Santa Paula Times

Grand Jury reports bicycle safety
programs must be implemented

June 17, 2015
Santa Paula News

Bicycle safety must be improved according to a report by the Ventura County Grand Jury that noted law enforcement agencies and others in the county must do more to create a safer environment for bicyclists.

Noting statistics for bicycle accidents and fatalities, the report noted “City councils of cities that do not already have a bicycle advisory commission or committee (should) establish one to advise on improving bicycle safety; developing and maintaining bicycle lanes, paths, trails and signage; and encouraging the use of bicycles.” 

Santa Paula has a bike lane and programs to help bicyclists including the Bicycle Rodeo safety program for children said Commander Ish Cordero of the Santa Paula Police Department.

Safety is also a responsibility of motorists: the grand jury noted that in most bicycle deaths, the driver of the motor vehicle was at fault. The jury also noted that the number of fatalities might be reduced if all adults wore helmets.

When it comes to helmets children often do not want to wear them because they are “not cool” although helmet makers are making protective headgear now featuring super heroes and other characters to encourage helmet use especially among elementary school age children.

The report also found that often those not wearing helmets are not ticketed but rather giving a warning and the grand jury recommended that police agencies increase enforcement of bicycle-related laws.

More than two-thirds of those bicyclists killed nationwide in 2012 were not wearing helmets and the results of a 12-year study found helmet use reduces risk of brain injury by 88 percent.

The report also noted the new law that now requires motorists to give bicyclists a three-foot clearance.

Better education of the public about bike safety and bicycle-related laws also is needed and the grand jury noted that some cities have received federal, state or other grant funding for such education whether with advisory committees or transportation agencies.

Cordero said the SPPD is proactive on bicycle related issues as time and staffing allows and said there are several programs being considered including bicycle registration.

With theft a countywide problem Cordero said registering bicycles would help reunite owners with the equipment but in the interim scratching an identifying mark or number on the bike could help police identify those recovered as stolen property.

“We have some of the grand jury’s recommendations already in the works it’s just a matter of us doing some programs,” while also dealing with personnel shortages.

Said Cordero, “We’re still looking at a bike registration program, it’s just a matter of saying let’s do it…”