Lawsuit filed after teen
struck in crosswalk
on El Camino Real Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Aug 21, 2012 at 10:27 am
A Menlo Park family is suing a motorist and a number of public agencies, including Menlo Park and Atherton, for negligence and the "dangerous condition of public property" as a result of a 2011 accident that injured teenager Courtney Schrier.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 12:00 AM
Posted by responsibility, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2012 at 10:27 am
The primary responsibility is, of course, the car driver.
However, if there is a pattern of similar tragic crashes on a small stretch of road, then the city does have a responsibility to fix the road to make it safer. If Caltrans owns the road, then lobby them to fix it. Lower the speed limits. Make the crosswalks wider and more visibile. Put up better stop lights or change the timing. There are lots of options. The victims are your friends and neighbors.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Aug 21, 2012 at 11:52 am
This is truly awful. I am so sorry for Ms. Schrier & her family. What does the future hold for her?
I have learned to be careful on that section of ECR due to pedestrians, but it's not an area that lends to caution because it's hard to believe there are pedestrians because it's so unfriendly to them.
Will this prompt the state to work w/local jurisdictions to increase the safety for pedestrians & cyclists who need to cross? Or will there be disappointment, as we've experienced here in EPA, if experts say not to put in a more safety measures?
Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West of Alameda neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2012 at 8:52 pm
Really, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been in front of City Council to discuss the safety of our roads & children. Atherton has a hugh part in not keeping our children safe on our roads. I told them it was only a matter of time before they got sued. One meeting when I brought up safety issues on our roads someone came in to inform a council member someone was just killed. We are a small enough town to fix the problem. Why didn't we.
Posted by Forethought rather than hindsight, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm
This is absolutely awful. I hope it doesn’t take more tragedies and fatalities for the city, town and state to jointly work on pedestrian and bicycle safety on El Camino.
Likewise, I hope the town of Atherton and City of Menlo Park work closely with each other and the area schools to improve the safety of the bicycle lanes on Valparaiso. With all the cars that veer into these lanes to avoid being stuck behind motorists making left turns, the likelihood of a Valparaiso tragedy is very high.
Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2012 at 10:50 pm
This is the email I sent to the City Manager:
Do not tell me we are not apart of that little girl getting killed. All the law firm has to do is play the tapes of me pleading with Atherton over the years to make our streets safer. Theresa you were here at the time you know what I am talking about. That child didn't have to die. I remember I was up in front of City Council talking about the problem with our roads when someone came in and whispered in the mayors ear. Her face turned cold/sad. Someone had been killed on El Camino Real. The next meeting I brought it up again. How many more have to die. It is the towns fault. With as many times that I have brought the safety issue in front of the City Council no jury in there right mind would find our town innocent. We are to blame. The town had the knowledge, and did nothing with it. Our state didn't know. Atherton did. They had a responsibility to work with the state after they were informed of the safety issue. PLAY THE TAPES!!!!!! How many more have to die. Three people and counting. I can go to bed and night knowing my voice fell on def ears. My heart goes out to the family. Scratch that families. Three people have died so far.
Posted by mike prince, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 6:59 am
Listen to all you people. Someone gets hit by a car and your ready to go build a 5 million dollar overpass for bikes at every crosswalk. First coleen, READ the article. It happened in August 2011, not last week. Second, nobody died (girl is fully recovered and running cross country ). Third, i know this was terrible, but the best way to prevent this is looking both ways when you cross the street. EVEN THOUGH you may have the right of way. I swear the false sense os security we build into our society will continue to wean us of common sense and compond the list of VICTIMS. Because when something like this happens to us, we couldnt possibly have any fault in the matter, we must be victims, and sue everyone we can.
Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 8:03 am
Mike you are correct she didn't die. As soon as I read the article it took me back to when I was at a city council meeting pleading for them to make the roads safer, and two blocks from chambers a man with a family was killed on El Camino Real in a cross walk. Atherton is aware of the safety hazard on El Camino Real and has done nothing about it to inform & work with the state. On Middlefield Road they have cross walks that light up. Enough people have been injured, or killed don't you think the city should stop looking the other way on our streets.
Posted by Ranch Gal, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 11:21 am
Another crosswalk tragedy. My dear friend sadly hit a child in a crosswalk on ECR at Stockbridge in Atherton back a few years at Noon in in good weather, with a good driving record and she too was thrown into the air and had pelvic injuries and was hospitalized. She was 14. Thank God she has recovered and is back in school but MY FRIEND WAS CITED by the Atherton Police for sure. He went before a judge, pled guilty to this accident and was given 3 years probation plus 200 hours of community service .... He was 73 at the time. He just didn't see her. No other reason. Tragic but he was punished and the family was satisfied with this punishment. Why then didn't the police cite this BMW driver? I can't fathom the arbitrary and capriciousness of our police dept in doling out justice. Perhaps it was because my dear friend was indigent? The BMW man has money? I hate to think that but what is the reason? Can someone explain to me the reason ? Also the rich attorney who was on prescription drugs driving his Escalade and hit the gas instead of the brake at Mollie Stone severing the leg of the Girl Scout mom selling cookies at the table!!! Permanent injury and HE WAS NEVER CITED either. Go figure!
How about putting BLING BLING lights on all Atherton crosswalks like the folks have on Middlefield Road in Redwood City. Those seem to be effective!
Posted by Former Resident, a resident of another community, on Aug 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm
Please note that the crash happened on California Highway 82, a state highway, which is the responsibility of CalTrans. There is nothng that Atherton can do to this road without the permission of CalTrans -- and little even WITH the permission of CalTrans.
Speed limits are very difficult to lower, this issue is heavily covered in state law to avoid speed traps.
Menlo Park should be out of the lawsuit quickly, since the crash happened in Atherton. Atherton has minimal liability since it is a state highway.
The person who spoke many times at Atherton City Council needs to direct her energies towards the governor and her state legislators. They are the ones who can actually do something on El Camino.
Posted by library traffic, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm
Atherton Town government is about to promote and contribute to another major problem at the intersection of Watkins Avenue and El Camino Real. Mayor Widmer of Atherton has just signed the ballot argument in favor of Measure F which is to locate a major new community center and library in the heart of Holbrook Palmer Park off of Watkins Avenue. The Enviormental Impact Report for this project approved by the Council concluded the Watkins Ave/ECR intersection could not be mitigated in the face of increased traffic caused by the new library location. Mayor Widmer and other signers do not even mention this finding in their argument and have chosen to even mention the intersection. Already the intersection if the subject of much debate and study. It is a very dangerous intersection and the scene of many accidents.
Colleen's letter to the Atherton Council is absolutely correct as they have the moral obligation to fix this problem intersection as well and cannot shift the responsibility to the State. For officials to knowingly support a huge library building that will generate increased traffic and potential for injury is just wrong.
Posted by Norman, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm
Let us hope that a lawsuit doesn't have to be filed one day against the City of Menlo Park for forcing students, especially from Hillview Middle School, to walk and bike unprotected on Santa Cruz Avenue. We should all be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this dangerous situation to persist. (The traffic 'calming' fiasco made it even worse.)
Posted by mike prince, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 12:02 am
Like i said, i cant believe what im reading. Filing lawsuits against a city for FORCING children to bike UNPROTECTED, so what would be protection, a stripe in the road with an international symbol in it? Protects you against NOTHING. Make sure your kids are wary riders, who never merge into a lane or cross a street even with a green light, without taking a peek first. Good lesson in biking and in life.
So i will buckle that those blinky lights are a good attention getter for cars. But has anyone who reads this blog ever seen any installed on a 3 lane state highway before? I looked today and the latest\greatest crosswaks and markings complete with median signs and sharktooth warning is provided across all lanes prior to the crossings· But ive never seen them on a highway. Caltrans probably wont allow them.
Posted by Older Mother, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 1:27 am
I was at this intersection yesterday when a young woman was at the median trying to cross the street. As soon as I saw her, I stopped but cars in lanes to my right continued, some going fairly fast. I don't think they could see the woman until they were in the intersection. Then someone in the lane next to me stopped and the woman started to cross. Someone drove through in the rightmost lane. Eventually all three lanes were stopped and she was able to safely cross. There needs to be some signal like the flashing lights that all drivers approaching the intersection can see indicating a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. Whoever is responsible for this intersection is clearly negligent.
Posted by mike prince, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 6:20 am
The one responsible to stop are the cars. The one ultimatly responsible is the old lady (she didnt make it to old age for no reason). Lights may or may not stop the cars, you still have to look, and teach you kids to look. Drivers are distracted more than ever. No amount of investment will stop that. Quit looking to gov to solve problems and look at yourself, and quit teaching your kids that when something happens you sue everyone. Take responsibility and quit being VICTIMS.
Posted by Ladera Cyclist, a resident of the Portola Valley: Ladera neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm
Mike, you should read the post a bit more carefully before repeating the same point you made in at least two previous posts. The person crossing the street was a young woman, not an old lady.
Yes, pedestrians should look both ways before crossing. But once they are in the crosswalk, it is the responsibility of the cars to stop.
Unfortunately, there are almost no consequences for vehicles who fail to stop (unless there is a police officer present and willing to cite the driver).
You say pedestrians should take responsibility and stop being victims. I say drivers should take RESPONSIBILITY and should remain AWARE of their surroundings at all times and should DRIVE LEGALLY AND DEFENSIVELY.
I for one believe in the rule of law, not the rule of the lug nut.
(In case you are wondering, the lug nut rule is: "He, who has the most lug nuts, wins." Which is pretty much true from a physics perspective.)
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
"A pedestrian crossing the street on a crosswalk must use ordinary care to prevent injury from automobiles. "The care required must be in proportion to the danger to be avoided and the consequences that might be reasonably anticipated...Pedestrians must be alert to the fact that vehicular traffic approaching in multiple lanes, ebbing and flowing with signals, is always dangerous, and doubly so in the night time." [Mendelson vs. Peton (1955) 135 Cal. App. 2d 390.]"
El Camino at Alejandra Avenue is clearly a very dangerous location with "vehicular traffic approaching in multiple lanes, ebbing and flowing with signals, is always dangerous.."
Posted by Mike prince, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm
Ladara cyclist. [Portion removed; be respectful of other posters.] I was responding to the blog right above mine where a person was describing a "woman" crossing in the crosswalk. I hope you heed my warning to look both ways, and remember to walk you bike across crosswalks as the law dictates, or you could be next. But I'm sure you take crossing these with much responsibility...spread the word.
Posted by Clarification, a resident of another community, on Aug 25, 2012 at 10:22 am
No, the law does not require it explicitly.
The law does say cars must yield to PEDESTRIANS in crosswalks. If you're riding your bike, you're not a pedestrian. Obviously, this doesn't give motorists the "green light" to run over bicyclists in crosswalks, but the law doesn't afford bicyclists the protections they would have if they walked their bike in the crosswalk.
21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to
a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or
within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise
provided in this chapter.
467. (a) A "pedestrian" is a person who is afoot or who is using
any of the following: (1) A means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a
231. A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride,
propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears,
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2012 at 10:27 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Per 21200 (a): "Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning (DUI)."
Per 21650.1: "A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the SAME DIRECTION as vehicles are required to be driven on the roadway."
Finally, 21950 (a) states, "The driver of a vehicle (which is also defined as a bicycle) shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian" within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2012 at 11:02 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
If a crosswalk did run parallel to an adjacent roadway then the bicyclist would only be permitted by section 21650.1 to ride in the same direction as the cars in the adjacent portion of the roadway. Clearly bicyclists may not ride in the the roadway in the oposite direction of vehicles in that roadway.
However, since vehicles are not permitted to drive in, versus cross over, a crosswalk I read section 21200 (a) to also prohibit bicycles riding in, versus crossing over, a crosswalk.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2012 at 7:41 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
But the law as stated only protects pedestrians in crosswalks and if bicyclists are not pedestrians ("A pedestrian is a person on foot or who uses a conveyance such as roller skates, skateboard, etc., other than a bicycle.") then they would not be included in that protection.
"And that brings us to crosswalks. By definition, under Section 275 of the California Vehicle Code a crosswalk is an extension of the sidewalk across the intersection. Thus, generally speaking, the legality of riding within the crosswalk will be determined by whether or not it is legal to ride on the sidewalk. If it is legal to ride on the sidewalk, it is also legal to ride within the crosswalk; if it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk, it is also illegal to ride in the crosswalk. This is the general rule; state laws may specifically address riding in the crosswalk, but where no such state law exists, the legality of riding in the crosswalk will be determined by the legality of riding on the sidewalk."
"In fact, it’s as legal for a cyclist to ride through an intersection in the crosswalk as it is for the cyclist to ride through the intersection in a traffic lane. When the cyclist is in the traffic lane, the law treats the cyclist as a vehicle operator; when the cyclist is in the crosswalk, the law treats the cyclist as a pedestrian (albeit, a pedestrian who must respect the right of way of pedestrians who are on foot—and because the cyclist is a pedestrian under the law while riding on the sidewalk, the cyclist has the duty to exercise the same caution as a pedestrian when entering the crosswalk; thus, incautiously entering the crosswalk at speed would be as illegal for the cyclist as it would be for the pedestrian)."
Posted by Clarification, a resident of another community, on Aug 26, 2012 at 11:46 am
Interesting, Menlo Voter. The state of CA law seems to indicate that it is legal to ride across the cross-walk if the local muni code allows riding on a sidewalk.
Menlo Park prohibits riding in commercial areas: 11.56.120 Restriction of operation of bicycles on business district pedestrian facilities. It is unlawful for any person to ride or operate a bicycle on any sidewalk within any business or commercial districts and zones within the city. (Ord. 900 § 1, 2000).
Atherton does not prohibit riding bikes on sidewalks.
In the case in question, I think the bicyclist started crossing El Camino Real in Atherton, so it would be legal to ride across El Camino Real. (Had they started in Menlo Park, it might have been illegal.)
The above all deals with the criminal aspect of this incident.
Interestingly, the CA Court of Appeals just rendered a decision on a similar lawsuit at the end of July 2012. While it doesn't debate the legality of riding while crossing, it does give some indication of how this lawsuit is going to resolve.
Posted by Peter, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 12:42 am
Suggest calling Simitian's office as it has been involved with the State re that area of El Camino.
To Clarification - the case you sighted states there had been no other accidents at the intersection involving pedestrians or bicycle sine 1999 when they started collecting stats - a very different situation than the Atherton case at hand.
Carpenter - the DMV online manual regarding safety tips for bicyclists - "Approach the intersection staying on the right. Stop and either cross as a pedestrian in the crosswalk, or make a 90 degree left turn and proceed as if you were coming from the right. If there is a signal light, wait for the green or WALK signal before crossing. Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk." The DMV diagram shows the bicyclist riding up on the sidewalk to the crosswalk and then crossing the street within the crosswalk. Web Link
And Carpenter the CA VC specifically allows bicycles in/on highway crosswalks.
V C Section 21650 Right Side of Roadway
Right Side of Roadway
21650. Upon all highways, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway, except as follows:
(g) This section does not prohibit the operation of bicycles on any shoulder of a highway, on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.
If she was hit while on the Atherton side she was most definitely allowed to ride in the crosswalk -- Menlo Park side not sure.
Posted by Peter, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 12:50 am
My last sentence does not apply to the girl mentioned in the article as she was not on a bicycle but was on foot - a pedestrian.
As to crossing as a pedestrian w/i the crosswalk at that specific T-intersection - I know from 1st hand experience that it is very dangerous at times. State law requires that if one car is stopped at the crosswalk then all other vehicles must stop. Unfortunately that rarely happens at that intersection. Crossing the Alejandra crosswalk should be an episode of Survivor.
Posted by Clarification, a resident of another community, on Aug 28, 2012 at 7:46 am
"To Clarification - the case you sighted states there had been no other accidents at the intersection involving pedestrians or bicycle sine 1999 when they started collecting stats - a very different situation than the Atherton case at hand."
That was a key part of the disputed aspect of the case taken up by the Court of Appeals. There had been several accidents in the area, but none of them were at the place where the accident in question occurred. They were splitting hairs over mile markers, tenths of miles, causes, etc. The Court sided with the original court that the accidents need to have occurred at the same location.
I think that's pretty much the same with our stretch of El Camino. There have been pedestrian and bike accidents in recent years from Isabella to Alejandra. But, how many have repeated in the same location?
I don't dispute that El Camino between Fifth and Encinal is dangerous. Cars build up speed because there's only one signal. Crossing on foot or on bike (or even car) is high risk. CalTrans needs to put in more signals, either for pedestrians or cars, or both.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:51 am
Here are some ideas that might make El Camino and other streets safer. Mid block crosswalks with one or more of the following. Signals, full traffic light, safety islands, lighted signs, full markings, no car parking near crosswalk, set back from intersections. Narrow lanes, lower speed limits, better bike and walking paths.
Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm
Agree: "But the law as stated only protects pedestrians in crosswalks and if bicyclists are not pedestrians ("A pedestrian is a person on foot or who uses a conveyance such as roller skates, skateboard, etc., other than a bicycle.") then they would not be included in that protection."
Automobiles must yield to pedestrians at intersections and crosswalks (whether or not the crosswalks are marked). Bicyclists sitting on their seat must obey rules for vehicles. Traffic must yield to bicyclists walking their bicycles.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Aug 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm
Just because they make laws and rules that the laws will be followed. Look at the right away, how many people both pedestrians, drivers and those on bicyclists. Too many people trying to assert their right away, not paying attention or just walking out in to traffic. Trying crossing any major street, see how many will stop or just speed right by you while you already halfway across the street.
Posted by Randy Lamb, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm
I too have spoken at Atherton Town Council meetings numerous times over the last 5 years pleading to the Council to install traffic lights at Watkins and El Camino. Public safety should be job one for our town.
Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm
There are regional and cultural issue as well. I am cautious but very comfortable watching young children cross at key intersections in many of the beach cities of southern California. Drivers know and practice safe stopping for pedestrians. Call it education, awareness, or habit, it works there, in a way we rarely see in Menlo Park & Atherton.
Posted by Peter, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:41 am
I believe there have been at least three accidents involving peds or bikes at the Alejandra crossing on El Camino. At least two peds accidents in the last year or two. Suggest checking with MP and Ath PDs for numbers and details. There have been auto vs auto accidents at the intersection.