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Woodside resident Joy Covey killed in bicycle-van collision on Skyline Boulevard

Original post made on Sep 18, 2013

Joy Covey, a former CFO of Amazon and a Woodside resident, was killed Wednesday (Sept. 18) when the bicycle she was riding collided with a van on Skyline Boulevard.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 18, 2013, 4:37 PM

Comments (74)

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Posted by resident
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Sep 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm


Sounds identical to the collision on Canada Road that was recently reported. Bicyclist is going straight. Oncoming truck cuts her off.

Rest in peace.


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Posted by Carole
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm

This is NOT similar to the recent accident on Canada Road. I was at this scene
a few minutes after the accident. The van had already turned, the bicycle hit the van. The bicycle had just come around a sharp turn. So tragic and so, so sad.


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2013 at 8:03 pm

There is no sharp turn right before Elk Tree. There is a very long sightline.


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I checked the GPS track of a cyclist going 38 MPH through that area (2 MPH under the speed limit). Correlating from *after* he clears the bend and has a straight sight line to Elk Tree, it was 7 seconds between the time the cyclist came into view and the time it would cross Elk Tree. SEVEN SECONDS. If the driver had begun the left at the second the cyclist came into view, the driver would clear the intersection, and even if not, the cyclist would have enough time to decellerate.


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Posted by Carole
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm

The bicyclist had a blind curve due to a mountainside and was going downhill (easy to build up speed.) In fact a few of us had to run to the curves to warn approaching vehicles (who were going crazy fast) to slow down or certainly there would have been a pile-up. It looks so different on a map, so different from driving/riding the road.


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Posted by Mike Jacoubowsky
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:59 am

Here's the view from Google Maps, from the perspective of a car making the left turn across Skyline onto Elk Tree Road.

Web Link

There appears to be plenty of opportunity for a southbound motorist to spot oncoming traffic on 35. Opportunity. It doesn't appear that the driver availed him or herself of the opportunity to notice traffic on a pretty lengthy (visible) stretch of road ahead.

I travel 35, in the same direction as the fallen cyclist, on a bicycle, at least twice a week. At that point my group is typically doing 33-36 mph, depending upon wind direction. And we've had people not pay attention to our presence, pulling out of (not into) Elk Tree Road in front of us. Because there are very good sight lines between Elk Tree and Skyline south, it hasn't been a problem for us because we spot the cars ahead of time and assume the worst.

What we can't plan for or anticipate is someone heading southbound on 35, and making a fast turn onto Elk Tree Road without looking. One is left to wonder if the driver of the car might have been in a rush due to being held up by the construction on 84?

This is a terrible tragedy with responsibility that cannot be explained away due to sight lines. Nor can it be explained away by claiming excessive speed on the part of the cyclist, since it's nearly impossible for even a fit cyclist to hit 40mph at that point. In all likelihood she was going between 28-33mph if coasting.

Mike Jacoubowsky, Partner, Chain Reaction Bicycles


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Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 7:22 am

[Post removed. Please don't speculate on fault.]


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Posted by Mike Jacoubowsky
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 8:12 am

Regarding my "charitability"- what I suspect is a senseless death of a cyclist doing nothing wrong, and the possibility of an "investigation" that, if like others before it, assumes that some things are just accidents and not criminal. But if I go with what I suspect, if I let emotion and anger rule the day, before the investigation is done, all I'm likely to do is polarize people further along on the beliefs they already have, rather than get them to see that legally-required safe operation of the car would have prevented this tragedy. --Mike Jacoubowsky, Chain Reaction Bicycles


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:26 am

Carole -

If you are running up to the curve to slow down the cars who were going crazy fast because there was a stopped car in the roadway, then you would need to do the same if there was an approaching left turner onto Elk Tree, which would be in the roadway just the same as any oncoming car. By calling this left turn "blind" then we would have had by now several dozen car on car crashes for left turning cars onto Elk Tree.

Perhaps the answer is to install NO LEFT TURN onto Elk Tree from 35?


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Posted by Ted
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:33 am

[Post removed. Please don't speculate about fault or outcome.]


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:51 am

It was an accident.


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 10:20 am

Web Link


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Posted by Ken Esq
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:40 am

As a long time cyclist I've learned you just can't depend on a driver of a motor vehicle (or even another cyclist) to be paying attention or to obey they law. The opposite happens way too often.
It's a shame, but riding a bike on roads shared with cars is just a very risky proposition. If you're going to do it you really have to expect the worst. Unfortunately, being "right" about what the law states or what should have happened when you're riding a 20 lb vehicle and facing two tons of metal only means your estate will collect.

Some areas are just plain unsafe to be in...no matter how pretty the ride (A1A in parts of Palm Beach County, FL for instance).

I'm not casting any blame on the cyclist here...what happened is a tragedy.

Let's continue to push for more cycling trails and separated bike paths everywhere and in the meantime keep your head up (with helmet), speed down and hands near the brake levers.


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Posted by Leisure rider
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm

It's very scary what happens to cyclists when bikes meet cars. Where can we safely ride bikes around here? How about if California forgets about High Speed Rail and instead invests in some infrastructure that makes cyclists safe when riding locally? I have a nice bike, and no place to ride it.


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Posted by Skye
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Same thing happened to a motorcyclist a few years ago, same spot. A car turned in front of it,the passenger on the motorcycle flew over the car and was killed. Very sad. There are still flowers at the stop sign for that incident.


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Posted by maximusgolden
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

This is so sad. I was expecting to look at the comments and see the typical chorus of locals blaming the victim. I just don't think they've gotten here yet and had their chance to weigh in claiming that bicycles just don't belong on our public ways.

As a cyclist, my experience is that it is extremely difficult to ride down a hill like 35 slowly and almost impossible to make a sudden stop without going over the handlebars when the terrain is that steep. Cars need to be extra careful and attentive in locations like where this accident happened. There needs to be signage warning the drivers as well as the cyclists.

I hope that the CHP will check if the driver happened to be on their cell phone.


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Posted by pv resident
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Sep 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Just past a cyclist today who was texting while riding on Alpine Road. That's right, no hands on the handle bars, eyes focused on the cell phone...

Why can't everyone ride or drive as safely as possible? Doesn't matter what the law says: accidents, errors, gross negligence and manslaughters will continue to occur until each and every one of us choose to ride and drive with safety as the first priority.

Very Sad. I'm sure at some level it was preventable. Happens way too often around here.

Rest in Peace.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Sep 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Given the deadly risks of an auto driver not seeing a cyclist (as appears to be the case in this accident), all cyclists should install flashing LED lights on their bikes, with white light facing forward and red to the rear, and then use them both day and night. The modest cost of buying these lights and replacing batteries as needed, is nothing compared to the cost of a tragic accident like this one. I'm always amazed to see cyclists riding even during twilight with no lights at all, and some even in dark clothing. What are they thinking about!


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Posted by Georgia
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Condolences to Joy Covey's young child & other loved ones, and to all involved - including the driver & his loved ones - in this very sad tragedy.


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Posted by Deb
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I live off of Elk Tree. Those of us who turn into and out of Elk Tree on a daily basis know of how dangerous it can be! Bicyclists and cars fly around a blind curve and I have had to on occasion pull over quickly after turning onto Skyline Blvd because of this. NO, there is not much of a sight distance and the mixture of speed with the inability to see well, creates a bad mixture for safety. The mixture of trees and sunlight create shadows which can be brutal when driving and it is very difficult to see bicyclists or pedestrians. On top of that, there may or may not be a shoulder for someone to travel on. Some folks actually walk or ride along this section of road in dark clothing. Add to this a poor delivery driver who may not know the area well and know where to be especially careful, we get accidents such as this. It is sad, but I think people are just in too big of a hurry and they are lacking good sense when riding, walking or driving.


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Posted by Commentary
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm

A tragedy. One must start from the premise that the turning vehicle is burdened though.

A style note: Why are all bike and motorcycle crashes reported whether the rider was wearing a helmet but rarely is the seatbelt status of the car driver mentioned.


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Posted by Willow Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 19, 2013 at 2:29 pm

This is such an incredible tragedy. I, too, ride on that stretch of Skyline fairly regularly. There's a very tough tradeoff between going slowly enough to stop if someone cuts across your path and going fast enough to avoid being hit by speeding motorists coming up behind you at 55+ mph. It doesn't sound like a bike lane would have made any difference in this case.

As earlier posters have suggested, this incident is a definite reminder to increase our visibility while riding, especially on tree-covered mountain roads. I'm not sure a flashing headlight is enough to draw the attention of a distracted driver (from personal experience), but we can hope. I would be interested to know what color clothing the victim was wearing, and what, if any, lighting.

Finally, I hope the county will look at some combination of increased traffic enforcement and improved signage around that area following this tragedy.


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Posted by Lifelong Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I've lived my life in Woodside. I ride a bike. I ride horses. I drive cars. I choose to do all on well marked easily navigated trails and roadways. I understand the desire to ride on Woodside Road between town and Skyline, it is beautiful, but there are risks. As a matter of fact, it is a road I did not teach my kids to drive until they had been behind the wheel for 6 months. Clearly there is a conflict with the use of this stretch of roadway. If there is enough support, perhaps it can be closed once or twice a month or more, like Canada Road. But my fear is, cyclist will choose to take their life in their hands anyway and ride at other times. These are decisions we make. It sounds as if this rider was a well educated, well informed rider that knew the risks and chose to undertake them. Let's be clear, I DO NOT think she was wrong, but she is not here to let us know what happened.....The driver is. I doubt he set out to kill someone that day, but unfortunately that is what happened. Truly a tragedy.


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Posted by La Hondan
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm

This is a terrible tragedy and my condolences go out to the families of the woman who was killed and of the driver of the mini-van.

I drive 84 every day. It's my commute route. Last weekend I was waiting at the stop sign at the intersection of 84 and 35. A bicycle was approaching the intersection, traveling northbound on Skyline, going probably about 30-35 mph on that decline. Nothing wrong about that - but what I remember vividly was how hard it was to see the bicyclist on the edge of the road, with the angle of the sun and the shadows from the trees and with the redwood trees in the background. It was a weekend and there was a lot going on at the corners (event at Mountain Terrace, lots of folks stopping at Alice's, etc.) It was quite chaotic and I held my breath hoping that everyone would see her and that the bicyclist would get through the intersection o.k. at that speed.

I thought of that moment immediately when I heard about this terrible accident.

Please be careful out there. Many drivers ARE trying very hard to avoid bicycles. I don't know anyone who wants to hurt another human being.

To those who were not witness to the accident and yet are making brash statements of blame on this thread - all I can say is shame on you. People's lives were ruined and you should reserve judgement until all of the facts are known. Have some respect for both families.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Bicyclists can try to make themselves visible, but they can't make themselves be seen. Only the drivers can do that.

It is illegal for bicyclists to use flashing lights on the front of their bikes, so that is not a solution that people should be recommending. Flashing lights are only legal for 1) turn signals, 2) hazard lights in an emergency situation or funeral procession and 3) emergency vehicles.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm

It's illegal to use flashing lights on the front of a bike? Where is that coming from?

Any bike headlight worth buying has a flash function. If it didn't, I wouldn't buy it.

If there's a law on the books saying they're illegal, then it's a law that is not being enforced and should not be enforced.

A flashing white light can be seen in the daytime, it's all but impossible not to see at night, and it's a vital part of a bike's safety equipment -- a driver's ability to notice it notwithstanding.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Flashing lights are not permitted except under specific circumstances.

25251. (a) Flashing lights are permitted on vehicles as follows:


(1) To indicate an intention to turn or move to the right or left upon a roadway, turn signal lamps and turn signal exterior pilot indicator lamps and side lamps permitted under Section 25106 may be flashed on the side of a vehicle toward which the turn or movement is to be made.

(2) When disabled or parked off the roadway but within 10 feet of the roadway, or when approaching, stopped at, or departing from, a railroad grade crossing, turn signal lamps may be flashed as warning lights if the front turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously and the rear turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously.

(3) To warn other motorists of accidents or hazards on a roadway, turn signal lamps may be flashed as warning lights while the vehicle is approaching, overtaking, or passing the accident or hazard on the roadway if the front turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously and the rear turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously.

(4) For use on authorized emergency vehicles.

(5) To warn other motorists of a funeral procession, turn signal lamps may be flashed as warning lights on all vehicles actually engaged in a funeral procession, if the front turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously and the rear turn signal lamps at each side are being flashed simultaneously.

(b) Turn signal lamps shall be flashed as warning lights whenever a vehicle is disabled upon the roadway and the vehicle is equipped with a device to automatically activate the front turn signal lamps at each side to flash simultaneously and the rear turn signal lamps at each side to flash simultaneously, if the device and the turn signal lamps were not rendered inoperative by the event which caused the vehicle to be disabled.

(c) Side lamps permitted under Section 25106 and used in conjunction with turn signal lamps may be flashed with the turn signal lamps as part of the warning light system, as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (a).

(d) Required or permitted lamps on a trailer or semitrailer may flash when the trailer or semitrailer has broken away from the towing vehicle and the connection between the vehicles is broken.

(e) Hazard warning lights, as permitted by paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (a) may be flashed in a repeating series of short and long flashes when the driver is in need of help.


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Posted by Jason
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm

If you examine the intersection it veers to the left in a way that driver of the minivan would not be able to see the cyclist and the cyclist would have not seen the car. It was simply an accident that so many are affected by. The Covey family and loved ones along with the driver and his loved ones. It was simply an accident, for both of them it was the wrong place at the wrong time. There has been fatalities in that exact location, hopefully no a light or stop sign can be installed.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm

This reminds me of the speculation that took place when a teacher was killed at the Portola Valley underpass of Interstate 280. Or the Menlo Park bicyclist killed by an elderly driver. Or the older gentleman killed on Sand Hill Road.

Why not honor the victim of this tragic accident by expressing your condolences and refraining from blame speculation? The details of this accident will be known soon enough.

My sincere condolences to those impacted by this accident.


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Posted by Willow Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Donald and Menlo Voter: I am sorry, but you are WRONG. Let's take a look at why:

CVC Section 25250 Flashing Lights

25250. Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as otherwise permitted.

CVC Section 670 Vehicle

670. A "vehicle" is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

--> "excepting a device moved exclusively by human power" <--

A bicycle is not a vehicle under the CVC, and therefore sections 25250, 25251 do not apply to bicycles.

According to CVC 21200, only the following sections of the CVC apply to cyclists:
Division 10: Accidents and Accident Reports
Division 11: Rules of the Road
Division 12, Section 27400: Headsets and Earplugs (*AHEM* folks)
Division 16.7: Registration and Licensing of Bicycles
Division 17: Offenses and Prosecution
Division 18: Penalties and Disposition of Fees, Fines, and Forfeitures

Take a look: Web Link

Division 12: Equipment of Vehicles is NOT listed (except Sec. 27400).


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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I stand corrected


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Posted by Elk Tree Resident
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Before you make any judgement regarding who was at fault in this tragic accident, drive or ride the road yourself. The visibility is equally as bad for bicyclists as it is for motorists.


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Posted by Heather
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:50 pm

The only thing that really matters is an 8 year old boy doesn't have his mother anymore, because most of society has forgotten to look in side mirrors before making left or right hand turn on slow country roads. I'm sure he will miss her very much even years from now at his high-school and college graduation, not many things in life can replace your mother, especially when your freaking 8 years old!


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 3:12 am

This looks to me like an accident.I stopped driving skyline and La honda rd (I don't even go to Wunderlich anymore) because of the road's dangers. As residents of Woodside and Elk Tree Road who know the local roads mention it is very hard in many locations to see bikers and pedestrians even for the most attentive and safety conscious driver. It's simply not safe. Som I simply avoid those roads.


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Posted by judy covey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 20, 2013 at 4:28 am

thanks so much for all of the feedback. my beloved sister, joy covey, rides these roads all the time and is quite an experienced rider. it sounds to me like the driver should have deferred to her and let her pass, rather than turning left right in her path. if it's true that if one makes a left turn that results in an accident, the driver is presumed at fault, i pray the district attorney files charges. joy had an 8 year old son and they traveled the world and she was his world. she is divorced, and her ex had to fly in from utah last night and it's a very difficult, painful situation. joy was very careful and responsible, and always wore a helmet and i am heartbroken to have lost my only sibling!


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Posted by Joleen
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 10:01 am

To Judy:
My sincere condolences to you and your family. I too am a single mother and this is my biggest fear is that something should happen and I woulf leave my son without a mother. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this very painful time. This little boy's life is forever changed. You know what I am trying to say. Your life has forever changed in the loss of your sister, your best friend. May your both find comfort in each others eyes and arms!


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Posted by NC Girl
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 10:55 am

Dear Judy, I am so sorry for the loss of Joy! What a horrible thing :(

I don't live where cyclists are common, but they pop up kind of randomly, and I am taking this story to heart. I need to remember to always look for cyclists. If there were a confusing situation or poor visibility, I very well could cause a horrible accident! That is terrifying, but true up until now :(


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

Whereas I respect Judy Covey's pain and distress I do not like her analysis of the accident. Yes, the van driver,( incidently not a low car with windows on all sides) should have given Joy the right of way if and only if he had seen her-otherwise he can't guess, specially if she is coming fast downhill. It is extremely difficult to see what's coming on the road say those who experience the road very day. It would have been difficult for Covey too. Furthermore, bicycles, motor bikes (and pedestrians) are much more difficult to see than bigger vehicles, that's a fact. We do not know if the van driver is at fault or simply wasn't able to see the cyclist, not because of inatention but simply because of light conditions. Please stop accusing the driver with only scant knowledge of the facts.Let the investigation continue and the chips fall were they may. I feel very sorry for Covey and her son, of course, but also sorry for the 22 who was the agent of Covey's death. Fortunately her child has a father. I am sure that the father and other family members will be most helpful in helping the child cope with this traumatic loss.


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 11:52 am

I pray the distric attorney doesn't files charges simply because he is asked to, because someone wants somebody to be at fault. I pray he files charges if they are warranted only. We cannot decide for him. Only an analysis of the facts will show if it charges are warranted.
Hurt is hardly a good guide for justice.


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Posted by Former Resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm

This brings back memories. There was somebody who lived near that intersection who hated bicyclists. One day, he threw a crowbar at me. Of course, the useless San Mateo County Sheriff was totally useless. Fortunately, he is gone.

I've been on that road many time, both on a bicycle and in a vehicle. I'm sure the problems of then still exist today.

By the way, while the California Vehicle Code differentiates between a "vehicle" and a "motor vehicle," CVC 21200 provides that bicyclists "have all the rights and duties of a vehicle."


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm

nd writes...

"We do not know if the van driver is at fault or simply wasn't able to see the cyclist, not because of inatention but simply because of light conditions."

If you can't see where you are going and you hit the accelerator anyway, you have made a mistake and the fault is on you. Since the days I was taught to drive, it appears we have numbed ourselves to the great responsibility you assume when you get behind the wheel of a car.

This doesn't make the driver an evil person - it makes him a less than skilled driver. If you live on Elk Tree, ask yourself this question - do you want this same driver to continue making deliveries to your house, turning into and out of Elk Tree and other roads on Skyline despite his inability to drive on such roads? This time it was a lowlander cyclist. Next time it might be your car.

He should lose his job, and whatever penalties are legally allowed should be placed upon his driver's license. He can get another job - he's no more suited to be a delivery driver than someone who spills your meal on your lap is suited to be a waitress - but in this case his lack of suitability may cost you your life, not your pants.


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Posted by La Hondan
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm

To John Murphy: As others have eloquently state elsewhere on this thread, speculating as to the culpability of either party in the accident, which you are not a witness to, nor in possession of all of the facts is simply irresponsible.

Please let this family grieve and let the CHP do their job in investigating the accident.


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Posted by Willow Cyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Former Resident, your alleged quote does not appear in CVC 21200. See my earlier post regarding the provisions specifically enumerated in CVC 21200 as pertaining to cyclists. Rules of the Road apply; Equipment of Vehicles does not.


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm

La Hondan -

To start, I was responding to nd's hypothetical, which was that if the van driver could not see the cyclist due to lighting conditions, then the van driver is not at fault. This is untrue.

While the driver does get the presumption of innocence, we have this in the record, from the CHP.

"Ms. Covey was traveling northbound on a downhill section of Skyline at about 1:30 p.m. Sept. 18 when a white Mazda minivan turned left onto Elk Tree Road "directly in front of the bicycle," the California Highway Patrol said."

That's pretty complete. There are some outliers such as "Van turned left onto Elk Tree to avoid a car driving north in the southbound lane" but as a gambling man, I'm betting on occam's razor here. Driver at fault.


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Posted by La Hondan
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm

John Murphy:

I see that you are responding to another comment, and you correctly state that the driver does get the presumption of innocence, you then go on to rely on a quote in a newspaper from the CHP (not the same as an actual detailed CHP report, which is not yet complete) but you go on to state "Driver at fault." Responsible people will wait for the CHP full report and then judge. Until then, you are simply causing more pain to all involved with your speculation.

Please remember that a year or two ago, there was a terrible head-on accident on Hwy 1 in which one woman was killed and another local woman was badly injured. Initial newspaper articles and reports suggested that the surviving driver was at fault. This caused her family enormous pain. Eventually, when the full report was completed, it turned out that the driver who was killed had caused the accident. Please do all parties involved the courtesy of waiting for the full report to publicly pass judgement.


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Murphy states:
" If you can't see where you are going and you hit the accelerator anyway, you have made a mistake and the fault is on you."

Your opinion does not make any sense. I may (both as a pedestrian, biker or driver) see perfectly well where I am going, but I may not see oncoming traffic either because it's hidden from me and appears too suddenly for reaction, or because the light and shade changes abruptly, or because of any other miriad of reasons for example clothing on a biker or a pedestrian that camouflages well.

Joy Covey couldn't perhaps stop suddenly even though she may have been biking very responsibly and paying attention but very fast. Maybe she herself didn't see the van. As a biker said "As a cyclist, my experience is that it is extremely difficult to ride down a hill like 35 slowly and almost impossible to make a sudden stop without going over the handlebars when the terrain is that steep." A biker has as much legal obligation to avoid accidents as a driver. Should a biker not use that stretch of road because he/she knows it's almost impossible to stop?

As others who know (not just looking at street view,but a resident of Elk Tree) had mention "Before you make any judgement regarding who was at fault in this tragic accident, drive or ride the road yourself. The visibility is equally as bad for bicyclists as it is for motorists."

We don't know where exactly she hit the van and that will go a long way to explain what happened. Only an analysis of the accident can provide sufficient evidence to determine who is at fault and what penalties are warranted. But we will never really know if Joy and the driver were both paying sufficient attention to the road. Evidence can only determine some aspects of the accident. My heart goes out to Joy's family and also to the 22 year old who may or may not have been at fault and has now to cope with unnecessary hatred and bad will. Let the CHP come to a conclusion and if warranted let the legal system take its course.


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I've ridden that stretch hundreds of time. Regardless...

The responsibility of any vehicle user making a left turn is to verify that there is no oncoming traffic. If visibility is poor, the proper move is to take a second and third look before making that left, not to just make the turn and hope that there isn't anything you missed.

No matter what the outcome of this incident, that's a lesson we should take to heart. In this spot alone, 2 people have paid for that lack of diligence.


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Posted by Diane Peacock
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Judy,

This is Diane - cousin Donn's wife. We are so sorry to hear about Joy. Our thoughts are with you. Much love.


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Murphy says " If visibility is poor, the proper move is to take a second and third look before making that left, not to just make the turn and hope that there isn't anything you missed."

This makes no sense unless you want vehicles both bikes and cars not to move at all. Looking several times would do no good to anyone because at each time the possibility of someone (biker for example) appearing on the road is the same for each instance (elmentary probability theory) For example, suppose someone the driver had looked 3 times and at the 3rd time sees Joy approaching- it saves Joy, but then he looks twice more and proceeds and after Joy another biker appears suddenly- the van would have had the accident against the 2nd person. It would have been a matter of luck or lack of it unless as I said you want traffic to stay still forever. And please remember that while the van is waiting to turn the possibility of another vehicle travelling in the same direction hitting him is not to be discounted.
We are required as drivers not to drive negligently. That's all. We are not required to take every precaution known to mankind. The world could not function that way. What would an ordinary person do? If it's me I just don't travel skyline B if I can at all avoid it (it has been years...) but many people have too others or like too (bikers, etc) .
There are a lot of accidents there, many with bikers but also some cars. That's food for thought.
Murphy I will not comment on your posts anymore. You seem to be bent on causing pain and confusion without knowing the facts. Wait for the CHP and we will know.


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Posted by Sentinel
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm

John Murphy - it is also in the best interest of a driver or cyclist who is approaching a known trouble spot to slow down in anticipation of such an incident. It's called defensive driving. Do you slow down when you approach that curve or do you proceed at full speed expecting everyone who may be coming the other direction will be "diligent"?


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Posted by Donn Peacock
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Judy, my thoughts are with you and we are grieving the loss of Joy. I keep thinking of the great times we had together, both at my mom's house and at your dad's house when we would work there in the summer. We are all in shock and know this is a very difficult time for you. Please reach out to me. I am grieving with you. Donn (donnpeacock0924@gmail.com)


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I am confused, because she is said to have been a careful, responsible person and was a single mother. I have also read that she was into extreme sports. That is in conflict with being careful and responsible. The loss is so horrifying for her loved ones. It's also terrible for the driver.

For those who think the driver was at fault, please tell me - if you have to make a left turn and have limited liability due to the road, what are you supposed to do? I have seen terrible placement of intersecting roads, especially in the hills, and from my recollection of this area, that's the issue with this connecting lane.

Today, thinking about this accident while driving on a curving road, I was hampered by a cyclist driving in the middle of the lane at approx 3mph. It was quite awhile before he moved to the right so that people could pass him, even though nothing was stopping him doing so sooner. Then, shortly after, while approaching a stop sign, a cyclist coming the opposite direction just blew through it, without pause. Given the amount of traffic, lack of road shoulder, no bike lane or sidewalk, steep embankment on the cyclist's side and his rate of speed, it was incredibly foolish. Sure, he had the legal right to cycle there, but that doesn't matter if he's dead.


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Posted by Melinda Stoker
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 20, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Dear Judy, my heart is broken. Joy was my friend, and I ride / take care of her horse, Red. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. melindastoker@yahoo.com please let me know about services.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2013 at 7:11 am

Let's not start "anecdote wars" where people talk about seeing drivers or bicyclists do stupid things. None of those stories have anything to do with this tragic incident.


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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2013 at 11:42 am

It's been happening that way for awhile & I find it helpful, Donald.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

It was a tragic accident. My heart goes out the families. Let the investigation into the accident be conducted by professionals, not Jr. policemen or those who think they know the law but really do not. The is no the place to take about good/bad drivers/bicyclists


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Posted by Kate
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I don't think it matters who is to blame. A woman/mother is dead, a young man has to live with this the rest of his life. That is punishment enough. Jail/prison doesn't help anyone. Lucky for Joy's son he will be cared for and appears he does not lack for money.
I both ride and drive that area. Everyone needs to slow down! This was not a case of speeding. Just an opportunity to express that desire. Cars and motorcycles drive at frightening speeds.


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Posted by Mike Jacoubowsky
a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2013 at 10:09 am

Just four days after Joy's fatal accident at this intersection and I took a video of this happening-

Web Link

The cyclist WAS visible. Flashing light. Bright colored jersey that didn't mix with the surrounding. And yet the car, possibly someone local, pulls right in front of the cyclist.

If an intersection is dangerous, you mitigate the dangers by being especially careful. Plain and simple. Exiting Elk Tree Road and turning left, as the drive in this video did, you have a long clean line of site to your north... the only potential unexpected conflict is from the south (uphill). That is where you look LAST and CAREFULLY.

If you don't have time to do so because of approaching traffic to the north, you wait until it's entirely clear. It really is that simple. But people want to try and "punch a hole" through traffic. That's really what a lot of this comes down to. We're in a hurry, rushed, don't want to be sitting around forever. And you will see a cyclist, a car, just about anything, even if it's trying to blend in, because it's moving.

It wasn't dark, it wasn't raining. We can all stay live if we pay attention and drive and ride carefully.


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Mike Jacoubowsky,
I just watched your YouTube -
I live in this neighborhood and can't believe this happened. In my opinion, the way the driver came so quickly around the corner and pulled up past the stopping line before the stop sign, leads me to think it isn't a local. Those of us who pull in and out of this intersection everyday, are normally very careful when approaching Skyline. We know that we don't know what to expect. Anything can happen at that intersection and I see my neighbors being very cautious as we approach Skyline and cautious when we're pulling in/out of Elk Tree.
It really makes me made to see this reckless driving - I honk at drivers all the time who drive too fast on our curvy, tree-lined roads. (Cyclists do some "not so safe" maneuvers fairly often as well, but I don't honk; I drive slowly enough, especially up/down OLH, so I can react and save both of our butts).
Since this was a Sunday afternoon, I'm wondering if this was a visitor for the open house that's for sale or some other visitor to the neighborhood; someone who does not have the day-to-day experience with our roads and therefore made this very stupid (and nearly costly) error in judgement when pulling out in front of that cyclist.

I don't know how you kept yourself from screaming at that car!


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Posted by Harriet
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 23, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I am deeply disturbed by the speculation about the accident that resulted in Joy Covey's death and the aspersions cast in both directions from motorists and cyclists alike.

Several weeks ago, I made the suggestion on a local message board that we all start a capital campaign to make a bike trail up to Skyline that would eliminate the deadly mix of cars and bikes off HWY. 84 , Old La Honda and King's Mountain. I barley got a response.

I think we should al be working together to create safer conditions. It is fruitless to point blame. Let the CHP decide if anyone is to be cited. They are studying this intersection.


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Posted by senior moment
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm

2 50ish women cyclists flagged me down at 84/Portola yesterday at 3pm.
They said they wanted to know how to get to Old La Honda, as they were separated from their group which had a "Ride to Pescadero" itinerary.
One had a yellow vest, but the other had just black and white cycle gear, not highly visible against a treed background after Sat. rains.
I told them not a good idea to ride up the mountain after the Sat. drenching as lots of sluff would be on the shoulder, and together with 84 repaving and cones, and the usual Sunday drivers after an early season storm, it would be dangerous to go up 84 or even Old La Honda.
I asked where their sleeping bags were, as I knew they wouldn't make it far before dark.
What are you supposed to do when 2 middle aged women cyclists, obviously not experienced with the local terrain, are insistent on rejoining their group headed to the coast?
I told them about Joy Covey's tragic mishap on Skyline, which if they had gone up Old La Honda, would have turned north on Skyline to get to 4 corners, then down 84 to the coast.
I told them that 84 repaving could create less than safe conditions for cyclists and motorists, etc.

Damned if you do help, damned if you tell them to forget it and try it on weekday when it's dried out and there's less traffic.



Yet they persisted, and I handed them some bright orange survey tape to wrap around their handlebars and wished them well.

I went up 84 to Grandview, and observed that conditions were dangerous and narrow, with limited shoulder, if they had even attempted going up 84. Boy, was I worried that I had indulged their goal seeking to get to the coast.

30 minutes later headed back down 84 and didn't see any sign of them, so maybe they headed back to Woodside/PV, or decided to try Old La Honda?

Not to belabor, but it's like the climber who has to get to the summit before dark but fails to verify the climbing conditions before making the trek.

Would be appreciated if local cycle groups forewarn on suitable websites that it's NOT a good idea to cycle over Skyline to the Coast during 84 repaving and after a hard rain


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Posted by jimmae
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Sep 24, 2013 at 8:09 am

@ Harriet.
Your suggestion for a dedicated path(off road)trail for cyclists from Woodside- Kings Mt-Skyline is a sound one(imho).
Opening this trail was proposed during the Huddart-Wunderlich master plan review 5+yrs ago, but sadly shot down every time by a few of the local, well connected(politically)equestrians.
Web Link
The Squealer Gulch trail specifically, 100% on the south side of Kings Mt Rd,(never once crossing any trails within Huddart or Teague Hill OSP). Squealer Gulch trail begins just below the entrance to Huddart, exiting just above the Archery Range hairpin.
This trail is an old logging rd, seemingly a perfect fit for what you(Harriet) suggest.
Proving cyclists an opportunity to ride up through Huddart via Greer rd on the paved park road, exiting Huddart x the entry station, accessing Squealer Gulch tr just below the entry gate, exiting onto Kings Mt rd above the Archery Range hairpin turn.

My sincerest condolences to the Covey family, this topic drift is an important notion to begin considering in avoiding another tragic occurrence such as what took Joy's life.


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:35 am

I watched the video that Mike Jacoubowsky posted. I think the car, after the obligatory stop sign had plenty of time to clear the cyclist. There is no suggestion that the cyclist wasn't seen by the driver, but the video was NOT filmed from the driver's view point which would have been honest. As a matter of fact the cyclist took sometime to arrive at the intersection ( elk rd) after the car had completely turned and was already placed in the right lane. No danger to the cyclist whatsoever and absolutely no negligence on the part of the driver. I would probably have waited for the cyclist to pass (if I could see him/her)(AGAIN: the video does NOT show what the driver is seeing) because I know that bikers can be very unpredictable (sometimes behaving according to vehicle rules, sometimes pedestrian rules and sometimes by their own rules). Just today when the light turned green and I went ahead the biker on the cross rd, with the traffic stopped decided that it was best to go ahead and red light be damned. If I had not seen him, he would have crashed into me and I very much prefer to avoid that-but it would have been his fault.
I suggest to Mike Jacoubowsky to make another video showing what a driver at ELk rd turning onto Skyline would see of the main rd and one that shows a negligent maneuver, not this one which shows nothing except bias from the film maker.
BYW, I timed the video. Indeed, there was no reason for the car not to turn when it did.


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Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm

@ndnorth -

> this one which shows nothing except bias from the film maker.

It's hard to tell from the video, but it appears to me that the cyclist is moving at a higher rate of speed at the top of the hill but then appears to moderately apply the brakes once he realizes that the car is going to cross his path. That's just my take on it though.

But irregardless of whether the cyclist needed to brake to avoid a collision or not, the vehicle driver only completes crossing the adjacent lane with barely one second to spare before the cyclist arrives at the Elk Tree Rd intersection. Respectfully, it is needlessly cavalier of the driver to pull out at that point.

Moreover, the drivers perspective as taken from Elk Tree Rd would give even less support for pulling out than not since the ability to judge the rate of oncoming traffic is even less due to the loss of side perspective.

I don't see how one can attribute bias to Mr. Jacubowsky's video. It shows what it shows and I don't see how his bit of side perspective colors the facts of what was viewed.

Was it reckless and negligent for the driver to pull out when he/she did? If the cyclist did not have to brake, then perhaps not. But was it driving defensively with a respectful view of safety first? IMHO, not.


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm

No no no fwiw, I timed the video. It's 4 seconds from the car clearing the intersection and being fully on the road upwards right lane and the biker coming onto the elk rd intersection.So for the car to "clear" the biker is even longer. It's plenty of time. From the video I cannot calculate the biker's speed because I don't know the distance travelled. To me it looks scary that someone biking on a descent is coming fast, knowing that it's almost impossible to stop suddenly without going over the handlebars. I cannot discern any breaking by the biker but if it happened it's the right thing to do, regardless of other traffic on the road. Drivers or bikers cannot be waiting for traffic to go by if it's clear that there is plenty of time to cross the intersection safely and legally otherwise we could in certain circumstances stay put all day and night. In any case this video was not made from either the position of the car driver or from the same position as the accident with the van, and that I find manipulative and intelectually not honest. In any case this has nothing to do with a particular accident. As I said, I would have waited if I had been the driver because I am very scared of bikers. They may not be any better or worse than car drivers on the road but because a biker is more unprotected than a car driver, any accident will be damaging. We have pedestrian's thoroufares separated from cars precisely for the damaging effects of a collision.


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Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 24, 2013 at 4:09 pm


The Youtube video shows the left rear wheel crossing all the way into his own lane at 0:10+ seconds according to the moving timeline at the bottom. The cyclist passes the Elk Tree sign before 0:12 seconds. Total time less than two seconds.

Perhaps the driver has cleared the immediate path of the cyclist a half second earlier, but he/she cannot definitively know if the cyclist will need to veer farther out towards the center line to avoid obstructions, so he/she really needs to give the whole lane to the cyclist.

Just my thoughts. Cyclists should be defensive but scrubbing off speed before every potential turning car is only inviting those cars to decide that they really shouldn't be waiting for you. The legal and right thing for the cyclist to do is the same thing that you would do in a car and you wouldn't tap the brakes, though being prepared is always good.


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Well. if the video clock was accurate then wasn't the cyclist biking at an astonishing (ilegal btw) high speed.....? Make your sums. you can't have it both ways.

Sprry, but I do decresase speed at intersection and I have avoided accidents.

This video has nothing to do with the accident. It is also inflamatory as if the car driver coming out of Elk Rd had an obligation to know of the weekend accident. It is silly if the subject wasn't so serious. But we digress and I end my discussion here.


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Posted by Skylonda Resident
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 25, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I am so very sad this happened and it was an accident. Drivers do not purposely aim for bycylists up here and some make it sound like we do. These hyways were not made for bycylist hence, no lanes for them so it is very dangerous in most areas for byclists and we have to always try and be safe at all times. Lets all try and becareful.


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Posted by Annie Nunan
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Sep 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Dear Judy,
My deepest sympathy to you and your family.
I had met her in my Restaurant in Palo Alto.
Please let me know about services.


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Posted by Skylondan
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 26, 2013 at 10:50 pm

The van driver was turning left from Skyline onto Elk Tree. Mike's video is anecdotal, proves NOTHING and is not the same scenario as the accident.

I think that the video should be removed from this thread.

I also think that the Almanac should retract the inflammatory language used in citing the CHP as saying the van "directly in front of the bicycle," If it is a legitimate quote, it would have a name of an officer attached to it. This has turned into a kangaroo court. I expect more of the folks who reside here on the Peninsula and more of our local press.


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Posted by Andy
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 27, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I ride the hills around Woodside and Portola Valley multiple times each week.

From this thread I conclude two things that concern me quite a bit: 1) There are even more drivers out there than I suspected who will make knuckle-headed maneuvers that jeopardize my life as a direct result of their carelessness, incapacity or neglect, and 2) There are a seemingly large number of citizens locally who will aggressively defend their right to make the aforementioned knuckle-headed maneuvers by rationalizing the size of the safety margin or shifting fault/responsibility to the cyclist (sometimes in direct contradiction to the CA vehicle code). This does not bode well for safety if those attitudes translate to conscious decisions behind the wheel - particularly, but not exclusively, for cyclists.

Thanks for posting the video Mike - it was informative as to the general nature of the threat out there, but the reactions to it were even more informative.

Defensive riding meter set up two notches. Blinky lights set to maximum.

(Note - I am not commenting on the this specific accident. I'll keep my Achim's razor assessment private).


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Posted by ndnorth
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Andy's comment it's personally directed without any foundation.

I have said what I needed to say about the video, the rate of speed of the biker and the lack of aparent danger of the filmed car to the biker. It is intolerable that Andy says " This does not bode well for safety if those attitudes translate to conscious decisions behind the wheel - particularly, but not exclusively, for cyclists."

I have saved many bikers from their dangerous and many times illegal maneuvers with my prudence and lack of need for assertivness on the road. Had I (and many other drivers) insisted on right of way the same way we do with cars no doubt there would have been many more accidents with bikers. I am not the only one terrified of what I see cyclists do and therefore I employ all care in the world when I see them on the road. To imply that because my well foundaded opinion about the video (the calculation of biker's speed is elementary physics) I will entertain dangerous ways of driving is astounding. I can tell you that I have provoked ZERO accidents with any vehicle or person and I have been driving for decades. Maybe cyclists would do better if they abide by traffic laws including stop signs and behave like the vehicle their are at all times. I don't begrude cyclists their time biking but I notice their own disregard for safety. Are they any worst than car drivers.? Probably not, but they are more vulnerable and if not for any other reason they should stay also within the margins of acceptable behavior.
The "Joy" accident in which the biker crashed on the side of the left turning van, is being investigated. Let the chips fall where they may.
And let us stop this stupidity (has no other name) of the blame game.
Oops,just now a cyclist, hand off the handle bars, checking his phone, blew through the stop sign at Bryant and Everett. I see this all the time.....


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Posted by Concerned Cyclist
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2013 at 8:52 am

I've cycled north and southbound on that stretch of road a few hundred times.

The law has to be changed that the driver is automatically manslaughter due to neglect until evidence is to the contrary, as that is the default that driver simply did not adequately look. In an encounter between any car/van/truck and a cyclist, the driver is perfectly cocooned and at worse has had a bad mental experience with no physical damage, the cyclist at worse is dead, or severely injured.

As a cyclist coming south bend on that stretch of road, I am in the middle of the road near the central line as I emerge the corner, this brings forward the moment I become visible to oncoming vehicles and I can see oncoming cars. I usually put on a very bright flasher even in daylight to add "for pity's sake see me". If the driver despite all the obvious evidence for seconds there is a cyclist approaching then still decides to turn in front of me, I can glance avoid by turning to my left. That swaps the certainty of being hit by the turning vehicle into the possibility of being hit by anything behind the turning the vehicle.

It is not good the report mentions helmets, the presumption that they do any good when overall they are net neutral and those who know medicine and physics are undermined by the notion helmets are de-facto a good thing.

I've bike 10,000 miles/year and have biked for 42 years. I speak from a lot of experience.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 7, 2013 at 9:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sounds like a great place for 4 way stop signs. And enforcement to ensure that the stop signs are obeyed by everyone including the bicyclists.


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