Editor’s note: Today’s Street Smarts column was submitted by Theresia Rogerson, health educator for the county health service 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 to six previous surveys over ten 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. A total of 35 staff and volunteers collected data at 46 locations throughout Santa Cruz County. Data was collected on age, gender, wearing a helmet, riding with traffic, stopping at stop signs or red lights, and riding on the sidewalk.
Of the 3,046 cyclists observed in 2012, an increase of 250 cyclists compared to 2010, 73 percent were men and 26 percent were women. Female cyclists had a higher rate of helmet use than men, 59 percent vs. 45 percent, respectively . Although helmet use has been steadily increasing since 2006 countywide, the helmet use rate in Watsonville is very low, at 20 percent, compared to the rest of the county, at 54 percent. In 2012, an increase in helmet use was observed in young adults ages 18 to 24 years and a decrease among teens.
Riding with traffic has been fairly consistent over the years surveyed 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 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 over 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 towards improving the safety of our roadways.
To download these reports, please visit the Community Traffic Safety Coalition’s website at www.sctrafficsafety.org and scroll down on the Safety Information page. Contact Rogerson at 454-4312 or email@example.com.