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Fatal collision blocks lanes on U.S. Highway 101

Original post made on May 20, 2017

A fatal traffic collision involving a motorcycle and another vehicle has closed all but one lane of northbound U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto on Saturday night, according to California Highway Patrol officials.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10:09 PM

Comments (32)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Midtown
on May 20, 2017 at 10:54 pm

Merging onto 101 North of Embarcadero is dangerous. The construction of the bridge, over the creek and the merge lane has proved fatal also. Drivers will not yield that are on 101 North . There is no where to go but into the temporary cement barrier. Not good when one is traveling on a motorbike. I must say California has some of the worst drivers,or should I say transplants to California are some of the worst drivers.

Posted by Gilbert
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2017 at 1:15 am

I was traveling in the Same direction as the motorbike I saw him riding erratically I'm not sure but I thought I saw him without a helmet
I saw the Bike and his body tumbling
I had a feeling he was going to wreck.

Posted by Facts
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2017 at 7:56 am

The bike path construction directly or indirectly linked with several fatalities, including this and the thanksgiving shopping one a few years ago. Not to mention the cost and inconvenience to tax payers.

For a few occasionally may or may not want to bike? Or seeing someone naked in the shrub?

RIP bro.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2017 at 8:52 am

That merge NB is dangerous.

Posted by EPA Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 21, 2017 at 11:04 am

Reporting that the officers "suspected" the motorcyclist was under the influence is reporting gossip. If this is subsequently confirmed, it is certainly valid to report at that point, but not until then. Someone just lost their life, please don't gossip until you know the truth.

Posted by concerned
a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2017 at 11:22 am

I was driving across the east bay with my husband yesterday and a motorcyclist nearly got hit by a car and got really angry with the driver. Motorcycles are so dangerous and if they crash on the freeway the odds aren't good. Even if they survive an accident on the freeway, the injuries are often really bad and often life altering. I know motorcyclists love the freedom, the speed and the lost cost of riding, but it's not worth it. A motorcyclist against a 2-ton piece of metal moving at 60 mph isn't going to end well. Every week, there is a story in the paper about a motorcyclist dying on a bay area freeway. It's not worth it.

Posted by YIYMY
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm

"Every week, there is a story in the paper about a motorcyclist dying on a bay area freeway. It's not worth it. "

One could say the same thing about cars. Many times a week there are stories in the paper about car accidents and deaths. It's not worth it.

In 2015 there were 35,092 motor vehicle fatalities in the US.
Web Link

Posted by bikers
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm

i'm always amazed how aggressively many bikers drive. You would think they would use more common sense given they have no margin for error. Many times I've been buzzed by a lane splitter out of nowhere. Not sure how I'm supposed to see these people my focus predominately on what is going on in front of me.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2017 at 2:01 pm


"I was driving across the east bay with my husband yesterday and a motorcyclist nearly got hit by a car and got really angry with the driver."

You make it sound like it is the motorcycles fault. I have been operating two wheeled vehicles( that includes bicycles)in and around the bay area for most of my life. The driving habits of vehicle operaters (this includes bicycles)
has gone downhill beginning with the boom of 97'.

We do not know the whole story,what we do know is that this individual lost their life. What we do know is that the majority of people do not know how to drive or operate a bicycle for that matter.

Stop texting while driving!!!! It is worse than drunk driving!! R.I.P.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2017 at 4:16 pm

@ "Facts"

The construction between Embarcadero and University is not for a bike path. They are reconstructing the 101 bridge over the San Fransquito Creek.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2017 at 7:32 pm

@ Crescent Park Dad

Either way, the merge Lane, when wintering northbound on 101,is a deathtrap. Honestly it is taking way too long! How many more people will be injured
or die due to this constant construction. Honestly, this is the main reason why a lot of folks do not want the new bike bridge that will be constructed in between Oregon Expressway and San Antonio. It is not the bridge itself, it is the accidents and subsequent delay that will ensue. We have had delays in this area ever since the construction of highway 85.

Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on May 21, 2017 at 7:43 pm

HWY101 through the area should be closed until the construction is done. Construction should be continuous 27/7/365 to get it done quicker.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2017 at 8:26 pm

It is not possible to do work on the bridge in the winter due to high water volume through the creek. There is also an envirnmental issue with the harvest mouse and the clapper rail. How a relatively small group of environmentalist could hold this project (and others) hostage is beyond me.

There is also the issue of lowest bidder. The workers for the contractor evidently put pallets down then put dirt over the top for a temporary wall....Well it did not work. Why the workers for the contractor would put wooden pallets down, then bury with dirt is beyond me.

Again, how many more accidents will take place before this project is completed?

Posted by StClaireGardenGuy
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on May 21, 2017 at 8:56 pm

That creek project has claimed at least 3 motorcyclists lives now.
Why is it being stretched over years? Get it done!
The most pathetic and dangerous construction project I've seen on a major artery. It's not brain surgery. Get out there and work. That combined with aggressive lane splitters on motorcycles are a deadly combo. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2017 at 9:32 pm

When you have this many agency's involved it is brain surgery. Furthermore the patient is terminal, yep, brain dead.

Here is one of the patients web sites:

Feel free to voice your opinion.

Posted by No name, almost local
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2017 at 8:57 am

I, for one, do not understand how in the world lane splitting is even legal.
Left over from the times motorcycle engines were aircooled, and to keep them overheating they got this "allowance" to split the lanes? (this is what I've heard from older people)
Could someone please let me know the real reason.

So many times motorcyclists ride way, way faster than the traffic they are trying to ride through. So the speed difference is one big problem, the slower cars trying to find an opening on the next lane in the search for a two second gain on their commute want to change lanes, the motorcycle wanting that same non-existing space on the freeway at the same exact time. Not a good combination.

I won't hold my breath waiting for the lane splitting to end, I'll just keep my eyes and ears open when driving on the roads. Everybody else please do the same.

My condolences to his family and friends.

Posted by Can read
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2017 at 10:43 am

"The motorcyclist, a Daly City resident, went down between the far two left lanes..."
The construction and the "non-existent" merge lane is on the right side.
Let us not put the blame on the construction....
That being said, merging on to NB is indeed dangerous. Unless it is in the congested hours, I try to drive to University Ave. and merge on 101NB from there.

Posted by Can read
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2017 at 10:45 am

@online name
"...or should I say transplants to California are some of the worst drivers...."

Here is another person assuming without evidence: bad drivers are the non-native Californians....

Posted by Annabelle
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 22, 2017 at 10:57 am

Why is splitting lanes by motorcycles allowed?
Apparently it is legal?
Seems quite dangerous not to mention risky.
Some motorcyclists were doing it on El Camino Real this past Saturday . . .

Posted by Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2017 at 11:10 am

Talk about aggressive driving... I think google buses are just as aggressive; cutting in lanes without considering the speed and opening.

Posted by @no name, almost local
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2017 at 11:42 am

Apparently it's safer for motorcyclists to lane split than go behind cars because of they were to be sandwiched between 2 cars (i.e. Rear ended), they'd be dead. It's been permitted for ever but the official law allowing it went into effect 1/1/2016.
Before the law went into effect, they tried to put some guidelines on lane splitting such as don't go more than 10-15 mph faster than cars, but they had to rescind those recommendations since there weren't official rules about lane splitting. It was just allowed without anything official.
On some sites I read they quotes cyclists saying now that it is legal they hoped that car drivers would be more careful around cyclists. I agree, but it's really hard to be careful when they pop up out of nowhere right next to your wondow on the freeway going so fast! Like all situations, there are a few bad apples that give everyone a bad name. Bad motorcycle drivers and bad car drivers that give everyone in their situation a bad name.
Obviously we all need to slow down and watch out. I don't think it's just motorists, IMO.

Posted by Jonathan Lustig
a resident of Mountain View
on May 22, 2017 at 11:52 am

Just last year California became the first state in the entire nation to legalize "lane splitting". ("Lane splitting" is a disingenuous term to cloak and disguise the absurdity of what it truly is, "vehicle splitting")

Even worse, the legislators created absolutely no laws or guidelines for motorcyclist to abide by while they ride at high rates of speed inbetween vehicles.

Utter lunacy.

"Vehicle splitting" by motorcyclists is incredibly dangerous and life threatening for everyone within the proximity.

It is blatantly apparent that those who have been elected to legislate laws here in California on behalf of the most brilliant minds that exist in the entire world have failed us yet again and are officially incompetent and out of touch with reality.

A top priority for our government is to protect individuals from being harmed. This new law allowing "vehicle splitting" by motorcyclists is atrocious, reckless and counterintuitive. Shame on all of those who contributed towards this epic failure. Blood is surely covering your hands.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2017 at 12:00 pm

The merges on almost all of 101 are dangerous, especially when traffic is moving fast, so maybe let's be a little thankful for traffic jams.

People are scared to move into traffic so they end up going to slow to merge forcing people in the right lane to slow down at the last minute.

At a time when more mental bandwidth is needed to drive there are more distractions in the car, and with phones to distract people's attention.

I don't even know if the problem is solvable because if you made the merge lanes longer people in the other lanes would just use them to pass people in the right. The comments above about people being bad drivers are right ... or some of them are such great drivers they feel they can maneuver in and out between everyone else. People just do what they want, they will not learn, they will not follow or understand the rules of a shared resource like the roads.

I have often wondered if this can be tracked to people who learned to drive in other countries where there are different attitudes about driving and sharing the roads, or if Americans are just losing the norms of socialization. I think this is the perfect analogy for a system that relies on everyone holding a common reality and there are too many who don't get it things start to break down.

Most of the time I am on 101 now I see cars who must think they are playing a video race game trying to weave through traffic at high speed, and most of the time they do not crash, but they do increase the tension and short-temperedness of everyone else, not to mention needless risking their lives.

The issue or lane-splitting is a hard one. From my reading you are not allowed to do lane-splitting at any time. Having a motorcyclist seem to come out of nowhere between me and other car and the loud rise in noise that happens is disconcerting to say the least.

I don't know if all lane-splitting should be made illegal, but quick moves like this should be avoided - but even cars are doing it now.

Our leaders and managers are showing real incompetence and disregard of their jobs when they allow infrastructure to become outdated knowing that only a few people will really die because of it and all will happen is that people complain, while money that is needed to keep the US infrastructure up to date goes elsewhere.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2017 at 2:05 pm

I too feel badly about any highway fatality, but motorcyclists are the most vulnerable because they are not encased in a metal box, which offers some protection.

I remember meeting with our iconic newspaperman and editor, Jay Thorwaldson, for coffee at the Palo Alto Cafe, a couple years ago. He had ridden down from his home in the Sierra foothills on his Harley (his 'hog'). I asked him about lane splitting. He explained the generally accepted current rules of the road for that. This was before the state legislation was enacted. I wish he would switch to an automobile for his trips back to this area. I wouldn't want him to be a stat in the motorcyclist deaths column. As long as it's allowed there will be no enforcement. How can they gauge the speed differential between the splitter and the surrounding traffic? And how would CHP work their way thru congested traffic to stop a splitter and write a ticket? The splitter would have long split. So much for a law that does nothing.

Long tire skid marks: I travel on 237 between 101 and Milpitas occasionally. I might start off in the inside lane and then move slowly all the way to the outside lane. Sometimes I need to get back into the middle lane. That's where I see all the skid marks. It's obvious they are from cars already in that lane because of cars coming from either the far left lane to make a turn to the right, soon, or from cars merging into the middle lane from a slow lane after getting onto the freeway. When a motorcyclist gets mixed into those kinds of lane changes, they will go unnoticed and it could spell disaster for them.

I think most motorcyclists think they know how to lane split safely. Under most circumstances they are probably right. They do know how, and they are safe, but they assume all the car drivers around them, see them, and won't make any drastic lane changes that would endanger them. That's a bad combination of best case scenario ideas. Many car drivers drive on freeways every day, at high speeds, and never give a thought if the other drivers might be drunk, or if they are really capable of passing the driving test anymore. I'm not counting the written test. With a little homework anybody can pass that. I've seen too many parking lot fender benders, most caused by our older citizens who should have given up driving long ago. I'm joining that crowd now. I hope I realize it and make the right decision before a bad accident happens. I'm trusting my kids to monitor me on my driving ability. If they say, 'dad, it's time', I'll hand over the keys.

Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 22, 2017 at 2:28 pm

My understanding is that the recent state law about lane splitting did not change the legality of lane splitting. Lane splitting was legal before the new law, or at least not specifically illegal, so the police could not ticket motorcyclists for lane splitting before and they still cannot. What the new law does is authorize the CHP to develop specific rules about when lane splitting is legal (speed, lane width, etc). When these rules are complete, then the police can ticket motorcyclists for violating them. Presumably the CHP is collecting input from various user groups right now and will publish the new rules by the end of the year.

Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on May 22, 2017 at 2:29 pm

This fatality is certainly tragic. Does it have anything to do with the Embarcadero ramp? Probably not, since it occurred between the 2 left lanes.
Lane splitting is extremely dangerous & shouldn't be allowed on freeways. Motorcycles travel much faster on freeways than cars do, especially during peak rush hours. They can also change lanes more quickly than cars can. Cars in, for example, a middle lane, who need to move right to exit an exit turnoff have only a few seconds to move between bumper to bumper cars moving at 15-20 mph. Lane splitting cycles going 50+ mph present an added hazard to try to avoid.
I also find the loud roar of cycles zooming inches from my shoulder to be highly alarming, as I'm usually stuck crawling below 20 mph.
If special speed allowances are to be made for cyclists, let them use carpool lanes, not ride the lane dividing lines on freeways.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm

@ Can Read

No assumption, for example, in other areas of the U.S. it is the person in the far right lane that has to yield for other drivers that are entering on the freeway.
Also, in Texas, for example on the interstate 10, it is posted that the fast lane is for passing only. Here if someone is in the fast lane doing 65 they won't budge. Too many different people from other parts of the country with their own idea of traffic rules.

Posted by StClaireGardenGuy
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on May 22, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Don't assume that the construction has no role because the accident happened in the left 2 lanes.
The construction is causing massive disruption, abrupt lane shifts left and right, narrowing of lanes and general extra loading of folks' attention.
It's a dangerous mess out there and it changes month to month.
There is no excuse for the lack of concerted effort on that job site.
Count the deaths and accidents in that area since the project started.

Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 22, 2017 at 5:22 pm

This is a construction zone. Drivers need to slow down and pay extra attention. Turn your iphone off. Unfortunately, this is not happening.

Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2017 at 8:04 pm

When merging into NB 101 from Embarcadero, there is
(1) no visibility of cars in the freeway lane. you just have to blindly drive into that lane.
(2) no room for error. The moment you get on the freeway lane, you have no room on your right. That leaves you at the mercy of the car in the freeway lane. If it lets you in, you are safe. If not, you have to really slow down and pray for no car hitting you.

I would go on to University or an Antonio when I have time. Otherwise, I pray as I merge into the freeway.

Posted by driver
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2017 at 8:15 pm

That ramp to north bound 101 has been a dangerous place, and Caltran needs to know about it.

Here is the link to submit safety concern to Caltran:

Web Link

Posted by sigh
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Unfortunately, no details on exactly where the accident occurred... whether before, at, or after the ridiculous S-curve on northbound 101 that showed up earlier this year between Embarcadero/Oregon and University. (Hard to recall when exactly, because the structure of this stretch seems to change multiple times a year.)

In any case, the leisurely pace of construction is ridiculous. If this were a stream on Stanford campus, the construction would have taken months, not years. If I'm not mistaken, it's been two and a half years since they started. Every time you drive on Stanford campus, you see a building that wasn't there before. But when the City has a building constructed, it takes years. All of us who pass through Palo Alto on or near 101 have collectively lost years from our lives to the debacle of the stream construction. What was once a smooth ride even at rush hour is now the worst choke point between Hillsdale/92 and Shoreline/85 (or if it's a relatively quiet day at Google, then Great America Pkwy/Montague). All for a stream. RIDICULOUS. Hats off to the City and its professional politicians, who've traded a good deal on construction costs and kickbacks/campaign contributions/gifts/favors for millions in costs to the rest of us.

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