As the feel-good-edness of Bike Week wears off, I’d like to point your attention to maps getting some attention in the blogosphere. They were produced by UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System and show pedestrian and cycling injuries and deaths in relation to their proximity to schools between the years of 2006 and 2008.
One of the maps — for the northern part of the city of Los Angeles — is above. There are dozens of such maps available for throughout the state available at the above website.
To put the above maps into context, here are some very grim statistics:
•4,872 pedestrian and cycling deaths in the U.S. in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
•563 pedestrians and 99 cyclists killed in California in 2009, according to the NHTSA’s state charts.
•166 pedestrians and 22 cyclists killed in Los Angeles County in 2009, according to the NHTSA’s county charts for California.
It is important to consider that the above maps and charts do not show who was at fault in an accident. I can tell you that pretty much every time I walk, bike, drive or take transit anywhere locally, I see examples of jaywalking, unsafe cycling amid and among motor traffic and — MOST OF ALL — inattentive and/or poor driving.
And while on my soapbox, I also see plenty of: poorly marked crosswalks and/or poorly maintained or constructed sidewalks; an embarrassing lack of bike lanes and paths for an area with our topography and climate; and extreme lack of enforcement of walking, biking and driving laws by police.
A lot of media attention is rightly paid to accidents involving transit and pedestrians/cyclists/motorists. But a lot of attention isn’t paid to the types of everyday accidents that are actually more prevalent.
It shouldn’t take a mayor breaking an elbow to prompt better bike lanes, nor should it take a child being hit by a car near school to get better crosswalks. It’s a matter of urban planning at the most basic and humane level and it’s with great hope that citizens and politicians alike will study these maps and grasp what they really mean.