It might seem obvious, but the data is there to back it up. When Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti ordered a shutdown of most businesses in response to the pandemic, the amount of car traffic on the streets dropped off almost immediately. Unsurprisingly, the number of accidents also decreased, with the LAPD recording 16 crashes the week of March 15th, down by half from one year ago.
An analysis by Crosstown found that over 11 weeks, collisions between bicycles and cars fell by 71% compared to the same period last year. There were 164 car-bike crashes compared with 561 last year.
Will there be an increase in crashes with more traffic?
Car-bike crashes will likely increase as more and more people get back to their lives. Bicycling deaths in Southern California decreased dramatically in March, April, and May. There has, unfortunately, also been a marked increase in biker fatalities in June and July as more vehicles have returned to the road.
A silver lining?
Somewhat surprisingly, the city of Los Angeles seems to be taking note of the apparent link between the number of motorized vehicles and bicycle crashes. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has taken the opportunity provided by the pandemic slowdown to expedite work on bike lanes and safety projects. LADOT public information director Colin Sweeney says that nearly 28 miles of bike lanes have been installed or upgraded, and 5.5 miles of bike lanes are currently under construction.
Los Angeles still has a way to go to creating a genuinely bikeable city. But it appears the officials are now paying attention, and hopefully, safety measures and biking infrastructure will continue to improve.