Recently published national reports present a mixed bag for cyclist safety in California. While some cities showed a troubling increase in cyclist deaths, other areas were praised for their proactive safety measures.
Let’s start with the bad news: Los Angeles ranked as the most dangerous city for cyclists on the West Coast.
Despite working with the international Vision Zero program, cyclist fatalities in LA haven’t gone down. Indeed, LAPD traffic data shows 21 cyclists were killed in 2018 compared with 17 fatalities in 2015.
Safety analysts also called out San Francisco for its high rate of “dooring” accidents. Caused when a car driver opens his/her door into a bike-protected lane, “dooring” was behind at least 200 of San Francisco’s cyclist accidents between 2012-2015.
Although LA and San Francisco performed poorly in these studies, two other Californian cities were ranked the safest in the nation for cyclists. Researchers say Berkeley and Davis currently have the best infrastructure for bicyclists.
The major reason for the success in Berkeley and Davis has to do with each city’s investment in well-connected bike lanes with large buffer zones. Also, analysts note that both of these cities have particularly strong biking communities and more bikers which often translates to greater protection.
With the increase in bicycle activity in 2020, other industries are pushing to make the roads safer for bicyclists. For example, the auto industry is working towards the standardized implementation of Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with collision warning systems. This warning and braking system would reduce the occurrence of bicyclists being struck by distracted drivers.
Although LA’s cyclist safety record isn’t so great, New York City is now considered the worst city for bicyclists. Other cities that scored poorly on national surveys include Des Moines, Houston, and Fargo.
In total, the NHTSA found that over 780 cyclists died in traffic collisions in 2017 alone. 75 percent of these fatalities occurred in heavily industrialized cities versus only 25 percent in rural environments. Additional bike accident statistics are available here.
To follow LA’s progress in the Vision Zero program, feel free to visit this official LADOT webpage.