Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger
New Study Highlights Dangers for Marin County Cyclists
By Michael A. Kelly
Blessed with stunning terrain and spectacular views, the Bay Area is among the most beautiful areas in the nation for urban cyclists to traverse. From beginning cyclists to experts, the hills, mountains, trails, streets, and highways of Marin County rank high on enthusiasts’ list of venues.
As an attorney and public safety advocate, I have dedicated my forty-year career to fighting for and protecting Bay Area citizens. So I’m compelled to comment on new data we have published regarding accident frequency and documented dangers cyclists face when sharing the road with cars and trucks in Marin County.
We recently partnered with data visualization agency 1Point21 Interactive to examine a decade’s worth of California Highway Patrol data highlighting those areas with the worst record for bicycle crashes in Marin County. Grouping collisions by their closest cross streets, we tabulated accidents by location and applied a weighted scoring method to account for the severity of injuries sustained in each collision. The resulting study we have just published confirms that not all roads are created equally safe when it comes to the coexistence of cars and bikes.
Over a 10-year period from 2011- 2020 (the latest full year of data), there were a whopping 1,410 motor vehicle crashes involving at least one cyclist in Marin County for which the CHP had data. These crashes left nine cyclists dead and 1,415 injured, 230 of whom suffered severe injuries.
Not surprisingly many crashes occurred on and around the Golden Gate Bridge with tourists and locals vying for limited space on Alexander Avenue. Our study showed that three of the ten most dangerous places for cyclists are directly related to bike routes from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.
We also identified 125 crashes involving cyclists on the Bridge. Thankfully, none of these accidents was fatal, but 137 people were injured, 30 severely. It should be noted that the GGBHTD is attempting to remedy this situation by lowering the bridge speed limit to 15 mph.
Beyond these facts, our analysis revealed that in urban areas bicycle collisions occurred most often in San Rafael (323), Novato (125), Sausalito (122), Larkspur (86), San Anselmo (82), Fairfax (46), and Mill Valley (43).
We found that the most frequent accident locales in Marin County are:
1. Alexander Ave. & Bunker Rd. near Sausalito (25 bicycle crashes, 26 injuries)
2. Alexander Ave. & East Rd. near Sausalito (19 bicycle crashes, 19 injuries)
3. Pan Toll Rd. & Panoramic Highway near Stinson Beach (14 bicycle crashes, 14 injuries)
4. Lucas Valley Rd. & Nicasio Valley Rd. near Nicasio (12 bicycle crashes, 14 injuries)
5. Baywood Canyon Rd. & Sir Francis Drake Bl. near Fairfax (9 bicycle crashes, nine injuries)
The full report, with interactive maps, is available here.
As I told the Marin Independent Journal this week, our study aimed to raise awareness among cyclists and drivers and to encourage public agencies to make safety improvements. With a documented frequency of severe incidents at specific locations solutions need to implemented.
Bike collisions with motor vehicles, even when not fatal, are often life-altering events that result in extended periods of disability, medical treatment and rehabilitation. While drivers and riders have the primary responsibility to look out for each other, those who maintain our streets and highways also have an obligation to make roads safer when that can be achieved in a cost effective and prudent manner. Here, as in most circumstances in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Michael A. Kelly is a shareholder at the San Francisco-based plaintiffs firm Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. Kelly has handled personal injury matters for more than 40 years protecting consumers from corporate wrongdoing, medical mistakes, dangerous household products, unsafe medical devices, and motor vehicle accidents of every kind.