Covid 19 has inflicted severe impacts across our country but it also highlighted cycling as the safest mode of transportation during the pandemic. When roads closed to vehicle traffic across the country, cyclists flocked to the roads and bike shops ran out of inventory. Covid 19 proved there is a huge potential cycling population if cyclists feel safe to ride on the roads. Sadly, road closures are temporary and separated bike lanes are interrupted by dangerous segments that most potential cyclists are unwilling to risk.
In their October 5, 2015 press release, “Three Feet For Safety – CHP Focusing on Keeping Cyclists Safe,” the CHP cited their partnership with us, we were previously known as 3FootCycling.com, and stated:
“As more Californians make bicycle riding their primary form of transportation or recreational sport, the CHP reminds our communities to focus on keeping cyclists safe by sharing our roadways. On average, in California over 13,000 cyclists are injured and over 140 are killed each year in traffic collisions. Last year in the Bay Area alone, over 2,700 cyclists were injured in collisions, and 21 cyclists were killed. It is our responsibility to ensure this number does not increase, and quite frankly, it is our responsibility to do all we can to prevent vehicle versus bicycle incidents from occurring.”
Those injury numbers are staggering yet Federal Highway Administration research stated up to 60% of cyclists that end up in emergency rooms due to motor vehicle collisions do not report to law enforcement. This was confirmed by National Transportation Safety Board findings stating “Police crash report data likely underestimate the scope of bicyclist nonfatal injuries.” This means the actual number of California cyclist injuries likely approached 30,000 per year.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association tells us fear is the top reason preventing potential cyclists from riding on the roads. The National Highway Transportation Association (NHTSA) and the Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center’s (PBIC) August 2020 publication highlighted our work, explained the main components of potential cyclists’ fear are near misses and perceived risk, and that near misses “are overwhelmingly more frequent than collisions.” Just as importantly, and alarming to most of us, the publication went on to state “many officers are fortunate to get even an hour of training time focused on pedestrian and bicyclist laws or issues.”
To address these issues we are working on a bill that would include in the California Driver’s Handbook the importance of maintaining a safe distance from pedestrians and bicyclists, and would include in the California driver’s license examination requirements, knowledge and understanding of the provisions of the Vehicle Code governing maintaining a safe distance from bicyclists and pedestrians. This bill would also define the offense of reckless driving to include driving such that the clearance from any part of the vehicle poses a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of a bicyclist or pedestrian.
Cities and counties across California have adopted Climate Change Action Plans, Complete Streets Resolutions and Bike/Pedestrian Master Plans that all call for less driving and more walking and biking. They all state safety is their top goal. Our bill will help ensure pedestrians and cyclists are kept safe on our roads.
For this bill to pass we need your support!
Please add your name to the petition below to help us keep cyclists and pedestrians safe!