Are pedestrian and bicycle accident rates rising?

Frank S. Clowney III

It is just a fact of life that we have to leave our homes, walk through a parking lot or walk down a road or sideway. At all of these times, we are pedestrians. On the other hand, for those looking to streamline their non-car life, a bicycle is a must have for travel throughout San Diego County. But, have these activities become more dangerous?

Are pedestrian and bicycle accident rates rising?

Yes. Every year, generally, about 16% of all traffic fatalities are pedestrian and bicyclists. This equates to 800 bicyclist deaths and 5,000 pedestrian deaths in typical years. The injury numbers are even more staggering at 48,000 bicyclist’s and 65,000 pedestrian’s injuries every year, and these numbers are rising. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2018 had the most pedestrian fatalities in nearly 30 years, accounting for 17% of roadway fatalities at 6,283. And, while many may think they can avoid accidents by avoiding intersections, 74% of the fatal incidents occurred away from intersections.

Driver safety tips

Always be aware of the road and who is on the road. Look for pedestrians and bicyclists. When driving in hard-to-see road conditions, be especially cautious, and do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When nearing a crosswalk, stop before making turns, and yield to pedestrians. Stopping well before the crosswalk is also important because it helps other drivers see pedestrians. Always assume stopped cars at crosswalks are stopped because of pedestrians. Do not pass, and do not speed, especially in areas with increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic, like neighborhoods, school zones and downtown San Diego.

Walking and biking safety

For San Diego, California, pedestrians and bicyclists, we need to use the roads safely as well. Follow the rules, including obeying road signals and signs. Bike in bike lanes, and walk on sidewalks. For areas without sidewalks, stay far away from traffic, and be sure to walk facing traffic. Bicyclists should use the road as if they were driving, operating with the flow and direction of traffic. Always keep one’s head on a swivel, proactively looking for vehicles. For those areas without dedicated crosswalks, cross the street in well-lit areas, and do not assume one is visible to drivers. Do not weave in and out of cars during traffic, and wait for traffic gaps before crossing. When near parking spots and drive ways, watch for cars leaving and entering, and like driving, do not walk or bike inebriated. Together, we can make our San Diego County roads safe for everyone.