Atherton Mayor Bill Widmer has sent a strongly worded message to Caltrans demanding that improved safety measures be put into place on El Camino Real -- the scene of yet another accident that left two pedestrians seriously injured after being struck by a vehicle Sunday (Sept. 30).
Two women were struck at about noon while crossing El Camino at its intersection with Isabella Avenue, according to Sgt. Anthony Kochler of the Atherton Police Department. They were hit by a southbound Chevy Blazer, whose unnamed male driver remained on the scene, Sgt. Kochler said.
The women, who police believe were in the crosswalk, were treated on the scene by fire department paramedics before being taken by ambulance to Stanford Hospital with major injuries, he said. Their conditions are unknown at this time, he said, and the department is still working on identifying one of the victims.
Coincidentally, the accident occurred two years to the day that Christopher Chandler, a 62-year-old Redwood City resident, was struck and killed in the same crosswalk while riding his bicycle across El Camino.
Sgt. Kochler said the driver voluntarily submitted to a blood test for drugs and alcohol. He said that damage to the vehicle indicated that the driver was not speeding, but that police were continuing their investigation of the incident.
This morning, Mayor Widmer sent an email to Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty "to insist that improved safety measures are taken on Atherton's El Camino corridor." With three lanes moving traffic in each direction, that stretch of the state highway "has become the scene of multiple car-pedestrian and car-bicycle accidents, often leading to severe injuries and multiple deaths," he wrote.
"On other streets, pedestrian crossings are made more visible with the use of lighted/blinking signs and in-pavement flashing lights," he continued. "These have been available for years, and yet the state has taken the cheap route (in mitigating Atherton's problem), which is costing our residents dearly.
"Improved crossing on this state road is mandatory!" he wrote. "Traffic lights, flashing crosswalks, or other safer measures are definitely required."
Mr. Widmer noted that he has been discussing the dangerous situation with Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, following another accident that occurred several weeks ago.
"Please acknowledge this note and provide me with your plans and actions so that this serious situation can be quickly rectified," Mayor Widmer said in the email. "The lives of our residents are at stake here. The liability of inaction rests with the state."
This summer, the town of Atherton, a motorist, and several other public agencies were named in a lawsuit filed by the mother of a teenager who was struck while crossing El Camino Real on foot in 2011. Courtney Schrier was struck in the crosswalk at Alejandra Avenue, suffering a broken pelvis and brain injuries.