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Should Palo Alto require reflectors and lights for pedestrians?

Original post made by driver on Jan 20, 2014

Palo Alto's residential streets are very dark at night, partially because of the very dim street lights and partially because tall trees block out the moonlight. Crosswalks in residential areas are very poorly marked and pedestrians in crosswalks are very hard to see, especially by older drivers in tall SUVs. Yes, our night vision does get significantly worse as we age and glasses cannot correct this. Tall vehicles like SUVs and minivans make small objects on the street even harder to see (like children). Lets face it, most drivers do not completely stop at stop signs on quiet residential streets and the police are reluctant to ticket drivers in residential areas. Should the city require pedestrians to wear reflective or lighted clothing for their own safety?

Before you whine that this is a crazy idea to blame pedestrians for getting hit by reckless drivers, I read that a city in Wisconsin has just passed such a law for pedestrian clothing: Web Link

Comments (106)

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Do you own an SUV? If you did, then you would know that the headlights are tuned just like a car's headlights in terms of coverage, range, width, etc. The difference in height of the headlight position is perhaps 18", but the lights are tuned to land in the same spot on the road.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Should the city require pedestrians to wear reflective or lighted clothing for their own safety?"

Absolutely and those regulations should also apply to bicyclists.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Another rule/regulation/law that has very little hope of enforcement? Remember gas-powered leaf blowers, illegal selling of fruits on our streets, parking violations...usually 'complaint-based', which means it won't get enforced?

There is no rational reason to pass yet another law, until the previous ones are enforced (without complaints). We pay our police a very good package, and they take their marching orders from our city manager (ultimately our city council). There is no need to pile on.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Although I agree that this is a good idea (I walk with a flashlight at night), I can't see it would make any difference. There is a law for bikes to have lights and reflectors, but not special clothing) and most bikers don't have lights at night and are invisible, particularly for cars approaching them from the side of when the bikes approach from behind at red lights, or come out from the shadows during the day.

Get bikes to obey the laws first, then work on a pedestrian law.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm

So, now you want to give us a ticket for not wearing clothes you deem safe at night. I think all pedestrians should wear propellors on their head so they can generate wind energy as they walk and help fight global warming ... get outta here! ;-)


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Simple solution: if you can't see what's on the road in front of you, you have no business behind the wheel. Driving is a privilege, not a right.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 20, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Robert - Hopefully you will never hit a pedestrian dressed in dark clothing or a bicyclist without any lights and wearing dark clothing because you could not see them - in spite of your presumably perfect eyesight.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm

This sounds like the typical intrusive law that the city council will probably pounce upon and fall all over themselves to pass. Then they can pat themselves on the back for a job well done, will ignoring the actual problems facing the city. And of course, we will get a lecture from kniss telling us that the council is the guardian of public health!!! If peter carpenter is so hot to trot over this law, he should haven atherton pass it.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Peter, I never claimed to have perfect eyesight. However, if it got to the point where my eyesight was impairing my driving, and rather than take responsibility for my own situation, I suggested passing laws so the rest of the world could accommodate me? That would strike me as beyond self centered... kind of like the type of person who would accuse children hit on the sidewalk as "reckless"


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I've had many nighttime near-collisions with unlighted bikes and darkly-clothed pedestrians in Palo Alto and Menlo Park. None of them were in my distant headlights; instead, they blithely rode out of the darkness from the side as I pulled out of an intersection, or walked heedlessly into my path. These dim souls have escaped injury only because I have very good reflexes.

The solution is simple: police should cite the dark biker or walker involved in a collision, not the motorist. Undeserved emotional trauma and scratched paint are excessive cruelty upfront.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Let's hope that self-driving cars with side looking radar arrive soon so we pedestrians don't have to dress up in reflective clothing for clueless drivers.


Posted by Coriolanus, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I truly wish this were required! I also wish that dark clothing worn at night by pedestrians and cyclists were forbidden.

One early morning on the way to the gym before work, a man in black sweats on a black bicycle ( no helmet ) crossed right in front of my car at a stop sign ( without stopping and on the wrong side of the street ). He was absolutely invisible in the dark ( no headlight on his bike ), and I did not see him until he was directly in my headlights, and I came within an inch or two of hitting him. And, yet, HE flipped ME off!

Talk about a death wish!


Posted by JD, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I find it strange that you suggest the problem is pedestrians and not motorists, often with poor driving skills (either because of inattention, poor training, or age) driving over-sized cars with limited visibility, that are the problem. Why aren't you advocating for lower speeds -- and accompanying enforcement from the PD -- as well as severe punishments for motorists who hit pedestrians? And how about just in general encouraging people to get out of cars and use public transit, walk, or bicycle? The kind of measures you are suggesting are just further dehumanizing our urban spaces into places that are for the automobile instead of people. This kind of nonsense needs to stop. The cars should be thought of as guests in the space that is meant for people.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2014 at 5:40 pm

I think the discussion here is poor.

What would you rather be, in the right, or dead? It makes sense for any road user to be seen so whether you drive a car, use a bike or walk it makes sense to be seen by other road users. Make it easy for them, not hard. Don't be invisible.

People need to take their own safety seriously, not expect others to do it for them. Don't wear dark clothing at night. Don't walk out into an intersection without checking for traffic. Don't assume drivers will be able to see you. Don't put the onus on someone else when you can take a bit more caution yourself. It is up to all of us to look after our own safety by taking sensible precautions.


Posted by please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Cars are running over pedestrians and cyclists in broad daylight. I think we need to increase the consequences for hitting people with a car, and may be drivers will be more careful. I'm not talking about the cases where bicyclists are riding like idiots. I am talking about children on sidewalks getting hit by automobile drivers and the driver suffering no consequences.


Posted by veritas aequitas, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2014 at 7:46 pm

What you are proposing would be no different than if you were to dig a hole in your back yard to bury the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. Would you be so inclined for a law if we took away your 1st Amendment Right to write unpopular criticisms of elected officials because it would be construed as aiding the enemy in the war on terror?

Grow up and take responsibility for your actions, nothing else is needed.

If you are so concerned about people getting hurt from not being seen why don't you start a campaign to outlaw the use of cell phones and mobile devices while driving? Oh ya, its already illegal and what good has that done?

"They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Ben Franklin


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"What you are proposing would be no different than if you were to dig a hole in your back yard to bury the 4th Amendment of the Constitution."

Meaningless hyperbole.


Posted by opus, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Too funny!


Posted by Another idea, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 20, 2014 at 8:46 pm

What about stocking reflective hand-held flags at either end of dangerous intersections for pedestrians to hold as they cross these intersections at night? Personally, I always wear reflective clothing when walking or biking at night as I know how difficult it is for me to see pedestrians when I drive at night. OTOH, I don't think it would be feasible to mandate that everyone do this.


Posted by veritas aequitas, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Mr. Carpenter, if you are so concerned about the safety of pedestrians and others then you should be promoting sentencing requirements for driving while using mobile devices that are equivalent to driving while under the influence of drugs/alcohol.

1.6 Million Crashes Each Year Involve Drivers Using Cell Phones and Texting:

Web Link

Web Link

Facts are not hyperbole and because you are opposed to sentencing guidelines that would we consistent you demonstrate that you have some ulterior motive for "reflective clothing and lights" on pedestrians.

Folks, welcome to the nanny state of control freaks promoted by the likes of Mr. Carpenter. Given his umbrage to my opposition of the proposal put forth in this editorial and his connection to the Weekly it wouldn't surprise me that Mr. Carpenter is the author of this editorial.


Posted by veritas aequitas, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Another idea, that's a great idea. Menlo Park has placed flags at the intersection of Ravenswood and Alma St. next to the library which I use frequently.


Posted by blinded, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 5:15 am

@Crescent Park Dad
Do you own a car? If you did you would know that sometimes the SUV
headlights are not directed properly. The other day I was so blinded
on a Downtown sidestreet from the reflection in my rear view mirror it
was actually dangerous and I had to make a right turn to get away from it.
By the way, the three things which have had the greatest impact on our
lives in the last 25 years are the internet, cell phones, and SUV's.


Posted by K, a resident of University South
on Jan 21, 2014 at 5:16 am



Make improvements and changes to encourage alternative forms of transportation that don't just serve the almighty car. I live and work downtown and don't even own a car :-). It's a fun way to be. I walk with a flashlight and some reflective clothing. Not a big deal. There definitely needs to be improvement for pedestrians and cyclist, skaters, whatever it takes. While they're at it, that mess of lanes crossing over from University into Palm Drive needs to be cleaned up. I've never understood why a nice pedestrian and bike bridge has not been built there. What's the deal? Always hope and pray, I make it safe to the other side.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 21, 2014 at 5:45 am

Yes, I own a car. And I've had a similar issue with some cars...it is not a problem that pertains to the type of vehicle as much as it is a problem with the particular headlamp that is out of adjustment. Usually you will find that the problem happens with older vehicles or ones that have had some sort of damage (repaired or not) on the front end.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 21, 2014 at 6:54 am

It is nothing short of foolish to think that drivers hit pedestrians because they are not visible enough. If you pass a law that pedestrians have to wear helmets with flashing lights on them when a pedestrian does not conform to that for whatever reason they will be twice as much in danger because motorists will be lazy.

It is up to the motorist driving the deadly weapon to make sure they are not hitting anyone ... and yes, you have to pay attention and look out all the time. I really have trouble thinking anyone can really take this issue seriously.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:09 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I walk with a flashlight and some reflective clothing. Not a big deal."

Thank you.

"It is nothing short of foolish to think that drivers hit pedestrians because they are not visible enough"

Hopefully you will never hit a pedestrian dressed in dark clothing or a bicyclist without any lights and wearing dark clothing because you could not see them .


Posted by A. Jones, a resident of University South
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:13 am

[Post removed.]



Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:14 am

This proposal is probably not legally possible, and would be counterproductive in any case. Putting the burden on pedestrians is wrong and harmful. Pedestrians should attempt to make themselves visible, but only car drivers can guarantee that they are seen. If we cater to inattentive or incompetent drivers we will only see drivers who are less competent or attentive. Soon pedestrians will be expected to have flashing lights, reflectors, loud bells and whistles and radar transponders. Anything less will be seen as reckless and suicidal.

The fact is that walking is good exercise for any age and it requires no expensive equipment. If we price people out of the market for walking it will have negative consequences for public health. Nobody should feel that they can't walk to the store or the park because they don't have $100 in special equipment. We do have a problem with pedestrian safety, but putting a burden on pedestrians like this is not the answer.


Posted by uneven crosswalks, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:24 am

It seems that the latest from the City is to install ribbed white laddered
crosswalks which are not a level surface which actually can pose a hazard
for a pedestrian especially the elderly,a small child,or a woman with heals. This type of crosswalk at Tasso and University is right near the sign which says "Seniors".

This is important also because it represents another example of the City not understanding or in some cases actually choosing to ignore the full effects of what it is doing, the core of the problem in Palo Alto, sometimes with disastrous consequences, like Downtown parking for example. This is why the quality of life - the "environment" in Palo Alto broadly speaking is in a tailspin.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:26 am

I don't know, I've never really had a problem on either side of this equation.

My mom taught me how to cross a street when I was a kid and I've never forgot ... it ain't that difficult. It is also good to remember to think about other people and make sure they see you. Today I see pedestrians walking around oblivious. Yesterday a girl downtown walking with her nose in smartphone did not even bother to look around as she slowly sauntered across Waverly holding up me trying to make a right turn going south, and another car trying to make a right turn onto University going East. Her clothes were not the problem.

It's better for pedestrians to just assume they are invisible, then they will behave in a way as to get maximum positive results. The same with drivers ... but drivers are even worse. Half of them are doing something else besides driving and not doing either very well. We just have more stupid oblivious people doing without thinking. Loud colors, reflectors or flashing lights will not change this crowd.

The onus of staying safe and alive IS on the pedestrian, but the blame in case of accident should be on the driver, and having a way of shifting blame to the pedestrian because of what they wear or do not wear is bull----!

Today's world does not really assist a person to remain attentive and thoughtful with all the distractions and sensory overload. Everybody should pay more attention to what they are doing and quit thinking some quick fix is going to improve things because more than likely it will not, just make more things to think about, or forget.


Posted by different perspective, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:55 am

There is another important issue here regarding unintended consequences.
Studies in San Diego for example have indicated conclusively that heavily marked crosswalks have a higher rate of pedestrian accidents even accounting for their greater use. Why? Because the pedestrian is more likely to feel safe and pay less attention to his surroundings. So in this situation the driver who is texting, distracted, intoxicated becomes a greater danger to the pedestrian. The findings are logical and intuitively correct.

So there is a balance required in making a safe pedestrian environment in
in terms of street markings, signage and any proposals regarding pedestrian
visibilty. And the main strategy needs to be in traffic enforcement and
also in land use policy which does not overload the street network with
more and more speeding commute traffic and cut-through traffic. It is
the City's responsibility in traffic enforcement and traffic generation which must be the central focus.So the reduction of the motorcycle cops
was the worst thing the City could possibly have done but which last year
were thankfully reinstated. And the land use policies have been disastrous.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 8:31 am

It is important for every road user to be observant and to be observed.

Many times an accident is caused by a series of reasons rather than just one. The blame may be on a driver, but there are often several causes, including distractions to both driver and pedestrian, shadows, sun glare, dark clothing, daytime light issues, lighting and pedestrians making unpredictable crossings or changes to crossing plan after they had started out.

As above, if you want to cross the street, stop at the curb, wait for drivers to see you and stop and keep your eyes open for what is going on. Do not change direction half way across, do not run in case you trip, pay attention while crossing a street just as much as a driver should be paying attention. At least, that's the way I was taught to cross a street and still do. I have never had a problem and I am not scared of crossing a street anywhere in Palo Alto.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2014 at 9:14 am

"The onus of staying safe and alive IS on the pedestrian, but the blame in case of accident should be on the driver, and having a way of shifting blame to the pedestrian because of what they wear or do not wear is bull----!"

The blame belongs to the party that had the clearest opportunity to avoid the accident. A dark bicyclist or pedestrian blithely blindsiding a motorist is an accident begging to happen. Those people should not have the ability to burden others with their own stupidity, and should pay for all damage they cause to the innocent motorist.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 9:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Traffic Safety Facts - Pedestrians [August 2012]
4,280 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2010, a 4% increase from the number reported in 2009.
Traffic Safety Facts - Children [May 2013]
In 2011, an estimated 69,000 pedestrians were injured, 11,000 of those injured were age 14 and younger, and males accounted for 65% (7,000) of those 11,000 injured.
Traffic Safety Facts - Older Population
In 2009, 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States were among people age 65 and older."

It makes no difference who is to blame AFTER someone else is injured or killed - we should all do whatever we can to PREVENT pedestrian injuries or deaths. The best driver in the world cannot avoid something that he cannot see.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:10 am

SteveU is a registered user.

blinded
It is a vehicle code violation to operate a vehicle with malfunctioning / improperly aimed lighting.

CVC 24407. Multiple-beam road lighting equipment shall be designed and
aimed as follows:
(a) There shall be an uppermost distribution of light, or
composite beam, so aimed and of such intensity as to reveal persons
and vehicles at a distance of at least 350 feet ahead for all
conditions of loading.
(b) There shall be a lowermost distribution of light, or composite
beam so aimed and of sufficient intensity to reveal a person or
vehicle at a distance of at least 100 feet ahead. On a straight level
road under any condition of loading none of the high intensity
portion of the beam shall be directed to strike the eyes of an
approaching driver.

How well is that enforced?


Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:20 am

When I first moved to California the CHP had vehicle inspection stops in residential neighborhoods where they would check headlight alignment, etc. I haven't seen that in decades. Police everywhere are so understaffed now that they are doing triage and can only enforce the worst violations. This has led to steady deterioration of driving skills and an increase in sloppy behavior which puts pedestrians at risk.

I agree that pedestrians should be alert and cautious when crossing the street, and should try to make themselves visible, but I think this proposal goes too far. I do not think that we should do "whatever we can to prevent pedestrian injuries or deaths". We should go to reasonable lengths but not go overboard and end up punishing those we are trying to help. We could prohibit walking entirely, which would eliminate pedestrian injuries but would be undesirable.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:29 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I believe that it is reasonable to require pedestrians and bicyclists to dress and equip themselves so as to be reasonably visible. A person wearing dark clothes and not carrying a light is not visible at night to even the best driver. When pedestrians and bicyclists choose to share the road with cars then they should take reasonable steps to be visible just as cars are required to have lights that are visible from all four sides.


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:29 am

Unbelievable. Just when you think that "nanny state" hysteria couldn't get any crazier, someone suggests that pedestrians in our community must buy reflectors or reflective clothing just to walk outside.

It isn't a terribly broad problem (although I am not downplaying the tragedy of a single accident). However, it doesn't necessitate a broad nanny state solution.

How many people have been killed in the last year walking on the street?
How many of them would have undoubtedly been "saved" by reflectors?
Is it possible that any death could have been prevented by any other means?

This isn't a problem so pressing that necessitates such a radical solution.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:33 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are the Federal Guidelines:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Highway Safety Program Guideline No. 14
"Each State should ensure that State and community pedestrian and bicycle programs contain a comprehensive communication component to support program and policy efforts. This component should address coordination with traffic engineering and law enforcement efforts, school-based education programs, communication and awareness campaigns, and other focused educational programs such as those for seniors and other identified high-risk populations. The State should enlist the support of a variety of media, including mass media, to improve public awareness of pedestrian and bicyclist crash problems and programs directed at preventing them. Communication programs and materials should be culturally relevant and multilingual as appropriate, and should address issues such as:
Visibility, or conspicuity, in the traffic system;
Correct use of facilities and accommodations;
Law enforcement initiatives;
Proper street-crossing behavior;
Safe practices near school buses, including loading and unloading practices;
The nature and extent of traffic-related pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and injuries;
Driver training regarding pedestrian and bicycle safety;
Rules of the road;
Proper selection, use, fit, and maintenance of bicycles and bicycle helmets;
Skills training of bicyclists;
Sharing the road safely among motorists and bicyclists; and
The dangers that aggressive driving, including speeding, pose for pedestrians and bicyclists."


Posted by Share the road., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:43 am

Drivers, you are required to drive at a speed that takes into account your sight lines and ability to react, regardless of posted speed limit--SLOW DOWN and be attentive and considerate.

Pedestrians, be smart. Wear light or reflective clothing when you walk at night and, for heavens sake, don't step in front of a moving car. (I carry a flashlight when I walk my dog at night.)

Everyone, consider safety. Help each other by driving, biking and walking with consideration for others who share the road with you. Good manners and good citizenship (following the existing rules of the road)will give us all a safer community.

Americans are fat because we eat poorly and don't get enough exercise. It's killing us--literally. Biking and walking, instead of sitting on our fat butts driving everywhere, is a great way to stay fit. The risk of being hit by a car is far less than our risk from dying from obesity-related illness--especially if we are smart on the street.

Walking and biking is great for our health. Get out there, but be considerate, be visible, KNOW and follow the rules of the road.

No more negativity, please.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I know that some posters simply don't like tacts but here are some more:

"As vulnerable road users, pedestrians represent a disproportionate number of fatal crash victims. In the United States in 2007 alone, 4654 pedestrians were killed (11.3 percent of all traffic fatalities) and 70,000 pedestrians were injured (2.8 percent of all traffic injuries). The night-time hours were especially precarious, with 60 percent of all pedestrian collisions in 2007 occurring at night. It is now generally recognized that pedestrians are more likely to be involved in crashes at night. The elevated nighttime crash risk is associated with the difficulty motorists have in recognizing the presence of pedestrians at night and the associated lack of recognition and commensurate change of behavior required to accommodate this increased risk by pedestrians. Leibowitz and Owens (1977) showed that this has to do with the selective nature of the visual losses that the human vision system experiences at night. Leibowitz et al. (1998) later extended this notion by suggesting that drivers are generally not aware of their perceptual limitations at night, and that speed limits are too high for drivers to be able to avoid collisions with low-contrast obstacles. An alternate line of inquiry associated pedestrians' increased risk at night with their lack of sufficient conspicuity and their failure to appreciate the magnitude of drivers' difficulty seeing them at night ([Tyrrell et al., 2004] and [Shinar, 1984])."

Griswold, Julia, Fishbain, Barak, Washington, Simon, & Ragland, David (2010) Visual assessment of pedestrian crashes. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 43(1), pp. 301-306.


Posted by Mimi, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 21, 2014 at 11:17 am

I am not suggesting a new law, but I do agree that education for bicyclists and pedestrians is in order. I commute by bicycle, wear a neon yellow jacket, construction worker's reflective vest, have reflective tape on my bicycle frame, wheels, flashing lights on the front and back of my helmet and bicycle itself, that also shine to the side.
And I have been terrified by pedestrians dressed in black who step in front of me on dark streets, knowing that if I had been in a car I might not have been able to stop on time.
Did you know it is illegal for bicyclists to have FLASHING white lights on the front of our bicycles. It is a law I break every evening because I want to be seen.


Posted by Coriolanus, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2014 at 11:20 am

It is true that there are a lot of inexperienced drivers of all ages who drive oversize or over-complex cars, and that they pose a danger. But if they passed the DMV tests and car dealers sell cars to anyone with money, regardless of driving ability, what can we do?

When I am a pedestrian, I wear reflectors and so does my dog. The leash even has flashing lights. But some people will not take responsibility for themselves and take the proper precautions at night to keep safe. That is how things end up being mandated by law.


Posted by please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Make it easy bring back linkboys. Web Link If you cant see people at night in time, you are overdriving headlights. Stay home until it's daylight.


Posted by David, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Another misguided attempt to regulate common scene. NO, the city should not require its citizens and visitors to wear/display lights for pedestrians. Many bicyclists and pedestrians feel entitled and bulletproof when it comes to crossing roadways (whether they are in a crosswalk or not). On the other hand, many motorists also feel entitled and could careless of others on the roadways and crosswalks. Maybe a better approach would be to recommend light colored clothing and/or lights and reflective materials.


Posted by Nanny state, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm

"I believe that it is reasonable to require pedestrians and bicyclists to dress and equip themselves so as to be reasonably visible"

Fine, Peter. Take your proposed requirements to the city you reside in. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I drive in Palo Alto all the time - are you suggesting that I not shop in Palo Alto simply because I do not live there?


Posted by Nannystate, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Well nanny by your own standard you, as a Stanford resident, should not offer an opinion on this issue.

From my perspective I drive in Palo Alto a lot and have many more problems with nearly invisible pedestrians in Palo Alto than in Atherton so I will continue to offer my opinion on this matter - you should follow you own advice.


Posted by Nanny state, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm

"Well nanny by your own standard you, as a Stanford resident, should not offer an opinion on this issue"
Pay attention, Peter to what I said above:
" Do not try to force your nanny state laws on a city you have no connection with."
I admonished you to not force your desired laws on a city you have connection with. I am writing from my work location which is Stanford, however I live in palo alto. So end of that argument.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Nanny state, "a resident of Stanford" is the way that you have designated yourself.

"" Do not try to force your nanny state laws on a city you have no connection with."

I have lots of current and even more prior connections with Palo Alto. I visit Palo Alto almost daily, I lived there for almost 20 years, I was a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner, etc.....
And I will continue to speak out on issues which impact Palo Alto and you are free to either ignore my opines and the facts which I post or to offer better arguments or more appropriate facts (but that is much more difficult).


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm

This topic is a joke, right?

Our car PARKED on Middlefield has been hit twice in broad daylight when there's no traffic by ditzy drivers.

Mothers dropping their kids off at school ROUTINELY park in front of my driveway, blocking ME. Do I need to have blinking lights there, too>

The SUV-driving mother who ran over that woman in the wheelchair with her wonderful white dog managed to kill her in broad daylight even though her wheelchair had a tall flag.

Police resources: With crime up 25%, do you REALLY want to divert resources to police people's CLOTHES??


Posted by MiMi, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:50 pm

MiMi is a registered user.

I WOULD like to see the law CHANGED so that having a FLASHING white light on the front of my bicycle is NOT illegal. It makes me so much more visible.


Posted by RogerD, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

RogerD is a registered user.

Wow how this discussion degenerated and fast.
Everyone needs to be careful, cars are dangerous to bikers and pedestrians, that's why they are well illuminated so they can be seen.
Cars take distance to stop, bikes stop quicker, pedestrians even quicker.
We all need to be careful. Its not us versus them, its all about arriving home safe, sounds like some people on here actually think drivers want to spend the rest of their lives thinking about that moment they killed someone.
Come on people get real here.


Posted by Nanny state, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:12 pm

This proposal won't happen and we all know it.

"Unenforceable" is the first word that comes to mind.

Try telling all of the out of town visitors that frequent University Avenue and its surrounds that they have to comply with this law if they want to pop in at NOLA or Evvia.

Get a grip. Time to move on here.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Nanny state, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:25 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:37 pm

The original article started by pointing out several problems, but instead of proposing solutions to those problems, Mr. Carpenter took a leap into absurdity. If the streetlights are dim, fix the lights. If the crosswalk is not visible, paint the crosswalk. If seniors have trouble driving at night, provide them with alternatives. There are a lot of engineering changes that can be made to improve intersection safety for pedestrians. I think we should exhaust the engineering and education options before we start talking about new laws to regulate pedestrians.


Posted by Nanny state, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Just remember this: The Laws of Physics always trumps the laws of men.

It takes 2 seconds to react to any situation. If you habitually blow off stop signs in an attempt to display your arrogance and " ME IMPORTANT THAN YOU " attitude, the odds get better that you WILL cause an accident...and then cry about how " Those Cagers are mean to ME! "
Lights ( and even sirens! ) don't mean a thing when the person has a corner with a traffic control device AND HE/SHE/IT IGNORES IT! When I was at MVHS and took Driver Training classes, the rule was " Defensive Driving at all times". That meant that you should ALWAYS EXPECT THE WORST BEHAVIOR OF OTHERS AND PLAN WHAT TO DO. Because the people ahead actually behave pretty badly and gamble their lives against the Laws of Physics. However NO Defensive Driving tactic can handle the pedestrian or cyclist listening to their music instead of being aware of their surroundings..and think that man's laws ( like Stop signs or painted crosswalks ) automatically will save you from your arrogance or stupidity. Since PA is claimed to have more learned people than most cities, It is very odd to see so many people engage in the most juvenile ME problems...even on these comment pages!

That 2 second rule isn't going to change, so LAWS and PEOPLE will have to change.
Maybe a visit to your sister city of Boulder, CO is in order; at least to find practical solutions to many of P.A.s existing traffic ( and other ) problems.

The similarities in behaviors and levels of educated people are identical.
The same problems discussed on these pages have had some practical solutions in Boulder ( Parking, discouraging auto traffic [ hating it is not too strong a word ], encouraging shuttle busing and alternate transport are all getting covered. They even made THE US GOVERNMENT FOLLOW BUILDING LIMITS by requiring NIST to have 3 story buildings; anything else would ruin the view of the Flatirons and other foothills. Boulder enforces rules; no graft or payoffs there!
That means no build-outs to the sidewalk or Soviet-Bloc style People Warehouses!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I don't think we need laws to make us act sensibly. But, we do need to act sensibly and many people don't.

The attitude here is that someone wearing dark clothes at night can step in front of a car and then blame the driver.

Flashing white lights on a bike are illegal for a good reason. It is too easy to be confused with turn signals. The same with flashing red back lights. Bike lights should remain constant not flash mode.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Way too much hysteria in this discussion. While it is definitely true that pedestrian safety has deteriorated, the proposal to require pedestrians to wear special safety markings is absurd and will never get anywhere.

The problem would be helped if drivers and pedestrians simply obeyed existing law -- and the scofflaws are seen daily in every Peninsula city. Everyone seems to feel just so special that they are exempt from the law.

Drivers don't stop for stop signs, drivers are on the phone and wander over the lane lines (among other offenses). Pedestrians dart out in the middle of the street instead of using the crosswalk even it's just a few steps away. (even on El Camino!). Pedestrians walk behind moving vehicles leaving parking spaces - instead of just waiting a second. Bicyclists drive without lights and jam through intersections ignoring traffic signals. OMG...Now wheelchair users are using the street instead of sidewalks!

Lots of me-me-me behavior in this area makes the roads very unsafe.

Pedestrian reflective vests are not the answer. The "solution" doesn't apply here...note that the article states that the idea is being tried in a rural town in Wisconsin that has no streetlights or sidewalks.

-- Common sense, obeying existing law, and less selfishness would go a long way to improving community safety.

-- More courtesy on this site is a good idea too. More and more, the letters on this website portray the Peninsula as a very nasty community.

.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm

@Mimi, only blue flashing lights are unlawful, CVC21201.3, reserved for police. If concerned about CVC25250, "Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as otherwise permitted," consult section 670 which says "a device moved exclusively by human power" is not a vehicle.

That's the only interpretation I could figure of why flashing headlights can be sold in California. Any lawyers out there disagree?


Posted by Janet L, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm

First, bicyclists are required to have lights and reflectors on their bikes after dark. It's really not hard to enforce this.

But the idea of requiring people on foot to wear reflective clothing and/or carry lights is ludicrous. Does this mean that everyone walking to dinner on University Avenue needs to wear a reflective vest? Or if you park your car outside Safeway that you better carry a flashlight? What if you park across the street from my house, do I need to put on special walking clothes? Maybe all clothing should be reflective...

Can you see how silly would be to enforce this? Just slow down, for chrissakes, especially at corners.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm

When dark clothing is outlawed, only outlaws will wear dark clothing.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Musical - cracked me up!


Posted by Bill van dong- weekly censor, a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Just heard this on the radio, I offer it up because it goes with the topic...

Cyclist: Driver unaware I was stuck in windshield

"I was wearing my blue overcoat with my neon reflective vest," said Gove. "I had my front and rear flashers on. I have no idea why he didn't see me."

Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

On-Road Measures of Pedestrians' Estimates of Their Own Nighttime Visibility:
Effects of Clothing, Beam, and Age
Richard A. Tyrrell1, Joanne M. Wood2, and Trent P. Carberry2
1Department of Psychology, Clemson University, USA
2Centre for Eye Research, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
"ABSTRACT
Most pedestrian-vehicle collisions happen at night. Researchers have long understood that
drivers have difficulty seeing pedestrians at night and that reflective clothing can dramatically enhance pedestrian visibility. The extent to which pedestrians understand this, however, is unknown. This experiment quantified pedestrians' estimates of their own nighttime visibility by asking younger and older participants to walk in place on the shoulder of a closed road circuit as a test vehicle was driven past them at 60 km/hr (37 mph) in a variety of conditions. Participants pressed a button when they believed that they were first recognizable as a pedestrian by the driver. A novel parallax-based video system measured the estimated visibility distances. On average pedestrians overestimated their visibility by 59 m (193 ft). Pedestrians also dramatically underestimated the visibility benefits of wearing reflective clothing and of enhancing their visibility through the use of retroreflective markings configured to facilitate the perception of biological motion. Taken together, these results suggest that pedestrians lack a complete understanding both of the magnitude of the pedestrian visibility problem at night and of the value of various methods of increasing their visibility. Pedestrians may therefore unknowingly place themselves at risk at night. These results underscore the need to educate pedestrians about the dangers of interacting with traffic at night and about specific techniques to increase their safety."


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2014 at 6:02 pm

An actual link to the above paper:
Web Link

Note that the conclusion discusses education and not passing unenforcable laws:
"Results from these two studies are encouraging because they suggest that education can be a useful method of convincing pedestrians of the dangers associated with interacting with traffic at night. The results of the present experiment underscore the need for additional research to explore the possibility that a carefully constructed public education campaign could increase the safety of pedestrians at night."


Posted by veritas aequitas, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm

"I know that some posters simply don't like tacts, (facts), but here are some more:" Peter Carpenter

Peter here are some real world facts for you.

I knew a bicyclist who bicycled every day everywhere he went averaging 300 miles a week for over a decade. He never got hit once because he automatically assumed that vehicles could not see him. I knew a lady in her 40s who rode a motorcycle every day for about four years commuting on Highway 101 daily. She never got hit once because she automatically assumed that drivers could not see her.

I myself am a runner and often run during the middle of the day in the Professorville and Crescent Park neighborhoods for the last 20 years. I have had numerous close calls of being hit by a driver rolling through a stop sign who did not look both ways assuming that he/she did not have to be aware of a pedestrian jogging or running down the sidewalk in the opposite direction of the traffic, as is recommended.

The only reason why I did not get hit was because I was aware of the fact that drivers often don't pay attention and don't see me.

Assuming that you get your law passed requiring pedestrians to wear reflectors and lights at night, what law will you pass to ensure that motorists look both ways before they blast through a stop sign?


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2014 at 8:56 pm

@veritas aequitas,

Very well put. Those with common sense won't get hit, while those without not only will get hit, they should get hit, and thus removed from the genome.

The suggestion of pedestrian reflective clothing is reverse Darwinism at it's worst.


Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 21, 2014 at 9:58 pm

As a driver, the scariest thing for me one recent night was a skateboarder in a black hoodie, dark pants, cutting diagonally in front of me mid-block by an intersection with no street light. Parents would do well to prohibit their kids from night time boarding, as I've yet to see a skateboard with either a light or reflective tape.


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2014 at 7:53 am

Over the years I have seen a number of pedestrians dressed in dark cloths suddenly cross the street in front of my car at night. Fortunately I was driving at slow speed, was alert enough to hit the breaks each time, and fortunately my breaks were in good working order. Each of these incidents could have easily resulted in a terrible, and highly preventable tragedy with a less skilled or attentive driver.

If wearing reflectors would save one life, it would be worth it, and my guess is that it would save many lives over the yearsI also believe that bicycles must have by law blinking lights that are turned on in dark, foggy and rainy conditions.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 22, 2014 at 8:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It seems that many of us have had scary encounters with inconspicuous pedestrians and bicyclists. How can we encourage such individuals to dress and equip themselves to be more conspicuous?


Posted by Dave Hoffman, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

I'm a triathlete who has lived in downtown (Professorville and Crescent Park) for the last eight years. I also have a dog that I walk twice a day every day. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen cars blow through stop signs in the neighborhood -- a number equaled only by the number of cyclists I see doing the same thing. I haven't decided whether they're all just oblivious to the presence of other people on the roads, or if they all simply feel entitled to do whatever they want because they believe their needs are more important than those of other community members. Either way, it's to the point where I'm reluctant to run before or after dark.

In fact, just last night I ran a five mile loop from my home down Middlefield to Embarcadero, over Embarcadero and Serra to Palm Drive and back down University. I was wearing light-colored clothing with reflective bits all over, plus a small flashing red light and despite those precautions, I had two close calls with cars. Both times I was crossing a street in the crosswalk at a well-lit intersection (Homer and Middlefield the first time, Palm Drive and Arboretum) with a walk signal, and both times the driver failed to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

We need to curb distracted driving and encourage all users of our roads (drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, etc.) to pay more attention to what they're doing, and to respect the rights of those using other modes of transportation to share the road. Passing unenforceable laws won't help, but perhaps more effective enforcement of existing laws and some additional education will.


Posted by Nice Try, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2014 at 9:07 am

Hahahaha. This is waaay too funny. OK, I'll play along and support it with one caveat: A driver who hits a pedestrian or cyclist wearing such clothing, and is found at fault, receives a mandatory 10 day jail stay, increased insurance for 5 years and 12 weeks of specialized classes they must complete before getting their license back.

OK please show me to the dressing room now.


Posted by driver, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 22, 2014 at 9:40 am

The core problem is that most pedestrians expect car drivers to stop at stop signs in residential areas, but most drivers treat stop signs as yields and don't stop at stop signs unless they see a car coming. Unfortunately for pedestrians, they do not look like cars and also they come from directions where drivers are not looking (ie the crosswalk and not the middle of the street). Sure, the pedestrian is in the right when a driver runs a stop sign, but that doesn't help you much if you are dead. If pedestrians want to stay alive at night, they need to carry bright flashlights and aim them directly at oncoming cars. That way you look like a car and the driver will stop at the stop sign. Maybe even carry 2 flashlights so you can point them at cars coming from different directions.


Posted by driver, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 22, 2014 at 9:43 am

Also, remember that night vision and peripheral vision deteriorate as a driver gets older and with the house prices we have now, the average age of drivers in Palo Alto's residential areas is well above average. Pedestrians need to be much more careful in Palo Alto than elsewhere, for their own safety.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2014 at 10:15 am

People seem to have forgotten the laws for cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists -- or they think the laws are "optional" and don't apply to them (especially if they are on the phone).

POLICE: Give tickets to the lawbreakers, no matter the age or status of the offender. Anarchy on the roads is unacceptable.

-- Fines have a way of modifying behavior....and increasing safety.

-- Fines are also great fund raisers. Given the poor behavior of drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists on Palo Alto roads, fines would be a steady source of income for the city.


Posted by Iet's improve street lights, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2014 at 11:48 am

Another approach would be to improve the dim street lighting and also re-lamp the street lights that are out (such as the one in the parking lot (Alma side) at University Avenue Caltrain which has been out for months if not years.


Posted by biker/ped/driver, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 22, 2014 at 11:48 am

I'm more concerned about police being reluctant to ticket people not stopping at stop signs in residential areas. People don't realize how priceless life is and that not be cautious at stop signs can lead to a tragedy. You have to drive defensively because there are stupid people across the board, bikers, pedestrians and drives. I'm one of all three and try to respect the opposition in every situation and we all should do this. Bikers, follow the rules and pedestrians in Palo Alto really need to stop jumping out in front of cars as if we can stop on a dime. I always try to make eye contact with a drive when crossing the street, and most often wait for a break in traffic. When biking, I stick to the bike lane when possible, and signal and wait. I'm also a mother and am trying to be a good example to my children so they will learn to obey the law and keep themselves safe as well as those around them.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2014 at 11:50 am

Yesterday morning there was a police car on the curb waiting for any idiot who rolled the stop signs at Center and Channing....


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2014 at 11:56 am

A new stop sign has appeared on Loma Verde near El Carmelo school without any warning. As someone who regularly uses this street, to suddenly find a stop sign where there never used to be one, it is hard to get used to. I have always stopped, but each time it takes me by surprise and probably will do until I get used to it.

Can they just put up a stop sign without either a visible warning sign "new stop sign ahead" or at least announcing it in the local paper?


Posted by Roger, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm

The business community would fight a law requiring reflective clothing and lights for pedestrians. Can you imagine what that law would do to night life on University Ave? If a couple from out of town got a ticket while returning to their car after dinner, do you think they would return to Palo Alto to dine again?


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm

@Resident, looks to me like TWO new stops on Loma Verde, at Ramona and at Waverley, in conjunction with gaudier crosswalk paint. Actually 4 new stop signs if you count coming from either direction. Locals had been complaining for years about speeds through there. On Cowper there are two new stops, one each direction at Ashton and Maureen, 180 feet apart (5 seconds at 25 mph). I'm fine with cyclists treating them all like yields, as long as they either really yield or come to some mutual polite eyeball agreement with crossing drivers. I am confused though about whether pedestrians or runners are required to at least yield at a stop sign. Can they really legally take a vehicle's right of way?


Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks but cannot dart out in front of cars recklessly. Here is the Vehicle Code Section (from Web Link )


21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection


Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm

To answer the questions more directly: pedestrians are not required to stop at stop signs, and they can usurp a driver's right-of-way. Drivers must stop at a stop sign and wait until it is safe to proceed, which means yielding to any other driver who was there first. Usually that is accomplished by taking turns in the order of arrival. If you are waiting for another car and a pedestrian arrives after you are stopped and begins to cross in front of you when it would have been your turn to go, that is legal and you should wait. If you have already started to cross the intersection and a pedestrian steps out in front of you without giving you enough time to react, that is illegal.


Posted by ClarenceBoddicker, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Nope.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Thanks Richard. My question pertains to occasional prolonged delays at four-way stops in downtown or near schools when there is a steady stream of pedestrians who feel no obligation, legal or moral, to give a driver a break. I mean it is a FOUR-WAY stop intended to give everyone a chance to cross in order, but it doesn't seem to matter to pedestrians that I was there first. I know better than to ever be in a hurry driving around here, and I'm happy to wait all day, but wonder at what point I should be more assertive in the interest of traffic behind me. Should I trade in my small car and buy a huge SUV so that pedestrians will be more intimidated?


Posted by pedestrian friendly, a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 22, 2014 at 3:48 pm

I think the first thing we should correct is the way our traffic signals put pedestrians and left-turning traffic in conflict, and the change should be consistent across town. We've had injuries and deaths of pedestrians in Palo Alto who were struck under just these conditions -- when you cross the street with the crossing light, the left-turning traffic from behind is given a green light to turn, and the two intersect right when the pedestrian has to turn their back and the left-turning vehicle gets the pedestrian in their blind spot. This is a bad combination, and is not the norm everywhere.

We should fix this so that when pedestrians get the green light, they don't have to worry about being run down from people coming from behind who get a green light to cross their path.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

"If a couple from out of town got a ticket while returning to their car after dinner, do you think they would return to Palo Alto to dine again?"

Nobody will get a ticket, because, like our leaf blower ban, such a law would not be enforced in Palo Alto. Besides, how could it be enforced: the police would not be able to see the perpetrators.

Look at our helmet and seatbelt laws. They mandate a very beneficial behavior that intelligent beings would be expected to adopt on their own. But it seems we have to legislate intelligent behavior to save people from their lack of native intelligence. Same with these lights.

Hey! Anybody want to go in on a startup designing and marketing high-fashion personal lighting accessories?


Posted by PA Citizen, a resident of Addison School
on Jan 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm

My Grandmother lived her final years in Woodside. The shadows of trees and lack of any street lights at all left a car with only its headlights for visibility after dusk.

When my grandmother's vision deteriorated to the point where night driving no longer was safe, she made a change to her lifestyle. She stopped driving at night, returning home before night fall. She did her chores and errands during the day time, and if she needed to go somewhere at night she had friends or family help her.

With our terribly bright white LED replacement street lights, we already have some of the brightest street lights in the Bay Area. Installing more is unnecessary. Requiring pedestrians to wear reflective clothing at night is unenforceable.

If you are elderly and can't see clearly at night, bite the bullet and do the wise thing: Don't drive after dusk. You are a danger to yourself and others.


Posted by please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

musical,

Pedestrians at a 4 way stop have right of way, they never have to yield to a car if they can proceed safely. You are not allowed to proceed when they are in the crosswalk even if you can safely squeeze by.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In People vs. Hahn (1950) 98 Cal. App. 2d Supp. 841, the motorist was lawfully stopped at a signal when the pedestrian was lawfully crossing the crosswalk. The signal for the motorist then turned to green, which means, "proceed when safe." The driver then proceeded to pass into the crosswalk but was cited for failure to yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian. This conviction was upheld because the defendant had a duty to wait for the pedestrian in order to avoid interference with him.

Hahn explained it would be alright for a motorist to pass where the crossing pedestrian is so far from the vehicle that "the latter can proceed to make use of that portion of highway lying within the crosswalk without interfering with the right of the pedestrian to use it when he reaches it." In such a case, reasoned the court, "the duty upon the driver is not so expressed that he is required to wait until the crosswalk is clear; his duty is to wait only if necessary to avoid interference with the pedestrian. Thus the standard is "reasonable expectations." If interference between the driver and the pedestrian is not reasonably expected, the driver is not required to wait for the pedestrian.

Hahn said the two key factors are (1) distance that the pedestrian is from the path the vehicle will take, and (2) the speed of the vehicle. "In some cases the pedestrian will have been so close to the waiting motor vehicle that beyond any speculation the vehicle could not proceed without interfering with the pedestrians's right-of-way. In other cases, the pedestrian will have been so far away that no doubt exists that the vehicle's movement did not interfere with that of the pedestrian." Finally, there are the in-between situations where police will have to make and justify reasonable judgment calls based on their observations in light of their training and experience.


Posted by Change time..., a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Here's a solution: Make daylight savings time the new standard time...so we always have more light at night!

I'm all for it!


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 22, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Getting technical, may a driver legally enter the intersection if the pedestrian is occupying the crosswalk on the far side?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The AG has stated that an automobile may proceed as long as it does not require the pedestrian to alter his/her speed or direction - which requires an interesting judgement call by both the driver and any observing police officer.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 22, 2014 at 5:16 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

You hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk, I guarantee you are at fault no matter what laws the pedestrian ignores. Even if they run off the curb, Start crossing at a SOLID don't walk (with a Green). A RED.
You will be sued.
Without a policeman as an eye witness, you will LOSE. Gotta love the legal biz


Posted by Don, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Start a massive and sustained ticketing campaign and you will see these issues decrease greatly. You have the cops, I assume they have ticket books and pens? Eyeballs to see the ticketable offenses nearly every second?

Well, you can fix it, or you can complain and come up with hairball ideas like making pedestrians wear reflectors.

You know why people don't speed through Kings City on 101? Massive and sustained ticketing. DUUHH!! The answer is simple if you're not afraid to use the police resource you are ALREADY PAYING FOR!! Go use the tools to fix this problem. No new tools are needed. Sheesh!


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Instead of trying to make this a law, and then get it enforced, why not start a trend in this direction? Either lit or reflectors on outer garments, or encouraging pedestrians to use flashlights, or headlamps, or even those neon thingies kids wear at Halloween? After all, we've seen abysmally dangerous trends amongst drivers, peds and cyclists, so why not something that's smart, helpful and practical? So many people have dark coats and shouldn't be forced to buy new, expensive outerwear just because they're walking. But adorning clothing w/clip on reflectors or lightweight lights should be easy.


Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2014 at 8:57 pm

If I knew how to start trends I would have retired a rich man long ago.....


Posted by pedestrian friendly, a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm

The point I'm trying to make is that it doesn't matter whether the pedestrian had the right of way if they get in a battle with a car, no matter who is at fault the pedestrian will lose.

What is the purpose of having the crosswalk light and left turn light go green at the same time (particularly when the pedestrian is going to be in the car's blind spot)? To save someone a moment of time, less than 60 seconds. If the crossing light simply allowed the pedestrian to go first and then the car, problem solved, and many other communities do their lights this way. The way our lights put the pedestrians and cars in conflict is not the only way, and we have had serious accidents and deaths that could have been prevented.


Posted by Jon B, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 26, 2014 at 8:03 am

Darwin's law of natural selection?


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