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Bicyclist dies after being hit by car in Palo Alto

Original post made on Aug 18, 2016

An East Palo Alto man has died after being struck by car while riding his bike in Palo Alto Monday morning, according to police.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 18, 2016, 9:30 AM

Comments (45)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:00 am

This is undoubtedly a sad story for both the family of the deceased bike rider and also the driver.

When a bike rider does not stop at a stop sign it can be the cause of an accident and we must not overlook this fact.

What I would like to know is what the weather and visibility issues were like at the time. At this time of the morning it is quite possible that there were patches of bright sunlight and other patches of dark shadow in the intersection. This makes pedestrians and bike riders a lot more difficult to see and for this reason alone they should be taking more care about their own safety. I hope that the STAR team looks at the same intersection at a similar time of day to ascertain how difficult it would be for a person (on a bike or walking) to have been seen.

I hope that all of us learn how to use and share our streets properly.

Posted by Duveneck
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:55 am

My condolences, to both parties.

It would be wise if all parties use their lights when in difficult lighting situations. Some cars always drive w/ lights on. Some bicyclists often do not even have lights on their bikes, let alone use them...even at night.

Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:16 am

Very unfortunate and sad.
The intersection (Web Link where this collision happened is not a busy one. I pass through that neighborhood on a bicycle a couple of times a week on my way to the Rinconada Library.
As a daily bicyclist, I need to keep reminding myself to be careful.

Posted by wmconlon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:19 am

wmconlon is a registered user.

It is incumbent on all of us to foster a culture of safety in all activities.

That means the we drivers cover the brake as we pass through intersections in preparation for bicyclists motor vehicles not stopping.

It also means enforcing the law. I believe that our police must foster public safety by taking action whenever unsafe behavior is witnessed. Last week I observed a bicyclist run a stop sign in front of a black Palo Alto Police SUV. The police took no action, which may have actually just reinforced unsafe behavior.

Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:30 am

@Crescent Park Resident - It is not a busy intersection, but traffic only stops in one direction (Greenwood), so it requires extra caution when crossing Hutchinson, whether you are a cyclist, driver, or pedestrian.

Posted by member
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:32 am

I am so sorry hear of this fatality. As a fellow bicyclist, I am very saddened hearing about a bicycle accident of any kind. One question that came to mind was whether the bicyclist was riding with the flow of traffic on the correct side of the street and was wearing a helmet. While the accident may have been a result of the bicyclist not stopping at a stop sign, I have observed a lot of older people riding bicycles against the flow traffic on the wrong side of the road. Many accidents occur because bicyclists don't follow proper traffic rules. Bicyclist are obligated to behave just as cars in following traffic rules and flow.

Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:35 am

This so sad. Condolences to Mr. Conroy's family.

I'm not sure why the previous comments question weather conditions & visibility. This was 3 days ago. No mysterious eclipses, sudden thunderstorms, and it sure isn't dark @ 9:40 am. Earlier in the morning, there might have been sunrise glare but I doubt if that was a problem at that time of day.

It's Interesting to me that overwhelming sympathy has been expressed toward victims of other accidents but not this one. I particularly recall the furor here a few months ago over the tragic fatal accident early one morning, 6-6:30 am, when a jogger was hit by a vehicle near the Sand Hill Rd & Stanford Ave. One commenter expressed indignation that the driver was using his vehicle so early in the morning. There were many comments too about the cyclist hit on Page Mill by Old Page Mill Rd. In those, there was nothing but sympathy for the victims.

Comments so far today imply some criticism of the elderly cyclist, not torrents of outrage toward the driver. Is that because of the neighborhood in which this accident occurred?

Posted by ron
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:45 am

It seems bicyclists rarely stop for stop signs. I see them run signs all the time. The only time I see them stop is when a car gets to the intersection at almost the same time. Otherwise they plow right through. I guess they figure its up to the car driver to watch and stop for them. Hitting a person on a bike is my biggest fear during the summer. That is why I avoid certain bike heavy streets like the plague and turn my lights on. I also wish people who rode bikes would use a bright headlight when its dark. I see lots of people on bikes at near dark and its hard to see them.

a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:57 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

So sorry to hear the tragedy.

My prayers.


Posted by SympathyForBoth
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:05 pm

I would like to add my condolences to the driver of the car as well. I can think about, but cannot imagine, what it must feel like to have killed someone - regardless of whether you did nothing wrong. It is a memory I suspect the driver will carry with him for some time - most likely the rest of his life. I am sorry this happened to him as well.

Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

First of all, and most important, my condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Conroy.
Here is my concern. I live in Midtown and I see cyclists ignore stop signs all the time, and not just school kids, but adults. They act as if there is no stop sign and just continue right through it. Its very dangerous behaviour. I hope this terrible accident will encourage cyclists to follow the rules of the road.

Posted by Walker
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Bryant is supposedly the bike boulevard and I have often observed drivers on the cross streets -- who have stop signs and usually don't stop -- almost hit bicyclists, who have the right of way. When I saw the headline, I wondered if someone had finally

Drivers around here are becoming increasingly more self-entitled, less aware of those around them. More police enforcement, maybe?

My condolences to the family and friends of the victim.

Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:21 pm

@Chip - Go reread the comments above you, and note the condolences and sadness. Now go read the comments on the story about the jogger who was hit, and you will see a similar mix of condolences, and questioning of details surround of the accident. You are trying to find something that isn't there.

Web Link

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:22 pm

I was the person who queried the weather and visibility. If it was still overcast, then visibility was probably good. In bright sunshine, we get lots of areas of sunlight surrounded by shadowy areas of shade. It is very apparent to me that the shaded areas of streets have very poor visibility for anyone inside the shadows, particularly if the person is wearing dark colored clothes. A bright yellow high visibility vest is a good idea in daylight as well as at night.

Posted by Painting with same brush
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm

I wish drivers would not speed or tailgate, would use their turn signals, and would get off their cell phones. It seems this is the driver's "Normal". We need a new normal for drivers.

Applying the same logic as above when we say we see cyclists running stops and assume most all do it, since I see drivers doing the above actions all the time I can only assume most all do it. So please stop doing it before YOU kill someone.

Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Sad, but not surprising. Most bikes don't follow road rules, but ride around in the streets like cars.

Posted by Both sides of the coin
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 18, 2016 at 1:30 pm

And as most cars are driven over the posted speed limit it was inevitable.

Posted by please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Folks, are you really sure you want to use this tragedy to promote your anti-bike agendas? Its time to mourn his loss not second guess what mistakes were made.

Posted by Caitlin
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 18, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Driving my car in MV, at dusk when the Techies are bicycling home I have often seen them ride through stop signs with no concern about checking traffic right aways. Also I've witnessed them riding against red lights in the pedestrian crossings at major intersections as if they believe they can time their illegal crossings without consequences.

This event in Palo Alto involving a senior sounds very sad and unnecessary to me but it brought to mind the fact that many cyclists abuse their road rights and frankly are scary to watch. I'm therefore skeptical now about these collisions between auto and bikes. I do not automatically default to it was the auto's fault.

I used to cycle a lot but not in the city streets because cycle lanes weren't a prevalent as now. I cycled in a controlled traffic neighborhood and even so I had to be very careful about traffic and watched closely for any surprises.

Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 18, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Somebody made a mistake and a man is dead. Very sad. I think we could leave it at that. We don't really need to be an accident forensics forum.

It's true that cyclists don't always stop at stop signs, which of course they should, or at least slow as much as the cars do to make sure the crossing is safe. Since so many drivers seem aware of that cycling behavior, however, without condoning it, and with compassion for our neighbors, young and old, might we not be as careful as we can to make sure a cyclist's mistake is not his or her last?

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 18, 2016 at 6:35 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.


Ditto. I will share something related that happened to me. I was on my way to Safeway. I had stopped at the stop sign on Ross Rd and was starting to make a left turn onto East Meadow. Two girls on bikes came flying thru the stop sign on Esst Meadow without looking left or right. They never made eye contact with me. I don't know what training they get but it appeared that they thought stop signs were only meant for cars. That' a very dangerous and possibly fatal attitude to have. Thank goodness I was paying attention

Posted by A residence
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:34 pm

I also notice bikes often do not stop at intersections near schools, like those along Churchill toward Paly, Churchill and Castilleja, or those along Newell, Seale and California toward Jordan. Some riders don't slow down riding on sidewalk along nicely Embarcadero. I also see plenty riders don't have helmets or have helmets hanging on the handbar. Would be nice to have a quick orientation of bike safety every new school year. PA police or community officers should make some presence there.

Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:54 pm

Far too often I see bicyclists violating the law, and far too often, I see car and truck drivers violating the laws.

It is a shame in this case that both families suffer, despite who was in the right and who was wrong.

Never-the-less I have seen bicyclists challenge car drivers for the right of way, looking them in the eye. I personally had a woman who had one daughter behind her on the bike, and a baby in a bicycle trailer, look directly at me from about 100 feet away while I was driving about 30 mph in a 35 mph zone, because of the many bicyclists, and she just cut in front of me in the middle of a block. Fortunately I stopped just in time. She stopped directly in front of me and started screaming, "When I have my babies with me I have the right of way!!!" We didn't collide, thank ***, but she will surely get herself and maybe both of her children killed, if she continues with that attitude.

It is true that pedestrians, in California, have the right of way, except for where pedestrians are prohibited, such as freeways, and some cities which prohibit "jaywalking", and probably many things I can't think of. Bicycles on the other hand are by law, required to obey most of the same traffic laws that vehicle drivers have to obey.


Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:01 pm

@Dean - Cars have right of way over pedestrians except in crosswalks (marked and unmarked).

CVC 21954. (a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.

Posted by Bp
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:04 pm

It is very sad for both sides.There is no one right or wrong...

I use a bike as well as car for my commute. My daughter bikes to school on most days.In that sense, I see both perspectives. I have noticed that bike riders have a sense of entitlement regarding the roads. Many of them whiz right past stop signs. Have seen adults as well as kids riding on the wrong side.Parents, when your kids leave for school, doesn't it occur to you to tell em to wear helmets? I see many kids with helmets hanging on their bikes. I do understand that some kids might wear helmets when they leave home and take them off later(thanks to my daughter for enlightening me). It's still the parents responsibility to instill good biking habits.
Does it frustrate me? Yes. Many times. Can I change much of it? Nope. So when I drive my car, I am extra cautious coz I don't wanna end up hurting someone because of their mistake. Not saying this is what happened in the above case.....

Posted by Larry Cohn
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:08 pm

"It's true that cyclists don't always stop at stop signs, which of course they should"

There is no "should" about it. It is not a request or a suggestion. They are REQUIRED BY LAW to stop. Accidents such as this one are the consequence of not obeying the law.

Posted by PA-Biker
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:49 pm

I am very sorry to hear about a loss of life in the city. As many readers have pointed out, the traffic signs and rules also apply to bikers. In my experience biking in Midtown and Oregon Exwy neighborhood, I note that most drivers observe the traffic rules.

However, there are always a few who dangerously short-cut the rules and press on with no regards for peds, bikers and other cars. Most dangerous violations are the so-called California-style stops or rolling-stops particularly on right turns, with zero visibility of cross-traffic. The other very annoying violation is tailgating after the light turn red.

Posted by neighborA
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:29 pm

On Ross and e meadow a lot, I am really scared to see many kids riding their bikes side by side with their friends sometimes way too close to the middle of the car lane. If you are a parent of kids on this route please double check their bike safety before another tragedy.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:08 am

@Biker, "I note that most drivers observe the traffic rules." Except the speed limit.

"The other very annoying violation is tailgating after the light turn red." Please define.
Do you mean following the 3 cars that ran the yellow? Or getting stuck blocking the intersection?
Or stopping too close to the car in front at a red light? Or something else?

One thing marginally annoying to me is drivers who leave a whole car length or more in front of them when queuing at an intersection. This often backs up a left-turn lane pocket way back into the thru traffic lane. I can see the rationale though of leaving yourself an "out" should contingencies arise. Sorry this thread on a tragic event has inevitably diverged into a discussion of driving habits, but we're respectfully way down the comment list by now and might benefit from reminders to be more careful and courteous drivers and cyclists.

Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2016 at 3:19 am

Walker says "Bryant is supposedly the bike boulevard and I have often observed drivers on the cross streets -- who have stop signs and usually don't stop -- almost hit bicyclists, who have the right of way."

I live near Bryant and cross it several times a day. It is very difficult to see if a car is coming on Bryant because of the parked cars near the intersections. But cars are much bigger than bikes and in certain light conditions it's almost impossible to see a bike at a distance.If the bike is very fast when you are crossing Bryant by the time you are crossing the bike is already dangerously near the crossing car or pedestrian. Even if one is extremely careful it's a dangerous crossing. The fact that one has the right of way does not mean that ordinary precautions should not be observed. Bikers would do well to be very attentive, cautious, pre-emptive and use color enhanced bikes, because they are so vulnerable. Even the most considerate, alert and attentive driver cannot respond adequately if the bike cannot be seen.

I have avoided numerous accidents as a driver just by understanding how in reality bikers behave. As a frequent pedestrian I also have avoided being run over by bikers not stopping when they should just by understanding how in reality bikers behave, ( though I was once run over by a biker who didn't stop for me when I had the green and was on the crossing walkway) .

Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2016 at 8:57 am

There is a vase of flowers on the sidewalk near the spot where this man died.

Cyclists make mistakes. They are careless. Especially children. But they are so vulnerable. And over all cycling adds to the health of our community, both individually and collectively.

Couldn't we make it our job as drivers to be extra careful not to hit a cyclist, no matter who is at fault? There are plenty of busy streets where cyclists are rare. In our residential areas, though, on the routes to our schools, don't we want to encourage them and keep them safe?

Posted by Walt knew cars were evil
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2016 at 11:58 am

Some people's ego changes drastically behind the wheel. They're anger prevents them from taking the high road and puts them into a "I'll show them" mentality.
I totally agree, if we could address this personality transformation that people seem to go through once they turn that key, we'll all be so much safer. The question is how? How do we change what seems to be a human nature flaw?

Even Disney noted this flaw in some people's make up. They released a short in 1950 where they warn of these dangers. Goofy is the star playing the roll of the nice guy who turns into an enormous jerk once he gets behind the wheel of his car. Watch it, you'll recognize the behavior even today. Interesting, but very sad:
Web Link

Posted by Rosey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2016 at 8:16 pm

Curious to know driver's age, anyone know?
The article(s) describe driver 'in his 70s' yet provide exact age of 73 for the dead bicyclist. Also please note he 'remained on the scene', yes I guess so, the body and bike were stuck underneath the car after having been dragged. Nearby residents came out and lifted end of car and rolled it off of victim & bike.
I would have thought speed of bicyclist would have caused him to be thrown upon impact.
I passed by later and saw all the markings by investigators...and noted there were no skid marks.
I have to wonder how speeding bicyclist dies from head trauma--sustains massive injuries, scrapes, scratches all to his head, while rolling underneath a slow moving car?
It's tragic when bikes & cars collide; speeding and running stop sign terrible as well as elderly drivers with diminished reactions and eyesight still driving around quiet neighborhoods like ours. Our children could run out into street to get a ball.... Please question your own parents about driving in later years.
My mother drove beyond her time, we had to obtain a power of atty in order to sell her car to get her off the road. She had dodged DMV for years avoiding a driving test!

Posted by Larry Cohn
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2016 at 11:04 pm

"Couldn't we make it our job as drivers to be extra careful not to hit a cyclist, no matter who is at fault?"

How about making our jobs as motorists and bicyclists alike to obey the laws of the road? Those laws are there for a reason.

I'm sorry if this sounds sanctimonious, but if the bicyclist had obeyed the law and yielded the right of way to the motorist, he would probably still be alive today and we wouldn't be having this discussion and there would be no story to report.

Posted by On road law obedience
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 20, 2016 at 5:49 am

Interesting post above, but of course as the amount of drivers breaking the speed laws and driving dangerously far far out numbers the amount of cyclists breaking the road laws, we won't be safe until the driver's lawlessness is addressed.

Whenever someone chimes in about the bikers needing to obey the laws, I have to laugh. It's like saying there is a mosquito on an attacking bear and if we can get that mosquito out of here we'll be safe.

Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 20, 2016 at 9:36 am

Larry Cohn,

Of course the laws are there for a reason. But, let's face it, motorists and cyclists alike threat them, as they said in Pirates of the Carribean, more like guidelines. I'm just suggesting that, given the relative vulnerabilities of people on bikes and in cars, the folks with the armor plate around them might take it a little easier, be a little more forgiving. There are old folks and kids out there. Better to have more folks on bikes than in cars, don't you think? Let's not kill them off.

Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2016 at 10:25 am

@On road law obedience - When the mosquito runs a stop sign, and gets run over by a bear, it would behoove the mosquito to stop at the stop sign. You may laugh, but a cyclist died because he ran a stop sign. So at least in this case, you might worry a little more about cyclist's lawlessness.

Posted by @NoMo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm

Yes, we should worry about the cyclists behavior, but not primarily. Even in your example, it's a single rare instance compared to car injuries and fatalities. The issues caused by driver behaviors are a 24/7 thing, visible anytime your eyes are open and watching traffic.
The smart decision is to focus on the biggest group of offenders if you want to affect change.

Here's another example:
There's a forest fire charging down the hill towards town and also little Bobby is playing with matches in the park.
You don't target the water drop on Bobby, you drop it where it will do the most good, on or in front of the fire doing the most actual damage.
True, little Bobby may get burned, but only a fool would insist we pay attention to him instead of focusing first on the more destructive force.

Posted by nomo Bobby
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 23, 2016 at 3:21 pm

or you get rid of all the Bobby's and then you have no more fire

Posted by Nono, Nomo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 24, 2016 at 6:31 am

No, that's like saying if we get rid of the mosquito on the bear's back we won't be attacked. Fires start from multiple sources. One of the most common culprits in house fires is faulty electrics. Very rarely are there "Bobby" situations, but yes, they do exist and we have laws against them.

That said, we understand that wiring issues are a far greater threat to one's home than a "Bobby" so we logically have vigorous regulations with multiple inspections for electrical systems and wiring during construction. If we used the same resources to try and identify and catch every single "Bobby" we would still have plenty of fires due to the far more common culprit, faulty wiring.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2016 at 7:53 am

But, we still teach Bobby not to play with matches, hide the matches or lighter from those too young and teach the older ones how to use them for their rightful purpose. The point is if we never teach Bobby how to correctly treat fire and matches, he will never learn.

The analogy shows that teaching all the Bobbys the correct handling of fire, the less likely there will be fire in the future.

Posted by Logic rocks
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:26 am

Why do some people think that focusing on the biggest offender means ignoring the little one?

Let me spell that part out: Is does not; we do not ignore Bobby, we just don't make him the priority when there is a much larger danger breathing down our throats in the form of a massive fire.

Now, should we make teaching all the Bobby's the rules a higher priority than fighting the fire? Of course not. Should we teach him the rules? Of course we should, but lets again look to drivers:
They have been taught the rules of the road yet they are still the biggest threat, the looming fire, the charging bear.

As drivers show us 24/7 on our roads every day, training, testing and knowledge of rules does not mean a person will obey them. Speed limits on 280 are the perfect example. That road has many accidents and fatalities every year. EVERY YEAR!

Posted by Logically
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Yes. And so then most logically Bobby the mosquito should exercise extreme caution and care given that it is his life at risk, not the bears fire.

Posted by No argument there
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Obviously and of course. Everyone should always use extreme caution in any situation, but especially on the road where drivers are so dangerous. Once we reign in the dangerous drivers by focusing efforts on that group's behavior we'll all be safer, but we should never stop using extreme caution on the roads.
Some people will never listen to that though. Heck some people don't even wear seat belts. There's always exceptions.

To stay with the analogy: we need to STOP the killer fires and the killer bears, so yes, until that focus is applied, be careful out there, esp if you're a bear or fire: "given that it is his life at risk, not the bears fire. "
Think about that. You know far more drivers(bears, fire) are killed on the roads each year than are pedestrians and cyclists(Bobby and mosquitoes), right?. That's a verifiable fact so you're not being logical when you say their lives are not at risk. You really seem to be struggling to make a comparative analogy.

Posted by Former Cyclist
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Former Cyclist is a registered user.

I used to bike ride to the gym and to work and back every day, rain or shine ( 17 miles round trip), as well as riding on weekends for extra exercise.

After being hit three times by drivers running stop signs ( one also made an illegal left turn right into me), and being sideswiped once, I finally decided it was just too dangerous in Palo Alto. Drivers are too preoccupied with their thoughts, their cell phone conversation, with texting-- and just thinking that their destination has priority over anyone els's.

Also, I didn't think my body could take much more: broken leg, broken shoulder, broken wrist, broken elbow, dislocated shoulder, dislocated elbow AND a knee dislocated and twisted so severely that all connective tendons and ligaments were torn from the bone-- requiring a total knee replacement.

Incidentally, most of these injuries occurred on residential Palo Alto streets ( though the worst one was on the Stanford campus). Most of the drivers were wealthy Palo Alto residents, one was an extremely wealthy man on his cell phone ( who drove off after hitting me, claiming he didn't realize he'd hit anything!), one a Stanford professor.

My guess is that busy, successful executives have too much on their mind while driving-- and they are driving on auto- pilot!

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