News

Fatalities prompt Atherton to examine El Camino safety

 

Click on picture to enlarge.

By Dave Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

Plans are under way to try to improve the safety of El Camino Real as it passes through Atherton between Selby Lane and Valparaiso Avenue, a stretch of road that has seen two fatalities in the last three weeks.

Honofre Mendoza, a 55-year-old homeless man, died Friday, Oct. 15, after being struck while crossing the road by a car just north of the intersection of Watkins Avenue at 6:15 in the morning, police said. The area where Mr. Mendoza was struck has no crosswalk.

A block away on Sept. 30, bicyclist Christopher Chandler was riding in an uncontrolled crosswalk -- not associated with a stop sign or traffic light -- when he was struck and killed where El Camino Real intersects with Isabella Avenue.

Atherton's police and public works departments and city manager's office are talking with the state Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over El Camino Real, "to identify any factors ... that need to be addressed in order to improve traffic safety," Lt. Joe Wade said in an Atherton Police Department bulletin on Oct. 16.

For its part, starting today (Oct. 18), the police department is boosting traffic patrols in the area and will have officers visiting Atherton schools to talk about pedestrian and bicycle safety, Lt. Wade said.

Mr. Mendoza, though homeless, was a familiar presence in Atherton and known to the police. "It was not out of place for him to be there," Lt. Wade said, adding that the roadsides of El Camino are popular with homeless people traveling between Redwood City and Menlo Park.

Mr. Mendoza's companion crossing the street with him was not injured and, as the only witness, was interviewed by police, Lt. Wade said.

The driver of the Toyota Camry that struck Mr. Mendoza is a 44-year-old man and Atherton resident who had been traveling alone and who volunteered to be tested for drug or alcohol abuse, Lt. Wade said. Test results were negative, he said.

Police closed traffic on El Camino for four hours in the southbound direction and three hours northbound while investigating and recording evidence at what had been designated as a crime scene.

"That's what we classify it as when we have a fatality," Lt. Wade said. "Just to make sure that all the evidence is preserved as best as possible."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

If the police would simply enforce the speed limit and provide consistent cross walk stings or even public service announcements about saftey, everyone would know that stopping for pedestrians is required.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Safety would be greatly improved if Atherton simply installed sidewalks on both sides of El Camino. Just like almost every other city it passes through.


Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Very sad situation. Not much can be daone about jay walking but enforcement. But then how would a homeless person pay the ticket. Jail isn't the answer either. Didn't see anything about the car speeding in either of the recent accidents. In both situations the investigation reports will be sent to the DA's Office for review.


Like this comment
Posted by Neighbour
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm

1. Poper sidewalks on both sides, with proper protection from traffic (barriers?).

2. Bike lanes, which are a must especially with the number of schools surrounding the area.

3. Widen the middle divider, and beautify the area, which is not very nice (for the property taxes the neighbours pay...)

3. If the road does not allow it: eliminate one lane per side; decide which one is the priority: speed of through traffic?, or neighbours and friends?


Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 18, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Yes, those two lanes of traffic seem to work quite well in Menlo Park...


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 18, 2010 at 8:19 pm

A few days before the cyclist was killed on El Camino, I was rear ended on Selby Street and El Camino. I stopped for a crossing guard with a stop sign, who was letting a child and their mother cross. Unfortunately the person behind me didn't see the sign. Something needs to be done about this area with no stop signs or lights....NOW.


Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm

It boggles the mind that these crosswalks over six lanes of traffic don't already have pedestrian warning lights.


Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm

A crosswalk across that many lanes on a fast road is an recipe for disaster. Stopping for a pedestrian crossing there is like coming to a stop on 101. No good can come from it. Also, roads have a natural speed. Posting lower limits and enforcement doesn't change that. They need to build a ped overcrossing or add stoplight.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 19, 2010 at 7:57 am

"A crosswalk across that many lanes on a fast road is an recipe for disaster. Stopping for a pedestrian crossing there is like coming to a stop on 101. No good can come from it. "

Not true Steve. There is a crosswalk at Alejandra. I have used it numerous times with no problem. I have actually found drivers to be quite courteous about stopping to allow me to cross.


Like this comment
Posted by Gail Siri
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Whatever happens CalTrans has the ultimate responsiblity as El Camino is a State Highway. They probably won't want to spend the money.


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Oct 19, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Why is there a known "homeless encampment"? Why does Atherton PD allow it? Who are the residents of this encampment?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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