According to a recent study released by the University of Michigan, Los Angeles pedestrians and bicyclists are at at a significantly higher risk of being killed by automobile drivers than the national average. The Los Angeles Times reports that the study shows a much higher risk of death for Los Angeles bicyclists and pedestrians than in other areas with the exception of New York ().
Pedestrians throughout Los Angeles accounted for approximately one third of all traffic-related deaths; this is almost triple the nation’s average of 11.4%. For bicycle accidents that involved automobiles the fatality rate was approximately 3%. That is significantly higher than the 1.7% national average for bicycle accidents that involved motor vehicles. The report does not include data about accidents that resulted in serious injury as the result of Los Angeles area bike accidents. A reasonable assumption could be made that pedestrians and bicyclists in LA are at greater risk of serious injury than the national average.
The Times story also indicates what most Los Angeles bicyclists know: the city spends much more money and effort on keeping automobile lanes running “efficiently” than it does improving bike lanes and taking safety measures that would further aid bicycle safety. Automobile safety should be important. But cyclists and pedestrians are at such extreme risk that greater safety measures seem imperative.
A Los Angeles automobile accident is always serious. When injuries are involved, the possibility for tragedy looms. But many car accidents do not involve injuries. The property damage, police reports, and insurance negotiations may lead to headaches but these are often the only consequences. When a bike versus car or pedestrian accident occurs, the injuries are almost never minor. Knowing this and having the Michigan study available begs the question: will Los Angeles do more to ensure bicycle and pedestrian safety?