News

Tacks scattered on Woodside roads are hazard to bicyclists

 

Bicyclists have a nemesis roaming the upper reaches of Kings Mountain Road in unincorporated Woodside, according to some cyclists who travel that road regularly. The routine appears to be the same every time: some unknown person scatters carpet tacks on the roadway, giving flat tires to the cyclists who pass over them.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, a group of about 15 cyclists on the Bakery Ride -- a morning ride to the coast and back that begins at the Woodside Bakery -- discovered tacks in their tires when they reached Skyline Boulevard.

The incident began some minutes earlier on Kings Mountain Road. "Life was fine and dandy, and we got near the top and one of us pulled over with a flat tire," Woodside resident Bruce Matheson said.

Mr. Matheson and the other riders continued up the hill, and when they paused at the top to wait for their partner, they checked their tires. Seven bikes had tacks in the tires, he said.

The tacks had not penetrated far enough to cause flats, but represented a significant hazard in that they could puncture a tube on a curve on a fast downhill slope and send a rider tumbling, Portola Valley resident and bicycle commuter Nate McKitterick said.

Mr. McKitterick, who is also on the Portola Valley Planning Commission, was not one of the riders that morning but alerted the Almanac about this hazard. He said he first heard about tacks on the roads in 2012.

"Some people don't realize they have a (tack) in their tire right away, some (tires go) flat immediately," he said in an email. "Getting a flat tire going down KMR, with both oncoming traffic and an unforgiving road surface, is a frightening prospect."

All seven riders on the Bakery Ride got off their bikes and replaced the tubes in the affected tires, Mr. Matheson said. One rider called the Sheriff's Office, he said. On the return trip, they took a different route.

The Sheriff's Office turned the matter over to the California Highway Patrol, which has jurisdiction over traffic there.

Officer Art Montiel of the CHP said its office received a call shortly after 9 a.m. on Sept. 12 about "a large amount of tacks or small nails all over the roadway on Kings Mountain Road," at a spot a mile or so east of Skyline Boulevard. The CHP asked county public works staff to sweep the roadway "as the tacks were small and hard to see," Mr. Montiel said.

This was not the first call to the county public works department about tacks on the road in the vicinity of Kings Mountain Road. "We received three reports to my knowledge of tacks or nails ... in the past couple of months," said Joe LoCoco, the county's deputy director of road services. "Each time, we sent crews to investigate, but were unable to find any tacks or nails on the road. The last couple of times, we also spoke with several cyclists who hadn't noticed anything during their rides."

If they had found tacks, the crew would have swept them up with the tools at hand, not a street sweeper, Mr. LoCoco said.

About six weeks ago, Menlo Park resident Andrew Valentine ran over a dark "extremely sharp" tack while on Skyline Boulevard just south of Kings Mountain Road, he told the Almanac. Four days later, a woman riding with the Menlo Bike Club went flat in the same spot, from a dark tack, Mr Valentine said.

The CHP has opened an investigation. Anyone with information should call Officer Furhman at 650-369-6261, Mr. Montiel said.

Comments

9 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 22, 2015 at 3:12 pm

I've experienced this personally and it is really scary. You really can't see the tacks as they blend into the road perfectly. Getting a flat tire on the way up the hill is an annoyance; getting one on the descent is potentially deadly, as a sudden front flat tire can cause a cyclist to lose control and go careening into the opposite lane.

These tacks have also been scattered at the top of Old La Honda Road–clearly someone is targeting cyclists. This is the work of a deranged, malicious individual and I really hope whoever it is gets caught before something worse happens.


17 people like this
Posted by The Protector
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Sep 22, 2015 at 11:23 pm

To our friends, neighbors and community,

We will not stop riding these roads. Period. We love bikes, they are our source of fitness, transportation, fun and love for life. We will adapt and evolve far faster than any maniac can. We will get puncture proof tires and become ever more vigilant to the actions of these people. This will only bring us closer together, not further apart. Please think of your mom and dad, sons and daughters for these are the people that ride those roads. We are some of the most life loving, environmentally aware people there are. For some of us those particular roads are our lifeline. Some of us are very new riders trying to get fit and better ourselves, some of us are seasoned gray-haired veterans that have been riding for decades. Please look at what is happening and see that all it is doing is hurting good people. We are your neighbors, your family and your community. To the public - if you see this happening don't just drive by, take down the plate numbers and call the police. These actions can only hurt our great community and will never achieve any goal. Oh and if your haven't tried riding these roads, you should, they're absolutely beautiful! :)


12 people like this
Posted by vigilance
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Sep 23, 2015 at 8:35 am

There are only a couple of ways in and out of this area. Cops need to set up surveillance cameras to catch the terrorists.


4 people like this
Posted by Question
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 23, 2015 at 9:37 am

Lucky that there are no reports of injuries, at least not yet. I hope additional steps can be taken to make the roads safe. I find it odd that during the three public works investigations they have not been able to find the tacks -- maybe it is time to use metal detectors instead of just looking?

Maybe a naive question, but is it possible that the tacks fell off a truck or something instead of being deliberately placed?


19 people like this
Posted by catch the criminal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 9:56 am

Someone is creating a deadly situation. They should be caught and arrested and charged with life-threatening acts.


61 people like this
Posted by tighties
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Sep 23, 2015 at 10:05 am

One should always ride at a safe enough speed to safely navigate through random danger.

Flying down a mountain road at a speed that doesn't allow for contingencies is just thrill-seeking. There is always a risk for detritus or other dangers. We all 'know someone who knows someone' who had their spouse bring a photo to the doc so a rider could get his face reconstructed to appear as it did before.

This terrorist should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If accidental littering from a work truck as suggested above, they should be fined.


6 people like this
Posted by Karen
a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2015 at 1:30 pm

I suspect that one reason Public Works hasn't been finding the tacks may be that they haven't been notified of the problem until several days after the tacks were seen. By that time, the tacks have been picked up by bicycle or automobile tires, or blown off the road by cars. That, combined with the small size of the tacks, makes them hard to find.

It seems like it would be a good idea for cyclists to report the tacks to the CHP as soon as they see them.


2 people like this
Posted by cyclist/motorist/local
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:59 pm

It's happened to me too. On Alpine Rd, in PV in front of Roberts Market

And it was a dark and extremely sharp tack that didn't fall off a work truck.


3 people like this
Posted by Derek
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm

As others have noted, this has been going on for years. Every so often, the maniac decides it is time. I first noticed tacks 3 years ago - these were ordinary colored thumb tacks, not the small black carpet tacks seen most recently. I've also seen nails littering both KMR and OLH. When I spot them, I stop and collect them, as I'm sure other riders are doing. It would be great if someone in law enforcement could chime in and suggest a way to turn over the collected tacks as evidence.


3 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 24, 2015 at 1:05 pm

really? is a registered user.

For those of you good samaritan cyclists, I sometimes carry a small plastic camping broom by Coleman (about 6" square) so i can stop and sweep bad bits of glass or debris if I'm bothered on Alpine Road. Think about carrying one yourselves if you're on a ride and not out for a PB.


4 people like this
Posted by Avoiding KMR
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Sep 24, 2015 at 1:24 pm

I've had three flats in my car from these tiny black tacks. I have low profile tires and maybe that's why. So it's affecting cars as well as cyclists. I would like to see some of the cyclists going at least the speed limit when coming down KMR. Sometimes they are well past the limit and that makes me afraid for my life.


71 people like this
Posted by Mr. Tackman
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Sep 24, 2015 at 3:16 pm

#1. Traffic laws apply to bicycles as well as cars. This includes the speed limits. In my opinion, most cyclists do not abide by traffic laws ESPECIALLY the speed limit. Yes a flat in a turn could be dangerous but one assumes the risk when traveling at a high rate of speed. If you are going 10mph your risk of serious injury greatly diminishes. Try exercising caution. All cyclists are not bad, I know plenty that are great. Many to not exercise common sense and are down right disrespectful.

#2. Why does the city need to clean up for you? If you ride as often as you say, why not make a cleanup ride, where you (the cyclists who use the roads) give a little back by doing it yourself?

#3. I can't tell you how many energy and granola bar wrappers and other fitness related trash I pick up off the side of these roads. And how many times I've caught cyclists relieving themselves in neighbors driveways. Downright disrespectful.

#4. I didn't dump tacks, but I can see why someone might have, and they may not be as deranged a maniac as you may think. Granted this was not the proper way to handle the situation. People do live where you ride, and I know their frustration with the explosion of cyclists in the area. We can forget about going to the grocery store on the weekend, and we listen to all of you scream at each other all the way up the hill.


10 people like this
Posted by Enery
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Sep 24, 2015 at 4:50 pm

How scary, and what about wildlife stepping on tacks, or our kids and pets walking on these tacks? This reeks of vengeance toward cyclists, and reminds me of a scary incident of my youth, when someone pulled a thin wire rope up across the road as I cycled by, nearly catching me at neck level. God help us when people resort to this.


115 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2015 at 5:46 pm

(Post removed. Please make your point without negative characterization of other posters.)


9 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2015 at 6:13 pm

There's only one word to accurately describe someone who would intentionally do this.

Terrorist.


12 people like this
Posted by victim blaming
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 24, 2015 at 7:28 pm

I am very disappointed in some of my fellow residents who are blaming the victims for these attacks. Shame on you.


10 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 25, 2015 at 8:56 am

My wife is a bicyclist who enjoys riding on the roads of Woodside. She is the last person in the world who would cause a disturbance or leave litter by the side of the road. To whomever is leaving tacks on the road -- do you really think it's OK to put my wife's life in danger because you're annoyed about the behavior of some other bicyclists? I hope you understand, that if someone is seriously injured when their bicycle goes out of control due to the tacks -- you will have committed a very serious crime, with very serious consequences.


8 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 25, 2015 at 10:18 am

Mr. Tackman, I recommend a punching bag to dissipate your anger.

Those who obey traffic laws, like me, do so whether driving an automobile or riding a bicycle. Littering is against the law. I never to it, and I regularly pick up after those who do.


3 people like this
Posted by Water
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Water is a registered user.

The Protector - I'm confused as to how riding KMR is a lifeline?

Not only are these tacks a danger, but stopping to clean them up is also dangerous, but it's what you do if you have a conscience.

Mr. Tackman - let's not forget cyclists who change clothes in public. I've seen it done numerous times on school grounds, also.

Since this has happened over quite some time, there may be more than one culprit. Maybe cameras in the areas where it's happened before would help catch them.


4 people like this
Posted by Thelley
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Sep 28, 2015 at 11:54 am

I'm going to invent a big magnet attachment for the front of my vehicle, and drive these roads gathering up tacks. Then I'll drop them off at the police station so all will see what a problem this is.
How scary that someone encountered a wire at neck level too, that's criminal!
Cameras along the roads anyone?


26 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

To be very, very clear - I think whoever puts these tacks down, if it is deliberate, should be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Period.

Now, on to The Protector's comments. For the people who live out here, these roads are our lifeline. This is how we get to work, how we get our family members to Stanford Hospital, how we get to the grocery store, etc. More and more people are using our roads as their personal exercise venue with little regard to the danger and inconvenience their leisurely hobby imposes upon the people who are trying to get to work or get their wife, who is in hard labor, to LPCH. I have been tailgated by maniacs on bikes who are riding way too fast for the conditions on the downhill runs of OLH, La Honda Road and KMR. I have had laboring cyclists going less than 10 mph block the entire road so that a dozen cars are backed up because it is not safe to pass. These roads were not designed for this dangerous combination of motor vehicles and bicycles. There are many environmentally sound ways to get exercise. The vast majority of the cyclists on this mountain are NOT commuting to work. They are driving in their cars to various places on the mountain and then parking, taking their bikes off their gas powered vehicle, and then getting their exercise on the local roads. You are no more environmentally conscious than the next person. So, please, please stop with the self-righteous attitude. That very attitude is exactly why so many bicyclists behave without common courtesy on our roads.


3 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Local - thank you for expressing this part of the issue so well!

For the first time ever, recently I've seen cyclists on Woodland Ave, which was always a haven away from cyclists (albeit a tricky, narrow, curving road). The majority don't seem to be commuters, either, but rather recreational cyclists.


4 people like this
Posted by Charlie Horse
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

I notice a theme in this thread - cyclists are a nuisance on local roads. I can understand the source of that "feeling" which results simply from the perspective of a car journey which takes longer than it would if there were no bicycles.

But I would like to add another perspective - the locals are not living the early settlers who built their own homes and live off the land. The "locals" lifestyle is dependent on the network of industry and technology mostly based in urban areas. The trucks which distribute the goods to support the "locals" lifestyle spend most of their time on urban roads. Many of the "locals" are commuting into the cities. So the flatlands where many of the cyclists live is choked with vehicle fumes and bustling with heavy traffic, part of which supports teh lifestyles of locals in semi-rural and rural areas. This is why the cyclists head out to semi-rural and rural areas, to ride on public roads with a bit cleaner air and nice scenery. And I am sure most of the "locals" themselves occasionally take trips somewhere else far away driving on public roads where other "locals" live, or maybe even drive into the city for shopping or entertainment.

Of course cyclists should be considerate of motorized vehicle drivers wherever, and visa versa. Life feels better that way anyway.





5 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Charlie Horse: If only it were that simple. You are correct, that many who live in these hills commute, although there are still ranches, farms, artisans and craftsmen/women who live and work in these mountains. There are, as well, families who have lived here for many generations. However it is not just a matter of convenience, it is a matter of public safety. Suburban roads in this area are designed for a mix of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, with bike lanes and sidewalks. Our rural roads have no means of separating bicyclists from motorists. You will notice that pedestrians are not an issue on our rural roads because people do not typically attempt to enjoy "a bit cleaner air and nice scenery" by walking on our roads. And I don't imagine anyone would suggest that they do so, because everyone would immediately recognize how terribly dangerous it would be for all involved. It is also rare to see equestrians on these roads for the same reasons. Yet, we have a different standard of safety and access for people on bicycles, even though it is just as dangerous to mix slow moving, difficult to see bicycles on roads designed for cars as it would be to mix in pedestrians and equestrians. Why do we have a different standard for safety when it comes to bicyclists.

I am a parent and I would never encourage my child or any loved one, for that matter, to ride their bike on La Honda Road, Old La Honda Road, Kings Mountain Road or any of these 2 lane, shoulderless, mountainess roads out here. It's simply not safe. Pretending that it can be safe just does not make it so.


3 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Oct 5, 2015 at 11:27 am

Local - Well said. 100% agreement here. My family has been here since the 30's. We risk our lives every day, not as a cyclist or pedestrian risking bodily injury, but our livelihood. I dread the day a cyclist comes barrelling around a corner out of control right into my car. I fear that they would try to hold me responsible since there are no lines on the road, etc. etc. If this were to happen, a lawsuit could ruin the lives of my entire family. Bottom line is yes the place is beautiful, I see the draw to spend time here. This is why my family chose this place to put roots down, but the road was not designed for this and it is extremely unsafe for all involved. We do not walk, ride, or hike on the road be cause it is incredibly dangerous. I wish 100% of the cyclists realized this. Get a mountain bike, there are plenty of trails to ride that are much safer than the roads, and the view is better!


15 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2015 at 1:38 pm

really? is a registered user.

I'm really disappointed with the result of this discussion. It's almost justifying the person who laid the tacks with a certain level of community understanding. If a bunch of cyclists went snipping the brake cables in residents cars, would people argue 'they had it coming?'


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 5, 2015 at 2:43 pm

As a supplement to my original comment about cyclists creating their own blow back by behaving with impunity with respect to traffic laws, I have been watching cyclists at stop signs and comparing their behavior with drivers.

Simply put, cyclists are way, way more likely than drivers to blast through stop signs without so much as a pause.

I saw a guy the other night, in full darkness, take two elementary school kids, whose bikes were not lit at all, through traffic lights on Alma Street and Embarcadero Road (both arterials) as the lights were turning red!

Yes, cyclists do have a right to a shared road, but there are too many who are blatantly blase about the rules of the road. It's the exceptionalism they demonstrate that raises hackles, in my opinion.

I am a bike commuter (and a driver) and I stop at stop signs when I'm on my bike. For the most part, in my experience, I am a lone practitioner.

I'm not defending this criminal action with the tacks, but I am saying that bicyclists have not helped themselves at all over the years by their appropriation of a privilege to ignore traffic laws they don't like.


5 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm

(Post removed. Please state your point without putting words in other poster's mouths.)


4 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:33 pm

I try not to live in a black-and-white world.

I wouldn't do such a thing, but I try to understand the anger behind it. In my book, That's valuable.

I'm an observer, not a cop. I wouldn't want that job because I am really uncomfortable with what I think is the black-and-white world they have to work in.

I resent bicyclists arbitrarily breaking the law. What evolves in society from their bad behavior is another matter and under the control of each person, but if someone were holding a rally to make the case that way too many cyclists are scofflaws, I would be there waving a sign.


1 person likes this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm

@Joe: Sorry, still not good enough. It's one thing to be upset at the bad behavior of bicyclists (and let's be honest here, it's not *just* bicyclists that have issues in that regard). It's another to take matters into one's own hands and to use means that are not only illegal, but place people's lives at risk.

And using supposed logic like "What evolves in society from their bad behavior is another matter and under the control of each person..." is nothing more than a dodge.

I suggest that you take a good, hard look at your notions of what is acceptable behavior in larger society, and what is not. Because, in my opinion, you need to do that,


2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:30 pm

I've taken plenty of good hard looks at myself. I'll stick with my opinions, thank you very much. They make sense to me and that's what matters.


1 person likes this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm

(Post removed. Please return to the topic and not make this about other posters.)


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

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