With so much land to explore, California is one of the top destinations for bicyclists in the nation. It has all types of terrain ranging from mountains, forests and big cities that have a quality almost unrivaled to them by other states. With the state’s handheld ban on cell-phones, they should have little to worry about when it comes to cycling on the road.
However, recent reports are suggesting otherwise. Despite having the potential to be a cyclist’s paradise, the Golden State has been appearing in frequent studies as of late to be a dangerous area for riders. It is important for bicyclists to be aware of these studies so they can take more caution on the road and for the state to improve itself to be a more bicycle friendly location.
Larger cities, larger death count
The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that California, Texas and Florida made up nearly 40 percent of the nation’s bicycle fatalities. While the three states do share some common factors such as warm weather and high populations, Texas and Florida do not have strict cell-phone car bans like California does.
This also comes as a surprise given a study by Your Local Security last month said that six of the safest bicycle cities in the nation are in California. However, this and multiple reports believe that Los Angeles is one of, if not the worst, bicycling city in the country. Most of the safe California cities have smaller populations and distinct bicycling lanes that encourage drivers and cyclists to share the road.
The gender gap
Data from the California Highway Patrol shows that between 2003 and 2015, men made up 87 percent of the 1,753 cycling fatalities in the state. The executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates believes the reason there are far more men on their bikes dying on the road is that women are more aware of the risks that come to the western state’s roads.
The executive director of the California Bicycle Commission believes the solution towards reducing the death count and getting more women on their bikes is to create more bike lanes in major areas. Sacramento looks to be updating their roads soon to evolve to these needs, but little is known about plans in other major cities. Some are against it due to how much the projects would cost and how the construction would impact the traffic on the road.
These reports demonstrate that California is a state that is heavily split in its approach to bicyclists between cities. It has both the best and worst places to take your bike in the entire nation, and the cell-phone law has a varying effect on whether drivers will put their phone down while behind the wheel or not. While some may be discouraged by these reports, others can use them as motivation to find locations where it is safer to take their bikes out for a ride.