For bicyclists, Southern California has long been heralded as one of the best places to live and ride. The warm yet temperate climate makes riding outdoors viable all year long. On almost any given day, numerous cyclists either alone or in groups line area streets and bike lanes to get some exercise and enjoy the region’s scenic beauty. Sadly, these very people seem to be in greater danger when participating in what should be good for them.
Bicycling magazine indicates that records released from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the fourth quarter of 2019 show that cyclist fatalities in 2018 reached their highest point in nearly three decades nationwide. Between 2017 and 2018, overall traffic deaths in the United States dropped by more than 2%. At the same time, bicyclist deaths increased by more than 6%.
The picture in California and in Orange County particularly appears to follow a similar tragic trend. Statewide, cyclists represented almost 3.8% of all fatalities in 2017. That increased to 4.3% in 2018. In Orange County, cyclists accounted for 6.2% of all accident fatalities in 2018, up from 5.7% the previous year. Between 2014 and 2018, a total of 6.8% of all people killed in vehicle accidents in the county were bicyclists.
Nationally, the NHTSA records show that women on bikes have fared far worse than their male counterparts. While male cyclist deaths increased just over 3.2%, deaths among female cyclists jumped a dramatic 29.2%. Pedestrians also have seen their fatality numbers rise. Together, pedestrians and cyclists accounted for one out of every five people killed in vehicle accidents.
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