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Park Blvd crash spurs $17 million claim with Palo Alto

Original post made on Jul 2, 2013

The family of a 12-year-old boy who was struck by a vehicle while riding on the 2500 block of Park Boulevard has filed a $17 million claim with the City of Palo Alto for negligent design of the bike route on the road.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 11:53 AM

Comments (59)

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Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm

How's Sebastian doing? Is he largely over the effects of the TBI? Best wishes to him.

For fellow commuter cyclists out there: consider using a rear view mirror when bicycling. You can either install one on the left handlebar or on your helmet. You can buy them at basically any bicycle shop or at REI for between 8 and 20 bucks. Once you get used to using one, you will be much more aware of whatever craziness is going on behind you.

I had a white European sport sedan come up behind me in the bicycle lane on Foothill once. With all the other road noise, and with the car coming up from behind, I couldn't hear the car. But I saw the car in my mirror and dove for the extreme edge of the road and was prepared to go over the curb and down the embankment into the bushes if it came to that. The driver was talking on a cell phone. Once she realized she was in the bicycle lane/shoulder, she made an extremely aggressive and unsafe left into the traffic lane, so I didn't have to take any extreme measures after all. But my mirror let me see what was happening and prepare in case.


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Posted by dross
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm

police are ignoring cell phone drivers and endangering the public. cell phones are an addiction ,just like DUI. but police are slaves to the system that promotes electronics and spying.you get what you pay for, literaly.


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Posted by Downtown Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Boy,

Feel awful for the kid and his family. Hope the driver spends a long time behind bars. While this is extremely traumatic for the victim and his family, the settlement should come from the employer or the driver's insurance company, not the city, this is ridiculous. I mean the driver was on Meth!!! The $17 million the family is asking from the city would come out directly out of our school's budgets, hurting countless more children.


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Posted by Blame the Driver
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm

If the driver was in a low-paying job, he may not have had insurance. Who pays then? IZZY'S, because they have deeper pockets? I doubt that they are $17 million deep.

Several years ago, I was in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver turning left in front of me. He had run a stoplight. He knew he was in deep trouble and took off. My new car was totaled, and because I was pregnant, the impact caused me to bleed, and I lost the baby. Our insurance company traced the driver to Mexico, but because he was out of the country, did not want to spend any more money pursuing the matter

So I had no car, no baby, no justice, either.


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Sorry for the kids family. I think the lawsuit is a bit frivolous, how can you blame the city, for a driver on meth with a suspended license? If the city is negligent in any way, it is for not having more officers out enforcing road violations. Driving in Palo Alto is appaulling because of the flagrant disregard for road courtesy, and I see speeding, texting, red light/stop sign running every time I drive in Palo Alto.

Last time I got stopped by a police officer I apologized for my violation and thanked him for his job.


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Posted by Miklos
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm

"He said the sun was in his eyes and he was driving between 25 and 35 miles per hour. He said he did not see the bicyclist, but heard a crash." - "toxicology report of Hau's blood found that he was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the collision, according to the report. It also stated he was driving at an unsafe speed and his license had been suspended." - so a guy on meth hits a bicyclist and the city pays $17M? I hope they don't get a single penny from this.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Hi Blame the Driver:

Unfortunately, your experience is shared by many people. It happened to a former employer of mine. He was hit by an uninsured motorist who was an illegal immigrant. He was told by the insurance company that they wouldn't "track" him after he fled back to Mexico even though he was probably returned to the United States.

I used to have a neighbor (in a Palo Alto apartment complex) who was living with an illegal immigrant. He went to jail for several things -- including a couple of hit-and-runs. After his time in jail was concluded, he was immediately deported back to Mexico. Within a week, he returned to his girlfriend.

I am sure that the police knows where he lives...that he has been involved in drinking and driving hit-and-runs...yet he still lives in Palo Alto. He even drives around too, although he got rid of his prior vehicle and only drives around his girlfriend's vehicle (which is also dented from multiple "accidents").

I am just grateful that he doesn't live next to us anymore. He used to ding our vehicles and never cared to inform us. He even dinged our vehicle while we were standing there. He looked guilty but would walk away without so much as an apology. Unfortunately, I realize that he lives next to someone else and probably does damage to their cars too.

BTW, do you have a description of the car that hit your vehicle? It would be interesting to know if it was my neighbor! He used to hide his vehicle under a tarp in the carport following each new major dent or broken fender.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Although I feel the pain of this family, I don't think that the city was at fault. The driver should be responsible for his own actions. Unfortunately, this lawsuit will cost Palo Alto residents anyway.


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Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but before we all get hung up on how unfair it seems for the city to have to pay for a driver's criminal driving, we should all keep in mind the following. When someone gets seriously hurt, they get medical bills. These have to be paid, and private health insurance has limits. As I understand it, the basic procedure a victim follows is to sue the negligent driver, the business he was driving for if that applies, the city he was driving in, the county, probably in this case the construction company, etc. Basically, the victim sues every entity relevant to the situation in order to have some chance of recovering the medical costs. And, obviously, the figures involved at the beginning are generally much higher than what is eventually settled on. In the absence of robust national healthcare, what else can a victim do?

I really hope the high figure is not indicative of a catastrophic injury that will deeply affect the boy his whole life, but merely the opening gambit. Cars and tragedy seem too often linked.


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Posted by Where's the money?
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jul 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm

People look for money wherever it is, doesn't matter who is actually at fault. Can't get any money from the driver, so have to find payback elsewhere. Too many lawyers out there. This is why our family has a huge umbrella insurance policy - in case some idiot decides to sue us for hurting themselves on our property even if we are not at fault because the are trespassing (or some other stupid reason to sue us). Palo Alto is not at fault here; I hope the family doesn't obtain a dime and the driver spends time in prison.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm

This answers the questions of those passing the scene aftermath last November who never saw any reporting on the event.

Web Link

The emergency responders were honored recently for heroism.

Sun angle at that time/date was directly in the driver's eyes. No excuse, but think about it next time you are driving and the view is compromised by glare.

Not a ringing endorsement of the victim's choice of helmet.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I think there is a lot to be learned from this.

Construction makes an awful lot of problems on streets. If they are blocking the bike lane, parking badly, leaving debris on the street, then they are part of the cause of an accident caused by a bike needing to veer round their hazard.

Bike riders need to look before changing lanes, just like a car driver needs to look before changing lanes.

This driver sounds as if there are too many violations on his part to mention, he is grossly at fault.

Lastly, some of our streets - even bike boulevards - are accidents waiting to happen. San Antonio (where there are bike sharrows rather than bike lanes), Colorado and Maybell, to name 3 awful places for inexperienced bike riders to share the road with motorized vehicles. Oh yes, some of these are supposedly safe routes to school. Some are bike boulevards. All are dangerous. We need to make better bike facilities for young, inexperienced bike riders on their way to school.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm

If the driver was performing work for his employer at the time of the collision, then he is covered by his employer's insurance.

If this is a designated city bike route with bike lanes, then the city has some responsibility to maintain safe bicycling conditions. The article does not say who was performing the road construction or for what purpose. If it was a private contractor, then the city's permits should spell out the contractor's responsibilities in maintaining a safe bicycle route.

I do hope that the victim is able to afford the medical care he needs.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Whoever is at fault should be accountable legally and financially. Criminal and civil lawsuits with results.
There sounds like there is a lot of evidence placing this 99-100 percent at the feet of the driver. If the sun is in your eyes, wear sunglasses, drive with caution, pull over. Like the lady in EPA, don't just accelerate your way through crosswalks or take other risks.
There are people, including children, out there and driving a car is a responsibility, not a right.
I don't see this as having one iota to do with the City of Palo Alto.
The practice of certain types of lawyers to look for any deep pockets has created a lot of unnecessary things - like major liability insurance, as someone posted.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by City cynic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm

"a substantial factor that contributed to this incident is the City of Palo Alto's negligent design, construction, maintenance, signing, operation and control of the roadways."

While I can't speak to the details of the case, given what's happening with the Maybell rezoning, where the City got involved loaning millions for a project before there was any public input, part of the project involved rezoning for the benefit of a market-rate for-profit developer, and the development itself is located at a bottleneck between two overly burdened safe routes to school (one of substandard width that even Mark Berman deemed not safe), with no other routes in and out except by those routes, yet the City failed to do any study of the impact of the development on the bicyclists and failed to use current data in their traffic study -- then approved the rezoning without doing that or the heightened scrutiny City policy demands -- I am suspending judgment until I know more. After witnessing what has happened on Maybell, I could well believe there is a clear aspect of negligence by the City and will wait to hear what happens. (Usually the amounts asked for in a suit have to do with future medical costs, as well as the need to cover attorney fees which can eclipse pursuing the actual claims.)

Given the high level of public input and complaints about the traffic problems on Maybell and concerns about a high-density development at that location (which is currently a no-traffic historic orchard) worsening an already unsafe situation, you would think the City would be jumping all over trying to solve those problems, yet instead they cancelled a Community meeting about the bike paths indefinitely as soon as neighborhood lists in the Greenacres area got wind that the Matadero bike lane meetings advertised were going to include the Greenacres bike paths.

When neighbors complained about the need to assess the effect on emergency vehicle response times, City Council and PAHC planners said the fire department had looked at the traffic and said there was no problem. But when neighbors asked the fire department, they said they did no such independent review of the traffic, they rely on what traffic planners tell them, they don't themselves look for problems if PTC doesn't tell them to. PTC and other city staff have acted as advocates for the rezoning, and thus stuck by a flawed and inadequate traffic study that didn't involved the bicyclists or have current data. Thus, the safety of all Palo Altans is affected by City abrogation of its responsibilities to citizens in this one project. Knowing what it knows about the safety problems on Maybell, if the City adds a large development without doing an honest and comprehensive traffic study, as their own policy demands, I think they should be liable if the worst happens. Legally, they probably are.

Many of us know this area is an accident waiting to happen and are fighting the rezoning first because of the safety concerns. If there is an accident involving a child, given the overburdened infrastructure and the safety problems of which the City is now fully aware, if the worst happens, it will be because of gross negligence on the part of the City.

In the course of this, we have become aware of other conditions on Maybell, such as auto dealership trucks unloading and blocking one lane so bicyclists have to swing into the opposite lane (there is no room on Maybell for a separate bike lane or real sidewalks). There is a City ordinance requiring dealers to have enough space to unload on their properties, and neighbors complain, but the City does nothing. (Police can't.) If a child has lifelong medical bills and serious injuries because nothing is done and this unsafe situation contributes to an accident, wouldn't the City's negligence factor in? I think so. If the City ignores all the safety warnings and fails to do a good quality traffic analysis, even though their own policy calls for heightened scrutiny of school commute routes, and rezones/adds a development that puts more traffic on an already unsafe route, if the worst happens, the City would bear legal and moral responsibility.

There was construction here, and possibly codes and rules applying to the construction that were not followed or enforced, conditions citizens may have complained about for a long time, none of us knows. Lawsuits are really hard, especially when a child has been seriously injured. I think the idea that people sue at the drop of a hat is a myth the insurance industry wants us to believe so we blame plaintiffs. No, I'm not saying there aren't litigious people. I'm just saying, it's not as bad as people think, the reality is that most people who have cause to sue, don't.

The Harvard Medical Practice studies found that of people who were clearly, unequivocally, through conservative assessment of records, injured or killed by malpractice, only something like 0.2% sued. Often suits are on behalf of a child who has future medical bills or a compromised life.

Malpractice lawyers also do not like wasting their time, they usually only take clear cases. Suspend judgment unless you know. Me, I am now a lot more cynical about the City's possible contribution through negligence. I would want to know more.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm

How many people are out there driving with suspended licenses?

Today's (7/2) police log -- Web Link -- shows 5 citations and 1 arrest.

Can't do the math unless the total number of traffic stops is known.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenies
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

This claim was filed with the city on April 19. How come you're reporting this today? How did you learn about this?


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Posted by bikermom
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I remember when this happened. Right around the corner from where we live. This is a speed way for motorist. It was right past Sherman. All of the crossfit people are always pulling out quickly getting to their "important" lives and not watching out for commuters (it's the bike commuter path.) I have to cross over Park BLVD every day and can't see past the cars so I slowly pull out and gun it, have almost been hit many times from speeders. If they're going 25 mph then it's easier for them to slow down. There's a reason for the speed limit. My daughter 2 yr old ran out into the street once and the passing motorists didn't even hesitate, just sped along. She was almost hit. Still gives me chills.

There needs to be more speed control along Park Blvd here. Another stop sign or something. People cruise by here at 35-45 mph. It's a 25 mph zone. Everyone also needs to realize that this is a pedestrian and biker saturated city and should slow down. The driver could have been anyone one of those speeders. And yes, there was construction cones that the boy needed to get around, an extra reason to be a more cautious driver.

If the sun is in your eyes, slow down, be more cautious. Slow down in general. Think of your son or daughter riding their bike, or trying to cross the street. Is your meeting so important that you'd rather take a life or injure someone severely than be 30 secs late. I'm still sickened by this.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Was the construction being done by the City or a contractor? City vehicles (and their subs) regularly park in the bike lanes causing kids to ride around the vehicles. Construction vehicles regularly block bike lanes, check out Coleridge in the morning...

Drivers need to be cautious, but the City needs to keep its vehicle out of the bike lanes and inform Contractors to keep their vehicles out of the bike lanes also.


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Posted by Trainspotting
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm

While I feel bad for the child and the family, this is a bit extreme to go after deep pockets of Palo Alto city.

This is a bit frivolous because lawyers are incentivized to after the big payout. It may be a bit of a slippery slope but if the lawyer and the family succeeds in its suit, it will set the precedence that Palo Alto will be responsible for most accidents road roads deemed "poorly maintained" by the city. I can already see Maybell moving up the dangerous street list in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm

>City vehicles (and their subs) regularly park in the bike lanes causing kids to ride around the vehicles.

OK, so what is your point? Cars need to slow down and go around...just part of keeping up the infrastructure, public and private, in Palo Alto. Bicycles need to do the same. Kids should go up on the sidewalks, if they are too inexperienced to handle the roads.

This thing is 100% on the [portion removed] driver. Palo Alto should not pay a cent for this.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Craig - you missed my point. Vehicles, including the city's, regular park in the bike lane blocking the whole lane. This includes places like Newell where there is a no parking zone that is regularly disregarded. If it was the City's vehicles or if the parked construction vehicles were parked illegally, the City bears some responsibility.


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Posted by Cyclist
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Todd Emmanuel [portion removed] represented a person who was hit by a car in Santa Cruz/Scott's Valley a few years ago. His basis was that a PG&E telephone pole blocked the driver's sight of the cyclist which caused the accident.

He will only sue large companies, utilities, cities, etc. that have the money for a substantial payout. It has nothing to do with the right/wrong debate or whether the injured person has recovered. Todd Emmanuel is an ambulance chase in my book, I wouldn't be surprised if he contacted the family to take on the case [portion removed.]

Google his name and case history.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

>If it was the City's vehicles or if the parked construction vehicles were parked illegally, the City bears some responsibility.

Is it illegal to park on our streets, for the purpose of infrastructure projects, as long as orange cones are deployed? If so, you can forget about infrastructure projects, going forward. Of course, it is not illegal, and the responsibility is on those who use our streets, including the bicyclists.


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Posted by City cynic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

@Trainspotting,
" I can already see Maybell moving up the dangerous street list in Palo Alto."

What do you mean? Maybell IS a dangerous street. It's listed as a bike boulevard, which is supposed to mean low traffic - it has an outrageous level of traffic during the school year (obscene when it rains), is substandard in width, has no room for bike paths or normal sidewalks. Marc Berman, even while he was twisting himself into a pretzel justifying the rezoning, admitted Maybell is not safe.

The City Council now knows quite unequivocally that Maybell is not safe. If they do nothing, if they instead allow major development at a critical juncture, without doing a traffic analysis that looks at the bikes or uses current data, they would be negligent and would deserve to be sued if someone were hurt.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 3, 2013 at 1:14 am

Certainly can't fault PAHC or ABAG for being negligent on safety . . .


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2013 at 7:14 am

It does no good for Palo Alto to build bike lanes if they are unusable due to parked cars. Parking illegally in bike lanes is a scourge that should be addressed, but the police will only write tickets if the receive a complaint about a specific vehicle. Putting out orange cones or turning on your flashers does not make it legal. Two weeks ago I saw a Utilities Dept. dump truck pull up in the bike lane on Colorado near the Safeway. The driver put out two cones as if he was working, then sauntered into the 7-11 for a snack. This is illegal and unacceptable. If construction will impact traffic the contractor is generally required to file a traffic plan, including flaggers if necessary. It sounds as if the traffic plan ay have been inadequate in this case, although it is hard to make a plan that works for unlicensed drivers on meth,.


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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 3, 2013 at 9:23 am

100% bicycle commuter stated it best, I have read a few similar incidents. The victim has medical bills, and insurance companies are shylocks that will not cover you when it comes to it. $17mill is probably an arbitrary opening figure. Imagine the bills this poor family is going to incur, from being hit buy a meth head with no license and no insurance. Apperently he was on the clock for Izzy's Begals so they should be liable as well, do you think they are going to do anything ot make this right?

I wont complain about a victim sueing, I will complain about insurance companies that collect high premiums from us all, then don't pay out when something catastrophic actually happens.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Allen Edwards
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

wtf, sue the city because someone on meth hits you son. I am sorry for your loss but trying to make it my loss really doesn't sit well with me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pessimist
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I am really sorry to hear about the bicyclist and hope he gets better soon.

@City Cynic - Thank you for posting your comments. They are right on the mark.

The City Council had the responsibility to be careful on what it allows on Maybell for the safety of the student bicyclists. However, they decided to ignore that and the development they have approved is an accident waiting to happen and the liability will be squarely on their shoulders.

The City Council says they will make amends by making Maybell a bike boulevard. How is that going to succeed if they allow the construction of a gigantic monolith in the middle of the boulevard! It's like tying the hands back and putting an obstruction and then saying work it out! If they had any sense they would use this opportunity to look into making this route a truly "safe route to school" BEFORE adding any further development. However, the City Council is in bed with PAHC and they are in bed with the developers who sit on their board!

I have lost all hope with the City Council and particularly with Jaime Rodriguez and the Traffic department. The Traffic department has not stood up for student safety at all. Maybell is a no win situation for the student bicyclists and the neighborhood!


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Posted by lifenotfair
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Sometimes s#$t happens!
Sometimes "not my fault" is true, but you may lose anyway (as happened to the Blame-the-Driver woman).
Sometimes you cannot be made whole. Tragic but true.
Life is not always fair.
But unless there is obvious culpable negligence by the city, the suit should be worthless.
I hope the boy is recovering.


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Posted by Raymond
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I guess you sue the city when the driver has no money.

I feel for the parents, but how does money from the city fix that?


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Posted by Roads LawInsurance
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Roads = Traffic City, State, Federal Laws + Insurance Co


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Posted by Its time for better bike lanes
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Maybe its time to stop pretending these so called bike lanes are safe. They are just a stripe and cars are parked everywhere. Unfortunately, since so many kids ride to school, they are the ones most affected and its our duty as responsible adults to do something about this. My kids rode to school too and it used to bother me especially when they crossed major streets. Palo Alto traffic is just horrific, Maybell is a complete disaster and downtown is a nightmare to drive and of course a nightmare to bike. Time for fewer and maybe dedicated, but better bike lanes. Close some to car traffic for certain hours, make some lanes one way (like University and Hamilton). Get help and do the responsible thing. I don't ride much because I am afraid of getting hit.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Seems to me like the respondent ought to be the driver and/or Izzy's Bagel's insurance company. Blaming this on the City of Palo Alto shows a kind of get rich by suing anyone ethos that permeates our society. Perhaps if accidents like this were frequent and a known neighborhood issue? Were they?

If this is about future health care costs of the victim it makes much more sense societally to have something like "quality" universal health care" instead of laying the care or future of someone on the roll of the dice from a lawsuit.


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Posted by Hyperbole is not helpful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I bike Maybell frequently during school commute times with kids. It does not feel unsafe to me.

Maybell was proposed to BECOME a bike boulevard BEFORE the affordable senior housing project with single family homes was proposed. It is not currently a bike boulevard, though that improvement is included in the future improvements in the Bicycle Pedestrian Transportation Plan the city approved last year.

It is not correct to say that city did not look at bike/walk use of Maybell. They recently collected such data for the bike boulevard project so they did not ask the developer to collect it again in their study.

All of this information is publicly available.


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Posted by Blame the Driver
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hi Nayeli,

He drove a 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner. There were witnesses who got the plate numbers. Unfortunately, I was unconscious from the impact. And, yes, the guy was unlicensed, too.


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Posted by JP
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm

As a former Bicyle/Pedestrian Commission member in Mountain View, we were often tasked with reviewing construction projects and how they would impact pedestrans and bicyclists. We would inform the City Engineer when there might be Bike Path blockages or interference and this would become a part of the instructions to the contractor. This could have been as seemingly insignificant as to where the construction company placed its construction signs in or off the roadway. More often than not, we would see construction warning signs placed in the bike path forcing bicyclists to move into traffic to get around them.
It is a city's responsibility to enforce the instructions to the contractor and not condone unsafe practices.


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Posted by Two words
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Deep.
Pockets.


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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

@ Blame the Driver:

Oh...thanks for the reply. It wasn't my neighbor. He drove a couple of vehicles (including an dark green Acura and a gold Toyota). It was strange, but each new dent was quickly followed by a few weeks of parking the car in carport covered by a large tarp.

Anyway, I am sorry for your difficulties. It sounds like a terrible experience. I hope that the person who did this to you is eventually found and brought to justice.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Just awful; I hope the boy makes a full recovery.

But what a sue happy world! Why should the city be liable? And why 17 million?! Such greed.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Folks, the boy was injured, never know if he can get back to a normal life. He may never have the opportunity to enjoy what life has to offer him because of the injury to his brain and stuff. So, IMHO no money can replace or bring back his loss or compensate the loss the family is enduring.

That being said, City has the responsibility to take care of its Citizens by providing safe living environment. Drivers on Palo Alto roads always speed and never follow the speed limits. I've been driving on Middlefield rd & Embarcadero for last 3+ years. Reckless drivers always speed 45+ on 25 limit. Last year, Addison elementary kid was killed @ Middlefield+Addison by a speeding driver. I didn't see or observe any measures taken by City to control the speeding drivers.

We have one life to live. Pl slow down and watch for those innocent young kids on the bikes. Nothing is important than saving a LIFE...


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2013 at 7:14 am



"Last year, Addison elementary kid was killed @ Middlefield+Addison by a speeding driver. "

When did this happen?


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Posted by City cynic
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm

@ Hyperbole is not helpful,
Ummm... complete misinformation is not helpful either.

Maybell IS a bicycle boulevard, a IS designated "safe route to school". If you looking the City's Bicycle + Pedestrian plan, the City also designates Maybell also as one of only two "bicycle boulevards" along with Bryant, even though the description of a bicycle boulevard is laughable when it comes to Maybell. (The City's school commute map still designates Maybell as proposed bicycle boulevard, but if you look at the most current B+P transporation plan, it has been designated as a bicycle boulevard.)

Marc Berman came out to Maybell and despite his dogged advocacy for the rezoning, he admitted Maybell is not safe.


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Posted by AA
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2013 at 9:57 pm

While a horrible horrible thing to happen, this was in no way the responsibility of the city. It's not even a case of a regular driver speeding. The driver was on meth! Had a suspended license and now tax dollars are going to defend this lawsuit. Yes, drivers need to slow down and yes, bicyclists need to be careful but I doubt anyone can devise a contingency plan to avoid a meth head who ploughs into a cyclist. It's horrendous but not the city's fault.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 4, 2013 at 10:38 pm


This harkens back to a lawsuit reported back quite a while ago where a woman who was bicycling on Sand Hill ran her front wheel into something, entirely on her own, and tipped over, crashed and died by hitting her head. Her survivors sued the City or CalTrans based on this happening in a construction zone that was unsafe is some way - AND WON multi-millions I think. This was nauseating.

It still sticks with me. I am sorry to hear of anyone having a fatal accident, but why is it only well-connected people with good lawyers can obtain this kind of "justice". Why is it my responsibility to pay taxes into a system that doles out justice and wildly random payments so capriciously?


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2013 at 8:07 am

The Sand Hill incident was absolutely the fault of the construction company. They used a barricading method that is illegal and confusing. It was visually misleading and going around a slight bend it led bicyclists right into a concrete island.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 5, 2013 at 8:30 am

Donald, sorry I think that story is nonsense. No detour would make someone fall, and if this woman was confused she should have walked her bike. The fact that she ran into something in a construction zone was her choice not to get off her bike, and no one and nothing could foresee a fall being fatal.

As I recall the woman was with a group of people none of whom fell, and the fact that she fell in my opinion is on her. When I am on bicycle is something is confusing or looks dangerous I either proceed at my own risk, or get off my bicycle and walk, and if I trip or fall that is my decision.

That incident, from what I read of it, was a tragic freak accident that the legal system seems to be able to exploit to make jurors feel sympathy for.


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Posted by Not nonsense
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 5, 2013 at 10:58 am

It's not nonsense. See:

Web Link

This area breeds government funded construction teams who skirt what they would consider technical pesky legal requirements. Those requirements ensure safety before, during and after construction. It's not worth the cost to them to even learn what they are.

Drive through the entrances and exits for 101 near and in Palo Alto after dark sometime.

It's not even justice that for saving the money on every act they neglect, they must pay for resulting problems the courts force them not to neglect.

Because however the balance sheet turns out, that's only the financial view of the preventable tragedy.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 5, 2013 at 11:47 am

Here is am excerpt off the link you posted above from the Mercury News:

>> Her husband, John Gerrity, told The Daily News that Johnson's friend saw her fall from her bike after hitting an object in the bike lane — the flat black octagonal rubber base of a "candlestick" delineator that had become separated from its plastic orange pole.

>> The lane divider should never have been there in the first place, he said.

Construction work and hazard warnings can never be perfect, but they are designed for when there is no one around and mostly for cars. The fact that the plastic base was in the lane does not remove the responsibility of a bicycle rider to be able to competently navigate what is in front of them, or to determine when it is unwise to ride their bike and they should better walk.

It could have been anything in that roadway or it could have been a curb that she tripped over. The results of this one case and others like it make a big payday when wealthy people who can afford lawyers can get compensation that is inaccessible to everyone else, and yet everyone else's taxes pay for it. This is not justice, it is unfair, and it leaves those hurt without legal expertise or money to hire it or even those do and who and end up losing their cases - broken for life.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm

"Construction work and hazard warnings can never be perfect, but they are designed for when there is no one around and mostly for cars"

Wrong. Hazard warnings are designed for when people ARE there, otherwise they would be unnecessary. The legal requirements are for them to be more than for cars (drivers, really), and in this case the posts that were used did not meet the legal standards. That makes the contractor liable for the consequences. These legal standards are not just made up out of whimsy, they are based on experience with what is safe and what is not.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm

>> and in this case the posts that were used did not meet the legal standards. That makes the contractor liable for the consequences.

Yet the posts had nothing to do with the accident. You also misinterpeted my comment about cars, they direct the cars so cars and people are protected. Are you saying that a car had something to do with this particular accident. You are using convoluted logic to justify getting in court and playing to sympathetic people ... who gave over 2 million dollars to someone who did not have permanent injuries, or damages caused by anything but an accident his poor wife had.

Again, I'm not saying this because I am not sympathetic to the woman, or the bike rider in this case, I am sympathetic also to all the people who do not get to be made whole by the legal system who deserve to be cared for.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Talk about convoluted logic. The cyclist crashed because of hitting the base of one of the posts, yet you claim that the posts had nothing to do with the accident. I give up.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm

That post could have been anything ... is there anything magical about it being a post that makes it different from any other obstacle in the way of a bicyclist? No! Tragically, she fell and hit her head, and it was fatal. It could have been a brick somewhere else, or a branch, or a curb - obstacles are why bicycles have handlebars to steer and brakes to stop. She should have been walking her bike in a construction zone, if not it was her determination.


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Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm

CrescentParkAnon, it is clear that you did not see the area in question. I worked at SLAC at that time and biked the area every day. The paving job had been finished several days before the posts went up, and there was no construction activity. The only hazard was the posts themselves. I immediately saw that they were dangerous and contacted the City of Menlo Park, but I couldn't get through to anyone who cared. When I heard about the fatality I became physical ill as I realized that I should have been more vigorous about pursuing the issue. The reason that these are illegal is that they trap bicyclists and prevent them from avoiding obstacles. In this case there is a bend near an intersection and, with no warning, bicyclists were funneled into a very narrow space between the posts and a pork chop island. If one of the posts fell over there a bicyclist would have nowhere to go to avoid it.

I know you don't like it and don't understand it, but the construction company (not Menlo Park or any government) acknowledged their culpability and settled the wrongful death suit. Unfortunately it doesn't make up for the loss of life, but it might prevent another death in the future.


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Posted by Driving on Meth!
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2013 at 12:38 am

Meth is a bad thing!
No one should be on meth and DRIVE!
DRIVER is at Fault for sure.


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Posted by CRAZY NUT
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2013 at 12:49 am

The driver was ON METH!!!!
He should be in JAIL FOR A LONG LONG TIME.
So sad that people get hurt that way.


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Posted by TGV
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2013 at 10:06 am

A speeding, unlicensed driver on meth but some people still find a way to put the blame somewhere else, including on the victim. Sheesh!


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 10:54 am

Who is blaming the victim here? I don't think anyone is putting blame on the victim TGV? At least if you are thinking you can make some kind of oblique unexplained attack on someone specific for being unreasonable you might try replying to an actual statement made.


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