Q On tax day I left the post office quite disgruntled. My next stop was to fill my gas tank. For the first time in 50 year of driving, I drove off with the hose still in my car! I was very apologetic while the owner screamed at me.
A nice gentleman stopped to support me. He suggested that the hose could be reattached easily, but apparently that is not true. I paid a hefty $250 fee and left wishing I had stayed in bed.
Can you explain how this works?
A Yikes, $250! You may have gotten off cheap. The hose costs about $65, the hose breakaway line about $120 and the nozzle about $380. The equipment is expensive and state regulations do not allow a station owner to reattach the hose breakaway system.
Q Gary, I'd like to chime in on the issue of lane-splitting by motorcyclists. I've been splitting lanes most of my life. It's a risky activity, sometimes. Why?
Because there are some real Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde drivers out there who get very annoyed by anyone getting in front of them. You know the type. Hurry up and slow down. Don't even think about passing me! They drive real slow until you attempt to pass them.
Most drivers have really poor driving skills. They don't turn their heads to look. They might use their mirrors, though.
People, TURN your head and LOOK! Not just for motorcyclists, but for everyone! Monitor traffic around you! If you do, you won't be surprised! Let motorcyclists pass! It doesn't infringe upon you one little bit!
A Take a deep breath, for I bring encouraging news for motorcyclists in California, though not in the rest of the country. The Governor's Highway Safety Association projects that more than 5,000 motorcyclists were killed last year in the U.S., a surge of 9 percent. Data will take several months to complete.
That would be closing in on an all-time high and would mark the 14th out of the last 15 years that motorcyclist deaths are up.
But California bucked the trend and is down 1 percent after a big spike the year before. Why? We have a helmet law, and -- my theory -- lane-splitting at low speeds is legal only in California and does not catch motorists by surprise as it does when motorcyclists illegally split lanes in other states.
Q Why has the ramp at Mission Boulevard to north I-680 been changed?
A This ramp is temporary to give workers access to a water pipeline under the freeway as part of the Hetch-Hetchy seismic project. Go to www.sfwater.org/SeismicUpgrade for details.
Q The new Pulte Homes Development in Fremont alongside the upcoming BART extension connects to Union Street. Union turns left into Wolcott Drive and is the main thoroughfare.
With the Pulte development, Union now extends straight through the intersection. Cars coming out of the development drive straight out into Union and cannot be seen by cars coming from Wolcott. I have sent a stop sign request to the city, but no response. I would appreciate help in getting a sign installed.
A The city has looked into this and says a stop sign is not needed. Here is why:
Wolcott used to intersect with Union Street as an "L" intersection. Both are residential streets and because of the L configuration, the two streets were essentially one continuous street with no conflict in traffic patterns.
With the new development, Union Street now extends past Wolcott and now the intersection is a "T" intersection. With any standard T-intersection, rules of the road say that traffic on the T leg (in this case Wolcott) has to yield to traffic on the continuous street (Union). As a result, the city does not see a need to add a stop sign at the intersection.
Q In the past few months, it appears that the signals on Richmond Parkway at Lakeside Drive in Richmond have been placed on manual rotation. This creates a tremendous backup during commute hours. I have noticed drivers becoming frustrated with the signal and just pulling out on the red. Is there anything that can move the city to correct this?
A The city is aware of it and says the sensors are broken, but it's unclear when repairs can be made.
Q Have you driven on Highway 84/Isabel Avenue in Livermore lately? It is like watching a work of art unfold. The retaining wall at the underpass at Stanley Boulevard is going to be beautiful. It is a place where engineering and art meet. The wall has a gently curving grapevine design that has the simplicity and natural shape seen in Japanese artwork. As each wood form is removed, I appreciate how the "pieces" match perfectly.
Can you let everyone involved know how much I like the "grapevine"?
A You just did.
Q There is a crosswalk about 20 feet from San Antonio Road and California Avenue in Mountain View that is going to get someone killed. This unprotected crosswalk goes across six lanes of fast-moving traffic. Every day I see someone in the crosswalk and I hear tires screeching to a stop to avoid hitting the person.
Yes, cars are supposed to stop but most are going 40 mph on the street and can't see people in the crosswalk because cars in other lanes are blocking the view. There is no need for this crosswalk when there is a much safer crosswalk at the stoplight only several feet down the street. The city really needs to remove the crosswalk for everyone's sake.
A The existing crosswalk is at the intersection of Miller Avenue and San Antonio Road (about 250 feet from the signalized intersection at California Street) and city engineers say it won't be removed. But they will improve signage and striping in a couple of weeks after a paving job.
Q You wanted stories about cellphone use while driving, and I have a doozy. One of my friends was on Highway 101 in San Jose when he saw a car stopped in the fast lane with traffic whizzing around it. Thinking the driver might be in trouble, he pulled over. It turned out to be no emergency. It was just a woman talking on the phone to a friend.
A Yes, that qualifies as a doozy.