Police calls: Cyclist injured in Portola Valley; blueprints stolen from Menlo Park office building


This information is based on reports from the Menlo Park Police Department and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent unless convicted. Police received the reports on the dates shown.


Traffic accident: A cyclist headed north on Portola Road collided with the passenger side of a southbound vehicle as it was turning left on to Westridge Drive. The cyclist was thrown from his bike, suffered visible head injuries and was taken to Stanford Hospital. April 6.


Commercial burglaries:

■ Someone entered an office building on Hamilton Court, broke into a fenced-off area and stole six or seven sets of blueprints of the building's layout, including electrical and plumbing system layouts. No estimate on losses. April 20.

■ A burglar kicked in the door to a room in a hotel under construction on Glenwood Avenue and stole a 30-inch TV. Estimated loss: $650. April 20.

■ Someone smashed the front window of Mike's Camera on Santa Cruz Avenue. No estimate on losses. April 23.

Auto burglary: A backpack with a laptop computer inside was stolen from a vehicle parked in the 1800 block of El Camino Real. Estimated loss: $1,200. April 22.

Theft: A woman left her purse unattended at an O'Brien Drive event and someone stole her ID, a medical card and $150 in cash from her purse. April 23.

Stolen vehicle: A blue 2001 Volvo S60 from a Carlton Avenue driveway. April 19.


Residential burglary: A burglar stole jewelry and electronic devices from a home on 9th Avenue. Estimated loss: $8,820. April 7.

— Dave Boyce

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4 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:40 am

Was the car driver that cut off the bicyclist cited? Or did the police just refer this to the insurance companies to settle?

3 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:21 pm

While the party responsible for this particular accident was not identified in this story, the description of the accident suggests the motorist turned left unsafely and crossed the path of the cyclist. Regardless of the cause, this incident should remind motorists and cyclists these accidents are NOT rare, some spots are significantly more dangerous for cyclists than others, cyclists generally suffer the most when they occur; and poor judgment exercised by at least one
participant ultimately causes such accidents.

While this incident reminds us of the importance of individual decision-making, it does not absolve a community of its responsibility to encourage cycling, ensuring that designated cycling routes are as safe as reasonably possible, and even discouraging the mix of vehicles and cyclists on routes that are inherently much less safe that alternatives.
For example, Portola Road is popular with cyclists because it is inviting and viewed as a loss stress (safe) place to ride, and this accident occurred at a spot where visibility is excellent. However, Portola Valley has steadfastly refused to join the other communities on "The Loop" (Stanford, Ladera and Woodside) that provide basic bike signage and street markings. Menlo Park is now considering the addition of bike lanes and paths to El Camino Real. So far, the study of cyclist, motorist and pedestrian safety by the city has been at best superficial, and this needs to change.

3 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Mike's Camera is a weekly fixture in the police blotter at this point.

3 people like this
Posted by no more signs
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:43 pm

@dana hendrickson- i live in westridge, bike and drive through that intersection multiple times every single day. if fact i've almost been creamed on my bike nearly the same way except i was turning right onto westridge so we had a near miss going broadside. no amount of signage will prevent this type of incident. i actually think it would make it worse. operators of cars and bikes should be paying attention to each other, not reading tiny signs smeared all over the place. there are already so many signs on alpine and portola, that if you read just every other one, there's no way you could be watching the road and others on it well enough - just as bad as texting while driving in my view. there's a lot going on at that intersection at certain times of day. the answer is really just common sense - slow down, take a second or third look before crossing, and never take "right of way" for granted. it worked for me, i watched that ding bat driver try to run me over, but had slowed enough to avoid the collision. i'm sure it's fun to rip down that hill on a road bike doing 35, but when you see someone waiting to turn left, it would be wise to slow your roll.

2 people like this
Posted by Cyclist
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:52 pm

That's a dangerous intersection, especially when the northbound side of Portola Road is shaded under the trees and the southbound lane is in morning sunlight. In some cases left-turning southbound driver literally cannot see the northbound bicyclist until the bicyclist emerges from the shade. I make sure to use a strobing headlight when I bicycle through that intersection.

3 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2015 at 5:43 pm

A bicyclist was killed at this intersection some years ago in a scenario almost exactly like this one. He was northbound and on the right edge of the road, possibly in the shade. A southbound driver turned left and killed him. The event had a major emotional impact on me because I saw the victim regularly as he and I biked similar routes at the same time. The law says bicyclists must stay as far to the right as "practicable" unless there is a reason to do otherwise, and this is one place where there is a very good reason to move out into the middle of the lane. You are more visible to oncoming traffic there, and you have more flexibility to move right or left to avoid cars that may turn in front of you. Bicyclists at this intersection also need to watch out for drivers coming from Westridge who don't stop behind the stop bar (illegal)and put the nose of their cars out into the lane on Portola Road. Moving out into the middle of the lane also protects you from those people. Using flashing lights can make you more visible, but moving to the middle of the lane gives you more options, so it is a better choice (or do both!).

Like this comment
Posted by no more signs
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 29, 2015 at 9:12 pm

@Donald - there is an (abandon) stop bar, but it's faded and not reasonably visible. it's been painted over (replaced) by a crosswalk. you can't see far enough up portola in either direction to safely pull out until you're well into that crosswalk. lights are definitely a good idea - sorry about your friend.

Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 1, 2015 at 10:50 pm

"Mike's Camera is a weekly fixture in the police blotter at this point" You would think that they would get pictures and share them with the article...

4 people like this
Posted by Jill
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 7, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Why must there be the assumption that it is the driver's fault? I suggest people take note of the speed with which cyclists zoom along Alpine Road. It is as incumbent on cyclists as it is on drivers to proceed carefully and to be aware of their surroundings. It takes much longer to stop a car than it does to stop a cycle, even a speeding one.

Like this comment
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 8, 2015 at 8:54 am

Hi Jill,

I wasn't there and don't know the circumstances but can attest that bikes generally *can't* stop as fast as cars can, which is why tailgating a car on a bike is an especially bad idea (I'm looking at you, dudes who jump into the draft on downhills).

This sounds very similar to the incident on Skyline a couple of years ago, which ended much more tragically. It's hard for left-turning cars to see oncoming bikes, especially when the light is uneven. On known cycling routes, it's good to look twice or three times. (But as a Portola Valley resident, you already know this.) And cyclists should never trust that a driver can see them. Bike lights are a good precaution and I'll often trim my speed if I see an oncoming car that might cut me off and haven't determined that the car sees me.

BTW, this is a huge, HUGE incentive for drivers to use a turn signal at all times. I spend a lot of time on my bike trying to guess whether or not a driver is actually really going straight. The penalty for being wrong on my part (or careless on theirs) is potentially grim.

Bikes, use lights and be conservative. Cars, look twice and signal. Together I'm sure we can figure this one out.

4 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on May 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

CCB: I do agree that using a bike light is a good idea. In fact, I'd like to see it become a law that cyclists use a bike light at all times because it would definitely increase their visibility to drivers. However, I do not agree that cars can stop more quickly than bikes can. Cars have a considerable stopping distance even at 30 miles an hour. I have no problem stopping my bike in an emergency, bur possibly that is because I'm not speeding.

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

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