Confusing bike trail leads to accident on Facebook campus

Portion of Bay Trail lacks markings to guide riders and drivers

Steven Lowenthal likes to bike to work. But the avid cyclist, who clocks up to 145 miles on weekend bike rides, found his commute to Foster City cut short on Aug.10.

As he tried to follow the Bay Trail from University Avenue to Willow Road, the 43-year-old cyclist ended up in the Facebook campus parking lot in Menlo Park. A 27-year-old employee turning left in her Honda Accord to enter the lot didn't see him until it was too late, police said, and struck the rear of the bike.

"Took me right out," Mr. Lowenthal said. "Usually bikes hit the car, but she actually didn't see me."

A week later, he's healing from injuries sustained in the accident, but worried that the situation is ripe for a more serious collision because "there's very little signage about the fact that there are bikes there." Mr. Lowenthal also suggested that a lack of space forces bikes and cars into close quarters without room to maneuver safely.

Andrew Boone of the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition agreed that that portion of the trail confuses people. "The Bay Trail is discontinuous for a 200-foot section near the east entrance to the Facebook Campus. Here, pedestrians and bicyclists traveling on the trail must cross a parking lot that contains no pavement markings to indicate where they should go, as the bicyclist who was struck by a car there has described," he said in an email.

Using highly visible green paint to designate 200 feet of bike lane would be a simple solution, according to Mr. Boone. "This would also prevent pedestrians and bicyclists who might not see the signs for the trail from erroneously entering the Facebook Campus."

A lack of appropriate pavement markings is a longstanding factor in many traffic accidents, he said. Bike lanes and shared lanes should be clearly marked so that bicyclists as well as motorists know where it's safe to be.

"Instead, we expect bicyclists to 'use their judgement' wherever there are no markings instructing them where to ride. The result is unpredictable behavior by bicyclists, which leads to many traffic accidents."

A Facebook spokesperson said the company will take a look at that segment of the trail. "If it makes sense, we will review ways to make the Bay Trail near our campus more clearly marked so that local cyclists will ride with greater confidence and less confusion."


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Posted by George Yang
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm

As your candidate for State Assembly, former chair of the San Bruno Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, and a concern resident of Belle Haven, I am sadden about what happened. For so time, Caltrans are supposed to put up signage that will clearly mark the bike routes in the Belle Haven area. But someone at the City and State level has to keep pushing them to keep their promises.

I will be that person.

Like this comment
Posted by agree
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I agree that that whole section of the Bay Trail needs to be fixed. Sometimes the trail is along the north side of Bayshore, but sometimes you have to cross the expressway to the south side. Biking past Facebook is confusing and dangerous in both directions. Then trying to bike from Facebook to Palo Alto involves a number of confusing turns through heavy traffic. The Menlo Park Bay Trail is pretty disappointing compared to the Bay Trail in Palo Alto and Mountain View.

Like this comment
Posted by Carolyn Clarke
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 22, 2012 at 12:56 am

This is unfortunate and just another example of why we need well marked signs on the east side.

Like this comment
Posted by pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Hopefully, this project will fix some of the problems with the Menlo Park Bay Trail: Web Link

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

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