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7th grade girl reportedly hit by car near Jordan

Original post made on Feb 19, 2009

A female 7th grade Jordan Middle School student reportedly crashed into a car while riding her bike to school shortly after 8 a.m. this morning, according to witnesses.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 19, 2009, 12:22 PM

Comments (34)

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 19, 2009 at 1:06 pm

The article could have mentioned that the side walk and bike lane has been closed in this area of N. Calif. due to some sort of construction (looks like a sewer related). This has made it a bit tricky for kids to get to school.

Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 19, 2009 at 1:29 pm

This intersection has been a problem for some time. In fact, there was a Palo Alto Weekly story done back in March 2008: Web Link

The city really needs to make this whole area safer -- the crosswalk specifically, but also the several blocks on North California more generally. Better markings, better signage... there are definitely ways to make it more obvious to drivers that this is a school area. Why hasn't anything been done yet? This needs to happen NOW to help better protect our middle school students... as well as those children and families that will be attending a re-opened Garland elementary school in the upcoming years.

Posted by To Jerry
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2009 at 1:43 pm

About 7 years ago, a child on a bike ran into my car, and it was witnessed by a police officer 2 houses away, writing a ticket. The child was not wearing a helmet and the bike was too big for him. He was only about 7 years old, riding alone. The cop came over to us and we walked the kid to his apt. His mom was furious with him. A couple days later, I dropped off a helmet for the kid. Sheesh, if I'd know the weekly could've done a story, I would've sent out a press release! It could've been titled: "Child almost injured running into car without helmet. Mother furious!" What a loss - almost as great as your breaking glass story! ;-)

Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 19, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I just re-read the article from 2008 again. It included the following:

"Sam Peiris, City of Palo Alto traffic engineer, said a consultant began two weeks ago to analyze the safety issues on North California and to figure out how best to improve safety. Analysis should be completed by May, he said. To address the Barbara Drive crossing problem in the interim, he has ordered signage and flexible delineators -- bright yellow plastic posts with signs indicating a pedestrian crosswalk -- that will be put in the middle of the road. The markers will probably be installed in two weeks, he said."

Why didn't that ever happen?

Posted by Greg
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Is this the part of California Ave. where the street signs say "bike lane, no parking", but there is no painted bike lane and cars park there anyway?

Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 4:06 pm

The accident this morning was at the Barbara Drive/N. California corner crosswalk. The sidewalk and bike lanes are open between Barbara Drive and Newell where the student was hit. It is a crosswalk that drivers rarely pay attention is almost impossible to cross on foot because drivers pay their "toll" by stopping at the stop signs at Louis Road or Newell then they feel the right to speed down the open road. Everyone is in a hurry!!!

A Jordan biker was hit in the Spring of 2008 at the same crosswalk.
In addition to signage, and other measures...consider reducing the speed limit to 15 miles/per hour during school hours. Most importantly ACTION should be taken immediately. This issue has been with the city for the past 10 years...What is more important "A Car" or "A Life!!!"

Posted by Mom
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 6:05 pm

"Police...said the driver did not appear to be at fault."

Well, thank God for that! The Town Forum posters on the initial posting were trying to hang him without knowing the details.

The crosswalk, although bright yellow, is easy to miss if one is looking ahead towards the school. And yes, the drivers are just coming off a stop sign so they might be speeding up.

They really should put those blinking lights on the sidewalk like they have on Fabian Way. Can't miss those lights flashing.

Changing the speed limit is ineffective. No one drives 25mph on Middlefield or Embarcadero.

But the real enforcement would be a police car in plain view. People think about their driving when they see a police car. They could even park an unattended police car on N. CA and people would think about their driving.

Posted by katja
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2009 at 6:11 pm

The comments about the unsafe and dense traffic around Jordan MS can be applied to any of the schools here in town. I'm grateful that the student involved is unhurt.

My son was hit in a CROSS WALK across the street from Gunn HS a year and a half ago. He suffered physical and emotional injuries and we're still dealing with the legal, financial, academic and psychological ramifications of that accident.

The adults and young adults who drive around our schools need to operate under the assumption that they have no idea what the bicyclists and pedestrians are going to do next. And for Bob's sake, turn your head and look around you before pulling out!

Posted by Erin
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Oh, drama. No one was trying to hang him but if someone could get the story straight that might help. "Student HIT by car" is much different than "car hit by student on bicycle."

Posted by middle school parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm

I acknowledge that we don't have enough information, but I also think it is a great time to remind everyone of their responsibility for safety. The driver of the car clearly needs to be watching for bikers and walkers. The student bikers need to focus exclusively on biking to school, and not on their IPODs or cell phones. I have had a few close calls with kids on bikes almost biking right into my car (swerving into on-coming lanes) because they were focused on sending a text or finding a song on their IPOD.

I'm so glad the girl was safe, but it is a great time for a reminder. I know I'll be talking with my kids tonight.

Posted by Mom
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I meant to say to install those blinking lights on the street on the crosswalk like they have on Fabian Way. Can't miss those lights flashing. Maybe they are too expensive.

Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Bike lanes in Palo Alto should be improved immediately. Some children are biking on Middlefield or other busy streets, because the bake lane streets, such as Bryant, are really dangerous. There is no signalization on the asphalt and no space for the bikes near side walks. Also it is very dangerous for bikers to take Embarcadero to go to Pally, and many other streets. I have been driving all my kids because I find it very unsafe for them to be out riding bikes alone.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:56 pm

In my experience it is the bike riders who never obey stop signs and barrel through things like the California Ave underpass.

Most drivers are responsible at school times around schools, the fines are very steep and the social costs even greater.

Around Jordan the main problem is cars making U turns, a $1000 fine will deter this behavior.

I agree that parking along N California creates a problem as kids will shoot out between cars, it is also a problem on the weekend when strangers are playing soccer,one or the other should go.

Posted by a PA resident
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:37 pm

My daughter crosses that way every day to go to school and she has never had a car stop and let her pass. On busy mornings it is worrisome because in order to arrive at school on time she is forced to run across to dodge traffic which I firmly disapprove of. There are too many cars and it simply does not seem safe. Someone must do something.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:09 pm

As we approach 3rd-worldom we should learn from the best how to cross the street:

Web Link

Our 3rd world American streets will have some differences with Vietnam. We will both have Bmw's, Lexus's and Mercedes driven by the politically connected, but in our case, the buses will be empty and the motor bikes slow (if running at all) and solar-electric. We'll have many more bicycles, alas, Vietnam has progressed economically and former bicycle riders are now motor vehicle operators, while we continue to go in the opposite direction.

There is, perhaps, a benefit to the 3rd-worldization of America. Things like crossing the street become actions of applied Darwinism.

Hope you are fit enough!

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:37 am

One thing that would immediately make this crossing safer is a crossing guard. When Garland does open, this will probably happen. Until then, kids must be especially vigilant while crossing here, and so must cars.

Posted by Civitas
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:52 am

Slow down and take a deep breath, Americans. Enjoy the scenery, live the moment. Walk to your destiantion, walk to the train or bus then to your destination, or bicycle instead of driving to your destination. This reduces air pollution, makes you more fit and healthy, sitmulates your pocketbook, reduces our country's dependence on non-renewable energy sources (typically, foreign oil produced by despotic and/or corrupt governments), and takes motor vehicles off the road instead of leaving them on the road where they can pose a danger both to bicyclists and to pedestrians. Life is about the journey, not the destination.

Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

I believe the city provides one crossing guard per school. Garland is already a school - Stratford - their crossing guard is at Louis and N. California. With the state of our budget, I can't imagine the city providing another crossing guard less then a block away. Students could easily walk from Barbara to Louis and cross there instead.

Signage or blinking lights make a lot of sense at Barbara though.

Posted by rnginpa
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:34 am

The headline totally contradicts the story. Palo Alto Online editor...why? Who's copyediting or proofreading before this goes out?

Posted by Penny
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:27 am

Dear Parents,

Our kids need us to teach and practise pedestrian and bicycle skills with our children throughout the elementary school years so that they will know how to be safe when they get older.

The child in this crash DID NOT LOOK. She drove her bike illegally into the path of an oncoming car. Happily, the driver was observing speed limits and the law so she was not badly hurt. The police report says she was at fault. No street improvement can compensate for illegal behavior on the part of drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians.

There is a great class for middle school kids to learn basic street skills. It is called "Middle School Bike Skills." See Web Link

A 7th grader can be a safe cyclist if she has been taught the rules of the road. Parents must instill in chidlren a sense of their RESPONSIBILITY to abide by the law when they are operating a vehicle. This skills base and sense of responsibility will transfer as they become drivers when they are older.

As parents we lay a foundation for future safe drivers when we teach our children how to ride bikes safely. Take the time to do this with your children during elementary school. There is a short window when your children will want to bike with you--and then (about age 10) they will go off on their own whether or not you have done your job teaching your child good safety skills. Don't miss this window of opportunity. Walk and bike with your child often, and work with them to develop the HABIT of using good safety skills.

Kids who spend their elementary school years sitting paasively in the back seat of a car being driven everywhere never have the opportunity to learn the basic safety skills they will need when they begin to commute places independently.

Help your child develop the skills she needs to be self-reliant, independent and safe by regularly teaching and practising street skills with him or her.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:14 pm

I live on the other end of North California near Jordan, where there is substantial bike traffic. My Jordan student complains frequently that the other bicylists never stop for stop signs and ride on the sidewalk against traffic. I also rarely see ANY cyclist stop for the stop signs. As adults, we need to start modeling legal, safe behavior for children, and the kids need to be held accountable for traffic violations. Growing up in Palo Alto there used to be police on bicycles, who rode around and issued traffic violations to cyclists. There needs to be similar enforcement now - better a ticket than an accident!

Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Think it's bad now? Just wait and see how bad it gets as they add more high density housing around town. You can add those kids and cars to the mix...

Glad the kid is ok. My kid ran into a parked car once. Ouch!

I've noticed a real double standard in these forums this week. Cyclists wanting all the rights to the road as a motor vehicle, yet whining if they have to stop at signs and lights same as a motor vehicle. Entitlement? I think so.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm

A year ago, while my car was waiting at a junction ready to get onto Embarcadero Rd, I saw 2 teenagers without helmets riding towards my car. The first teenager was talking with his friend behind him, face turning backwards, bike at full speed. Since my car was already at the junction and had stopped, I want to roll down my window to yell him to stop and watch, but he was at such a fast speed, I didn't had time to roll down my window to yell at them. And he crashed into my car at the rear door. I was mad and worried too since he's not wearing helmets and he obviously was not paying attention while riding his bike since he was looking backwards! Luckily he was not hurt and when I got off my car to see how he was doing, his friend was accusing me that I didn't look and blamed me for damaging his friend's bike! What about the dents I had on my car! I tried to ask him for his contact number, at least to notify his mom, but they quickly escaped with their bikes and I can't chase him. I think definitely teenagers should be taught road safety, and focus when riding a bike, look forward and pay attention to traffic, but not looking backward talking to friends when riding it.

After couple weeks, I saw them riding their bikes and checked out the dents on my door. But they quickly left. What happened if my car was not stopped at the junction but was moving? It's scary to even think about it.

Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:41 pm

that kind of behavior is inexcusable. I would watch that intersection with a camera, take pictures or follow one of them home or to school. Once there, I would make contact with parents or call the police. Use a bike too if you must. I would take the pictures to the appropriate school for his age group and ask if they know the student. Accountability is important at any age!

Posted by Lizzie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I wonder who got hit...There are several girls i know who go to Jordan...i go to a small private middle school.

Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:29 am

The bottom line with this most recent bike accident is that the child was at fault. It should be explored whether other bike or pedestrian accidents and near misses in the past at this location were always the fault of the child though. In this “sue happy” society we now live in you can bet if either of those children had been severely injured or heaven forbid killed, a really good attorney could show that both the district and the city were partly responsible for failing to improve the visibility of the crosswalk especially since it is a commute route to Jordan. Based on the comments we are reading here other cities seem to have no problem putting more visible improved signage and safety measures at school crosswalks and streets surrounding the school, why not at the Garland site right now?

Many kids do not listen to authority when it comes to safety, especially 11-14 year old kids who are bike riding with no adult along to supervise. While the majority are riding carefully, there are still kids riding with their friends in a large group, riding in the center of the street without bike helmets on, talking on the cell phone, listening to IPods and having friends ride on the handlebars etc. It takes a combination of parents, schools, the city, neighbors and friends along with the bike and pedestrian safety education of children to help with all these issues.

The Stratford school is a commuter school – probably a very tiny percentage of attendees walk or ride bikes to that site right now. Having many more pedestrians and bicyclists of younger ages, along with parents who park their cars in the surrounding area creates many more traffic safety issues than parents who just pull up and drop off their kids in the parking lot and drive off to work. This site was built in the 50’s at a time when most kids walked to their neighborhood school probably without parents along and few families had more than one car. We don’t know when the crosswalk was put in but the safety need was there even then – times change – the old safety measures in place from the 50’s & 60’s need to be updated to fit the needs of school children in the 21st century.

Posted by amwa
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:57 am

america is still carefully,dont forget those cops who lied

Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 21, 2009 at 5:40 pm

During the school arrival time at Paly you cannot cross Alma on Churchill to El Camino. Perhaps traffic gets gummed up with the number of commuter trains passing that cause commuters to stop in the intersection when the crossing arm goes down. But perhaps it also cuts down the cut-through traffic when the street is teeming with kids headed to class around 7:30 a.m. Maybe there needs to be hours when car traffic down California between Middlefield and Louis is prohibited. The crossing guard on Louis/California is a god-send. Another should be stationed at the crossing light on Middlefield/California during those hours just to wrangle the kids.

The primary schools have a bike rodeo given by parents and police are given to kids at my school in the third grade. Another would be useful in middle school. Bike safety presentations by parents involving the kids with bikes (and helmets) learning the safe and legal way to negotiate the streets on all the intersections near campus would also help. The safety presentation could be a requirement that would stop other privileges until it had been fulfilled.

Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 21, 2009 at 7:01 pm


Also, because of parental, PTA and Jordan Administration concerns, the city will be looking into the intersection of Middlefield and N. California.

Posted by 1|;
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2009 at 9:15 am

Survival of the most aware.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2009 at 10:14 am

There is a traffic light at Middlefield/N California, we do not need a crossing guard.

This accident was clearly the bikers fault, according to the police report.

The lesson is that bikers, adult and child, need to pay attention and obey the traffic laws or suffer the consequences.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 10:32 am

California is actually a dog leg intersection with Middlefield. The part of California that runs to Alma has a light, the part that runs to Louis, passing the main entrance to Jordan, the playing fields and Garland, does not.

To put in an additional light here would not be a good idea, it is much too close. The best idea would be to make this a super sized intersection with one light controlling both parts of California. Additionally, like Waverley/Meadow, and Middlefield/Embarcadero, this should have a four way red function for school commute times.

Posted by original anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Our kids went to Jordan in past years. The area on California and Newell was often very busy - that's just the way it is.
Biking is a great activity, we want to encourage our kids to bike, so it is our obligation to provide as many safety systems as possible. These include clear markings on the road, bikelane, sidewalk, intersections and good crossing guards. School PTAs may wish to ramp up their education/communication of traffic safety. Drivers and student cyclists should also be made aware of the law. Then - periodic enforcement with police cars would sure help.

Posted by Maggie
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm

I bike to school almost every day, but on the days I cannot, I drive. Having seen this issue from both ends of the spectrum, I have to conclude that we are both at fault. From a biker's point of view, I notice that cars never stop for me, even when it's my right of way. I have been honked at several times for no reason (which is illegal) and my friend was almost killed two weeks ago by an inattentive driver (on a cellphone) who ran a stop sign. The driver in question did not even stop to apologize.
On the other hand, as a driver, I notice that bicylists, particularly those my age or younger, often run stop signs themselves, swerve into the street, or, at night, wear such dark clothing that it is almost impossible to see them, let alone everything else that I must notice as a student driver.
Bicyclists and drivers both have to make changes in order to avoid getting hurt. We both must pay more attention. Drivers need to get OFF their cellphones and pay attention in busy commute areas, and bicyclists must understand that they, too, must follow the rules of traffic.
Palo Alto was not built bike-friendly, and it needs to become so. I often do not feel safe biking or driving throughout Palo Alto, afraid that the other will hit me or swerve in front of me, respectively. It is our responsibility to make the streets safe for ALL traffic, bicycle or car, and improving signage, making more designated bike lanes, and informing both drivers and bicyclists of their responsibilities, will help significantly.

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