The troubled beauty of Skyline Boulevard | November 20, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - November 20, 2013

The troubled beauty of Skyline Boulevard

Of the 205 accidents on Skyline Boulevard in 10 years, about half have involved two-wheeled vehicles.

by Dave Boyce

The 26 miles of Skyline Boulevard between Highway 9 in Saratoga and Highway 92 in San Mateo is used by some as an adult playground for vehicular pastimes.

This story contains 1237 words.

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Posted by pay attention, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Everyone needs to pay more attention on this road and think before any maneuver. Too often, cars will turn in or out of side roads without seriously checking for cross traffic. Maybe they think there usually is not traffic, so they don't bother checking. Maybe they do see cross traffic, but misjudge the distance because of the narrow lane width and pull out anyway. If there are no stop signs, then traffic going straight always has the right of way over vehicles turning in or out. Pay more attention and many of these deaths could be avoided.

I would like to see more analysis of these fatalities. How many were caused by drivers losing control vs failure-to-yield collisions? Also, how many of the collisions resulted in criminal charges or at least citations, or were they just swept under the rug by the cops?

Posted by Janet L, a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Of the 205 collisions, 92 involved motorcycles, 18 involved bicycles. No mention of how many collisions involved cars and trucks, but simple arithmetic says it's at least 95. We know 2 bicyclists and 8 motorcyclists were killed, how many motorists? I suspect there were at least two motorist fatalities, the same as bicyclist fatalities.

Why is this article overly focused on bicyclists and not others? Thirteen paragraphs dedicated to bike dangers, one about motorcycles and none about vehicles. This over-attention makes bicycling seem like the only activity that's dangerous, when driving and motorcycling are very dangerous too.

Posted by DDD, a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Why doesn't this article focus more on careless driving?

Posted by Todd Bryan, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2013 at 10:43 am

"The responsibility comes down to the individual cyclist, CHP Capt. Mike Maskarich says when asked about cycling on Skyline.

"'Cycling on Skyline can be particularly dangerous', Capt. Maskarich says. The pavement is more likely to be wet and there are more situations that complicate cyclists' efforts to be seen by motorists. 'Visibility is a huge concern,' he says. '(Cyclists) may be putting themselves at greater risk than they would be if they were riding elsewhere.'"

This is nothing short of blaming the victim. Unbelievable. It certainly delights me to know that Capt. Maskarich is out there, making sure the roads are safe for everyone - except us uppity cyclists, of course. How dare we expect cars to drive safely!

Posted by Janet L, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2013 at 11:19 am

Since the article didn't provide information about people who died inside vehicles, I turned to Google and found a couple. I would have searched more, but there were so many stories of bicyclist Joy Covey's death it was tedious to sift through them to find the motor vehicle deaths.

Obviously Skyline is not that safe for people driving or riding in vehicles. Should we recommend people not drive on Skyline?

August 2013: Woman riding inside Toyota Camry killed in head-on crash
Web Link

June 2010: Woman found dead in her vehicle on Skyline, presumed collision
Web Link

Posted by skyline resident, a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Nov 20, 2013 at 6:59 pm

I live on Skyline - between 92 and Kings Mountain Road. We are all at fault - the cars drive too fast and pass in areas with a double yellow line, the motorbikes drive too fast and lean their bodies over into the opposite lane around curves, and the bicyclists dress in colors that blend with the shadows, do not pull over to allow folks to pass, and race down Kings Mountain Road like it is the Tour de France. And who pays the highest price of all... nature. People come up here to see the beauty and the animals.. shall we discuss the trash left behind by folks when they are done visiting this area and the animals that are killed? Please slow down, don't drop trash, or don't come up here - go somewhere else - please.

Posted by skyliner, a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Nov 20, 2013 at 8:24 pm

another op-ed for the Bicycle Coalition. riding on the edge of a highway (hwy 35, 84, or 92) is never going to be all that safe. many of the roads in this area are just barely wide enough for two cars in each direction at once. add a slow moving bicyclist on a narrow or blind switch-back, and you get another statistic to read about.

Posted by Propaganda, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Nov 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm

In July 2006, about a third of a mile north of the intersection, a sideswipe incident resulted in the death of 65-year-old Portola Valley resident Thomas Colby Maddox.

"A sideswipe incident" really means an incompetent driver made a dangerous and impatient move and killed a bicyclist. The implication in the article is that it was the bicyclist's fault for being there, when the truth is (and the CHP investigation supported this) that it was 100% the driver's fault.

Posted by Skylonda, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2013 at 6:14 am

Why is the author trying to focus this article on cyclists when the very facts that he brought up, overwhelmingly point to bad motor vehicle driving habits? Reel in the drivers and you will fix Skyline. Simple as that.

Posted by Skylonda, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2013 at 6:20 am

Also, CHP should focus operations every few weekends on zero tolerance speed enforcement. 5 MPH over gets you a ticket. A few well placed cars can shut down this race track. So many driver/motorcycle accidents...where is the enforcement presence?!?! Shut down the future killers among us BEFORE they kill. Tickets, Tickets Tickets...they'll learn quickly, just ask the CHP around King's City.

Posted by another skyline resident, a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Nov 21, 2013 at 8:58 am

I dont think blaming the other guys is very helpful here. I live here and have seen cars, motor bikes and cyclists all act in very stupid ways. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter who is wrong, when you are on a bycycle you will always be the looser.

Posted by skyline 17 years, a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Nov 21, 2013 at 9:32 am

Get real--zero tolerance enforcement is the only thing that will make a difference. None of the locals we know willingly venture out onto Skyline to get errands done on weekends because of the destructive misbehavior of motorcyclists, cars, and cyclists. Our neighborhood group has tried with uneven success--the road is patrolled for a few weekends and then they disappear. I wish the cyclist lobby would use their disproportionate influence to get consistent weekend enforcement.

Posted by Linda C, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Nov 21, 2013 at 9:38 am

I wish Skyline would stop being a race track for vehicles (which is now spreading to surrounding roads). Speed should be lowered and consistently enforced (for the sake of everyone's well being). As population increases it will only get worse.

Posted by NEC, a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:16 am

The real problem that is NEVER addressed in any article I have ever read in the 10+ years I have lived on Skyline Blvd is the complete LACK of any policing. You can lower the speed limit on Skyline to 10 mph and NOTHING will change. Look at hwy 9....they have now lowered it to 30MPH the entire stretch of road. Absurd, as it hasn't changed the number of accidents or deaths. WE NEED CONSISTENT PATROLS - at all times. We have the car clubs coming up in the evenings and racing all the roads from 10:00pm until early morning hours. They will kill someone (hopefully themselves) at some point because they KNOW it is completely lawless on Skyline and the surrounding roads.

Posted by Easy Fix, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:44 am

Start aggressive ticketing of motor vehicles and the problem goes away. End of story, period.

Posted by Skylonda Resident, a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I live past Alice's near 84 and Skyline. I see crumpled cars, downed cyclists and motorcycle parts lying on the side of the road EVERY day. I can't even stand on my front drive with my kids to enjoy the beautiful day for fear of someone taking the corner hot and wiping us all out. I'm not sure why we are blaming the writer here. We all need to take personal responsibility for our actions. Following the rules of the road whether you are in a car, motorcycle, bike or pedestrian is not rocket science. I was a competitive cyclist for 10 years and it astonishes me to this day the lack of road sense that many (what seem to be) skilled cyclists demonstrate. I'm ashamed to tell my friends that I ride! Having the ability and means to ride your bike, motorcycle or drive a car in this beautiful area is a privilege. Please don't abuse it. Lowering speed limits and resurfacing roads will not remedy this problem. Drive the speed limit. Drive within the lines. Don't pass on a double yellow. Pull over and let a car pass if you prefer a slower drive. Ride your bike on the far right side of the road single file and don't pretend you can't a hear a car behind you. Scoot over and let them pass. It's so simple!!!

Posted by They should but don't, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Right, its simple, but people don't do it, thus massive ticketing must be done.

Posted by More Patrolers Needed, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm

@ skyline resident, and maybe others. Don't think of the problem as "cars driving too fast". Instead, think of it as vehicle operators driving too aggressively.

A person driving conservatively, obeying the basic "safe for conditions" speed limit, and staying within their marked lane, is likely to be severely tailgated, light-flashed, horned at, etc. Maybe even worse.

There's a big difference feeling in control of your vehicle and being in control of yourself and not surrendering to the impulse to turn a public road into a performance-limit test track.

Posted by NowUCan, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm

I have been yelled and cursed at by a cyclist going down La Honda Road to Portola who was not going the speed limit, in the middle of the road all the way down the mountain, and had six cars behind him but would not pull over to the side of the road. He was riding for pleasure, I was going to the hospital, where the other drivers were going is unknown. On Portola Road I stopped and yelled at him out of frustration so I started the confrontation. I have been told it is the LAW one must pull over when there are that many cars trailing behind. If this is not true, please advise/correct. Generally, I pull over whenever I see any auto coming up behind me because I don't like it since I enjoy the scenery and do not want to speed … many of the commuters do speed; it's a fact. If the motorcyclists and bicyclists are riding for pleasure, it seems good manners would dictate pulling over to the side of the road when it is obvious others need to pass. I wonder how much the two-wheelers would like it if all of us who live and work in these communities (Woodside, HMB, Pescadero, etc.) decided to traverse these gorgeous scenic corridors at 10 or 11 miles per hour while they pace themselves accordingly. After 2 or 3 weekends in a row, I think they would get the idea. Am not suggesting we actually do this but consider how it would feel to you who are not well intentioned or well mannered. I compliment the two wheelers who really do "get it" and understand they should pull over but frankly you are in the minority … a huge minority on the weekends. I speak from experience in coming around a curve to find 3 bicyclists abreast who are not going the speed limit. Heart failure is an apt description of the trauma one experiences. In my view, no bicyclist should be allowed on any roadway without a designated bicycle lane … they not only take their own lives in danger but other un-consenting vehicular travelers. How 2 wheelers believe they are more important on our roads than 4 wheelers and how vocal they are in asserting their "rights" astounds and challenges any semblance of generosity one might feel toward them. It's another example of a vocal minority demanding more than their share of fairness in a situation and it is beyond reasonableness. WHY DO YOU THINK THERE ARE ALMOST NEVER ANY PEDESTRIANS ON HWY 35 OR HWY 84? Wouldn't they have more rights than the 2 wheelers … where is their coalition. There is none because they have common sense and don't go walking on such dangerous corridors. I know this will not change anyone's mind because some of you 2 wheelers are vested in your rights to an adrenaline "rush" on public thoroughfares; therefore, I suggest you try Hwy 280 or 101 … more thrills than our mountain. Oh! There must be a reason it's against the law to do that!

Posted by matt, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Calm down bikers. Everyone understands that cars are involved in almost all of these collisions. Stop looking for bias and start looking for solutions.

Posted by Chris, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm

You ask why the focus on cyclists? Could it be because they are the most vulnerable to serious injury?

Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 6:57 am

The solutions are obvious but expensive: 1) widen the road everywhere to provide 5' shoulders or 2) lower the speed limit to a value that protects bicyclist safety and enforce it 24x7. The first option costs more up front, but the second option may cost more in the long run.

Posted by Maggie, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I've been driving Skyline & feeder roads since 1970 & living in Skyline region for 18 years. I've driven these roads in small sporty cars (never again), on a motorcycle (never again), on my bicycle (never again) and in trucks. Absolutely the greatest number of vehicle-types that I have witnessed driving recklessly & that have put me & mine at risk are cars & motorcycles. Yesterday I was driving north on Skyline and faced on a curve by a white bmw in my lane heading towards me, as he (I saw him) was passing the second of two cars.He missed me by a few yards, in part because of my action. Coincidentally I had passed my sweetheart who was heading south in his truck, just before this near-collision. He said the white bmw driver also passed him, on a double-yellow curve. This is common stuff. People CHOOSE to drive recklessly, to put themselves & others at risk, to not care that a driver they've never met might have a startle response and over-correct & hit the aggressor's vehicle, etc. A decision to pass on a curve is a decision to risk a collision. It's not an accident - it's planned. Think about it. If you do indeed want to die intentionally, please don't include the rest of us in your demise. As for bicyclists, so many of them are going faster than me that as with other vehicles I routinely signal, wait for a nod or some-such & pull over.

Posted by The Old Sage, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

How about a few Traffic Cameras that will track speed and send a ticket. This should be an in expensive way to enforce the speed limits Albeit a but tougher for the motorcycle guys. Or add a handful of stop signs every few miles. As for the Bike folks - they need to learn the rules of the road, ride single file, and maybe only be allowed at certain hours of the day or possibly like Canada road only allowed on a few days a month. Yes I know your its your right to ride when you want but at what cost...9 times out of 10 you will be the looser...

Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Web Link

Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I think the Old Sage needs to learn the rules of the road and the laws of the State of California before he tells people to obey them. It is not legally authorized to use cameras to issue speeding tickets. Stop signs cannot be placed arbitrarily. There is no law that says bicyclists must ride single file, and there is no law that allows bicyclists to be excluded from a public road (except freeways and toll bridges) or to be limited to specific times. There ARE laws that prohibit driving in a manner that endangers life or property.

I am all for enforcing the laws we have on the books, but I really wish more people knew what the laws are before they start spouting off about them.

Posted by fwiw, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 23, 2013 at 4:49 am

With specific exceptions, Calif Vehicle Code generally requires cyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable which implicitly precludes cyclists from riding abreast of each other.

Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 7:41 am

That is correct - the law does not specify that bicyclists must ride single file, as I stated.

Posted by fwiw, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 23, 2013 at 8:18 am

Fine, as long as we agree that the net result of the law is that sometimes cyclists are required to ride single file and others they are not.

When cyclists are riding with the normal speed of traffic, they may always ride multiple abreast.

Bob Mioske, former pro rider, attorney, and cyclist advocate has an extensive discussion of this issue. He goes so far as to argue that when cyclists outnumber motor vehicles that they define the normal flow of traffic and are thus not required to ride single file, though he recognizes that may be the injudicious choice.

Web Link

A summary point to his article does state:

"However, if the cyclists are not traveling at the "normal speed of traffic," and the lane is wide enough to safely share with a motor vehicle, then the cyclists must ride single file."

Posted by fcd, a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Nov 23, 2013 at 9:50 am

fwiw, thanks for sharing that link to Bob Mionske's site. I saw another article there that has quite an intriguing analysis of motorist and cyclists viewpoints: Web Link

Posted by ilushka, a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 1:26 pm

@NowUCan "I have been told it is the LAW one must pull over when there are that many cars trailing behind. If this is not true, please advise/correct."

Web Link

Posted by fwiw, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 23, 2013 at 2:02 pm

@ilushka - close but not the applicable CVC

Yes, traffic moving slower than the normal flow of traffic is required to pullout at the nearest safe turnout when five or more vehicles are trailing. Usual caveats about the definition of normal flow of traffic apply.

21656. On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of
traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving
vehicle, including a passenger vehicle, behind which five or more
vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the
nearest place designated as a turnout by signs erected by the
authority having jurisdiction over the highway, or wherever
sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the
vehicles following it to proceed. As used in this section a
slow-moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed
less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and

Posted by Norman, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

If people want to endanger their lives for thrills what can we do? Bicycles are dangerous, period, and you don't even have to be hit by a car for that. From a study I've seen 2/3 of auto-bicycle accidents are caused by bicyclists and when alcohol/drugs are involved 2/3 of those times it's the bicyclists who are impaired. Also, anyone ever seen a bicyclist pulled over for a traffic violation?

Posted by Greg, a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I have lived in the Skyline area for 17 years. I drive the mountain roads down to Silicon Valley hundreds of times a year. I am grateful to live up here, and fully appreciate why folks come up to recreate on bikes, motorcycles, sports cars, or in their clunky minivans full of kids headed for the redwood forest. Aside from the extra responsibility and common sense most residents and visitors could apply to road sharing, it would be of great help to have the state and county road departments do a bit more to engineer safety solutions like raised bumps on center lines and shoulders, better reflectors, guard rails in critical places, and paved shoulder lanes where bicyclists can allows motorists to safely pass. This will never happen unless all users of the mountain roads work together in a common cause.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 25, 2013 at 4:37 pm

So by some people's logic, removing bikes from Skyline will be the act that results in the most accident reduction (others have read the accident stats for this road). Its sort of like saying "This electric fan is the problem w/ the hurricane. Unplug it"
No, we all know that the only way to reduce accidents in a significant way, is to light up speeders with tickets. If you're driving the speed limit, suddenly things like slowr drivers or bikes don't "Suddenly appear" like they do when you speed.
No blame, I love to drive fast on Skyline too, but if you want to increase safety, REALLY increase safety, you've got to start a real and prolonged, law enforcement campaign. Ticket them all, whatever vehicle, then sustain the efforts. Also, make it a special fine zone...double fines like on the GG Bridge. If take away the aggressors, the rod will be at peace. This includes bikes.

Posted by Bob Garner, a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I graduated from Skyline High in 1963. I used to race my '61 Corvair along Skyline. I did it at night so you could see the headlights of oncoming cars and stay on your side of the road until they passed.

I was immature and my driving was stupid. No excuses, I did it.

I also did a Nader spin out in that car on skyline but didn't crash.

After I graduated, I was sent to 'Nam. Got shot up but I'm still here.

Anyone remember Dr. George Bliss, Principle, and Mr. Bignami, the enforcer? Or Matty Mateo?

Peggy Fleming went to Skyline and I knew her from Berkeley Iceland.

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