A few gripes, plus gratitude for a Bay Area transportation department: Roadshow

One reader shares a great experience about getting something changed in their community

Q: I have a few complaints.

  1. Cars in California are required to have a front license plate, according to the driver’s manual. When I count, about 10% of the cars do not have a front plate. It rises to around 15% in Los Altos. Teslas have a higher percentage.
  2. Cars with a rear bicycle rack that conceals the rear license plate are exempt from bridge tolls if they also lack a front license plate.
  3. At some intersections, there are three red lights that cycle when a pedestrian presses a button to cross. When there is no pedestrian crossing, all three lights are turned off, rendering it indistinguishable from an inoperative signal. However, according to the California driver’s manual, if a traffic signal is not operational, it should be interpreted as requiring a complete stop.

Palo Alto resident Dave Grossman

A: Your statistics on no front plates are more than I expected. And you are correct that intersections with no lights require a complete stop.

Q: After nearly being hit by a car while crossing Shoreline Boulevard at Terra Bella in Mountain View last July, I devised a solution to keep pedestrians safer in that crosswalk. I’d seen teenagers racing across that intersection before, trying to avoid oncoming traffic.

Based on previous bad experiences, I knew I’d have to approach the Public Works Department, my least favorite city department, and Transportation, my least favorite department in that division.

I requested a 10-minute meeting with Mountain View Transportation’s Lorenzo Lopez to explain the problem and my solution, fully expecting to be ignored. To avoid further frustration, my Plan B was to go to the City Attorney’s office and notify the city of the danger.

But what a shock! My bad mood was lifted after Lorenzo spent an hour with me, listening to what I had to say and even taking notes. He said my solution – giving pedestrians at that corner a few seconds’ head start before cars got the green light – was feasible and that he’d have his staff look into it, and then he did!

Teenagers will no longer have to run across that street in just eight weeks, thanks to Lorenzo and his entire team, and pedestrians will be much safer.

Lorenzo Lopez and his entire team are valuable assets. I’m so glad I was mistaken!

Mountain View resident R.J. Devincenzi

A: Thank you for telling this story. At this intersection, you and Lorenzo Lopez and his team may have saved pedestrians from injury or worse.

The month of October is designated as National Pedestrian Safety Month. On its website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers pedestrian safety tips.

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