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Pedestrian killed crossing California Street

Original post made on Sep 17, 2012

A man visiting from Springfield, Ill. was struck and killed by a vehicle near the intersection of California Street and Pettis Avenue late Saturday night, a Mountain View police officer said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 17, 2012, 12:21 PM

Comments (46)

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Posted by Crosser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Goodness, this happens a lot in MV.

I used to live in that neighbourhood and crossed that same intersection twice a day. I waited until there were no cars in any direction but that often meant I would wait for up to a few minutes.


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Posted by wide streets
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm

The problem with California Street is that it is so wide, you cannot possibly wait until there are no cars in either direction. A car might be 2 or 3 blocks away and still get to you before you finish crossing the street. If the city is not willing to put up red lights at every single street corner, they need to reduce the street width so that pedestrians can cross in a shorter amount of time.


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Posted by Umm
a resident of Castro City
on Sep 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm

How about using the crosswalk at the intersection with the new stop light. That is what it is there for. Oh, that extra block walk might save your life. This roadway is not too wide. Pedestrians and bicyclist should be always look both ways before crossing and at night don't assume that the driver can see you. Just a safety tip. I am sorry for the family that has to deal with this. It is unfortunate.


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Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm

California Avenue does seem to be the site for many unfortunate accidents. I am a victim of being struck by a cyclist on California and Hope and was in the intersection, but unfortunately, the cyclist did not stop. Luckily for me, it wasn't a car.

I agree going to a stop light might help, but would advise also being extra cautious if you have to cross. I'd like to see the city implement the cross walks that have the lighted pathways at night especially on California and also parts of Shoreline.


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Posted by pedestrian
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Crossing at the light doesn't help. I was out with my 5 year old son on Sunday morning and tried to cross California at the light at Pacchetti Way to get to the San Antonio shopping center with another pedestrian. The cars making the left turn out of the San Antonio shopping center onto California did not yield to the pedestrians and we had to stand on the corner through the entire cycle. The other pedestrian ran across after the left turning cars finished but there was only 4 secs left on the walk sign and I did not feel comfortable doing that with a 5 year old in tow.

When the next cycle came up the left turning cars appeared to pause to let us go, but then the driver decided to turn left anyone, while we were in the cross walk, in front of both of us. I made eye contact with the driver and pointed to my son, but she just shrugged her shoulders back at me.

If Mountain View wants a pedestrian and bike friendly city they need to make it safe for everyone not in cars to get places. I think a little driver education in the form of a squad car parked there to give tickets to the left turning cars who aren't yielding to the pedestrians would be a good start. They've done it for the crosswalk at Latham St. across Showers Drive, why not here?


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Posted by Vicki
a resident of Castro City
on Sep 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm

How very sad! I just walked along California from Rengstorff to Hope and I had no idea this had happened. I was much more aware of cars and crossing the street since 2 other pedestrians have been killed nearby in the last few months. I was not really in favor of narrowing this street but now I might be.

I was also not aware of the number of bicycle accidents in this area - and to think I'm in the market for a bike...makes me wonder if that is the right thing to do.


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Posted by Slow Down Pay Attention
a resident of Gemello
on Sep 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I think I've heard just about enough advise from drivers as to how they feel bikes and pedestrians should behave. Lets work on drivers not killing someone on local roads for, oh, lets say about 2 weeks. Can we go that long local drivers? Hmm?


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Posted by 100% commuter cyclist
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm

So sad. If I am not mistaken, the pedestrian was walking in what's called an "unmarked crosswalk". That occurs wherever a line drawn between sidewalks at an intersection imply a natural crossing line; this line then is legally a pedestrian right of way. It seems to me that many drivers aren't aware that unmarked crosswalks are ubiquitous, and pedestrians walking in them *are not* jaywalking. The issue is so important that I think it should be emphasized on DMV driver's tests.

Or am I wrong on any of these points? Perhaps I don't myself understand unmarked crosswalks.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I think that one answer to ped/bike/car accidents could be law enforcement - is it too late for Mountain View and other local traffic enforcement agencies to re-esatblish basic safety? In San Francisco years back traffic was a problem with inersections being blocked during peak traffic. SF began issuing stick-on tickets - the officer merely wrote down the license plate # and slapped the ticket on the windshield - it worked. Moving violations, whether car or cyclist, or right of way violations, can be ticketed. It might even be a sorce for local revenue...


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Posted by unmarked crosswalk
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Most crosswalks in Mountain View are "unmarked crosswalks" without 2 parallel lines marking the path. They are still legal crosswalks that should be safe for pedestrians to use. Car drivers should expect any road intersection to be a legal crosswalk, whether or not there are lines painted on the street. Pay attention and obey the speed limit and you can avoid being a murderer.


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Posted by GDM
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

The drivers around here are in too big of a hurry. When I was in Switzerland I discovered that all I had to do as a pedestrian was to approach the crossing and all traffic would immediately stop. We need more driver education and also a willingness of Police and Prosecuters to charge drivers that hit pedestrians with a huge penalty, no matter the circumstance.


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Posted by Ann
a resident of Castro City
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I recently had the chance to talk to five of the six candidates for Mtn. View Council. One of the questions, perhaps not asked in a detailed enough fashion is how Mtn. View treats all of its neighborhoods in an equitable fashion. We did ask about California - traffic, inadequate bike/ped areas, and lack of park and garden areas. The City has shown a pattern to put the highest density, at end of Mtn. View bordered by El Camino, San Antonio, the railroad tracks and down along California. We have the 12 story Avalon Towers, we have the ?? 6 story Damoiselle Condo's we have the huge new San Antonio developments, the dense Crossings and all the big stores bringing in sales tax to benefit the entire city. And from an environmental perspective, this is ok.

AND YET, we have 4 lane California, with no median, no landscaping (save what is paid for by townhomes and apartments) and we get the traffic that yes should be driving on El Camino or Alma/Central Expressway. But if you follow California to a few blocks before Shoreline, they get a median strip with trees, which give a calming affect. And of course California as it goes to Castro goes down to a 2 lane road with beautiful plantings. As a resident of Oaktree Commons (corner of Ortega and California) it just doesn't seem that the city treats all parts of the city in the same way. And all of us along California had better just make sure it isn't our fault some car using our neighborhood as a pass through doesn't hit and maim or kill us.

Another question we asked council candidates what their vision for Rngstorff Park. We heard how expensive it will be, how we can save money by doing a bit of this or reusing that. And we heard one reason after another why Rengstorff will be shorted as Eagle Park, or Questa Annex or Steven's Creek Trail have not. As an environemental professional, I can agree with some of the thoughts, but as a resident of Mtn View and homeowner since 1988 I don't get how we can spend a fortune on Steven's Creek Trail, on the Government Center (City Hall, Performing Arts center, Library) on making Castro St. look great, and of course my personal favorite, spending money on trees on Castro only to tear them out and replant them with a different species. So the City spent many, many millions on downtown and the parts of the city that benefit from Steven's Creek but they will begrudge some minor money on Rengstorff and the will do nothing to reduce the number of lanes on California and take serious actions to calm traffic and improve the quality of life for those of us who live near Rengstorff and California. Heck, the City won't even give us a neighborhood name. We are not Castro, we are not the Crossings. We are a diverse neighborhood of townhomes, apartments and condominiums and a handful of single family homes.

While I support high density development on transit lines, I don't support the city forcing developers to build parks inside the development and then claim that the entire neighborhood will use those parks. I have never visited the park inside the Crossings. But the entire neighborhood uses Klein Park that abuts Oaktree Commons. I don't support this idea of hey make the new developements build their own parks so the city won't have to pay for them. Those costs are then passed on in perpetuity to the residents of those developments, making them second class citizens to the parts of Mtn. View who get their roads, parks, stormdrain cleaning etc covered by the city and by all of our property taxes.

It is about, no it is well past time for Mtn. View to treat all residents with equal care and to stop dumping on the Calif. Rengstorff, San Antonio region just because we are either renters, or residents of shorter history. Or as former Mayor Ralph Faravelli said when Avalon Towers was being discussed 'yes stick the development down at that end of Mtn. View, they never complain."

Two deaths on one street in a matter of months. Heck if this had happened in Questa, there would be speed bumps, cops on every corner and every other action possible being taken, but in our end, heck forget about us and just collect the sales tax and property tax to use in other parts of Mtn.View.

For shame staff and officials of Mtn. View.


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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm

How about adding 1 or more pedestrian activated crosswalk illuminated signs and the raised and lighted markers to California Ave crosswalks?

Boulder, CO has them and they have to deal with snow removal. At night, the pole mounted strobes and the flashing in the street lights makes the crossing of a pedestrian safer. Anyone caught blowing off this marked crossing should be paying the maximum fine to pay for this type of crossing; they do in Boulder.....


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Posted by I See you
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Its quite telling how few pedestrians stopped "Just stepping out of nowhere" and seemingly all other close calls with cars and bikes alike dropped by probably 85% as soon as I slowed down and started driving the posted speed limit. Driving at 35-40 mph in a 25, pedestrians were stepping out from nowhere, right in front of me(!) When I drive the posted speed limit, I am able to anticipate others behaviors much better. The "Close calls" were actually MY OWN DOING!

Seems the LAST response by drivers in too many situations, is to apply the brakes, when it actually should be our first response.


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Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm

This is the fourth death in recent years on California st. I am not sure where the city leaders are on taking a stance on these tragedies on California street.


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Posted by wide streets
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm

A narrower street is a safer street. This is well known among traffic engineers.

I understand that Palo Alto currently has a city guideline to work to eliminate all 4-lane crosswalks without pedestrian-activated stop lights. They will do this by either adding stop lights or by reducing the street to 2 lanes. These types of crosswalks are just too dangerous in areas with lots of pedestrians (near schools, near homes, near businesses).

One pedestrian being killed is one too many. How many fatalities have there been on California Street in just the last few months?


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Posted by I Wanna Stop 4 Them
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I like that punisher. If they're gonna spend a (presumably) bunch of money on super highly visible crosswalks that are impossible to ignore, they should absolutely stick it to the selfish folks who would _still_ blast through. Max fine at the location, plus maybe even a special circumstances add-on fine of $200 extra if the crossing was activated and illuminated at the time of the offense.

I'd like to see that here. I drive mostly, but would welcome the lighted crossings. They help me a lot as a driver because at times I don't see people waiting to cross until its too late(I know, my bad, I should slow down, but it happens)

I almost feel I'm sending a pedestrian to their doom by stopping for them on Shoreline. There always seems to be cars in the next lanes over that aren't realizing someone is about to step out from in front of them. If the pedestrian doesn't poke his head out first...yikes.


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Posted by Agrees with Ann
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

You can definitely see the change in California street going west from Castro street. Starts with a nice two-lane with landscaped median --> four-lanes with landscaped median --> four-lanes without any median (narrower bike lanes with parked cars on both sides). Clearly indicates that not all neighborhoods are treated in equal fashion.

Also, this design is basically an invitation to step on the gas as you head-west on California street from Castro street. California street is not an expressway people actually live on both sides of this street. People cross the street all the time to go to stores, parks, visit neighbors & friend, schools, preschools, senior center etc.

It is indeed a shame on Mountain View City Administration for not taking any steps after a death in Emerald Apartments parking lot, and William Ware's death.

One would wonder if they will do anything now!!!


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm

@pedestrian I've seen the same behavior from drivers coming out of San Antonio shopping center on my bike. The design doesn't help. The crossing is wide and the entrance has cropped corners so cars can turn without slowing down so much.

@Vicki Don't be afraid to buy a bike. The good news is that in five years we've had no deaths in accidents with people on bikes in Mountain View. Cars aren't completely safe either, like the woman who died after being run off of Hwy 85 this summer. Bikes and walking are much healthier in the long run than sitting in a car.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Sad and tragic. But since speed was not a factor, perhaps this was the result of poor judgement from the pedestrian. Driving locally, I'm amazed at the careless behavior and 'I'm invincible' attitude of some pedestrians. Boldly striding into traffic without looking, young children in hand, absolutely certain the cars will stop. California law says motorists shall yield the right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalk, but the laws of physics have higher authority.


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Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

What I don't get is this. The Mountain View Police Department just loves to set up traps to raise revenue and always in two places. They hide behind the Grant Rd. Fire Station and catch the soccer moms rolling through the stop sign while turning right from Grant on Cuesta. They do the same by hiding behind the Planned Parenthood (today even) on the corner of California for shopping drivers turning right onto San Antonio.

But in the sixteen years I've lived in Mountain View I have never seen the police department set up speed traps up and down California Ave. And this is a road I travel daily multiple times. So I think the priorities are all out of wack. The police are out to raise revenue by targeting easy marks at the above intersections. I think they stay away from targeting the California Ave corridor because they don't want to snare any illegals.


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Posted by Judy
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm

This happened in front of my house and I saw the poor man take his last breath before the fire dept got there. I've had to call 911 three times since May, two times for accidents and now this fatality.
I honestly hope that our council members take note. Something has to be done about the amount of accidents happening on CA street. It's an extremely busy street and people just drive way too fast. Having seen the dying man, I seriously doubt that the driver was driving the speed limit. But they have to take his word as there were no witnesses. It was eerily quiet and dark on the street that night. It will take a very long time before we can forget that imag of that poor man dying just feet from our doorstep...such a tragedy.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Mountain View planners should really read this book:
Web Link

I did. It methodically proves how things you'd expect to make traffic safer, like widening the road and adding bike lanes, in fact have the opposite effect.


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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Mountain View planners will do nothing


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Posted by MtnViewNative
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Born and raised in Mountain View. This town was a lovely, quiet, middle-class town back in the 70's and early 80's. Very little crime, fast drivers, fatalities due to speeders. Then, all heck broke loose when the big companies moved into town, and a lot of out of towners moved in! Some of you are at fault! Don't blame others, you know you speed down these streets around here yourself. Impatient, rude, and half of you don't know the traffic laws. A lot more younger, inexperienced drivers, impatient, and just seemingly angry people. What happened to my town? Can't even afford to buy another house due to the cost driven up by these local companies and the high wages. I was married to a cop. They don't care about the California Street area. Once you get on the other side of El Camino towards Cuesta, Phyllis, Grant Rd, then they (cops) listen! It's a whole different level of people living there - I lived there. In 40 years never had a robbery at my house. I presently live on the other side of Whisman temporarily, and have had 2 bicycles stolen (new), and someone ran over my cat. Thanks, speeders. Go back home! As Obama said we need to hire people HERE in our country. At this complex, everyone I run into either speaks German or Russian. I feel like I'm not at home anymore.


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Posted by Ole
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 18, 2012 at 5:52 am

With the rate of new apartments under construction, things will only get worse. The council might as well just consider building a subway system.


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Posted by lindaloo
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 18, 2012 at 9:48 am

Am both saddened and disgusted. I walk to the San Antonio shopping district from my home about three times a week, crossing California at Ortega. At least once a week(!) I have a close call with a driver, either when they are turning left and impatient with my slow (not) walking across the street or with a driver turning right who fails to stop at the red light.
I would welcome patrols in the area to discourage this behavior -- and perhaps save a life.


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Posted by Jen
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2012 at 10:22 am

Joshua is my husband he is a wonderful husband an father. I don't know what im going to do without my best friend my lover my soul mate. Im so lost without him. I love you joshua baby


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Posted by Tracy
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 18, 2012 at 11:58 am

Jen, my heart breaks for you and your family. I'm so sorry that Joshua died in our community. I will fight my hardest to prevent more accidents here.


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Posted by Jen
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Joshua went out for a stroll before he headed home on Sunday . He had a wonderful time out there.


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Posted by Tracy
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Mountain View is a wonderful place and many of us live here because we can enjoy strolling in the neighborhood. As a wife and mother of 2, your family's story hits to the heart. Please know that we are thinking of you.


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Posted by kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

At 10:30pm this man could not see the headlights of a car coming at him? Makes me wonder what was he doing?

I see to many pedestrians walking without any care of cars around. Especially when they walk into a cross walk.

Safety is not a rocket science, it just takes some common sense.


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Posted by Nick V
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Sep 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Nick V is a registered user.

Hello Jen. My name is Nick. I'm the reporter who wrote the above story. I am working to get a more complete version of the story finished before my weekly deadline tomorrow (The Mountain View Voice comes out in print once a week). If you are interested in talking to me and sharing more about your husband, please send me an email and we may be able to figure out a time to talk.

My email is nveronin@mv-voice.com

I am very sorry for your loss.


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Posted by Janet L
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Steve and kman, we don't know what happened and likely never will. The driver's account is likely to be biased so I wouldn't accept it as fact. And we'll never get Josh's side of the story because he's dead.

I'd say it was "He said, she said" situation but the sad fact is that it's "he said, he's DEAD." It's easy to blame the victim when he can't speak for himself.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Jen, I am truly sorry for your loss. Car plus pedestrian always has a bad outcome.
The same laws of physics that compell us to beware of our surroundings can also be used as tools to determine (with pretty good accuracy!) the speed at impact. We don't really need to rely on the driver's statement.
As far as drivers menacing pedestrians crossing properly: I'm not the only one here who's noticed those MVPD revenue factories, targeting that dastardly California stop. How about staking out for something more meaningful? Directing the police into more appropriate duties should be first action taken by the city to improve citizen safety.


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Posted by Judy
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Jen- I am so sorry for your loss. I don't know if this will help but your husband passed right in front of me, he did not suffer long. The whole time I was thinking this man is someone's husband, father, brother...and I was just hoping he wasn't suffering. It was not long after he was hit that he passed.
My condolences to you and your family, it is such a terrible tragedy.


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Posted by jen
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I thank you all . Im so lost without him like i said he was a wonderful husband and a great father to my 3 boys. he is way out there an i just want him home. thank you Judy for the info i didnt want him to suffer he was a calm peaceful man. he didnt do anything wrong.I hate these people on here bashing him when they dont even know he or know what really happened.


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Posted by Judy
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Jen- I'm sorry about the people bashing your husband...they should know better. I hope he goes home soon so he can be in his resting place, close to you and your family.
For anyone else who is out there interested in having safer streets I suggest contacting the transportation dept.
I contacted my brother who is a transportation planner in Portland and he offered some suggestions. First let me add that this same brother is shocked by the lack of attention to safety that pedestrians and bicyclists are afforded here.
First of all, Joshua was by law in the right since he was in a legal crossing, marked or unmarked. The driver needed to stop and for whatever reason, did not and we have the unfortunate circumstance that we do.
The responsibility for the situations we have seen on CA St. w/ two deaths and countless accidents lies with our transportation dept. As my brother mentioned, if they are not willing to step up to solve the problems, then we need to start bombarding the city council members.
Here are some things he suggested (to take up w/ the transportation dept.):
-Start sting operations to nail violations (speeding, not stopping for peds).
-Conduct a speed study to determine whether or not the speed should be reduced.
-recommend extending the curb so the corners push out onto CA St. (like they have on the other side of the tracks).
My personal suggestion would be to have the medians extended all the way down CA to San Antonio which would curtail the accidents I've seen w/cars turning in the unmarked intersections. It would also give pedestrians a safe place to stay while waiting to cross. Unfortunately, Joshua did not have this on Pettis and it might have saved him.
I am drafting an email right now to the transportation dept and will be doing my best to get some safety on our street and I suggest that anyone else who is worried about their or their family's safety to do the same. We owe it to the people who have lost their lives on CA St.
By the way, it would be nice for the Voice to get some input from the transportation dept since they have the responsibility to keep people in this town safe...something they are doing a dreadful job doing!


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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm

...is shocked by the lack of attention to safety that pedestrians and bicyclists are afforded here.

City traffic engineer shows up at our neighborhood meeting completely unprepared and unaware of any problems. Common response to questions about traffic was "request a study" or "we can't do anything" or "I seem to remember there was a study a while ago".

With the standard response by the council to rubber stamp every developer request for denser rezoning, without any infrastructure change, it will only get worse.

Enjoy your waits on Central and El Camino et al and the speeding down California et al, and the cut thru traffic.

Like I said before: nothing will be done.


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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Oh by the way, any emails to the "transportation department" may be politely answered or handed off with the run around and you will be ultimately ignored.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 20, 2012 at 5:41 am

Post 15MPH speed limits along California Avenue and put speed bumps every fifty meters. Post a motorcycle cop at the corner of Escuela and California. Do the same for the surrounding neighborhood streets. Problem solved. That took me all of 20 seconds to come up with.


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Posted by City
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 20, 2012 at 8:47 am

Does this city has a mayor? How come no comment from any city official. Mr. Nick hopefully you can get a comment or two from what the city has to say on this...


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Posted by jen
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Joshua will not be home untill late next week. Our sons 18th birthday is today what a great day his dads not here.we are all having a really hard time with this


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Improving safety seems to be the common thread here. California and Mountain View already have ample, but unenforced traffic laws addressing dangerous driving and vehicle/pedestrian/bicycle interaction. Instead, the MVPD chooses petty, easy-and-good-for-a-fine revenue stops.
Unless the police chief answers directly to the city council and not the city manager, complaining to our figurehead elected officials will be a waste of time.


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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm

"Does this city has a mayor? How come no comment from any city official. Mr. Nick hopefully you can get a comment or two from what the city has to say on this..."

Answer: the "city" is not the politicians or the employees. The city is us.

The politicians and employees don't care. Otherwise something would have been done when the citizen was mowed down while waiting for a bus.

Today the traffic still speeds down California avenue and could care less about safety. Observe it for yourselves.


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Posted by Adrienne
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I'm very sorry for your loss, Jen. Your family will be in my thoughts.


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