What Are California’s Most Dangerous Streets For Cyclists?
New statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) paint a grim picture for cyclist safety in the USA. From 2010 till 2018, total cyclist fatalities jumped 25 percent across the nation.
Sadly, 857 cyclists died on America’s roads in 2018 alone.
In recent years, California has received both good and bad press for its cyclist safety standards. Although many Californian cities, such as Davis, have been celebrated for forward-thinking safety initiatives, others hold titles for the nation’s most dangerous for bicyclists. Indeed, statistics show that 139 cyclists are killed every year in California.
To help protect you on your cycling adventures, this post will reveal some of California’s most accident-prone roads. We’ll also take a closer look at proactive measures local governments are taking to address California’s unique safety challenges.
Los Angeles: CA’s Least Bicyclist-Friendly City
NHTSA data clearly shows cyclists are most at risk of injury or death in heavily urbanized areas. In fact, 75 percent of all cyclist fatalities occur in major cities.
With this statistic in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that California’s most dangerous city is also it’s biggest. Of course, we’re talking about Los Angeles, which is currently home to a whopping 4 million people.
The average number of cyclists killed on LA’s streets has climbed from 17 in 2015 to 21 in 2018. Within that same timeframe, pedestrian deaths have skyrocketed from 82 in 2015 to over 125 in 2018.
To help address this issue, Los Angeles has been working with the international Vision Zero program. A major part of Vision Zero’s mission is to identify the city’s most dangerous streets and suggest actionable solutions to urban planners to reduce the number of bicycle accidents.
Recently, Vision Zero revealed one of the deadliest roads in LA is along Imperial Highway in the middle of Athens Way and Vermont Avenue. The city’s most dangerous intersection, however, is between Pacific Coast Highway and Temescal Canyon Road near Will Rogers State Beach.
As you might expect, Vision Zero also discovered touristy sections in Central LA (e.g. Hollywood and the Sunset Strip) were prone to traffic accidents. Indeed, the only districts that performed well in terms of road safety were concentrated in the San Fernando Valley.
Other Dangerous Streets In California
Although LA is the Golden State’s worst area for cyclists, it’s not the only city with traffic woes. Indeed, many cities across California are now working with Vision Zero to put an end to cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.
In the following sections, we’ll highlight three other major Californian cities struggling with cyclist safety and identify a few particularly treacherous streets.
Before getting into San Francisco’s most dangerous streets, we should point out this hilly city has a serious issue with “dooring.” For those who are unaware, “dooring” refers to an accident when a driver opens his/her door and unexpectedly hits an oncoming cyclist.
Recent statistics reveal over 200 cyclists were injured in dooring accidents in San Francisco between 2012 – 2015. Ever since these figures were released, bicyclist safety groups have been advocating for larger buffers between bike-protected lanes and parked cars.
On the positive side, San Francisco’s cyclist fatality figures have been going down over the past few years. There were over 20 fatalities in 2018 compared with over 30 in 2016.
A few of the deadliest streets for cyclists in San Francisco include:
- Polk Street in the Tenderloin district.
- Divisadero Street in Haight-Ashbury.
- Valencia Street in the Mission District.
Other reports found that Market Street was particularly treacherous for cyclists. In the wake of these findings, city leaders decided to convert Market Street into a car-free area.
Although San Jose’s cyclist fatalities have slightly dipped in recent years, they are still about 40 percent higher today than in 2009. The latest data shows cyclist fatalities in San Jose peaked in 2015 with 60 deaths. Between 2016 – 2018, however, the average number of annual cyclist deaths was 49.
Most of the traffic collisions in San Jose happen in the eastern section of the city, particularly Alum Rock. As for the most dangerous intersection, recent data suggests it’s between McLaughlin Avenue and Story Road.
Other areas of the city with elevated crash statistics include:
- South San Jose
- Central San Jose
In 2018, the Wall Street Journal ranked California’s capital as one of the most dangerous cities in the country for cyclists. Although cyclist injuries have dropped from 71 in 2015 to the mid-50s for 2016 and 2017, the rate of cyclists killed has increased from 11 in 2015 to 18 in 2017.
Like many other cities, Sacramento has teamed up with Vision Zero to combat this growing issue. Data collected by Vision Zero suggests most of Sacramento’s traffic accidents occur in the city’s southern district and along the following streets:
- Marysville Boulevard between North Avenue and Arcade Boulevard.
- Broadway between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 13th Avenue.
- Florin Road between 24th Street and Munson Way.
Hope For The Future: Innovations Around The Bay Area
While California certainly has cyclist safety issues, there’s actually quite a lot to admire about cycling in the Golden State. Indeed, California frequently makes it at or near the top spot on lists of 'America's Most Bike-Friendly States'.
Two cities that particularly stand out in this category are Berkeley and Davis, both of which have been praised for their bicyclist infrastructure and safety education initiatives. There’s great hope other cities can learn from the innovations in Berkeley and Davis to make California the undisputed safest state for bicyclists.