California prides itself on its cyclist-friendly status. However, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals a not-so-welcome environment for bicyclists throughout the state. Between 2016 and 2018, 455 California cyclists were killed in traffic accidents, providing the state with their highest fatality rate in two decades that is nothing to be proud of.
COVID-19 changed a great deal in the Golden State and throughout the country. In California, innovative bicycle safety initiatives popped up in various cities to make streets safer for all.
- Oakland stepped up with a program that has been significantly influential. Recognizing the significant reduction in motor vehicle traffic due to the pandemic, Slow Streets closed dozens of streets to car traffic. They temporarily converted them to proverbial “safe spaces” that were limited to bicycle and pedestrian travel.
- Stop as yield is a common technique bicyclists have used when fewer cars are on the road, allowing them to “roll through” a stop sign. The state assembly made a formal maneuver when they passed a bill to enable yielding instead of stopping. By decreasing the time a bike is at an intersection can reduce the significant number of fatalities that are likely to occur.
- Vision Zero, launched in 2015, addresses the fact that Los Angeles has more vehicles than most areas of the planet, let alone the United States. The program’s lofty goal is to bring traffic fatalities non-existent by 2035. What they consider to be a “smarter infrastructure” would allow city planners to identify areas of significant concern while creating more bike-protected lanes throughout the city.
Proactive steps can make a difference, particularly when it comes to bicyclists and motorized vehicles sharing roads and staying safe at the same time. These lofty goals could make a difference in the number of deaths on California roads.