Biking is more than just a popular pastime; for many, it is a way of life. It provides a convenient means of transportation and, in some cases, can even cut down on commute time. Although beneficial for the environment, the biker’s health, and the biker’s wallet as they save on gas and auto-related costs, there are some drawbacks. Most notably, safety.
LA is known for many things, but biker safety is not one of them. In an effort to address this issue, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) states that it plans to increase bicycle safety throughout the city by adding bike lanes, repair stations, and bike share programs.
A case study provides an example
Avalon Boulevard, for example, from Jefferson Blvd to 120th Street is on the city’s High Injury Network. Accidents killed 149 people on this section of roadway from 2009 through 2017. Almost half of these individuals were bikers or pedestrians. Community residents called for the city to add safe crossings and a bike lane to help address the issue. Thus far, the city has reconstructed the lanes to help meet this goal. Instead of two lanes in each direction, it now has one lane in each direction with a center turn lane and bicycle lanes.
Plans for the area include new traffic signals, bus boarding islands, and concrete pedestrian islands. These future projects are set to begin next year.
Legislative efforts and the numbers
The fact is a need for dedicated bicycle lanes to increase bike safety is not a novel concept — and yet LA continues to need these important infrastructure changes. Infrastructural failures like high-speed, multi-lane roadways without safe bicycle lanes or inadequate street lighting continue to pose a serious problem for cyclists throughout the city. These shortcomings are more than just a possible reason for concern. Numbers support the issue.
- 85%. The number of cycling fatalities that occur on roads that do not have a bicycle lane.
- 77%. The percent of fatalities that take place on multi-lane roads.
- 54%. Number of crashes that occur at night with poor lighting.
Although the Avalon Boulevard Project discussed above shows progress, more is needed. Changes to infrastructure are important for bicyclists’ safety. Community members clearly support such changes, as was highlighted with the Avalon project discussed above. Continued efforts like this, combined with injured cyclists holding negligent drivers accountable for their actions, will go a long way towards increased bike safety in the city.