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Patch Stats: Bike-on-Car Accidents

Sacramento County's most dangerous intersection for bicyclists is in Elk Grove, according to data from the state's Office of Traffic Safety.

Bicyclists beware: the intersection with the largest number of bike-on-car crashes in Sacramento County is in Elk Grove.

That’s according to 2009 data from the state's Office of Traffic Safety, the latest available.

Patch analyzed the figures on recent car crashes in the county. The attached maps show hot spots for accidents, both those where the vehicle collided with a bike and those where it hit another car. Click here to see an interactive version of the Sacramento County map.

The corner of Laguna Blvd and Bruceville Road saw four bike-on-car crashes that year, more than any other crossroads in the county. The intersection also ranked fifth for the number of accidents between cars; Elk Grove Blvd at Auto Center Road came in second.

The numbers came as no surprise to Bruce Kaiser, a managing partner at local bike store . Kaiser said he avoids Laguna Blvd when cycling because he simply doesn’t feel safe there. Instead, he commutes on Grant Line Road and Elk Grove Boulevard where he said there are fewer distractions, such as billboards and shops, for drivers.

“Most cities and towns are promoting bicycle commuting and riding, but they have to provide safe avenues for that to occur,” said Kaiser. "People don’t feel safe on our streets, and I hear it from our customers all the time."

The number of deadly car crashes in California is at its lowest point since 1944, but 2,715 people still died in automobile accidents last year in this state, officials say. That’s an average of more than seven deaths a day.

Collisions between bikes and cars are coming under increased scrutiny statewide as bicycle activists lobby for a greater share of transportation resources.

Ryan Sharpe, vice president of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, said the Sacramento region lags far behind cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco in bike safety, with outlying areas like Elk Grove bringing up the rear.

“The farther you get out from the Sacramento core, the worse it gets because of the way planning has been done for the last 50 years,” Sharpe said. “For traffic planners and city planners that got their starts in the eighties and before, it’s very hard to break out of [the car-centric] mindset.”

U.S. Census Bureau figures analyzed by the League of American Bicyclists show 134 Elk Grovians commuting to work by bicycle, or 0.2 percent of the commuting population. That puts the city in the bottom third of the 244 medium- and large-sized communities surveyed nationwide.

While Elk Grove’s recreational bike trails make it more bike-friendly than some other cities, Kaiser said, they are not designed for commuting.

"Because we don’t have a lot of bike trails that go anywhere really, our riders are forced to go on the streets, and cars fly down those streets," he said.

spokesperson Christopher Trim said the department provides bicycle safety training for children at its camp.

"Certainly if statistics show that a large segment of our community are adults being struck by vehicles on bikes, then we would seek grants or training funds to get education for cyclists as well as drivers," Trim said.

"Bicycles and vehicles have to share the road,” he added. “Unfortunately vehicles sometimes think they own the road and that can create issues."

Patch Regional Editor Alex Gronke contributed to this report.

pete Castelli August 03, 2011 at 06:01 AM
Right on Patch, thanks for exposing the careless lack of respect for cyclist by car drivers in these areas. Perhaps exposing the daily transgressions against bikers lives will lead to real bike lanes and safer venues for bike commuters. No matter the dispute between a car and a bike the cyclist will lose....Park your car, ride your bike!
Dave Raines August 03, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Sorry, Pete, but you are wrong. A quick review of the top four crash intersections show that 6 of 13 crashes were the fault of the bicyclits and another three were indeterminate. The causes included wrong way riding, not stopping at stop signs, not yielding correctly, and one where the bike ran down a pedestrian! There is plenty of blame to throw around, and at least half of it lands in the lap of bicyclists.
pete Castelli August 04, 2011 at 01:19 AM
Sorry Dave, guess you believe Roads are for cars, cyclist don't belong, and it is the fault of the cyclist for being hit. What stats you got on car drivers dying from crashing into a cyclist or sustaining any injury at all? There are many bicyclist dying or being injured every day. Even if it's a cyclist fault or not, they lose. So improvement means making it safer for cyclist and traffic control so they are able to have safer passage, your statistics on who is at fault are inconclusive and actually do not matter. The intersections are so sketchy that perhaps there is no safe way to portage these junctions.....so yes, the cyclist could be "at fault" by de-fault......So many people in cars influenced by tv commercial visions of power and manhood behind the wheel. The bigger the car usually the more "inadequate" the driver if you catch my drift.....
Dave Raines August 04, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Sorry, Pete, but your logic goes no where. Where do you get off claiming that I am anti-bike? I merely stated facts. Facts you can find for yourself, since they come from local crash investigations and are aggregated by the CHP. You showed your anti-car colors up front by stating "Park your car, ride your bike!" and your anti-driver diatribe. My comments were not anti-anything, just correcting your impressions that riders are pure as the driven snow in the face of raging car drivers. Obviously both have problems following both the laws and common sense. It is an unfortunate but ultimately irreducable fact that bicycles nearly always lose in such confrontations. To imply that lack of injury on the part of the driver somehow shifts the moral fault to them is specious. Obviously there needs to be more details on some things such as wrong-way riders, like whether lack of safe and adequate bike lanes prompted the action. However, that does not negate other at-fault rider actions such as running stop signs/stop lights or hitting a pedestrian. And BTW, I am both a rider and a driver.
patchreader August 04, 2011 at 04:28 PM
I'm betting many of the accidents at Laguna and Bruceville involved kids leaving the middle school and HS and not following the rules of the road. Go to that intersection after school and watch how many kids on their bikes run the lights, don't stop, ride on the wrong sides of the road, on sidewalks, between cars, etc. Yesterday I was almost hit by a teen on a bike riding very fast on the wrong side of the road who who then turned IN TO ON COMING traffic, running two lights in the process. The guy had NO helmet, and I was in my big SUV. Who would have been killed? Certainly not me.
alan August 05, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Bad drivers should not be allowed to operate motor vehicles. Adding speed bumps stop signs increased insurance rates etc. is not fixing the problem.

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