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City steps up bike, pedestrian safety

Original post made on Nov 12, 2012

City officials are launching a data-driven effort to reduce deaths and injuries on Mountain View's streets, examining where and why pedestrians and bicyclists are being hit by cars.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, November 12, 2012, 10:56 AM

Comments (32)

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Posted by ORACLE
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers all scare me as so many show no respect for laws, safety and people.

Bicyclists should have bright lights front an rear, obey stop signs, and lose their attitude. While they can see so much better than drivers, cyclists need to remember drivers can't see cyclists well.

Drivers should slow down and merely by obeying the posted speed limits, many accidents can be avoided. Drivers need to drive as if another car, a cyclist or a pedestrian will do something stupid at all times. Drivers using cell phones, even hands free, should be fined a large enough amount-say $250, $1,000 and $10,000 with jail time, for their first three offenses.

Pedestrians need to realize most drivers do not see them, and consider anyone car,bike, or walker who slow them down as being worthy of disdain.

Life is short and we all need to realize that getting to wherever we are going by an arbitrary time is not worth killing, maiming anyone. Plan ahead and leave earlier than the last minute because whenever you are in a hurry you generate your own stress, make mistakes and for what.

Be nice to humans as they are people too.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I disagree with the previous comment that bicyclists can "can see so much better than drivers". Drivers can see just as well if they pay attention. The problem is that modern cars have so many distractions that drivers are only devoting a portion of their attention to the road. Drivers need to turn all that stuff off when they are using busy roads and focus on the people around you.


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Posted by Peter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

What about crazy bicyclists who is seems at times almost dare cars to hit them. Run through stop light, pull out into traffic and behavior in a manner that would get you a ticket if in car or motorcycle


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Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm

It is unfair to focus enforcement solely on the motorists.

Pedestrians jay walk, a lot. And you RARELY see a bicyclist following the rules of the road.

Bicyclists run through stop signs like they aren't even there.


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Posted by Tina
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Drive, walk or ride as if your life depended on it and look out for people who aren't. As a car driver, I would really appreciate it if bicyclists were encouraged to obey the same traffic rules as drivers, especially if they are going to be riding in the car lanes.


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Posted by NeHi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Perhaps if pedestrians/bicyclists were encouraged to NOT walk/ride in front of moving vehicles their chances of survival would be improved.


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Posted by Dawn
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I would love to see more street lights around Mountain View. The streets are so dark. I would also like to see lights in crosswalks, especially on Shoreline. If someone were walking at night in a crosswalk, you can't see very well. Even being very cautious, which I am, It would be nice to be able to actually see people walking in a crosswalk instead of having to drive 10 MPH to watch very closely for people. I know it will cost the city money to put more street lights up or install the flashing lights in dark crosswalks when the walk button is pushed, but I think lives are more important than a dollar amount. If I knew I was going to have to pay extra in taxes to get these things done, I would gladly pay extra to save lives. :-) Los Altos has the flashing lights in crosswalks, why can't Mtn. View?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I drive 15k miles per year. I cycle 6k. I can't speak to the pedestrian issue, but I will say that on a given bike ride, I will see cars do some irresponsible stuff, especially the ones with drivers still yakking on a handheld phone. But, as a cyclist, I see so many other cyclists doing a whole host of stupid things: riding on sidewalks and then crossing an intersection as if cars were supposed to be looking on a sidewalk for a rider, riding on the wrong side of the road, running red lights, turning from the wrong lane, and on and on. These folks do not help the rest of us who try to do the right thing, because as a driver, I have come to expect that the next cyclist I see will do something stupid. Which is actually not the case most of the time, but enough to warrant that expectation.

As for the comment above that we shouldn't ride in front of moving vehicles, guess what? We are entitled to take the lane for safety's sake if there is no bike lane or the bike lane is blocked or to not ride in the door zone, where we could get clocked by a door. We have just as much right to that lane as a car and you have to give us room. Period.

As for the right hook, we as cyclists need to use common sense. Make sure the driver sees you and is slowing or stopped for you. If you assume they will, that might be your last assumption. And drivers: we are faster than you think. Did you really need to turn in front of us to save that 2 seconds?

Let's all slow down and think.


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Posted by mike
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Gatherine data relating to areas where accidents occur is a great first step. But, what if this data could include input from citizens who observe problem areas without an accident happening first? Maybe we could learn about "an ounce of prevention"? I hope we can all give our united support to all such programs, and also support the efforts of law enforcement.


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Posted by noneckjoe
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

As a somewhat novice cyclist, I am surprised as to the number of bikes I see at night with NO lights whatsoever. Given that you can buy easily install-able bike lights for a couple bucks (or duct tape a $1 flashlight on to your handlebars) - there is just no excuse. Similarly, one more than one occasion I have had pedestrians in all dark clothing dart in front of me randomly.

Another humble observation: Allowing parking along some sections of Middlefield creates confusion. It seems like there is a bike lane there....until there's a (legally) parked car...then there is no bike lane and bikes are forced into vehicle traffic.


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Posted by noneckjoe
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Regarding this Right hook business....if cars follow the law and MERGE into the bike like before they make their right turn, this would all be avoided. I have had multiple instances where (in my car) I signal , merge into the bike lane to make my right only to be cut off by another car.


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Posted by piper
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Another dangerous item bikes on city sidewalks in the down town area.
They travel fast and a person coming out from a store is in danger of
getting hit as I have a couple of times.


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Posted by Jeannette
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm

One of the above contributers talks about Mountain View needing the flashing crosswalks. We actually have at least two. One is on Rengstorff between Central Expressway and California Ave. The other one is on Showers Drive near Walmart and the Commercial DMV.

I cycle and drive and walk. I also see so many laws being broken. Other cyclists have blown through 4 way stops in front of me when I have gotten to my side first and put my foot down. Pedestrians especially in downtown Mountain View and downtown Palo Alto seem to think they are more important as they walk across on the red hand.


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Posted by Mr Perfect
a resident of Gemello
on Nov 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm

The result: You're all capable of being incredibly dangerous, every single one of you. Pay attention and quit trying to win some imaginary race.


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Posted by 15YearCommuter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Wow. These attitudes seem so 20th century to me. Maybe we should take down those "Bike Friendly Community" signs. Let's not pretend we are something we're not in Mountain View. Not a lot of love here for cyclists. Not a lot of understanding, either.

Facts:
1. Visibility is MUCH greater on a bicycle than in a car. Full stop. If you say otherwise you speak from ignorance.
2. When cyclists break traffic laws or make unwise decisions, 99% of the time it is only their own life that is in the balance. When cars do, people die. These are the laws of physics (F=ma) where the mass of a car is much, much, much greater than the mass of a bike. I'm not sure why we're giving so much airtime to bike infractions.

There is a certain balance of responsibility vs. freedom that each cyclist needs to strike. Some of this depends on your riding skills, some on the infrastructure around you, some on driver behavior.

It would be great to see the people of this community out on bikes running errands, and encouraging their neighbors and children to ride instead of haranguing about human behavior on the Internet. This thread shows how truly ingrained car culture is here in Mountain View. Car traffic is normal and primary, and bicycles and pedestrians are the marginalized exception. There is no reason it has to be this way.

C'mon people. It's flat here and the weather is great. Be the change you want to see in the world.


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Posted by K. Sarah Sayrah
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Before people start saying they need their cars to take kids to and fro, look at about 5 minutes of video of a crowded area of Amsterdam. You'll see moms doing it too...on bikes. Running errands done on bikes too. Its really cool, but not every application makes a solution in every case. Regardless, sometime ago in Amsterdam people never said "I can't" when it comes to getting around by bike. They invented some REALLY COOL bikes built for hauling kids or masses of groceries...good stuff.


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Posted by NeHi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

There was, I believe still is, an ordinance against riding bicycles on sidewalks in downtown Mtn. View. I suggested ordinance but they thought a bit extreme.


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Posted by Mr B
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 13, 2012 at 1:06 am

While I'm not always thrilled with Mountain View's drivers, cyclists here (and in Palo Alto for that matter) are often arrogant riders and present a poor example to younger cyclists. When I'm driving, I find myself being extra careful around cyclists because they are so predictably unpredictable with willful disregard for their safety. The data showing fault in cyclists v. motorists should be no surprise to anyone who has spent a short time driving around MV.

When I was in elementary school, not only did the police show up to host a special assembly about bicycle safety, they also would stop kids on bikes who were riding irresponsibly.

I've seen little effort by the police to correct bad cycling behavior - lots of ticket traps for cars, none for cyclists! I've watched bicyclists blow through stop signs where only cars get ticketed. If there's no bite for bad behavior, cyclists will ignore the bark and keep on riding dangerously.

I'm all for looking at spending money on road/signage improvements for pedestrian safety, but for cyclists, I think the majority of any funds should be spent on enforcement and outreach. Adding another stop sign, or widening existing bike lanes won't correct the risk-taking behavior too many of our cyclists exhibit.

Don't enable - enforce.


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Posted by Patrick Grant
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2012 at 3:58 am

This is a great step forward. What's really important is for officers to capture the exact placement relative to lane or sidewalk each were traveling. The basic information under typical NHSTA accident analysis (availible at UC Berklely TIMS or SAFEtrek) is useless in determining the fine detail needed on position. With Mountain View having 6% of commuters primarily using bikes (and estimated 20% occasionally bike commutter), knowing what is really happening is really important first step.

Many cyclists ride in positions too close to car doors weaving in and out feeling intimidated by agressive drivers, especislly when road briefly narrows. Sometimes parking is allowed and creates terrible hazard such as needlessly at Mnt View High. Such riding actually makes them much less visible and predictable to drivers and much more likely to have a scary experience or worse.

Actually cars that do are a right hook and cut a cyclist off are guilty of failing to pass safely. There is a chronic problem with officer citations as pointed out in the article. When confronted with video evidence of an agressive driver almost hitting a cyclist in Mnt View, the officer refused. Another officer later told me that the county DA will not allow non injury citations against motorists endangering cyclist or pedistrians. So till officers and DA office gets serious on aggressive driving that needlessly endangers non motor vehicle road users, do not expect injury rates to fall. It's like only citing drunk drivers when there is injuries. At some point perhaps this should be topic for the Santa Clara Grand Jury if progress is not made soon.


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Posted by Simon
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 13, 2012 at 11:00 am

Good news is that The city is going into all the schools and putting on bike rodeos and safety training for young cyclists. It's a great first step but would you let your kid, grand kid, nephew or niece cycle to school on a 4 lane highway ?

Pause and think how much nicer that morning commute would be if we reduced the 1500 car journeys created by one middle school ? Bikes v cars is not a zero sum game - 6 bikes can fit in the footprint of 1 car and our infrastructure cannot expand to allow everyone the luxury of moving a car with them on every journey. Much less two journeys to deliver every child to the door. 30 years ago they would have walked or biked - we created this system and we can fix it to improve the road experience for everyone. The first step is to recognize that we are forced to reduce the traffic density coz there ain't space for more roads. Do that and sharing the roads gets much easier for us all .


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Posted by bikerchick
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

bikerchick is a registered user.

Kudos to the City leadership and staff for embracing this important data-finding effort. With _facts_ in hand, we can move forward as a community to identify the most dangerous locations and behaviors for all 3 groups (drivers, cyclists and pedestrians). Then, effective measures to mitigate the dangers can be developed. I'm looking forward to safer streets for us all.


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Posted by nikonbob
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm

noneckjoe - you brought up a point that I was about to add to the conversation, regarding bike lanes on Middlefield. I rode it for the first time in a while, and I was very surprised that the bike lane was almost exactly the width of all the parked cars on the street. Which means bike traffic spends the majority of the time in the auto lane.

I would suggest either widening the bike lane, as it is on California Ave., or doing away with the parking. It's not a congested area of town for parking, so the cars should be able to find space nearby.


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Posted by kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm

"Mountain View police find bicyclists at fault more often than drivers when the two collide."

So the data does not lie, the fault is with the cyclists.

Solution, ban cyclist from roads that are not safe. Let them use the side streets.

Whoever compared this area to Amsterdam is comparing apples with oranges. And not everyone is gong ho about wanting to ride a bike. In my younger days it was ok, since i didn't have any other mode of transport.

The car craze will not go away, just becasue a few hand full of cyclists what to turn the road system upside down.


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Posted by 15YearCommuter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm

kman, could you clarify your 'apples and oranges' statement? Not sure I understand.

Is gravity different in the Netherlands? Is the terrain flatter? Are bicycles more available or affordable there?

Or is the culture just more open-minded and pragmatic?


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Posted by Patrick Grant
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Again I applaud Mnt View in taking deeper study. But the gentleman is mistaken that the data shows cause is cyclists or not. That's the reason to undertake a detailed study. From peer reviewed transportation and accident investigation journals, the story us quite different when cyclists are riding per law as a vehicle, visible and predictable. Injury rates 5 to 10 times lowered and life expectancy are actually better than those riding in a car. Also detailed professional peer reviewed journal studies bear out the car drivers are at fault over 2/3 the times. The difference in Mnt View results needs to be understood. That's why taking detailed position data is so critical.

So I'm dubious of claims one way or another till precise data that can be reviewed afterwards by well qualified transportation engineers and accident scientists is available.
The national studies show there is a systematic error in the present system recording, something I hope this study by Mnt View sheds light on.


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

About comparisons to Amsterdam: I have bicycled in cities domestically (Portland, Austin, San Francisco, New York City, Long Beach, Sacramento, Seaside Florida) as well as in Europe (Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin). While good bike infrastructure (lanes, signals, paths) can make a city easy and comfortable for bicycling, the attitude of the community, which includes law enforcement, has as nearly as big an impact.

For example, in both Austin and Paris there were sections of streets where I expected drivers to be aggressive and impatient--pass too closely, not honor my right of way--but the didn't. Like a three lane, 35 mph one-way downtown street in Austin where drivers let bikes take the full right lane. Or the narrow street with on-street parking by the Louvre where drivers waited to pass until the oncoming lane was clear.

Overall, I find the attitude of the community here in Mountain View better than average, and way better than London or New York City. But if everyone in Mountain View accepted that bicycles were a legitimate form of transportation for people from 8-80 years old, and worked to make that a reality, our city would be friendlier, quieter and could adapt to a larger population with fewer conflicts.


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Posted by Above it all
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Bikes,cars, walking shoes. It does not matter what mode the user is utilizing, it matters how the user utilizes that mode.
Everyone can be safe, everyone can kill you. Take personal responsibility for your own safety and move forward.
Oh, and _quit_ all the sniveling about how bad the other guy is. Sheesh!


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm

This is all very backwards. We should institute the "yield to what can hurt or kill you" rule. That way pedestrians would yield to just about everyone, bikes to cars, cars to trucks etc. it's brilliant in its simplicity & follows the natural laws,

Yes I am being tongue in cheek.


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Posted by noneckjoe
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm

As a somewhat novice cyclist, I am surprised as to the number of bikes I see at night with NO lights whatsoever. Given that you can buy easily install-able bike lights for a couple bucks (or duct tape a $1 flashlight on to your handlebars) - there is just no excuse. Similarly, one more than one occasion I have had pedestrians in all dark clothing dart in front of me randomly.

Another humble observation: Allowing parking along some sections of Middlefield creates confusion. It seems like there is a bike lane there....until there's a (legally) parked car...then there is no bike lane and bikes are forced into vehicle traffic.


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Posted by noneckjoe
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Sorry for the double post above...please ignore.


nikonbob: agreed, it is not a congested area and I also think the street parking should be done away with. I actually live just off Middlefield and in my area, parking on Middlefield is legal...but almost no one parks there since there is no need to. The only thing I can think of is where more cars are parked on Middlefield - perhaps the apartments/condos don't have enough parking...which can be an issue.

Above it all: Thanks for coming in here and clearing things up for us. I don't see a lot of "sniveling" here. And "taking personal responsibility for your own safety" sounds great...but we all know it's not that simple, don't we? Or are you presuming that anyone injured by a car/bike/UFO just weren't taking enough responsibility for their own safety?


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Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Janet is right that attitudes make as much difference as infrastuture.

There are two models for setting legal rights and liability in traffic; I call them the Hulk Hogan approach and the Spiderman aproach. In this country we use the Hulk Hogan philosophy of "might makes right". Drivers of larger and more dangerous vehicles expect more vulnerable road users to get out of their way and to yield to them. This view is sometimes described as common sense or "physics based". The consequence is that bicycling in the United States is considered inherently dangerous and it is considered irresponsible to bike wihout a helmet.

In some European countries the legal philosphy is that "with great power comes great responsibility". The larger your vehicle the more careful you are expected to be. This more compassionate approach requires more vigilance and skill from drivers but results in much greater safety for all. In Europe bicycling is considered to be so safe that nobody bothers to wear a helmet (except American tourists). When I went on a bike tour in Stockholm the guide told us we could bike wherever we wanted in town and not to worry because the drivers would be looking out for us. He was right and it was great.


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 17, 2012 at 8:12 am

I drive, bicycle and walk.
The laws of nature:
1. In a collision, the car always wins. (regardless of fault)
2. When I drive near railroad tracks, I know the train always wins.
What really annoys me is people standing on a street corner talking on their cell phone or texting: I do not know if they want to cross the street or just wander around in circles.


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