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Guest opinion: A child died at a dangerous Mountain View intersection. How long will it take us to make it safer?

Original post made on Mar 20, 2022

The intersection where a 13-year-old was fatally hit is known to be dangerous, says Mountain View resident James Kuszmaul, in a guest opinion that asks how long it will take to finally make the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, March 20, 2022, 9:22 AM

Comments (30)

Posted by Nora S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 20, 2022 at 10:53 am

Nora S. is a registered user.

Great article. City staff has been peculiarly antagonistic to anything impeding the free flow of vehicular traffic for years. They don't like adding stop signs. They don't like adding crosswalks. They don't like upgrading crosswalks. They don't like adding bike lanes. Anything that a neighborhood wants to improve pedestrian or bicycle safety is seen as secondary to the rights of the almighty automobile. This must change, and it is incumbent upon the City Council to see that it does.

Posted by bkengland
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 20, 2022 at 10:57 am

bkengland is a registered user.

As James well points out, it is time for us to shift priorities regarding our streets and related infrastructure. The history points to where we've come from. The future is ours to create.

Posted by Dgatsby
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 20, 2022 at 3:29 pm

Dgatsby is a registered user.

I completely agree with this letter. The crosswalk by my house with flashing yellow lights at the corner of Shoreline and Mercy Street is also extremely dangerous -- two weeks ago a child was HIT on a bicycle at that intersection. A few years ago my child was almost hit by a car at that intersection right in front of me. Those are two incidents that I saw personally -- how many have happened at that intersection and other places in MV that have not been reported or widely known? How many more incidents have to happen before we can truly create a city that supports bicyclists and pedestrians as much as drivers? I'm a driver in this city and I am extremely supportive of any measures that prioritizes pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Posted by SWAN song
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 20, 2022 at 4:01 pm

SWAN song is a registered user.

Amen! Well written. It's time for action. More police enforcement of rolling right turns on red would help, too.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2022 at 4:09 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Mixing this intersection in with the rest of the city is dangerous. This intersection has a freeway on one side, which is not typical. Not only that but much of the traffic along El Camino Real at this intersection is headed to another freeway, 85. So this is a special intersection, a unique case with special needs not found anywhere else in Mountain View.

To equate this intersection with others trivializes the issue for this crosswalk and these turn lanes.

Then there is another issue. El Camino Real is managed by Caltrans, unlike other roads like Shoreline or California. It's a different process. Caltrans has done a lot of things fairly recently to make it safer for pedestrians to cross ECR. Signalized crosswalks have been added. Don't mix Caltrans in with Mountain View's city streets.

There are things that could be done for this crosswalk, but they are not things that generally apply to other crosswalks. These roads are not a candidate for any sort of "road diet." They are major major arteries.

Posted by chris aoki
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 20, 2022 at 4:38 pm

chris aoki is a registered user.

Paid parking stacks offer a possible solution to stop
rolling right turns. Add a gate that requires a driver to
stop when a pedestrian is crossing. Pedestrians can
push a switch to lower the gate before crossing and
must push another switch to raise the gate after the
crossing is complete.
Video cameras can record driver and pedestrian
responses "for quality control purposes" to borrow
a phrase from call centers. Speed bumps on the
approach to the intersection can help remind drivers
to slow down. More aggressive speed bumps can be
installed if accident statistics are not improved.

Posted by chris aoki
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 20, 2022 at 5:37 pm

chris aoki is a registered user.

As a reminder to readers of Mountain View Voice,
"Vision Zero" means a clear vision of eliminating fatalities
and serious injuries due to collisions involving vehicles in
traffic. All drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists must understand
this vision and comply with rules designed to achieve it. To learn
more about Vision Zero, read the writeup at this web page:
Web Link

Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2022 at 8:24 pm

ivg is a registered user.

Yeah, it's a little misleading to blame this one on the city. The city did agree with Caltrans to install bike lanes the next time Caltrans repaves the roadway. But that was years ago, and the asphalt continues to disintegrate. I would hazard a guess that all the gravel in the road (possibly from the disintegrating asphalt) had something to do with this crash. El Camino is very dangerous for bicyclists of any age.

Posted by ConsiderReality
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 21, 2022 at 3:22 am

ConsiderReality is a registered user.

Bike lanes would not have helped directly in this case. Even with bike lanes, you still need to cross busy intersections.

For this intersection, I think a very simple "No Turn On Red" set of signs would do wonders.

Please don't use a tragedy to promote a barely tangentially related cause. I am very much in favor of bike lanes. I bike to work everyday. But this is not at issue here.

Posted by Tal Shaya
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 21, 2022 at 6:00 am

Tal Shaya is a registered user.

Let's try to focus, okay? THAT intersection is very dangerous. The schoolchildren exit onto a road that feeds two highways. How many times did we hear of a child getting injured or killed at Grant and El Camino?

Posted by Juan
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2022 at 8:15 am

Juan is a registered user.

Construction traffic should not be allowed on the same roads that kids use to get to school. I propose to prohibit construction vehicles and other large vehicles on city streets (including El Camino) between the hours of 7am - 5pm. It means that construction vehicles would need to arrive before 7am to their location, and leave after 5pm. It might cause more early morning noise for the neighborhood, but that is a price that we can all pay to ensure safety of children.

Posted by It's abuse
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 21, 2022 at 2:24 pm

It's abuse is a registered user.

Thank you for writing this. I would love to have my middle-school-age child ride his bike to school but I'm terrified. There are no stop signs at many intersections in my neighborhood (why?) and I regularly see people in cars blast through crosswalks even in sleepy Monta Loma. A crosswalk that leads right into ML park and is frequently used by kids has such faded, unmaintained paint that it's basically useless. The city could absolutely be doing more--much more.

Unfortunately, every parent who drives their child a short distance to school out of fear is one more car on the road, compounding the problem. We need major action to make it safer for cyclists and it will only get worse without it.

Posted by ML Kyle
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 21, 2022 at 2:40 pm

ML Kyle is a registered user.

I thought the VTA effectively owned El Camino Real?

I agree with the urgency. While we're at it, we should eliminate all street parking along El Camino, as it simply exacerbates the overall danger to bicyclists on a busy and chaotic street.

Posted by SalsaMusic
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 21, 2022 at 2:45 pm

SalsaMusic is a registered user.

The city has traffic engineers. How many pedestrian engineers does it have?

Posted by Bob
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 21, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Bob is a registered user.

While several points in this opinion piece have merit, it seems that this piece as well as several of the comments use this tragedy to justify an agenda. Does anyone actually know what happened here? If so, please tell us. Until then, we don't know who did what and what the specific solution is.

Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 21, 2022 at 3:27 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

The "agenda" of the commenters is to not have any more children die riding their bikes to school. The way to do that is to properly engineer our transportation so that automobile-bike interactions are minimal, which would mean turning El Camino into an actual highway that gets people between major destinations, and have physically separated, much lower speed, and narrower streets that contain businesses, residences, and schools. Trying to have El Camino do both is how we end up with these accidents.

Posted by Robin
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 21, 2022 at 5:11 pm

Robin is a registered user.

related article with useful info

Web Link

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 21, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

This situation is so very sad. The reality is that today we have a transportation system where pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers all have to share the same roads. We should make it a priority for kids to have a safe path to bike to school. Intersections where there is very heavy traffic is certainly going to be more dangerous, thought should be given about how to provide safer alternatives. There are long-term solutions, it's not clear we all agree on what those are. Until we do, IMHO bikers should try to avoid this intersection, and to avoid El Camino in general.

I'm not sure where this boy lived. I was curious about existing biking routes between O'Reilly Auto Parts and Graham Middle School, Web Link . As it turns out, the shortest + fastest route for a biker is to turn left onto Grant, go past the In-N-Out Burger, snake around to Hans Ave, then snake around to Graham. My understanding, which might be wrong, is that instead of taking the left on Grant, the biker proceeded straight through the intersection, where a truck from 237 was turning right onto El Camino and hit him. IMHO the safer route would have been to turn left on Grant.

Hindsight is easy, I'm not trying to blame the victim, I just want others to avoid his fate. Maybe a short-term solution might be a program to educate school-children on the dangers, and also on the safest route for them personally to take to school? Maybe we could require a "license" to bike to school, primarily to ensure such training was taken? If schools ran such programs + kept data, they could identify the locations where the most kids were at the most risk, to help prioritize long-term solutions.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Cuesta Park

on Mar 21, 2022 at 6:04 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 21, 2022 at 9:56 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Thank you James. This tragedy breaks my heart. Let’s take action as a community and make Mountain View the best place for young and old alike.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 21, 2022 at 10:02 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

@ Its Abuse. It is YOUR PERSONAL responsibility to report this situation to Public Works/Streets Dept. Be fixed in a week by my personal experience. The City of Mountain View did such when I reported a similar SIMPLE PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE to them (dangerous sidewalk ripped up by tree - By Chase Bank/ corner ECR& Castro)

Web Link
"To report urgent street maintenance problems, please call (650) 903-6329. For non-urgent inquiries, you may visit Ask Mountain View.
Web Link

Posted by Sam Connell
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 22, 2022 at 11:25 am

Sam Connell is a registered user.

Spent Tuesday morning at the Castro/ECR intersection. Wow, what an eye opener. Chatted with kids who all have had near miss stories. Then saw a near miss in action. A few ideas:
1. Create a time lag between Yellow to Red change and the "Walk Sign Is On" buzzer. Right now, you hear the buzzer, see the walk sign and step out, immediately after it turns to red -- guess what -- drivers are still blowing through the intersection! A girl and I, with a yellow vest on, almost stepped into a red mustang taking a quick right to Castro North from ECR after the yellow went to red. Not good.
2. You can't take a right on red onto ECR from Castro South side going north unless you pull into the pedestrian pathway. The old Peets/now Boba blocks your view. It is a blind spot that necessitates you going into the walk lane. Not good.
3. I'll be out there in the morning walking back and forth with a yellow vest on. It might be a good idea to set up a network of parent volunteers to walk back and forth in the morning/afternoons. Send me a message if you are inerested in joining me in this endeavor. ([email protected])

Posted by bluesjr
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 22, 2022 at 12:34 pm

bluesjr is a registered user.

@Steve Nelson. It's great they responded to your issue. I did not have that experience when I reported a road/cycling safety issue. I cycle around town most days, have been cycling for 50+ years, and am comfortable with traffic. The cycling trigger on Mayfield and Central does not allow enough time for a cyclist to cross. The light turns yellow before you make across Central, with cars screaming down the ramp from San Antonio. I am not slow. I jump on the pedals when I get the light, but there is NOT enough time. Well, the city came out with a traffic expert, measured the green light and claimed it was fine. They felt the green and yellow time combined is enough. It is not (cross traffic can sometimes anticipate the yellow to get an early jump start), and evidently it is not going to change. I bet the two that evaluated the light do not cycle.

Posted by Kling-Kling Bird
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2022 at 4:15 pm

Kling-Kling Bird is a registered user.

The City is holding a zoom meeting Thursday 5-6:30 PM on Vision Zero bike & pedestrian safety.
All the preceding comments should be submitted at that meeting, or emailed -- with copies to the City Council -- to whoever hosts it. In light of the recent tragedy, City staff may be more receptive than usual.

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 22, 2022 at 8:44 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

Join us for a vigil for Andre this Thursday (3/24) at 8am, gathering on the In-N-Out side of El Camino, not directly at Andre’s memorial. Please share this post to honor Andre by lining his entire remaining route from Grant to Castro. March 24, week since Andre was fatally hit on El Camino, the city of MV is holding a traffic safety meeting that same day at 5pm. To learn more about the city’s meeting to have zero future bike/pedestrian fatalities: (this vigil is being held with the blessing of Andre’s family)

Posted by Mountain View Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 24, 2022 at 3:36 pm

Mountain View Resident is a registered user.

This morning at the same time of the memorial gathering for the student I was traveling on Grant Road near to El Camino hospital and there was a girl going to school on her bicycle and she was nearly struck by a car that traveling beside a car that stopped for her to cross the road as it was a large white automobile and the other car could not see the student and almost hit her as she crossed the road. I wonder if it is time that the students who attend the local school walk to school rather than ride their bicycles as it does seem too dangerous a road and area especially at rush hour for children on bicycles.

Posted by AC
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 24, 2022 at 11:11 pm

AC is a registered user.

I mentioned it elsewhere: I don't think that intersection as-is can be made safer. It's the terminus of a freeway. The more traffic we cause, the more people will misbehave because they're in a hurry.

This doesn't happen at the other terminus (the Milpitas side) because there is a big cloverleaf overpass. Cars don't get slowed by an intersection, and kids don't get killed.

Vehicles misbehave at that intersection because they're in a hurry. They're coming off of a *freeway*.

Separate the cars from the bikes and pedestrians. Walkway, bridge, offramp, something. It's the only way to ensure safety. Because dieting that intersection or taking lanes for bikes/peds means that cars will still misbehave when the think they can get away with it.

Because, again, it's the terminus of a freeway.

Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 25, 2022 at 11:40 am

Polomom is a registered user.

@Mountain View Resident: it was at Grant Rd and Sleeper intersection?

Posted by Wouter Suverkropp
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 25, 2022 at 2:25 pm

Wouter Suverkropp is a registered user.

[Post removed at poster's request]

Posted by Landels Neighbor
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2022 at 4:54 pm

Landels Neighbor is a registered user.

At a minimum, all El Camino intersections should be made 'no right on red' - the only actual cost would be be for signage. Cars having to wait a little longer, but turning right onto El Camino is a risky
proposition for cars, too. Ideally, speed bumps leading into the intersections would also be added in the far right lanes. Mountain View is great community in part because of its walkability - the city should be prioritizing the safety of walkers and bikers over the interests of drivers 100% of the time.

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