Friday, October 19 , 2018, 10:49 pm | Fair 60º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Putting Brakes on Bike Accidents With Safety Checks

The Santa Barbara Police Department will conduct bicycle safety enforcement operations on March 4 with focused enforcement on collision-causing factors involving motorists and bicycle riders.

Special patrols will be deployed to concentrate on drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws meant to protect all roadway users.

The department has conducted analyses of locations where bicycle-involved collisions have occurred, and the violations that led to those crashes, over the past three years.

Officers will be looking for violations made by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike that can lead to life-changing injuries.

Bicycle fatalities are rising in California as more people ride bikes for commuting, exercise and recreation.

Locally, the Santa Barbara Police Department has investigated two fatal and 341 injury collisions involving bicycle riders over the past during the past three years.

California witnessed 147 bicyclist deaths in 2015, accounting for more than 4 percent of all traffic fatalities, much higher than the national average of just over 2 percent.

Nationally, 71 percent of all bicyclists who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014 died in urban area crashes, with the highest incidence of crashes occurring during the early evening.

Over a 10-year period (2005-14), the average age of ­cyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes has steadily increased from 39 to 45, and are overwhelmingly male.

The most recent Office of Traffic Safety statistics have ranked Santa Barbara as fourth worst in bicycle collisions when compared to 105 similarly sized cities. In the past three years, Santa Barbara has experienced 366 bicycle-involved collisions.

In December 2015, a bicyclist was riding eastbound on Carrillo Street when he failed to stop for a red traffic signal at the intersection with Castillo Street. The bicyclist was struck by a vehicle that was traveling southbound on Castillo Street.

The bicyclist suffered injuries to his neck, back, both arms and both legs and required treatment at Cottage Hospital emergency room. He was not wearing a helmet, and an inspection of his bike revealed that neither of its brakes were functioning at the time of the collision.

The following safety tips can save lives and stop this tragedy witnessed far too often in Santa Barbara:

» Place full attention to driving and eliminate all distractions
» Share the road with bicyclists
» Be courteous; California law now mandates at least 3 feet of clearance when passing a bike rider
» Look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space
» Yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals
» Be especially watchful for riders when making turns, either left or right

» Wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time you ride; if under 18 years of age, it’s the law.
» A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent a head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.
» California law mandates that a bicycle operated on the roadway be equipped with a brake that will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
» Riders are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals and lane markings.
» When cycling on the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.
» Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, and at dawn and dusk
» To be noticed when riding at night, the law requires a front light and a red reflector to the rear.
» For additional safety, use a flashing rear light and retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment and clothing.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

— Joshua Morton for Santa Barbara Police Department.


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