Motorcycle fatality closed part of U.S. 101 in Palo Alto

Motorcyclist collides with SUV, run over by truck

Editor's note: See updated story. CHP officers now say whether the motorcyclist was splitting lanes is unclear and under investigation.


A motorcyclist was killed this morning on U.S. 101 in Palo Alto after colliding with an SUV and being run over by a truck, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The collision occurred around 9:15 a.m. on northbound 101 near Oregon Expressway, CHP Officer Eric Anderson said.

The motorcyclist collided with a Chevrolet Equinox in the leftmost lane, lost control of the bike, was ejected and landed on the road, the CHP said.

The motorcyclist was then run over by a flatbed truck and was pronounced dead at the scene, CHP officials said.

A Sig-alert was issued at 9:46 a.m. with all northbound lanes closed south of Oregon Expressway. All lanes were open by late morning.

— Bay City News Service

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14 people like this
Posted by Christine Dowd
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Aug 4, 2016 at 12:29 pm

It seems that every week we hear of such motorcycle fatalities in our area. It is very sad.Our hearts and prayers go to the family of this man. I pray too that motorcyclists in the bay area, particularly in the heavy traffic areas around the El Camino and Highway 84, be more cautious and slow down. They simply don't stand a chance against an automobile.

6 people like this
Posted by gina
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Aug 4, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Sounds like an accident waiting to happen. You live by lane splitting and die by lane splitting on a motorcycle. [Part removed.]

15 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Aug 4, 2016 at 12:32 pm

I honestly don't understand how lane-splitting can be considered safe - the space constraints coupled with highways speed just seems like a formula for disaster. Additionally, I am always startled by motorcyclists speeding by so close - perhaps it should be studied to see if it is indeed a safe driving practice.

Motorcyclists are so vulnerable if anything goes awry - as this tragic story underscores. My thoughts are with the family.

20 people like this
Posted by Cicero
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Aug 4, 2016 at 12:33 pm

One of the most incomprehensible laws passed in my lifetime by the California legislature was allowing lane-splitting by motorcycles, even when traffic is moving! I am amazed the tragedy of this story is not a daily occurrence.

16 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 4, 2016 at 1:01 pm

RIP to the cyclist & condolences to the family.

I agree with the comments above. It is so dangerous for cyclists & alarms me every time one screams past me while I'm driving. It should not be legal. In clogged freeway lanes, drivers often make very quick lane changes to prepare to exit. This isn't so dangerous with cars moving 10-20 mph but speeding cycles can't swerve quickly enough to avoid a crash.

I also see motorists & passengers putting arms out of car windows. A fast lane splitter could remove that limb.

11 people like this
Posted by Harleybrit
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2016 at 1:04 pm

As a daily motorcyclist who does split lanes where I consider it safe to do so, I have opinions and observations.
1 I am amazed at the level inattention displayed by a large majority of car/truck/SUV drivers. You can not be paying attention to what is going on around you if you have your cellphone in your hand or against your ear. My observations are that more drivers than not are using some electronic device while driving.
I have experienced drivers who are alert and make attempts to open a space for motorcyclists to pass, I attempt to safely acknowledge them when they do. I have also had drivers put the same effort into trying to prevent my passing.
I know this is a topic that could be discussed at length.
It is the law and as a motorcyclist I have the choice and I accept the consequences.

16 people like this
Posted by Martin D
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 4, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Tragic indeed. As a daily motorcycle commuter I am very aware of how vulnerable cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists are. All of us without the safety of 5,000+ lbs of steel surrounding us need to be constantly aware of all other road users and assume that we are invisible. This is not the "fault" of the cyclist, pedestrian, or motorcyclist, but we do need to recognize we have a responsibility as a result.

Please, whether walking across a crosswalk, bicycling down from Skyline, or commuting on a motorcycle, don't assume anyone else sees you or will respect your right of way. In fact, assume the opposite - assume the car will turn across in front of you, or will drive right through the crosswalk you are on. Because unfortunately there is a real and increasing chance that it will.

Re lane splitting, a recent UC Berkeley study showed that motorcyclists are much safer side-by-side between vehicles, i.e. lane splitting, than they are in line with traffic. A typical car "fender bender" rear end collision, as happens several times a day on Peninsula highways, can be fatal if a motorcyclist is sandwiched in line between the cars. As a side benefit, lane splitting also reduces traffic congestion and delays for all road users.

Thank you to the many drivers who recognize these facts and are considerate to all road users regardless of mode of transport.

5 people like this
Posted by johnKay
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Aug 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Those of you criticizing lane splitting- It is the law- Yes, some of my fellow bikers are careless but for the rest of us it is completely within the laws of the state. And I am guessing more die each year because while sitting at a red light someone texting rolls right over them- Happened to a good friend of mine- He never had a chance. was knocked through the back windshield of the car in front of him. The woman who hit him was texting- doesn't look like much will happen to her.

10 people like this
Posted by johnKay
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Aug 4, 2016 at 3:01 pm

@Posted by Downtowner with all due respect- making very quick lane changes to get to an exit sounds like inattentive driving and isn't my fault. We have a responsibility to drive safely on the road. I lane split when safe- you shouldn't be whipping in to other lanes to get to an exit- it is called planning.

The biggest danger on the roads right now are people (including cops) on cellphones texting (including cops) and chatting with phone up to left ear elbow on window sill not paying attention and blocking their own mirror- How can I be safe on a car or bike when nearly 1:5 cars during commute on on phones, putting on make up, reading books (see it all the time) eating cereal yup driving and eating cereal. Smokin dope (see this a lot too)

The fact is many in this area are in their own little world. If I had a dollar for everyone that pulled up next to me in a lane THEN noticed me or nudged me over then noticed me I could probably stop commuting.

6 people like this
Posted by CJ
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 4, 2016 at 3:14 pm

I believe California is the only state that allows the very dangerous practice of lane splitting. Amazing for such a nanny state. I see too many motorcyclists riding very fast between slow or stopped traffic. I'm surprised that this kind of tragedy doesn't happen more often.

2 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 4, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Oddly there is no discussion of lane splitting in the driver's handbook in CA (the last time I read it). There used to be, but it was removed. Just saw this headline: California: State Legislature Approves Bill to Regulate Practice of Lane Splitting by Motorcyclists

The State Assembly approved the bill by a 69-0 vote Thursday, which allows the California Highway Patrol to set guidelines for motorcyclists to drive in between and alongside rows of vehicles.

So perhaps lane splitting will at least be a little more orderly and predictable going forward - I sure hope so.

2 people like this
Posted by Harleybrit
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2016 at 4:43 pm

So happy to see that this did not turn into an "us" and "them" argument.
Johnkay, I can not remember the times I have seen car drivers suddenly decide to cross multiple lanes of traffic to make it to an exit.
Planning was a word you used, I am planning in mini segments as I ride and am acutely aware of what is happening around me when I lane split.
Perhaps we do not take the responsibility of operating vehicles safely because we get familiar with the surroundings and the journeys we make. I try hard to vary my routes to combat this.

13 people like this
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 4, 2016 at 6:04 pm

When changing lanes on a busy, congested freeway, it can be challenging enough just making sure there is sufficient space to enter the targeted lane. The hard truth is that worrying about a speeding motorcycle suddenly coming up mid-lane isn't always possible or practical. In my opinion, motorcyclists who lane-split are just placing themselves in unnecessary jeopardy.

There's a reason lane-splitting is currently illegal in all other states. My hope is that California will join them.

8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 4, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

As one that puts 30,000 miles a year on my odometer I have a lot of experience on the highways. What I have seen recently is a large increase in lane splitting at speeds of 50 mph or more. Those aren't speeds considered safe per the law. Many riders splitting lanes in this fashion are risking their lives. I have no problem with lane splitting at lower speeds.

6 people like this
Posted by Harley Chick
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2016 at 11:28 am

I was in traffic that was impacted by this accident yesterday as on my way to San Francisco. I was frustrated sitting in the slow and often stopped traffic, but after the I passed the motorcycle being hoisted onto a flatbed tow truck and saw a yellow tarp covering an individual in the road, I felt pained by the loss their loved ones will feel.

The longer commute was nothing as I arrived safe, unlike the motorcyclist.

As a passenger on a motorcyle for over 20 years and having split lanes many a times when the traffic was running at a slower speed, it is safe as long as 1) the bike has loud pipes or you rev your engine coming close to splitting 2) you split the lanes slowly
3) fellow motorists are paying attention and are not distracted

Let's all share the road by whatever means we choose. Let's slow down, take a breath, allow more time to get to our desired destination and pay attention to the road.

Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Lane splitting is probably safe if car drivers are being very careful and checking all their blind spots - as they should.

But the reality is that there will always be times where they don't check carefully enough. Always drive defensively.

Sorry to hear about this accident.

3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2016 at 1:20 pm

I too am surprised this doesn't happen more often.

I don't like driving when someone comes up from behind me loud and aggressive
and doing this lane-splitting thing, it raised the tension level of driving that is already
too high because of how there are lots of people who drive like lunatics in a video game.
Having a louder more annoying motorcycle doesn't really seem like that great of an
answer to me.

I think of the driver who hit the motorcyclist and how now they have to have that moment
every so often for the rest of their lives about how they hit or ran over someone causing
their death. About 15 years ago I ran over a dog and I still have flashbacks to that moment
and feel bad about that. I am a careful driver and there were two dogs on El Camino in
Atherton and as I watched out for the one I could see another dog I could not see darted
from the other side of the road ran out in front of my car. I think of that dog most of the
times I go driving. I am grateful I did not hit a person. The unexpected will always happen
every so often and it will eventually lead to something like this. People get more speeded
up and thoughtless about others every year.

I think the practice of lane-spliitting should be discontinued, or limited to moving through
stationary or very slow traffic. Limiting the speed will not work though because once
someone does it they will not be reported or caught, so it needs to end.

2 people like this
Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Aug 5, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

Editor's note: See updated story: Web Link

CHP officers now say it's unclear whether the motorcyclist was splitting lanes and this is under investigation.

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

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