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Police Bias in Car-Bike Collisions? Los Altos, CA May Take the Cake

9:33 AM PDT on September 21, 2012

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Not that there is any doubt that cyclists face an uphill climb when it comes to winning justice after a traffic collision, but police in Los Altos, California, really seem to be betraying an auto-centric bias.

Richard Masoner at Network blog Cyclelicio.us found this gem in a new local bike plan, produced by Alta. Take a look at the top row, which reflects how often Los Altos police cited speed as a factor in collisions between cyclists and motorists. Masoner had this to say:

Of 77 collisions where police identified fault, 57 of them — or fully 74% — were caused by the cyclist. Compare to the entire Bay Area, where police reports show cyclists are supposedly responsible for 60% of accidents.

It gets even sillier when you look at the most common violation: “unsafe speed.” While 28% of cyclists were found to be riding at an “unsafe speed” when they caused the wreck, only a single motorist from 2004 to 2009 was driving at an unsafe speed when he struck a cyclist.

The report shows most collisions in Los Altos occur on Foothill Expressway, with real hotspots on Foothill at each of Homestead, Fremont Avenue / Miramonte, and Springer Road. A third of reported collisions occurred at these three intersections.

Masoner adds that the data came from initial police reports, so the conclusions may have been revised at some stage in the legal process, but still!

Elsewhere on the Network today: Twin City Sidewalks wonders if the greater Minneapolis area is prepared for a new generation whose transportation preferences are vastly different from their predecessors. Mobilizing the Region points out that New Jersey has developed a pernicious habit of spending more and more money on new roads and less and less money on cycling. And Streets.mn asks why U.S. cities don't give more consideration to the concept of "shared space" at intersections.

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