The Bay Citizen has compiled data about the Bay Area’s bicycle accidents, and it reveals some alarming statistics. http://www.baycitizen.org/data/bike-accidents/charts/
According to this data, Santa Clara, Alameda, and San Francisco counties rank as the three counties with the most bicycle accidents. The statistics also reveal that over half (52%) of the accidents reported in this study were due to the fault of the bicyclist while 38% were due to the fault of the motorist.
A further analysis by The Bay Citizen reveals that adolescents and teens are at greater risks to get into bicycle accidents. (http://www.baycitizen.org/bike-accident-tracker/story/bay-area-young-cyclists-are-highest-risk/1/) They cite data from the study that “cyclists ages 10 to 19 were involved in more traffic collisions…than any other group.” Police and safety experts attribute this to a lack of understanding of traffic laws. Even the most experienced of cyclists may forget that the California Vehicle Code requires them to adhere to the same laws as motorists.
As parents, we make sure to buy helmets, kneepads, or other safety equipment when our children first learn to ride a bicycle. As this study shows, it’s also important to teach them the rules of the road, the meanings of different signs and signals, and to practice defensive cycling (as you would practice defensive driving). It’s also important to teach young cyclists the “right of way” rules while driving. It is dangerous to assume that a motorist will yield to someone simply because they are on a bicycle. Cyclists also have to be aware of just as much, if not more, than the average motorists. For example, they have to watch out for motorists that change lanes without seeing the cyclists or passengers in a parked vehicle opening their door without checking first to see if there are cyclists coming.
While cycling is a great form of exercise and a green mode of transportation, we have to remember that we share the road with others. Educating our children (and reeducating ourselves!) about traffic laws will help us safely enjoy this popular pastime.