Published Friday, September 15, 2006, by the Palo Alto Daily News
Bicyclists have cold feet after accidents
One killed, one hurt while riding bikes in past week
By Mark Abramson
Daily News Staff Writer
Bicycle enthusiasts are on edge after one cyclist was run over and
killed in Palo Alto's outskirts last Friday and another suffered
serious injuries earlier this week.
Last Friday's accident happened on Old Page Mill Road, when Mountain
View resident John Peckham, 31, was killed by a driver California
Highway Patrol officials said was drunk and allegedly on
Chevelle Bailey, 41, was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter,
drunken driving and other charges in connection with Peckham's death.
On Wednesday, a 36-year-old Palo Alto woman was hospitalized when
a van hit her from behind at the intersection of Embarcadero and
Newell roads as she rode to work. She remained in stable condition
at Stanford Hospital Thursday, according to the Palo Alto Police
"It's hard to do anything without any risk," said Eliot Logan,
member of the Palo Alto cycling club Alto Velo and a friend of
Peckham. "We are all affected by it. I think Palo Alto actually does
a pretty good job with having safe bike lanes and promoting bicycle
safety for the kids."
The recent accidents involving drivers hitting bicyclists have made
some bikers more aware of their vulnerability.
"It makes you much more defensive and cautious," said David Simons,
a member of the Santa Clara County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory
Committee. "I think it's horrific to find out we are having as many
accidents. But as more and more people bicycle ... we are going to
see more accidents."
Ellen Fletcher, a member of Palo Alto's Bicycle Advisory Committee,
said she thinks drivers do not pay enough attention to bicyclists.
Fletcher was hit by a car while riding in 1993 in Sunnyvale and
seriously injured her knee.
Despite the accidents, police say Palo Alto is a safe place to ride.
In a city that touts itself as a bicycle-friendly community, police
statistics indicate there were 356 bicycle accidents in Palo Alto
from Jan. 1, 2001, to Aug. 24, 2006, but only two were fatal.
On May 9, 2001, a 30-year-old Palo Alto woman was killed when a
truck hit her. The bicyclist was at fault because she was too far
out in traffic and going too slow, said police Sgt. Sandra Brown.
That accident happened in the 2400 block of Waverley Street, near
the Oregon Expressway.
A 72-year-old Sunnyvale man died after he was hit by a drunken
driver on May 25, 2005, at West Charleston Road and Wilkie Way.
Police figures do not indicate how many of the accidents involved
a motor vehicle. Brown said minor accidents usually do not get
According to Palo Alto's Web site, 5.6 percent of residents ride
their bikes to work.
"I think Palo Alto is better than most cities, but it is not the
city's responsibility to license drivers," said Richard Swent,
chairman of Palo Alto's Bicycle Committee. "It is not the city's
responsibility to make sure people with suspended licenses and
repeated DUI convictions are not allowed to drive."
E-mail Mark Abramson at mabramson@...