In this publication and elsewhere, many readers have criticized bicyclists for their allegedly dangerous behavior. However, Santa Monica accident statistics from 2003 to 2013 (as compiled by Safe Streets Santa Monica) show that the criticism is more based on perception than on facts.
In 10 years, there were only 48 collisions between bicyclists and pedestrians in Santa Monica — about one every two months. And in 10 years, only one bike-pedestrian collision resulted in serious injury. However, 3 bicyclists died in collisions with cars, and 1179 were injured. During the same time frame, 14 people were killed and 6,862 were injured in car-on-car crashes. Most shocking: there were 32 fatalities and 1,191 injuries when cars struck pedestrians in Santa Monica.
While it certainly is prudent to remind bicyclists (and pedestrians) to be careful, this should not distract us from our most fatal danger: automobile traffic and driving speeds are in excess of what our municipal roads and communities were designed for. And, most of this local car traffic is not created by local residents.
Prima facie speed limits are established by California law and include the 25 mphspeed limit in business and residential districts. But this limit is routinely ignored. In view of the sad number of fatalities and injuries, we should lower the municipal speed limits in residential areas and in downtown. And rather than focusing on parking enforcement because it is lucrative, we should focus on speed enforcement because it increases road safety. Doing this would make walking and biking much safer, and it would make the community much more livable for residents — especially for seniors, children, pets and people with disabilities.
In addition, lower residential speed limits would decrease the new danger posed by mobile apps and navigation systems which are now increasingly routing commuter traffic through less congested residential areas.