Town Square

Pedestrian killed while crossing Embarcadero is identified

Original post made on Jan 26, 2013

A Palo Alto woman who died after being hit by a pick-up truck Friday night, Jan. 25, has been identified by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's office.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, January 26, 2013, 7:37 AM


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2013 at 8:16 am

Very sad. So sorry for the victim and her family. So sorry for the driver also.

It is not wise to cross a busy street at night without a crosswalk.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 26, 2013 at 8:36 am

I really hope the city does something about the speeding on our residential streets. People pass me going 45-50 mph in the afternoon after school pick-up. There are tons of kids at Newell and Embarcadero and people just can't bring themselves to slow down. It's ridiculous that I can't let my kids ride their bikes to their neighborhood school because of the traffic.

Posted by Slow Down!, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2013 at 8:53 am

Speeders and red light runners are increasing--I see flagrant examples almost every time I stop at Embarcadero and Greer. There used to be periodic enforcement on Embarcadero, and it made a difference. Drivers are also more aggressive on residential streets. What can we do to help work on this problem?

Posted by careful driver, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Speeding on residential streets is a major menace. I was zipping down Oregon at the posted 35 mph the other day, and I was being passed by cars that must have been doing at least 50 mph. I don't remember the last time I saw someone pulled over for speeding, but it's been eons.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Bad driving is out of control, and we're going to see more of these incidents. People around here just feel too entitled. Especially those driving bigger vehicles.

Posted by Neil, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:14 am

"Careful driver," please don't close your eyes while driving.

Posted by Traffic cops, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:17 am

Bring back the traffic cops on motorcycles. They city cut them a year or two ago. Unfreeze the frozen police positions and lets get some more cops on the streets.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:25 am

We have no reason to believe that speed was a factor.

Embarcadero is not a residential street, it is an arterial connecting major routes with residences.

What was the woman wearing, dark clothes? She was jaywalking. It was night time. She was getting on in years. Did she trip as she was crossing? Did she have poor eyesight? Was she on her phone? Did she have alzheimer's? Did she come out behind a parked vehicle?

Sometimes it is not the driver's fault! Stop placing blame when we don't know the facts. I am not blaming anyone, just thinking of more than one possible scenario.

Posted by Mom of 3, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:26 am

I agree with the comments about drivers going too fast through intersections, especially at Newell and Embarcadero during the day.

HOWEVER, the important thing to keep in mind here is that the woman was crossing between Walnut and Bret Harte. That is not an intersection -- there are no crosswalks anywhere near there (which is presumably why she chose to try to cross rather than walking down to one of the intersections). In the dark, there would be no reason to anticipate that someone would be in the middle of the street in that area.

Posted by Bob , a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:48 am

Police may NOT use radar on Embarcadero between 101 and its either Newell or Middlefield Don't remember which. It is state law - called the "Entrapment Law". Radar can be used between El Camino and, I think, Newell. There are three schools in that stretch - PALY, Castelleja, and Walter Hays. About 15 years ago the State allowed radar to be used on Channing, Middlefield, and Alma but not that outer stretch of Embarcadero. Then-assemblyman Ted Lempert tried to get that changed, but his "rider' was attached to another bill the passage of which would have hurt 'southern California' so that didn't bass the Legislature. It's time our legislators got this changed. And it's time the Legislature stopped meddling in a city's business.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

City of Palo Alto--please do something about pedestrian safety on Embarcadero Street east of Middlefield, and particularly around Mark Twain, Bret Harte and Walnut! Combination of insufficient crosswalks and excessive speed has made this street very dangerous for pedestrians.

There are only four crosswalks at Newell, Louis, Greer and St. Francis over a stretch of a mile. Around Mark Twain, Bret Harte and Walnut, crossing to the Art Center/the library/community garden is subject to 5 way traffic with cars coming from these streets plus the Art Center parking lot. Even during the day, and even when there are a lot of pedestrians like during the Glass Pumpkin Festivals, it is tough enough crossing without enduring cars coming fast at you without slowing down, or honking at you, leave alone at night.

I don't know about the speed of cars at the time of accident, but in general, if you were driving at speed limit of 25 mph on Embarcadero, most cars behind you would come really close to you and then swirl to the next lane and continue driving at speed way above 25 mph (or 30 or 35 mph). If you stopped at the leftmost lane at an intersection without traffic light to make a left turn, you will notice at least a few cars behind you making quick lane change and zooming past you without slowing down. Last year, a car did not stop fast enough and hit another car already stopped on east bound Embarcadero waiting to turn left to Walnut.

If you walk across in the middle of a smaller residential street, cars would slow down and let you cross. If you cross Embarcadero in the middle of the street, you better run because cars are not slowing down. I sense drivers' mentality is different at Embarcadero, they drive as if they are driving on an expressway while this is a residential street, with just more lanes! And they have to worry about cars coming fast behind them too.

Please, City of Palo Alto, do something, for the sake of safety of pedestrians!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

The light on the street light pole at Walnut and north side of Embarcadero was not working last night.

Posted by Once Again, Again?, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 26, 2013 at 11:16 am

Drivers need to change but they'll keep shifting blame suggesting any idea that affects them the least...just watch.

Posted by Palo Alto gone NUTS, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

Folks who are so quick to blame the driver probably want the entire road of Embarcadero road painted with pedestrian crossing - one can jay walk wherever one pleases!

Well then it IS the drivers fault- ALWAYS.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2013 at 11:31 am

I wondered why there was a helicopter circling our neighborhood last night. This is so tragic for both families, and those of us in the neighborhood who have concerns about safety in this area.

There is an exit driveway for the Art Center and Main Library on Embarcadero between Walnut and Bret Harte, which is where many people cross illegally; probably where this occurred. There isn't good lighting for drivers to see at night, and this does need to be addressed. It is also a hastle to go the extra block up to Newell (or down to Louis) to use the crosswalk and light, but as a parent with children and the having the ability and agility to walk distance, I do it for my safety and to set an example.

The street lights at Walnut/Embarcadero are often out, and when they are on they are very dim. The lighting is poor on the street in general. Few of us actually go 25 on Embarcadero and when we do, we are passed aggressively.

I'm so sorry to hear about this tragedy. May this sad situation turn into action to make our neighborhood safer.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I feel for the pickup truck driver. No driver would expect a person crossing - jaywalking across the 4 lanes of Embarcadero - in the middle of the street, especially in the dark. That was quite a risk to take.
The pedestrian merely had to walk a brief distance down Embarcadero to cross at Louis at an official intersection with streetlight and crosswalk.
We all need to keep our eyes and ears open as we drive, looking for unexpected things, however this accident does not appear to have anything to do with the driver who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Posted by robit noops, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I rarely see police doing traffic stops in Palo Alto, but I do see tons of speed, red light, cell phone violations every day. I would love to see the city pay for a few traffic cops by pulling maybe 10 more traffic stops per day.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm

As always there are people who take advantage of a tragedy to bash drivers in palo alto. Shouldn't we wait for the report before launching into blanket condemnations of all drivers. Sure, there are bad drivers in palo alto, as there are in ANY city. However it seems the anti-car crowd will use any opportunity to push their agenda (cars are evil, all drivers run red lights, all pedestrians and bikers are saints) .

Posted by careful driver, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Whether or not it takes a tragedy to evoke response -- and it shouldn't -- the fact is that Palo Alto has a higher rate of bad drivers than many other communities. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. One is that there has been an almost deliberate effort over the years to create traffic congestion under the theory that "if we make it difficult for people to drive here,they won't." Fact is that most people who drive here do so because they need to. Traffic snarls just motivate them to speed when they can and to cut through neighborhoods when they can't.

Another reason is a lack of enforcement. And yet another reason is the lack of social sanctions against people who use oversized vehicles for recreational purposes. And finally, there's the aforementioned sense of entitlement and self-importance. My schedule and my needs take priority over everything else, including someone's life.

By the way, pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks, including unmarked crosswalks. California Vehicle Code 21950. So you drivers in a hurry do need to stop for pedestrians, whether or not there are stripes. In fact, research has shown that unmarked crosswalks are safer for pedestrians!

Posted by Michelle, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Pleas don't make assumptions that the driver is to be blamed.

There are crosswalks to use them. One stupid decision can be a killer.

Instead of blaming the drivers, maybe we should educate the residents to use crosswalks.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I see police several times a week monitoring and ticketing speeders on Embarcadero. They often hide in the parking lot at First Congregational, and sometimes down by West Bayshore getting speeders coming over the bridge. As short staffed as they are, I think they do a pretty good job of policing Embaracdero.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

BTW, it isn't jaywalking to cross at Walnut. That is a legal place to cross, though it clearly isn't the best choice.. Jaywalking is crossing the street between two intersections with traffic lights. So crossing Middlefield between Hamilton and University would be jaywalking because there are lights at both those intersections.

Posted by EPA Resident, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 26, 2013 at 6:07 pm

It is easy for me see why this accident happened. Because it is a slower road, she probably thought it was safe to cross. But being she is not as young as she used to be she was not quick enough to do so safely. This street is lined with trees and parked cars which can hide a pedestrian attempting to cross making it harder for a driver to see them at night.
I simply don't use this road for all of the above reasons.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Careful driver-- please provide facts for your claim about the higher rate of bad drivers being from here. Now do you mean that drivers that live in palo alto are worse drivers or people that drive in pa
O alto are bad? Please provide links a nd statistics or studies

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Please provide links a nd statistics or studies"

Sounds like Not an issue is asking for source credibility - how appropriate.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Peter-- [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] I am asking for proof of a claim-- I would ask it of you as well. Anyway, you will note that the police have set up an anonymous tip line -- you would not even listen to what anyone had to say on that line, I imagine.

Posted by peter needs help, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2013 at 7:19 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Bruce L., a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Hmmm...Depending on the circumstances it may not have been illegal for a pedestrian to cross Embarcadero in the area of the collision, whether or not she was crossing mid block or in an unmarked crosswalk. Taking into consideration she was crossing from the north side to the south side and the vehicle was traveling eastbound, it appears the pedestrian was more than half way across Embarcadero, so unless she suddenly came running across Embarcadero into traffic you have to wonder why the motorist didn't see her....

The police traffic investigators will be looking into many factors, whether visibility was a factor, the speed of the vehicle, did the driver have any driving restrictions, require glasses, was she wearing them, speed of the vehicle, any distractions, witness observations, etc.

I'm saddened to hear about this tragedy and my prayers go out to the pedestrian and her family.

A reminder to all,, right or wrong, you need to always be aware of traffic as a pedestrian because even if you have the right of way a pedestrian will likely come out on the losing end in a collision..

I agree with the others too, more traffic motor officers would be helpful!

Posted by hitbypickup, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm

"Police did not name the victim. They said they do not believe drugs or alcohol were a factor" .. Does police thoroughly finish its own investigation? We know many street accidents not caused by drugs or alcohol these days!

Posted by IntheNeighborhood, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I live right off Embarcadero and traffic was light and fast last night. The problem is that Embarcadero is a residential street with schools and a speed limit of 25, but it's also an arterial road to the freeway with a ton of through traffic. If you go anywhere near the speed limit, drivers zip around you.

Given that the pedestrian was almost across the road, yes, the driver probably will be found at-fault. The laws strongly favor pedestrians and most drivers don't seem to realize that the speed limit on the road is 25 mph--people live on the road and drivers do need to pay attention to the unexpected--pedestrians, cyclists, cars backing out or making left turns from side streets.

There was an effort to put through a traffic-calming plan on Embarcadero some years back, but residents of side streets pushed against it, so it didn't come to pass.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:51 pm

"...most drivers don't seem to realize that the speed limit on the road is 25 mph" How can this be? There are lots of signs, flashing speed radar signs, blinking yellow lights at the school, etc. I think drivers know the speed limit and just don't care.

Posted by In the area, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jan 26, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Isn't a good majority of the drivers on Embarcadero non-Palo Altans cutting through our town? No way to know this, but just a guess. If they are cutting through to work at Stanford, access Menlo Park, Stanford Shopping Center, Stanford, or anywhere else, I'm also guessing they are likely to speed.

I know that I frequently witness cars running the red light on Embarcadero/Greer and I'm guessing it's because they have just left the highway and are cutting through our city.

Posted by Mike Alexander, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2013 at 11:31 pm

That's a sad story. The pedestrian seems to have misjudged the truck's speed, and the driver seems not to have been paying proper attention.

Both were probably taking shortcuts, but neither could gain much in the process. A pedestrian coming to that point from the library saves 2-3 minutes, and maybe 300 steps, by not going to the light at Newell. A driver going from Middlefield to 101 saves 1 minute by going 40 instead of 25, and needs twice as much distance to stop. Considering how much can go wrong, it hardly seems worth it.

If you think about the numbers realistically, you'll probably slow down a little, and maybe save a life, maybe your own.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2013 at 11:57 pm

@Donald - I think most drivers on Embarcadero drive as if the speed limit is 35 because it is a wide, straight, flat, 4 lane, major thoroughfare, so it feels safe and normal to drive faster. Similar sized streets are often 35mph, like Rengstorff, or Charleston west of San Antonio. University feels more like a 25mph zone because it is narrow and curved.

Posted by Maurice, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2013 at 12:17 am

Please remember that the police did not issue a ticket for speeding -- or anything else -- to this driver. We should not jump to conclusions.

That said: I wish that the public would be better educated about proper driving techniques. I'm not from California originally, so there was something of a culture shock in terms of driving when I moved here.

Is the put driving and lack of following normal and standard driving etiquette due to some cultural reasons or simply a lack of familiarity to U.S. driving laws and standards?

Posted by Zhiyuan, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 27, 2013 at 1:02 am

I was driving to Walnut to visit a friend that night, and arrived about a few minutes after the police blocked the two lanes. Many cars had been running at over 35 mph on Embarcadero before they could see the police light flashing. They might suppose that they were driving on Oregon? The speed limit is clear but does not exist for the people choose to ignore it. I could only wish the tragedy would bring in some change to more efficiently enforce the speed limit.

Posted by ped, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 27, 2013 at 7:55 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
where is she supposed to cross? have you ever been walking in a town and need to cross the street, but the nearest crosswalk is one mile away? What should an exhausted 70 year old woman do walking in this pedestrian safety forsaken town. What if she was tired or needed medication, what should she do, just lay down on the sidewalk and take a nap until she gets the energy to walk to the nearest crosswalk?
She should have just called 911 and gotten a ride, being on foot in this town is a nightmare, i can't imagine being 79 and stuck in that rotten part of the city.

Very poor place for pedestrians and bicyclists

Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on Jan 27, 2013 at 8:51 am

ped, according to google maps the nearest crosswalk is about 600 feet away (louis road). That's about 1/10th mile.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2013 at 9:34 am

From the article, she crossed "Embarcdero BETWEEN Walnut Drive and Bret Harte Street, Palo ALto Police said." Folks, this is like crossing anywhere in the middle of the street. It is jaywalking. It is unexpected to any driver to have this occur, and even if the driver had slammed on the brakes, then a rear-ending would likely occur if this were commonplace. Plus it was dark. Please cross at crosswalks.
Yes, Embarcadero is an arterial. We have a lot of drivers going up to Stanford.

Posted by Blame it on the Police, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:39 am

The poor police officers in this town just can't catch a break. First, they should spend all their time patrolling downtown to prevent another street robbery like the one that happened last week. Now they need to abandon that idea to issue speeding violations on Embarcadero Road. Oh no, they can't use radar on Embarcadero so how are they supposed to do that? I know, they can speed up and down Embarcadero trying get that "pace" to catch violators. Great idea, more speeding vehicles on the street.

In response to ped: Palo Alto is not that big. Can't find a crosswalk within a mile? May I pay for your eye exam?

Posted by Add-Extra-Street-Lighting, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:46 am

Since the police will not release the accident report to the public, and there will no doubt be some sort of civil legal action in the wings, the pulic may never know what happened.

> "It's a way that you are always tempted to cross, but you
> really have no business crossing there," he said. Traffic
> goes full speed, and the area is not well lit, he added.

This is a problem what everyone who lives in the area must understand. It certainly pays to carry a flash light, or even some sort of personal illumination device to help oncoming motorists see pedestrians.

It also might be resonable for the City to add a couple street lights in the dark spots. Crossing Embarcadero at any location other than a cross-walk is not a good idea, but extra light would be an inexpensive way to reduce risk for all.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

I live very near to where this happened, and I wish there were some speed enforcement along Embarcadero. I don't think anyone drives 25 on that road, but I don't mind people who are going 35-- it is those inconsiderate fools driving 40+ that concern me. When pulling out from an uncontrolled intersection (like from Walnut onto Embarcadero), you can only see the oncoming traffic so far due to the cars parked along the road. If people are going too fast, it makes it unsafe for everyone.

*This is not directed toward this situation since I do not know the details of this accident*

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 27, 2013 at 11:09 am

I often cross Embarcadero right where the victim had been crossing when she was hit but I make sure that there are no vehicles within at least three hundred yards on either direction and then i run across the road as fast as I can. The legal limit on Embarcadero is 25MPH I believe, but the actual average speed is about 20 MPH faster, and when traffic is not heavy it is significantly even higher.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

To clarify for those who still think it is jaywalking, here is the vehicle code. It was not jaywalking because she wasn't crossing between two intersections with traffic signals.


CA vehicle code section

21955. Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.

Posted by Truedy, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm

People drive too fast on Embarcadero. We need to try harder to slow them down. It is safer to cross at crosswalks, but if cars are going too fast for the conditions -- it's a residential street used by kids to get to schools, parks, and churches -- walking between painted lines on the road is not going to help.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

This is so sad.

Note that there is no speed limit that is safe for vehicle/pedestrian contact. Actually, I'm surprised that most drivers seem to get so close to the PA speed limit.

---However, jaywalking and crossing midblock is rampant. Pedestrians: PLEASE use marked crosswalks.

Example: When I drive (AT 20-25mph) down Santa Cruz in Menlo Park or down University in PA---where there are a plethora of crosswalks and lights -- 2-3 jaywalkers pop out on each block. VERY SCARY indeed.

---How about a little pedestrian education? Jaywalking may be convenient but it is illegal. Perhaps not many realize this.

So I have a rather severe recommendation: Ticket jaywalkers. At the very least it will raise revenue for your town, BUT MORE IMPORTANT IS THAT IT WILL SAVE LIVES.

Posted by traffic school grad, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2013 at 2:19 pm

One thing I learned in traffic school is this - one factor in determining speed limits is the number of driveways entering the street. There are lots and lots of driveways on Embarcadero which could result in the 25MPH limit.

Posted by Good Job PAFD, a resident of Walter Hays School
on Jan 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm

After reading all these posts, it is very disapointing to see all the childish finger pointing and "blame game" activity. I was told that our PAFD did a great job getting the victim to Stanford Trauma Center very fast. I feel safe in this town knowing that these professionals are on duty. Good job PAFD.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm

"neighbor, a resident of another community", FYI, what the victim did was not jaywalking, She was perfectly within her rights to cross Embarcadero where she did. However, I'm willing to bet that the hitting driver was driving significantly over the 25 MPH speed limit(just about everybody does). The reality is that Embarcadero driving is quite scandalous and no one is doing a thing about it.
Perhaps she was crossing in the dark, wearing dark cloths and couldn't be visible to the driver, but she was not jaywalking and if the driver was driving within the speed limit he/she could have possibly had enough time to stop once they noticed her..

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm

@neighbor from another community-

Because there are no traffic signals on Santa Cruz in downtown MP, other than at Embarcadero, those people crossing the street are not jaywalking, they are crossing legally.

Drivers need to know that ped crossing is legal, and be aware, and not complain about it. Peds need to realized legality doesn't protect them from being run over, and be careful.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 27, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Very good point, Daniel, that "no one is doing anything about" excessive speed on Embarcadero. I hope the city will do something moving forward.

Posted by Born in Palo Alto, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I thought any intersection is a crosswalk, although not marked. The pedestrian has a right to cross the street in their neighborhood. Given the hour the ped should have been more careful. This street has had safety issues for decades. This is a residential street with many driveways. It is a major cross town route but drivers need to be held accountable for failure too yield to people on foot, especially at night.

I too am ashamed by the self serving comments of people attacking someone on foot because they are annoyed when they are inconvenienced slightly and must pay attention while they drive and not drive like they stole the car.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm

We will have to wait for the toxicology reports on the woman who died

She may have taken ambien or have been under the influence of any number of prescription drugs and/or alcohol.

It is very bad judgment to cross a busy street at night without a stop sign or light.

The driver was sober-the micro-chip from his vehicle will show his speed.

If he was not speeding dangerously then he deserves our sympathy

Posted by Embarcadero Resident, a resident of Duveneck School
on Jan 27, 2013 at 7:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Resident, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 27, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Wow, what an insensitive comment... My goodness, unbelievable...

Posted by Observer, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

We don't know the circumstances of this accident. But what we do know is that our residential streets are unsafe due to excessive speeds, congestion, more commuters due to massive over-development for our road network, and minimal enforcement as the City years ago made the decision to actually reduce enforcement and spend the money instead on traffic calming, including signage, street markings, etc.
But more enforcement is the only solution. Drivers need to know that when they enter PA they will get a ticket if they violate the traffic laws, period. This is a City off course.

Posted by Concerned citizen, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm

how sad? we blame the driver when someone's grandmother dies. what about the woman driver? do you think she we be able to ever cope with this tragedy?

Posted by NoSkidMARK, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Alan, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Sure, speed and crossing at an unexpected place are likely factors in this tragedy, but I think the color of clothing the victim was wearing can be a under-appreciated factor in this accident.

Recently I was driving on the Stanford campus at night (at a normal speed) and was stunned to suddenly have a bicyclist (no light/reflectors/ and dark clothing) suddenly appear of out seemingly no where about 15 feet in front of me. Luckily I avoided this person and he was indigent about it, but his dark clothing (and no lights or reflectors) really made him invisible at night.

Los Altos is one place that has darker streets than this part of Palo Alto. But they also have cross-walks with flashing LEDs embedded into them. I find those to be very effective in helping pedestrians get across the street. Perhaps Palo Alto should look at getting installing this here too, especially near schools and libraries in the city.

Posted by concerned, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2013 at 2:07 am

my understanding is that after the residents of palo alto voted to take away binding arbitration from the police officers, the City Of Palo Alto continued its concerted effort and swooped in by taking away vesting for longevity/retention for seasoned officers, enacted a salary reduction, and forced officers to pay EVEN MORE to their own pension and medical benefits....and the City is trying to come back for more.

One of the officers told me that they cannot afford to work in Palo Alto anymore and many are leaving for other departments.

so, with a shortage of officers to work the streets, the motor cops have been cut to one, for half a week at a time, for the entire city.

hold on Palo Alto, more cops are in the process of leaving so you can expect crime and traffic problems to increase...tell the city council to wake up

Posted by Good neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 5:07 am

Sorry for the victim and her family. My condolences.

Without suggesting whether the driver in this accident was speeding or not, I do want to say that there is indeed a constant speeding problem on Embarcadero and this street is not as safe as it needs to be.

Last summer, two cars collided at the traffic light controlled Embarcadero & Middlefield intersection. The impact flipped one of them over.

Trying to cross Embarcadero at any intersection without traffic lights is a major hazard at any time, on foot or by car. Walking across any side street that feeds into Embarcadero is not much safer. With the volume and the speed of traffic on Embarcadero, the anxious drivers with the focus on making it across or making a turn, sometimes fail to see the pedestrians walking along the street. Another fatal accident on Embarcadero a few years ago involved a car crossing it and a pedestrian proceeding along it.

We all understand that Embarcadero is very important for traffic in & out of Palo Alto and accidents happen at any busy streets. However, Embarcadero is a residential street neighboring Walter Hays elementary school, Rinconada park, the art center, the main library, among other things that residents, especially children and seniors visit frequently. To leave the traffic untamed on a street so close to so many major community facilities is not reasonable or responsible, in my opinion.

From the city's website, a traffic calming study was done in 2000. The following link contains a PDF and an excellent FAQ.

Web Link

It seems that one of the proposed solution was overwhelmingly favored by the public at a meeting. However for what ever reason, it appears nothing had been done with this proposal. In the last decade, I would guess the traffic situation on the road has only gotten worse.

The 2011 Palo Alto Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan maps show Embarcadero prominently in terms of bicycle and pedestrian collisions from 2004-2009 among northwest-southeast bound roads through Palo Alto -- only second to University avenue where there are a lot more bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Web Link

I hope the city will not drop this issue while the problem persists. I personally think we should reconsider the proposal of 2000.

Posted by laura, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2013 at 5:22 am

Embarcadero, Arastradero and other busy through ways are like the Indy 500. I would avoid them if i could but to get anywhere in this town it is necessary to drive them. More enforcement is the answer - speak up citizens!!!!! This is truly a tragedy but is anyone surprised that it happened?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 28, 2013 at 7:21 am

Indeed, Indy 500 it appears. Only if you accept it is a problem. Like many readers have already pointed out, it is a problem for Walter Hays kids, hundreds of kids riding bike to Jordan everyday, pedestrians visiting Art Center, library, Rinconada Park, cars on Embarcadero itself. But is it a problem worthwhile to the City to solve?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2013 at 7:29 am

If "everyone" speeds on Embarcadero, I presume that means most of the posters here also.

When talking about Palo Alto drivers, it is worth noting that the driver in this case was from San Jose and we don't know how well she knew the area.

Yes, this is a busy street which means that anyone trying to cross the street should cross at a crosswalk not midblock. It means that it may not be the best street for bike riding, jogging, or children going to school by themselves. In other words, it is a busy street so bikes and pedestrians should be more cautious.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 28, 2013 at 7:50 am

The excessive speed on Embarcadero was already known for years. Way back in 2000, there were already a study and proposal for it. See Embarcadero Road Traffic Calming Study Web Link. While the roundabouts might be too radical or ahead of their time, the creation of bulb-outs, the modification of the geometry of the intersections and replacement of street lights with pole-mounted fixtures now sound like smart and sensible ideas, if they were now implemented. That would have made the pedestrian crossing distance much smaller and the street to appear smaller which in turn would discourage drivers flying by.

Now when would these be considered???

Posted by solution, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 28, 2013 at 8:17 am

Let set up some Traffic enforcement cameras along these roads and a giant warning message under the Welcome sign of the city.

Posted by Texting, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2013 at 8:38 am

No comment about texting while walking/ driving yet?

Posted by Gus, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2013 at 9:48 am

Put speed bumps on Embarcadero?

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2013 at 9:59 am

@ Alan/Greenmeadow,
You mention there are some special crosswalks in Los Altos (where it is indeed darker owing to lack of streetlights) that have some embedded lights that flash when someone crosses the street., bright flashing things - yet I personally understand them yet some other drivers either do not or else blatantly ignore them.
There is one of those prominently on San Antonio Rd heading towards downtown Los Altos after ECR intersection(Loucks is the minor cross street on one side, by the gas station) AND I have witnessed many cars speed through there (though I stop my car to wait for the pedestrians), so those don't necessarily work. I have been concerned about potentially being rear-ended by drivers behind me when I legally stop. Sometimes one lane of drivers has proceeded while the other lane has stopped (so pedestrian is unsure if safe to proceed -- he or she can't really see).
I think there are some streets that are thoroughfares - we don't want drivers cutting through neighborhoods, remember that! - and pedestrians just have to be extremely careful. People drive into Palo Alto on Embarcadero and it is unrealistic to make the length of this route 25MPH all the way into Stanford.

Posted by PerReport, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:03 am

Texting seems to be fine with the Police since they only mentioned drug and alcohol are the concerns in the report.

Posted by Resident, a resident of University South
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:14 am

The traffic along Embarcadero is always nerve wracking -- even if you're going speed limit there are tailgating drivers behind you. I got into an accident at the Willow and Embarcadero accident because someone ran a red light going fast enough to wedge my front license plate deeply into his rear tire. There needs to be more police regulation or at least officers present at the side of intersections to make traffic slow down. Lots of people also speed down Middlefield around the midtown Safeway area down to where the Mitchell Park library is.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:16 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"People drive into Palo Alto on Embarcadero and it is unrealistic to make the length of this route 25MPH all the way into Stanford."

Why is 25 mph unrealistic?

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

Web Link

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

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

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

Why not here?

Posted by unrealistic , a resident of Community Center
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

unrealistic is truth as long as no penalty involved. Let setup some cameras and give out $100 ticket to those who drives over 25mph. We will see the result very quickly.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:33 am

This winter, I have become very aware of the unsafe night time practices of both pedestrians and bicycle riders in not using lights or wearing reflective clothing.

A person who wants to stroll at night, and cross busy streets, can outfit him/herself inexpensively with a reflective vest and a small flashlight. On many streets like Embarcadero, the lighting isn't great and being in a crosswalk -- expecially one without stop lights -- isn't much protection (or warning for a driver). Carrying and shining a light while crossing a street, and wearing reflective clothing, is, in my opinion, an essential safety feature.

I have also been amazed by the number of bike riders who aren't wearing reflective clothing and have no lights or very weak lights on their bikes. I have had scary moments when I perceived that a dark, unlit form about to cross the path of my automobile was a bicyclist. I think that the majority are young and therefore unafaid. But again, for very little money, reflective clothing and bike lights would greatly reduce the risks of night time bicycling.

Posted by Legal Speed, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:53 am

The legal speed on Embarcadero is not the 25 posted speed limit. That is the arbitrarily low number the City puts on its signs but not the legal speed.

With the exception of Highways, Legal and justifed limits are set forth under state guidelines and speed surveys which bring the speed on Embarcadero in many places up to the mid 30's or higher. Thats why the for the most part the city can't use radar on these streets with artifical speed limits that are set too low.

You could post 5 MPH out there but it doesn't mean its enforceable.

Embarcadero is a 4 lane major thoroughfare across the entire city that should be posted at 35 or 40 like other towns.

Its not a residential street as many have proclaimed.

Posted by speedlimitmap, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 28, 2013 at 11:15 am

Those who don't know the speed limit of the city streets/road. Please take a look on the Speed Limit page on the city web site.
Web Link

According to the map

Embarcadero road speed limit is 25 mph ALL THE WAY.

Posted by Texting, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2013 at 11:16 am


Imposing 25 MPH limit in PA is pipe dream. It is like to ask teens away from s*x or people in Colorado away from weed.

We have to deal with reality.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2013 at 11:22 am

Tell that to the 100's of residents who live on Embarcadero.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 28, 2013 at 11:30 am

California Vehicle Code Section 22352 Prima Facie Speed Limits: Twenty-five miles per hour on any highway other than a state highway, in any business or residence district unless a different speed is determined by local authority under procedures set forth in this code.

California Vehicle Code Section 360 Highway: "Highway" is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street.

Posted by Commuter, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I regularly wait for the Embarcadero shuttle at night at Newell, and it is alarming how many people run that light. Even if they don't run the red, they are speeding up to make the yellow, and it is very unsafe. Also, I would estimate the average speed at that time of night is 35-40mph, not 25 as posted. A good many drivers appear to be going faster than that. PLEASE get some control over that intersection before there are more injuries and accidents!
As far as the bulk being non-residents, what a silly and irrelevant comment that is. Inane.

Posted by StaySafeForSure!, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I agree with (Good Job PAFD!) and Stay Safe!!!

Posted by please stop the speeding, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Just general request for PA police to STOP the irresponsible driving that I'm seeing every day. The other day someone PASSED me on Hawthorne because I was going 20mph. Hey buddy it's residential and has a park! Was t hat safe. No. All the road construction on Alma & Lyton is pushing Stanford-to-101 traffic and up our residential streets. Embarcadero is road with that just BEGS for speeding. Really, we can't get people to do 25mph on residential streets and you expect 25 mph on a 4 lane road? Police presence makes people slow down-- every driven down Alma and wondered why people are going the speed limit and then you see the cop car? Not the best use of tax $$ (so get Stanford & businesses to pony up the money-- it's their people doing the driving) Was the pick up drive local? Well, not unless San Jose has not spread out to MP :-)

Posted by moi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Have you "blame the driver" people never, ever had a heartbeat-skippingly close call with a pedestrian or bicyclist? Even if you were undistractedly driving 10 mph below the speed limit, with perfect road conditions, in a situation where it probably would have been determined not to have been your fault "legally"? I have had several, and they are frightful.

What the pickup truck driver is going through is tremendous pain and second-guessing. Let us not dump our rancor on her before the facts are known.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm

THANK YOU "Moi" for your comments.

The poor deceased woman made a terrible decision to jaywalk. Jaywalking is rampant all over the Peninsula.

The driver was not speeding, was not drunk, and was not impaired. When you are going 25 mph and someone in dark clothes darts out, it's deadly.

Any of you readers could have hit this lady.

Pedestrians....PLEASE stop jaywalking.
Police...TICKET jaywalkers. I'm convinced that many do not know it's illegal.

Posted by cid4houses, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm

This is sad, for both driver and pedestrian! This is not simply a Palo Alto problem.

I live over on the Unincorporated Midcoast, and we have similar situations here too. Even on a bright, sunny day tourists stroll blatantly across Hwy. One, to get to Sam's Chowder House or the beach, with very little regard as to the dangers of possibly inattentive drivers (some also from out of town) hitting them as they gawk at waves instead of keeping their eyes ahead on the road. There is no enforcement of laws against the jay-walking pedestrians over here either.

But on another note, since I am now past 60 years old, I have noticed that my night vision, combined with an old windshield, often interfere with my ease of sight when a person darkly dressed suddenly appears in the roadway. I too have been surprised to see cyclists not wearing reflective gear, or pedestrians with no flashlight risking an outing at night. Therefore I do drivemorecarefuly on our rural, darkly lit (if at all illuminated) roads.

That's why they are called accidents.

Prudently, one slows down at night, but still, if pedestrians or cyclists would take more precautions, it could help.

One should never assume that:

1.) A driver will see you and stop or even slow down.
2.) A driver has good vision.
3.) A driver will be able to stop in time, once they see you.
4.) A driver is paying full attention to the road ahead.
5.) A driver is aware of the speed limit on a 4 lane road way.
6.) A driver is from your area and thus will take precautions to avoid known dangers.
7.) Pedestrians will use caution when walking at night.(Including wearing light-colored or reflective clothing.)
8.) Pedestrians will only be in cross-walks.
9.) Pedestrians or Drivers might not be impaired, either physically or due to consuming a substance, and thus less cautious.
10.)Street lighting is sufficient to see the path ahead. (Sometimes light poles are burned out or often bright lights from on-coming traffic make it difficult to do see.)
11.) That all drivers will always know/observe the speed limit.
12.) That "you" somehow are immortal and can't have, or be in, an accident, albeit driver or pedestrian.

As a driver, I like the flashing pedestrian crosswalks I have seen in Redwood City along Middlefield. It too is four lanes, compounded by visual "clutter" from the many businesses on either side. There are many cross streets, while at the same time, it is a major link to Palo Alto/Atherton through Redwood City. It helps to draw attention to this out-of-towner passing through, to be alerted that a small person (not in a protective vehicle) is attempting to cross the street. There must have been many accidents before they put in those flashing cross-walks. As an out-of-the-area driver in Palo Alto, I can't say I ever paid attention to posted spped signs on Embarcadero, rather, I probably just went along with flow of other drivers' speeds...which comments imply may have been 30-40 mph. That might be human nature, so I will be far more cautious in the future!

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm

This is very sad. Condolences to the victim's family. The driver has my sympathy too.
One article said that a nearby streetlight was out. Just curious - how long does it take PA to replace burned out lights after they learn about the outage? Do they rely on resident input or is there a some computerized notification system alerting the appropriate dept? Maybe residents should report missing lighting?

At night, I think it is difficult for a pedestrian to accurately judge the distance & speed of an approaching vehicle from its headlights.

Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists all need to be more careful to protect ourselves & others, especially after dark. We should caution our children and grandparents, who may not have seen news of this sad incident.

Posted by Walter Hays parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Saying the speed limit on Embarcadero should be 35mph is an "understatement". I routinely see people driving at a speed above 40 mph and probably closer to 50 mph!

The location and the configuration of Embarcadero perhaps give some drivers the illusion that it is an expressway. It is NOT. Unlike an expressway, there are many homes with their front and driveway on Embarcadero. A lot of homes have their only access from Embarcadeo. There is an elementary school and there is a park right next to the road. Traveling above 25 mph on Embarcadero can't be safer for any one, not for the driver, not for the pedestrians.

I am both a frequent traveler on this street and a resident living pretty close to it. I think the travelers and the residents can work out ways to share this road peacefully and safely. Personally I also believe there are more effective ways to solve the problem without having to increase perennial police patrol on this road.

#1) As a traveler, I don't really find Embarcadero the fastest route to cross between 101 and Stanford. If I am in a hurry, I would take Oregon Expressway. The traffic moves faster and it is much safer because there is no driveway on to it and no schools next to it. You don't get stuck behind vehicles trying to make a left turn -- and you don't have to make dangerous lane changes to get around it.
Besides, I don't see the point of speeding on Embarcadero. However fast you travel, you are bound to get stuck at the Embarcadero/Oregon/101 ramp. Going by Oregon expressway gets me ahead of the long queue.

Planning it wisely saves the traveler more time than speeding or running red lights.

#2) As a resident, I do hope the city do something to change the configuration of the Embarcadero road so that it doesn't look so much like an expressway and a little more convenient for the pedestrians. We can improve safety without reducing throughput of traffic. Note that even at any intersection without traffic light, it is incredibly dangerous to cross this street. But many many people do that. If I were a tired senior, I might just have to do that. However since the traffic lights are not synchronized, it is very hard to find an opportunity that there is no traffic from either left or right. Often people simply get impatient and make unwise decisions to rush through. One small thing that might help is to create some refuge islands in the middle of Embarcadero. That would vastly improve the chance of a pedestrian's survival. I believe it also helps the traffic because you will need fewer sudden slowdown & stops for seniors who can't make to the other side in time.

Even if my ideas do not work, I wish the city, the travelers and the residents can really think hard and work together to find a good permanent solution to make this street safer and smoother for everybody.

College terrace neighborhood and Charleston/Arastradero neighborhood have both tackled traffic calming projects. Can't we do something here?

When and where is the next council meeting with a public commenting session?

Posted by Shell Fish, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm

As a Palo Alto driver, I support any and all ideas that will protect pedestrians and cyclists on our public streets....just as long as I do not have to alter my actions one iota.

Posted by Palo Alto Native, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm

When I was a kid my mother told me that the pedestrian "always has right of way" and that is a good thing for drivers to remember. I have seen so many drivers who refuse to even let me cross at a cross walk when I have the green light. I think there are so many out of staters. My suspicion of the ones that would just as soon mow you down is that they came from Boston. People are so checked out in this digital age as well. Was the driver fully engaged in driving? I wonder. Was there some other distraction going on. I feel for both the victim and the driver. But please, people, SLOW down and respect our residential neighborhoods. Oregon is an Expressway and Embarcadero is not. Thanks

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm

@please stop the speeding - Are you surprised that you drive around at 20mph in a 25mph zone and you end up aggravating the drivers behind you?

Posted by Alai, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Someone wrote it was 1/10th of a mile to the crosswalk at Louis Rd., or 600 feet. This is wrong. From the point halfway between Walnut and Bret Harte, it's 840 feet. However, this is only one way, and you have to walk back as well, so it's 1680 feet, over 3/10 of a mile. All to cross a 60 foot wide road.

And instead of simply crossing Embarcadero, staying within crosswalks requires you to cross first Walnut, then Embarcadero, then Louis, so she would've had to cross three streets instead of one.

Posted by Mike Alexander, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Lots of interest here, and lots of speculation. Maybe the Weekly staff could follow up with some solid reporting about:
-- the relevant laws
-- accident data
-- enforcement data
-- speed survey data
-- progress on Comprehensive Plan Transportation Element goals
see Web Link
-- Police Dept & City Council comments on Embarcadero safety & enforcement

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

If you go look at the photographs or look it up on Google Maps ... you can see plainly, as we all know, Embarcadero is a lone very straight street ... particularly in this area, and the "intersection" is a "T" intersection and whether it is well-lit or not anyone who hits someone with their car there is at fault - in my opinion.

I also think it is not necessarily speeding that is the problem - it is almost always not paying attention and then losing control.

People have unilaterally decided not to respect Embarcadero's 25MPH speed limit, probably with good reason, so the least they could do is be attentive to their driving, even if it is to look for a police car. If I had been driving that truck, I'd be blaming myself.

We are going to keep having deaths like this as streets get more crowded and there are more distractions, until we finally just automate driving by machine. People, especially the people of today seem to have very limited attention spans.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Embarcadero and Newell need to be a 4-way light.
It really gets jammed up and people get frustrated because it takes so long to get onto Embarcadero from Newell.

>> Oregon is an Expressway and Embarcadero is not.

True, but the reality is that we have a lot of people who want to use Embarcadero to get somewhere, and it is slow as hell.

It's time to harden Embarcadero and say good-bye to small-town neighborhood delusions, and get bicycles off it and get the traffic through.

Traffic money would sure be better spent here than on a new Newell St. Bridge.

Posted by Alai, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm

A very pertinent image posted the other day: Web Link

Posted by Andrew Boone, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2013 at 4:34 pm

This was not the first pedestrian traffic fatality on Embarcadero and it won't be the last as long as the street remains 4 lanes with no bike lanes. Most motorists travel 30 - 35 mph on Embarcadero because it "feels safe" to them. It obviously isn't safe when a car hits a person at that speed, which is going to happen sooner or later in a residential neighborhood.

The only way to really make Embarcadero safe is to reduce it from 4 lanes to 2 lanes and add bike lanes. That always slows cars down a lot - which saves lives. This was proposed by former Transportation Official Joe Kott - what, 10 years ago? It's time to look seriously again at that old plan. Roundabouts at the intersections would have allowed vehicles to continue travelling down the street without stopping, but at a slower pace.

It's tragic to watch our neighbors die because the city is so super conservative and refuses to consider more road diets that have been proven over and over again to save lives without causing traffic jams. The city should implement road diets on Embarcadero and Middlefiled as soon as possible, and on Alma in the longer term.

People's lives are more important than driving fast.

Posted by Janet L , a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Embarcadero is the first street in Palo Alto I drove on when I moved here in 1985. I was struck immediately by how low the speed limit was given the road's design. That's why very few drivers obey the speed limit, and why drivers who do get harassed.

It's also why people get killed trying to cross. For all the "look both ways first" folks: keep in mind that the driver may have been going far faster than expected, or may have turned from a side street and accelerated hard. It's not easy to cross a street where cars are going by at 35-40 mph without a signal.

But the solution isn't to force people on foot to walk far out of their way to cross at a signal light. The solution is to redesign the street so that drivers slow down naturally. If that extra 30 second travel time bothers drivers, too bad. It takes a lot longer than 30 seconds for a pedestrian to walk a long block or two just to cross the street.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm

If you go to any progressive and far thinking city in Europe and other parts of the world you will see that motor vehicle convenience is lowest on the priority list of city planning and the efforts to make life safer and more livable for residents. Car traffic is actually discouraged and this is the wave of the future. Safety, reduced pollution and other higher quality of life factors should always trump drivers convenience. We should make residential streets virtually free from through traffic, We should make speeding on arterials like embarcadero incredibly expensive and costly. We should force any driver thinking of driving those streets think very hard and long wheter he/she actually really need to get in their cars, and if they do, they should follow all rules and regulations as if their lives depend on it.
Speaking oif cut through traffic, the last thing we need is a new Newell bridge. It's just another facilitator of cut through traffic into our residential neighborhood.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Speeding on Embarcadero & Middlefield roads are always a problem. Very few drivers maintain the posted speed limit of 25 mph. I hope PAPD increases the patrolling and issues heavy fines for speeders. I'm really concerned for the safety of school going kids and residents who prefer walking and biking on our streets.

Posted by Learn from history, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Here is the welcome sign in 1930.

Web Link

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Well, Daniel, if palo alto had anything resembling a viable public transportation system, your suggestion might be worthwhile . However given the reality --- we are nowhere near Europe or even many US cities in public transportation. Also given that all streets in palo alto, even Oregon expressway, are residential-- your suggestion regarding through traffic is a non-starter. Also given the palo alto mindset-- get rid of traffic lanes and cars will magically disappear-- car traffic is here to stay and in fact is the life blood of a city like palo alto.

Posted by Janet L, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 28, 2013 at 8:52 pm

With regards to comparisons with Europe: I spend 10 days in Amsterdam last year, half being driven around or walking and half on a rented bike. Both worked. Cars moved slower than they do here and paid more for parking, but they weren't gridlocked. Bikes had dedicated lanes or cycle paths and could easily go anywhere cars did. On foot, I had broad sidewalks and didn't have to go out minutes out of my way to cross the road or wait for minutes of car traffic to pass before I had my turn.

That's the lesson we need to apply here locally. It's not about cars vs bikes vs pedestrians. It's about respecting all forms of transit and not favoring car drivers at the expense of everyone else.

Posted by Close call, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2013 at 8:50 am

I just witnessed another close call this morning while walking my kids to Walter Hays. A lady tried to make a rush right turn from Embarcadero to Middlefield when the kids are about to set foot on the crosswalks. Many people yelled and the traffic guide ran in to stop the car in the middle.

The sign there says "No right turn on red when children are present". It is a 4 way red for a period of time in the morning and afternoon. There is always a city worker guiding the traffic during that time. This morning at that moment, there were about a dozen children who are trying cross north and west. The driver could have run into kids in both crosswalks.

Unfortunately such violations happen many times everyday at this intersection even with the presence of the city worker.

It might not be the best use of local police forces to catch traffic violations, but perhaps we should have some traffic cameras installed along Embarcadero and hand out some serious fines for the folks who would risk plowing through a crowd to save a minute.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2013 at 10:20 am

"car traffic is here to stay and in fact is the life blood of a city like palo alto."
The vast majority of people who go into New York City, Paris, London and Tokyo don't do it by car. According to this logic those ciies should have suffered economic collapse generations ago, but they are doing quite well economically. Cities in Europe and the south of Brazil which have virtually banned car traffic inside the city are among the most prosperous, and have the highest quality of life in their respective countries,

Posted by crossing at Louis, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2013 at 10:51 am

I live on Heather Lane. I walk and bike in the neighborhood frequently, almost daily. I cross Embarcadero to get to the First Congregational Church. Sometimes I jay-walk, because it's inconvenient to go to the cross-walk at Louis and double-back. I take a great deal of care, esp. at night.

BUT: even when I cross at the cross-walk at Louis, and use the PEDESTRIAN SIGNAL, it's clear that 5-10% of drivers either abuse the yellow light (actually, they run the red light), or blow through the stop light even 5 sec after it has turned red. As a consequence, even when I have a white WALK signal, I do not enter the intersection unless and until traffic is stopped in both directions. (I actually prefer heavy traffic in that event, because the stopped cars protect me from idiots.)

Palo Alto in particular, and the Bay Area in general, has an epidemic of drivers who fail to use turn signals, who drive too fast, and who run red lights. All with impunity. Drivers' education has been 'driven' out of the schools and foisted on driving 'schools', whose standards, processes, and procedure fall short of what a modern state centered on automobile transportation requires. We need to fail more drivers at the DMV. We need to have cameras in place to catch speeders and people who run red lights. We need to have automated ticketing procedures, as they have through much of Europe. OR: we need to figure out how to get people to drive the right way, without such punitive strictures.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 29, 2013 at 10:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As long as we give priority to letting cars move faster rather than to pedestrian and bicycle traffic we will continue to have more avoidable deaths. Look at how ell Stanford has separated cars from pedestrians and bicycles in its central campus. Years ago their were cars driving in the Quad.

It is a matter of priorities - speeding cars and speeding bullets or lives.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I agree with the previous two posters. We should follow the European example in which pedestrians and cyclist are given priority over cars are al;ways last in the pecking order.
We can't ban cars yet from entering the city, although that should happen in the future as more public trasportation options are available, but we should create an environment in which speeding and breaking of driving rules are extremely expensive, as should be parking. This would make drivers, especially put of town drivers, examine their priorities and think long and hard before they use motor vehicle in Palo Alto and before they run a red light, blow past a stop sign or cut through a residential neighborhood.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

The poor woman died JAYWALKING at night. The driver was not speeding, but going the legal speed limit.

Changes needed:

1. Pedestrians stop jaywalking

2. Public education campaign re: jaywalking.

3. Post signate: "Jaywalking is illegal" Police issue expensive jaywalking tickets

4. Establish more clearly marked legal crosswalks

4. Ticket speeders who exceed 25 mph

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jan 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A 1975 report made the following recommendations regarding Stanford's transportation priorities:
I. That: Stanford establish a parking and transportation policy
giving first priority in planning, design, regulations, and
expenditures to facilitation of pedestrian and bicycle
travel; second priority to group transi .; and the lowest
priority to private motor vehicle travel.
2. The establishment of a parking and transportation trust
fund to utilize all parking revenues for the improvement of
facilities for all modes of transportation, with preferences
to expenditures and support of non-automobile modes.
12. That an aggressive program be undertaken to plan and develop
alternative modes of transportation for the campus, primarily
for intra-campus circulation, utilizing the resources of the
parking and transportation funds."

These recommendations were adopted as proposed and resulted in a campus wide controlled parking program, the removal of cars from the core areas of the campus, greatly improved pedestrian and bicycle pathways separated from car traffic and the very extensive free Marguerite shuttle which serves not only Stanford but P{alo Alto and Menlo Park.

It is simply a matter of setting priorities.

Posted by Equal treatment for all, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm

"The vast majority of people who go into New York City, Paris, London and Tokyo don't do it by car. "
The cities you mention are large metropolitan areas with vibrant public transportation systems that can actually take you somehwere in a reasonable amount of time. Palo Alto is a small city with no viable public transportation system.

"We can't ban cars yet from entering the city, although that should happen in the future as more public trasportation options are available"
More public transporation options in Palo Alto??? Ha.
Cars will never be banned from enteringthe city--do you know why? The people who will object to this the most are the residents that rely on cars to go to work, to drop off their kids to shop for large families--in other words the residents of Palo Alto

"Look at how ell Stanford has separated cars from pedestrians and bicycles in its central campus"
Stanford is a private entity, so they can do what they want. They have a great shuttle service that runs throughout campus many times an hour. Palo alto has....

"we should create an environment in which speeding and breaking of driving rules are extremely expensive, as should be parking. This would make drivers, especially put of town drivers, examine their priorities and think long and hard before they use motor vehicle in Palo Alto "
Of course these rules should be applied to all--drivers, pedestrians and bike riders. Same fine for a bike rider that blows through a stop sign or a red light as a car. Same penalty for a jaywalker.
If Palo Alto want sto ban cars, the city will wither and die or do they think that people will flock to Palo Alto (as per Destination Palo Alto) by foot or bike???
People like Daniel love Palo Alto and kind of life we have here, but do not want to put with the people that come to town and spend their tax dollars here. Can't have it both ways!!!

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm

The City does not get to set the fines for vehicle code violations; those are set at the state level. The City can set fees for parking, although they prefer not to charge for it.

Posted by Walter Hays Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Dear Palo Alto Online edtiors:

I think the following description in this news article was not accurate, which leads some readers to conclude that the victim was jaywalking.

"An initial investigation indicated Zuo had been crossing Embarcadero southbound on foot between Walnut and Bret Harte. The block is east of the Palo Alto Art Center and west of Louis Road. There is no crosswalk in that area."

California Vehicle Code defines

"275. "Crosswalk" is either:

(a) That portion of a roadway included within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of sidewalks at intersection where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles, except the prolongation of such lines from an alley across a street.

(b) Any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, there shall not be a crosswalk where local authorities have placed signs indicating no crossing. "

Web Link

So there are indeed crosswalk in that area. To my understanding:

-- The extension of Walnut drive sidewalk clearly should be considered an unmarked crosswalk.
-- The extension of Bret Harte street sidewalk could be considered as an unmarked crosswalk.
-- The extension of that driverway (refer to Google map) may not be considered a crosswalk.

If we look at the Google map, depending on how you inteprete the extension of Bret Harte sidewalk, the two streets may be offsets by 20 meters or 40 meters. It is hard to derive from "crossing Embarcadero southbound on foot between Walnut and Bret Harte" that the victim was actually the potential unmarked crosswalk along Bret Harte at that point.

May I suggest Palo Alto Online modify the above paragraph to exclude the statement "There is no crosswalk in that area." which could be misleading?

To the readers & travelers on Embarcadero, I also want to point out that California Vehicle Code gives the pedestrian the right of the way on the unmarked crosswalks. Pedestrians legally can cross the street at intersections without traffic lights or marks on the ground. Please do try to expect them at the many unmarked intersections along Embarcadero and please slow down for them.

21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter. "

Web Link"

Please point out if my intepretation of the law is wrong.

Thank you PAO for keeping such an important discussion alive and hopefully we can all learn something about safety in the process.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm

@Walter Hays Parent - Your interpretation of the law may be correct, but is irrelevant. It isn't jaywalking no matter where she crossed because the block isn't bounded by traffic signals. Cars should yield, but as a pedestrian crossing a busy street, you better own the responsibility of getting across with your life.

Posted by careful driver, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

No, we do not know if she was jaywalking because we don't know exactly where she crossed the street. In fact, there are many unmarked crosswalks on Embarcadero.

WH Parent, your interpretation is correct. As previously noted, unmarked crosswalks may in fact be safer than marked crosswalks. Web Link

The block need not be bounded by traffic signals. Better reading comprehension skills may be needed here.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Right, heard enough now. Unmarked crosswalks where there are small intersections which can't be seen in the dark, particularly be drivers who are not from the area.

Come on. We need to be a lot more savvy than this. People should cross the road when it is safe to do so in a place that is safe to do so. Unmarked crosswalks are a joke. Just like glass hammers.

Unless I am interpreting what is being said incorrectly.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Equal treatment to all:Palo Alto is not prosperous thanks to non residents who drive into town for a movie or buy a drink at a local bar. My guess is that those revenues fare offset by the wear and tear to our infrastructure, a damage that needs to be repaired constantly, The quality of life In Palo Alto does not depend on people from the outside coming here to spend money, this is not Disneyland or New Orleans..

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Daniel-- do you know how many people come not palo alto work? Don't you think the y spend money here. And who do you think cleans you homes, makes your coffee at Starbucks etc. do you think they all live here? They contribute much to your quality of life. Palo alto actively recruits visitors to the city. They love it when visitors come to Stanford for arts, sports ,medical care and eat, stay and spend money in palo alto. Why do you think palo alto wants car dealers in the city?
Sorry, your elitist attitude is wrong. "outsiders" contribute plenty to palo alto and it should stay like that. Perhaps a gated community in the hills would suit you more.
Cars are the life blood of palo alto

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I have a bunch of different points.
Some posters state that Embarcadero is a residential road. I know there are some driveways/homes. While I live in Duveneck/St.Francis, I sure don't live ON Embarcadero - wouldn't dream of it. It must be extremely difficult to get out of one's driveway. There is another angle - I have repeatedly posted on threads about the heavy traffic coming off 101 and rushing up to Stanford - there is NO question there are employees, contract workers, work trucks and so on - what's more there are huge MOTOR COACHES that routinely transit up Embarcadero. It is just reality this is a thoroughfare in this city. Someone posted a recommendation to use Oregon to transit the city - believe me, it takes a long time just to get over to Oregon from where I live (Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, again) and traffic on Oregon is routinely massively backed up for great distances -- Embarcadero is the OBVIOUS transit thoroughfare even for me for the area of the city where I live. I think all the traffic signals should be reviewed and perhaps re-set on Embarcadero and Oregon. The 4-way light arrangement at Embarcadero and Middlefield may be necessary owing to Walter Hays school being unfortunately located right on that busy corner, but it also leads to incredible delays - I have experienced this many, many times over years. The ovarall goal should NOT be to push traffic onto cut-through routes, yet that is what I had to do on the occasions I had to drive my kids to PALY, back in the day. I also think that there are out-of-town visitors who come onto Embarcadero and are unfamiliar with any notion that this is/was a "residential" area. Therefore, I NEVER have or would jaywalk across Embarcadero!

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm

The only thing that makes sense is to "harden" Embarcadero and open it to more, quicker, and safer traffic that will respond to bicyclist and pedestrians effectively if they need to cross ... not to mention the way it is now it is hard to get onto Embarcadero even in a car or to get off of it - like onto Churchill, for example.

It is ridiculous that we create these symbolic things like maintaining a 25 mph speed limit and residential "look" around Embarcadero when it's simple a symbolic facade of the past ... the city is changing and I am about as anti-"progress" as one can get, but infrastructure is really key to the whole quality of life thing, and isn't that what we want?

Bite the bullet, impose on those who live on Embarcadero and do something to open it up similar to Oregon Expwy. I wonder if any of our city government lives on Embarcadero.

Fixing up Embarcadero in a nice way would make a lot more sense than building a giant bridge from quiet Northeast Palo Alto to a tiny part of East Palo Alto.

Posted by anon too, a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I lived on Embarcadero Rd from 1956 to 1981. When I was about 10 years old (on Halloween I think) a lady that lived on Embarcadero near Greer and was killed crossing the street. Nothing has changed.