Town Square

Woodside High grieves over death of freshman

Original post made on Nov 27, 2012

Sadness pervaded Woodside High School Tuesday as students and teachers remembered Leyla Beban, a 14-year-old Redwood City freshman who died in a bicycle accident involving a collision with a vehicle around 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning, Nov. 26, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Alameda de las Pulgas.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 11:57 AM


Posted by redwoodcitytnative, a resident of Woodside
on Nov 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Jefferson is a disaster waiting to happen, cars drive to fast, Redwood city police have done cross walk stings and seen nobody stop for these kids, and nothing has ever been done. hopefully this will get someone off there behind and make this road safer for our kids. beautiful young girl lost her life because of people driving like maniacs in the morning. so sad. I pray someone will do something to make jefferson more safer. this road has been dangerous for years... stop building so many building and build way for our kids to walk or bike safely to school. sad day.......

Posted by Eleanor, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Leyla went to my school. One of the boys in her grade posted this message on facebook and I would like to share it.

Life is so fragile. Something as small as taking a step outside or pedaling your bike across a crosswalk can take your life away. Today, we realized just how thin the line between life and death is. Leyla Beban, you will be sorely missed. You touched the lives of everyone around you. Thanks for being a really great friend.

Leyla will always be in our hearts.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm

It was very foggy here at that time. Has anyone taken the fog into account?

Posted by Cyclist, a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

What should the fact that it was foggy have to do with it. As a driver you are obligated to drive only where you can see.

Posted by nueva, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Leyla used to go to my school. we could not walk anywhere without the sobbing of many voices

we never know how much something means to us until it is gone.

rip Leyla, you are loved and missed

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 27, 2012 at 6:55 pm

The fog should not have been a visibility factor, but fog can make asphalt surprisingly slick. It takes little speed for a cyclist to go down with poor traction in a 90-degree turn (the situation indicated by other news sources). Rain is worse, but a more obvious hazard. This was a tragic accident. And scary because it could have involved any of us.

Posted by local gurl, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 27, 2012 at 7:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by A close friend, a resident of Woodside
on Nov 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Yeah, she announced it over the PA system, but most of us who were good friends of hers were gathered in a classroom, just us and the counselors. We were all wearing blue, and we decorated a tree where she used to eat lunch in her honor. I will never forget her, she was amazing <3

Posted by A Parent , a resident of Woodside
on Nov 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 28, 2012 at 10:34 am

I am so sorry for this tragic loss.

Posted by Absaroka, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm

As first reported, both the cyclist & the suv were turning right, from eastbound Jefferson onto southbound Alameda. I see lots of drivers turning right @ a red light while looking left, to see a traffic break instead of where they're headed, They are essentially driving while not looking where they are going. Was the traffic light red? If so, it's time to ban right turns on red lights for cars.

A child on bike being killed is horrible. If the suv driver had seen the girl, this presumably wouldn't have happened.

Posted by Hm, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Was she wearing a helmet?

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm

According to the article above and others in the Mercury News, the cyclist was wearing a helmet. Driver and cyclist were both turning right at the same time. While this is legal, it is very dangerous and drivers should be educated to avoid it. In this case it appears that the cyclist slipped on wet pavement and was run over by the SUV. In other cases the bicyclist finds hazards on the exit side of the turn that are unavoidable with a large motor vehicle just to the side. Experiened bicyclists know that this is an unacceptable situation, and those assertive enough know how to prevent drivers from causing it. A freshman in high school doesn't have the experience, and probably not the assertiveness, to prevent a driver from putting her in danger like this. Unfortunately, most drivers also don't recognize the dangers of this situation and will happily put bicyclists in danger to save themselves a few seconds. Since this is not illegal (at least here and now) they can do so with no consequences.

Posted by Absaroka, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm

This brings back horrible memories of a student at Jordan Middle School many years ago. The helmet protected her the first time she was run over, but the driver then backed over her and that second hit killed her. She was twelve. The outpouring of grief was terrible and intense, taking a long, long time to die down. The girl's mother spoke at the graduation ceremony her daughter would have/should have been in, and all the grief came rushing back for everyone present. I don't think any of us who had kids in that school at that time ever completely got over it.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 29, 2012 at 6:51 am

Could be enough downgrade there on Jefferson for a bike to be going a little faster than readers here might expect.

Posted by RWray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Donald says it is legal for a driver and a cyclist to turn right at the same time. This is not correct. The driver is required to be as far right as possible to make the turn. This means that he/she should be next to the curb and either behind or in front of the cyclist. As a cyclist, my experience is that very few drivers know how to make a proper right-hand turn.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm

As a recent convert to bicycling around town instead of driving my car, I have become painfully aware of how dangerous it is for cars and bikes to share the same road. I don't think any amount of paint striping is going to keep bicyclists safe.

One answer is to block off more roads to automobile through traffic. I understand that there are pros and cons, but ultimately it can be a matter of life and death for vulnerable bicyclists.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm

@RWray, a counterexample would be where there are two right turn lanes like southbound San Antonio onto westbound Charleston. You are probably correct though, that most drivers do not know where in the California Vehicle Code a "proper right-hand turn" is defined. I hope you'll agree that a cyclist shares some responsibility to remain behind or move to the left of a vehicle signaling a right turn. Donald's allusion to experienced/assertive cyclists I assume refers to a cyclist "taking the lane" to prevent a vehicle from passing in an unsafe situation. This is proper and usually of such a transitory nature that while some drivers are surprised or annoyed, it's generally effective and no big deal.

It will be awhile before we find out what this present accident investigation concludes. I wouldn't know what to suggest to parents on allowing their children to ride to school. I cycled Middlefield in traffic to Cubberley daily for 3 years without too many memorable close calls. I don't ride much anymore out of concern that my bike would be stolen or vandalized while parked at any destination.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm

RWray, you are not quite correct. The law requires a right turn to be made as close to the curb as "practicable", not "possible". The word "practicable" is not in common use and most people do not know what it means, and mistakenly interpret it as "possible". This leads to much confusion and debate. The same word is used to dictate how far to the right bicyclists must ride, but it is clear that riding as far to the right as "practicable" does not rule out riding two abreast, so turning right from the left side of a bicyclist would also not be ruled out (unfortunately).

Posted by RWray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 30, 2012 at 10:17 am

The clear intent of the law is to prevent a driver from making a right-hand turn from the left side of a cyclist -- a recipe for disaster. That's why bike lane lines are dashed near intersections. A driver is supposed to move over into the bike lane before making the turn. Few do however.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I agree that this shouldn't happen, but the police said no laws were broken.

Posted by Nikki, a resident of Woodside
on Dec 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

I am a jrunior at Woodside high school I knew Leyla pretty well I also was wearing ble on November 26 and I was crying a lot I miss here so much it hurts a lot all of my fiends are freshen at Woodside I am prying everyday and hope everyone can its heard to loose someone you love the tree was a good idea I will always were blue for here

Posted by Resident, a resident of Woodside
on Dec 2, 2012 at 9:58 am

Nothing like flying off and spouting off on the Internet about something you know NOTHING about. Have you talked to the police or read the report? Were you there? Did you witness it? To say fog had nothing to do with it is an ignorant, ridiculous statement. The driver was not driving like "a maniac." There was no speeding, no reckless driving, no substance abuse, no texting...nothing. Just a terrible, tragic accident that could have very easily happened to YOU or anyone else driving in those conditions. Witnesses said they saw her slip on the wet road & her back tired slide under the truck. It was horrible and terribly sad. But it was an accident. There doesn't always need to be somebody to blame.

Posted by Joe, a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2012 at 10:36 am

I understand that she was hit in the bike lane on Jefferson, not on the corner. Thus, I cannot understand how the driver is not at fault. Even if she was "sliding" on the ground, it is not OK for a driver to run over someone in the bike lane. I hope that RCPD prosecutes.

Just because the Police have taken no action does not mean the driver is not at fault. Prosecuting drivers is extremely difficult because of the ways that our traffic laws are written. Unless there is a witness to the whole thing, with the proper angle, nothing will happen. Sadly, this is the case with 99% of all traffic accidents, especially when pedestrians and cyclists are involved as they don't survive to provide their side of the story.