Avoidable accident on Page Mill Road

Fatal bike accident scene on Page Mill Road. Road striping needed.

Fatal bike accident scene on Page Mill Road. Road striping needed.

No matter how it played out, there's no reason why Jeffrey Donnelly, age 52, should have been killed while riding his bike on Page Mill Road around 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

I’ve taken Old Page Mill Road to Page Mill Road dozens of times and I can only imagine what happened. The 19-year-old Palo Alto motorist driving a 2014 VW Golf was heading west on Page Mill Road. Donnelly was continuing straight, westbound, on Page Mill Road. Beyond that, I would be speculating.

However, a common scenario here is for a cyclist to move left to access the bike lane, which is positioned on the far left side of Page Mill. At the same time, cars are either continuing straight or heading for the northbound 280 on-ramp. It’s an awkward situation with the overlap but one that is hard to avoid with the double right-turn lanes for Interstate 280 just ahead.

While I believe that the motorist is ultimately most responsible in almost every bike-car collision, Santa Clara County and Palo Alto have some responsibility.

There should be a dashed-lane transition between Old Page Mill and the bike lane. Throw in some green paint for good measure.

It’s common knowledge that Old Page Mill Road is a favorite route for cyclists.

I’m not saying it would guarantee no further accidents, but I’m sure these markings, used everywhere in Santa Clara Valley, will help reduce the chance of an accident. The motorist would have seen the dashed lines and have known that bikes are moving left to reach the bike lane.

Many motorists don’t ride bikes and may not be aware that’s how cyclists ride through the 280 freeway interchange.

This fatal bicycle-car accident once again reminds us that the autonomous car will be the best thing that could ever happen to make cycling safer. Unfortunately, Jeffrey Donnelly will not live to see the day.

Below is a video of the scene of the accident. I encountered a car coming from behind on Page Mill headed for the on-ramp. I looked back twice as the car slowed dramatically. It was only then that I continued left over to the bike lane.

2 Responses to “Avoidable accident on Page Mill Road”

  1. Earle Young Says:

    Please use the correct term for this bicycle crash. It was not an accident. It was a collision or a crash.

  2. jay Says:

    I really hope credible witnesses have or will come forward who can describe the Gulf’s speed before the collusion. I have an unsettling feeling that it may have been greatly in excess of 50 mph because there wouldn’t have been much traffic in that direction at that time.

    The cyclist may have checked for traffic, saw the car, but made his decision to move over based on the assumption that it was traveling at the speed limit.

    Also, I hope the rider was using lights. I still see far too many riders w/o them. They are needed front & back during the day on these local roads.

    A popular idea on PaloAlto online is for a cyclist activated traffic signal; not sure what the effect of that would be at commute times though and there might be a lot of “push back” from drivers upset about long queues to get onto 280. On a bicycle, I’ve personally had to stop and wait at Christopher Lane for up to 2 minutes to cross over during commute times and I’ll tell anyone the times where I fumbled with getting a cleat into a pedal with traffic coming down on me was cycling at its scariest–get the shoe snapped in or die, basically.

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