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Menlo Park officials urge greater road safety awareness after two collisions involving young students

Two students on bikes hit cars

Children and parents from 16 families rode their bikes to Laurel School Lower Campus on Friday, June 8, accompanied by Menlo Park Police Department escorts. Organizer Jen Wolosin said the event shows how many want safe routes to school. Embarcadero Media file photo courtesy Caryn Wasserstein.

A third grader and a teen on bike rides collided with cars in Menlo Park over the last two weeks, local district officials are reporting. Police and school officials are reminding drivers to be careful and patient — especially in the mornings and afternoons when more children are walking and biking to and from school with the full return to campuses this fall.

Last Monday, Sept. 13, a driver hit a Encinal School third grade boy while he was biking home near on the 800 block of Laurel Street in Menlo Park, according to a Sept. 15 Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) newsletter. He had been following behind a car traveling southbound and when the driver turned right into the parking lot, using her turn indicator, the bicyclist collided with the vehicle. He suffered a bloody nose and some scratches, sore teeth, but was otherwise OK, said Parke Treadway, the district's public information officer.

"Fortunately, the student was back at school in good spirits later this week," the newsletter states. "Menlo Park police and fire departments and another Encinal parent who was driving by at the time came to assist. We are all grateful that this student was not seriously injured, thanks in part to wearing a bike helmet."

Another Encinal parent driving by at the time stopped to help the boy and called his mom, Treadway explained. The driver who hit the student wasn't another parent, Treadway said.

A driver hit a teen biking on Santa Cruz Avenue last week. Via Google Maps.

On Sept. 8, a driver turning from southbound Johnson Street to eastbound Santa Cruz Avenue (near Menlo Church) in downtown Menlo Park when a 13-year-old bicyclist entered the roadway and ran into the vehicle, said Menlo Park Police Department spokesperson Nicole Acker in an email. The bicyclist sustained non-life threatening injuries to his face and head and was transported by ambulance to the hospital, she said.

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The same week as the incident in downtown Menlo Park, a driver struck and killed a school crossing guard in Lafayette.

Menlo Park Police have "received safety concerns regarding students being dropped off and picked up at schools, students biking to school, and non-adherence to signs and crosswalks," officers wrote in a letter last week. "While we know school zones can be tricky to navigate due to congestion, we are providing these safety tips and traffic reminders to help prevent potential hazards and to possibly avoid collisions, and avoid traffic violations."

The incidents have prompted the district to alert the community to pay extra attention to safe driving, biking, and walking. Officials not only reached out to parents through its district and school-based newsletters, but also sent an alert to its full list of community voters for which it has email addresses, according to a Tuesday district press release.

The district plans to host bike rodeos, which teach students proper biking safety with courses set up at the school campuses, in the coming weeks, the release states.

"MPCSD thanks the community for helping keep everyone's children safe as we adjust to society's continued reopening, together," the release states.

Police offer traffic safety tips to pedestrians and drivers

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The Atherton Police Department’s School Resource Officer Dimitri Andruha urged drivers to put their phones away while at the wheel and to give pedestrians the right of way when they are in crosswalks in a letter.

"I am reminded of a bumper sticker I saw as a child growing up in San Francisco. The bumper sticker was all yellow and in black writing it stated, 'School's open, Please drive carefully.'"

He advised children to always wear a helmet while biking (it's the law for those under 18) and reminded motorists to obey the rules of the road, such as stopping at traffic signs, signaling when they will turn, and staying within lane markings. Other tips he offered for students: walk facing traffic (against the flow) to see the vehicles coming in your direction; use a forward-facing headlight and a flashing tail light while riding your bike at dusk or dark; and don't try to cross the road in the middle of the street.

Menlo Park Police recommended in the letter that bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, and at dawn and dusk. Police also reminded bicyclists to ride in the same direction as traffic.

There are also locally created tools that can help kids learn about pedestrian safety. The San Mateo County Office of Education created a Star Wars-themed virtual escape room, Baby Yoda's Safe Journey to help children learn to navigate the streets safely on foot or by bike.

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Menlo Park officials urge greater road safety awareness after two collisions involving young students

Two students on bikes hit cars

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 22, 2021, 11:46 am

A third grader and a teen on bike rides collided with cars in Menlo Park over the last two weeks, local district officials are reporting. Police and school officials are reminding drivers to be careful and patient — especially in the mornings and afternoons when more children are walking and biking to and from school with the full return to campuses this fall.

Last Monday, Sept. 13, a driver hit a Encinal School third grade boy while he was biking home near on the 800 block of Laurel Street in Menlo Park, according to a Sept. 15 Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) newsletter. He had been following behind a car traveling southbound and when the driver turned right into the parking lot, using her turn indicator, the bicyclist collided with the vehicle. He suffered a bloody nose and some scratches, sore teeth, but was otherwise OK, said Parke Treadway, the district's public information officer.

"Fortunately, the student was back at school in good spirits later this week," the newsletter states. "Menlo Park police and fire departments and another Encinal parent who was driving by at the time came to assist. We are all grateful that this student was not seriously injured, thanks in part to wearing a bike helmet."

Another Encinal parent driving by at the time stopped to help the boy and called his mom, Treadway explained. The driver who hit the student wasn't another parent, Treadway said.

On Sept. 8, a driver turning from southbound Johnson Street to eastbound Santa Cruz Avenue (near Menlo Church) in downtown Menlo Park when a 13-year-old bicyclist entered the roadway and ran into the vehicle, said Menlo Park Police Department spokesperson Nicole Acker in an email. The bicyclist sustained non-life threatening injuries to his face and head and was transported by ambulance to the hospital, she said.

The same week as the incident in downtown Menlo Park, a driver struck and killed a school crossing guard in Lafayette.

Menlo Park Police have "received safety concerns regarding students being dropped off and picked up at schools, students biking to school, and non-adherence to signs and crosswalks," officers wrote in a letter last week. "While we know school zones can be tricky to navigate due to congestion, we are providing these safety tips and traffic reminders to help prevent potential hazards and to possibly avoid collisions, and avoid traffic violations."

The incidents have prompted the district to alert the community to pay extra attention to safe driving, biking, and walking. Officials not only reached out to parents through its district and school-based newsletters, but also sent an alert to its full list of community voters for which it has email addresses, according to a Tuesday district press release.

The district plans to host bike rodeos, which teach students proper biking safety with courses set up at the school campuses, in the coming weeks, the release states.

"MPCSD thanks the community for helping keep everyone's children safe as we adjust to society's continued reopening, together," the release states.

The Atherton Police Department’s School Resource Officer Dimitri Andruha urged drivers to put their phones away while at the wheel and to give pedestrians the right of way when they are in crosswalks in a letter.

"I am reminded of a bumper sticker I saw as a child growing up in San Francisco. The bumper sticker was all yellow and in black writing it stated, 'School's open, Please drive carefully.'"

He advised children to always wear a helmet while biking (it's the law for those under 18) and reminded motorists to obey the rules of the road, such as stopping at traffic signs, signaling when they will turn, and staying within lane markings. Other tips he offered for students: walk facing traffic (against the flow) to see the vehicles coming in your direction; use a forward-facing headlight and a flashing tail light while riding your bike at dusk or dark; and don't try to cross the road in the middle of the street.

Menlo Park Police recommended in the letter that bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, and at dawn and dusk. Police also reminded bicyclists to ride in the same direction as traffic.

There are also locally created tools that can help kids learn about pedestrian safety. The San Mateo County Office of Education created a Star Wars-themed virtual escape room, Baby Yoda's Safe Journey to help children learn to navigate the streets safely on foot or by bike.

Comments

Former resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 22, 2021 at 12:29 pm
Former resident, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2021 at 12:29 pm

I have always felt everyone should receive instruction and licensing to ride a bike. Understanding “rules of the road” would help both drivers and bike riders to avoid preventable accidents. Many bicyclists (of all ages) do not stop at stop signs and do not seem to be aware of their surroundings. Classes should be required in order to “share the road” to make our streets safer for all.


Robert Cronin
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 22, 2021 at 12:35 pm
Robert Cronin, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2021 at 12:35 pm

Former resident. It is true, as you say, that many bicyclists do not stop at stop signs, but the number of cars that do not stop at stop signs is far greater. Observe traffic at any intersection with stop signs, and you will see that this is true.


Bobnoir
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 22, 2021 at 12:56 pm
Bobnoir, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2021 at 12:56 pm

Right turn drivers need to pull to the right curb before turning right. That blocks bicyclists from coming up from behind.
It's the law.


David Roise
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 22, 2021 at 1:05 pm
David Roise, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2021 at 1:05 pm

I would also ask car drivers not to encourage poor bicyclist behavior by waving bicycles through intersections out of turn. Traffic works best if everyone (car drivers and bicycle drivers) follow the rules consistently. We should think of a bicycle as a child's first vehicle.

That said, I agree with Bob Cronin that poor behavior by car drivers is far more common, and far more dangerous, than anything bicyclists do. Please, please, please--slow down, get off your phone, and watch the road!


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Sep 22, 2021 at 1:49 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2021 at 1:49 pm

I driver every day to both Laurel Lower and Laurel Upper and I have to constantly watch out for kids not riding safely or following the rules. I rarely see any kids stopping at stop signs, often the adult riding with them does not stop so the kids just follow their example. Kids ride in the middle of the road, two and three abreast instead of single file. I have seen kids dart out in the middle of the street suddenly for some unknown reason and I have seen kids make turns across traffic without signaling (remember hand signals?). Given that it sounds like both these accidents, just based on the reporting, were the fault of the kids I think maybe requiring some bike safety course for the kids (and Parents) makes a lot of sense. Maybe the school should require it before the kids are allowed to park their bikes on campus.

Two other quick comments: I disagree that more cars run stop signs than bikes. Seeing a kid or adult on a bike actually stop at a stop sign is rare. I would say I see less than 1 in 20 people on bikes actually stop at a stop sign, probably 1 in 40 that come to a full and complete stop as required by law.

I can't say how many times I see kids riding bikes with a helmet hanging off the handlebars instead of on their head. Maybe the police should start enforcing this? As the bicyclist in the accident on Santa Cruz "Sustained non-life threatening injuries to his face and head" it is possible (likely?) that he was not wearing a helmet?


Dawn1234
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 22, 2021 at 3:33 pm
Dawn1234, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2021 at 3:33 pm

I think road safety is important for all road users. As a bike commuter, I see it all. Helmets hanging off of handlebars, kids riding two or three abreast, parents riding so far out in the road that faster bikes actually have to be in the opposite lane to go around, cars almost never stopping for right turns, bikes almost never stopping at any stop signs. and cars driving way too fast when kids are present. Parents - you are role modeling for your kids how to use the roads. When you run stop signs, your kids learn that rules only apply sometimes. They need to learn to be more aware of cars and rules of the road. I liked the poster above who said that bikes are their first vehicles. Want to know what kind of driver they'll be - watch how they ride.


Driver & Cyclist
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 23, 2021 at 9:48 am
Driver & Cyclist, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 9:48 am

I was surprised to learn that California is about to pass a new law that allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs in certain conditions. AB 122 made its way to the governors desk earlier this month. I know we all learned in drivers' ed that cyclists should stop at stop signs. If the law goes into effect (and I assume it will), I'm not sure how we're going to re-orient drivers' knowledge of the law!

I'm a longtime driver who recently got a cargo bike for school runs. Having the kids with me makes me extra vigilant, and it really is astonishing how many drivers aren't paying attention! The new law does make sense to me as a cyclist, but I'm still not sure I'll try it out with the level of distracted driving I see.


dana hendrickson
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2021 at 12:27 pm
dana hendrickson, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 12:27 pm

So how does our city explain its concern about bike safety while KNOWINGLY accepting that Hillview Middle School students regularly ride against vehicle traffic on Santa Cruz Avenue between Evelyn and Crane.

I have published many images of this daily after-school activity.

The eastbound lane closure (a) offers little benefits to businesses, (b) Irritates hundreds of drivers everyday and (c) endangers bike riders.

Get rid of it. Now!

Before someone is critically injured.


STLubin
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 23, 2021 at 5:58 pm
STLubin, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 5:58 pm

In the Laurel Ave incident the article says "He had been following behind a car traveling southbound and when the driver turned right into the parking lot, using her turn indicator, the bicyclist collided with the vehicle. "

The Laurel collision sounds a lot like a classic "right hook" collision.
<Web Link

I presume the car had just passed the cyclist. Where a bike lane exists (I don't think there is one on Laurel) vehicle code requires cars to merge into the lane to make a right turn. CVC 21717 says "Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn". Likewise CVC 22100 requires right turns to be made " as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway" at any location.

A driver should not pass a cyclist then make a right turn. They should make sure they have passed the cyclist with sufficient room so that there is no conflict with the cyclist or else merge in behind the cyclist them make the right turn.

One of my frequent annoyances is drivers passing me when I am in a bike lane then stopping in the traffic lane at an intersection signaling for a right turn. Since I will not pass a car in the right (extremely dangerous) this causes me to stop behind the car and wait for it to make the turn. Since I am in the blind spot of the driver a long period of confusion with both of us stopped results. Please merge into the bike lane before making a right turn.


STLubin
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 23, 2021 at 6:00 pm
STLubin, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 6:00 pm

I hope this link works where the one above does not:
Web Link


Robert Cronin
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 23, 2021 at 6:34 pm
Robert Cronin, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 6:34 pm

Enough. Bicycles make up at most 5% of traffic. Let's observe traffic at an intersection controlled by stop signs. Count until 100 road users have traversed the intersection. That would be about 95 cars and 5 bicycles. Let's assume that 100% of bicyclists don't come to a complete stop. It can be observed that more than 50 % of cars will not come to complete stop. That's 47 cars and 5 bicycles that did not stop. Which is the more serious safety issue? I rest my case.
















































5


dana hendrickson
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2021 at 9:12 pm
dana hendrickson, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2021 at 9:12 pm

Unsafe motorists occasionally harm and sometimes kill bicyclists; bicyclists rarely either harm or kill motorists. Which unsafe behavior creates the greater safety risk????


Eric Gilbertson
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 25, 2021 at 9:12 pm
Eric Gilbertson, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Sep 25, 2021 at 9:12 pm

A good start to improving bike safety is for the cities to go after contractors who regularly use bike lanes, including school routes, as the preferred location for gratuitous construction signs. The MUTCD guidelines for sign placement state that bikeways are to be used only as a last resort but they are virtually always the first location used by road crews due to their convenience.

I've notified the Menlo Park public works department about this numerous times with photos and suggestions for alternative sign placement but it just keeps happening. Current case in point is southbound Middlefield between Survey Drive and Willow Road and all this signing is to 'protect' a small section of occasional sidewalk work around the fire station. If you encounter obstructed bike lanes please take a photo and notify public works director Nagaya at [email protected]


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