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Vehicles turning right pose a danger to cyclists and pedestrians

Uploaded: Mar 20, 2022
Last week I biked to Ace Hardware, just over a mile from my home, and when I came back I thought “Whoa, that was not fun.” There are some big four-way intersections on the way there, two lanes of traffic each way filled with impatient drivers. While the intersections are well-marked and have pedestrian crossing buttons and bike lanes, I was confident that the drivers were not seeing me.

Then yesterday I was heartbroken to read about the death of a Graham Middle School student who was struck on a bike by a heavy truck that was turning right onto El Camino Real. (This accident is still under investigation and no cause has been established.)

What do the drivers below all have in common? They are turning right and looking left. You have done this. We all do this. The question is, do we also look right?


Many drivers fail to look right when they are making right turns. If they see no oncoming traffic on their left, they proceed with their turn. I have found myself doing this, for example when pulling onto Central Expressway. Yet I am keenly aware of the danger, ever since a friend of mine was struck on his bike by a right-turning car on the Cisco campus. He was thrown over the windshield, and despite wearing a helmet he suffered brain damage that transformed his life from that moment onwards.

Researchers at the University of Toronto are verifying our intuition that drivers are not looking where they should be. They have been studying driver awareness by tracking the drivers’ eye movements while navigating, and they are seeing an alarming number of “visual scan failures”. In a small study of relatively experienced drivers done in 2018, over half did not look for cyclists or pedestrians when turning right. A subsequent study found similar results, and now they are expanding their testing.

A particularly egregious instance of this problem is right turns on red lights. These turns became legal throughout the United States based in part on a misunderstanding of statistics. Numerous studies showed no statistically significant difference in collisions at intersections after right turns on red were allowed. The problem was that all of these studies were undersized, so the bar for statistical significance was very high. The results were understood to be “There is no difference” rather than “We do not have enough data to show statistical significance.” In fact, when the results of all the studies were combined, there was a statistically significant increase in injuries and fatalities from allowing right turns on red lights.

A 1984 review of literature estimated that pedestrian crashes increased by about 60% at those intersections where right on red was allowed, and cyclist crashes by about 100%. A 1995 study found that while the number of right-on-red crashes is relatively small, 22% involve pedestrians or cyclists, and nearly all of those (93%) involve injuries. In our area we have a much higher proportion of cyclists than in the four states where those results were found, and our roads and our sidewalks have only gotten busier.

The Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Safety describes the effect as follows: “Motorists are so intent on looking for traffic approaching on their left that they may not be alert to pedestrians on their right. In addition motorists usually pull up into the crosswalk to wait for a gap in traffic, blocking pedestrian crossing movements. In some instances, motorists simply do not come to a full stop.”


New York City does not allow right turns on red except when signed otherwise. But everywhere else in the United States they are allowed by default. As our cities have gotten more crowded, and as we are encouraging more people to bike and walk, shouldn’t we be much more careful with these turns at busy intersections?


Signage at a busy intersection adjacent to Walter Hayes Elementary School prohibits right turns on red when children are present (in fine print below the main sign), and also alerts drivers turning on green to the presence of pedestrians.

Right turns on green are no picnic for cyclists either, even when they are in the bike lane, because of the danger of the “right hook”, where a right-turning vehicle cuts off a cyclist or pedestrian who is going straight with the light.


The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition recommends that cars and bikes merge into one another’s lanes at intersections. Source: sfbike.org

Efforts to reduce serious injuries and fatalities, referred to as “Vision Zero” efforts, have been designed across many cities, including San Francisco and San Jose, and to some extent the Bay Area more generally. When you see “bulb-outs” being retrofitted into intersections near you, it’s because they reduce turn speed, reduce crosswalk distance, and increase visibility.


Bulb-outs reduce the frequency of near-misses in intersections. Source: Toronto Road Safety Seminar

I don’t want to suggest that right turns, or even turns more generally, are the main cause of pedestrian and cyclist injuries. An analysis done in Toronto showed that the primary issue there is people getting hit while jaywalking.


Analysis of pedestrian accidents in Toronto. Source: Toronto Road Safety Seminar

You can find a map of where accidents are occurring in your city here, and you can filter to look for those involving pedestrians or cyclists. Our cities need to prioritize speed enforcement, red-light running, and more, while also working to make turns and intersections safer.

In the meantime, we should pay attention to University of Toronto Professor Birsen Donmez, who summed up the results of her 2018 study as follows: "The takeaway for pedestrians and cyclists: drivers aren't seeing you. Not necessarily because they're bad drivers, but that their attention is too divided," added Donmez. "When crossing a street, your assumption should be that the car doesn't see you."

That is something we all need to remember as we walk and bike around town.

Notes and References
1. According to StreetsBlog, the 1975 “Energy Policy and Savings Act” required states to allow right turns on red in order to receive certain federal funds.

Current Climate Data (February 2022)
Global impacts, US impacts, CO2 metric, Climate dashboard

From the Washington Post earlier this week…


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Comments

 +   10 people like this
Posted by SRB, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 7:34 am

SRB is a registered user.

I personally would eliminate all right on reds for all the safety reasons you listed.

In the meantime -until eternity?-, there are ways crosswalks could be improved by adding advanced stop lines or shark teeth so that vehicles stop a few feet away from the crosswalk not right at its edge. Also using piano keys/zebra stripings can help make a crosswalk more visible.

As a Europeran transplant, I was also wondering how these Right on Reds came about.
Interestingly,their use increased a lot due to the Oil Crisis in the 70s as a way to save energy see:

Web Link


 +   17 people like this
Posted by [email protected], a resident of Portola Valley,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 7:37 am

[email protected] is a registered user.

Some other risks that I see often that should be considered.
1- Bicyclists riding the wrong way in the street. As a vehicle driver I check for traffic coming both ways but my last check when making a right turn is to the left. If a cyclist is coming from the right on the side of the road they are at risk.
2- Cyclists and pedestrians entering the crosswalk area after the don't walk sign has turned red. The last second person rushing to cross against the "Don't Walk", again is getting into the danger area after even a careful driver has checked for making a safe turn but is looking for oncoming traffic from the left.
3-Cyclists at dusk or at night wearing dark/black clothing with no lights or reflectors on their means of transport which may be a bike or a scooter or a skateboard or any of a host of other means of increasing speed coming from either the right or left of the turning vehicle. These are also known as organ doaners.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 7:37 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Another big problem is that when lights turn green the walk sign comes on and pedestrians start to cross. This is counter intuitive as a green light normally means it is time to go except that it isn't if you are turning right into a crosswalk.

At times you even get bikes using that crosswalk from the opposite direction and appear to be on the wrong side of the street and move faster than pedestrians.

Many of the driving rules were invoked for less pedestrians and less bikes. In other countries, bikes have their own green/red sequence in the lights. I know that the Middlefield/Loma Verde light needs to be updated because there are often so many pedestrians/bikes crossing that the light can sometimes change back to red before a turn can be made due to the volume of bikes going to school and pedestrians wanting to get to Philz.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 7:54 am

Resident is a registered user.

i used to drive professionally and ive developed an intrinsic habit of always looking to the right and checking the sidewalks and bike lanes. i even do it out of habit when theres no bike lanes. cyclists should not be riding through the crosswalk. get off and walk your bike. its called a crossWALK


 +   7 people like this
Posted by KOhlson, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 10:56 am

KOhlson is a registered user.

Interesting topic and great link to the Berkeley TMS site. In town, I ride my bike to do virtually all errands, and ride for exercise a few times a week. So I say this with some personal certainty: People who think we can solve transportation/traffic/parking issues by using bikes are more than a little disconnected from local reality. Cars are a big part of the problem, but they're not the only issue. Professor Donmez has it right - assume cars don't see you. And as my mother used to say, you can be dead right.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 12:45 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

It can be left turns too!
Cars are not the problem. Its' the drivers of the cars that are the problem.

Thirty-One years ago: I was peddling my bike on Homestead Road, just crossed the overpass going downhill at a good clip into Loa Altos where Homestead Road becomes Grant Road.

I was training for Coors Lite National Biathlon Championship, a Run-Bike-Run competition, having qualified for the event the previous month in San Jose.

Cars were whizzing by me on my left as I approached the intersection, I had a green light as did the cars on my left. I had the bike lane to myself. An impatient sixty-nine-year-old female driver turned left, at high speed in between the traffic and smacked me.

She never saw me, never looked, she was determined to turn left with total disregard for cyclist in the bike lane.

My body broke the front passenger window, broke the windshield, crumbled the passenger door, crumbled the right front fender. I was airlifted to Stanford. The EMT could not start a transfusion, "because of internal injuries the exterior limbs blood flow stops, concentrates on the body core".

My body in shock was bleeding everywhere, in the collision my helmet was fractured, split open. I had multiple broken ribs, punctured collapsed lung, lacerated kidney, perforated colon, bruised heart muscle. Broken right leg, later fitted with prosthesis.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 5:04 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Vehicles in general pose a danger to cyclists and pedestrians. When I'm driving I try to make eye contact with pedestrians in a crosswalk. Cyclists usually don't look my way, but they should. The vehicle will always win, and in the long run -- everybody loses.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Jo, a resident of Del Prado,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 7:34 pm

Jo is a registered user.

Dont worry Jennifer we see you. I know I'm going to lose against a 3000+lb vehicle..so I see you.

First of all I am a cyclist and a racer. I know most hate us and frankly I hate some other cyclist too, but driver's wholly fudge you are crazy too. For every stupid cyclist I see 5 stupid drivers.

Bikes also dont belong on the sidewalk.. I might give a pass to young kids but they need to stop at all driveways and intersections and I mean stop and also must be going with the flow of traffic . Runners too just running through intersections like nobody else exist. I hate that. Ok I H8ppl :)


 +   3 people like this
Posted by JR, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 4:20 am

JR is a registered user.

Sherry: I totally agree that this is an important and complex issue. I had not heard about the young student -- so tragic. You have a lot of info in your piece and there are many permutations to this so it could be useful to try to identify the range of logical actions and bring thoughts and specific suggestions to the local transportation/bicycle commissions for review. For starters, there may be notable intersections where risk levels are particularly high -- and perhaps our cities have accident data to prove it -- because of school/commute related bike traffic AND permitted righ-on-red turns at all hours, along with poor road markings and signage. Among those locations there can be surely be reason to act and restrict or eliminate those turns or test improved signage options, as examples. Getting specific with real intersections and suggestions is a good starting point. There are many issues at play here, including need for better education, enhanced enforcement, etc., but it can be useful to start with advocating for action in a couple of known trouble spots and then building from there.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 9:34 am

Alan is a registered user.

There are a number of places near my home in Belle Haven that even have "no right turn" red lights and cross walks that drivers regularly blow through without stopping. One is on Willow Road southbound, at the US-101 Northbound on-ramp, just before the bridge/overpass. This place is very well labelled, with a clear "no right turn on red" sign, and a traffic light with a red arrow; yet I have stood at that corner - several times - with the walk sign on, waiting to cross as multiple cars blow through at full speed. As a pedestrian, you need to be paranoid. (I have also stopped there as a driver for a red light, and had an impatient car go around me through the light.) Another intersection is where Marsh Road meets Bayfront Expressway, in front of Bedwell/Bayfront Park; just because the "walk" light is on you can't trust the car turning right to stop, in spite of a well-lit no-right turn light. It really is appalling.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Daphne Taylor, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 9:40 am

Daphne Taylor is a registered user.

When the traffic light is green, many cars continue to make their right turns without stopping for pedestrians crossing the street that the cars are turning onto.

This is very dangerous and I have actually felt a car brush by me.

As for bicyclists, too many of them use the roadway instead of the bike lanes when turning left. They should be using the signal & crosswalks even though it is more time consuming. Since bikes are not licensed by the DMV, they have no right or reason to be blocking cars in traffic.

The motorcyclists who weave between cars to get ahead of the line is also very dangerous and this practice should also be outlawed.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Paul Ranier, a resident of another community,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 3:42 pm

Paul Ranier is a registered user.

When a negligent right-turning car abruptly cuts in front of him while he is in the crosswalk, our elderly neighbor cusses at the driver and hits the car with his cane.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Jo, a resident of Del Prado,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 6:44 pm

Jo is a registered user.

[portion removed] Bikes are vehicles and allowed to use the road for left turns. [portion removed]


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Jo, a resident of Del Prado,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 7:06 pm

Jo is a registered user.

since my comment has been edited by the powers that be ?

Motorist please educate yourselves on the law and vehicle codes. As a car driver as well I know them.
and yes I pay taxes so I have a right to use the roads, even for left turns. Sorry if I cost you 3 seconds of your day.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:43 pm

Robert Neff is a registered user.

Thanks for the excellent article.
One thing to note: "Pedestrians are mostly at fault due to J-walking" is really a statement that the infrastructure is not designed for pedestrian traffic and convenience, but for motorized traffic convenience. Plenty of pedestrians look at the situation, and decide not to wait. That was me, yesterday, at Foothill crossing Arastradero, a red light, and no traffic within 200 yards, and choosing not to wait for an additional 60 seconds(!!) of traffic signal delay. It's all the cyclists and pedestrians that cross "against the light" at Bryant, crossing Oregon, because they are not well served by the 90+ seconds of green for Oregon, and they figure they can make it during the opposing Bryant green phase. So to imply that J-walking is the sole fault of pedestrians, and that traffic engineers are not responsible is a cop-out whenever the average pedestrian delay is above 50 seconds, which is true crossing most of our arterials.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by JR, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 10:29 am

JR is a registered user.

Robert. I don't think that impatience, although we have all experience it, is much of an excuse. Unless the signals are smart devices which can shorten pedestrian wait time when no cars are close, it's just the way it works. Perhaps if it's a persistent issue the city can recalibrate.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Paul Gerrity, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 11:25 am

Paul Gerrity is a registered user.

I always slow down for j-walkers but they cross at their own risk as other drivers often ignore them.

J-walk at one's own risk or simply use the crosswalks. That is what crosswalks are there for.

Pedestrians do not deserve any special privileges if they are in violation of the law.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Steve+Dabrowski, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 4:29 pm

Steve+Dabrowski is a registered user.

A real problem that contributes to this issue is the growing dependence on safety measures to keep us safe. Traffic lights, crosswalks, bike lanes, concrete channels for bikes, etc. People begin to place their trust in these measures to keep them safe when riding a bicycle.

In my fifty plus years of riding I can think of no time where I trusted these items more than I trusted (and continue to trust) my own senses and judgement. Riding a bicycle (and a motorcycle for that matter) is much like a fighter pilot in combat, you need to be aware of what is in front, back and every other angle to survive. Not easy but constant practice does form good habits.

I seldom cozy up to the curb when stopped at an intersection, rather I just stay centered in the roadway directly behind a car in front of me or if at the front I still maintain my position center lane (this allows right turning cars to pass beside me and make their turn) and cross when the light turns. The painted bike lane arrow on many streets is a reasonable place to wait.

Another useless safety item is the crossing button-these are invariably placed on light poles or posts several feet from the street and can only be accessed by getting up on or snuggling up to the walk-useless for a cyclist on the street!

You want increased safety then cultivate your senses and develop your judgement and become aware of your surroundings. Learn to depend on yourself.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 5:54 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

@Steve, I generally agree with you about self-awareness and defensive driving. But I'm an adult. We have kids with under-developed brain capacity who are biking and walking places (there's a reason they aren't yet licensed to drive!)

Should we attempt to train them to be more careful? Sure. But ignoring the role of the built environment or the increasingly distracted adults behind the while of increasingly heavy vehicles is passing the buck.

For far too long we have designed roads that are forgiving of driver lapses in judgment/concentration (e.g. wide, straight lanes with few obstacles)"and systems that maximize efficient vehicular throughput"while ignoring the fact that these qualities actually increase the danger and discomfort for cyclists and pedestrians (e.g. by encouraging increased driving speeds, widening roads, and including a lower-than-optimal number of signalized pedestrian crossings/bike lanes).

Changing our laws about right turns on red would cause some driver delay but reduce injuries. Increasing the number of signalized crossings of major streets such as El Camino would make those streets less efficient for drivers seeking to get from point A to point B"but more efficient for pedestrians seeking to get from point A to point B. Narrowing wide lanes and adding bike lanes, pedestrian refuges, etc., tends to cause drivers to slow down, which in turn gives them better peripheral awareness and response time (and reduces the likelihood of severe injury/death).

For more color on this topic from an actual traffic engineer, check out some of Charles Marohn's writing. Here are two classics:
Web Link
Web Link


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 12:34 am

Robert Neff is a registered user.

After I wrote the previous message about wait times I remembered the big problem that causes J-walking, and J-walking injury and fatailities: Wide, fast streets, with infrequent controlled crossings, but homes on one side, and destinations on the other. If the choice is walk 1/4 to 1/2 mile out of the way instead of just looking for a break and crossing, many will just cross. Would you walk 1/2 mile extra to get to the store? 300 yards to use a signalized crossing? (Would I go out of my way by bicycle, if I knew I could save a good distance by riding the wrong way on the sidewalk? I often make that choice now to get to a destination on Charleston.)
Many of the injuries and fatalities identified in San Jose's Vision Zero work are along streets like Monterey Road, where someone chose not to walk to the "legal" crossing. (These also tend to happen at night, when the pedestrian is poorly seen, or poorly illuminated, and may not estimate the traffic well either.) A fatality in Palo Alto crossing Charleston happened when a woman parked on the South side of Charleston, and tried to cross mid-block to get to Stevenson House. It is everyone's fault when we set up infrastructure that encourages dangerous risk taking.

Actually El Camino has been improved in recent years with respect to this, after years of consistent pedestrian fatalities between San Francisco and San Jose. CalTrans has installed many new pedestrian crossing lights called "HAWK" signals added where there had been only painted crosswalks in the past. There are 5 or 6 in Palo Alto now.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Deborah, a resident of Old Towne,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 9:42 am

Deborah is a registered user.

Thanks for this very informative article. It might save many lives! I know I sometimes don't look to the right when making a right at an intersection. I will be sure to do that from now on.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Tim, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 10:08 am

Tim is a registered user.

Most of these problems are caused by poorly designed intersections. Most designers are more concerned about not obstructing flow of motor vehicle traffic and he little or no concern for pedestrian or cyclist safety. Cars should be stopped at least 10 feet back from crosswalks to prevent drivers from blocking crosswalks when turning. When a walk signal is on the light soils be red and no turns in red allowed. Bike lanes should continue through intersections and be to the left of trueness lanes.

The fact that all of the very common sense design elements are rarely seen is proof the designers are largly incompetent at good intersection design.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Bob M., a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 11:04 am

Bob M. is a registered user.

Street lights also deserve some scrutiny. Their standard height is quite high, presumably to cover maximum territory with at least minimal lighting. But at intersections, far more light is needed for drivers to see cyclists and walkers clearly. All that's needed to accomplish this is to lower the street lights to the same height as traffic signals. Since this would usually entail reducing their height by half, the resulting light shining on the crosswalks in the intersections would be 4 times brighter"without burning a single extra watt of electricity.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Sharon P, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 11:27 am

Sharon P is a registered user.

Thank you for the thorough article. As a bicyclist I see drivers being inattentive to other road users every day. To Drivers - nothing will ruin your day like injuring or killing a bicyclist or pedestrian (especially a child). How would you feel? Is the extra 5 seconds you save really worth it?

Unfortunately our police departments and DAs don't hold drivers accountable when they injure or even kill a bicyclist or pedestrian. Enforcement needs to be stepped up.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Sharon P, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 11:32 am

Sharon P is a registered user.

In response to Tim. Most intersections in our communities were designed under 1970's guidelines to speed flow of vehicle traffic. These intersections are expensive to redo. The problem is City governments prioritize other things. Talk to your City Council about the need to make our cities safer. If we don't make streets safer for pedestrians & bicyclists we won't get people out of their cars and will be unable to mitigate climate change.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Adrian LaPierre, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 11:35 am

Adrian LaPierre is a registered user.

"Unfortunately our police departments and DAs don't hold drivers accountable when they injure or even kill a bicyclist or pedestrian. Enforcement needs to be stepped up."

^ Charges of felony manslaughter with mandatory sentencing would step things up.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 11:54 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Unfortunately, it is true to say that bicyclists are often invisible. I say this respectfully. While stopped at traffic lights it is possible that a bike can approach a large vehicle on the right hand side and then be in the driver's blind spot. This is particularly true with trucks. It is particularly true with vehicles that are stopped in the broken stripe bike lane with its right turn light flashing.

Many bike riders stop at a red light beside a turning vehicle rather than wait behind the vehicle. This is particularly true when thinking about younger riders who have not had the experience of driving to understand how difficult it is to see what is approaching on the right in the driver's blind spot.

I'm not excusing drivers from being more alert, but I am trying to explain what may happen and what children on bikes don't have the experience to understand.

To all bike riders of any age, if you are approaching a red light and there is a vehicle with its blinker flashing a right turn, wait behind the vehicle rather than ride up to the light! It is the safe thing to do.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a DanvilleSanRamon.com blogger,
on Mar 24, 2022 at 10:54 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@All: Thank you for these really fantastic and perceptive comments. You are really seeing what I am seeing too.

@Michael: Yours is a terrifying story, and you were simply going through a green light. The woman just did not see you, and you paid an enormous price. So often I also hear "the sun was in my eyes".

@Alan relates a slew of serious problems around visibility and awareness and impatience. I agree with all, and your assessment that it is "appalling". I am particularly galled when a vehicle does something right (e.g., wait for a pedestrian) and cars behind honk or go around.

@Steve summarizes it as: “Riding a bicycle (and a motorcycle for that matter) is much like a fighter pilot in combat, you need to be aware of what is in front, back and every other angle to survive.” That's not too far from the truth, but it's also too much to expect of younger folks, and it also doesn't bode well for getting people out of cars.

As many of you point out, road design has traditionally been to optimize vehicle flow, and can come at the expense of pedestrian/cyclist convenience and/or safety. Do we want to shift the balance?

Many people in Palo Alto complain about "road furniture", but it is just this furniture that is designed to slow down cars and make the streets safer, and adjust this balance.

Some more of you make great points:

@Stan talks about cyclists who don't light up at night. They can be nearly impossible to see.

@Bystander mentions the huge blind spots of trucks. Here is a great diagram of that.



@Sharon mentions the need for enforcement. Speed kills.

And @Tim talks about the importance of intersection design. Agreed.

I really enjoyed this video of a Toronto traffic engineer talking about what they are doing and why. Some of the things he mentioned:

1. The possibility of *raised* intersections or crosswalks. They are expensive but effective -- better visibility, slower speeds -- and when road work is needed it is something to consider.

2. The easy/important fix of pedestrian head starts. This makes pedestrians crossing easier to see, and gives drivers more time to see them. It can help with left turns, for example.

3. Lowering speeds. Arterials are 20% of roads but 80% of the "killed or seriously injured". Can we slow down traffic or substantially improve safety on these?

4. Road furniture, narrower lanes, etc, to help slow down vehicles and make them drive more cautiously. This is also what the traffic engineer in @kbehroozi's links talks about.

Anyway, I really appreciate all the discussion about this. I also appreciate @JR's comments about how to advocate more effectively. I should learn more about who is doing this work in our cities, what they are prioritizing and why, and what pushback they get. A big question is how much do we want to optimize safety of cyclists and pedestrians at the possible inconvenience of drivers?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 24, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Something definitely needs to be done to the Loma Verde/Middlefield light. There are too many turning vehicles, parked vehicles (some illegally), pedestrians, bikes and people running out of Philz with coffee, seeing a walk signal and running out even though a car may have already started a turn. This happened to me today and since I had already started turning before he ran from the coffee shop it was very fortunate for all that nothing happened.

I would suggest this is the most dangerous intersection in south Palo Alto.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Mondoman, a resident of Green Acres,
on Mar 24, 2022 at 10:59 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

"When crossing a street, your assumption should be that the car doesn't see you."
Yes, this is so important, and not just at intersections. If I can't see that I'm making eye contact with a driver, I will sometimes even walk behind the car! Also, when cars block the crosswalk, I often make eye contact, smile and wave at them as I am passing the front of their car.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Seer, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 25, 2022 at 10:55 am

Seer is a registered user.

Cars should be paying attention for you. Cars should have automated human detection and avoidance systems. My startup just build one of these out of off the shelf parts to provide safety for outdoor machinery. It was $300 in unit cost of one.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by d page, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 26, 2022 at 6:40 pm

d page is a registered user.

For those of you not familiar with the educational, well-produced, and hilarious Climate Town series, this episode includes an explanation of the term "jaywalker":

Web Link


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a DanvilleSanRamon.com blogger,
on Mar 30, 2022 at 7:38 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@dpage, thanks, that is a great video!

For those of you in Santa Clara County, you can report concerns about specific locations here, at least until April 22: https://tjkmweb.wixsite.com/vtalrsp


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