Bike Accidents on the Rise in California
Fatal bicycle accidents in California have increased in recent years. To maximize your safety while bicycling, you should understand the risks and the statistics.
Here are some facts and figures that can bring the bigger picture into better focus.
Fatal accident rates
According to California Healthline, from 2016 through 2018, 455 cyclists in California died in traffic accidents, which translates to a rate of 3.9 fatalities per million people. This was the highest for any three-year period since the middle of the 1990s. These high fatal accident rates have occurred despite many California cities building bicycle lane networks.
Factors contributing to the increase in fatal bicycle accidents
More Americans drive more miles in cars than ever before. Low unemployment rates have led to an increase in the number of cars commuting. Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have led to more drivers behind the wheel, as well. Larger vehicles with more horsepower and distracted drivers are also contributors.
With the increasing popularity of bike-sharing programs, there are more bikes sharing the road with vehicles now. More people are opting for the exercise, the financial savings and the health of the planet by commuting to work by bicycle.
Bike fatalities by county
Los Angeles County by far led the state in fatal bicycle accidents with 106 during the 2016 to 2018 period. Sacramento County was a distant second with 47. San Diego County reported 15 deaths, tying Stanislaus County for eighth place.
The increase in people on the road is not likely to change. However, one solution to the tragedy of fatal bike accidents is the reduction of speed limits. Another is the creation of infrastructure designed to support multiple forms of transportation. However, lower speed limits are unpopular, and major infrastructure upgrades are expensive. For now, wear a helmet, follow bike laws, and stay alert and ready to react if a careless motorist fails to see you.