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Perhaps a better way to improve pedestrian and bike safety

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton, on Jan 2, 2013

Today, 1 January 2013, many communities in the UK introduced 20 MPH speed limits in areas where cars, pedestrians and bicycles share the same space.

Web Link

"One of the key figures in the rise of 20mph speed limits in the United Kingdom is Ben Hamilton-Baillie, an architect, urban planner and traffic consultant whose work and research was influential in moves such as the one by Islington Council in October to limit all of its managed roads to 20mph. Islington claims a 65 per cent fall in accidents in its 20mph areas.

As part of research into how pedestrians and cars can share outdoor space more safely, Mr Hamilton-Baillie spoke to cranial pathologists who showed him statistics proving that the risk of mortality from a car collision isn't just linear – it accelerates significantly after 20mph.

The explanation is that the human skull has evolved to withstand impacts up to around 20mph because that's about as fast as a human can run into something. It's also easier to keep traffic flowing at 20mph as a road with a 40mph limit will need extensive safety controls."

Why not here?

Comments (78)

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Posted by pedestrian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 2, 2013 at 7:28 am

Why not here? Because Americans are not real serious about pedestrian safety. If they were, they would not be buying so many SUVs.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 8:38 am

In the UK there are many roads where bikes are separated completely from the road, pedestrians have barriers alongside the road and other safety features where pedestrians, bikes and motorized vehicles do not share the same space. Apart from highways here, all roads allow bikes, pedestrians and motorized vehicles to share the same space. Your suggestion would effectively mean a 20 mph speed limit apart from highways.


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Posted by Nice
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 2, 2013 at 8:49 am

Why not here? Because "Here" is Palo Alto. Drivers are selfish and unwilling to think about any change to traffic unless it pertains to building more roads, taking out traffic lights, increasing the speed limit...

This really is a great idea so look to Mountain View to actually make it happen and (again) improve the quality of life for its residents.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 2, 2013 at 9:08 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"In the UK there are many roads where bikes are separated completely from the road, pedestrians have barriers alongside the road and other safety features where pedestrians, bikes and motorized vehicles do not share the same space"

I am in the UK as I write this and ALL of Residents claims about the UK road system are, simply, factually WRONG. The Brits have simply realized that cars should not automatically have priority over pedestrians and bicycles and are acting accordingly to change their speed limits. Nothing precludes US communities from doing the same except a lack of vision.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 9:37 am

Peter

If you are in the UK at present are you driving around the country?

Have you been on dual carriageways where there are metal railings along the roads and outside of that there are bike paths and pedestrian paths? Have you noticed that in urban areas there are barriers outside schools to prevent children running out into the roads? Have you noticed at traffic lights that there are zig zag barriers to prevent pedestrians crossing outside the designated crossing areas? Have you noticed round traffic signs with little pictures of pedestrians and bicycles with a line through them designated that no pedestrians and bikes are allowed? Have you ever seen roads with a minimum as well as maximum speed limit?

The UK has plenty of safety rules in place to keep pedestrians, bikes and motorized vehicles apart. Additionally, there are only designated places where pedestrians have right of way crossing a street. British pedestrians are not taught to walk out in traffic because traffic will stop for them. If they did they would get honked at by drivers. British pedestrians are taught until there is no traffic coming before crossing a street. British parents tend to hold the hands of small children while crossing a street or walking alongside the street with or without metal railings.

If you are in the UK at present, you would notice all this.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 2, 2013 at 9:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If you are in the UK at present are you driving around the country?" Yes, every day for the last 2 weeks and previously at least 2 months of each of the last 30 years.

"Have you been on dual carriageways where there are metal railings along the roads and outside of that there are bike paths and pedestrian paths? " Most of the UK dual carriage ways do NOT have either pedestrian paths or bike paths. The Brits are smart enough to keep fast moving cars and people totally separate.

"Have you noticed that in urban areas there are barriers outside schools to prevent children running out into the roads? " Yes - another wise and easily copied UK innovation.

Have you noticed at traffic lights that there are zig zag barriers to prevent pedestrians crossing outside the designated crossing areas? " Yes - another wise and easily copied UK innovation.

Have you noticed round traffic signs with little pictures of pedestrians and bicycles with a line through them designated that no pedestrians and bikes are allowed?" Yes - another wise and easily copied UK innovation

Have you ever seen roads with a minimum as well as maximum speed limit?" No. Here is the UK rule:"You should always keep your speed below the maximum speed limit for the road you are driving on. Although you are not legally obliged to drive at the maximum speed limit, if it is safe to do, you should try and drive at a speed that at least approaches it, for instance, in a 40mph zone your speed should be between 35 and 40mph." Accordingly, there are no posted minimum speeds.


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Posted by teach the kids to stop @stop signs?
a resident of another community
on Jan 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

please???


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

Peter, in that case I think you will agree that there are a lot of improvements we can make here for pedestrian and bike safety before introducing a 20 mph zone on every road in Palo Alto with the exception of 101 and 280.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 2, 2013 at 11:37 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Resident - Please take the time to read the material provided before making absurd statements like "introducing a 20 mph zone on every road in Palo Alto with the exception of 101 and 280."

IF you read the original article cited above you will note that the 2 mph speed limit is ONLY being introduced into a very few and very selective situations - approximating roads such as Santa Cruz and University in the downtown areas only.

"Lower driving limits have already received the backing of the European Parliament, while the Government said it was up to local authorities to decide whether they wanted them. Local Transport minister Norman Baker said the Coalition had recently consulted on the issue.

"We believe 20mph speed limits are useful in certain areas and support their introduction where it can be shown that they improve road safety and quality of life. However, this is a decision that should be taken locally by councils who know the needs of their area, not in Westminster," said Mr Baker."


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 2, 2013 at 11:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Correction - 20 mph speed limit is....


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Many places in Western Europe have parallel but separated paths on the same streets and roads for pedestrians, bicycles, and motorized vehicles. Just not all of the streets and roadways, yet.

It does seem Europe is always ahead of us in these things, at least the last 35 years.


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Posted by Don't question Peter's comments
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Agree with above deleted comment post
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Unfortunately Peter carpenter is in the UK, otherwise the editors could worship at his feet in person--- they must be content with removing any and all criticism of his comments. While he is allowed to label others comments as "absurd" and snp at them online!!,


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm

20 mph punitively slows. I'm as frustrated as many others here with bad drivers, but let's not ruin cars for everyone.


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Posted by bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm

bru is a registered user.

> Unfortunately Peter carpenter is in the UK, otherwise the editors could worship at his feet in person-

LOL ... I've noticed some editorial favoritism here as well!!


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm

There haven't really been that many bicycle accidents here in Palo Alto over the years--

Bicycle Accidents In Palo Alto (1995-2009):
Web Link

Unfortunately, we're seeing cyclists blasting through red lights and stop signs in ever greater numbers these days. So, there will no doubt be an increase in vehicle/bicycle accidents in the future.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm

@Wayne, that's interesting data. It seems to suggest that bike accidents are largely related to big bike intersections and to school related traffic. This suggests that the 20 mph limit might do little to impact accidents here (at least at first blush). It's nice how a little data helps shed light on things!


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Posted by be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm

"we're seeing cyclists blasting through red lights and stop signs in ever greater numbers these days"

wayne,

be fair. Cars seldom stop at stop signs unless they are yielding right of way. I see them slow, but seldom actually stop. Cars violate the speed limit about 100% of the time. A 20 MPH speed limit would have no impact because drivers would ignore it. Cars frequently drive in bike lanes to pass a stopped car turning left. They violate pedestrian right of way by entering before the pedestrian has cleared it. They make right turns in front of bikes instead of merging behind them. So before you place all these bike/car interaction issues on the bike riders doorstep, look at how car drivers behave. Neither is following basic rules these days.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

> be fair.

I'm being truthful.

> Cars seldom stop at stop signs unless they are yielding right of way.

You must give me the name of your oculist.

> I see them slow, but seldom actually stop.

If you say so, but that is not my observation, on the whole.

> Cars frequently drive in bike lanes to pass
> a stopped car turning left.

No doubt true that cars (wrongly) use the bike lane to pass a stopped car making a left turn. This would imply only one lane for cars and one lane for bikes. Where are these places you talk about?

> They make right turns in front of bikes
> instead of merging behind them.

I have no doubt that this happens, from time-to-time. I don't believe every driver in Palo Alto drives this way.

> Neither is following basic rules these days.

Again, no doubt true. However, motorists have a steel skin protecting them from poorly acting cyclists, and carry liability insurance. Cyclists do not have a protective steel covering, and are not likely to carry much in the way of insurance for accidents.

Maybe what I am saying is that given the relative differences between cars and cycles--running red lights and stop signs isn't such a good practice for cyclists.


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Posted by be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

wayne,

Just observe, and see it for youself. Heck you have video of what I am talking about up on youtube. A while back you posted a video of bikes ignoring stop signs on California. Watch the cars in the video. It opens up to a vehicle violating a pedestrians right of way. Stop watching the bikes and watch the cars for a change. What is needed is better observing of rules all around. Ride a bike or walk somewhere and see if you dont see cars in a different light. The behaviors I am pointing out are not 100%, but neither are the ones you point out. They are well above 50% as are the ones you pointed out.


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Posted by Agree with above deleted comment
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm

By be fair-- we would be interested in seeing your data. How was it obtained?
It seems that every time there is a discussion about biking and driving we hear spurious claims that cars never stop at stop signs. In my experience it is the bikers that do not stop.


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Posted by Be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Agree,

It was obtained by observation. I just drove to midtown and back. I observed about 10 cars at stop signs. 1 stopped.


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Posted by wheels tell
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm

He is right. Watch the wheels and see if they stop turning completely. Doesn't happen often.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Based on data from the PTA, during the period from 2000 to 2010 the number of kids biking to school in Palo Alto doubled, but the police reports on car crashes with juvenile bicylists stayed the same (fluctuating between about 15 and 20 a year). There are a number of possible explanations, but no real way to tell which is correct. One intriguing possibiity is that as the number of bikers goes up the car drivers are more aware of them and start looking for them more. In any case, it is clear that there is no simple linear relation between number of bikes on the road and number of crashes with cars.


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Posted by Agree with above deleted comment
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Wheels tell-- why don't you provide us with data from your observations. It is really ridiculous to claim that drivers do not stop at stop signs. These hysterical pronouncements come up every time traffic is discussed. They are false and not based on ANY reliable data (watching 10 cars on a drive to midtown does not count).
It would be nice if these people would do the same meticulous studies for bike riders


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Posted by be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm

agree,

ok, With your contention that studies are required then until there is a study to prove cars and bicycles dont stop and cars dont go over the speed limit, then I guess its does not happen and this conversation is over. I am willing to agree that wayne is wrong about bikes not stopping. I am sure he will agree with you. ;-)


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Posted by wheels tell
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

No need for my data. I told you how to get your own. Just look with a fresh set of eyes and mind the details.


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Posted by Agree with the above deleted comment
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Wheels tell--so you have no real usable data. You based your conclusions on observations at who knows how many cars at who knows how many locations. Ergo your conclusions about cars never stopping at stop signs can be filed in the "hysterical, unsubstantiated traffic complaint" section.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Here is a link to a study of stop sign behavior at two high-traffic intersections. The data showed drivers stopping only 14% of the time at one intersection and 6% of the time at the other.

Web Link





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Posted by Agree with the above deleted comment
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Donald, how does this study relate to palo alto? They also did not look at bike traffic


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Posted by be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm

agree,

you are right they did not look at bike traffic, so only cars dont stop. ;-) There is a reason why even people in other states call just slowing down for a stop sign a "California Stop". Milpitas had a traffic team that did nothing all day but ticket redlight runners. They were never idle. Cars would turn right on red without stopping, right in front of an officer on a motorcycle that would line them up for a ticket writing team. It was interesting to watch. The majority of cars would look left to make sure there was no traffic and completely miss the officer to the right. I obeserved a rate of 9 out of 10 cars. I think budget cuts did in their traffic team. There is an officer in Palo Alto that parks on a side street near my house and tickets red light runners on a regular basis during commute hours. He would not be sitting there, if it was not a issue. Go watch wayne's video on speeding cars. His point is that the speed limit is too low on the street, not that a steady street of cars are breaking the speed limit. Not all things require a study to know they are a problem. You sound a bit much like a Tabbaco Lawyer.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2013 at 8:53 am

No, the study was not done in Palo Alto. I personally don't believe that people in Palo Alto are fundamentally any different than people elsewhere; certainly not so different that behavioral studies done elsewhere are inapplicable within our city limits. I must admit that conclusion is based on observation, though, not on "data".


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Posted by Pouty Alto
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 3, 2013 at 9:42 am

It both funny and sad how nobody here is posting what they can do to change their own behaviors on the road. No shortage of people wanting everybody _else_ to alter their behaviors though.
"Everyone please do things to make MY life easier...I do not plan on altering my ways at all"
So very Palo Alto.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

> Full stop vs Rolling Stop

A couple of people have provided annecdotal information about how motorists comply with the requirement of coming to a full stop at a stop sign. It would help if those folks would identify the locations where they made those observations. It's totally possible that some intersections allow this sort of behavior more effectively than others.

The underlying problem for Palo Alto, is that there are too many Stop signs. More than one of the City's traffic engineers has pointed out that Stop signs are vastly overused here in Palo Alto. These engineers have pointed out that Yield signs are more appropriate.

Stop vs Yield Signs:
Web Link

There are somewhere between 800 and 1,000 Stop signs in Palo Alto. These have, for the most part, been the result of "neighborhood activists" who lobbied the City Council, at one time or another, to put up Stop signs to "slow down traffic in the neighborhoods". As a result, there are now so many Stop signs in the city that it's very difficult to drive very far without coming to ten-fifteen unnecessary stops--which increases fuel use, and makes people a "little bit crazy".

It would be most interesting to try removing all of the Stop signs and replacing them with Yield signs (where appropriate), and see what happens.


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Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 3, 2013 at 11:15 am

If the police want to ticket cars going through red lights, let them go to the corner of El Camino and Charleston and watch the morons turn left at every red light. And because of the lunacy of decrasing the number of lanes for "safety" the idiot parents have half of El Camino lanes blocked for more than an hour in the morning.
That idiocy needs to be removed and have 4 lanes going to Foothill Expressway. Again, a perfect example of another Palo Alto advocay group with their head you know where.


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Posted by Don't Shift Blame
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 3, 2013 at 11:28 am

"the idiot parents have half of El Camino lanes blocked for more than an hour in the morning."

I've seen this happen. Its 100% the fault of the drivers. You cannot enter the intersection if you can't get through it, and nobody forced these4 drivers to enter a blocked intersection. Once the police start enforcing the gridlock laws drivers will clue in and things will get better wrt blocking of intersections.


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Posted by Driver
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2013 at 11:34 am

Wayne

Your comments make so much sense.

When we hear criticism of drivers not stopping at stop signs it does not mean reckless driving, speeding, or being a danger. It means that the driver is usually paying more attention to the driving conditions than whether the wheels are reaching a complete stop. When we hear criticism of bikes not stopping, that is usually difficult because many bikes also do a California stop but many just blow through regardless. Some even put their hands up to oncoming traffic to say I am not stopping so you must.

Whether a car stops the wheels moving actually takes the driver's concentration away from other driving conditions. I would much rather see more yield signs around town and agree with you completely.


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Posted by pedestrian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

I regularly walk between downtown Palo Alto and southern Palo Alto. In the residential areas, close to zero percent of cars come to a complete stop at stop signs. Even when I am half way across a street in a crosswalk, I always have to be cautious of cars running stop signs. This is not just the stop sign adjacent to the crosswalk, but all 4 stop signs, since cars will frequently run them then turn across my path. To drivers who claim they are not recklessly running stop signs, I say BS. Stop means stop.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

> To drivers who claim they are not recklessly running stop signs,
> I say BS. Stop means stop.

While I am not advocating running Stop signs, I also must continue to point out that there are far too many Stop signs in the residential areas--so that when people find themselves confronted with stopping when there are no other cars present at/approaching the intersection vs a "California stop"--they really are not endangering themselves, or anyone else. Sliding by a Stop sign into on-coming traffic is another matter.

I'll maintain my point about replacing as many of the inappropriate Stop signs with yield signs, or no signs at all.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"when people find themselves confronted with stopping when there are no other cars present at/approaching the intersection vs a "California stop"--they really are not endangering themselves, or anyone else."

This makes the false assumption that people approaching a stop sign can see conflicting traffic - which is often not the case.

Stop signs and traffic lights are there for a reason - to prevent accidents.

We ignore stops and traffic lights at our and others' peril.


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Posted by Donad
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Exactly right, Peter. When people say "no one approaching" they mean that they don't see anyone. If I close my eyes I won't see anyone else approaching intersections, but that doesn't mean it is OK to run stop signs.

The problem with removing stop signs is that we have almost no uncontrolled intersections so drivers have forgotten how to deal with them. They assume that if they don't have a stop sign they don't need to stop (or slow down and roll through after looking) and that the other directions have a stop sign. I think the result of removing stop signs would be total chaos in the short run. I am not sure about the effect in the long run.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

> This makes the false assumption that people approaching a stop sign
> can see conflicting traffic - which is often not the case

If it's not always the case--then it is sometimes the case, or it is often the case. If something is not 100% true--that does not make it 100% false.

My comments on this topic have continuous used the qualifier "appropriate" for replacing Stop signs with Yield signs.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

> I think the result of removing stop signs would be total
> chaos in the short run.

What I suggested was replacing most of the Stop signs with Yield signs. I do think that we could get rid of many of the Stop signs, also.

There are many four-way intersections in Palo Alto (mostly in the residential areas) where there are no Stop signs today. Is there chaos at each and every one of these intersections?


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Posted by Scott McMahon
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Car drivers, bike riders, pedestrians, truck drivers, motorcyclists, donkey cart driver's, etc. are less than perfect in their compliance with the law. We all obey the traffic laws to the extent that they protect us and to the extent that they are enforced upon us. Most of us decide how closely to comply based on some kind of understanding of the risk and reward (How likely am I to cause damage to myself or someone else? How likely am I to get a ticket? How late am I? What do I gain or lose if I bend the law in this instance?) The risks and rewards for bicyclists are different. We shouldn't be surprised that they don't behave exactly like cars in traffic. They are more observant than drivers of some laws (who is hurt worse in a crash with a car?.) They are less observant of others (Do they get ticketed for running stop signs?)

My personal observation is that enforcement of the traffic laws is different for car drivers and bicyclists. For example: If I decided to disobey the law and routinely roll through stop signs in my car (even if I only do so at a slow rate that allows me to see the roads adequately, and only where the intersection has adequate visibility) I expect that I would never cause an accident, but I would be cited multiple times per year. I can't afford that. On a bike, however, if I roll through stop signs routinely, I am essentially never cited (or at least so rarely that it's not a consideration.) How many of us who drive cars would roll through stops if getting a ticket was as likely as being struck by lightning? My guess is that 99+% of motorists would disobey that law carefully, but routinely, if they knew they wouldn't get a ticket.

Bicyclists are not inheritantly scofflaws. They behave the same way car drivers would, given the particular environment of enforcement, risk, etc that they face on the road. Calling for restrictions on bicyclists, (or on motorcyclists, truck drivers, and everyone else who shares the road with cars,) just because they don't behave exactly like car drivers is silly. People choose which laws to obey and which to skirt. If you don't like bikes running stop signs, if you think it's exceptionally dangerous, then we need stricter enforcement, and that wouldn't even require more traffic officers. If bikes running stops signs is as dangerous as you say, it should be easy to convince the police to cite them. Apparently, they don't believe that, because they routinely ticket cars at stop signs and let bikes go.

Pedestrians jaywalk all the time. Motorcyclists split lanes and accelerate too quickly, and frequently exceed the speed limit (and they're hard for lazy car drivers to see.) Trucks are slow and block traffic. Besides, I'm sure the roads would be safer for cars if no one else could use the them.

The argument is silly, and I really hate seeing it over and over again. If you have a problem with the way some bicyclists disobey the law, the answer is pretty simple. Let's talk about how we need to step up enforcement. But it's a silly excuse for pushing all cyclists off the road and taking away their rights.


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Posted by pedestrian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 3, 2013 at 4:30 pm

There are so many trees and parked cars along Palo Alto streets that cross traffic and crosswalks are often invisible until you are right at the stop sign. The problem is compounded at night because the street lights are so dim, making even the brightest colored clothes on pedestrians appear black. Stop means stop. Those 3 seconds you are stopped could easily save someone's life.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm

pedestrian, I am more startled by pedestrians who jaywalk while wearing all black than I am by pedestrians at crosswalks.


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm

@ Wayne Martin
"No doubt true that cars (wrongly) use the bike lane to pass a stopped car making a left turn. This would imply only one lane for cars and one lane for bikes. Where are these places you talk about?"

All of Loma Verde. And especially at the intersection with Middlefield, where left turners frequently don't even move until there's no oncoming traffic.


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Posted by be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2013 at 11:00 pm

" It would help if those folks would identify the locations where they made those observations"

wayne,

they are too numerous to provide. Go to any stop that is not before a major road. If you insist on a specific example, try Channing and Alester. This is a great candidate because the traffic is frequent enough that an observer does not have to wait long. A weekend when school is out is ideal.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 4, 2013 at 5:37 am

The four-way stop at Loma Verde and Cowper is also infamous. But decades ago there was no stop sign for Loma Verde, so maybe the cars rolling through have some genetic memory.


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Posted by Don't hit me you loonies!
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

So removing stop signs is a good way to improve pedestrian safety? LOL. I LOVE the logic of Palo Alto drivers.


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Posted by teach right
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm

maybe young people should take a look at photos of someone that has had their skull smashed and the contents of their head liquified on the pavement because of careless drivers going too fast

this country has no real education for such dark matters, kids are protected and spoiled, and they grow into adults that think driving fast and carelessly is some sort of right they have


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm

> If you insist on a specific example, try Channing and Alester.

Thanks. I'll try to take some pictures of this intersection soon.

And for what it's worth--from 2000 thru 2009, there were only two accidents at this intersection. Both occurred during 2008.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm

> The four-way stop at Loma Verde and Cowper

Thanks. I'll try to get some pictures of this intersection soon.

By the way, for what it's worth, from 2000 thru 2009, there were four reported accidents at this intersection.


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Posted by Interesting idea.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Instead of pointing fingers and finding fault, please follow the rules of the road and be courteous and considerate to other road users whether you are driving, walking, biking, scootering...whatever. If each of us behaves thoughtfully and civilly, we'll all have safer, more pleasant road experiences.

In the meantime, I think speed reduction to 20mph on neighborhood streets and school routes is a great idea. The data is pretty clear that 20mph is the point at which incidence of fatality and severe injury rises. It jumps a LOT between 28 to 35mph and above. A pedestrian is nearly TWICE as likely to be killed by a vehicle moving 35 mph than a vehicle moving 28 mph. Most people drive a little over the speed limit--so I think 20mph is the right limit for areas that have lots of pedestrians and bicyclists--especially in neighborhoods and school routes where there are many children.

How much time does slowing 5mph really cost us anyway?


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Let me see... 5mph out of 25mph... Looks like the time cost increase is 20%.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Oops. Recalculating... Actually 25%.


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Posted by local motion
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I think the big problem locally is the fact that traffic planning doesn't afford the same priority to pedestrians, bikes, and cars and treat them all as equal vehicles. That doesn't just go for righaway and road real estate, it goes for traffic priority.

For example, the light at the corner by our school has a left turn signal that greenlights turns right across the path of pedestrians who are given a green light to walk, and their backs are turned to the cars turning across their path as they cross the far side of the street. There is no equivalent situation with cars where there are green lights for intersecting cars to be in the same place at the same time. Not all municipalities handle pedestrian lights this way. For bikes, the lanes often simply disappear without warning, and often in the most dangerous places. You have no equivalent situation for cars, where the road simply disappears completely and picks up somewhere else, figuring the cars will figure it out.

I think we need far more separated bike and car traffic, too. I would much prefer meeting bikes (when I'm in the car) or cars (when I'm on a bike) at an intersection where everyone is given equal turn, rather than having bikes shoehorned in the way they are, it's just dangerous. Too many bikes don't stop, and when they do, I'm so unused to seeing it, I often think the bicyclist is waiting for something else (sometimes they are) and I react to go without giving them their turn (only to realize too late), or the bike blasts through the intersection out of nowhere and I have to thank my lucky stars once again for my quick reflexes.

I read that in the majority of cases where a pedestrian is injured or killed, they are somewhere they are supposed to be: the crosswalk, on a sidewalk, etc. At some point, traffic planning has to adapt to reduce the number of accidents. I don't think 20 mph is really the answer.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Here is some more data--a compilation of the Vehicle/Bicycle/Pedestrian accidents in the local area for 2009:

Web Link

It would be very useful to be able to obtain the number of vehicle-miles-traveled in each city, on a daily basis, and also the number of vehicle-trips traveled, too. Unfortunately, that kind of information is not readily available.

Nonetheless, it's not hard to see that there are not very many bicycle/pedestrian accidents in Palo Alto, on a yearly basis.


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I am currently reading a book by Ray Kurzweil, the scientist/engineer who is a futurist and who gets many of his ideas by looking at trends in technology and society. I would wager that in 10-20 years we are going to have a lot of technology that will either drive cars for us or avoid most accidents and fatalities with anti-collision and crash-avoidance technology. We may even have productive time in our cars to be entertained, work or even sleep as computers drive us to our destinations.

I just hope that as most human beings seem to be getting worse at driving and understanding how society must work for all of us to be safe and productive that we can pick up that slack by employing technology ... then much of this discussion will be moot.

In the mean time the remaining years will probably be acceptable and much like today.

I used to love to drive. Sometimes I'd jump in my car and just drive and listen to the radio or a book on tape, but the driving experience today is so tense and stressful I do not ever bother with driving for pleasure anymore even though my car is more comfortable and equipped than ever.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jan 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Slowing from 25 mph to 20 mph will not increase your your travel time by 25% unless you are on a road with no stops or traffic lights. In the real world of cross-town traffic your travel time is determined more by the duration of red lights than it is by your speed between them. When I ride my bike my peak speed is lower than that of cars, but I frequently catch up with the same ones over and over. When leaving Stanford during evening peak traffic times I can get home 5-10 minutes faster on my bike than in my car.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 4, 2013 at 10:08 pm

> I can get home 5-10 minutes faster on my bike than in my car.

Google Maps says it's about 2.4 miles from Stanford Avenue to Arastradero Road, on El Camino. It certainly makes sense that a bicyle can avoid waiting for the lights, by using the bike lane. For this short distance, during rush hour, it's not surprising that someone can travel this short distance a little more quickly than having to wait with the other cars for the lights.

Of course, if you happened to live in Sunnyvale, or San Francisco, or even up on Skyline Drive--it's not likely that you would be able to get home more quickly on your bike than in your car.


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Posted by Local Trip
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2013 at 6:07 am

When I ride in town I too notice that I'm not really any slower than the cars, and many times I'm even faster. I don't run lights or stops signs, but I do get to go to the "front of the line" for every red light.
This is my observation for my routes...your mileage may vary.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2013 at 8:39 am

I neglected to make it clear that I make a full stop at all stop signs and red lights. I just take a route that avoids them: across campus on Serra (where cars can't go), under the tracks at the Cal. Ave tunnel (where cars can't go) and Bryant from there, crossing the creek at a location where cars can't go. Only two lights at El Camino and Oregon.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

I hope that those of you on bikes who manage to ride and catch up with cars at traffic lights realise that if a car stopped at a light where there is no bike lane, or the bike lane is broken to allow cars to turn right, that you should wait for the light to change behind these cars - just as you would do if you were a car. Taking a chance that the driver is aware that you are sneaking up beside the car is taking a chance that is dangerous and foolish. You are a vehicle and you should behave like a vehicle and not get into the blind spot of a car turning right stopped at a traffic light or slow traffic.


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Posted by Be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

Resident,

It's a lane for traffic, if the light is red, a bike should ride up to the limit line unless a car has already merged into the bike lane setting up for a right turn. If the car has merged properly, there should not be room for the bike to pass it on the right and it's signal indicator should be on. When approaching a fresh green light with cars starting to move though, I believe it is far safer to pace behind cars than pass them all on the right.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Be fair, I think that's just what I said.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Yes, and if first at the light a bicyclist should stop in the center of the lane to 1) trigger a green light cycle and 2) allow right-turning drivers to pass on their right. Many drivers don't understand that stopping in the middle of the lane is a courtesy by bicyclists and think we are being rude or overly assertive. In Palo Alto I have been honked at and cursed by a few drivers for doing this, but thanked by more. In other areas with fewer bicyclists the drivers don't understand and are quite unfriendly to bicyclists who do this.


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Posted by t.r.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm


although there sure are a lot of stupid pedestrians and bicyclists that have a death wish and do stupid things. that doesn't matter, because the "safe" bicyclists still get run over and killed, usually by aggressive driving.

Do you have any idea how many SUV's put me in a life-death situation every day because they want to save 3 seconds between traffic lights and pass someone on the right?

Stay the hell out of the right lane, or if you are in the right land DO NOT PASS on the right, bicyclists already have to combat the risk of someone swinging open their door

I can't wait until cars are a thing of the past, they are worse than guns


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Posted by Be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Resident

Oh ok, I did not get that's what you meant. Glad we agree.


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Posted by First in line
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 6, 2013 at 6:04 am

Sorry folks. I'll still be passing you while you wait on the red lights. Don't let it bug ya.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2013 at 8:07 am

Lived in the U.K. for 3 years, the market town which I called home is outside of London. Back in 90's the town leaders along with the county council started a program of street calming and less cars.

Take University Ave make it no parking or stopping, loading and unloading only in certain places and certain times.

Separate lanes, trails and foot paths will work. Routes have to be planned, built in already a built up area.

Reduce the amount of curbside parking, lane width and driveway curb cuts.

Roundabouts, crosswalks placed mid block or crosswalk placed well away from corner. No turn on Red.

Narrow traffic lanes, closing side streets to complete or partial auto traffic.

Oh, lower speed limits help.


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Posted by Robbie
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 6, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Eliminating curbside parking is the cheapest and best way to increase safety for bikers. No car dorrs opening, no cars pulling out without blinkers, no cars to block views of driveways. More room for bikes and cars on the road. Too bad it won't happen.


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Posted by Marty
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Will the 20 mph limit apply to cyclists too?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 7, 2013 at 11:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Will the 20 mph limit apply to cyclists too?"

It does in the UK where these changes have been made.


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Posted by Yes
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Marty, posted speed limits apply to all vehicles on the road. No change in that current law, even if the limit is increased/decreased.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm

At risk of opening an old can of worms, the applicability of speed limits lower than the 85th percentile is questionable. Anyone busted for 25 in a 20-zone could contest the citation through the Basic Speed Law. They would lose if it was downtown University Avenue at noon, but probably would win if it was Embarcadero Road.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Anyone busted for 25 in a 20-zone could contest the citation through the Basic Speed Law."

Here is the law:

"Basic Speed Law

22350. No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property."

Not clear under what basis the Basic Speed Law would provide any relief for someone exceeding the speed limit.


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Posted by Be fair
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm

You are correct, the basic speed law does not allow you to go over the speed limit.


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