Almanac

Viewpoint - November 6, 2013

Letter: A different parking angle in Burlingame

I truly hope the 6-year-old is out of critical condition and is recovering after being pinned by a driver whose vehicle jumped the curb in front of Walgreens in downtown Menlo Park several weeks ago. While I have no doubt the driver lost control of his vehicle, I prefer not to call this an accident — it was completely preventable.

However, I am not writing to criticize the driver. I am writing to call attention to another way to prevent traffic crashes — often referred to as the three "Es" of traffic safety: Engineering, Enforcement, Education. I refer to the first E — the parking layout on downtown Santa Cruz Avenue.

I urge all Menlo Park residents and downtown business owners to take the train up to Burlingame Avenue and observe the entirely new streetscape being constructed. The second block is basically finished. You will enjoy a greatly widened sidewalk, complete with benches and outdoor tables by cafes. (It could use more bike parking though. No one's perfect). But, most important of all — the diagonal parking has been replaced with parallel parking.

Would the errant motorist who jumped the curb done so if he had parked parallel instead of diagonally? Or would he have plowed into the vehicle behind or in front of him when he probably confused the accelerator for the brake pedal, only injuring property, not precious life? In fact, my guess is that this motorist wouldn't even have attempted to park parallel because of the skill set required — he would have used a parking lot — notwithstanding the fact that he needed a walker.

This critical, life-threatening injury was completely preventable. While Menlo Park has no control over who gets to have drivers licenses in California, it has complete control over how it designs its downtown. Come visit Burlingame to see a downtown just as vibrant as Menlo's, but safer.

Irvin Dawid, Burlingame

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