One crosswalk, 2.5 hours: 12 tickets, 10 warnings


Atherton police officers, with some extra help from the California Highway Patrol, handed out 12 tickets and 10 warnings in two-and-a-half hours on Sept. 4 near the intersection of El Camino Real and Stockbridge Avenue.

Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley said the additional enforcement, which took place between 9 and 11:30 a.m., was prompted by complaints that drivers were not stopping for pedestrians in the El Camino crosswalk.

McCulley said the minimum fine for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk is $238. For a driver who passes another vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian, it's even more: $490.

He also reminded drivers that the speed limit on El Camino is 35 mph, and that it's illegal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving, even to get directions.

— Barbara Wood

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16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 10, 2018 at 9:40 am

I'm glad the cops are cracking down on dangerous drivers. Hopefully this is more than 1 day a year and more than just one intersection.

13 people like this
Posted by Thank You Officers!
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 10, 2018 at 10:05 am

The number of tickets written in such a short period of time really shows how prevalent the issue is. Drivers, should get into the habit of going to the brake pedal first instead of just being focused on getting somewhere as fast as they can. That's when we lose lives.

9 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2018 at 11:05 am

Is there a pedestrian signal at the intersection? If not this indicates there should be one. Actually there should a full signal for peds and vehicles at that intersection.

16 people like this
Posted by bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2018 at 12:52 pm

If they spent 30 minutes at the MP Post Office/ Fire Dept crosswalk on Oak Grove, they'd issue even more citations....

9 people like this
Posted by Details matter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 10, 2018 at 1:09 pm

"Thank You Officers"

Be a bit careful in the assumptions. When such operations have been done in the past, a pedestrian is deployed to cross repeatedly to trigger the lights and eventual violation. I would assume similar was done here.

Now, I am not claiming that this is wrong or entrapment. It's a reasonable way to set an example on what is a problematic stretch of roadway. But don't draw conclusions about the 'natural' level of incidence of bad behavior.

I'd also be interested in knowing what standard they used for the tickets or warnings. When this has been done in San Francisco, they were ticketing any drivers anywhere on the roadway who didn't stop, regardless of the interaction with the pedestrian. This is NOT the law. The law requires cars to YIELD to pedestrians. Sensible behavior is to yield (which often includes stopping depending on the circumstances) with lots of room to avoid error or worry for both parties. But it does not require one to wait outside of a crosswalk the entire time a pedestrian is inside the lines crossing the street.

The El Camino crossings are a perfect example of where judgement is required. It should not be expected that all cars will stop on say the northbound side while there is a pedestrian in the southbound side (or vice versa) However, because of the multi-lane and relatively high speed configuration, it is probably best to stop if there is a pedestrian anywhere on the same side so that cars further back get the hint that there is a pedestrian they should also stop for. However, once the pedestrian is fully clear of your lane, there is no reason not to proceed carefully.

Also, two notes to bicycles:
1) You need to yield to pedestrians as well.
2) You may NOT claim right of way inside a crosswalk UNLESS you dismount and become a pedestrian.

It's worth reading the actual vehicle code section. It's short: Web Link

DIVISION 11. RULES OF THE ROAD [21000 - 23336] ( Division 11 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

CHAPTER 5. Pedestrians’ Rights and Duties [21949 - 21971] ( Chapter 5 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

(a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

(Amended by Stats. 2000, Ch. 833, Sec. 8. Effective January 1, 2001.)

The California Driver Handbook adds a bit of color to it as well:

Web Link

23 people like this
Posted by It clearly shows:
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 10, 2018 at 2:13 pm

Drivers did not yield to a pedestrian as required by law.
Glad they got tickets. Lawyers can do the rest for those interested in the picking of legal nits in order to fight the ticket...that's what they're there for.

To the Police, keep up the good work!
To the Drivers beware! MV went through this on Shoreline and the tickets rained down on drivers over repeated periods, but after some time the drivers learned and now most all stop for peds on Shoreline. Enforcement works!

9 people like this
Posted by mp_bicyclist
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 10, 2018 at 7:16 pm

I use this crosswalk and the one at Selby a lot. Even when I'm standing on the crosswalk with a red bicycle, vehicles don't stop. When one does, I have to wait as vehicles in the other lanes keep going. This happens A LOT -- I would say over 70% of the time. In this area, El Camino has 3-4 lanes going each way and drivers don't pay attention to crosswalks; they drive like they're on 280 or 101.

Like this comment
Posted by AtherFun
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 10, 2018 at 10:04 pm

Let’s not kid ourselves that crosswalks across 6 lanes of traffic are ever going to be effective. The cops can ticket all they want but these flashing light crosswalks are a janky solution at best for a generally terrible setup for both drivers and pedestrians. I feel bad for the drivers. Should they be more careful? Of course. Are such hefty fines justified given how bad the setup is? No. I would never let my kids cross El Camino because the crosswalks are simply death traps.

Like this comment
Posted by WOW! So many scoff-law drivers
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 11, 2018 at 5:49 am

Maybe they were all distracted looking for a cyclist to complain about ;)
I've read so comments where cyclists, once proven wrong, switch the argument to how stupid the law is in their eyes, then I read the post above and realized it must be human nature to react that way. For some anyways, drivers and cyclists alike.

3 people like this
Posted by Good business
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 11, 2018 at 7:39 am

If we can write enough tickets, maybe more money will become available to build the new police building, so we can hire more officers, write more tickets, and someday build an even bigger building.

24 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 11, 2018 at 9:34 am

No one denies that a regular red light traffic lights would be safer at these crossings, but Caltrans is a car-centric agency and this is all they think Atherton pedestrians are worth. Pedestrians have been killed in Atherton at these crosswalks. Everyone has a responsibility to obey the speed limit and pay attention to the crosswalks. If you see other cars stopping at the crosswalk, then you are required by law to also stop until you can see that the entire crosswalk is clear.

Like this comment
Posted by Laurel
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 12, 2018 at 7:43 pm

Now if they'd just do this near Laurel School before and after school. Between both the drivers and cyclists failing to yield they could rack up thousands upon thousands of dollars in the half hour periods before and after school.

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

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