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Woodside driver identified in accident that killed Portola Valley cyclist

Original post made on May 30, 2007

The driver of the green 1995 Volvo that struck and killed Portola Valley resident and philanthropist Rodney Smith while he was bicycling on Sand Hill Road on May 25 was Anthony L. Rose, 87, of Woodside, according to the California Highway Patrol.

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Comments (16)

Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on May 30, 2007 at 3:00 pm

"It is unknown how fast Mr. Rose was driving at the time of the accident." Well, we know that he was traveling fast enough to kill a bicyclist. A speed limit of 55 mph , and an 85th percentile speed of 58 mph are criminally dangerous. There is no good purpose served in driving that fast for this short section of road. I drive it at 40 mph, and I know many other drivers do also. It takes a few seconds longer, but it is far safer for everyone. The County should re-engineer this road to lower speeds closer to 40 mph.


Posted by you know who, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 6, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Don't forget that Mr. Rose was 87 years old at the time of the accident. Should elderly drivers over 65 for example be subject to greater scrutiny when attmepting to renew their licenses? I agree that the 55 limit on Sand Hill west of 280 is set way too high and should be no greater than 35. In addition I frequently see eastbound drivers drifting across the shoulder stripe/bike lane stripe as they make that gradual right hand curve approaching where Mr. Rose ran down Mr. Smith. At high speeds, this could be construed as a blind curve. According to the paint marks made by the accident responders and a short bike tire skid mark on the pavement, Mr. Smith was struck while about two feet to the right of the lane stripe. One way to prevent this kind of inattentive tracking by drivers is to carve inverted rumble strips in the pavement just to the right of the painted stripe. In this case the rumble strip might start 100' or so before the start of this particular curve in the east bound direction only, terminating once the curve in the road ends.


Posted by Citizen A, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jun 6, 2007 at 3:56 pm

"you know who" - i appreciate your sentiment and good idea about the rumble strips.

At the same time, lowering the speed limit to 35 is going to do nothing. A bicyclist hit by a vehicle going 35 is still going to be gravely or fatally injured.

My suggestion: keep bikes off of roads that are higher than bikes can travel at. Just because someone has a bike doesn't mean they should have the privilege to drive it anywhere and everywhere. We've adopted that bikes cant drive on freeways.

Or perhaps just accept the risks involved.

Too often everyone claims about the rising legal costs and government taxes to protect "victims." Why not be more like the europeans where everyone accepts the risks versus overlay the costs onto the rest of society?


Posted by You know who, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 6, 2007 at 9:34 pm

Is Citizen A of Woodside actually suggesting that cyclists be legally excluded from roads where motorists travel faster than cyclists? And that road users accept risks but no responsibilities? Woodside is more dangerous than I thought!

BTW, A pedestrian or cyclist struck by a car travelling at 35 has a better chance of survival than a person struck by a car going faster. The issue is also about reaction time, especially by drivers with slower reactions that may be associated with age.


Posted by Ronald, a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2007 at 9:02 pm

Citizen A is a bit confused. I suggest that cars should be kept off of all roads where they travel faster than bicycles. We already have a network of freeways which are car-only routes. Why can't drivers just stick to those instead of insisting on driving on roads that are used by bicyclists? More seriously, if bicyclists were removed from roads, how much would the motorist fatality rate change? (answer: almost none) If cars were removed from the roads, how much would bicyclist fatality rates change? (answer: almost 100%) Bicycling per se is not dangerous; sharing the road with impatient, incompetent and idiotic drivers is what is dangerous (whether on foot, on a bike or in a car). To remove the bicyclists is to completely ignore and misunderstand the root cause of the problem: bad drivers. This is not something we should simply shrug and accept; motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for ages 4 through 34 in this country. We should be working as hard to eliminate those 40,000 deaths a year as we are to elminate a much smaller number of deaths from terrorists. More people on bikes and fewer in cars would reduce the number of deaths, reduce greenhouse gases and improve our national health. We should be doing everything we can to protect the safety of bicyclists and discourage people from driving unsafely. It will benefit our country's economy and health in the long run much more than what Citizen A proposes.

Europe has a strict liability law which means that in a crash between a motorist and a bicyclist (or pedestrian), the motorist is automatically found to be at fault unless he/she can prove that the bicyclist (or pedestrian) committed a gross violation. I would love to see that approach adopted here, and I am glad to see Citizen A and I are in agreement on that issue. If drivers were treated this way we might see them behaving more responsibly.


P.S. Bikes are allowed on freeways in many places. I myself have ridden hundreds of miles on I-5 and I-80, with the biggest hazard being flat tires from the wires of decomposing steel-belted radial tires.


Posted by Citizen A, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jun 8, 2007 at 10:50 am

"you know who" - if you don't like the risks, then just stick to your own neighborhood of Menlo Park. Citizens of Woodside are basically tired and sick of "bicyclists" not obeying any traffic laws consistently. So please just stick to your own neighborhood of Menlo Park and go biking there instead of coming to our neighborhood.


Posted by And the A stands for, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 8, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Citizen A: Sounds like a deal, as long as you promise not to drive your car outside of Woodside ever. We'll just contain everyone to their own towns whether on a bike or in a car -- genius idea!


Posted by Jose, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jun 8, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Yeah, things are bad. I was on Mountain Home today around noon, and there were some bicyclists poking along at about 20 mph. They insisted on riding a couple of feet from the ragged and beat up edge of the road instead of squeezing over and putting themselves in danger for the convenience of those of us in cars. One driver in front of me had a lot of trouble passing them. He had to cross the double-yellow line and speed up to 35-40 mph to get around them on the straightaway after the narrow bridge. Then the cheekly cyclists caught up to him as he waited to make his turn at the 4-way stop. A perfectly good display of impatience, agression and dangerous driving, all for nothing! Stupid bicyclists.


Posted by PastWoodsider, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 8, 2007 at 4:40 pm

I lived in Woodside for 5 years and drove 84 and Skyline daily. I agree that there are bad drivers out there but there were so many times that coming around a corner on HWY 35 that there would be bicyclists driving 2 deep or just enjoying the middle of the road. It is a highway and the speed limit is anywhere from 40-55 mph.
Crazy.
AND just because some guy is 89, that doesn't mean he can't drive and just because someone is on a bike, doesn't mean they can.


Posted by Ronald, a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2007 at 7:58 pm

PastWoodsider,
I have heard comments like yours before, and I have to say that you were living in denial of reality. The speed limit is irrelevant, since you are never allowed to drive faster than is safe for conditions, including other traffic on the road. If you round a bend and cannot react to what is in front of you, be it a bicyclist or a deer or a boulder or a branch, you are driving too fast for conditions. Furthermore, you say you encountered bicylists many times, but every time you act surprised when you see them! One would think that you would learn to expect them and drive as if there were a bicyclist around every turn. That would be reasonable and safe for the conditions on the road, and that is what I do. Why do drivers attempt to drive as if bicyclists don't exist, even though they know they do? That is the big difference between European drivers and Americans. The Europeans expect and respect bicyclists, while the Americans continue to live in denial and drive irresponsibly for the real conditions.


Posted by you know who, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 8, 2007 at 9:05 pm

After all this discussion I decided that I would tempt fate on my bicycle and see if I could find Citizen A's attitude out there on Mtn. Home Road in Woodside. Imagine my surprise to find a courteous motorist behind the wheel of every car & contractor's truck that I encountered. And the equestrians were even better, happy and grateful for the fate and hard work that allowed them to enjoy every day in such a beautiful environment. With a wave and a smile they seemed more than willing to share the road and the moment with me!

I'm going to tell all my cycling friends not to worry, this is a dandy place to visit on a bicycle. We promise that we're just passing through.


Posted by PastWoodsider, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 9, 2007 at 9:52 am

Ronald,
I'm never suprised by the bicyclist's on the road, just the ones who think it's OK to ride in the MIDDLE of the road on a HIGHWAY! The bicyclists need to ride "safe for conditions" also. Not all bicyclists are obviously this careless and I've encountered many who have experience riding in the conditions. Let's face it, riding 84 and 35 is not for beginners and if they're going to ride on a highway they should be smart about it. Most of the drivers who live in the area are used to the bikes and welcome them in the area (since many ride the roads themselves) but get frustruated with the "weekend warriors" who don't know the conditions. This includes all forms of transportation, including cars, motorcycles and bikes!


Posted by anon., a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2007 at 6:15 pm

perhaps if you want to vent your anger over dangerous, selfish bicyclists who seem to act like they are entitled to take up the road this is not the place. Afterall, it's a bit unfair to the cyclist whose life was taken, and from what we know so far he did absolutely nothing wrong in this case, except perhaps anticipate getting run down by a motorist coming from behind. If you want to express your sentiments over how bicylcists and other vehicles should share the road, why not create your own post. To do so hear seems out of place, not to mention in poor taste. Just because there are many cyclists out there (as there are people driving cars and trucks) who who disobey the law and don't behave in a civic manner while travelling the roads, this cyclist obeying the law and was not at fault, as would appear from the evidence of the scene. Seriously, show some respect. Don't bring your displaced anger around this post.
Have a shred of decency. Show some respect.


Posted by cyclist, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 15, 2007 at 3:11 pm

Why not post more signs reminding drivers that cyclists are present and that we share the road.


Posted by tom, a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 18, 2007 at 6:04 am

we have known mr rose and his wife for over 50 years.
there is no way he was driving in an unsafe manor nor was he speeding.
[Portion removed by Almanac staff.]


Posted by Lee, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 17, 2009 at 2:11 am

> Citizen A: "At the same time, lowering the speed limit to 35 is going to do nothing. A bicyclist hit by a vehicle going 35 is still going to be gravely or fatally injured."

Actually, Citizen A, you are very confused here. What you're not taking into account is RELATIVE VELOCITY. Meaning that, if a car is going 35mph, and hits a cyclist who's traveling in the same direction and going 20mph, the cyclist actually experiences only a 15mph impact.

Yeah, he'll get hurt, might even need a trip to the emergency room, but chances are, he'll live.

Compare that to a 55mph speed limit, which is the way it is now. The cyclist gets hit at a relative velocity of 35mph. Now THAT is definitely life-threatening.

Sorry Cit A, but you're not thinking this through. A lower speed limit would not only DRASTICALLY reduce the chance of major or fatal injury to cyclists in the event of impact, but ALSO allow motorists much more time to react and avoid said accident/impact (regardless of whether or not the motorist or cyclist is at fault).


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