News

Seven years after fatal collision, new stoplights operating on El Camino

In 2010, Chris Chandler, 62, was killed in an Atherton crosswalk on El Camino Real. Soon after, Atherton began campaigning to get Caltrans to make the state highway safer.

Seven years later, two new pedestrian-activated stoplights, which Caltrans agreed to install in 2012, have recently become operational on El Camino in Atherton, joining a similar light on El Camino at Almendral Avenue that started operating in August 2016.

Motorists may not have noticed the new lights because they remain dark unless activated by a bicyclist or pedestrian.

The two new lights are located over crosswalks at Isabella and Alejandra avenues.

All three crossings are the sites of serious or fatal collisions between cars and pedestrians or bicyclists, with two fatalities occurring after Caltrans had promised to install the new stoplights.

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When the three lights are activated by the push of a button at either end of the crosswalk, they at first blink yellow, then steady yellow and then red. Before going dark again, the signals flash red, at which point motorists can proceed after stopping if no one is in the crosswalk.

Pedestrians and bicyclists see a walk/don't walk signal as well as a countdown of seconds remaining for crossing.

Atherton has posted more information about how the lights work on its website.

Atherton has been asking Caltrans to do something to make El Camino safer since Mr. Chandler, a resident of the unincorporated Redwood City neighborhood off Selby Lane, was killed in the Isabella Avenue crosswalk as he was heading to his wife's workplace at Menlo School.

More fatalities and serious injuries followed Mr. Chandler's death, and in 2012 Caltrans agreed to pay for and install two pedestrian-activated stoplights on El Camino at Isabella and Alejandra avenues. At that time Caltrans said it could take five years to complete the projects.

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The town tried to speed up the work by working with Caltrans and then by applying political pressure. After yet another fatality, that of 32-year-old Atherton resident Shahriar Rahimzadeh in July 2014, the town of Atherton agreed to pay for an Almendral Avenue light in order to get it done more quickly.

In June 2015, Emiko Chen, 86, of Menlo Park was killed in the crosswalk at Alejandra Avenue.

The Almendral light is owned and maintained by Caltrans, but Atherton and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District split the installation costs.

The fire district can remotely trigger the Almendral light, making it easier for fire vehicles to get in and out of the Almendral Avenue fire station.

Caltrans plans to install similar lights at 11 other crosswalks in San Mateo County. The stoplights are officially known as pedestrian hybrid beacons and also called HAWKs (High-intensity Activated crossWalK beacons).

Caltrans agreed to install the lights after a jury in 2010 found Caltrans to be 50 percent responsible for a collision in a Millbrae crosswalk that left a teenager in a coma. The state agency paid $8 million to her family in that case.

In 2016, a jury found Caltrans 90 percent responsible for Mr. Chandler's death, and ordered it to pay $8.55 million in damages to his family.

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Seven years after fatal collision, new stoplights operating on El Camino

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Nov 22, 2017, 9:42 am

In 2010, Chris Chandler, 62, was killed in an Atherton crosswalk on El Camino Real. Soon after, Atherton began campaigning to get Caltrans to make the state highway safer.

Seven years later, two new pedestrian-activated stoplights, which Caltrans agreed to install in 2012, have recently become operational on El Camino in Atherton, joining a similar light on El Camino at Almendral Avenue that started operating in August 2016.

Motorists may not have noticed the new lights because they remain dark unless activated by a bicyclist or pedestrian.

The two new lights are located over crosswalks at Isabella and Alejandra avenues.

All three crossings are the sites of serious or fatal collisions between cars and pedestrians or bicyclists, with two fatalities occurring after Caltrans had promised to install the new stoplights.

When the three lights are activated by the push of a button at either end of the crosswalk, they at first blink yellow, then steady yellow and then red. Before going dark again, the signals flash red, at which point motorists can proceed after stopping if no one is in the crosswalk.

Pedestrians and bicyclists see a walk/don't walk signal as well as a countdown of seconds remaining for crossing.

Atherton has posted more information about how the lights work on its website.

Atherton has been asking Caltrans to do something to make El Camino safer since Mr. Chandler, a resident of the unincorporated Redwood City neighborhood off Selby Lane, was killed in the Isabella Avenue crosswalk as he was heading to his wife's workplace at Menlo School.

More fatalities and serious injuries followed Mr. Chandler's death, and in 2012 Caltrans agreed to pay for and install two pedestrian-activated stoplights on El Camino at Isabella and Alejandra avenues. At that time Caltrans said it could take five years to complete the projects.

The town tried to speed up the work by working with Caltrans and then by applying political pressure. After yet another fatality, that of 32-year-old Atherton resident Shahriar Rahimzadeh in July 2014, the town of Atherton agreed to pay for an Almendral Avenue light in order to get it done more quickly.

In June 2015, Emiko Chen, 86, of Menlo Park was killed in the crosswalk at Alejandra Avenue.

The Almendral light is owned and maintained by Caltrans, but Atherton and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District split the installation costs.

The fire district can remotely trigger the Almendral light, making it easier for fire vehicles to get in and out of the Almendral Avenue fire station.

Caltrans plans to install similar lights at 11 other crosswalks in San Mateo County. The stoplights are officially known as pedestrian hybrid beacons and also called HAWKs (High-intensity Activated crossWalK beacons).

Caltrans agreed to install the lights after a jury in 2010 found Caltrans to be 50 percent responsible for a collision in a Millbrae crosswalk that left a teenager in a coma. The state agency paid $8 million to her family in that case.

In 2016, a jury found Caltrans 90 percent responsible for Mr. Chandler's death, and ordered it to pay $8.55 million in damages to his family.

--

Comments

MEMBERONE
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm
MEMBERONE, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm
8 people like this

Here we go again...
1) Signage is too small and too high off the road,
2) Flashing red is confusing AFTER solid red, as evidenced by drivers who won't move until someone behind them hits their horn,
3) The town published a "users guide" which goes only to Patch, Almanac, Post, and Atherton online readers.

WHAT ABOUT THE ROW who travel ECR.
Lets get Caltran redesigning and implementing a more sensible system, like the HAWKS MP has installed. Or do they have to pay for a flawed system when the next pedestrian is hurt.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Nov 22, 2017 at 6:29 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2017 at 6:29 pm
8 people like this

Memberone:

[part removed] The law is to proceed when safe on a flashing red light after stopping. The problem is that this state will give anyone that can fog a mirror a license to drive. Not the design of the crosswalks.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Nov 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm
5 people like this

Note that the Fire District has committed to paying 50% of the cost for Hawk Signals on Middlefield Road on both sides of Station 1 AND to loan Menlo Park the other 50% of the cost so that these signals can be installed immediately.

These signals would permit safer pedestrian and bicyclist crossings of Middlefield and permit the fire engines to more safely depart Station 1.

The City of Menlo Park said that they were too busy and that this project would have to wait until 2019!


Roy Thiele-Sardiña
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 28, 2017 at 11:11 am
Roy Thiele-Sardiña, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Nov 28, 2017 at 11:11 am
3 people like this

@Peter

Congrats to the Fire District for their forward thinking and generosity to make this happen QUICKLY......safer is ALWAYS better.

Roy


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 28, 2017 at 11:20 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Nov 28, 2017 at 11:20 am
7 people like this

June 20, 2017 Fire Board meeting:
12. Consider and Authorize the Fire Chief to Enter Into Discussions and Agreement with the City of Menlo Park to Install a Hybrid Beacon Traffic Signal (HAWK) on Middlefield Road and Linfield Drive and Santa Monica Avenue to Support Emergency Response from Fire Station One and a Mutually Beneficial Proposal for an Improved and Safer Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossings from the Group Parents for Safe Routes to School Not to Exceed $175,000

Motion: Upon motion by Director Carpenter, seconded by Director Silano, the Board authorized the Fire Chief to enter into discussions and agreement with the City of Menlo Park to install a hybrid beacon traffic signal (HAWK) on Middlefield Road and Linfield Drive and Santa Monica Avenue to support emergency response from Fire Station No. 1 and a mutually beneficial proposal for an improved and safer pedestrian and bicycle crossings from the Group Parents for Safe Routes to School for an amount not to exceed $175,000. The Board stated that if the City of Menlo Park is unable to designate funds for this project in the next fiscal year, the Fire Board authorized the District to fund the full cost of the project provided that the City of Menlo Park agrees to reimburse the Fire District in FY 2018/19 for 50% of the cost of the project. (Vote: 5-0-0)

******
To date nothing has happened because the City of Menlo Park is too busy doing other things.......


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