Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

Speeding Is a Big Problem Where Police Stopped Google Car for Slow Driving

A Google car made headlines last week when police pulled it over for driving too slowly on El Camino Real in Mountain View, California.

El Camino Real in Mountainview is a pretty dangerous street for pedestrians, but apparently police are out patrolling for cars not going fast enough. Image: Metrocosm via Cyclelicious
El Camino Real in Mountain View is a dangerous street for pedestrians because drivers go too fast, not because they go slower than the speed limit. Image: Metrocosm via Cyclelicious
false

Most media accounts treated the incident as a funny anecdote, but Richard Masoner at Cyclelicious says it reveals a lot about what's broken with how police approach traffic enforcement:

Guess which area of Mountain View is the most dangerous for pedestrians?

I zoomed in on this map showing 10 years of FARS traffic fatality data. El Camino Real is highlighted in blue. The yellow line to the left is Rengstorff, the other line is El Monte.

This is the area where Mountain View police say a Google autonomous car traveling at 24 MPH in a 35 zone is impeding traffic, even with two other lanes available for passing traffic on a Thursday afternoon.

Danger is high because Mountain View police prioritize speed over safety in spite of the heavy pedestrian traffic. This is the same department that routinely cites cyclists who “take the lane” on multi-lane roads in which the right-hand lane is too narrow to share. Numerous bike educators, safety experts, and cyclist advocates have explained the exceptions to CVC 21202 (California’s far right law) over the years, but to no avail. If you look at the SWITRS map, you’ll see California Street just to the north -- a designated bike route -- is another hot spot for pedestrians and cyclists...

I wonder how many tickets are written on El Camino Real for those who drive 9 MPH over the limit?

Google, for its part, has issued a pretty commendable response, saying, "We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25mph for safety reasons. We want them to feel friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighborhood streets."

Elsewhere on the Network today: FABB Blog highlights Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx's recent speech cautioning Southern states against relying too much on road expansions. Human Transit wonders if driverless cars will produce a big increase in vehicle miles traveled. And Pedestrian Observations picks apart the cost estimates for major passenger rail projects in the Northeast.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Tuesday’s Headlines Fix It First

How voters incentivize politicians to ignore infrastructure upkeep. Plus, are hydrogen trains the future of rail or a shiny distraction?

April 23, 2024

The Brake: Why We Can’t End Violence on Transit With More Police

Are more cops the answer to violence against transit workers, or is it only driving societal tensions that make attacks more frequent?

April 23, 2024

Justice Dept., Citing Streetsblog Reporting, Threatens to Sue NYPD Over Cops’ Sidewalk Parking

The city is now facing a major civil rights suit from the Biden Administration if it doesn't eliminate illegal parking by cops and other city workers.

April 22, 2024

Five Car Culture Euphemisms We Need To Stop Using

How does everyday language hide the real impact of building a world that functionally requires everyone to drive?

April 22, 2024
See all posts