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The Complicated Realm of Collision Data: A Case Study of York Blvd

York Bl east of Figueroa, as seen prior to installation of bike lanes in 2014

In the Bicycle Program, part of our job is to make streets safer and more pleasant for bicycling. We realize that as more and more Angelenos are riding their bikes to get around, there may be more opportunities for conflicts between modes on our streets. Some, if not most, conflicts can be partially addressed by engineering and planning, but part of equation remains in individual motorist or bicyclist behavior.

Regardless of what causes the conflicts on our roadways, it is helpful to analyze available collision data to inform us where there is room for improvement, whether it is behavioral or infrastructural. Two years ago, we took a look at collision data on York Boulevard and found that overall crashes decreased 23% between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 55 after a road diet was implemented on that segment of the street. In this post we will take a follow-up look at the updated data, and get into the details of who has been identified in the data as “at fault” and the causation of bicycle-car collisions.  The data we are looking at analyzes the 3.9 mile long segment of York Boulevard between Aguilar Street and Arroyo Verde Road over a 12 year period.

If one wants to look at crash data anywhere in California, the primary repository is the SWITRS database: the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System. All reported collision data is gathered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and made available for query.  CHP collects data from local jurisdictions (in our case, LAPD) and adds it to the statewide database, and all data is made available through the California Public Records Act, which requires all records processed by State government to be publicly accessible. Normally, the data lags about 2 years, but SWITRS remains the most comprehensive data tool available to perform collision analysis over time.

Collision data in California are pared down to manageable categories, which makes it great to track overarching trends, but leaves much to be desired in terms of understanding conditions of collisions and nuances of behavior (two of the most important aspects of planning for safer road configuration and design). In the data, there is always a party determined to be “at fault” and a short list of causes, known as the “collision factor.” A cursory glance at the raw data would make anyone’s head spin: ROW Ped, Party 1 at fault. What does that MEAN? While it may seem confusing initially, SWITRS has a codebook that elaborates on what such terms mean. ROW is an abbreviation for “right-of-way,” and Ped is short for “pedestrian.” What ROW Ped refers to is when someone fails to yield right-of-way to pedestrians or other legal sidewalk users, such as people bicycling. Even terms like “Party 1 at fault” can be intuitive with a little context. Every traffic collision typically involves at least two “parties” and differentiating the people involved entails calling the various parties involved Party 1, Party 2, etc.

In this analysis, we attempt to decode this data.  Though, notoriously, car-bicycle collisions that do not result in a “Killed” or “Severely Injured” person are not reported (which always presents a significant data challenge), we will try to interpret a better understanding of what is really at work in the history of car-bicycle conflicts, with York Boulevard as our case-study.

The Overall Picture

Between 2001 and 2012, there were 39 collisions on York Boulevard involving both people driving and bicycling (SWITRS). Those driving were deemed “at fault” approximately 56.4% of the time, accounting for 22 of the collisions that occurred. Meanwhile, people bicycling were “at fault” in 41% of the collisions, deemed responsible for 16 of the collisions that occurred. In one case, the stated collision cause was “other improper driver,” placing neither party involved – the person bicycling nor the one driving – “at fault” (which accounts for the remaining 2.6%) Read more

Red, Ride, and Blue! Spintacular Fireworks Summer Ride in Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District


This weekend, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD) is going to get a little more SPINTACULAR! LADOT is a proud partner in the NELA BFBD Summer ride: The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour. The ride, sponsored by Metro and led by C.I.C.L.E. and the Bike Oven, will take place on Sunday June 28th from 5:00 – 8:00pm, and traverse 5 miles of Northeast LA’s bustling business corridors, taking riders to Councilmember José Huizar’s 6th Annual 4th of July Fireworks Show at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center for a sparkle-filled evening of bicycles, fun, and games. Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this spintacular ride!

Along the way, riders learn about what makes Northeast LA a special place to walk, roll, and ride… The ride will stop at the York Boulevard Bicycle Corral for a Street Innovation Tour, led by Mark Vallianatos of the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI). The tour will highlight York’s public spaces and innovative street features.

Riders are encouraged to show their patriotic flare on their wheels and beyond in the Red, Ride, and Blue Bicycle Decorating and Costume Contest. Participants will have an opportunity to win even more prizes at the Spin the Wheel Trivia game, testing riders on their local knowledge and Los Angeles bicycle trivia.

Even the President knows how to get Spintacular for the Red, Ride and Blue Bike Decorating contest

“The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour highlights two local efforts I am passionate about – our 6th Annual Eagle Rock Concert and Fireworks Show and the NELA Bicycle Friendly Business District program,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The NELA BFBD is all about encouraging bicycle riders to support local businesses and enliven the public realm and the reason I brought back the fireworks show after decades without one in Eagle Rock was to encourage safe and family friendly public gatherings where people could also support local organizations and businesses. The Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Tour is a perfect match and thanks to LADOT and all our partners for their support.”

Ride participants will travel at a casual speed, slowing down to stroll, take in the local scenery, and explore local businesses and culture. Riders should bring a helmet, water, bike locks, bike lights, cash for food, blankets, and jackets for the fireworks show. Secure bike parking and a reserved seating section will be provided at the Fireworks show for Spintacular Riders.

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Just in time for the Holidays: SHOP – RIDE – NELA and the Colorado Bl Corral

Get your holiday shopping done in a jiffy in the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District

In case you were wondering what bicycles, Northeast LA and the local economy had in common with the holiday season, we wanted to bring a very exciting and fun event to your attention!

You may have been following our pilot project, the Northeast LA Bicycle Friendly Business District (NELA BFBD), launched back in February in an effort to to bring more people to local businesses by bicycle.  The plan to achieve this includes implementing bicycle infrastructure enhancements to the neighborhood like bike lanes, corrals, and repair stations; offering promotional incentives to people arriving by bicycle; and overall, encouraging customers and employees to take local trips to business corridors on bicycles rather than in cars.

Since we last blogged about it, we have established a Steering Committee of local stakeholders including representatives from the Eagle Rock and Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Councils, the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institue, local non-profit organizations, and active transportation advocacy groups like C.I.C.L.E. and LACBC.  The NELA BFBD represents a collaboration and partnership between businesses, the community, and the City to accomplish shared goals of community building and economic development.

After many months of meetings, the Steering Committee has planned a kickoff event: SHOP – RIDE – NELA Holiday Edition.  The bicycle ride, led by C.I.C.L.E., will take place on Saturday December 13th, from 9:30am-12:30pm, and traverse 3.6 miles of Northeast LA’s most vibrant shopping corridors. The ride will meet at METRO’s Highland Park Gold Line Station and make shopping and dining stops at LADOT’s two local business-sponsored Bicycle Corrals: the York Bl Corral located at 5000 York Bl (sponsored by Cafe de Leche) and the Colorado Bl Corral soon to be installed at 2136 Colorado Bl (sponsored by Core Club LA).  Riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join this leisurely ride!

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LA’s first Bicycle Friendly Business District is coming to Northeast Los Angeles

Small businesses and bikes blend on N. Figueroa St., Photo courtesy Flying Pigeon LA

We are happy to announce that the City of Los Angeles is working on establishing its first Bicycle Friendly Business District in Northeast Los Angeles.  For the past year, the Bike Program has been developing a Bicycle Friendly Business District (BFBD) program to foster a broad and engaging range of bicycle friendly features in business districts or corridors.

The program aims to provide districts with adequate bicycle facilities including bicycle parking and repair stations, bikeways, creating maps of the bikeway network, installing signage, and facilitating bicycle wayfinding.  By cultivating bicycle friendly business practices in local businesses and developing local business districts to welcome patrons on bicycles, these districts seek to build community, increase physical activity, and make streets less congested while supporting Los Angeles neighborhood businesses.

Bicycle Friendly Business Districts – What are they?

A BFBD is a partnership between the City, neighborhood and business organizations, and local businesses that improves a business district’s Bicycle Friendliness through bicycle infrastructure and local business promotions to people travelling by bicycle.  The district encourages and promotes short, local trips, especially for shopping, dining and recreation.

The BFBD program complements complete streets and traffic calming objectives in order to capture local dollars and further neighborhood development in Los Angeles.  Districts cooperate with the LADOT, the Council Office, and local community partners to implement services already offered free of charge through the LADOT Bike Program.

These services, infrastructure, and other program elements combine with  local investment in bicycle amenities and programs privately funded by neighborhood and business partners.

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