To state that Los Angeles is a comparatively dicey place for bicyclists is not exactly an earth-shattering observation. It’s equivalent, say, to noting that the metropolis has congested traffic, a diverse population or multiple eating options.
That is to say, anyone who has spent any amount of time in Los Angeles environs knows that they’d better put their best foot forward — literally — when pedaling a bike on urban pavement.
The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Every area of Los Angeles County has accidents involving bicyclists, and those incidents too often result in serious injuries or even death for riders. They are, after all, exceedingly vulnerable.
What can city officials do to better enhance the bicycling odds and come as close as possible to guaranteeing safe outcomes for riders?
As noted by a data scientist, they can avail themselves of available information on accidents that, when smartly analyzed, reveals much about the most problematic sites around LA for bikers. Empirical evidence, says Dave Goodsmith in an article on bike accident problems and solutions penned recently for the Los Angeles Times, readily shows where the most dire problems are and what is causing them. Researchers considering that evidence can come up with solutions that promote safer outcomes.
Goodsmith notes that some countries have been using a data-driven approach to promote road safety for decades, and to great effect. In Sweden, for example, there have reportedly been only 16 biking deaths over the past decade in a city where about 100,000 bike trips are made daily.
Los Angeles could — indeed, should — emulate an approach that systematically tracks information about accidents, noting where they occurred, who was at fault, time of day, amount of traffic, accident-site roadway configuration and so forth.
Doing so, says Goodsmith, will allow city leaders to focus upon “evidence-based changes to make [LA] a safer place.”