Cyclists push for safety in wake of fatal collision

Cyclists say that as the city moves forward with the construction of a new luxury hotel on Sand Hill Road, it must find ways to make the road safer following several cycling accidents, including one that killed Rodney Smith last week.

Smith, a 67-year-old Portola Valley resident and retired chairman of the Altera Corporation, died Friday morning after being hit on his bicycle by a Volvo driven by 87-year-old Woodside resident Anthony Rose.

Smith was struck on eastbound Sand Hill Road just west of Interstate 280, a dangerous area where cars often speed, Portola Valley Mayor Ted Driscoll said. Rose was not arrested, and the California Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the cause of Friday’s crash. There were no witnesses.

“It’s horrible — it’s a very scary stretch,” said MaryAnn Levinson, who was hit by a car while cycling near the same spot Dec. 23, 2006. She suffered a broken larynx, ribs, pelvis and tailbone.

Riders regularly cycle along Sand Hill Road as part of a long, strenuous loop through Menlo Park and Portola Valley, Driscoll said.

Stanford University plans to build a luxury hotel with 200 rooms and 600,000 square feet of office space near the Sand Hill-280 interchange.

“We hope to work with [Portola Valley] during its construction to make that area safer,” Levinson said. No specific changes have been proposed as of yet.

Smith had spent 20 years as Altera’s chairman before retiring in January 2003. The San Jose-based company makes programmable chips used by various industries.

Smith and his wife, Mary, donated $1 million in 2000 to help preserve a piece of land near City Hall, Driscoll said. They also hired workers to clean litter along the streets of Portola Valley.

“He was one of our leading citizens,” Driscoll said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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