County Road’s presentation to City Council of Santa Clara

contradicted Board (BOS) policies and orders.

Audio clips, quotes, and link to Murdter’s letter.

Akos Szoboszlay, President, Modern Transit Society          September 2006

If page is printed, go to web page for links, at:


Quick links

Murdter’s letter (due to scanning, it’s a large 2 MB pdf file).

Audio/visual links: Click the Quicktime links, below.



This page contains just some of County Road’s verbal false and misleading statements with audio/visual links (Quicktime) and transcribed quotes. These statements were made by Michael Murdter and Dan Collen to the City Council of Santa Clara on June 20, 2006, and excerpted from the City’s video of the City Council meeting.


The written false and misleading statements by Murdter are shown in his letter to the City Council of Santa Clara, which was included in the agenda packet. That letter was scanned, annotated in red, and uploaded to this link:

   Murdter’s letter to the City Council [two pages, 2 MB pdf file].

The web page Board of Supervisors policies and orders contains the true policies and orders that have been repeatedly contradicted by County highway staff and ignored by City traffic engineers.


Quotes, audio links and rebuttals

Murdter: “Where [pedestrians] are required to walk on the shoulder ... then Board policy supports the prohibition on that segment of the expressway.” [Quicktime]

Why false? The 2003 Policy (County Expressway Master Plan) states:

“[wide] shoulder or path facilities ... can serve for occasional pedestrian use.”

In other words, Murdter stated the opposite of the truth.


Collen: “Roadway departure accidents occur. There was a pretty spectacular one not too long ago involving a pickup that was in between a tree and a soundwall that was on fire.” [Quicktime]

Why misleading? This is a scare tactic, by confusing the issue. The motorist was killed, not a pedestrian. The chance that a pedestrian would be in standing in front of the tree, at the instant the car hit the tree, is extremely small. Most accidents occur at intersections in urban areas. Collen and Murdter never mentioned that almost all pedestrian fatalities on expressways occur when crossing the expressway. Going along the expressway is very safe. Prohibitions force needless crossings of the expressway (and other roads,) which actually increases accident risk for the trip.


Murdter: “Where there is sufficient area behind the curb ... we are all in favor of not having the pedestrian prohibition.” [Quicktime]

Why false? See photo example (right). Murdter opposed even allowing use of existing pedestrian paths, and ignored the Board (BOS) order to create paths along expressways. This occurred not only in Santa Clara, but elsewhere. The photo shows an example of one of many “PEDESTRIANS PROHIBITED” signs banning walking on paths along San Tomas. [See photo series of banned paths in San Jose - Campbell and banned paths in Santa Clara.]. All paths have connecting sidewalks and crosswalks. The prohibitory sign is still posted despite the Board order of 1991 to work to seek repeals (see policies, quote #3). County highway staff actually opposed the Board order by fighting against pedestrian use of existing paths, not only here, but also along Capitol Expressway in San Jose from 1996 to 1997. Highway staff lost their fight and were forced to remove “pedestrians prohibited” signs from Capitol.


Question by Council member: What other cities prohibit pedestrians?:

Answer 1 by Collen: “San Jose has ordinances on Capitol Expressway.” [Quicktime]

Why false? While San Jose has one ordinance, pedestrians are allowed the entire length of Capitol as a result of a major effort by MTS and then County BAC (1996 to 1997) to comply with the ordinance which was changed in 1989 at the effort of MTS, and allowed pedestrians on Capitol. Collen was the lead County highway staff person fighting against removing the “pedestrians prohibited” signs from Capitol (despite the ordinance change to allow pedestrians in 1989), but lost the fight after County Counsel’s legal opinion, requested by the (then) County BAC, indicated the signs were illegal and must be removed.

Answer 2 by Collen: “Sunnyvale has an ordinance which is sort of peculiar. It prohibits pedestrians but allows pedestrians if they have no other route.” [Quicktime]

Why false? Pedestrians are allowed as a result of the effort by MTS and Sunnyvale BPAC (2002-2003). All prohibitory signs were removed after a huge fight with County staff, resulting in the BOS order to remove the signs in Sunnyvale (on 5/4/04). The “if ... “ clause by Collen is completely made up.

Proof: See the letter by Sunnyvale telling County highway staff to “remove all signs that prohibit pedestrian use along Central Expressway.” [The repeal for Lawrence was in 1993.]. Further proof: The BOS gave a direct order to Michael Murdter, Director, County Roads, to remove "pedestrians prohibited" signs to comply with repeals by Sunnyvale — specifically mentioned — and other cities, and where-ever else they were in violation of State law. [On May 4, 2004, agenda #63]

False and misleading verbal statements by City staff

At the same meeting, City staff (Yoshino, a former traffic engineer) spent a large amount of time talking about “roadway departure” fatalities — total time for City and County staffs was about an hour. Staff stated that 60% of fatalities are from “roadway departures”, but failed to state that those were motorist fatalities. They made no mention that most pedestrian fatalities are for crossings, and that prohibitions force needless crossings, thus increasing accident risk.

City staff (Yoshino) further claimed there are “choke points” at some intersections. [example in Quicktime.] The fact is that there are no choke points because the curb to property line fence remains about 12 feet, including at the two intersection locations they specifically mentioned. Staff should have recognized the County policy to trim brush at intersection areas to create a path for pedestrians, in both the 1991 and the 2003 policies. This is in addition to the 1991 order to create paths along all expressways. City staff used Murdter’s non-compliance as the rationale to fight against pedestrians!

More information:

For the repeal effort for San Tomas and San Tomas information, see the San Tomas page.

The complete Quicktime audo/video for the agenda item, one hour and 15 minutes, is here.


Expressway topics, links page.

Original file = st-verbal.pages