A Sept. 15 automobile collision that took the life of a pedestrian marked the third traffic fatality this year on California Street and Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View.
The deaths prompted a meeting with residents in nearby neighborhoods sharing their concerns with police and public works officials. The meeting was scheduled Monday, after the Town Crier’s press deadline.
Two fatalities occurred on California Street and a third on Shoreline.
Erik Onorato was killed while crossing Shoreline April 9.
William Ware was struck while standing at a bus stop on California at Escuela Avenue June 21.
Joshua Baker died in the Sept. 15 collision while crossing California near Pettis Avenue.
“I am very saddened about the traffic fatalities,” said Mountain View Councilwoman Laura Macias. “I knew one of the persons (Ware) as a frequent and loyal city meeting attendee.”
Feedback from residents has included calls for placement of traffic-calming elements, increased patrols and reducing the number of lanes on California Street from four to two.
“The old traffic model that said cars first, and bikes and pedestrians in cities are incidental – that old traffic model is not viable,” said Macias, adding that she planned to attend Monday’s meeting. “There are too many cars that need to slow down and watch out for the many cyclists, walkers and strollers in the city.”
The neighborhood meeting “will be a good step,” Macias said.
Police have stepped up enforcement in the area.
“If you’re speeding down California Street, you’ll never see our Traffic Team until it’s too late,” Mountain View police officers warn on their Facebook page. “Please avoid a ticket by driving the speed limit and watching crosswalks for pedestrians and bikes. Drive alert and drive aware.”
Capt. Tony Lopez said his department has launched a “two-pronged campaign” of enforcement and education using advertising and social media, among other outlets.
“What we’re trying to do is change behavior,” he said.
California Street proves tempting for speeders because there are long stretches of road between intersections, Lopez said. The responsibility lies with everyone involved – pedestrians, drivers, cyclists – to be careful, he added.
The motorist who hit and killed Ware was speeding when he lost control, Lopez said. The driver, Matthew Pumar, faces manslaughter charges.
“It’s a horrific thing, but we need to take a reasonable and rational look at this,” Councilman Jac Siegel said of the neighborhood traffic problems.
Siegel said there’s a problem with drivers exceeding the 35 mph speed limit along California. However, he saw “no relationship” between the collisions that suggested a problem the city could do something about.
“We don’t know of anything that we could have done differently,” he said.
In the Sept. 15 case, a police investigation concluded that the driver was going the speed limit and didn’t see the pedestrian, who was in a dimly lit area when the accident occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m.
The city has a problem with bicycle accidents, too. Lopez cited 244 accidents since 2007, 124 for which the cyclist was determined to be at fault, 92 for which the automobile was at fault.
“We’re doing a big push on bicycle safety (as well),” Lopez said.