Redwood City fatal bike collision site of traffic calming proposal

March 22 2013 Update: Redwood City Police determine driver not at fault in this fatal right hook.

The scope of the Farm Hill Boulevard traffic calming proposal in Redwood City, California just happens to include the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Alameda De Las Pulgas, where the driver of a pickup truck apparently made a right turn and steered his death machine into a 14 year girl on Monday morning. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

My condolences to the family, friends and classmates of this teenage cyclist who was just riding her bike to school.

Because the driver of the pickup truck wasn’t found to be drunk or otherwise distracted, Redwood City police sergeant Sean Hart says it “may have been just an accident,” according to the Mercury News.

A recent traffic survey on Jefferson Avenue where this ‘accident’ took place shows 65% of drivers criminally violate the speed limit. Redwood City transportation engineers recommend a 4-3 lane reduction here. Other city staff recommended against traffic calming, but Redwood City Council, to their credit, asked the transportation department to continue with plans to calm traffic on Farm Hill Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue. Jefferson is five lanes at its intersection with Alameda de las Pulgas.

In other news, the California Highway Patrol reported 31 fatalities over the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend. Two pedestrians were killed, including a wheelchair-bound person who had the right-of-way in a crosswalk near Lake Elsinore, CA. The tally does not include a 45 year old Los Gatos cyclist killed in a roundabout in Truckee.


  1. This is awful. My heart aches for her family. I ride that route to work a lot. We should get rid of all the engineered corner-cuts (the rounded corners that are shaped more like a freeway exit) that allow traffic to turn onto Alameda at high speed. There’s no need for those, and they’re a huge hazard for people biking and walking.

  2. Oh dear! Alameda is decent and has plenty of cyclists, but I would never recommend riding on Jefferson at all! There are many safer side streets!

    I have actually been having a massive bicycling-crisis, because my kids are the same age and will hopefully be biking to school soon. We just moved from the East Bay, and these roads feel much much less safe. In Oakland/Berkeley, the bike boulevards are a savior. Here, you’re stuck sharing on narrow roads with plenty traffic and, yes, big pick-ups. 🙁

  3. The tone of your post is completely inappropriate. Obviously, the loss of this young life is unthinkably tragic. I’m a mom and I can’t begin to imagine. However, every account of this event points to the fact that the driver was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time as the girl slipped and fell under the truck. It seems that he didn’t do anything wrong, nor did she. We can only imagine the pain this poor girl’s family is experiencing but the driver’s life has also been irrevocably altered and it’s completely unfair of you to assign blame just because he drives a large vehicle and just because many other people are known to speed in that intersection. It’s horrific, but sometimes terrible ACCIDENTS do happen. You shouldn’t imply that the driver was at fault here until or unless there’s data to support that.

  4. @Redwood City Mom: Yes, Richard’s story uses strong language to describe what most people will just write off as a “tragic accident.” But the truth is that the vast majority of traffic “accidents” are due to prioritizing vehicle speeds over human safety and comfort. These “accidents” can be prevented by taking measures to reduce car speeds such as the traffic calming efforts Richard links to.

    But drivers don’t want to drive 25 mph and will scream bloody murder and vote people out of office who try to reduce speeds to levels where people can actually walk and ride a bike on the street in comfort and safety.

    As for all accounts saying that the driver was without fault: who knows? The girl is dead so we’ll never get her side of the story. But the real problem here is that when the roads are designed so that drivers can enter corners at 30-35 mph there’s little margin for human error and people die because of it.

    Everyone just accepts these accidents because no one wants to take an extra 3-5 minutes on a drive across town. That’s the real tragedy, not one girl dying, but tens of thousands every year across the United States.

  5. There is no engineered corner at that intersection. You should get the facts straight. Look at google maps.

  6. I think the reference is to to the radius of curvature of the corner. This correlates directly with the average speed of a turn. You can see that those corners have high radius of curvature, which is in fact an engineered feature to encourage high speed turns. Turns don’t need to be porkchops to be dangerous, they only need to be high radius of curvature.

    Its not an accident. An accident is when you get hit by lightening or a tree falls on you. Failure to yield is not an accident, its grossly reckless and negligent human error, and should be treated as such. Charge should be reckless homicide.

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