Bike Route Safety in the OC

From our neighbors waaaay up north in Canada, we found a University of British Columbia study of “Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment”  which examined the risk of injury associated with cycle routes.

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study quantifies the intuitive belief that bike riders are safest away from other traffic.

The highest risk route was major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure.

An excerpt in comparing risk of injury while riding a bike:

“In comparison, the following route types had lower risks (starting with the safest route type):

  • cycle tracks (also known as “separated” or “protected” bike lanes) alongside major streets (about 1/10 the risk)
  • residential street bike routes (about 1/2 the risk)
  • major streets with bike lanes and no parked cars (about 1/2 the risk)
  • off-street bike paths (about 6/10 the risk)

The following infrastructure features had increased risk:

  • streetcar or train tracks (about 3 times higher than no tracks)
  • downhill grades (about 2 times higher than flat routes)
  • construction (about 2 times higher than no construction)”

Their conclusions offer 3 infrastructure improvements to increase safety:

For major streets – cycle tracks

For residential streets – bike routes with traffic diversion

For off street – bike only paths (for bikes only – no strollers, runners, dog walkers, etc.)

Preferred Safe Routes

This diagram shows as bike infrastructure is separated from vehicular traffic, the risk of injury decreases, while the appeal of the route to cyclists increases.
Image: IBikeTO

Now a cycle track running the length of the county down the coast would be great, but we think we have a less costly approach which has most of the benefits, without the associated high cost of construction and ongoing maintenance.

Buffered bike lanes could be implemented fairly quickly if some localities are willing to find some space for cars to park other than the roadway.

They also could be incorporated into the design of the new developments in construction and in the planning phases throughout the county.

Seal, Sunset, and Huntington Beach are likely candidates as are Newport and Laguna Beach for the coastal portion of our BikeBone.

Coupled with roundabouts (and mini-roundabouts) at targeted intersections, driving and riding up and down the Coast Highway would become much safer for people on the roadway as well as pedestrians trying to cross it.

Trimming travel lanes from 12 to 10 foot widths to accommodate additional buffer space  would also induce traffic calming and reduce vehicle collisions as well.

In January 2012, Caltrans  implemented buffered bike lanes by removing 2 travel lanes on Sloat Blvd. (CA-35) in San Fransisco. Driven by a request from District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu to improve safety on this roadway, this is what they came up with:

Buffered Bike Lane

Buffered Bike Lane on CA-35 (Sloat Boulevard)
(Photo: Mark Dreger, San Franciscoize)

With a little paint and reclaimed space, Orange County could (and should) transform a high death / high injury roadway into a much safer and saner travel experience.

Combo Paint

Los Angeles county introduces sharrows for the downhill and a bike lane for climbing in an innovative approach to rider safety in Santa Monica, March 2012

The approach used above provides some measure of safety for riders going uphill by providing them space out of the traffic lane, while riders descending have sharrows to guide their way clear of the door zone in Santa Monica on Arizona Avenue.

The approach below shows the buffer of a buffered bike lane placed in the “door zone”.
(Photos by Gary Kavanagh)

Buffered Bike Lane

Buffered Bike Lane on Bicknell Ave. in Santa Monica, March 2012

Being 2nd in the state (behind Los Angeles) for cyclist injury and death is not something to be proud of, nor something that should be accepted as “coming with the territory”.

As seen in the above two pictures, Los Angeles County is applying low cost (paint) methods (a variety of appropriate designs) to improve both the connectivity of bike-able streets, and the safety of its riding public.

Despite numerous projects to increase vehicular traffic flow, scant attention seems to be made in this county regarding safer infrastructure for the riding public; the latest affront being the temporary loss of the northbound cycle lane on PCH before Warner without any advance notice or warning to advocacy groups.

Riding SharrowsIt “only” took over two years, two deaths, a threat of (yet another) lawsuit, and the turnout of hundreds to catch the attention of one city to take action in the form of putting some paint on the road to improve cyclist safety.

Given the number of riders observed preferring the door zone to the clear direction provided by the recently installed sharrows, we provide the instructive graphic on the left.

Sharrows are positioned on the road to provide guidance to bike riders as to where to position their bikes as they make their way down the road.

Two rules apply:1) ride with the direction of traffic, (2) ride between the stencil’s wheels and through the center of the chevrons.

As the county continues developing its last open spaces creating greater demand on the roadways, proactive planning for active means of transport should take the forefront, and not be an afterthought after the last strip of pavement is laid.

As the study points out, infrastructure plays a key role in attracting and motivating more people to cycle, in addition to increasing their safety while doing so. As we continue collecting your input on our Bike Commute Survey, it’s clear a dedicated cycle route free from non-cycling entities is highly desired.

Using the study’s observations and conclusions, City, County, and Caltrans planners can design safer means of roadway treatments to accommodate all users of the roadway regardless of how many wheels those users may have under them.

Solvang or San Diego?

A tough choice to make .

The (mostly) car free rollies in the Sta. Ynez  valley area with over 1500 of your new best friends for a cause , or a coastal cruise with over 1500 of your other newest best friends in the San Diego area for a cause.

Should be a blast either way – and the weather looks almost as great as the gift (on many levels) that was last Sunday’s Memorial Ride.

Tailwinds and firm tires to all riders wherever you choose to cruise!

While we on the left coast must face these troubling decisions head on, please consider those less fortunate on the right in the aftermath of the storm, even while the very fortunate get to run the Marathon.

update:Marathon cancelled – “Organizers will donate various items that had been brought in for the race to relief efforts, from food, blankets and portable toilets to generators already set up on Staten Island.     ”

Either way, the Red Cross has gone digital with a series of apps that may come in handy if disaster strikes.

From First Aid, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and soon even Wildfires, information you need will be right at hand. Read all about them here.

OC Bike Collision Demographic

We’ve presented charts and figures for counties and cities regarding collisions with bike riders showing the counts of fatalities and injuries, (in Newport’s case even the degree of injury), and who was at fault for the collision yet there’s still something missing.

To better target our educational outreach, we need to know “who are these people”, or who these people are that are colliding or are being collided with on our roadways.

The overview results are surprising and interesting, so we thought we’d share some top level charts for the county:

2010 Race Demographic

 The classifications for race are assigned in the collision record database, and the 23% being “not stated” may indicate shoddy record keeping by the reporting agency in 2010.

2011 Race Demographic

In 2011 record keeping improved in the county, shrinking the “not stated” to a negligible number (9). While it would appear that Whites either quit riding their bikes and causing collisions, or previous educational efforts are bearing fruit, we suspect more of the latter than the former.

Obviously the largest jump in colliding riders are the ones identifying with the Black and Asian categories, with a slight decrease in the Hispanic and Other categories.

So far for 2012 there aren’t too many records from Orange County with demographic information. As noted in an earlier post, some PDs are better at taking care of “administrivia” than others in getting their paperwork submitted in a timely manner. We also found that collision demographic data lags the actual collision record submission such that there may be a collision record with 2 parties injured, yet the party record is not there!

Such is the risk and result when working with preliminary data, so until the county demographic records show up, we present the 2012 collision demographic for the state:

2012 State Demographic Race

This might be something you’d expect to see from a state wide coalition like the CBC or even CABO, and while we can, it’s far beyond our charter to do so and this was done just to see if we could.

Since you asked, yes we have the city by city breakdown for the county, and they will be contacted regarding educational outreach efforts. On the other hand they are always free to contact us!

And since you’re wondering where this all came from…

All collision records are collected and maintained by the CHP SWITRS (Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System) database. There are actually 3 parts to the complete information record: collision, party, and victim. The record caseid (a unique identifier) is what ties the 3 segments together and we created a way to allow party information to be tabulated by any criteria we choose within the items contained in the database.

The process is time consuming and a lot of checks and balances are built in to avoid record duplication or omission, however that is part of the value-add provided by the Orange County Bicycle Coalition.

Your membership and donations help fund this effort, thanks for your support!

Halloween 2012 Safety

Be bright use your light

Card Courtesy of Vintage Everyday

A safety reminder for all the trick or treating ghosts and goblins, and everyone else – if you use your bike after the sun goes down be sure you have front and rear working lights on so you can see and be seen.

Remember to stay on the right side of the road and reflective clothing doesn’t hurt!

Look both ways before crossing an intersection or even crossing the street, we want you here – tomorrow.