Northern California - bicyclist killed by big rig on Alpine Road (Portola Valley) near I-280 this afternoon
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11-04-10, 07:53 PM
Details are sketchy right now. Hopefully the article will be updated as news comes in.
11-04-10, 10:03 PM
Stay safe guys and gals.. =(
11-05-10, 01:01 AM
Terrible news. My thought go out to everyone involved.
I first heard about the accident from a motorist whilst waiting at the Sandhill traffic lights
Hopefully a witness will come forward toshed some light on what happened.
Keep safe out there
11-05-10, 01:04 AM
I used to drive by there everyday... Sad day indeed...
Heart felt feelings to the family :(
11-05-10, 10:10 AM
The cyclist has been identified as Lauren Ward, 47. The driver reportedly "Did not see her". RIP Lauren.
11-05-10, 11:53 AM
Los Altos Hills woman killed in collision with big-rig near Portola Valley
By Jesse Dungan
Daily News Staff Writer
San Jose Mercury News
Posted:11/05/2010 08:54:01 AM PDT
A 47-year-old woman from Los Altos Hills was killed in a collision with a big-rig on Alpine Road near Portola Valley on Thursday afternoon, and investigators said they are looking for witnesses to the "tragic accident."
Both Lauren Perdriau Ward and a 26-wheel truck were going west on Alpine Road and approaching Interstate 280 when they collided at about 3:40 p.m, said California Highway Patrol Officer Art Montiel. The big-rig was in the far right hand lane but before the highway onramp, according to Montiel, and the collision occurred on the left side of the truck. She was found between the right rear tires, Montiel said. There is no bike lane on Alpine Road. It is unclear whether the truck driver intended to enter the highway onramp or was continuing straight.
"At this point, we have no idea how it happened and no witnesses at this time," Montiel said Thursday night. "It appears it was just a tragic, tragic accident."
The driver of the big-rig stopped after the crash and provided a statement to investigators, but Montiel said the CHP is withholding it so as not to influence statements from other potential witnesses.
"It appears they were both traveling the same direction, westbound on Alpine, and for God knows what reason, she either ended up moving toward the truck or the truck moved to her," Montiel said.
Alpine Road is regularly used by bicyclists and it appears Ward was exercising when the crash occurred, Montiel said. She was wearing a helmet and sports clothes; a plastic water bottle was also found at the scene.
The truck driver is a man in his 40s and the vehicle belonged to Randazzo Enterprises, Montiel said. According to its website, Randazzo is a Castroville-based demolition contractor that serves northern and central California.
Anyone with information regarding the crash is asked to call the CHP at 650-369-6261.
Bay Area News Group staff writer Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.
Sadly enough, maybe an accident like this will help bring attention to that notorious intersection. Not really sure what they can do to make it more safe and efficient, but then again, I'm not a civil engineer. Very sad story, since I'm sure everybody on this forum has ridden through that intersection.
The sightlines heading west toward 280 seem pretty clear to me. This part of the story puzzles me:
The big-rig was in the far right hand lane but before the highway onramp, according to Montiel, and the collision occurred on the left side of the truck. She was found between the right rear tires, Montiel said.
Does this mean she was sucked in underneath the truck from the left and ended up in the right rear tires? This is so sad there were no witnesses. The Pagemill and Alpine approaches to 280 are always a bit nervous for me, and this story gives me more reason to be very aware of the traffic on those stretches. RIP.
The bike lane there is between the lanes of auto traffic. Autos on both left and right of a rider. Truck drifts left or a car drifts right. Lots of things can go wrong. It's a tragedy regardless of how or why.
11-05-10, 12:45 PM
Alpine & I-280 has northbound on-ramps before the freeway and southbound on-ramps after the freeway. Could be the truck merged into the northbound on-ramp, passing to the right of the bicyclist who had to be going straight. Then the truck driver decided that he was heading for the wrong on-ramp and veered left into the bicyclist.
11-05-10, 12:53 PM
If that article is correct, it almost seems like she might have been passing the truck; thinking it was getting on the freeway.
Why else would they be positioned as described?
11-05-10, 01:19 PM
Unlikely that the bicyclist passed the truck going uphill. More likely that the truck passed the bicyclist, then wobbled left for some reason.
11-05-10, 03:27 PM
The Pagemill and Alpine approaches to 280 are always a bit nervous for me, and this story gives me more reason to be very aware of the traffic on those stretches. RIP.
Page Mill and 280 should definitely have traffic signals (or a large roundabout), or some better traffic control than stop signs.
- The delay in getting off the freeway during commute hours, particularity the AM peak hours for the 280 SB off ramp, is way way too high. Delaying drivers, and making them more hurried.
- The intersection covers a vast section of land (it's spread out) making some drivers confused about the order of arrivals, and going out of turn. I have almost been hit (in my car) from someone punching the gas pedal when it was not their turn, and I have seen a cyclist nearly run over by another car as well.
Why that intersection is not signalized is beyond me... The volume of cars, and bikes, is pretty high. Safety would be improved with signals.
Not sure about Alpine, as I never usually traverse that roadway segment during busy traffic hours.
11-05-10, 03:45 PM
The Page Mill intersection is the one I tend to avoid. The layout is dreadful for cyclists travelling in either direction, nor is it great for motorists. I ride through the Alpine and Sand Hill crossings of 280 daily, and find Alpine Rd the least intimidating. When travelling West, I always move left well before the Northbound on-ramp and take a firm stance in one of the two lanes leading to the underpass. It seems like the victim of this incident could have been doing something similar, judging by the description in the news report above. How she came to be in a collision with the left side of the truck remains to be determined. What is surprising is that there are no witnesses at present - it is a busy enough location at that time in the afternoons.
We cyclists are very vulnerable, and being reminded too often by these accident reports makes me very sad and concerned.
My sympathy to her family and friends
11-09-10, 01:36 PM
The trucker should have at the minimum class A license revoked permanently.
12-21-10, 04:01 PM
The CHP has now stated that the cyclist was at fault and the big-rig driver did nothing wrong.
Because of the less-than-stellar writing in the article (not to mention that the entire CHP report was not released), it isn't at all clear what really happened. However, it smells fishy to me, if for no other reason than it appears that the only source of information is the truck driver.
12-21-10, 04:10 PM
This is a strange story. As I understand it, she was hit by the drivers side of the trailer as they were approaching 280. I can't understand how it happened, but it seems like he may have been slowing to turn, and she passed him on the right and he swung out and hit her. Anyone familiar with the area? Or know more?
if for no other reason than it appears that the only source of information is the truck driver.That's what I got from it, as well.
Sure is easy to place the blame on the dead.
I can't understand how it happened, but it seems like he may have been slowing to turn, and she passed him on the right and he swung out and hit her.Sounds a hell of a lot like he was changing lanes and hit her. But since he claimed to have checked his mirrors, there's no way he could have been at fault! Of course, she just happened to randomly lay it down in front of a stampede of 22.5" tires.
This is as far as I can figure it:
It's claimed that she "turned unsafely," but why would she? There's no place to turn that isn't an onramp or an offramp. Cars and trucks are going to be the ones changing lanes, either to enter or exit turning lanes. It seems much more plausible that he turned into her, be it malice or negligence.
12-21-10, 05:41 PM
I think conduct of any motorist must be egregious and that there must be credible witnesses to attest to this for a bicyclist to get a favorable accident report. If you aren’t drunk and have a license/insurance and seem somehow respectable—if you hit a bicyclist you really have nothing to fear in a police report. Any ambiguity will be resolved in your favor by blaming a lawfully riding bicyclist for something or anything he/she may have done—i.e., switching a lane, biking too fast (or slow), or somehow not being seen.
Furthermore, if you motorist says the magic words, “I signaled and I never saw him/her” the officer will feel sympathy and there will be further cause to blame the cyclist.
I think law enforcement culture isn’t a bicycling one. I’d guess there are not a whole lot of them out riding in their free time. Maybe this is because their occupation makes them suspicious by nature and they don’t like feeling vulnerable—and as bicyclists we do have to have a fair amount of faith and trust. I view police as more the camping, fishing, ball sports, and motorized recreational types. I know this is stereotyping, and there are certainly exceptions, but it’s just a feeling I have. I’ll bet if you took a poll, most police officers probably think we’re all a bit crazy and wouldn’t have any problem with bicycles being banned entirely from roadways.
12-21-10, 07:13 PM
His 3rd mva involving a fatality? I hope the police considered the driver's account with much skepticism and relied more on objective evidence. Regardless, rip and good luck to parents' lawyer in finding answers.
12-21-10, 09:09 PM
I bike around the area a lot and I am extremely careful around that particular junction, especially when going westbound. Not only do cyclists have to filter to the left from the right lane (which goes on 280S), they have to do it under the 280 overpass. That means cyclists are relying on drivers to see into the dark (if driving in daytime) with daylight-adjusted eyes. Not a good situation to be in at all! When I'm at that junction, I'm assuming the drivers do not see me and act accordingly.
12-22-10, 12:30 PM
Just read the article again, and if it is accurate as to what the CHP report says (not a safe assumprion, but it's all I have to go by so far), then the report makes no sense at all. The only info the CHP has comes from the driver, who says he was moving into the lane to get onto I-280 south and was looking in his righht-hand mirror. If he is merging right, that is the proper thing for him to be doing, but it also means he cannot know what is going on along the left side of his truck. So far, nothing criminal or even negligent here. (If he was merging left, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish, but it sounds like he was merging right to get onto the freeway.)
The driver then looks up and feels a bump - he doesn't see a thing, he feels the bump and realizes he hit the cyclist. At least he stopped - that's worth something.
However, this all leads to an obvious question - if the driver saw nothing (which is what the article says he says), and there is no other evidence from which to deduce what the cyclist did (and the article doesn't state any), how the hell can the CHP even begin to have a clue as to how the truck came to hit the cyclist? Answer - they can't. The supposed right turn by the cyclist is no more than conjecture.
Unless, of course, the answer is hidden in the redacted part of the report that is being withheld for "legal" reasons (and I'd like to know what the heck those are) or the reporter and/or editor left something out or got something wrong (a very real possibility).
In any event, this no longer smells fishy. It stinks to high heaven. It is entirely possible that the driver is completely blameless in this tragedy (I doubt it, but it's possible). But what has been reported about the CHP's report certainly does not establish that. From the available information, I can understand why the CHP would conclude that there is not enough here to cite the driver or hold him criminally responsible - "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" and all that - but there is nowhere near enough information to exonerate the driver, either. So why not say there is not enough info to cite or charge, and leave it at that? With all due respect to the CHP and to every cop who ever had to report on a serious accident, you aren't the jury. Please stop acting like it.
So that leaves a family that has suffered a huge loss for no good reason and all of us to deal with a guy who drives the biggest vehicle on the road who just happens to a be a magnet for people to run into and die. Yup, something stinks here.
12-22-10, 01:12 PM
I enjoyed reading your thoughtful posts. I agree with your questioning why the CHP felt compelled to reach a conclusion as to fault when so much seems murky at best.
I'm angry that in my own relatively minor collision the police gave opinion that I was at fault when it can be very plausibly argued I wasn't. I don't undertand why they can just leave it blank if it isn't clear cut or they don't really know.
The lawyer I spoke with regarding my situation said that a police finding as to fault is not admissible evidence in court proceedings. However, a fault finding against a cyclist makes it difficult to recover from a driver's insurance w/o having to resort to court proceedings...
Oh, I see, there are actually three lanes at that point, not two as it appeared based on the dark tracks on the road. So even if he was in the rightmost lane at the stop sign, he'd have to move over to get onto 280. But, the article/CHP says that at the time of the collision, she was to his left, so she was already out of the turning lane while he was in it.
He then turned right, colliding with the bicycle to his left? That would only make sense in a sharp right hand turn where he'd have to swing out to make the turn, but this is a gently-curving onramp. This makes no sense. The glove does not fit and a Wookiee lives on Endor.
01-04-11, 01:46 PM
From reading the updates here, it seems is a very murky and unsatisfactory explanation has unfolded. The few pictures and other evidence I saw at the accident scene showed that the collision occured after the stop sign, but well before the first underpass. This makes me wonder about relative speeds, and acceleration - pure conjecture of course.
A large truck-trailer with a heavy load (noted from a press picture) cannot accelerate that rapidly. Perhaps somewhat less rapidly than a cyclist. It is possible that the cyclist had caught up with the semi - each occupying a separate lane, with the cyclist in the leftmost position. Then either the truck moves off course, or, another vehicle passes close to the left of the cyclist (e.g. in an attempt to beat truck to the on ramp) causing the cyclist to react and swerve to their right. Unfortunately, it seems we are unlikely to know the truth.
I have noticed a couple of different patterns by which cyclists tackle this intersection whilst heading west. One of these is to remain on the rightmost side of the road, and treat the hatched area prior to the stop sign as if it were a bike lane. This then requires a move leftward across the lane leading to the Southbound 280 on ramp, or at least crossing the path of vehicles destined for that lane as they advance past the stop.
Another approach is to take the center of the right lane at the stop sign, partially ensuring that one gets a head start on traffic headed to 280 South. Of course some drivers use the left lane at the stop, and cut across the whole road to reach the on ramp...
A slight variation on this, and one I use in very heavy traffic, is to move left early, well before the Northbound freeway ramp, and take a stance in the leftmost lane. This avoids "right hook" tangles with drivers heading for 280 North, and is gets easier when more cars are lined advancing slowly to the stop, as it is possible to split the lane up to the stop sign. From there, I'll occupy a right biased position in the centre lane, and am usually untroubled by traffic unless someone is feeling cyclephobic.
Regarding the crash, If we knew more about the position from which each party left the stop sign, it would give a lot more insight into the events that unfolded afterwards. I am still surprised that there were no additional witnesses at this busy intersection.
The only thing that I can think of is that the cyclist was startled and intimidated by the big rig coming from the right and lost concentration, which turned disastrous!
The police and or CHP are bias when it comes to cyclists--they have no clue and I speak from experience (unfortunately)!
01-20-11, 02:30 PM
Apparently there was some further investigation conducted yesterday by CHP and an MAIT team at the scene of the crash. The story hints that they were acting on new information, but there is nothing to say what the nature of this is, except to state that there is still no third party witness.
01-23-11, 10:10 AM
Every time I cross that intersection, I think about the incident.
Its hard to imagine how a big rig would be able to pass a cyclist like that and have both parties oblivious to each others' position...
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