August 17th, 2020| California is one of the three most dangerous states in the U.S. for cyclists, and the problem is only getting worse. Between 2016 to 2018, more cyclists died in California traffic accidents than in any three-year period since the mid-1990s. Because of the significant danger, cyclists in California should also use caution when riding on busy roads, and knowing the safest times to ride could help keep more cyclists safe.
When Are California Cyclists Most at Risk for a Crash?Based on statistics from 2017, the latest year for which finalized data is available, 21% of all bicyclist crash deaths happen between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. During this time of day, visibility is lower, and traffic is still relatively high, making it particularly dangerous for cyclists. The next most dangerous times of day is 9 p.m. to midnight (18% of all bicycle crash deaths) followed by 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (15% of all crash deaths). Other factors also increase the chances of bicycle accidents. For example, 75% of all bicycle crash fatalities occur in urban areas. Alcohol use contributes to more than one-third of all bicycle crash deaths, and intoxication by drivers and cyclists can both contribute to the problem.
When Are California Cyclists Safest on Our Roads?Now that we know the most dangerous times of the day, we can determine that cyclists are safest when visibility is high, but less traffic is on the road. So, ideally, cyclists should travel in daylight during non-rush-hour traffic. Unfortunately, riding only during the safest times of the day is simply not possible for many cyclists in California. To avoid increasing their risks of being involved in a crash, cyclists can take several other precautions.
How Cyclists Can Stay Safe on California’s RoadsIf cyclists can’t avoid riding during times of heavy traffic when driver visibility is low, they can make sure they’re equipped with the proper safety gear. The more visible they are to drivers, the easier it will be for those motorists to see them. Cyclists can wear brightly colored or reflective clothing when riding in the dark. They should have a headlight, a red light, or a reflector on the rear of their bikes, and a white or yellow reflector on each pedal. To learn more about California’s legal requirements regarding safety equipment, check out our guide to California’s bicycle laws.
The Responsibilities of Drivers Toward CyclistsIf we want to make California safer for cyclists, drivers must make sure they’re following the law and safely sharing roads. This means:
- Never driving in designated bike lanes.
- Yielding to cyclists the same way you would for any other motorist.
- Looking out for cyclists when turning at intersections or right on red lights.
- Giving cyclists plenty of room on our roads.