SPPD to step up safety enforcement for bicyclists, motorists

June 17, 2015
Santa Paula News

You just might meet a Santa Paula Police Officer this week when the SPPD steps up safety enforcement operations that will focus on bicyclists and motorists alike.

According to SPPD Sgt. Jeremy Watson, the June 15 kickoff will focus enforcement on “collision-causing factors involving motorists and bike riders. Patrol Officers will be deployed to crackdown on drivers and bicyclists who violate basic traffic laws.”

Watson said SPPD Officers will be “looking for violations made by drivers and bike riders alike that can lead to life changing injuries.”

Bicycle fatalities are rising in California as more people use bicycling for commuting, exercise and recreation. In 2012 alone there were 124 bicycle deaths in California while nationally 726 riders were killed.  

Nationally, fatal bike crash patterns have changed markedly. 

“The percentage involving adults age 20 and older increased from 21 percent in 1975 to 84 percent in 2012. The percentage involving males increased from 82 percent to 88 percent during this period,” and Watson said, “Adult males comprised 74 percent of all bicyclist deaths in 2012.”

The percentage of deaths occurring in urban areas climbed from 50 percent in 1975 to 69 percent in 2012. 

Along with the road fatalities of bicyclists has come Ghost Bikes painted white and usually accompanied by flowers that are anonymously placed at locations where a bicycle fatality occurred.

Watson said, “Safety tips can save lives and stop this tragedy witnessed far too often…”

Drivers must “share the road with bicyclists” and “Be courteous; California law ” said Watson, “now mandates at least three feet of clearance when passing a bike rider.

Look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space; yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals and “be especially watchful for riders when making turns, either left or right.”

Watson said bicyclists must also “wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride,” and, if the bicyclist is under 18 years of age, “it’s the law…”

A helmet he noted “is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.” 

Not all bicycle riders might know that they are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. 

When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.

Riders should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, at dawn and dusk and to be more visible when riding at night, the law requires a front light and a red reflector to the rear.

Watson said, “For additional safety, use a flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.”

For more information visit: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl37

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