news County Report Highlights Collision Dangers – Pt. 1
Our work will not be done until people of all ages and abilities can safely travel by foot and bike. A recent County report makes it clear that we still have a ways to go toward making Marin’s roads safer for all.
The County’s 2018 Travel Safety Plan examined all 2756 roadway collisions that occurred on city and county roads* between 2012-16 to better understand their causes and identify road design treatments–such as protected bike lanes, traffic calming, signage, etc.–aimed at reducing their likelihood or preventing them entirely.
In this two-part series, we’ll look first at the high level trends and then at the specific locations and types of locations where collisions are more likely to occur–and what it will take to make them safer.
*The study did not include state highways, freeways, or local / neighborhood streets.
Collision Rates & Severity
The findings confirm what we already knew: that people travelling by foot and bike are the most vulnerable road users. Cyclists and pedestrians were involved in 29 percent of all collisions, but accounted for 50 percent of all severe injuries and fatalities.
Of the 2756 collisions, nearly one in five involved people biking and one in ten involved people on foot. An average of eight cyclists and nine pedestrians were struck and severely injured or killed per year.
COLLISIONs by jurisdiction
The likelihood of a collision involving someone walking or biking comes out of some combination of three factors: 1) the amount of activity in the area, 2) environmental factors (road design, infrastructure, lighting, etc.), and 3) human behavior. Human behavior is heavily dictated by environmental factors and road design.
Crash trends generally follow expected activity levels by time of day, day of week, and month of year. Collisions involving people biking peak in the evening on weekdays and around midday on weekends. Collisions involving people walking peak in the late afternoon/evening regardless of the day of week.
Likewise, we see higher collision rates in Marin’s busiest areas and cities. San Rafael leads the list in both bike-car and pedestrian-car collisions, underscoring the urgent need for robust bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, starting with those outlined by MCBC in the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and Transit Center Relocation Project.
In the charts below, collisions resulting in severe injuries or fatalities are shown in red. All others are shown in blue.
Nearly one in three crashes is caused by unsafe speed, reinforcing the importance of traffic calming measures and speed enforcement. Improper turning caused over one-third of the 17 fatalities during the study period.
With 47 percent of bike-involved crashes categorized under “Other,” it’s difficult to glean the most common dangers facing people bicycling. We reached out Marin CHP to better understand why bike collisions aren’t being reported with more specificity and came away with the impression that the coding system used by law enforcement is not nearly as useful as it can or should be.
From what we do know, however, at least one-quarter of all bike collisions–those involving straight or right-turning vehicles–could be addressed by separating or protecting people biking from vehicular traffic, either through protected bike lanes or multi-use pathways.
At least 18 percent of crashes are the result of cyclists running into objects, falling on their own, or falling due to hazardous conditions. As always, we ask that you report hazards to the appropriate jurisdiction and MCBC.
A majority of pedestrian collisions occur in crosswalks. There are several ways to address this, including separate signal phasing for turning vehicles and pedestrian crossings, giving pedestrians a head-start at green lights, slowing vehicle turning speeds, and improving crosswalk visibility.
up next – Part Two
In part two, we’ll look at specific hotspots around the County and offer our thoughts on how Marin’s agencies can work toward eliminating traffic-related injuries and fatalities.