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Speed Trap

Original post made by Tom Newon, Atherton: West of Alameda, on Aug 22, 2014

On Wednesday August 20th while driving from my home in Atherton to my office in San Francisco, I was pulled over by a motor cycle officer on Woodside Road for speeding. At the section of Woodside Road that changes from 45 mph to 35 mph there were between 10 or 20 motor cycle officers pulling over almost everyone that drove on that road that day. This was an obvious speed trap. I wouldn't be surprised if no less than 100 drivers received tickets this day.
I am a big supporter of law enforcement and in light of what has been going on in Ferguson, MO I think law enforcement deserves the support of the community they serve. Whomever it was that made the decision to set up this speed trap not only had bad timing but did not consider the economic effect it could have on the community of Woodside.
When I asked the officer if he would consider giving me a warning instead of a ticket because I have a spotless driving record and that I got the message to slow down and would not do it again he told me that they had a "zero tolerance policy".
This was obviously a direct attempt to raise revenue for the town of Woodside. This is not what I think our local police and elected officials should be doing to its citizens when charged with "protecting and serving" us.
As a result of the town's decision to take money from me, I will no longer give Woodside my consumer dollars. I too have a "zero tolerance policy" when it comes to cheating me. I used to go out of my way to support Woodside restaurants, grocery stores and hardware stores, but no longer. They may get a couple hundred dollars from my ticket, but it's going to cost them a lot more than that in revenue. I would encourage everyone who, like me he cheated on Wednesday to show the town with your wallets that this is not acceptable.

Comments (42)

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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 22, 2014 at 11:17 am

Are these citations public record? If so, gathering that information to support your contention might be a way of getting their attention. You could share it with Woodside businesses to solicit their support to put pressure on the City of Woodside. Maybe call Michael Finney of 7 on your side.

Good luck!


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 22, 2014 at 11:24 am

pogo is a registered user.

Woodside does not have a police department. We use the Sheriff's Department.

Your anger and retribution is misplaced. Your fine will go to San Mateo County, not to Woodside.


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Posted by greener grass
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Aug 22, 2014 at 11:32 am

>>> "in light of what has been going on in Ferguson, MO I think law enforcement deserves the support of the community they serve"

Whaaaa? What does the killing of an unarmed man by a cop (6 shots while holding up his arms in surrender pose) have to do with your failure to obey speed limits?

>>> "but did not consider the economic effect it could have on the community of Woodside."

Yeah. Us po' folk in Woodside apparently can't afford to follow the laws of the land.

>>> "I will no longer give Woodside my consumer dollars."

That'll show 'em. Baby, meet bathwater.

>>> "Maybe call Michael Finney"

Whaaaa??? Tell Michael about how you were speeding and it's a consumer affairs issue. Let me know when you are calling - I can't wait to hear the call!

>>> "I think law enforcement deserves the support of the community they serve."

The support they are looking for from you is OBEYING THE LAW. You made a choice to not support law enforcement by breaking the law.

At least they didn't get you for DWB. As we all know, that can be fatal.



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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 22, 2014 at 11:36 am

I should have guessed as much. Now that I'm involved, I have to ask the question: Does the City of Woodside have a profit sharing agreement with the Sheriff's Department? Did they request any special enforcement effort on that day?


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Posted by greener grass
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Aug 22, 2014 at 11:41 am

Mr. Newton: all kidding aside, you only drive a very short distance on Woodside Road every day (maybe a block?) Please help the rest of us by driving safely and within the law.

Go to traffic school like the rest of us, and don't take out your anger on hardworking small businesses. Boycotts, against small businesses, because of what the sheriffs did. Ugh.


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Posted by smiling
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 22, 2014 at 11:50 am

I drive that roadway regularly, and am happy to hear that people who can't be bothered to reduce their speed (i.e. follow the law) there have finally been popped. I'm tired of being tail-gated and honked at by cavemen and/or entitled royalty when I reduce my speed. Does anyone remember that an elementary school teacher was killed on that stretch of the road while riding her bicycle several years ago?


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm

On Woodside Rd. from 280 to Churchill, there are 45 MPH signs followed by 35 MPH signs, which also state 'Radar Enforced'. There are no speed traps, unless one chooses to not read the signs and obey the speed limit.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm

1. Thanks POGO for your comment. I'd like to add something -- that particular portion of Woodside Road might actually be patrolled by the CHP.

2. Thanks also to those to applauded the enforcement of the speed limit. I live in the area, and encounter impatient speeders almost daily on Woodside Road. ALSO: At least half of the drivers are on the phone. I wish tickets for that illegal behavior would be issued too.

AND: I wish more tickets would be written to phone users on the Alameda in Atherton. Everyone is on the phone there. That would generate megabucks -- it would balance the county budget!

Ever since someone on the phone rear-ended my car on the Atherton stretch of the Alameda, I've noticed that nearly EVERY driver is on the phone....especially during the "rush" hour when they get bored being in a little traffic. When I see that daily, my neck hurts even more.


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Woodside Road is actually STATE ROAD 84. It is a STATE highway and everything from setting speed limits to striping the highway to maintenance to done by the STATE through CalTrans. The Town of Woodside has nothing to do with this highway.

Woodside does not "share" in traffic fines, even for those traffic tickets on its own streets which Woodside Road is not. Again, this ticket was issued by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department. Woodside, ironically unlike Atherton, does not have a police department.

Mr. Newon does not state how fast he was driving or challenge his speeding. As others have asked, why don't you just look inward, accept your responsibility for speeding... AND SIMPLY SLOW DOWN.


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Posted by NvrClmd2bNice
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Aug 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm

NvrClmd2bNice is a registered user.

[Post removed; off topic]


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Posted by MenloGal
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm

You pass right by Woodside High School at that time and the students recently returned, that is more likely the reason for the dragnet. Oh yeah, slow down and follow the signs. It wasn't a speed trap, you were likely speeding.


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Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2014 at 1:57 pm

My daughter also received a speeding ticket in this same area on Wed. She also commented that there were no less than 10 motorcycle cops parked on Woodside Rd. The officer was rude to a teenage girl who has never had a traffic violation. It did scare her a bit. I thought our officers were supposed to be supportive of our community not rude.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Menlo Gal -- Good point about the relationship between school starting and traffic enforcement. The police are doing us a favor by slowing the speeders on Woodside Road.

Again -- I hope that tickets will be given for people using their phones while driving too.

Even tho it's lousy to get a ticket, it has/or should have definite "consciousness-raising" effects.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Concerned Parent - it's good they scared your daughter. Maybe now she won't speed as much or as often. Guess what cops being supportive of the community means? Enforcing the laws so that the community is safe. Members of the community who break laws that can result in injuries to others need to be held accountable. Now your daughter has an opportunity to improve her driving skills.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 22, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Getting ticketed for a moving violation is a great reminder of the importance of intelligent driving.

It's akin to being slapped and saying "Thanks, I needed that."


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Joe makes a good point. And it sounds like Tom is fine with the cops stopping jaywalking black teenagers from lower income areas, but they aren't supposed to stop well-to-do businessmen violating the speed limit in a neighboring community. Interesting.


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Posted by SusiQ
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Aug 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

The speed limit changes because the traffic getting on 280 North merges with the bike Lane there. A teacher was killed there a couple of years ago. People need to obey the speed limit and make the road safer for everyone. That includes you.


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Posted by mlk
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 22, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I am a little stunned at the indignation of a fellow who got a speeding ticket -when he was speeding. Just so you don't feel singled out, I got one too in the same place about two years ago. I went to traffic school (online)- not a major inconvenience. Someone mentioned it earlier, but try to remember what happened there when another careless driver made a similar mistake:

"The Menlo Park school community is in shock and sadness after learning that Michelle Mazzei, a beloved fourth-grade teacher at Oak Knoll School, died Sunday after being hit by a car as she was bicycling on Woodside Road near Interstate 280 in Woodside."

Perhaps, in this case, law enforcement is just doing their job - to keep us safe, not to take your money. That you would even think to mention your speeding ticket in connection with what happened in Ferguson is a little hard to believe.


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Posted by libertarian larry
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Yo Jack... you libertarians would rather fight the law than obey it?

Stpp signs are a sign of big guvmint infringing on your rights?


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

This was announced on the SMC Sheriff FB page.
San Mateo County Sheriff's Office
August 20
If you are in the cities of Woodside, Portola Valley, or Redwood City today and see twenty-seven traffic officers from various law enforcement agencies driving around, they will be participating in the San Mateo County Saturation Traffic Enforcement Program (S.T.E.P.). The STEP program is a collaborative effort to increase traffic safety and awareness in known trouble spots throughout San Mateo County. The deployment will include education and enforcement on unsafe speed violations as well as occupant protection and distracted driving. This is one of a number of planned multi-agency saturation deployments scheduled to be performed throughout San Mateo County in various cities and jurisdictions over the coming year.

Go there to check the comments


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 22, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

I always love when someone gets tagged for a traffic violation and somehow feels that they are "special" and should receive a warning. Here's a novel concept, pay attention to what you're doing behind the wheel. If you do you'll see when the signs change indicating the speed limit changes then you can SLOW DOWN. And you won't get a ticket. You blew it. Step up, be a man and act like one.


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Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2014 at 8:02 pm

>>>"The officer was rude to a teenage girl who has never had a traffic violation. It did scare her a bit."

"Rude" because he didn't smile or tell her how sorry he was to have to give her her first ticket? She was probably scared of her parents' insurance company being notified. She's definitely luckier than the teenage girl who hit her first pedestrian in Atherton a few weeks ago.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Driving is a privilege, we have a lot of traffic in this county, even more reason to obey the law. phones down & slow down……..27 police officers


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Posted by SKB
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 22, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Many good points are being posted here. This stretch of state highway needs to be reexamined and the
rationale for the increase from 35 to 45 should be carefully examined. The flow of traffic indeed is
usually over the posted amount.
The fatality a few years ago was caused by an out of area motorist drifting into the bike lane .
I hope everyone posting will drive this stretch and carefully monitor your speed and see if you agree
with me.
I was ticketed in early August and I plan to make this request before the judge.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 22, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Without the benefit of much experience, if there is anyone who should be driving extra carefully and cautiously, it is teenagers. The police should (and apparently did) treat all the drivers they stopped equally.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 23, 2014 at 5:49 am

SteveC is a registered user.

Tom: Time to put your big boy pants on and take responsibility for your own actions. You were speeding, period. You got the ticket. Pay it or go to court as anyone else can who think the ticket was a mistake. I am sure the judge will have a good laugh, speed trap, ya right.


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Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 23, 2014 at 9:06 am

Does anybody know whether there was a traffic survey back in 2006 when the limit was lowered? Generally speaking CA Vehicle Code requires speed limits to be set at the 85th percentile of overall traffic speed and non-compliant areas may not use radar. That is why you will never see radar being used on Embarcadero in Palo Alto with its 25 MPH limit.

In 2009 the state tightened up its requirements on the limitations of speed traps and added language to its CA DOT mannual on traffic control devices. The only exception is if there is traffic study signed off by a traffic engineer who certifies conditions which require a lower limit due to conditions which are not readily apparent to drivers.

In 2011 AB529 was passed in to law which allowed the 85th percentile speed to be rounded up to the nearest 5 mph rather than the prior requirement of rounding down.

One item of note is that by every account of which I have read speed was not at all an issue in the 2006 cyclist death. From the multiple media accounts which I viewed, the driver speed was already below the limit at the time. The problem was a more mature driver who was simply bewildered with that section of road and looking for the freeway on ramp and missed the forest for the trees. In this case the driver was completely unfamiliar with the area and originally exited from 280 going East on Woodside Rd in search of a payphone. Upon his realization that this was the year 2006 and payphones no longer exist, he pulled a U turn going back West and hit the cyclist while trying to locate the on ramp.


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Posted by Manlo Punk
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2014 at 9:06 am

I was stopped and cited too, my fault. I was driving too fast and paid the price. Doesn't matter who it goes too, I blew it! Leave the cops alone. Anyone complaining about that should go try to do that job. See what you say then.


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2014 at 9:08 am

Tom and everyone else,
Take a look at California Vehicle Code 40802 for the definition of a speed trap.


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Posted by fwiw
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 23, 2014 at 9:08 am

round up vs round down. apparently I'm dyslexic today. Please reverse my words in my prior discussion.


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Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Aug 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I drove by that flock of CHiPs on that day.

Just before I and the driver in front of me passed by the intersection with the gaggle of CHiPs, a minivan roared passed us. I would have paid good money to see the minivan driver's face the moment he/she saw the collection of motorcycle officers :)

That said, while I respect the attempt to address the loss of life on that road from a couple years ago, I do think having drivers go from 35mph to 45mph then backdown to 35mph just before the freeway (which is 65mph), is unexpected and (without knowing the history of the road) unreasonable. There's nothing about the 45mph section of the road that is significantly different than the 35mph section of road (well, except the 35mph section preceeds the 65mph section).

If people are actually interested in improving the safety of the road in that area, a better solution is to one/both of the following :

1) standardize the speed through that area. I suggest splitting the difference and setting the limit to 40mph.

2) create a barrier between bicyclists and motor vehicles.


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Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Funny how types like Tom Newton would be all about "personal responsibility" -- until it comes to something they actually did. Then, it's time to blame others (police/the state/government/Big Brother).

I have to agree with those who have advised Tom to keep quiet and accept the consequences of his actions. Whether that will actually happen...


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 23, 2014 at 5:34 pm

pogo is a registered user.

I drive through that area almost every day.

My understanding of the reduced 35MPH speed limit is the complexity of the bike lane at the 280 intersection. the bike lane detours from the far edge of the roadway, crosses a full lane of traffic, and is then "between" the lane of traffic entering the 280 NB and the through lanes of traffic that continue under the bridge.

I frequently notice traffic ignoring the people on bicycles who must traverse this treacherous stretch of road and the ride with West bound traffic on either side of them. It is very scary for them. I always give these bike riders a very wide berth, although traffic behind me is often impatient and does not understand why I have slowed down.

I'm guilty of speeding from time to time and although I haven't received a citation in quite some time, I own it when I do. I'm sure there are other times when my speeding goes unnoticed.


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Posted by Thank you!, said the cyclist
a resident of Woodside High School
on Aug 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm

For once I felt safe riding towards Woodside near 280. No antsy drivers cutting me off, while I'm on the bike lane near the North bound 280 on-ramp.









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Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 23, 2014 at 6:46 pm

> My understanding of the reduced 35MPH speed limit is the complexity of the bike lane at the 280 intersection

Thanks for the reminder! I drive that section frequently as well, but I have to admit that I didn't/couldn't visualize the bike lane configuration.

This section definitely seems like a candidate for the colorized bike lanes such as in PV off of the Alpine Rd exit.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 23, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Traffic signs are a compromise by traffic engineers. Safety should be the defining issue for a citation. Is it safe to go through red light after stopping and verifying that there is no traffic, vehicular, pedestrian or animal? Absolutely, except when a black and white(or whatever color) is lurking. Should you get a citation? No, and if you had a 360 degree camera recording of the scene, you could beat it. Maybe even sue for harassment if you advised the officer of the safe conditions and he still issued the citation.(be sure to record the conversation)

I have had many speeding tickets in my lifetime. I have had a CHP officer inspect my car after one incident, and tell me I had the right kind of tires for the speed at which I was travelling.

My most notable(and unfair) ticket occurred during the fuel crisis in 1982 when the speed limit on freeways was lowered to 55. As a candidate for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary, I was driving to an event in Yreka. I got a speeding ticket. my opponent, Pete McClosky, travelled by plane at speeds 3 times mine. He didn't get a ticket. Neither of us won the election.


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 23, 2014 at 8:56 pm

pogo is a registered user.

The reason safety isn't the defining issue for a citation is that it is highly subjective. A teenager might think that stopping and proceeding through a red light is fine if there's just enough room for him to make it.

Hey, here's an idea - how about just obeying the law? It's not that difficult and maybe we can set an example for our elected officials.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 24, 2014 at 5:20 am

It's not what the teenager thinks that counts, it's the expert opinion of the citing officer.(unless proven otherwise)


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Posted by MonkeyInTheMiddle
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 24, 2014 at 7:44 am

Just goes to show you that the cops don't need to give a ticket to every violator. The ones who get caught tell a lot of people about the enforcement, causing others to slow down. Excellent work by the cops.


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Posted by greener grass
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Aug 24, 2014 at 10:28 am

I'm confused. Almost everyone here is advocating obeying the law as posted, yet one poster seems content with fighting the law, tells the miscreant to call a consumer fraud radio show, wonders about "a profit sharing agreement", etc..

Now he posts about being okay to proceed through a red light if the driver *thinks* it's okay (think about teens, or a 79 year old driver.) He also thinks that going 50 on El Camino in a posted 35 zone is okay if an officer "tell(s) me I had the right kind of tires for the speed at which I was travelling."

"My most notable(and unfair) ticket occurred during the fuel crisis in 1982 when the speed limit on freeways was lowered to 55." So while the rest of the country was patriotically slowing down to conserve oil, Jack blows through speed limits in a vanity campaign for Senate.

I'm still scratching my head on this: "my opponent, Pete McClosky, travelled by plane at speeds 3 times mine. He didn't get a ticket."



On what planet do you spend most of your time?

I would be a scared parent raising kids in Emerald Hills, RC.




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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

pogo is a registered user.

greener grass - I agree with you completely. For someone who advocates strict adherence to rules, this attitude from the poster is absurd.

"It's not what the teenager thinks that counts, it's the expert opinion of the citing officer.(unless proven otherwise)." Yeah, I don't see any problems with that kind of enforecment at all.

Perhaps the same expert opinion could be afforded to the President of our local hospital district. What could possibly go wrong?


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Posted by Old MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2014 at 11:32 am

Why not make the entire section of Woodside Rd from the Alameda to 280 as 35mph? Standardize the entire distance. Easy to understand and follow.

Let's face it - that small portion of 45mph saves you...what...15 seconds overall? Just make it 35mph the whole way. Easy peasy.


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