedestrian walking along at 3 or 4 mph (a reasonably brisk walk) and have someone blow by you on a narrow bike path at 20 mph from behind. And bear in mind that a properly maintained road bike makes very little noise. It would scare the bejeesus out of the pedestrian. And try going for a walk on a multi-use trail sometime and observe the behavior of your fellow pedestrians. I go running down at Shoreline Park frequently and you see groups walking 3 and 4 abreast across the path (which is wider in most places than the typical bike path already). Someone spots an interesting bird and everyone makes a sudden left turn across the path without looking over their shoulders. If you were a cyclist coming up behind them, you'd have to ditch into the underbrush to avoid the collision. And you frequently see parents out teaching their young ones to ride with training wheels and other small bikes. I'm happy to see them out there and wish them a safe ride, but I don't want to ride anywhere near them.

The point is that serious cycling is totally different than just tootling around. The speeds involved are actually closer to those of motor vehicles than they are to those of pedestrians and the type of cyclists you typically see on bike paths.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] What you imagine to be the case by extrapolating from your experiences does not actually correspond to the reality experienced by me and others like me (or mostly faster and more fit than I am).

As I mentioned before, I spend way more time behind the wheel of a car than on the seat of a bike (more's the pity), so I know what it looks like from that perspective as well. I do my best to be predictable and to stay out of the way of drivers. I have no desire to impede anyone's progress and put anyone (including myself, of course) at any more risk than necessary. But I am completely within my rights to be out there and have no intention of going off and hiding on some bike path just because that seems logical to you.

All for tonight, I promise!

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2009 at 7:46 am

I think you might be wasting your time with OO, but you have nicely articulated what I experience when riding. Also add that most of those pedestrians are practicing sensory deprivation by having ear buds in their ears. I agree, giving walkers a wide berth is a safer and more courteous way to ride.

Posted by I saw the accident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2009 at 11:44 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm

And my apologies to "I'm the driver" if my initial post in any way even annoyed. I mentally confused that intersection with Stanford Ave. and El Camino and thought it was lighted. I think in general people should pull back in assuming anything about incidents (like when the woman in a wheelchair got killed, etc.) in order to grind their particular ax---be it cyclists, drivers, cell phone users, SUV's, etc. Unfortunately I am not immune from that either.

But getting back to the previous cyclist on bike paths vs. roads...I also was involved years ago in caring for a poor woman who was severely injured by a cyclist---on a combination pedestrian/cyclist path. I used to use that path to cycle up to SF and now avoid it like the plague. I'm not a fast cyclist and often I would see cyclist maniacs tearing down and hill and coming upon a group of pedestrians who seemed to be auditioning for roles as lethargic zombies in a George Romero movie.

Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I had often thought that fencing in and paving a section of the roadway all along the tracks would be a great idea for bicycle usage. It would avoid a lot of accidents..........

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Most bicycle accidents, are at intersections, about 50% of the time it is the bicylist's fault and 50% of the time it is the car driver's fault. There are limits on how much segregating bikes from cars is useful if you can't accomplish this at the intersections where the accidents usually occur.

I do like the idea though, someday when/if the high speed rail comes through and the corridor is reworked it would be nice to have a bike path that runs the length of the pennisula on it if there is room left over.

Posted by Jay Dub
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 26, 2009 at 5:34 pm

RS - With respect, I'm not sure where you are getting your numbers on bike collisions. I saw a study out of Toronto this week (granted Canada isn't California) on accident causality that found cyclists were responsible for fewer than 10% of bike/car collisions. I'm a motorist and a cyclist and I hope my experience in the latter makes me more aware of the damage I can do when I'm behind an engine.

One of the real problems we have, you point out very well in your second paragraph: "I do like the idea though, someday when/if the high speed rail comes through and the corridor is reworked it would be nice to have a bike path that runs the length of the pennisula on it if there is room left over." _Room left over_ is all cyclist have in the eyes of many on the road. Safer travel by and for all is possible when it is part of the design from the beginning. Bikes belong on the road and ought not be an afterthought for anyone.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Bikes, for the most part, do belong on the road. Bikes obeying traffic rules, being used for exercise, commutes, and pleasure are all welcome, provided they realise they are vehicles and share the road with other users.

What I do not think we should have, are the packs of bikes taking over most of the roadways. If there is something like the bike tour of California, the tour de France, or any other organised bike event, the roads are closed and cars travel with the bikes to prevent problems for everyone. When we get a group of 20+ bikes in a herd on any of our roadways, they are not sharing the road, they are taking over.

If cars behaved the way packs of bikers do, there would be lots of problems. Even bikes 2 abreast in a bike lane is not a good idea as if they suddenly need to swerve, one of them tends to come out of the bike lane.

There should be rules for bike clubs and other large groups of bikes. They should not become hazards on our roads.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 26, 2009 at 8:27 pm

The problem is "lumpy" and one can travel to a new place and get into a pickle. Years ago our family was camping way up the coast (Manchester Beach area) of CA. I had this local bike book and it mentioned some road going up the coastal range. I would get up early and ride from 20-50 miles and then come back in time to see everyone stirring and having breakfast, continue to go to the beach, etc. But this one route was pretty bad. I was on a narrow two lane road and logging trucks were careening down beside me. I could tell they had a "F it" attitude towards bikers, probably the result of just trying to do their job. On the side of the road I passed corpses of deer, racoon, a hawk, etc., and I feared I would soon join their funereal menagerie. Around here there is Old La Honda Road and Tunitas Creek, but up there I think that was the only road in town. If bikes were banned I don't know if there was another alternative. And if someone mentioned spending money for a bike lane......I can hear the umbrage.

I also agree that the "Wolf Packs" of cyclists tend to create more ill will.

On a similar vacation I mulled over doing bike commuting and bought a cheap pack, worked out the details. I am fortunate in that my work is about an hour away, so bike commuting makes sense. We need to support and encourage that more----bike lockers at work site (protected and cages), adequate shower facilities, safe routes, etc. (and a Google map of updated Porta Potties for us old farts who are fodder for a Flomax commerical. On that note I have come up with a new economic indicator...the PPI. The Porta Potty Index. Miles traveled and Porta Potties found. It is starting to rise again. (call your broker with my tip).

Posted by Mother
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 26, 2009 at 8:55 pm

We need a light in that intersection between El Camino and College!

My children bike to schools from College Terrace to Paly and Jordan everyday, I drive back and forth in and out that intersection everyday. They are cars, bikers and pedestrians in that busy intersection. It worries me and fears me for the past 15 years!

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Jay Dub,

Far enough

The stats used to be easier to find. Sadly google brings up a lot of attorney sites now when you try to search on bike vs car stats

well here is the city of walnut creek claiming bikes at fault 70%

Web Link

here is SLO saying bike 48% auto 38%

Web Link

washington DC bike 31% auto 26%

Web Link

closer to home, the vta

43 percent of the collisions were bicyclists’ fault while 36 percent were drivers’ fault. The remaining 21 percent is unknown.

Web Link

and finally palo alto

Web Link

"From 1999 to 2000, the Palo Alto Police Department reported 161 collisions involving bicycles -- 114 with injuries and two fatalities. Half the time, bike riders were at fault and half the time motorists, according to police."

I'm big on biking, have a 32 mile round trip commute, but I see a lot of foolish things done by both autos and cars in my 2 hours on the road. And most of the bad interactions I persoanlly see are at intersections.

Anyway thanks for keeping me honest.

Posted by Terry Morse
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2009 at 9:57 am

Just a quick comment about the bike lanes on Alpine Road:

The bike lane on Alpine Road stops at the Ladera/Portola Valley border. There are no bike lanes in Portola Valley.

A bike lane starts up again at the Portola Valley/Woodside border on Portola Road.

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