Today's Street Smarts column was submitted by Theresia Rogerson, health educator for the county Health Services Agency and coordinator of the Community Traffic Safety Coalition. In her piece, Rogerson talks about observed bicyclist habits as well as crash data involving the pedal-powered vehicles.
This month, the county of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency and the Community Traffic Safety Coalition released two reports on bicycle safety.
One summarizes the results of a bicycle observation survey conducted earlier this year and compared the results to six previous surveys in 10 years. The other outlines data on injuries and fatalities for bicyclists in Santa Cruz County in 2010.
In May and June of this year, the Community Traffic Safety Coalition and other community partners and volunteers completed a countywide bicycle safety observation study. Data collection took place at 46 locations throughout Santa Cruz County. Figures were collected on age, gender, wearing of a helmet, riding with traffic, stopping at stop signs or red lights, and riding on the sidewalk.
The survey observed 3,046 cyclists in 2012, an increase of 250 cyclists from 2010. According to the numbers, 73 percent were men and 26 percent were women. Female cyclists had a higher rate of helmet use than men, 59 percent versus 45 percent.
Although helmet use has been steadily
Riding with traffic has been fairly consistent through the years, at around 85 percent. The number of cyclists who stopped at stop signs and red lights increased this year for most groups compared to previous years.
Children and teens were the exception, with their rate of stopping decreasing from 86 percent in 2010 to 80 percent this year.
The most recent data available for bicyclist injuries and fatalities was sourced from the California Highway Patrol for 2010 when 158 bicyclists were injured and none were killed. Most of those injuries took place in the unincorporated areas of the county and in the city of Santa Cruz. The injury and/or fatality rate for the county decreased from 2009 but still remains high compared to the statewide rate.
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, Santa Cruz County ranked fifth in the state for cyclists injured or killed in 2010.
This is an improvement from previous years when Santa Cruz has been ranked as high as second. While the high numbers of cyclists in Santa Cruz magnify these rankings, it's clear we still have work to do toward improving the safety of our roadways.
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