An Inexcusable Trap for Severe Personal Injuries: Route 1 in Moss Beach, California
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An Inexcusable Trap for Severe Personal Injuries: Route 1 in Moss Beach, California

Saturday, February 06, 2010By Richard Alexander

Route 1 at the intersections of Virginia Avenue and Cypress Avenue, Moss Beach, California constitutes a dangerous condition of public property and creates a trap for young bicyclists that demands emergency attention to make crossing Route 1 safe for Moss Beach pedestrians and children on bicycles, in accordance with Caltrans policies. 

Caltrans policies have long been ignored and as a result the lives, health and safety of Moss Beach residents unnecessarily have been exposed to the risk of wrongful death and severe personal injuries by the State of California Department of Transpiration.

The time for emergency action to make Route 1 safe for motorists, pedestrians and children on bicycles crossing Route 1 in Moss Beach is long overdue.  Action is demanded now.

Route 1 serves as the principal and only viable motor vehicle travel route linking Moss Beach, its neighborhoods and businesses, and adjacent Montara, with access to Interstate 280 to the north and State Route 92 to the south in Half Moon Bay.  Residents are dependent on Route 1 for all commuting and all local trips.  They have no other choice.

Route 1 has remained configured, striped, signed, owned, maintain, operated and controlled by the State of California without change for more than 40 years.

In Moss Beach, in a short distance of approximately 1,000 feet there exists, well within the Caltrans right-of-way for Route 1, numerous intersections which are separated by as little as 225 feet, namely the intersections of Cypress Avenue, Terrace Avenue, Lancaster Avenue, Vermont Avenue, Virginia Avenue and California Avenue, which all directly access Route 1.

Despite a substantial change in conditions over the past 40 years, that can only be described as colossal, the configuration, alignment, access from side streets, absence of traffic controls, absence of stop lights, nil overhead street lighting Route 1 in Moss Beach and a speed limit of 50 mph which has remained unchanged for 40 years, without modifications to accommodate a substantial change in conditions, making this maze of intersections and traffic a dangerous condition of public property and a trap for young bicyclists and pedestrians.

The changed conditions which have occurred on Route 1 in Moss Beach include, without limitation, the following:

•  continually increasing average daily traffic volume, currently on the order of 16,000 cars a day

•  substantially increased residential growth in the villages of Moss Beach and Montara

•  substantially increased commercial development in Moss Beach

•  speeding vehicles following the common California practice of always driving in excess of the posted speed limit, which in Moss Beach is 50 mph

•  high use of an extremely high number of public street accesses, which are closely spaced, especially the Virginia Street intersection which is the location of the Coastside Market, the main grocery store serving Moss Beach and Montara

•  increased crossing traffic as a result of Route 1 splitting in half the Village of Moss Beach which has developed on both the ocean and uphill side of Route 1 without a safety traffic island for safe crossing, flashing warnings lights, crosswalks, or traffic signals

•  an inconsistent roadway edge

•  a congested and hazardous traffic mess during commute hours

For years Caltrans has maintained the striping on Route 1, including channelized turning pockets for Route 1 traffic to accommodate cross-traffic left turns off Route 1 at the numerous intersections in Moss Beach.

Yet, Caltrans has never reduced the 50 mph speed limit through this village, never installed traffic controls, flashing lights or beacons and since 2000 has not provided a crosswalk for safe crossings by pedestrians and children on bicycles.

Caltrans has reduced the speed limit in Half Moon Bay to 40 mph, so there is no excuse for an immediate lowering of the speed limit in the Village of Moss Beach, among other necessary safety improvements.

The State of California has made crossing Route 1 even more dangerous by removing a crosswalk from Moss Beach.

In 1985 and 1991, and at other unknown times, there was a crosswalk at the Vermont Avenue intersection of Route 1, approximately 225 feet south of the Virginia Avenue intersection.

By 2000 that crosswalk had been removed and since approximately 2000 there have been no crosswalks in Moss Beach, although they have been sorely needed for more than a decade.

In addition there are no traffic lights in Moss Beach, although they have been needed and necessary for many years due to the substantial change in conditions at both the Cypress Avenue and Virginia Avenue intersections as a result of residential and commercial growth and drivers regularly driving over the speed limit.

Even though Moss Beach has grown with housing on both sides of Route 1 and now has a well used commercial zone, the State of California continues to designate Route 1, from Higgins-Purissimia Road south of the City of Half Moon Bay to I-280 at the far northern end, as part of the California Freeway and Expressway System.

Although the Caltrans Complete Streets policy set forth in Deputy Directive DD-64-R1 recognizes that bicycles and pedestrians are integral elements of the transportation system and despite the State of California’s claim to plan, design, operate and maintain safe mobility for all users, including bicyclists, for decades Route 1 in Moss Beach has been allowed to deteriorate into a dangerous, unsafe and archaic condition of public property which is a trap for pedestrians and children on bicycles.

The catastrophic personal injuries suffered by 12 year-old Julian Navarro while riding his bicycle home show the reality of the refusal of the State of California to follow its own safety policies.

On the late afternoon of December 3, 2009, Julian Navarro, age 12, a resident of Moss Beach, was heading home and riding his bicycle northbound along the west side of Half Moon Bay Airport and, following his normal and usual path, next turned eastbound on Cypress Avenue to cross Route 1 to get to his home on Lancaster Avenue, located on the east side of Route 1 in Moss Beach.

Julian gave up trying to cross Route 1 on Cypress Avenue because of heavy commute traffic and approaching darkness.  There are no street lights at this intersection.   There is no traffic control signal at the Cypress, although a traffic light has been needed for years.  It just was not safe.  This dangerous intersection directly caused and contributed to the outrageous personal injuries Julian suffered.

Twelve year-old Julian next proceeded northbound along the west or ocean side of Route 1, riding his bicycle on the shoulder and facing traffic.  He safely pedaled his bicycle to the intersection of Virginia Avenue, which provides a crossing of Route 1 that he could take to return to home.

Julian selected this intersection because it has some light; there is a substandard street light at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Route 1 that provides very limited illumination and in addition there is ambient light from the Taqueria Restaurant on the northwest corner of Virginia Avenue and Route 1. The Coastside Market on the northeast corner of the Virginia Avenue intersection also is lit at night.  Nonetheless, the available light is nominal at the fringes of Route 1 and the Virginia Avenue intersection at Route 1 itself is dark.

Julian began riding his bicycle eastbound in the statutory crosswalk that is formed at the Virginia Street intersection of Route 1.

Julian safely crossed the southbound lane and the southbound left turn pocket.  He proceeded eastward into the northbound lane of the statutory crosswalk when he was struck by a northbound vehicle as a direct result of this intersection, and every intersection in Moss Beach, being a dangerous condition of public property.  Every intersection in Moss Beach is a trap for young bicyclists and pedestrians and caused this youngster to suffer severe, permanent and lifelong personal injuries, which include in part:

•  degloving injury to the right foot

•  traumatic amputation of the right toes

•  surgical amputation of the right foot at the ankle

•  fracture of the right femur at the midshaft with surgical open reduction and internal  fixation

•  three rib fractures of the T-2, T-7 and T-9 ribs

•  pulmonary contusion

•  right open elbow fracture

•  fusion of fractured cervical vertebrae C-1, C-2, and C-3

•  bilateral C-1 cervical vertebra dislocation and subdural hemorrhage at the cervical medullary junction

•  right condylar skull fracture

•  closed head trauma, severe, with loss of consciousness

•  multiple sutures to top of head

All residents of Moss Beach and Montara are entitled to have this decades old dangerous trap corrected with much lower speeds, traffic signals and flashing beacons so that pedestrians and children on bicycles can safely cross Route 1.

Onward,

Richard Alexander

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