Let’s take a look at one of Southern California’s most popular riding routes.
And one of the most dangerous.
Ed Ryder* has taken a remarkable look at bicycling collisions on the coast highway, sifting through 12 years of SWITRS data complied by the CHP from 2004 through September, 2015. And by whatever name it’s known as it winds through San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles Counties, whether Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), Highway 1, Route 1, Coast Highway or Route 101.
Although you’d think someone, somewhere, would have the good sense to pick one name and stick with it.
As Ryder is quick to point out, local police agencies report injury collisions to SWITRS on a voluntary basis, which means it’s likely that some collisions don’t get reported, and therefore aren’t included in the database. In addition, data is still coming in from the years 2013-2015.
So all of these stats should be read as “at least;” actual figures may be higher. And the quality of information is only as good as what was included in their report.
Types of collisions involved in Ryder’s study include
- bike vs. car
- bike vs. bike
- bike vs. pedestrian
- bike vs. fixed/movable object
- bike vs. animal
So let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
The most common type of wrecks were
- broadside collision, 34%
- undefined “other,” 23%
- sideswipe, 11%
- rear end, 9%
- striking an object, 8%,
- overturned, 6%
- collision with a pedestrian, 3%
- not stated, 3%
- head-on, 3%
The relatively low ranking of the last one may be due in part to the divided design of the highway in many places. And as he notes, when “other” and “not stated” reflect a combined 26% of the totals, it makes it hard to come up with solutions to prevent them.
Surprisingly, Malibu isn’t the most dangerous city for cyclists on the highway; even when combined with Los Angeles, they only rank second to Newport Beach, which is far and away the riskiest place to ride a bike on the coast highway. Only one city from San Diego County made the top ten.
- Newport Beach, 27%
- Long Beach, 16%
- Huntington Beach, 15%
- Los Angeles, 10%
- Malibu, 8%
- Encinitas, 7%
- Laguna Beach, 5%
- Oceanside, 5%
- Seal Beach, 4%
- Redondo Beach, 3%
Not surprising, however, is who or what is hitting people on bikes, or vice versa. The only surprise is that trucks rank so low on the list.
- Moving cars, 74.6%
- Solo crashes, 12%
- Other riders, 5.7%
- Parked vehicle, 3%
- Motorcycles, 1.8%
- Pedestrians, 1.8%
- Trucks, 0.8%
The good thing is it seems to be getting a little better out there.
As you would expect based on the earlier chart, Orange County leads the way in bike-involved collisions on the highway, followed closely by Los Angeles County.
Where fault was assigned, drivers got most of the blame in OC, and cyclists in LA, which could reflect the long-assumed windshield bias of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. San Diego County found more bike riders at fault, but blame was more evenly distributed than in the other two counties.
And with just a few exceptions, bicyclists were most likely to get the blame, regardless of the type of collision; only in the case of sideswipes were drivers most likely to be found at fault.
On the other hand, you’re more likely to be the victim of a hit-and-run in LA County.
There’s a lot more information in the report — 30 pages worth, in fact. All of it fascinating.
And all of it should be required reading for city and county officials, and anyone else concerned with improving bike safety on one of Southern California’s most scenic and vital riding routes.
You can download the full report here.
*Ed Ryder describes himself as just another bike rider who would like to help make our transportation infrastructure safer for the variety of people who use it, by providing decision makers quality quantitative information with which informed decisions can be made.
Update: An earlier version of this piece mistakenly relied on a previous draft of Ryder’s report, that has been updated to reflect the latest draft.
A new study shows that if you wear a bike helmet, you’re more willing to over-inflate a balloon than if you wear a cycling cap. And somehow, extrapolates that to mean you’ll take more chances riding your bike, too.
Sure, let’s go with that.
They’re on to us, comrade.
A writer with a severe case of windshield perspective in convinced bicycle riding is just a series of microaggressions stemming from our hatred automobiles and fossil fuels, and designed to physically obstruct traffic.
Never mind that most cyclists drive cars, as well.
All because bike riders in Minneapolis have called for lowering the speed limit a whole 5 mph in order to improve safety for everyone, including those behind the wheel.
Maybe he’d feel better if he got out of his car a little more.
A meeting will be held at 6 pm tonight at Venice High School to discuss LA’s Westside Mobility Plan. Show up to demand the bike lanes we were promised on Westwood Blvd, and other key routes in West LA.
LADOT Bike Blog offers a detour guide to get around the closures on the LA River bike path. If it looks complicated, don’t worry. It is.
The LACBC looks at how much bike and pedestrian funding is needed in a proposed transportation sales tax ballot measure, while Damien Newton talks with active transportation advocate Jessica Meaney about efforts to ensure the tax would be used to create stronger communities and address regional mobility needs.
West Hollywood moves forward with plans for putting bike lanes on Fairfax Ave between Fountain and Willoughby.
Better Bike reports the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills voted to make updating the city’s 1977 Bike Master Plan a priority for this year. The old plan, which was never implemented, called for routing bike riders through alleys in the downtown district.
Bike SGV is hosting a free two hour bike commuting and safety class this Saturday.
The Cal Health Report says, despite the Governor’s lofty rhetoric about climate change, his new budget focuses almost totally on cars and does virtually nothing to promote active transportation.
Family members remember Sidney Siemensma as someone who practically lived for bicycling, a day after his body was found on an Irvine bike path, the apparent victim of a homicide.
The madness continues in Coronado, where the city’s mayor refuses to do anything to improve safety on a dangerous street in apparent fear of self-multiplying traffic signals.
A Victorville bike shop lost nearly $13,000 of high-end bicycles in a burglary.
A judge rules 61 Santa Rosa homeowners have the right to ban bikes, but not pedestrians, from a pathway through their private development.
As expected, San Francisco’s mayor has vetoed the city’s proposed Idaho stop law; the SF Chronicle says it was the right move. Meanwhile, a state legislator tries to make running red lights more legal for motorists. Evidently, stop means stop only if you’re on a bike.
Bicycling says badass bike patches are back, and recommends five breeds of trail dogs for your next off-road excursion.
A new mountain bike advocacy group forms to fight for access to federal wilderness areas.
Good news from Colorado, as the USA Pro Challenge will go on as planned this year. Evidently, the Challenge refers to finding funding to support the popular, but money-losing race.
Boulder CO councilmembers demand more safety data before transportation officials install street treatments, only to remove them later.
Now that’s more like it. A bike shop in my hometown applies for a beer and wine license to serve suds to their customers.
People for Bikes says the Missouri proposal to require a 15-foot fluorescent flag on all bikes isn’t as funny as you think. I never thought it was funny, myself; idiotic, perhaps, but not funny.
A New York alternative transportation group says the city isn’t doing enough to stop traffic deaths, and at the current rate, won’t meet it’s Vision Zero goals until at least 2055.
A Baltimore letter writer says a recently painted bike lane won’t keep riders safe as long as it forces riders to switch lanes 15 times in 1.2 miles as it moves back and forth to accommodate parking.
Victoria BC merchants oppose bike lanes on a key street if it means the loss of parking spaces. Because as we all know, customers never, ever arrive on bicycles, and bike riders never spend money anywhere.
A Quebec coroner calls for side guards on trucks and more bike boxes, as well as making riders aware of the dangers of riding into a truck’s blind spot.
A writer for the Guardian wonders why Rapha is the brand so many riders love to hate. Meanwhile, another writer considers the propriety of wearing Lycra into the office following your commute.
Caught on video: Evidently running out of things to be offended by, the British press is shocked! shocked! when a bike courier goes on a profanity-laced tirade at the cab driver who ran over his bicycle — two months ago. As the owner of another currier service pointed out, while his reaction may have been over the top, the rider had a right to be upset since it could have been him under the van.
The former Governator plans to ride the streets of Edinburgh before attending a $2100 per plate black-tie dinner.
A tech website looks at Norway’s 450-foot long bike elevator.
Your next bike shorts could tell you when you’re doing it wrong. You’re the reason they’re having trouble developing driverless cars.
And a Burbank burglary suspect kindly puts herself where bike thieves belong.