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City examining site of fatal accident

Original post made on Jul 28, 2010

Trees, swaying lightly in the cool breeze, line the sidewalk and median strip of California Street at its intersection with Franklin Street near the heart of downtown Mountain View. Yet, it was this street, so peaceful at the moment, that last week was the scene of a hit and run accident that left an 80-year-old Mountain View man dead and put a Saratoga woman in jail.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 1:14 PM

Comments (43)

Posted by sasha, a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I'm very sorry about the accident, but I don't think we need one more stop sign or light at that intersection, and as the records show since 2001 there have been no other accidents at that intersection, contrary to what the person interviewed said. I feel for all of the people involved, the victims family and the person who drove the car.

Posted by Marshall, a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Irresponsible people, like Keibun Son, will continue to be irresponsible... even with 100 stop signs.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:13 pm

MVPD should check the perp's cell phone records. As all studies indicate that drivers using cell phones are at least as dangerous as drunks, up the ante on the fine. Turn them upside down, like we do with drunks. Municipal budgets need the money.

Posted by Jarrett, a resident of Castro City
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:13 pm

That last paragraph is very pertinent. Drivers must go at the speed that is appropriate for the conditions. With that said, the city may want to consider "daylighting" the crosswalk there. Cars are allowed to park right up to the crossing, and if the vehicle is large, it is difficult to see around.

Daylighting in action:

Web Link

Posted by Jes' Sayin', a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

It *is* a pretty scary intersection for pedestrians. I've crossed there a few times and cars whiz by really fast. I think a speed check on that street should be done. Would probably reveal that cars are routinely traversing it at 10 mph over the limit.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:18 pm

All you have to do is visit that intersection, and walk across it (during a time of reasonable traffic, like at 9am or 6pm) and you'll realize how scary and dangerous that intersection is for pedestrians.

I think the right answer is to paint the typical white "crosswalk lines" across California at Franklin, and that would help a lot.

Posted by Liz, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I live on the 400 block of Franklin. As far as I am concerned this intersection is one of the most dangerous in the area. I have seen many bad accidents. As a driver, and I do keep to the speed limit, it's scary. Often there are trucks or cars parked that block the view of traffic when you are attempting to cross or enter California from Franklin. I would like to see the records for accidents at that intersection that did not involve pedestrians. I've seen more than my share. I am so sorry that someone had to die to get this conversation going, but let's not let this death go without action. It's not just pedestrians we need to worry about. Saying that the drivers are irresponsible (which some definately are) will not stop this from happening. We definately need a stop sign or light at this intersection.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Steve, I think they already have those white crosswalk lines; that's what the article says, and I looked at the satellite view on Google Maps, and there are big, white, diagonal strips across California on both sides of Franklin.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Somehow i don't think they at city hall have ever walked that intersection at night. I avoid that intersection like the plague at night. Please light it up!

Posted by vfree, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Sometimes you need to look at the victim too, he may have been careless and less than sober. The City is not responsible for this accident, and sooner you stop looking to the government to make your life better, the better everyone's life will be.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Re: vfree

That's like saying that the government is not responsible for the roads. That's what we pay taxes for. Is a safe crosswalk too much to ask for?

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 4:24 pm

If nearby residents indicate there is a problem with dangerous driving, perhaps the MVPD would like to comment. What enforcement action might you pursue? Or is it more profitable to stake out business areas for California stops?

Posted by vfree, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm


Posted by jupiterk, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 5:16 pm

All pedestrian cross paths are dangerous these days. cars are always speeding more than the posted speed limit whether it is the parking lot or residential roads, period. Nobody cares to stop anymore for pedestrians. The fact that there haven't been too many accidents shows how lucky most of the pedestrians are. In some places like the one near Rengstroff park is the most stupidest thing because cars end up getting jammed for frequent caltrains in the mornings and evenings.

Having said all that ,the lighting at dusk on that day was really bad. I remember that day very vividly and made sure that I was driving carefully. Its one of those natural lighting that scares me to drive. It was neither dark to see it with your car lights nor enough day lighting to see clearly with your natural eyes.

Posted by Jeffrey, a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Before we hastily doing anything, let all the decision makers and transportation engineers take the time to read "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt."

Posted by David, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 28, 2010 at 8:03 pm

The guilty party is the driver Ms. Son whose poor driving skills led to the accident and who also chose to leave a dying person in the street! I have been in Mountain View for over thirty years and that intersection is between two stoplights already and no more dangerous than any other!

Posted by Tom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm

The visual clearance at that intersection looks fine to me. Yes, there may be cars that are parked near the crosswalks. But every driver must keep in mind that every intersection has implied crosswalks whether they are physically painted in the road or not, so they should anticipate pedestrian. Especially in a residential area. So if vehicles are parked there, slow down!

But I must say that the visual clearance driving southbound on San Antonio Rd. towards California St. on the south side of the Caltrain bridge is horrible! The city has planted oleander in the median that block visibility of vehicles that are frequently backed up at California. I can't count how many rear end accidents that I have seen there. Oleander grows very fast, and is a horrible choice to have in the middle of the road.

The City of Mountain View continues to allow it to overgrow and block visibility. I have informed them of it, which they agreed and immediately trimmed. But it continues time and again. Today they are over grown.

Since they cannot remember to keep these shrubs pruned sufficiently, they MUST remove them. Since the City has been informed, it is liable if an accident happens because of the lack of visibility. Remove those oleanders!

Posted by George, a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I agree there are already too many traffic lights along that stretch of California Ave. But flashing lights that line the crosswalk (as mentioned in the article, but not commented on that I could see)--which only go on when someone presses a button when they need to cross--are VERY effective at getting drivers' attention. I don't know what the cost is, but if it could save a life in what many agree is a dangerous intersection, wouldn't it be worthwhile?

Posted by richard, a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 29, 2010 at 2:41 am

more speed bumps

Posted by dora, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2010 at 9:43 am

It was a hit and run, not a hit and stop and "Oh my gosh, look what I've done, I didn't see you, I'm so sorry", etc, etc. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think the driver probably should never have been issued a driver's license in the first place.

Posted by MV Resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2010 at 11:35 am

I was in a near-collision at this intersection. When crossing California by car, you can't see left or right because of the street parkers. At some point, you just have to cross your fingers and go. And many cars speed. By the time you're in the intersection, it is too late.

1. Put no-parking signs up along California where they create blind spots, and enforce them.

2. Enforce the speed limit on California.

3. Put another stop sign up at California/Franklin if the above doesn't work.

4. There are many other intersections in downtown MV with the same problem. Oak/Dana and Oak/Villa are good examples. Because of street parking, it is near impossible to cross those streets safely while driving. A lot of the street parking is local residents who use their garage for other reasons, or for a third/fourth car.

Posted by Sal, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

If you can't see around the corner, go about 1 MPH until you can!

1 minute of your time, isn't worth someone's life...maybe even your own.

p.s. I fully agree with Dora's post.

Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Mr Fuller is right when he says :
"If you cannot see as well as you normally can, you should probably be driving slower." with the exception of passing from a shady area to a sun glare area suddenly. If you are driving in the shade and suddenly
you hit an area of sun glare, you could not have used sun glasses when you were in the shade, and in that split second of change you ( or anybody else) are not going to be able to adjust your driving conditions that fast. That is a cause of many accidents in which nobody really is at fault...So, it is worthwhile to place as many advisories as possible and make it easier on the drivers to be able to see properly. The fact that there are many idiots doesn't mean that the rest of us wouldn't benefit from more advance notice and fewer cars and shrubbery/trees placed where they are hazardous to drivers and pedestrians alike.
Of course, the driver didn't stop but that's a different matter.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 29, 2010 at 10:30 pm

The fact that she didn't stop mitigates all other factors against her. She should go to jail, for a very long time.

Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2010 at 6:19 am

Sure, there is an appropriate charge for a hit and run, but in trying to understand accidents ( I don't know what happened in this case and wait for the investigation to be completed) it is worth while to make people aware of what the pitfalls of "shade and sudden glare " are. The facts about this and other road hazards (dappled shade comes to mind and is very dangerous) should be publicized, discussed and minimized with the appropriate road props. Hit and run, on the phone hit and run, negligence hit and run are are completely separate issues from sun glare. I think that's worthwhile to wait for results of the investigation but in the meanwhile, please be aware on the direction you are traveling and any change of direction that will suddenly change the amount of light and its reflection that will hit your eyes. The DMV booklet should have a section on this and if I remember correctly it doesn't.

Posted by Rodger, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm

My wife and I walk almost everyday in Mountain View, often in the downtown area including this intersection. We find that more than half of the drivers do not think twice about speeding next to people who are walking in crosswalks, they don't care or don't know that a car cannot enter a crosswalk until the person walking is out of the crosswalk. We would like to see the police handing out tickets to these drivers.

Posted by Amy, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Mike Fuller needs to live near the "intersection of death" to appreciate how dangerous Franklin and California is. We live in the 300 block of Franklin and hear many near misses and about one collision a year at this intersection. My husband was once almost hit by a bus. People drive too fast and rarely stop for pedestrians. The visibility is poor. I do take the extra minute to cross or turn onto California but I feel like I am half way into the intersection before I can see it is clear to cross.
We really need a light. A light at Franklin could be timed with Castro's and Bryant's. That would help traffic flow and make it safe for pedestrians. Many pedestrians, including us, cross California at Franklin St. It is the most direct way to go by foot to the library, Pioneer park and Eagle park. I see parents with kids in strollers and kids on bikes cross here. Please make it safe for us to walk to the library and parks.

Posted by le dude, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I agree a light makes sense for the "intersection of death". Or maybe a tunnel, since the City Council is under the impression that the public is unable to cross a street safely (or not cross it at a certain point and find a safer point a few blocks away--common sense easily dismissed by both sides.

Unfortunately, in this town that yearns to be "walkable" in everything the City Council strives for (that newly coined term "walkability"), such a light would no doubt cost millions of dollars plus employee compensation packages for many years down the road, an environmental impact study, conceptual sketches to the tune of $600,000, a legal opinion, a commission to study it for several years, and a few more bodies to pile up in the process, $60,000 dollars worth of art work, affordable housing on the other side of town, a payment by the contractor for the parking spaces it would take away, and absolutely no common sense or sensible stewardship of the taxpayer's money.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 31, 2010 at 11:37 am

The crossing of Middlefield Rd. at Thaddeus/Independence is much more dangerous.

Middlefield is a four lane road (2 in each direction). Traffic is a much higher volume and has a higher speed limit of 35 MPH.

Pedestrians frequently cross here while walking to Thaddeus Park. Sight distances and visibility are often impeded by overgrown trees and other vegetation. Maintenance crews trimmed them, but this only happens after citizen complaints. A traffic survey was done to evaluate the intersection, yet all we got were pedestrian signs.

I can't see the intersection of California & Franklin will get anything more. I am sorry that someone died, but I will be upset if it gets anything more because it is nowhere near as dangerous.

Posted by Kathryn Ramirez, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Hello, I live on Franklin St. and I have found that most drivers in this country seem to not know what a Zebra crossing means. I can stand on the corner waiting to cross and cars continue to whiz by.

One driver came 4 inches from my leg one day, when I thought she saw me in the cross walk.

I was not drunk and I am not blind. I pay attention at crosswalks, and I've found this one to be especially dangerous. During busy hours, I avoid this intersection and walk to the lights at the corner of Bryant & California.

Posted by Clark, a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 31, 2010 at 3:40 pm

That's the smart thing to do... "avoid this intersection and walk to the lights at the corner of Bryant & California." Or... take your chances. Either way, so many drivers zoom through crosswalks. And to be fair, so many pedestrians just walk out in traffic and make no bother to look left or right or make contact with an on-coming driver's eyes. We all know we seen pedestrians do this.

Posted by h, a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Also one should look at the patterns that pedestrians have in downtown. All too often people are NOT crossing in the crosswalks, or not observant to their surroundings (walking while on their phone, or with their head plugged up with an Ipod). Motorists are not completely at fault.
I agree that motorist must be more observant to pedestrians in this neighborhood, I've narrowly missed cars hit me as I've crossed Castro, but have also had more encounters with pedestrians crossing in the middle of intersections-- without looking, bicycles riding on the sidewalk in the opposite direction of traffic or pedestrians crossing the street inbetween parked cars. In those instances should and would the motorist be completely at fault?

Posted by COMMON SENSE, a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2010 at 12:41 am



Posted by NeHi, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I've generally found it best not to walk in front of moving vehicles.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Kathryn Ramirez, sorry but I have lived in California all my life, and don't know what "Zebra crossing" means either. I have never heard that term. I assume you mean a cross-hatched pedestrian crossing. But did you know that all street intersections that are not explicitly prohibit pedestrian crossings legally have implied crosswalks, whether they are physically marked or not?

And apparently you did not know that vehicles do not have to stop for pedestrians who are "stand on the corner waiting to cross". Motorists do not have to yield until the pedestrian steps off the curb. Look it up in the Califoria Vehicle Code.

But I understand your main point, though; motorists often do not yield to pedestrians. This is an unfortunate reality that I do not know how to correct. More police enforcement? People simply caring for one another? Whatever the solution, a solution must be found.

Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2010 at 12:02 am

I live close to this intersection and it is a well marked safe crossing. Most of the comments here are just misleading and lack context when compared to more riskier crossings. The city should not over react just because of one accident.

Posted by vfree, a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

NeHi & Political Insider - Thanks for the proof that intelligent life forms can be found in Mountain View.

Posted by jupiterk, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Aug 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

MVPD need to crackdown on drivers who do't stop for pedestrians. If they continue the crackdown on different days every week , perhaps twice a week for the next 6 months, you will see a change in atitude. This kind of exercise enforced by the other towns will make a real change in drivers' behavior.

Posted by Thom, a resident of Jackson Park
on Aug 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I made the comment that 14 million would have gone a long way improving/installing better street lighting throughout the city. But this time the money went to renovations to the bike paths.

This city is in dire need of better lighting. Accidents like this may be eliminated or at least minimized. Many streets have very poor lighting. Poor lighting invite accidents and crime.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Just moments ago (7:45 on 8/2) I crossed this intersection with my dog and I was half way across when two cars, whose drivers looked at me, simply sped up to cross my path (all I could do was raise my hands in anger). This is a pathetic intersection. I really don't think that "near-misses," like what just happened to me, are reported to the police department.

Posted by Rita, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 3, 2010 at 10:46 am

While this very unfortunate accident was not a "jaywalker" incident, I must again call attention to MVPD about the great numbers of jaywalkers crossing Villa Street at all hours of the day & night. We frequently travel Villa between Bush & Shoreline and more often than not we must stop mid-block to allow jaywalkers to cross. This is rampant on Villa between the PD/Fire Building and Castro where the jaywalkers cross to enter or leave restaurants or other businesses; it also occurs on Villa east of Castro but not quite as heavily. The City needs to arrange for more crosswalks, mid-blocks if required and cite jaywalkers. If a pedestrian/auto accident has not occurred in the past it is common sense it will happen. This is most problematical in the dark of night with jaywalkers dressed in black or dark colors blindly walking in mid-street, not even at corners. It is difficult to see a darkly clothed person stepping out from between parked cars until your car is quite near to them. MVPD, City of Mountain View, please do something about crosswalks and begin issuing jaywalker citations before someone is injured or killed--if this has not already happened.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 4, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Peter, what you described is not unique to this intersection; it happens everywhere. Nor will traffic lights or stop signs cure it.

But a little common courtesy and manners sure will. People seem to be lacking them more every day. Too bad they cannot be imprisioned for not showing them.

Posted by NeHi, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I crossed El Camino Real this morning near Page Mill when the crossing sign said it was safe. Had I walked a bit faster I would have been mashed by a driver that ran the red light but I was watching or I would have been a grease spot. Thank you Joe Simitian, you make feel safer but you don't make us safer!

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