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Cyclist injured in Alpine Road collision

Original post made on Jul 2, 2007

A woman cyclist suffered a fractured skull and facial trauma in a bike-versus-car accident Saturday, June 30, on Alpine Road, west of Golden Oak Drive, in Portola Valley, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

Read the full story here Web Link

Comments (44)

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Posted by Traumatized
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 2, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Coincidentally, the last cyclist seriously injured on the loop was released from Stanford Medical Center last weekend. She was injured on Memorial Day.

Anyone else notice that these "accidents" are invariably caused by elderly drivers or relatively inexperienced ones?

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Posted by CrocodileHunter
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 3, 2007 at 12:16 am

Anyone notice that these cyclists think they own the road, especially when they're riding in large groups. They often spread out into the car lane and expect cars to manuver around them. If a driver taps his horn to alert them they take offense and will an obscene gesture or comment. No wonder they're often involved in accidents.

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Posted by FactsFirst
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2007 at 8:14 am

Re the comment by Traumautized: "Anyone else notice that these 'accidents' are invariably caused by elderly drivers or relatively inexperienced ones?"

I make the mistake, too, of assuming because the driver is elderly, she or he must be at fault. But I was proven wrong in the Rodney Smith case, where the CHP decided the driver was not at fault.

Then a few days later I almost struck a bicyclist who darted out in front of me on Sand Hill Road. If I had, I imagine people like me would assume the driver was at fault.

In this recent accident on Alpine Road, the jury may be still out, but it doesn't appear that I or anyone else can assume the driver was at fault just because she is "elderly."

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Posted by alekaneleno
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jul 3, 2007 at 9:29 am

I, too, happened on the scene of this accident shortly after it happened. But there were a couple of other scary and telling aspects.

First, a sheriff's car screamed past us at Ladera going about 80-90 mph with complete disregard for the safety of citizens in that congested area. This was completely unnecessary as he merely joined two others who were also merely standing around the scene. Other cyclists were directing traffic.

Perhaps rather telling about the attitude of the (mostly) flatlander cyclists using our neighborhoods for recreation was that they ignored those directions and kept riding past, while the motorists stopped. The deputies were more interested in socializing and ignored them.

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Posted by ShareTheRoad
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2007 at 10:56 am

Bicycle riders have the same right to the road as automobiles.

I have often seen cars driving 15mph+ faster than the posted limit on Alpine and Portola, with their drivers talking on their cell phones.

I've also witnessed multiple incidents on those roads where a car drifts over the line into the bike lane/shoulder near a cyclist; is it due to poor driving skills, plain lack of attention, or an overt attempt to pressure the cyclist? Regardless, some education to drivers on the appropriate way to handle driving with/around cyclists would benefit everyone.

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Posted by Jochen Kumm
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2007 at 11:16 am

It's a shame that the discussion focuses so much on whether the driver was elderly. This should be irrelevant. Age is not an impairment. However, the fact that a driver honks implies the he/she is aware of the bicyclists. Apparently the cyclist was hit all the same. Error in judgment? Who knows.

A bicycle is not as mobile or dangerous as a car, and I think the burden of responsibility lies with the driver to be safe.

I often cycle on Alpine road and would like to feel safe. I don't.

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Posted by Ronald
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2007 at 11:29 am

The article says that the bicyclist left the bike lane, but there is no bike lane on that stretch of Alpine. There is a shoulder, but bicyclists are not required to use the shoulder. The article says that the driver was tapping her horn to alert the bicyclists of her approach. This is illegal. It would have been far better if she had moved farther to the left to give plenty of room instead of tapping on her horn. Articles full of misinformation like this only increase the confusion level of drivers and bicyclists.

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Posted by Bike Safely
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 3, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Ronald has something of a point, but here's the thing: A bicycler who is riding on the shoulder, and then darts from the shoulder into the vehicle lane in front of oncoming traffic, is the source of the problem rather than part of the solution. Anyone entering a vehicle lane is required to do so safely, whether than person is a pedestrian, bicycler, or automobile driver.

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Posted by David Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Jul 3, 2007 at 12:53 pm

David Boyce is a registered user.

Ronald is correct in saying that there is no formal bike lane on that part of Alpine Road.

The white line that demarcates the eastbound traffic lane from the paved shoulder is technically called a fog line. The shoulder created by that fog line is commonly used by cyclists as a de facto bike lane.

With some exceptions, on roads without bike lanes the state vehicle code requires bicycles to stay "as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway." One exception is when the cyclist is passing another vehicle or bicycle.

The vehicle code uses similar language when describing roads on which bike lanes exist.

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Posted by BikerChick95125
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2007 at 1:28 pm

What I don't see mentioned anywhere in these postings is that there was an organized bike ride going on that morning...the Giro di Peninsula. So add to an already heavily traveled bike route another thousand or so riders and one would think that there would be an increased awareness of the need for safety. Whenever a car and a bike get into an "altercation" the bike never wins.

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Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Bicyclists have a right to use the road, and motorists are required to give them enough clearance that they don't interfere with the bicyclist's ability to bike safely. Obviously this driver passed too closely. Drivers often complain that bicyclists swerve or move out in front of them, but they never seem to anticipate that possibility and leave enough room. Instead they honk their horn and plow ahead.

As far as David Boyce claiming that the shoulder is a de facto bike lane, that is true but not relevant legally. There are big differences between bike lanes and shoulders. The Vehicle Code does not require bicyclists to ride on the shoulder, although it permits them to do so if they want. Drivers are prohibited from driving on shoulders. The shoulder is not considered part of the roadway, sothe "keep to the right" rule means to the right of the lane, not on the shoulder. Bike lanes have stringent requirements on width and pavement quality which don't apply to shoulders. Bike lanes are designed and maintained in a rideable condition, while shoulders are not. They can change from wide and smooth to nonexistent or crumbled with no warning, so drivers should never expect that a bicyclist on the shoulder will remain there. Of course bicyclists should always check before moving to the left.

Why does Portola Valley refuse to paint REAL bike lanes on their roads? Do they not want the cost of maintaining them in a usable condition? Are they unwilling to meet the width requirements in all aras? Do they not want to acknowledge that bicyclists use their roads?

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Posted by Marco
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Richard is spot on.

I'm sorry this happened, and hope the cyclist fully recovers.

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Posted by Julia
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 3, 2007 at 9:03 pm

I too feel very sad that this happened. Not only has it caused terrible injury to someone who was just out for a positive social and health-bolstering experience, but, I'm quite sure, the motorist is suffering from a wrenching trauma (think of your great-grandmothers, all you self-righteous readers just itching to condemn the motorist). But let's be real: Richard says that a motorist must give a bicyclist enough clearance to ride safely, but the bicyclist also must be sure that he/she checks the approaching traffic before passing other riders, especially when riding on a narrow roadway. Perhaps the bicyclist was distracted, or inexperienced. But according to the accident report, she was passing others when she was hit. Again, I'm really sorry for her -- I have also done things while distracted that could have ended horribly for me and others on the road, and have counted my blessings that I and others have survived my occasional lapses. But even acknowledging that bicyclists are always on the losing end of accidents involving motorists, you can't always fault the motorist.

Bicyclists and motorists want the same thing: To get from Point A to Point B safely. Let's spend our time and creative energy in trying to find solutions. Richard asks some good questions: Why doesn't the town design that roadway to include bike lanes? Bicyclists are here to stay -- and more power to them. Towns like Portola Valley and Woodside need to accept that fact, and try to create the safest infrastructure possible to allow them to use the roadways, as they are entitled to do.

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Posted by Michael K
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2007 at 1:30 am

I ride here all the time, and really feel for this rider. However, rules and laws are one thing; the laws of physics and our mortality are another. If the crosswalk signal says "walk" I still look both ways. Perhaps I'm a bit too cynical; but in these kinds of 'accidents' what is fair and what is reality are often two different things. The whole 'innocent until proven guilty' aspect of our legal system is great for the accused. But it is always tough on the victim- a cost we must bear to avoid the greatest injustice of being wrongfully punished. As a result, a driver who hits a cyclist would have to be outrageously reckless for any DA to prosecute them. This does not appear to be the case here. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated time again that even if the 91 year old driver's skills fell far below those of a safe driver, there is no court in the land that will try this person. As for the age related remarks, can we stop pretending like 91 year old people have the same reflexes and awareness as the majority of drivers? This is the same sort of logic that makes us afraid of looking twice at young Muslim men from Pakistan with one-way tickets and no luggage. It's wrong to accuse, but necessary to examine the *reasonable* possibilities.

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Posted by alekaneleno
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jul 4, 2007 at 10:01 am

Predictably, commenters divided themselves mostly into pro-biker 'another community' residents and locals. Julia thinks that we all want the same thing: 'to get from Point A to Point B'; sorry Julia, residents have to use the roads that way, but most bicyclists here are recreating. Wouldn't you, if your alternative was to go around a rectangular block with stop signs at every corner?

Now they want PV and Woodside to widen roads and install bike lanes to make this a safer experience. Would they be willing to pay a bike toll to pay for it? After a previous incident, someone wanted us to lower speed limits and have stricter enforcement. Somehow, a lower speed limit will make bikes more visible and cyclists more careful and/or less irresponsible. ShareTheRoad thinks we go too fast. Actually, most drivers, including, I suspect, complaining bicyclists when they get behind the wheel, go what they feel is a reasonable speed for the conditions. Speed limits have been already been set artificially low around here, which has fostered illegal radar traps. Since the police set these up during 'normal working hours', very few weekend flatlander cyclists see them.

And bicyclists go too fast as well. One of my neighbors was seriously hurt by a cyclist racing downhill in a 25 MPH residential area.

There are so many of them of varying capabilities now that local drivers have to be and are generally alert for sudden passing and other dumb moves. It's also up to the cyclist to ride defensively and look around---they have a lot more to lose. Drivers sometimes get squeezed by cyclists, especially those packs, on both sides of the road and cannot provide a wide margin by hugging or crossing the center line.

When I started riding Sand Hill was a narrow winding country lane. Since few adults rode bikes then, the biggest hazard was from beer cans thrown by rednecks in pickup trucks. Kumm, a resident of another community, ought to follow my lead and avoid riding here now (I'd really stay off Arastradero, too). Now a hazard is having water bottles thrown at residents by arrogant and abusive riders (that guy is facing trial soon and I hope they throw the book at him).

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Posted by Citizen A
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jul 4, 2007 at 1:03 pm

Alekaneleno is right on. Residents of Woodside and Portola Valley are sick and tired of the "another community" bikers continuously riding around like idiots in our neighborhood. I am sure if you had an analogous situation with others not from your neighborhood being jerks you would be frustrated as well.

So "another community" bikers please go somewhere else where you will feel and be safer than residential neighborhoods with narrow roads and blind corners. Go up in the hills. But please just go away.

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Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Before you place all "bicyclists" in the same bin, please read the recent editorial in the Palo Alto Daily, where Bil Paul discusses the diverse nature of the bicycling community:

Web Link

Note that none of the recent crashes have not involved the large packs of alpha males, and two have been 50's females. Not exactly your troublemakers! The solo cyclists or small groups who are being courteous and staying to the right are actually at more risk from drivers who pass too closely or turn across their path than are the large groups that take up the road and are very visible.

I know that some bicyclists are incosiderate, but that is no excuse for drivers to endanger all bicyclists. The general feeling in this country is "might makes right" and that the more vulnerable road users should stay out of the way of the larger ones. In Europe the legal system turns this completely the other way around, declaring that the larger your vehicle is, the more careful you must be. If only drivers in this country would adopt that attitude we would all be a lot safer. (Note that this is Commandment #9 of the Pope's Ten Commandments of driving.)

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Posted by Bob Dobson
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jul 4, 2007 at 10:44 pm

Most of this discussion about "in community" vs. "out of community", "elder driver" vs. "young driver", "bike lane vs. shoulder", and "rude bicyclists" vs. "embattled resident motorists" is irrelevant. The only things that matter are who is at fault for this accident and what should be done to limit future accidents.

If a reasonably competent driver could have avoided this bicyclist, this motorist should have her license revoked permanently. If this bicyclist made an unreasonably erratic move, she should be cited for reckless driving and be thankful that she didn't get hurt more seriously.

It doesn't matter whether the bicyclist was in the lane - autos must pass bikes with safe clearance routinely.

It doesn't matter if the motorist was honking her horn. This could either mean that the cyclists were behaving erratically or that the driver was unable to deal with the basic complexity of passing a pack of cyclist - which is a reality of driving in this area.

It doesn't matter if you've lived in these hills for 30 years, don't like people from other communities, or that some cyclists are rude or reckless. Bicyclists are here to stay and you'd better live in this reality and learn to safely co-exist on the roads. If you don't, your attitude is putting you risk of hitting a bicyclist.

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Posted by Eric Dahl
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2007 at 10:15 am

Bob makes great points, but "elder" driver is relevant. In my experience, they tend to drive larger vehicles, at or below speed limit, and, most importantly, tend not to veer from their lane when passing cyclists...which appears to be the cause of the accident.

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Posted by Dan Connelly
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2007 at 12:14 pm

Bob's Dobson's comments are excellent. But it should be added that the "recreational use" argument against cyclists is obviously bogus. There is no "needs test" applied to drivers. Is driving to the video store to rent a movie not "recreational"? Is driving to the market to get supplies for a party not "recreational"? Dismissing cyclists' right to the roads because they appear to be having fun is a slippery slope. Is driving to a Giants' game not "recreational"?

Let's focus on the facts here. The cyclist may have acted momentarily erratically, which the lack of defensive driving exposed. Lack of periodic testing of drivers, especially elderly ones, is a major safety problem. However, whether that was the primary factor here is not clear.


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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2007 at 12:16 pm

I am a "another community" state taxpayer. Now when I payed my state taxes last year I do not remember the fill in box for community which my taxes would be applied too. Did Woodside or PV get annexed to Nevada or Oregon in the last year and I wasn't made aware?

I pay for roads in the state of California, so your bike lane tax is already taken out bi-monthly and then I supplement a bit more yearly.

now if only I had the chance to pay for a spoiled/rich driver reeducation tax to bring you all back into the world most of us live in with the driving rules most everyone else uses we might actually get something accomplished.

Your area has the money... To buy that island that you all can move to and live in this dream world with your dream rules and policies you try to make everyone that visits abide by....

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Posted by A resident
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 5, 2007 at 1:57 pm

Well, is it not special how residents of Woodside act in regards to cyclists. I'm a resident of Woodside and a frequent cyclist. What's the argument going to be against me? I "must" sell my bike and buy a smelly horse -- please. Better yet, should I sell my house? I love that "out of town" cyclists visit our wonderful area, cycle, spend money, and are otherwise fairly good citizens. I'm very tired of hearing that they do -- fill in the blank -- (litter, gesture, ride, etc). In many years of riding I have seen 10x more bad behavior by people driving cars then cyclists. As a cyclist and car driver, I believe the roads are meant to be shared safety. I don't think it’s random that we are having many more accidents with elderly drivers. It’s not a right to drive but a privilege if you do it safety. If one can't, then they should be removed from the road.

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Posted by jim-53-fatoldnscared
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jul 5, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Just a note from another 50+yr resident,
I wish the person injured a speedy recovery.
Honestly, I'm one of the long time residents who enjoys seeing the cyclists day in and day out, they generally seem to be doing the best they can to stay out of harms way.
To me, the supersized - over powered vehicles of today,piloted by over amped distracted kids+folks are a blight on my community, not the pedalers.
These mega vehicles,driving on our 50+yr old country roads, place not just cyclists, but walkers-doggy's, critters-horses,and anything else that dare's set foot-hoof-paw, tire, on the same, supposedly shared roadway in harms way in our arrogant mindset that our time is more important than their safety.
Shame on my neighbors for singling out bicyclists, we seem to scapegoat them 90% of the time for roadway interactions, alleviating ourselves of the glaring fact, as I see it, that our own behaviour is generally the culprit when others are scared, injured or worse.
Slow Down, YIELD to slower moving entity's til safe passing is possible, You'll be glad you did
Jim S in Los Trancos Woods

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Posted by Lee The
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2007 at 10:54 pm

I've been commuting on a bicycle & riding one recreationally on the Peninsula since 1985. One reason for my surviving all this intact is...a rear view mirror on my helmet. I see precious few cyclists with one. Too dorky looking maybe? But I've found it's a lifesaver. If you look at car accident statistics compared to the driver's age, they start really high, drift down to normal by about age 25, then start zooming up again when folks get into their 70s. That little mirror helps me see when someone's coming by too close to me.

Judging from what others have said about this accident, I'd guess the 91 year old driver was unable to react quickly enough to the cyclist's passing manuver, with fault on both sides--but the cyclist, as usual, pays the price.

You wouldn't drive a car without a rear view mirror. Same should be true for riding a bike.

BTW I had to look a long time for a mirror that works. The plastic ones wear out quickly. The ugly metal ones are the ones to use.

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Posted by Dan
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 5, 2007 at 10:59 pm

If I am inconvenienced by 1 min. getting somewhere
by some stupid biker I have ever right to run him over. I am the most
important person in the world and don't forget it.
It would really upset me if the biker scratched my car when I hit him. Get out of my neighborhood!

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Posted by Concerned Citized
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 6, 2007 at 6:36 am

As a local cyclist I believe there needs to be more awareness on both the part of the driver and the cyclist. However when you are driving in a car are you not responsible for EVERYTHING that is in front of you? If a vehicle rear ends someone doesn't the insurance company say the person in the rear is at fault? What makes you NOT at fault for hitting a cyclist when you have a better view of what is in front of you than they do of whats behind them??? Should they not give them the same regard in passing as they would in passing another vehicle? On the flip side I always take a quick look behind me to make sure it is safe to pass another cyclist, as should all cyclist...and I know not many of them do. Lastly when there is no marked bicycle lane, a bicycle moving in the direction of traffic has the right to the full use of the lane...Arastradero!!!!

Drivers...SLOW DOWN take a breath and enjoy the beautiful views we have out here! courteous, take a quick look before you make any sudden moves!

For everyone's safety...let's ALL get along!

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Posted by Glad to be gone
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2007 at 8:35 am

I see that nothing has changed in the bikes vs. rich PV/Woodside residents war in the 10 years I've lived elsewhere. Maybe the solution for these communities would be to build an encircling wall with a moat, along with a giant gate with a drawbridge. I guess that wouldn't be too much different than some residents own properties. Then you could live in your perfect community, with your perfect children, in your perfect house, and you wouldn't have to be exposed to the "flatlander" riff-raff you so clearly despise.

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Posted by Me
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 6, 2007 at 9:40 am

The driver of a 2,500 vehicle has the responsibility to avoid the 150lb bike. Period. Maybe the cyclist crossed the white shoulder line to avoid debris? The driver should brake or swerve to avoid a collision but that's probably pretty near impossible when you're 91 [portion removed by Almanac staff].

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Posted by Local Bike Racer
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 6, 2007 at 11:34 am

Name one driver which has been hurt by running over a bicycle and seriously injuring or killing the cyclist? Actually I get insulted when the stories always seem to add "the driver was not hurt in the incident......." I have been riding all these roads for 25 years sometimes as recreation other times as a bike racer. I have been hit, beer bottles thrown at, scared to death by honking horns 1000 times, sworn at, yelled at, etc by angry road rage drivers on countless occasions. The drivers always forgot the cyclist has the right of way when passing just like passing another car. I know for sure these 50+ year old women were not trying to be rude to drivers and riding to the best of their abilities, my guess is at 91 years old the best of her abilities is what lead to this accident. Certainly she could not pass a current DMV driving test, which should be a requirment after any incident, it is just a shame someone has to be injured first. I wish the best the injured cyclist, hopefully she can again feel safe on these roads.

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Posted by alekaneleno
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jul 6, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Depending on intent, Dan thinks that running errands is not always a chore. Sorry, driving to a Giants game is not "recreational" either (maybe watching them isn't, either). Recreational cycling, or driving, is doing it for it's own sake. Dan is right, however, regarding periodic retesting. And driving tests should be a lot tougher and require emergency situations response, as they are for pilot's licenses. A dumbed-down written test doesn't hack it.

Taxpayer evidently has no clue how roads are financed. PV and Woodside don't get much gas tax funding due to small populations. He should write his representative (and see how far that gets).

Bob thinks that a motorist should have his/her license revoked for not being "reasonably competent". How about requiring all adult cyclists to have and carry a drivers' license and have their infractions count against them. We could revoke theirs for being "somewhat incompetent" if they caused an accident.

Regarding elderly drivers, check this out: Web Link
At the top of the list is the famous soggy chad state (drivers with only knuckles visible). Another retirement magnet is second.

You come here, you take your chances, and you need to be alert. While tempting, passing stopped cars on the right or the left at intersections is particularly risky. Actually, PV and Woodside are probably safer than the Bay Area as a whole since motorists are additionally burdened by and are used to dealing with hordes of riders, which sometimes greatly outnumber cars. It would be hard to quantify that, though, since our population is small and visiting bicycle ridership from "other communities" is so high. It would be interesting to see those statistics.

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Posted by Miss X
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 6, 2007 at 1:43 pm

In case any of you care about the fellow human being who is the subject of this post, she was just released from Stanford after 5 weeks, endured multiple surgeries for her severe injuries, and still faces a long, painful recovery process.

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Posted by Tony
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jul 6, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Can't we all just get along? The thing that scares me was Dan's comment about how he should have the right to run a biker down. I am sure that was in Jest.
I am convinced that the CHP were wrong in their assumption about what happened to Rodney on Sand Hill. Cars continuously crest that road far to the right of the Shoulder they are not supposed to be on. The fact that Rodney was killed there, should make Woodside put reflectors over the top so drivers are reminded to stay off.

Second, all it will take is to have a lawyer on a bike get killed or hurt, and then Woodside will be paying out significant $$ MORE than if they had started a campaign of tolerance, with some share the road signs, maybe some white BIKE LANE paint, etc.

Too bad Rodney's foundation is too busy being philanthropic to the community at large, instead of suing into submission and compliance. Then and only then, will those that HATE (lots of hatred in this thread) might be made to think twice, seeing as killing people just doesn't seem to work. Such a tragedy...

Tony "da feet" Rominelli

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Posted by Sen sord
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jul 6, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Note that the Almanac does note believe in free speech.
There have been posting removed because they are not sensitive
to some people.

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Posted by Citizen A
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jul 6, 2007 at 8:19 pm

Tony "da feet" - please speak to Oliver Stone for his next conspiracy movie.

Alekanelano - once again you represent the voice of citizens tired of bikers-who-are-jerks (not all bikers) in our neighborhood.

And for all bikers who care, a biker 6 years ago ran over a dear friend of mine and had resulting broken vertebrae in his neck and most of his face broken. It took him 4 years to recover. And the cyclist took off after hitting my friend. Yep, the usual cyclist-dressed-in-spandex. So please biker from the "another communities" go bike where there is less risk to all involved. Like around a track. Or up in the hills away from residents. Or cars. We are tired of seeing the goofball spandex-wearing look-I-think-I-could-be-Greg Lemond-but-really-am-a-nerd types.

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Posted by Jack
a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Last Saturday I came upon the horrific crash, identified myself as a first responder, and was the first on the scene along with the Stanford ER doctor. I give him credit for saving her life. I was basically watching at this point because my training is nothing compared to his. We didn't care she was a cyclist from whatever community. We could care less who was at fault. I've had a hard time getting the images out of my head. And I've trained for this. When fire arrived, I directed traffic for 45 minutes, along with my friend , who was also an emergency responder at one time, until the scene cleared. I'm not saying this for kudos. The ER doctor said to me after all this was done, "I'm just doing my job", But he saved a life.

Did I mention he was a cyclist out for a 50 mile ride and I'm a cyclist taking part in the Giro di Peninsula ride.

What's my point. It doesn't matter who you are, resident, driver, cyclist, other. We are all part of a community. There were very few who posted anything about taking responsibility for their own actions. I would be horrified if I was involved in hurting someone else. Doesn't matter who was at fault. This should be a wake up call to do your part at keeping yourself and others around you safe.

No matter what anyone thinks, they do not own public roads. They are intended for public use. Period. We have laws that say how we are supposed to conduct ourselves on these public roads. Let's not be taking rights away from other people, because rights just might be taken from you.

Don't pass judgment on all the people involved unless you are the actual jury. For example, the reason why the police were "just standing around" was because I identified myself as a responder when they arrived. Traffic was handled. But he didn't know that on the way to assist with this accident, which could have been for you in a different situation. Fire responded extremely quickly in this incident, but, think about it, if you were the one in need and anyone held up the responders for any reason. One car froze in the middle of the street as on police officer was coming on the scene, blocking the entire roadway. This person didn't do what he or she was supposed to do when flashing lights approach. If the driver panicked then the driver is not ready to drive. If the driver didn't want to be inconvenienced, then the driver shouldn't be driving.

And as one report said, all the cyclists were riding through the accident like they owned the road. Not a single driver or rider went through without being flagged. I know, I flagged each and every one. So people are picking fights with others because they are prejudiced. It shouldn't matter who you are or what you are doing, we need to function and co-exist together.

The group I ride with are always concerned about the neighborhoods we go through and being courteous to fellow cyclists, drivers, walkers, gardeners, whoever. Who knows, he or she might be the person who saves your life someday.

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Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Jul 7, 2007 at 7:16 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

I took offline a couple of recent posts that seem to be more about characterizing other posters than discussing the topic.

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Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jul 7, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Bikers on Alpine Road:
1. Bike single file
2. Look in your mirror before you pass - get one if you haven't got one
3. Don't pass if there is a car near by - you have to assume some drivers may waiver or lose attention
4. Don't speed
5. Signal with your arm before you overtake
6. Stop at all stop signs
7. If you cross out of the bike lane (or shoulder) into the road
8. If you are at all nervous there is a paved trail - albeit in poor shape for bikers - in some places from Portola Road to Junipero Serra that you can bike on
9. Don't bike with mountain bikes on the horse trail if there are likely to be horses around they could get spooked. If there is a horse get out of the way - talk to it so it knows you are a person and let it go by.
10. Put a bell or horn on your bike to warn others if they are in your way or you need to pass
11. If you must bring children - bike with them on the trail.

Drivers on Alpine Road:
1. Give bikes a wide berth
2. If bikers are riding in a pelaton or bunch assumes that some bikers may swerve and leave enough space
3. Warn inattentive bikers with your horn (that's what its for!)
4. Don't blow your horn unless its really necessary
5. Stick to the speed limit and stop at the stop sign
6. Don't think you can pass bikers at a junction and cut them off - wait and let them pass first - note this particularly if you are turning right at Portola Road when coming up Alpine Road as the bike lane is not clear here.
7. Watch for bikes if you come out of any junctions - particularly those with lanes in the middle of the road - like the entrances to Ladera
8. Use wide eyes and be aware of bikes coming out of side roads, coming off paths, coming fast down Alpine and entering Alpine Road - particularly around Arastradero Road and Indian Crossing.

1. Trim bushes so bikers don't get hit with branches and visibility is clear - consider cutting down the tree in front of the Alpine Inn that blocks the vision for drivers coming out of Arastradero Road who want to turn up Alpine.
2. Mend cracks in road - particularly between Westridge Turn off and Ladera Shopping Center going east - a little wider and bike wheels will be getting caught in them.

There unfortunately are plenty of accidents waiting to happen - bike and drive defensively.

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Posted by LT Woodside + Portola Valley Resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2007 at 2:52 pm

Dear bicyclists,

I'm happy to share my town with you, but I'd like to ask you a few favors.

1. Those red, octagonal signs? They apply to you, too. Please don't terrify me by darting through them. This is especially true if you are turning right from Woodside Road onto Canada Road, or turning left from Canada Road south-bound onto east-bound Woodside Road.

2. Mountain Home Road is a beautiful road, I agree. I ride my horse down the trail several times a week. But I've abandoned driving it most of the time, because of your behavior, bikers. There's no bike lane and there are ditches on several parts of the road. The sun/shade pattern can make it hard to see oncoming traffic, and having to share that narrow road with you is just potentially too dangerous. I take Whiskey Hill instead.

3. Because I take Whiskey Hill Road to get to my destinations in Portola Valley, I'm aware of how scary the Sand Hill/Portola Road intersection is. Yes, I agree the speed limit on Sand Hill west of 280 ought to be lowered to 35, that intersection is just plain dangerous. I've had two near-misses in my truck/horse-trailer rig when a car made a left turn onto Sand Hill--and I have a big horn and use it. It might be prudent for you bikers to slow way down in approaching the intersection, especially west-bound on the down hill.

4. Every time I see you biking with one hand, talking on your cell on the other, I wonder about your judgment. I don't see it every day, but a couple of times a week.

5. I know there aren't enough comfort stations in Woodside, but you mountain bikers? My bushes are not a toilet. I've seen a few road bikers too.

6. Bicycle crashes aren't always a car vs. cycle deal. The last crash I saw on Alpine Road was the result of cyclist A swerving to avoid debris, causing the cyclist just behind to go over his handlebars. I believe cyclist B to have a relatively serious shoulder injury.

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Posted by TopCyclist
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jul 8, 2007 at 7:34 pm

As a former racing cyclist, I've probably ridden well over 50,000 miles on Woodside and Portola Valley roads. I also drive quite a bit in the area. I've seen the skill level of drivers drop significantly over the past decade primarily due to cellphones, increased speed and aging drivers. Please believe me when I say that I am an expert observer of drivers, thousands and thousands of them - all over the world. I've never been hit but I've had dozens of close calls in the Bay Area, the majority coming in the last five years - most of the drivers were on mobile phones and one was coming straight at me and actually ran off the road himself (he was in his 60s-70s and on a phone). There is really no excuse for hitting a cyclist from behind - ever. As far as the age of drivers is concerned, I consider very young drivers and very old drivers as a "risk pool" for extreme caution - just like your insurer does.

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Posted by driver
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 9, 2007 at 9:53 pm

I drive Alpine Road often on the weekends. Cyclists are always taking up the road so I can't get past them. They do this on blind curves on the road. When I try to pass it's not very safe so I just go slow and follow. Then they like to wave me on, which is ridiculous--they can't see either and they will get hurt the most. I too am a cyclist sometimes and then something amazing happens--I completely forget what it's like to be the driver! And I think, "I won't get hurt, I feel too good being on my bike!"

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Posted by local resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 10, 2007 at 5:25 pm

Maybe the cyclist should find another place to ride since the Alpine/Portola Rd/Sandhill loop is not as safe as necessary for them to ride in groups. Certainly there are places outside of town that may offer less congestion between cars, cyclists, & pedestrians

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Posted by Duane
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2007 at 12:43 pm

I ride the Portola Valley Loop very often either on it's own, or as part of a larger loop. Whenever I come upon a slower cyclist I ALWAYS look over my shoulder before passing. I do this with enough lead time to be able to slow down or complete my pass, both of which I have had to do. It can also be advantageous to let the rider in front of you know that you are there. A call of "on your left" is the standard way of alerting other cyclists of your presence. I also try to greet every rider I pass with a smile and a "hi" which I can only pray leads everyone to get along better.

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Posted by anon
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 13, 2007 at 8:10 pm

cyclists are always blocking the roads. cycling should be illegal.

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Posted by Moderate
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 13, 2007 at 9:42 pm

The comment above by anon is "flame bait", intended solely to start arguments. Please ignore it.

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

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