With all of its great weather and beautiful landscapes, California is a popular place for serious bike riders. Unfortunately, a rise in bike deaths and injuries due to vehicle accidents occurred in a recent three-year period.
The facts and numbers behind this trend point to a dangerous situation for bikers and a lack of awareness by some drivers.
The U.S. News & World Report states that traffic accidents killed 455 bikers in California from 2016 to 2018. That is the most in 25 years. Traffic accident fatalities occurred at a rate of 3.9 deaths per million people, the highest rate since the mid 1990s, a time before many bike paths and lanes existed. Observers cite numerous possible reasons for the increase: more drivers on the roads, more instances of distracted driving and more large vehicles on the roadways. Other analysts cite the increased popularity of cycling in the state and in the nation. The most deaths for California cyclists happened in heavily-populated Los Angeles County, with 107 in that three-year period, while Sacramento County was second with 47 deaths.
Citing an insurance company study, The U.S. News & World Report reported that three states, California, Florida and Texas, accounted for 41 percent of the nation’s cycling deaths from 2014 through 2017. The study said that cycling deaths reached an all-time high for bike commuters in the years 2010 to 2017, when the death rate increased by 25 percent. One California city, San Bernardino, earned a ranking in the top five most dangerous cities for bike commuters. The study found that most accidents occur on open roads and not at intersections.