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why so many invisible pedestrians crossing Alma going to the train?

Original post made by Keifer on Dec 20, 2012

Now that it's darker earlier in the evening, the number of invisible pedestrians running across Alma to catch the train is rising.

Tuesday night as I was driving south on Alma around 5:25pm, the car in front of me swerved and stopped short as we approached Forest. After a few seconds later, I saw one man crossing Alma there in that crosswalk. That crosswalk has no light, no stop sigh, no lights, just white stripes on the ground and a sign. The guy crossing the street could hardly be bothered to look up from his phone and indeed, it was a reflection from his phone that allowed me to see him as he was dressed head to toe in black. He was the invisible pedestrian if there ever was one, and a stupid one at that. I fully realize that pedestrians have the right of way, but really, crossing a poorly lit street in the dark, dressed in black, more concerned about your phone than 4 lanes of traffic? In the contest of cars vs people, people always loose and get crushed. Unfortunate, but sadly true.

Last night, I witnessed a similar incident. This time a woman in dark clothes weaving in-between cars, no where near a crosswalk, looking rather indignant at all the traffic that didn't stop to acknowledge her lunacy.

Why is the crosswalk across Alma at Forest without a stop light? Why do people dressed in black assume drivers can see them when they are simply invisible?

I won't go into the guy riding ever so slowly in a recumbent bike going north on Alma the other night. Seemingly oblivious to the auto traffic backed up all around him. Hello! There is a really nice bike route a few blocks over, it's on Bryant.

Comments (10)

Posted by some guy, a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Darwinism in action. It happens all day, every day.


Posted by lights, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 20, 2012 at 11:23 pm

The city is taking this green thing to far. We need more and brighter street lights around crosswalks on busy streets. The city should know that there are way to many reckless speeding drivers on Alma and also that a lot of pedestrians need to cross the street.

Don't blame the pedestrian for "wearing black". Almost any color will look "black" when the street lights are dim.


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:15 am

>>"Darwinism in action."

If only that were true, Palo Alto would be a ghost town ;)


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2012 at 7:34 am

It is not just pedestrians in downtown but all over town and some are on bikes too.

There used to be a slogan "where something light at night", nowadays fashions are to wear dark clothes to keep warm. If you are wearing dark clothes then be extra vigilant walking or riding at night.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2012 at 9:36 am

It is a real issue. We see people dashing across Alma every night to get the train, out into traffic, and usually pre-occupied with a phone. This is no-win situation for everyone. Brighter lights would help as there are large pools of darkness between lights. And the reality is that the stretch of Alma bewteen University and N. California is too narrow for both cars and bicyclists. There is no room to widen it. Use Bryant- use your brain and not your self-righteousness about where you SHOULD be able to go, and go where you can without getting killed. Drivers: expect careless pedestrians. Pedestrians: Loook up,look left, look right, and cross the street the way you were taught as a child. Everyone has a role to play in making this safer.


Posted by stop for pedestrians, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

Alma is a 25mph street at this location. If you see a pedestrian, you are required by law to come to a complete stop. Even if the pedestrian is on the sidewalk about to enter the crosswalk, you still need to come to a complete stop. Don't play chicken with them. Yes, they will need some amount of time to get across the street. Just be patient.

There is a reason for the 25mph speed limit, so obey it. This is not a race track. Too many drivers are in too much of a rush. If you want to drive faster, use roads with a higher speed limit, like El Camino or Hwy 101.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:27 am

Driving downtown last night - 3 separate people on bikes, dark clothes, no lights, weaving in and out of traffic on Ramona and Emerson. People holding babies chatting and standing in the street near the Creamery, I assume waiting for a table. People crossing University in the middle of the street without looking at the cars, we could go on...

Even going 25 mph on Alma, you will have a hard time stopping if a pedestrian steps in front of your car without looking.


Posted by stop for pedestrians, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2012 at 11:07 am

Also, when you see a car stopped in the road, don't speed around it. You are required by law to stop along side and check that the road is clear before proceeding. That car will often be stopped for a pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk. Crosswalks are easier to see from the right lane, so if you're in the left lane, trust that the car in the right lane is stopped for a good reason.


Posted by Justin, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm

stop for pedestrians; thanks for the review of traffic law. You however completely miss the point here. If drivers can't see pedestrians, they don't stop, and pedestrians get hit. Why do so many pedestrians choose to place themselves in harms way by stepping out into traffic, often in dark clothes, at night, when they often become nearly invisible to drivers? I've seen this way too many times on Alma by the train station at night when I drive by. And as pointed out, a lot of pedestrians cross Alma where ever they want, not necessarily in a cross walk. It's really quite remarkable to see so many well dressed, presumably intelligent people, wander off the curb more interested in their phone than their safety. This is not a matter of drivers wanting the road for themselves, if that were the case, there would be an outcry against cross walks. This is a matter of individuals refusing to take a bit of responsibility for their own personal safety. Stepping onto Alma at any time of the day without looking requires a real leap of faith, and is being hit by a car, but technically being 'right' in the eyes of the law, worth it?


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Pedestrians need to take responsibility for their own safety. Look for cars, cross at crosswalks, if it is dark and you are wearing dark clothes, be extra vigilant. And most of all - if you are crossing a street GET OFF YOUR PHONE!


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