Where Do Distracted Drivers Pose the Most Danger to Cyclists?
Around the country — and particularly in big cities like San Francisco — we have seen a number of changes and improvements aimed at making the streets a safer place for cyclists to be. And while there may still be a long way to go, it seems that we are moving in a positive direction for cyclists by acknowledging the need for better systems that benefit bike-riders.
However, while large infrastructure changes are a very good thing, they are not enough on their own. Cyclist safety happens on a small scale too — specifically, with every driver behind the wheel of a car, bus, or truck sharing the roads in our city.
Each driver has the opportunity to keep cyclists safe, and of course, most drivers do want to drive safely. However, that’s usually easier said than done. With phone calls, texts, navigation software, and so much more distracting drivers all along the way, it can be a challenge to get the average driver to be doing the proactive, careful work of driving safely around our city’s streets.
“According to SF Gate, an estimated 75,000 cyclists take to the streets each year — 9% of the SF population. 3.4% of SF workers commute by bike — far higher than the national average of 0.6%. That said, heavy bike and car traffic combined with distracted driving contribute to cycling danger in SF.
2014 SF Police data shows that a bicycle/car collision resulting in injury or worse happens on average once a day. (This number is likely low, as not all bike collisions are reported.)”
How distracted are San Francisco drivers?
Zendrive decided to look at the data tracked by their software application, which can help them to see how many drivers are using their phone while behind the wheel. The results are quite worrying, especially if you’re a vulnerable cyclist:
“Within the course of our work, we’ve tracked 1100 drivers over 37,500 miles across San Francisco, and measured cell phone use while driving, among many other safety metrics such as speeding or rapid acceleration. Any of these behaviors can be the cause of a collision with a bike, but distracted driving due to phone use while driving constitutes a special hazard to cyclists. We looked at intersections with at least one reported bike collision to see where drivers were on the phone while at high speed.
Distracted driving due to phone use is prominent in SoMa, Upper Mission, and the Wiggle/Panhandle.”
The places where distracted driving seemed to occur most were places with relatively little traffic and where speeding is more easily possible (with a lack of regular stop signs, traffic lights, etc). When those areas aren’t as easy to speed though, the data showed, drivers are more likely to be frustrated and on their phones — both of which make them unsafe to be around on a bike.
What places in San Francisco should you avoid as a cyclist?
Now that they knew where drivers were becoming most distracted, Zendrive joined up with the team at Human to see where people are cycling most during the day.
They created this map, to show the most dangerous hotspots where cyclists and distracted drivers overlap:
Do you regularly cycle on any of these routes in San Francisco? Have you encountered distracted drivers in high numbers in these areas? If so, share with us on Facebook!
As cyclist advocates and experts in bicycle law, we take distracted driving extremely seriously and have devoted a page on our website to educating drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. If you want more information on helping to keep yourself and other cyclists safe, please take a look at that page and learn what drivers can do to make our roads safer for everyone.