Statistics show cycling accidents demand community’s attention

Illustration

Tanja Fleischer

Illustration

JESSIKA KARLSSON, Channels Staff

According to Santa Barbara Police Department, bicycle traffic collisions increased 44 percent compared to the same period in 2012. Santa Barbara ranks as the third worst place to cycle in California.

Sam Franklin, advocacy program coordinator for Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, said that he was shocked about the numbers but knew there has been an increase regarding bike accidents. Part of if being the general increase in bicycling in Santa Barbara.

“Just the fact that there are so many more traffic collisions shows that there definitely is a need for better bicycling infrastructure,” said Franklin.

With a default in the parking system on campus and an overcrowded public transportation system, biking is one of the fastest and easiest transportation alternatives for City College students.

However, many of the bike lanes installed in Santa Barbara are from the 70s and 80s. The growth of cyclists shows that there’s need for modern facilities and safer bicycle lanes in Santa Barbara.

City College student Joachim Maha Daffeh rides his bike to school every day. He said that he has mixed feelings about biking in Santa Barbara, even though it’s his main transportation tool.

He’s been involved in two biking accidents since moving to Santa Barbara two years ago.

“I actually got hit by a car once. It was on my way from school to a performance at Soho.” said Daffeh. “I was all dressed up and everything.”

It’s important for drivers to be aware of the vulnerable bicyclist, but Franklin also points out the importance of cyclists obeying the rules of the road.

“What’s still slightly lacking is the culture of knowing that you are actually sharing the road with each other,” Franklin commented.

Daffeh comes from a town in Sweden where most of the population commutes by bicycle.

“That’s how I got into the biking culture. Everyone bikes there, even though I had a car, I didn’t really use it,” said Daffeh.

The Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition did a public outreach in May 2014, where they asked people about their biking habits and to map out spots they thought had safety issues in Santa Barbara.

The one intersection that got the most comments about safety concerns was Castillo’s underpass. Many people also mentioned the area of City College to be a hard place to cycle.

Kevin McClintock is a City College student and has volunteered for the Santa Barbara Biking Coalition since 2010. He would like to see improvement with the biking infrastructure at City College and hopefully let students ride their bike on campus.

He suggests that finding a better route is a good for increased safety and that Santa Barbara County Bike Map has a free app where cyclist can see all the bike paths in Santa Barbara.

“People can add another five or ten minutes on their ride to be more safe,” said McClintock.

Franklin points out that there’s a rather safe route to reach City College using the Loma Alta hill that starts at the shoreline, but there are no signs that informs about the accessible bike path.

Santa Barbara is generally a great place for cycling with good conditions according to Franklin. However, he adds that there are many gaps in the cycling network of the city and that a network is only as strong as its weakest point.

“If you want to cycle from home to college and you have a great ride for 90 percent of the time. Then there are one or two intersections that are really scary; you’ll end up not cycling,” said Franklin.

Daffeh explains one of his main reason for biking is the accessibility and that he can reach most any places, sometimes even faster than by car.

“One of my dislikes is that I don’t think biking is really accommodated to this town,” said Daffeh. “It’s risky to bike on main roads, and it feels like a lot of drivers here are impatient.”

California recently adopted a “three feet rule” to help cyclist and vehicles to share the road giving both modes of transportation more safety room.

Franklin mentions that better infrastructure would improve safety for cyclist, but also for pedestrians and drivers and would generally benefit the whole community.

Daffeh said that he think it’s important for cyclist to be aware of the rules, to slow down and not to be in a rush.

“You can’t compete with a car, “ said Daffeh. “If it hits you, you’re dead.”