Los Angeles has never had a sterling reputation when it comes to cyclist safety. Unlike Bay Area bicycle havens, LA often ranks as one of the nation’s worst cities for cyclist safety.
Despite the reduced number of cars on the road, the coronavirus pandemic has only made cycling in the City of Angels especially dangerous. Now that roads are relatively clear due to quarantine orders, many of the motorists on LA’s streets seem to have lead feet.
While accidents involving a car striking a bicycle can cause severe injuries (or death) for the cyclist, the increase in speed intensifies the potential injuries.
Although CHP has responded to fewer total crashes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of these cases involve severe injuries or fatalities. Recent reports suggest LA motorists are now trending between 12 – 25 percent above the posted speed limit.
And it’s not just LA that’s experiencing this rise in severe speed-related crashes. East Coast cities like Boston and NYC have also noticed a dramatic surge in speeding offenses and collisions.
Why LA Cyclists Are Extra Concerned About Speedy Drivers
One reason LA’s cycling community is particularly concerned about this speeding issue is California’s 85th percentile law. According to this rule, state lawmakers must raise posted speed limits if statistics suggest most people are traveling at faster speeds.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique situation, lawmakers have yet to change this curious law. If no action takes place in Sacramento, then cars could have permanent leeway to speed around LA.
There are, however, a few proposals in CA’s legislature to eliminate this speed-related risk. For instance, State Assembly Members Laura Friedman and Phil Ting recently announced a bill that would hold-off routine speed reports so they won’t reflect the current COVID-19 conditions. For more info on this proposal, you could check out the text of A.B. 2121 on this link.
A few organizations like Streets for All have also been pushing for LA to create car-free streets to help pedestrians and cyclists navigate the city during this trying time. Although LA has yet to institute a Slow Streets program like in San Francisco, concerned citizens could still sign Streets for All’s online petition.
As lawmakers continue to deliberate the above proposals, cyclists need to practice extreme caution when pedaling around LA. Be sure you read through this safety resource page put together by the LA County’s official bicycle coalition.