Bike safety advocates seek to focus on cyclists under 25

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Overall Bicycle Injuries and Fatalities in Santa Cruz County


2000         2001         2002         2003         2004         2005         2006         2007                        

155           151             153           166         162           151          154            150                                        



2000         2001         2002         2003         2004         2005         2006         2007

1                  2              0              1               0             1              1             2


Source: Community Traffic Safety Coalition using data from the CHP's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System



     More needs to be done to educate teens and young adults under age 25 about bicycle safety and the importance of wearing helmets.

     So said the Community Traffic Safety Coalition at its bi-monthly meeting Tuesday while members pored over two reports that are released annually. One was its Bicycle Safety Observation Study of 2008, compiled from a study it performs around the county each year. The other was the Bicyclist Injuries and Fatalities for Santa Cruz County 2007, the most recent year this compilation of statistics from the California Highway Patrol were available.

     The coalition is comprised of representatives from law enforcement, public works and private transportation-minded entities county wide, as well as members of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission and County Health and Human Services. The group’s goal is to improve transportation safety throughout the county, while promoting alternative modes of transportation.

     In its bike observation study, conducted in May and June of 2008, the group monitored the cycling habits of nearly 2,600 people from Davenport to Watsonville. Of them, 1911 or 74 percent were males; 659 or 26 percent were females; 85 or 3 percent were children up to age 12; 281 or 11 percent were teens ages 13 to 17; 649 or 25 percent were young adults ages 18 to 24; and 1561 or 60 percent were adults 25 and older.

     Among the findings, 36 percent of the teens and 30 percent of the young adults wore bike helmets. That’s compared to 65 percent of children 12 and under and 43 percent of adults age 25 and up who did wear helmets.

Helmet use is required for cyclists under age 18. The coalition is considering a letter writing campaign to state legislators to make helmets a requirement for all cyclists.

     In the CHP report, the cycling group between ages five and 24 saw the largest increase on bike injuries and fatalities in the county.

     The report, called The Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, compiled information reported by law enforcement agencies statewide.

     It stated that, in 2007, there were 20 reports of injuries and fatalities among children ages five to 14 and 47 reported cases of injury and death in people ages 15 to 24. Those numbers were up substantially from the 12 and 29, respectively, for those age groups the previous year.

     The coalition uses these statistics to brainstorm new safety projects. The group already offers safe routes to school maps, bicycle traffic school, helmet giveaways and the Pace Car Program.  

     Meanwhile, the coalition is gearing up to begin Bicycle Safety Observation Study of 2009 next month.

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