Is Santa Cruz Avenue Dangerous?

Accident Wednesday afternoon involving two vehicles along the thoroughfare proves something must be done to slow down traffic, one resident says.

Two cars collided at about 4:20 p.m. Wednesday at North Santa Cruz Avenue, in front of the

The motorists involved, Manouchehr Shahab and Robert Johnson, were first shocked at what happened and then began to exchange information, calling witnesses and contacting to help them file a report and find out who was at fault.

Shahab was driving a Chevrolet that collided with a Lincoln Continental driven by Johnson.

Johnson called the middle lane, which motorists use to turn into the various parking lots along the 25-mph avenue, the "suicide lane."

He said Shahab was traveling northbound on North Santa Cruz Avenue and attempted to make a turn as Johnson was exiting the Comerica Bank parking lot to turn left and travel southbound on the avenue.

Johnson argued the traffic had stopped to allow him to exit the parking lot to turn left onto North Santa Cruz Avenue and that Shahab came down the road on the "suicide lane" and struck him.

"This is just ugly," Johnson complained about the narrow, two-lane road. "It's horrible and the suicide lane is ridiculous. The road is far too narrow to have a middle lane. The town needs to get rid of that suicide lane."

Witness Doug Lynner agreed with Johnson that North Santa Cruz Avenue is dangerous. He said Shahab had to step on his brakes and screech the tires before colliding with Johnson.

Lynner said the most dangerous part of North Santa Cruz, however, is whereMexican restaurant is located at 551 North Santa Cruz Ave. and the scene of several tragic accidents, including a fatality. "Someone was killed on the crosswalk there and I know there's been other cases. It's very dangerous."

Lynner lamented that motorists speed along the avenue and said as a regular walker he's come close to being hit by cars multiple times. "I can't tell you how many times that I've been walking across the cross walk and somebody will come around and try to zoom around to the left or onto the right to get by them and just narrowly missed me," he said.

Lynner said he was actually hit by a car at Lark Avenue while on his bike, but he somehow escaped injury. "Drivers around here don't pay any attention ... it's all where they're going and when they'll get there."

A Los Gatos Monte Sereno traffic patrol officer responded to the scene and was taking down information to file a report and conduct an investigation into the accident.

Police Sgt Steve Walpole said there have been 24 accidents in 2011 on North Santa Cruz Avenue. Of those, 19 were car versus car, two were car versus  pedestrians, and three were car versus bicyclists. Three of the accidents involved drunk driving, seven were hit-and-run incidents, seven were non-injury accidents, and seven were minor-injury accidents, he said.


Ann Jasper November 10, 2011 at 04:10 PM
Umm...suicide lane? The problem is with drivers who don't know how to use the center turn lane, without which I'd never be able to make a left turn out of Petco. Still, I agree regarding the hazards encountered on this stretch, and not all are car-related. Too many peds misunderstand that their right-of-way does not entitle them to step out 5 feet in from of a bicycle or car.
Homes & Estates Liquidation Providers H.E.L.P. November 10, 2011 at 04:25 PM
I remember when people in this town STOPPED for each other whether it was a car, motorcycle, bike, pedestrian or dog. New residents in this town think they can blast right through with no regard for anyone else. I miss the old LG when people were polite and courteous and took time to be well mannered.
John Gorman November 10, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Actually the pedestrians DO have right of way to start walking on a pedestrian crossing. The argument that a pedestrian "stepped out five feet in front of me - hence it is the pedestrian's fault" ought to have no bearing in the court of law. Unfortunately, in the US since we are so car-dependent I feel such laws are hardly enforced. If you look at western Europe there are tough penalties (points) for not stopping before a pedestrian crossing while a pedestrian is waiting to cross. Regarding people speeding on N Santa Cruz - that is very easy to fix: (1) Speed cameras: if they get caught they lose a point, or (2) speed bumps: the narrow and tall kind so cars really have to slow down or risk damaging their suspensions. Both work very well and should be utilized in environments with high occurrences of non-motorized traffic.
Ann Jasper November 10, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Sorry--didn't mean to give the impression that I don't stop for peds. As a habit, if I see someone waiting at the curb, I do stop to let them cross :-) But, I didn't know pedestrians had the right to step out in front of cars/bikes when it's clearly too late for the car/bike to safely stop.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) November 10, 2011 at 05:14 PM
I've been watching this road for a while now, since I'm normally at this location every Wednesday and Friday. It seems like motorists have lost their decorum and civility and that there is no regard for pedestrians. I cross on the crosswalk, but I'm worried about jaywalkers getting hit. Nobody is driving 25 mph, either.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) November 10, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Good suggestions, Josh. I wonder how expensive it would be for the town to consider the cameras and the bumps you mention. For sure that will slow people down.
Shelley Merrick November 10, 2011 at 06:12 PM
The crosswalk in front of La Esquina, although quite wide, is very dangerous. Ironically, right in front of the DMV there, I have seen cars speeding so fast, just missing people and in particular, students coming out from Studio Kicks. The cars are driving much too fast to even stop for a child who is crossing there. I've seen several near-misses on that street. It's quite scary to see. I think everyone is too busy talking on their cell phone, and rushing to get to where they need to even be paying attention to what's going on around them! There should be flashing "slow down" signs down N. Santa Cruz as a reminder to people.
Shelley Merrick November 10, 2011 at 06:16 PM
I shouldn't say "everyone" is too busy on the phone not paying attention. There is just a lot of that happening!
AR November 10, 2011 at 06:58 PM
a police officer is free to correct me, but sorry mr. johnson, i think you're at fault here. also at fault are the people who stopped in the normal flow of traffic to allow you in. sorry, i know they are being courteous, but these individuals also create a hazard for drivers behind them who aren't expecting a sudden stop in the normal flow of traffic. last i checked, it is actually illegal to stop in the flow of traffic to allow someone to enter the road from a parking lot. if mr. johnson was indeed waiting to enter santa cruz from a parking lot, it seems clear that it is incumbent upon him to wait until the road is clear.
AR November 10, 2011 at 07:00 PM
they may have the "right", but they can also die most pedestrians in the morgue had the right of way
Ann Jasper November 10, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Shelley, agreed--people need to obey the speed limits. It would give them time to react. The flashing speed signs near Blossom Hill Elementary and Fisher Middle schools are helpful--I always see people slowing down in those areas.
Homes & Estates Liquidation Providers H.E.L.P. November 10, 2011 at 07:45 PM
People need to slow down! People do let people in from parking lots and stop for parking spaces if you are going to fast or following too closely that's your fault. People need to stop for people who step out from between cars and don't use crosswalks.. It's called common courtesy and that's way Los Gatos always was we didn't need camaras or lights to be adults. Stay off your phones and stop reading your text messages and SLOW DOWN IT'S NOT WORTH KILLING SOMEBODY "RIGHT OF WAY" IS IRRELEVANT!
Steve November 10, 2011 at 07:51 PM
can't wait 'til we run out of gas and everyone has to get back on their horses..
Lynn Brandhorst November 10, 2011 at 10:53 PM
Getting back on the horses will never work. Everyone will just complain about stepping in the manure while they're busy texting and not looking. ;-)
Mckenna Smith November 11, 2011 at 12:06 AM
Mrs. Sanchez, thank you for writing about this. North Santa Cruz is scary. Hopefully police will do something about this problem.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) November 11, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Just updated the story with information from Los Gatos Monte Sereno police Sgt. Steve Walpole who says there have been 24 accidents this year on North Santa Cruz Avenue.
Homes & Estates Liquidation Providers H.E.L.P. November 11, 2011 at 01:28 AM
We need to lower the speed limit 15 MPH and raise the fines to 100.00 for the 1st time and then it increases on how stubborn one is. Maybe then people will get it!
Robert Johnson November 11, 2011 at 03:56 AM
I agree re exciting a parking lot that is the law, but the other motorist was exceeding the posted speed limit and came barreling down the center lane at plus 40 miles per hour in a 25 mile zone and had to "stand on he's brakes" to stop...but obviously he's speed was too high to stop in time. I was a "sitting duck" Common sense at times trumps the law!
Robert Johnson November 11, 2011 at 04:02 AM
Thank you Sheila for the exposure of this unfortunate incident, The Officer called me today to advise me that he is revising he's/the accident statement he told me he has now added the fact that a witness was contacted and gave a statement that he saw the Chevrolet brreling down the center lane at an excessive and unsafe speed, "stood on he's brakes" to stop but was unable to. He (the officer) has added this fact to the report. Common Sense should rule the day, the law isnt always fair.
Robert Johnson November 11, 2011 at 04:10 AM
What do I do when the North Bound traffic is backed up and stopped? The person who stopped to let me in should be commended. I was waiting to enter santa Cruz and head South for over 7 minutes, when the opening appeared why on earth would I not proceed? I did so cautiously and proceeded with care (3 miles ph) and I was already turning South when the car hit me, see else where on this posting for details.
Collette Lynner November 11, 2011 at 03:54 PM
@Ann, you should thank your lucky stars for pedestrians, who were not just the only people who came to the aid of the drivers, but also the only way this story got reported in the first place. Seven hit and run accidents out of 24? That's amazing.
Amie Sue November 11, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Next time you're driving on LG Blvd between King's Court and the High School, look at your speedometer, slow to 25mph, and you'll experience how slow "25" feels, then start practicing it religiously. It's posted for a reason- kids sometimes aren't paying as much attention as they should be while cycling or walking to school. Additionally, my neighbors and I would like to exit/enter our home's driveways without "punching it" to get in or out of traffic (umm...sadly, it's often necessary.) On average, I see an accident a week near my house on LGB, most are small fender benders with minor bumper damage. It's only my opinion, but I believe if drivers were obeying the posted 25mph speed limit, many of these (mostly rear-end) mishaps could have been completely avoided. This is the first time I've spoken out about LG traffic publicly. I have lived on LGB since 2000. I absolutely love my home, it's location, and this amazing town. I don't want to sound like a whiner. I'm just telling it like it is. Please slow down for our kids, walkers, and cyclists. Don't treat the Bikelane on LGB like a second lane, and pay extra attention when you see a marked crosswalk on any LG street. Have a Happy Veteran's DAY Holiday! :o) xoxox


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