North Bay Cyclist

Officer Barclay, CHP

Officer Andrew Barclay, public affairs officer at the Marin office of California Highway Patrol

Officer Andrew Barclay

This morning I spoke with Officer Andrew Barclay, public affairs officer at the Marin office of California Highway Patrol.  That’s him to the right. Officer Barclay was extremely helpful and is clearly interested in helping cyclists avoid harm. He worked in the cycling industry prior to joining the CHP and lamented the many serious cycling accidents he has responded to.

The CHP has jurisdiction over the freeways and the unincorporated areas of Marin County. Unincorporated areas are those that are within the county but not within any city limits. This map from walkbikemarin shows the unincorporated areas in white. Even a quick perusal reveals that the CHP has jurisdiction over most of the major cycling areas in Marin County: all of Lucas Valley Road, Highway 1 all the way from Mill Valley, and the huge swath of land from the headlands to Tomales Point which includes most of Fairfax-Bolinas Road and all of the Point Reyes area.

Officer Barclay gave me the following information for accidents in the unincorporated areas of Marin County, involving a cyclist, during 2013. The statistics are derived from reports filed by officers. A report is taken if there is injury to person or property. If an officer arrived at the scene and no one was present, no report would be filed. E.g. someone driving by thought there was an injured cyclist and called 911 but the cyclist decided it was only road rash and rode away.

1. 87 bicycle accidents, 1 of which was fatal, 5 of which involved no injuries, only property damage.

2. 95% of these accidents occurred in West Marin.

3.  The CHP uses coding factors in their reports that indicate causes of incidents they respond to. One of them is that a person was unfamiliar with the area. Officer Barclay said it is common to see that code attached to cycling accidents. People come from all over to ride here and they are not aware of the local hazards. My hope is that this blog will help that situation.

4. When a call comes into 911 about a cycling accident and there are indications of injury, an ambulance will be dispatched as well as the CHP.

We will hear more from Officer Barclay.

Getting started

On December 14, 2013, I saw a cyclist airlifted from the Rock Springs parking lot on Mount Tam. I don’t know the cyclist and have no information about his or her injuries or how the accident happened. As I watched the helicopter lift off, it struck me there is little that protects us on our light bikes except our own knowledge and awareness.

Helicopter extraction Mt. Tam 12/14/13

 

I’m starting this blog with the hope that more knowledge will make the roads safer for us.

Useful information about local cycling accidents  is hard to come by. I’ve started my search with the local fire and police departments.

1. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office points anyone seeking incident response statistics to https://www.crimereports.com. This site is great for information about crime in your neighborhood but has nothing about cycling incidents.

2. The Marin County Fire Department does keeps track of cycling related accidents, however, since the Fire Department administers medical care they are subject to HIPAA privacy restrictions that limit public disclosure. Therefore, their data is mostly protected. I corresponded with Mike Giannini, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Battalion Chief for Marin County Fire who was able to give me the following statistics:

1. The numbers below reflect the total number of incidents per year where a cyclist required trauma center care and the incident occurred in Southern Marin, the Ross Valley and unincorporated parts of the County, not including San Rafael or Novato.

    • 2010: 120
    • 2011: 242
    • 2012: 239

2. For any type of cycling accident, not just those that went to a trauma center, between 2/26/13- 1/13/14, the number for all of Marin County is 384. That represents 10.47% of all incidents responded to by the EMS system.

What do these initial, very general, numbers tell us? They confirm what every active cyclist knows – there are a lot of cycling accidents in Marin. In 2012, there were 20 serious accidents and at least 12 other less serious – each month.

This is the equivalent of one accident a day.

More to come…..

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