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William Ware's death spurs call for California Street revamp

Original post made on Aug 30, 2012

The death of William Ware -- hit by a speeding car while waiting at a California Street bus stop on June 21 -- caused shock in a neighborhood where some are now calling for major traffic calming measures.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 30, 2012, 11:32 AM

Comments (42)

Posted by agree, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:57 am

I agree that reducing traffic speed and lane width is a great idea for an entirely residential street like California Street. Speeders should stick to streets with no pedestrians, like Hwy 101 or Central Expressway.

Posted by Andrew Boone, a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Great idea! California Street is NOT SAFE the way it is now and needs to be fixed as soon as possible. More people are walking and bicycling in that neighborhood and there are more children there now too.

Many streets all over the country have been converted from 4 lanes to 3 and the result is reduced traffic speeds, fewer crashes, and a more healthy, active community because walking and bicycling are able to be enjoyed more by everyone. I can't wait for this!

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm

So someone has to die before something is done - nice!

Posted by Nancy Morimoto, a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm

As a family, we try to bike or walk instead of drive when we can, and biking from the Crossings to the MV Library is a good distance for such an outing. But although we enjoy the exercise, the experience could be so much nicer and safer. I'd like to see many more roads around here changed to upgrade the walking and biking experience.

Posted by We need safe streets!, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm

This is exactly what need to happen to California Street and others in Mountain View. We have a growing population with many people are walking and cycling in our city. We have streets such as Calderon with a 30 MPH limit that should be 25 MPH.

Take a look at how San Jose has made many of their downtown streets much safer this way. It encourages mass transportation, bicycle commuting and gets the commuters off the residential streets and onto the expressways and highways.

Posted by This will only increase , a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

This will only increase traffic in the smaller streets near California st. Is that what we want? We need to widen California St. for bikers and walkers, not make it smaller. Cars are not going away anytime soon. Cars still out number foot/bike traffic 60 to 1.

Posted by gcoladon, a resident of Slater
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

As I understand it, Castro St used to be a relatively high speed and pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly 4 lane thoroughfare. Now it's a 2 lane gem. Perhaps California Ave could benefit from similar renovation.

Posted by chw, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

The book titled Traffic offers excellent insight into the 'contradiction' which is straight wide roads are more accident prone than artifically made crooked and narrow roads, also known as traffic calming.

Posted by Janet, a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Changing California St from four lanes to two plus a center turn lane is long overdue. As the article states, it's a high-density area with a lot of walkers and bike riders and its straight, wide lanes encourage drivers to push past the speed limit.

California St is lined with apartments with entrances and exits every 50-100 feet. In the current configuration, cars turning left often stop dead in the left lane to wait until traffic clears, while cars behind try to whip around into the right lane to hurry past. A center turn lane avoids this problem.

If people want to cut across town faster than neighborhood speeds, they can take Central Expressway or El Camino. We don't need residential roads to be high speed. We need calmer safer neighborhoods where residents and their kids can comfortably walk to school, the park, the shopping center and the bus stop. Why should they suffer so that an impatient driver can drive 35+ mph?

Posted by Paul, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I understand trying to make it safer. But will this just add traffic to the side streets? Consider the increase in traffic after the new construction has been completed were the old Sear's store was and the new multi story residents going in there, might it become a bottleneck? Remember, California Street is a main artery for Mountain View Fire Department's response into that area from fire station 1. How will that affect response times into that area considering station 3 could be delayed at the railroad crossing at Rengstorff and Central Expy? I'm all for making things safer but considering those facts when your family members or friends are waiting for emergency services to arrive? Every second is critical then. . . So I trust the City to make the correct call here whatever that may be.

Posted by John, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm

With the current volumes we have we might be able to go from four to two lanes on California Street," he said. "But with the projected future (traffic) volumes, we may not be able to."

In other words we'll "study" the situation and then do nothing.

Just try to do traffic calming in any neighborhood and all we get is a "study" for two years and then we can;t do anything.

Posted by dev, a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Dont let them just "Study" it till everyone forgets Ware.
Let us call the DPW phone line and leave them a message- "Show some concern for this part of town.
Put this road on a diet NOW and study this effect of the diet. It will save lives and allow us to bike safely.

Posted by dev, a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm

DPW Phone: 650-903-6311 8am-5pm
I could not leave a message after hours

Posted by Wendee Crofoot, a resident of Castro City
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I am a member of GSRP. I see some posts where readers are concerned about traffic spilling over to nearby streets. That is why our group is looking at all of the streets as an interconnected network.

In addition to California Street, we want to improve safety, accessibility, and livability of the smaller streets (such as: Ortega, Latham, Villa and Escuela) To accomplish this, City Staff suggested we work within Mountain View's existing traffic calming program.

To this end we have a petition asking for bike lanes and traffic calming measures on Escuela Ave. We need signatures of Escuela residents only to satisfy the city's requirements. If you are an Escuela resident we would very much appreciate your signature on our petition: Web Link

Thank you for making Mountain View a better place to live!

Posted by meh, a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 30, 2012 at 9:49 pm

How about doing something about all the wanna be gang members and the GUNFIRE in the area first? If you don't live in the area, worry about your own neighborhood.

Posted by great!, a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I'm glad community members are organizing around this issue. Traffic calming and greater infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists would be of use in many areas. It is absurd for cities to be built around autos to the extent that being a pedestrian becomes uncomfortable or even dangerous. Right near where I live, there is a road I walk on every weekend to get to the grocery store that doesn't have a sidewalk on either side of the street! How did we get to such a state?

Posted by Janet, a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Paul, if there's an emergency, the fire trucks will turn on their lights, cars and bikes will pull over and they will have 3+ lanes to drive down to save people. To keep four lanes of roadway for an emergency at the expense of everyday safety is absurd.

Count how many people die in fires vs car collisions. The numbers are so skewed toward car collisions that most people just shrug their shoulders. It's an "accident", an expected hazard of life.

Posted by Nick, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Miramonte would be another good candidate for lane reduction; go to 2 lanes instead of 4.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2012 at 8:09 am

As someone who likes to drive for pleasure and a living so I am hoping my 2 cents will matter. Face It our streets are very car friendly, speed friendly and not much else matters. Look at California and then Miramonte both streets should be reduced to 2 lanes, both need some form of traffic calming. We must redesign our streets to get rid of the long straight speedway type of road design.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Which, if any of you busybodies lives in the area? Your posts are full of hyperbole and nonsense.

And woefully unaware of more pressing issues in the area.

Posted by Not great, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm

@ Janet, So now the fire trucks and police will be driving over the bikers and pedestrians? Is that what your saying? Remember, most bicycles and foot traffic have walkmans in there ears and don't here a thing.

If lane reductions occur, then think of all the backups, the fumes that the cars will create.

Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I biked to and from City Hall last night along California Street for the Council Candidates forum. The entire road should look like the section between Bryant and Shoreline. I think it would be much nicer and safer as a 3 lane street with intervals of new median islands with trees and landscaping.

It would also be good to create real bus turnouts so there is no conflict with the bile lane. Last night, a bus was pacing me. I have a lot of lights, but I was very concerned about the bus stops where it would move right in front of me.

Maybe DPW can get a grant from VTA or Caltrans for the lane reduction, calming and beatification. As a registered Civil Engineer, I'd volunteer to help with the design and planning.

Posted by Sedar, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I disagree because speeding is a behavioral issue and I was around when California was two lanes with a center lane for turning. Keep California Street four lanes, in fact all the streets the same because seniors and those of us with disabilities don't' ride bicycles and walk.

The article is also naive in that City took property from owners for these streets with understanding that it would be used for streets…now you want to "transform the street from asphalt plain to "public space"? Just give me the land back you originally condemned in order to me to build my apartment.

Posted by MVNATIVE, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I remember when Castro was 4 lanes and to this day, I hate Castro street where someone could easily plow into people sitting outside the restaurants SO close to the street! It hasn't reduced the traffic, and now it's even harder to get to those stores due to lack of parking access.

I remember California street as a kid in the 70's. Just fewer cars then and maybe better drivers (mostly locals and natives).

Speed bumps is the answer.

Posted by Kevin, a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm

No matter it's 4 lanes or 2 lanes, the root issue is the people speeding. Most people drive safely no matter what, it's certain people speeding, do something to the gangsters in the area first.

Posted by concerned citizen, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

for the record, unlike said in the hard copy article (did not check the online one) the "new" light still does not work, it is still taped making things even more confusing. I am amazed that we had to wait that someone dies in order to try a change, and that this change is not fully done -all summer long they could have done something, especially before school started. The center of MV is an ant house; so many kids biking and walking to school. Why there is no more safety for non-drivers? in other richer / more modern neughborhood there is a clear limit between the bike lane and the road used by car. I tell my kids to bike on the sidewalk, since they are below 18 it is legal, however i would really prefer they could safely ride on a safe bike lane. Even though they are very careful, avoid zooming by pedestrian, it is not really cool for pedestrians and slow them down. I am surprised that in a state like CA where the weather is al year long nice and that claim to move towards being more green, no more effort are made to accommodate bikes and pedestrians :/ that a shame. RIP Mr. Ware, that is really sad :(

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm

The lights use to flash yellow on Castro St when I use speed up and down. Today much different on Castro St, you have to go slower, sidewalk cafes full of people, stores full of stuff, people strolling about. I will take Castro St 2 lanes over 4 lanes. Hands down, foot on brake pedal any day. Remember 2, 4 or 6 lanes of traffic with signals, crosswalks or bike lanes. Mr Ware was waiting for a bus when his life was taken, the issue is speeding and not thinking about the others who.have to live on. Please insert name of street, area of street or city you chose to speed in.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Mr. Ware's death was a shocking tradegy, caused by one individual's equally shocking driving. Hopefully, he will be properly punished for his acts. But don't punish the inoccent population along with him. El Camino Real, Central Expwy, and Middlefield Rd. have always been the major traffic arteries through Mtn View. Reducing the carrying capacity of any of these by half can only result in bigger traffic jams, longer trips, more wasted gas and increased pollution. It's especially important to keep them flowing, with the ongoing push to increase density.

Posted by Susanne, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm

ITS JUST THAT EVERYONE WANTS THEIR OWN WAY. tHEY NEED TO SLOW DOWN AND LEAVE MORE TIME TO TRAVEL ABOUT THE CITY. Be more respectful of others and remember you are driving a killing machine. Yes cars kill dogs,cats,children,and just normal people like you and I. Use caution when operating this equipment please. SLOW DOWN

Posted by Jarrett M , a resident of Castro City
on Sep 5, 2012 at 2:43 am

@Not Great, Paul, Steve and others...

It sounds paradoxical, but going from four lanes to two through lanes and a center turn lane can actually improve traffic flow. According to research from the FHWA, as long as streets have less than 20-23,000 vehicles per day, cars aren't diverted onto side streets, and the center turn lane makes life easier for everyone. According to data from the City of Mountain View, California Street has 11,400 vehicles per day, well within the accepted paramaters of a road diet.

Research also show that generally on road diet streets the percentage of people exceeding the speed limit is reduced and the number of injuries and collisions also fall. This is not to mention that cyclists would get safer bike lanes, outside of the door zone, and there would be room to install curb extension to shorten the pedestrian crossings.

It's really a win-win intervention.

Read more on the Great Streets blog about this–

Web Link

Jarrett Mullen
Great Streets Rengstorff Park

Posted by Walker, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

The solution to most of our traffic dangers could be reduced greatly if drivers would simply check their egos and slow down. Its OK if the guy in the other lane passes you...really, its OK. Its OK if you have to wait 45 seconds for a red light, and its OK if you're not in the fastest current lane, because in the end, they all end up moving at generally the same pace.
Quit trying to win the race that only exists between your ears.

Posted by road diet?, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm

We don't need no stinking road diet, if you want to look at an example of a road diet failure, just look at Arastradero Rd., total failure. Road diet may work for a few years, but in the long run it will not, especially in heavy congested times.

Posted by Lives on California, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

There is no congestion on California. Cars fly through sometimes over 50 mph while changing lanes.

There have been many accidents on this street at many intersection between Rengstroff and Mariposa where it is a four lane road without a median or center lane. You guys don't know as all those accidents don't make news.

Really this section of the street should be changed similar to California between Shoreline and Castro.

Make it three lanes and put a median with plants in the middle.

Shoreline West Association of Neighbors (SWAN) and other neighbors should take it up to the city council.

Posted by AC, a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm

AC is a registered user.

Making some roads smaller makes sense for safety and aesthetics.

But not Shoreline Boulevard. Not even close. Any major arteries to the Amphitheatre and business parks must be kept wide; or it creates more problems than it solves.

Posted by AC, a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

AC is a registered user.

Also with regard to Miramonte, I think that's also a bad candidate for reduction. I lived in that area for 13 years before moving to the Monta Loma area where I am now.

Grant, El Monte, and Springer/Magdalena are too thin to support the traffic between 280 and 101. One road has to be an artery, not a capillary, and of those connections, Miramonte makes the most sense. Miramonte/Cuesta is an important road link.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

For anyone who thinks the "new" light is that new... the poles were up before the traffic death.

Also--last night, ONCE AGAIN there was a pedestrian/cyclist struck by a car?

Anyone care to tell me the last few? What street? What x street? Should we build a fence down the middle of the street?

Enough with the knee jerk reactions.

Posted by Tracy, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 9, 2012 at 7:48 am

Jarrett: thanks for your concrete vision for California Street. I have been raising my concerns about the unsafe speeds and pedestrian safety issues to the City and City Council for years and it's unfortunate that it takes a tragedy like William Ware's death to bring light to this issue. Many citizens (including one City Council member who I will not name) think this was an unavoidable tragedy brought on by an irresponsible driver. Clearly the driver was irresponsible but surely the City and the public need to recognize that the street design may be making it easier for drivers to be careless. Without earnest recognition and attention to ths issue, I'm afraid we will continue to see more accidents.

Hopefully more citizens will get involved and make their voices heard. I certainly will be!

Posted by Kman, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 10, 2012 at 11:17 am

Speeding will happen if it's one lane or 2 lanes. It's the drivers who are at fault, not the road way. Leave the road as is. I agree that this was an unavoidable tragedy brought on by an irresponsible driver.

Posted by MV, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 11, 2012 at 9:24 am

There have been three deaths and many accidents on California street. So I believe the city needs to step in here to reduce the need for speed.

Posted by Judy, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

Yes, there was another fatal accident that happened on Saturday night..right in front of my house. The pedestrian, Joshua was visiting from Illinois. It was an awful accident and because there were no witnesses, we will have to take the drivers side of the story. My husband was the first one out there and the first thing that the driver said was "I didn't see him"...then he mentioned that the pedestrian saw him but was "unresponsive"..whatever that means. The drivers car was on the street w/ no lights on. The police were not interested in what we saw/heard because we did not witness the accident.
From what I saw, it seemed the driver was like many other people, driving over the speed limit. We heard the was huge.
People are very easy to blame the pedestrians...but everyone is to blame...including the city for making it too easy to speed, to walk across busy streets, for not providing enough light (it was VERY dark w/ no other traffic on the street that night), for not providing any lighted crosswalks, etc., etc.. The simple fact is that we have a problem, TWO PEOPLE HAVE DIED SINCE AUG. on this street...we need to do something more than just "study" the problem!

Posted by wide streets, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:24 am

Extra wide streets like California Street are very deceptive. People drive faster than the speed limit without realizing it. Pedestrians are harder to see because the street is so much wider and drivers don't focus on the whole street width. Pedestrians are also exposed to cars for a longer period of time because there are more lanes to cross.

RIP to the latest fatality. The city knows what they have to do to improve safety on this street. I hope they have the guts to do it.

Posted by DC, a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 5, 2013 at 8:45 am

Why are there so many car on Cal? Because El Camino and Central are always back up with traffic. What happens in a year when San Antonio mall is filled with renters and shoppers. More grid lock and more cars on Cal st. You will soon see your speed control it call traffic jam. Mtn View has such poor traffic planning as seen by the Shoreline Park plan, Castro street, Grant road. We need improve streets while developing or stop expanding.

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