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Student hospitalized after bike, SUV collide

Original post made on Nov 6, 2012

A Palo Alto High School student was hospitalized after his bicycle collided with an SUV on his way to school Tuesday, Oct. 30. Paly Principal Phil Winston said the student is "doing well recovering" after several surgeries.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012, 9:44 AM

Comments (60)

Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

This collision happened last week and the police don't have any information about where it happened? Really is true that the police log is useless.

I'm glad that the victim is recovering.


Posted by Big Al, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 9:56 am

My heart goes out to this student. I hope that you are able to recover from this horrible accident. Thank goodness you had a helmet on, and god bless you for your amazing spirit.


Posted by Biking Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 10:43 am

I was biking home from school drop off on morning of October 30th. The intersection of Waverley and Santa Rita (intersection is shaped like a parallelogram, not square with right angles) was completely roped off with Caution Do Not Cross tape. Later that afternoon there were policemen on the scene studying the crash site. This could be where Ken Shin's collision occurred.

Two weeks ago I helped a Stanford athlete who was hit by a bus on campus! And just this morning there was an SUV weaving and dodging around bicyclists and cars on Bryant Avenue. Please, we all just need to slow down a bit.

Best wishes to Ken for a speedy recovery and would you please tell your fellow students to actually buckle the strap on their helmets. I was also in a bike accident long ago and the helmet strapped on my head saved me.


Posted by Member, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

I do remember seeing a large number of firetrucks and police cars blocking the intersection of Cowper and Santa Rita last week. I am not assigning blame here, but my observation is that most kids around here don't have common sense when it comes to cars. Cars can kill you. You have to pay attention and be careful. These are the messages parents need to instill in their kids. In the past I have had several instances where I narrowly avoided hitting a high-school or middle school kid on a bicycle. In one case the idiot girl made a sudden left turn from the right lane without looking. In other cases kids have run stop signs. PAUSD students might have great SAT scores but they are stupid as they come when it comes to common sense.


Posted by Samuel, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

I'm amazed that the police are so closed-mouth about this accident. According to the victim's account, the accident sounds like more than minor. At first I thought the victim was saying that both bike wheels went over his head, but then -- "both wheels" was referring to the SUV. Cripes. Actually the typical Styrofoam bike helmet couldn't do much if that were the case ....


Posted by jared Bernstein, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

Do we have the name of the driver?
Did the driver stop? Were there any witnesses to this accident?


Posted by Biking Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

Correction. I meant intersection of Cowper and Santa Rita.

In my earlier post I mistakenly cited Waverley and Santa Rita.


Posted by Drivers Trying to Kill You, a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 6, 2012 at 10:54 am

Kids in Palo Alto must always be vigilant on their bikes, because the people who drive cars in Palo Alto are selfish, me first folks who will not ever concede that THEY must slow down and be careful. They want everyone else to simply get out of their way and they will run you over if you don't.


Posted by Local Cyclist, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

I bike through Palo Alto and have noticed both cyclists and cars at fault but the kids biking to school are especially careless. They do not stop at stops signs and many of them don't wear their helmets...instead they attach them to their handle bars. Parents are you sure you're children are wearing their helmets? Better check again.


Posted by Experienced Cyclist, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

My normal bike to work route goes through that intersection. Both streets are very quiet with no through traffic. It's very rare to see a car at that intersection. Visibility is excellent. The only thing that's slightly odd about it is that the Santa Rita doesn't go straight through the intersection, but jogs 10 or 20 feet.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, one or maybe both parties was not paying attention to cause a collision at this intersection. Presumably the police will figure out which party is at fault here.

Reminds me of the case in which Phyllis Seidmann was killed by an SUV driver at Embarcadero and Cowper a couple of years ago. We never did find out who the other party was and whether any liability was assessed in that case.


Posted by The Police Blog, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:03 am

Keep in mind that the entries on the police blog are often very generic and based on the initial call into the police dispatch center not what the ultimate detailed investigation will reveal when the reports are turned in.


Posted by two sides to every story?, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:05 am

I know nothing about this incident, but taking as gospel what a high school kid posted online is not the same as a full account of what happened at an accident scene.Perhaps the police are still investigating, taking interviews of those involved and any witnesses and re-creating the accident scene, to figure out IF there should be any charges.


Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:14 am

I'm glad the kid is basically ok: in particular, no nervous system injury. I wish him fast healing and good spirits.

@Member: I don't have a problem with your basic message: "Cars can kill you. You have to pay attention and be careful. These are the messages parents need to instill in their kids." Those are reasonable and fair observations, and I agree that parents have a big role to play in bringing up responsible commuters. Notice that these sentences, taken in isolation, can be applied equally well to future and learning motorists as to current bicyclists.

I disagree strongly with you when you cite your own experiences using biased language like "idiot girl". No: she's just a girl, as in a kid: a kid trying to make her way through an adult world of harried, sometimes careless people who accept without question their entitlement to moving unnaturally fast in a hunk of massive metal.

A responsible bicyclist accepts without question that squirrels are going to dart in front of him, and so he's ready to compensate whenever squirrels are around. For that matter, a responsible cyclist accepts without question that pedestrians on bicycle paths are going to do unpredictable things, or their pets on leashes will dart away and leave a leash spanning the path, or kids on bicycles will behave like kids on bicycles on a bicycle path, or any number of other inconvenient situations will occur that require a careful response.

Drivers in highly populated areas need to stop thinking of roads as the sole and unquestioned domain of cars. They are not. People cross them. Animals dart out into them. Kids use them to bicycle to school. Adults use them to bicycle to work. Anything that needs to get from point A to point B in an urban area has to be use a road, at the very least when crossing it. Motorists need to absorb these facts and drive accordingly. A motorist may have a *legal* right to drive in a straight line at 45 mph, say, but that legal right doesn't free the motorist from ethical obligations that may call for reduced speed, readiness to brake, and most of all a level of awareness that exceeds what would at first seem necessary to go in a straight line at 45 mph.


Posted by New in Town, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

+1 to your comments 100% bicycle commuter.

This is a daily concern at Ross and Ames which is a 4-way stop crossed by dozens of kids as young as five (with parents), and seven (alone).

Cars barely slow down and drivers don't even look left-right - because they are late to their class at the Y or racing to get to Charleston/101.

In the afternoon, kids riding from JLS on Ross blow through the same intersection on bikes with big, oblivious smiles on their faces. When driving, I never assume they will stop.

Whether on bike or in a car, EVERYONE needs to be cautious and bike/drive/scoot/walk defensively....and not with earbuds on!

I do hope this student recovers quickly and sends a message to all kids....and drivers.


Posted by rem, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:52 am

rem is a registered user.

helmet helmet helmet helmet helmet Wear a helmet and it might save your life!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

PAUSD students riding to the junior and senior high schools routinely run through stop signs--making intersections on the so-called bike paths to these schools very unsafe for the cyclists, and motorists alike.

Students are not adults. They are not required to obtain a driving license in order to operate a bike. Teenagers especially need adult supervision. Maybe the schools should have their safety coordinators out during morning drive time to observe what is going on, and begin to offer some guidance to students biking to school.


Posted by Member, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

to 100%:

Look I bike with my kid to school from time to time. I make sure we stop at stop signs. I make sure we check to see if it is safe at all intersections before proceeding. I have no quarrel with responsible bikers. I am just appalled by the irresponsible ones. The outcome of a collision between a biker and a car is governed by basic physics. It is in the self-interest of the biker to be more vigilant than the driver.


Posted by Driver, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Funny hardly anyone blames the SUV. When you are driving a huge death-machine YOU should be extra careful. Maybe the driver isn't being criticized because it is a Lexus. We have to be polite to rich jerks so lets criticize the children.
Every day I see people crossing the street who don't look at cars, they just pretend not to know where they are. Some even keep looking at their dumb phones.


Posted by Scholar, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Never saw a bike rider texting, but see it daily by vehicle drivers in this area.


Posted by Member, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

to Driver:

A Lexus SUV has roughly 40-50% more kinetic energy than a Prius going at the same speed. We aren't talking order of magnitude more energy. You need to be just as careful while driving either SUVs or Priuses. And more importantly cyclists need to be equally vigilant in the presence of either type of vehicle.


Posted by Maya, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Does that make the total 4 Paly kids hit by cars since school started? I saw one a month or so ago. A Paly teen shot across Churchill at the entrance of Paly without any care until he got hit. He was Ok, but sure wasn't paying any attention at the time he was crossing.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Paly (and Jordan) kids totally ignore 4 ways stops.

Scholar - I regularly see kids texting or talking on their phones while biking, usually with their helmut hanging from their handlebars.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm

This seems to be an eternal argument: Bicycles vs. automobiles.

The truth is that the rules of road apply to BOTH!

This morning, I was waiting in line (in my SUV) on Chruchill, as I wanted to cross Alma. I was third in line. The light went green, then a bicyclist decided to cross agaisnt the red light, parallel to Alma. The bicyclist was completely illegal. If the automobile drivers were not so careful, he would have been hit, and it would have been his fault. Once he crossed Churchill, he made an immediate left turn, to cross Alma, then he turned into Paly. I watched this disturbing thing, in real time.

I think bicyclists should be required to have liability insurance, just like car drivers. They are, currently, out of control.


Posted by cal, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm

My thoughts and prayers go out to Ken and his family. Ken, I am so proud of you for wearing your helmet. I imagine you realize even more now, how important it is to protect yourself while riding a bike in Palo Alto.

To those of you who blame the biker for probably being unsafe or texting while biking, the bigger point is the unsafe drivers who are talking on cell phones and texting while driving and seeming to be in such a hurry these days. They are the adults, they are the ones breaking the law and they are the ones driving the cars and SUV's that have the potential to kill bikers. There are many safe young bikers out there and this is demeaning.

The real lesson in this is to the adults, who need to drive slower, pay more attention, and watch for the *young* bikers who are learning how to become drivers and make their way to school each day.

Also, I'm really wondering why these stories are so delayed in being publicized. One week later? And yes, who is the driver and where is the driver now?


Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm

@Craig: In fact, this article does not essentially concern the "eternal argument" of "bicycles vs. automobiles". Rather, it concerns motorist vs. non-motorist.

Let me expand an an argument I was attempting to make above. Unless you fly, there is no way to get from one point in the city to another point (at a nontrivial distance) without traversing a road. For this reason, there are many users of roads: pedestrians of all ages, cyclists of all ages, animals of all sorts, users of public transportation, and motorists. Of these great many users of roads, precisely one is required to study material for, and pass, an exam to gain access. Precisely one uses the road in a manner whose physical mechansim directly imperils the lives of others*.

The "eternal argument" you cite rages on, I think, precisely because of the essential tactic each side uses that your comment demonstrates so well. Each side likes to cite specific personal examples of what the other side did wrong. This then enrages the other side, because they feel (a) they have plenty of counterexamples and (b) the first side is purposefully and frustratingly ignoring these perfectly clear counterexamples. The cycle continues. Neither side is willing to understand the other.

In contrast, the focus of the discussion here should be on whether it is ethical for experienced users of the road to assume, and to behave in accordance with the assumption, that all other users are behaving, and should behave, in a matter complying with the DMV handbook. I argue that it is not ethical. Even if a motorist or fast-moving cyclist is in the legal right in a collision that injures a non-motorist user of the road, he is not ethically in the right. He is a privileged user of the road and so assumes responsibilities not required of others.

For this reason, any argument based on the fact that children ignore traffic rules is irrelevant. No kidding: they do. They ignore them flagrantly. So do animals like deer and squirrels. But they are innocent. They are in a special class that we must protect from harm.

*Experienced cyclists can move at a speed that is closer to that of a vehicle than that of a pedestrian. Such a cyclist's kinetic energy is ~5% of a car's and so not insignificant. For this reason, I believe all experienced cyclists (a rather small subset of all cyclists) should be treated as motorists. I include myself. But, importantly, I *exclude* most cyclists. For the rest of this post, include experienced cyclists among motorists.


Posted by SUV at Fault, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

If you're going to drive a huge car, or even any car, don't run over kids with it. The burden is on YOU. Be ready to stop on a dime if necessary. Consider that kids and other bicyclists can, and will, come from *all* conceivable directions. Put your stupid iPhone down, including the time you're glancing at it at red stoplights. Holding it your hand in speakerphone mode at talking into it as if it were a handheld microphone is not "hands free operation", OK? Actually *stop* at stop signs. Don't run yellow lights. Don't exceed the speed limit. Many of these things are incredibly challenging for the frequently Lexus'ed or BMW'ed Palo Alto driver. Do you really want to be like this poor woman, who ran over a kid and crushed his jaw? What comfort will it be to you to then fall back on niceties about how that kid was going against traffic, or some other petty complaint? Do your best to not hit kids in the first place. Look in the mirror. My tips will help you.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm

One thing that hasn't been mentioned here is that near Paly and Gunn many of the motorists in school commute time are students themselves. Either they are permit holders who are driving with a parent or they are a newly licensed driver who is still gaining experience.

I myself on a bicycle near Paly was almost hit by a teen driver whose parent was sitting beside the driver and as an apology for nearly knocking me off my bike (he pulled up right in front of me so close that nearly fell or ran into the back of him) his parent said "he is only 16", as if that was an excuse for not signalling and ignoring me.

In a situation like the accident mentioned above, I ask the question if the driver of the SUV was in fact a teen driver still gaining experience in driving?

Before everyone starts telling me that it should make no difference, I remember the case a year or so ago when a teen driver hit a whole lot of parked cars in Stanford Shopping Center. Just because a teen has a license and has a parent present, it doesn't mean they are experienced, safe drivers.


Posted by Member, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Look no one is saying that car drivers should not be careful and cautious. It's just that cyclists and pedestrians have to bear some responsibility for their own safety. If you are in middle school or high school and don't have some sort of mental disability you should be capable of navigating our streets safely. There is no excuse.


Posted by Car driver, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

How about all the automobile drivers running stop signs, i.e. not stopping at stop signs. I see several every day! How's that more acceptable than bicyclists running stop signs since that's who's mostly being blamed above?

I drive a car but I am especially careful to watch out for pedestrians and bicycle riders. Please, car drivers, grow up and stop being so self-involved.


Posted by Biking Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I'm very sorry to hear about this accident, and that someone was injured. What a shame.

My kids (elementary and middle school) have always biked to school. After riding bikes with them for over seven years now, I can attest to bad behavior on both the part of bikes and cars.

With that said, as bikers, my kids and I experience at least once a week a driver trying to kill us. It's appalling how many drivers (who are usually parents themselves with kids in their cars) speed, zoom around biking kids, rip through stop signs, and put so many other bikers/walkers in danger.

Just yesterday for example . . . I was biking with three students. We were FULLY stopped, with our feet on the ground, at a cross walk/stop sign in front of our elementary school. We had the stop sign. Cross traffic did not have a stop sign. Hence, we bikers were waiting at the stop sign for oncoming cars to pass since they had the right of way. What did the Mom from our school who was behind us in an SUV with her own child do? Honk at us bikers! Loudly! Several times! My kids, the pedestrians waiting at the corner, the Crossing Guard, and I were all shocked. We bikers were fully stopped, and were supposed to be stopped, waiting for car traffic to pass before we could safely enter the intersection. But this driver in the SUV was in such an insane hurry, she honked at us repeatedly to proceed into oncoming traffic! It was a great teaching moment for my kids about how drivers can be rude, unsafe, and drive in an illegal manner because they are in a huge hurry and think bikers are "in their way". I had to turn around on my bike and explain to the Mom with her head hanging out the SUV window that we bikers were stopped at the stop sign in front of the school because we were supposed to stop at the stop sign! It wasn't OK for her to honk at us, and expect us to ride into oncoming traffic, just because she was in a hurry and felt entitled in her car.

And that's just one example I have out of seven years of biking.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Member has the issue in a nutshell- we are all responsible for our own safety and choices. And why not require insurance for cyclists? It is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and would re-inforce the gravity of what you undertake when riding a bicycle. That said, ALL of us need to pay attention to what is going on around us, whether behind the wheel, on a bike, or out walking. For this to improve, it will take a group effort. A community effort.


Posted by paly mom, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 6, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Why have such a monster of a car? Do you have eight kids? This poor teen was doing the right thing, riding his bike. SUVs are a menace. get the heck out of your cars and bike or use the train. Walk your damn kid to school even.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Anne asks why we don't require insurance for cyclists. The fact is that insurance is required only for motor vehicles because of the great danger they present and the large amount of damage they can cause. No other mode of transportation has an insurance requirement: not pedestrians, not equestrians nor any non-motorized vehicle. It would be very unreasonable to require cyclists to have insurance. There are many people for whom bicycling is the only form of transportation they can afford, and an insurance requirement would take that away from them.


Posted by Chrisc, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I've seen kids steering with one hand and holding
Phone in other, totally engrossed. Also worrying are the
Ear buds or headphones no doubt pumping music. How would
They hear an approaching car?
We must all be very, very careful sharing the road
With the kids. Just go slow, give them the right-away
No matter what they are doing. Do not try to beat them through intersections,
Etc etc.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm

> It would be very unreasonable to require
> cyclists to have insurance

At least two pedestrians have been killed by cyclists in the North Bay. As more people ride bicycles, the number of accidents caused by cyclists will go up. Maybe the estate of a pedestrian can sue the cyclist, but if the cyclist is not of legal age, then the parents would need to be the target of the suit. If the cyclist were to be without any personal assets--who should pay for the injured party's medical care, or costs associated with burial?

If the law says cyclists have a right to use the roads as motorists--then the law needs to recognize that cyclists need to be covered by some sort of insurance, like motorists.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Bob, the law says that bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of the operators of VEHICLES (not motor vehicles) only in regards to the rules of the road (i.e. only Division 11 of the CVC). It would be ridiculous, burdensome and tremendously costly to impose an insurance requirement on bicyclists. How much do you think our cash-strapped state should be willing to spend on administering this? We really have bigger fish to fry.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm

> It would be ridiculous, burdensome and tremendously costly
> to impose an insurance requirement on bicyclists

Is this your opinion, or is it a proven fact?

The State would not have to spend much money administering such a requirement. If a cyclist were to be involved in an accident, and could not produce proof-of-insurance, a ticket would be issued.

As for uninsured cyclists--the law would be changed to allow easier judgements against cyclists--including garnishment of wages, current or future, to recover costs to parties damaged by irresponsible cyclists.


Posted by Sense, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Across the country about 40,000 people a year are killed by cars, only about 10 by bicycles. Let's deal with the big problem, not the tiny one. Bike insurance and licensing is brought up by people who hate bikes and want to be rid of them at all costs, but it doesn't make sense. Many cities are dropping bike registration programs because they are money losers that have no benefit. Why start a new burocracy to solve a non-existent problem?


Posted by Terry, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Insurance is a heavily-regulated industry. The state would have to specify what kinds of coverage would be required and dicate minima. The insurance commissioner would need to monitor insurers to make sure they are complying with state law and that their rates are reasonable, just as with other forms of insurance. There is no way this could be done without the state coffers taking a huge hit.


Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm

With respect to careless kids on bicycles:

Where do you think they learn how to bike on city streets??

From the adult bicyclists they have watched all their young lives until they finally get permission to ride a bike on the street themselves.

Adults have no idea how to stop a bicycle at a stop sign or wait their turn at a 4-way stop. I suspect they do not know how to apply the right-of-way laws at that stop sign in their SUV OR on their bicycles. HINT: they are the same laws.

I am a safety patrol and saw a shocking near-miss where a young cyclist with right-of-way was nearly cut off and hit by an automobile turning left with no turn signal. The boy braked really hard and went flying over the handlebars of his bike, made a masterful tuck- and-fall, remounted his bike and rode off before any witnesses could stop him or ask after him. The car continued its left turn at top speed also and none off us witnesses could recall enough license number to report. It all happened in less than 60 seconds.



Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Of late, the national accident fatalities has droped to about 30K. Still a large number, tho.

It's hard to know, but the largest, or second largest, number of moving violations in Palo Alto, on a daily basis--are cyclists blowing through stop signs and red lights. There is every reason to expect that over time, that cyclists will be increasingly found at fault--and that damages to vehicles, and life/limb will result.

There is no reason to look the other way, and not expect cyclists to be financially responsible for their actions.

The accident described in the article above has no relevant details. We have no idea who was at fault. One person posted that the vehicles should always be at fault. So, presumably, if that person started up from a stop sign at an interestion with four stop signs, and T-Boned the car--the person driving the car should be held responsible for the accident, and any damages to the cyclist, as well as any damages caused by the cyclist? That's just wrong, on face value. Yet, here we see people posting that non-think.

Given how these sorts of accidents usually disappear from public view once they get into the hands of the lawyers--we'll probably never know what happened here.






Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm

> There is no way this could be done without the state
> coffers taking a huge hit.

So a cycle tax would be applied to any insurance sold. That money would be transferred to the State to offset any costs of administration.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Bicyclists need to be required to have liability insurance, because they can easily cause accidents, through their reckless disregard of the rules of the road (see my initial post in this thread). Also, with their reckless road behavior, even if they get hit by cars, the drivers of the cars can be severely emotionally scarred, similar to PTSD. These drivers deserve financial awards for their suffering.

All bicyclists should be required to have liability insurance. It is only fair.


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Craig, your arguments could equally well apply to pedestrians, sakters, skateboarders, horse riders, dog walkers, cats, etc. Should we require everyone to have insurance if they venture out in public? Historically we have only required drivers of motor vehicle operators to have insurance because they represent such a large danger to the public. If you want to require insurance for anyone who could possibly inflict any physical or emotional distress on others then you need to impose a whole different world view on our country.

P.S. You should probably start with gun control instead of bike insurance.


Posted by cal, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Sadly, looks like another bad accident today around 4pm where a bicyclist was being taken away by ambulance at Seale and Middlefield. Hope the person is okay.


Posted by Wow, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm

I see kids from Paly go through the stop sign at the intersection in front of my house every single day. They always cause people to stop (when they don't have stop signs themselves) in order to not hit the bikers that either bomb through the stop signs or are too into their conversations with their friends. Shouldn't we be required to take a basic bike safety course in either middle school or high school? It is ridiculous how careless kids on bikes can be around Palo Alto.


Posted by Biker Gal, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

> With respect to careless kids on bicycles:
>
> Where do you think they learn how to bike on city streets??
>
> From the adult bicyclists they have watched all their young lives
> until they finally get permission to ride a bike on the street
> themselves.

jb,
Wish that were so. Unfortunately, most kids learn to bike on city streets from no one at all. They bootstrap their own learning, figuring things out as they go. Very, very few parents actually ride their bikes with their kids, teaching them the vehicle code along the way. A huge number of parents just decide that at middle school the kids are "ready" to bike alone, so you suddenly have hoards of 11 year olds on the street who have never had a single on-street biking lesson, even by example, from trusted adults. When some 90% (my estimate) of 11 year olds are making up their own biking rules (because they're first experience biking on city streets is to middle school, unaccompanied by experienced adult cyclists), then even the 10% who *have* learned proper biking skills find themselves being re-trained by their untrained peers, so by high school we have hoards of untrained cyclists who've never had a day of drivers' ed and are not spending any time biking with experienced cyclists who know the rules of the road.

I have a friend whose son was hit by cars twice when he was in middle school. The mom didn't own a bike or know how to ride one. The dad hadn't ridden a bike in 10 years or more. I watched this kid bike around town - he was awful. But where was an 11 or 13 year old supposed to learn biking skills, if not from his parents? He wasn't purposely being a bad cyclist, he just didn't know any better. And his story is by no means unique. Among my daughter's very large biking posse, there is exactly one other girl who has one parent who has been on a bike in the past few years.

As parents, we need to be doing two things: (1) Drivers' Ed begins the moment the child is in a forward-facing car seat. We need to be verbalizing the rules of the road whenever we are driving our kids around; we need to be *following* those rules; and we need to be extra vigilant for *all* the other users of our streets (like a previous poster said - including squirrels, deer, children, cyclists, and more.) (2) We also need to get off our duffs (or out of our cars) and actually bike with our children. Instead of driving them to soccer practice and music lessons, bike there with them. Don't drive to school - bike there, following the rules of the road. These aren't skills that can be mastered overnight or intuited by an 11 year old brain. They're lifelong and they begin at a very very young age.


Posted by hlw, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2012 at 4:56 am

My children, ages 10 & 8 witnessed this accident on their way to school last week. My daughter was sent to the school counselor after telling her teacher what she saw. The boy's description in this article sounds very similar to what my children told me - that the car ran over his face. But how can that be? I thought maybe he fell under the car. But I do know that the driver jumped out, told him not to move, & called 911. A construction worker jumped over the fence to help, and, according to my kids, there were 7 people there helping. 1/2 hour later, when I went out, I saw the intersection blocked off. We are all very relieved to know that the boy is going to be OK!


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:21 am

A STOP sign means just that: Stop! A red light means stop, do not proceed until green. These basic rules apply to both car and bicycle drivers. The problem is that way too many bicyclists appear to think that the rules do not apply to them.


Posted by Adi Hamou, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2012 at 9:20 am

The drivers in Palo Alto have become a huge problem over the past year. These incidents will get more frequent as long as drivers continue to speed, ignore stop signs, and have complete disregard for pedestrians. This situation is very unfortunate, but I cannot say I'm surprised.


Posted by parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2012 at 10:08 am

I was pretty upset to hear about this and am enormously relieved that he's doing better. Yes, youth can be reckless and can't fully appreciate that these things can happen to them if they are not careful on their bikes. I've always taught my kids that even if they are "right" in any given situation, they still will lose if they have an accident with a car.

But I must say that I think all drivers are increasingly distracted, perhaps by multi-tasking, but often enough by their own thoughts. On my side street, the traffic during school hours and rush hour is horrible, because drivers cut through to dodge the traffic lights. Just two weeks ago, I was nearly run over by a car that went straight through a stop sign when I was on my bike. They never even saw me. Thank goodness my brakes were tuned up, but the neighbor's contractors were pretty stunned.

There is nothing so important that it can't be delayed a few minutes by just slowing down.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm

How about drivers and bike riders just obeying the law? Both must get off the @$%& phone. Bike riders: wear your helmet (repeat: no phones, no headphones!) and respect the traffic lanes/signs/lights and all laws as if you were a vehicle -- because you are.


Posted by KB, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm

As both a driver and a regular cyclist, I see enough bad behavior by both groups around Palo Alto. However, the cyclists are consistently worse, especially high-school students. Maybe one in a hundred Gunn student cyclists will stop at a stop sign on Los Robles or Meadow on their way to/from Gunn. I'm not exaggerating. Hang out at Los Robles and La Donna one morning and see. It's really appalling. I don't get up around Paly as often, but when I do, it's just as bad. I'm amazed that we don't see accidents like this every week around here.

As a cyclist, you have to expect that there's a chance that cars will not behave predictably and safely. The consequences of not thinking that way are too great. Running a stop sign or speeding as a driver is bad, careless, and selfish, but running a stop-sign as a cyclist, especially when there are cars at the intersection, is just plain stupid.


Posted by Terman Parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Indeed, most the students totally ignore the stop signs. My student has totally different experiences though. He bikes to Terman every day. One day he came home feeling really bad. He was riding on Maybell(no bike lane here) and stopped at the stop sign at Amaranta(the 3-way stops in front of the park). The driver following right behind him blasted his/her horn at him for stopping! It was loud and really startled him. It happened again recently. Now, where there is a car behind him, he gets really nervous.


Posted by Ducatigirl, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Not only do schoolkids carry their helmets on their handlebars, talk on their phone and text while riding, they frequently ride on the wrong side of the street or even down the middle of the street. I do not think they even know that they are supposed to go in the same direction and the same side of the street as cars. Also, the majority of them runstop signs and even stoplights.


Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm

This morning a group of three recreational fitness cyclists made a left turn at Page Mill and Foothill so late in their green (actually, they almost surely started at the end of the yellow) that we (motorists, plus me, a cyclist) had to wait at least a few seconds into our green to start. They knew what they were doing too: you could see it. Just so you know that cyclists are not some sort of uniform group who have it out for responsible motorists: I do not condone that behavior! It's so frustrating to see adult recreational cyclists who are almost surely motorists most of the time do self-entitled things like that. It ruins it for the rest of us cyclists. And I bet they behave in their cars just like they do on their bicycles.

But! Please do not group such cyclists with kids riding to school. Vent all you want about adult recreational cyclists, but please try to keep a healthy perspective on kids. They're just kids. They're cute and dumb and vulnerable and self-centered. They're kids! Let's educate them as best as we can, but also always be ready for the worst they dish out at us commuters.


Posted by Ducatigirl, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Ducatigirl is a registered user.

I agree with 100% bicycle commuter. I honestly believe that most of the kids who commit thes infractions that are so dangerous to them DO NOT KNOW that they are illegal or what the rules of the road are. This is coupled with the fact that they tend to believe they are immortal, which is why they are shaken to the core when one of their own is hurt or killed.

Parents and teachers, pulleeeze educate your kids on bicycling safety and rules. DMV has a free guide with everything you need to know in it.

There is nothing I or any other parent hates to read about than some young person, like Ken, getting grievously injured or killed.

And drivers, like the old TV ads used to say, "Watch out for the other guy", which includes bicyclists.


Posted by Paly Student, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Ken, I was so scared when I first found out what happened to you. It makes me so glad to hear that you were wearing your helmet though, and that now you're doing all right. Although I'm so sorry this happened to you, and I wish it didn't, maybe now some kids will realize that wearing a helmet isn't stupid. Hope you get well soon--we all miss you in English!


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I notice that the young kids on bicycles tend to obey the rules of the road, including stopping at stop signs, making hand signals, staying in bike lanes, where avaialbe, etc. It it the older kids, and adults who think they are enabled to break the rules.

I don't hate kids or bicyclists (had some of both!), I just want them to accept that they are not above the law. The PAPD could probably pay for a fraction of its budget by simply ticketing bicycle scofflaws...but then there would a big hue and cry from the bicycle crowd about how unfair it is.

The serious bottom line is that bicyclists will continue to get hurt and killed, if they do not obey the law. I feel bad for both sides of such collisions. Bicyclists, who blow through stop signs, and get hit by cars that did not face stop signs, should be liable to civil suit for the distress they cause the car driver (and vice versa, of course). The idea behind requiring liability insurance for bicyclists is that they won't, necessarily, lose all their (or their parents') assets, when they are sued, if they are protected by insurance.


Posted by danielle, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Ken: Sorry about the accident, get better soon and keep biking!

Craig: Please stop your insurance ranting, as people have repeatedly pointed out only cars require insurance in California and it is not relevant to this story.

Everyone else, please slow down. Lexus SUVs are very heavy and dangerous. And no cell phones while driving! As some have suggested, try biking or walking instead of driving when you can.


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