Bicycling and the Calif. Strategic Highway Safety Plan

You may be familiar with the Fed Gov’t requirement for states to have a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). Part of the Calif. SHSP is Challenge Area 13, Bike Safety. That group has just updated their “talking points” summary info about bicycling safety. There is a link below to the whole SHSP talking points document, and I provide below just the bicycle portion.


Challenge Area 13: Improve Bicycle Safety, Last updated: 04/29/14
● Federal, state, and local governments and many businesses recognize the environmental, traffic, economic, and health benefits of bicycling for recreation and transportation as well as every person’s legal rights and responsibilities for bicycling on the roadway. Over the past decade, policymakers and others have been promoting bicycle riding, linking it to clean air, a healthier population, and reduced traffic congestion.

● Recent “Share the Road” campaigns, e.g. Shared Lane Markings/”Sharrows” & “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs, are educating road users on the concept that in many situations bicyclists may use a full lane.

● With the passage of AB 1371, to go into effect September 2014, California drivers are required generally to stay at least three feet away when passing bicyclists.

● California’s traffic culture has focused primarily on motor vehicles, leading the general public to believe bicycling should not occur on roadways. In April 2013, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) started a new campaign “Zero Tolerance for Drivers Who Disrespect Cyclists” to discourage life-threatening behavior toward cyclists. Former USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood stated, “We need to make sure people driving here have respect for bicyclists. Bicyclists have as much right to the road as they do.”

● There is a widespread misconception that it is up to the bicyclists to stay out of the way of motor vehicles and that bicyclists should ride on sidewalks — sidewalk bicycling is illegal in many cities and can lead to crashes involving motorists or pedestrians.

● With few exceptions, a person bicycling on the road is entitled to the same rights and is subject to many of the same responsibilities as a person using a motor vehicle. Everyone must be aware of their responsibilities and be respectful and tolerant of each other on California roadways.

● California’s favorable climate and increased marketing of bicycling through events, such as the Amgen Tour of California and National Bike Month, have resulted in more recreational riding and bicycle commuting. Ciclovia events (closing city streets to automobiles) encourage families with children and others to have fun bicycling.

● More young adults are choosing bicycles instead of a motor vehicle for more of their transportation needs. Americans between the ages of 16 and 34 appear to be driving less than previous generations due to the high cost of driving and a greater interest in personal fitness and environmental stewardship. (U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Frontier Group)

● Immigrants are twice as likely as US-born Americans to travel by bicycle. (League of American Bicyclists and the Sierra Club) It is essential to reach out by providing bicycling education and advocacy materials that meet the specific needs and cultural understandings of these communities.

● As policies encourage more walking and bicycling, there is a responsibility by all to provide facilities, activities, and educational opportunities to make it as safe as possible. It may be that the more people who use bicycles or walking, the safer the roadway travel environment will be for everyone.

● Bicycle fatalities in California increased 6.9 percent from 116 in 2011 to 124 in 2012 (FARS, 2014).

● Bicycle severe injuries in California increased 12.2 percent from 874 in 2010 to 981 in 2011 (SWITRS).

● In California in 2011, the statewide percentage of bicyclist fatalities was 4.1 percent of all fatalities, which is nearly twice the national average of 2.1 percent (FARS, 2013).

● Between 2009 and 2011 in California, fatalities involving bicycles accounted for 4.1 percent of fatalities overall and serious injuries involving bicycles accounted for 8.6 percent of severe injuries overall. This suggests that bicyclists are over-represented in fatal and injury crashes relative to their 1.1 percent share of trips in the State, (US Census American Community Survey). Furthermore, fatal and severe injuries involving bicycle were 1.4 times severe than fatal and severe injuries overall.

● Between 2009 and 2011, collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles are more likely to occur on local roadways than the State Highway System. Specifically, 84.9 percent of fatalities involving bicycles and 89.4 percent of severe injuries involving bicycles occurred on a local road compared to 57.2 percent of fatalities overall and 64.3 percent of severe injuries overall.

● Over half of all bicycle-related injury collisions between 2009 and 2011 occurred in four counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Santa Clara.

● There is a documented relationship between motor vehicle speeds and bicyclist collision severity. A report titled, “Why We Are Stuck at High Speed and What Are We Going To Do About It,” by Sara Wright and Scott Bricker (February 2012), states that “as driving speed increases, so does the likelihood of getting into a crash, and the likelihood of injury or death for the people involved in the crash.”

● Bicycling is an increasingly important mode share in our transportation system. However, many people do not bicycle due to concerns about safety. Efforts to enhance infrastructure should occur in tandem with education and enforcement efforts.

● Road use should be safe for everyone.

This entry was posted in Miscellaneous on by .

About Jim Baross

I bicycled across the USA from East to West in 1976 leading groups of bicyclists for the “Bikecentennial ’76 “event and again in 2007 riding this time from West to East with my two sons. I was first certified as an Effective Cycling Instructor in 1986 by the League of American Bicyclist and have been an active League Cycling Instructor for the League since then. In 2002 I gained acceptance as a Cycling Instructor Trainer and since then have conducted 11 training seminars for certification of League Cycling Instructors held in San Diego, San Jose, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento, Morgan Hill, Fairfax, and Palo Alto. I completed the San Diego Police Bicycle Skills Menu Course in 2003 and I have been an expert witness for bicycling crash incidents. I presently serve on several bicycling advisory committees and advocacy organizations. Chair - Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Working Group for the San Diego regional association of governments since 1995 Vice Chair - California Bicycle Advisory Committee for the State Dept of Transportation, a member since 1992 President - California Association of Bicycling Organizations Board member - California Bicycle Coalition California State Ambassador – League of American Bicyclists Co-Chair California Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Challenge Area 13, Improving Bicycling Safety Conferences, seminars and similar events at which I have attended and presented bicycling safety information and training include the following: Speaker/Presenter, Calif. Office of Traffic Safety, Summit “What to do about all these bicycles in Traffic”, 2009 ProWalk-ProBike Conference, Seattle WA., 2008 Attendee/Speaker, League of American Bicyclists, Bike Education Conference, Wisconsin and New York City, 2002 & 2007 Velo Mondial, Amsterdam. 2000 Speaker/Presenter, Calif. Office of Traffic Safety’s Summit “A Vision for Roads to Traffic Safety”, 2000 Speaker Autovation conference, San Diego 2005 Chair, California Strategic Highway Safety Plan, #13 - Improve Bicycling Safety Presenter, California Strategic Highway Safety Plan Summit, 2008 Anaheim Attendee, League of American Bicyclists, National Bike Summit, Washington, DC, 2006 & 2008 Presenter, Walk/Bike California Conferences, Oakland 2003, Ventura 2005, Davis 2007 Speaker, Making the Connection International Trails and Greenways Conference Presenter, Safety N Kids, Conference, “Children Learn Best by Good Examples From Those They Trust”, 2006 Speaker, ITE Conference 2006 Dana Point, Calif., “Engineering for Bicycling, From a Bicyclists Point of View” Exhibitor/Speaker, Lifesavers, National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities, 2004 References familiar with my bicycling background and experience include: Kathy Keehan, Exec Director San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, Ph: 858-487-6063, Email: Stephan Vance, Chair Calif. Bicycle Coalition and SANDAG Senior Planner, Ph: 619-595-5324, Email: Ken McGuire, Chief Bicycle Facilities Unit, California Dept of Transportation, Ph: 916-653-2750, Email: Preston Tyree, Director of Education, League of American Bicyclists, 1612 K St., NW, #800, Washington, DC 20006, Ph: 202-822-1333 x 227, Email:

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