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.