A recent article in Costa Mesa’s Daily Pilot indicates that the affluent town of Newport Beach is not a safe area to be a cyclist. The article relays information from the California Office of Traffic Safety informing readers that, in 2010, Newport Beach was ranked among the worst cities for bicycle safety in California when compared to cities of similar size in the state. Bicycle accidents account for a higher percentage of injuries in the community compared to others in the same category (http://articles.dailypilot.com/2012-09-21/news/tn-dpt-0922-safety-20120921_1_cyclist-fatalities-bike-accidents-crashes). Though the community may be highly attractive, bicyclists may think twice about riding there especially if they are seniors.
Throughout the nation, seniors are the most vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists. According to the Alliance for Biking & Walking’s most recent national report, adults over the age of 65 account for 10% of walking trips, yet comprise 19% of pedestrian fatalities. This same demographic accounts for 6% of bicycling trips, yet suffers 10% of bicycle-related fatalities (http://www.peoplepoweredmovement.org/site/images/uploads/Media_Fact_Sheet_-_Benchmarking_2012.pdf).
California cities that have a high percentage of seniors and retirees should probably do more to ensure pedestrian and bicycle safety. In Newport Beach, according to the 2010 census, 25,322 people in the city (29.7%) were aged 45 to 64 and 16,162 people (19.0%) were 65 years of age or older. Since Newport Beach is so highly attractive to people in the upper age demographic, it seems reasonable that they would do more to ensure bike safety since such a high percentage of the population is statistically at risk. Newport Beach officials clearly value the safety of residents; perhaps the recent report will help them solve a problem before it’s too late.