Because of the coronavirus pandemic, more people in Los Angeles have left their vehicles at home and taken out their bikes to the streets instead. And what was once a bike-unfriendly city, is slowly, but surely, changing.
Per data from the Los Angeles Police Department, there were 18 bike-vehicle collisions recorded in the city during Sep. 2020, down from 185 during the same period in 2019 — making it the lowest number ever recorded. Consequently, the number of cycling trips in the city logged by Strava Metro, which tracks data on bike usage in urban areas, rose by 52%, to 191,010.
The Sep. milestone is part of a trend that began as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic began. With less people out on the roads because of quarantine, through Nov. 2020, the total number of bike collisions has fallen by 70% to 496. That’s down from 1,655 during the same period in 2019.
But these days, traffic violence isn’t the only danger that riders may face on the road — people out on their bikes need to take into account the very real problem of COVID-19. This is why Metro Bike recently released a set of guidelines to ride safely during these unprecedented times.
“Our team works to keep Metro Bike Share stations and bikes ready to use and ride with enhanced and strengthened cleaning operations, but it’s important for riders to continue to practice safe riding habits,” they wrote on their website. Here are Metro Bikes’s recommendations, which go beyond just wearing a helmet:
- Always wash or sanitize your hands before and after your bike rides, and avoid touching your face.
- Wear a mask when in public, when using Metro Bike Share stations, and while riding in places where it is consistently difficult to maintain a safe distance from others.
- Practice physical distancing between yourself and others while riding and when using a bike share station.
- Avoid large gatherings and gatherings of mixed households.
- In order to facilitate social distancing and minimize surface contact at stations, you can use the Metro Bike Share app to purchase passes and unlock Metro Bikes with a smartphone.
As previously mentioned, California at large, and Los Angeles in particular, are infamous for being bike-unfriendly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California was the second state with the most pedalcyclist deaths in the country in 2018. The year prior, the city of Los Angeles experienced a total of 1,918 bicycle accidents that resulted in 17 fatalities, according to the California Highway Patrol’s Annual Report.
This is why Metro Bike followed up their COVID-19 safety guidelines with overall safety measure every bicyclist should always consider:
- Every lane is a bike lane. Just be sure to ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
- Always obey the rules of the road, including traffic signs and signals.
- Use hand signals to make your intentions clear.
- Wear a helmet. Helmets dramatically reduce the risk of head injury in a bicycle crash. Riders under 18 are required by California law to wear a helmet.
- Check your bike. Before hopping on, give the bike a once-over, looking specifically at the seat, air, breaks, and wheels.
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