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Old 03-16-08, 09:06 AM   #1
msincredible
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Bay Area's 25 deadliest roads for cyclists

SF Chronicle article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...K8RU.DTL&tsp=1

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Old 03-16-08, 09:17 AM   #2
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I just finished reading this article. I ride six of them on a regular basis.
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Old 03-16-08, 09:26 AM   #3
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I wonder where the problems are on Clayton Rd. Are they near downtown Concord, or on the road between Ygnaico and Morgan Territory Road-- the part we all ride to do a Diablo Loop?

In any event.... YIKES
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Old 03-16-08, 09:37 AM   #4
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As the article points out, it is a summary of the two thousand most serious accidents. So it's not a comprehensive analysis. I wonder what the distribution is for all the accidents.

"The more than 2,000 deadly and near-deadly accidents reviewed by The Chronicle are just the most serious of 31,334 collisions involving bicycles on Bay Area roads in the last decade, according to the CHP records."

I think of Canada Rd as being a safe biking road. It is #19 on their list. One death and 6 injuries in 10 years.
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Old 03-16-08, 09:38 AM   #5
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When I used to live in Mountain View, I rode Middlefield (the 2nd on the list) regularly. I don't think it is too deadly. Although I would ride from Ellis St. to Charleston, and not ride west of there. Maybe that's where everything happens.

Oh, even though I had my bike vs. car accident on Middlefield, is still think it is not dangerous. It was just a fluke. It has plenty of shoulder room, and nice big bike lane.
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Old 03-16-08, 09:50 AM   #6
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Middlefield has bike lanes for almost its entire length through Santa Clara County. I'm guessing that almost all of the problems occur at the congested intersections like San Antonio Road.

Also, ranking it as more dangerous than El Camino Real (Hwy 82) says more about the number of cyclists on each road than about the actual danger of the road. Many of those roads rank high on the list only because they have 10 or 100 times more cyclists than other nearby routes.

Note that Canada Road in San Mateo County, one of the safest cycling roads that I can think of, is on the list. Again, that is probably more because of the volume of cyclists than anything else.
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Old 03-16-08, 09:53 AM   #7
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Middlefield has bike lanes for almost its entire length through Santa Clara County. I'm guessing that almost all of the problems occur at the congested intersections like San Antonio Road. Also, ranking it as more dangerous than El Camino Real (Hwy 82) says more about the number of cyclists on each road than about the actual danger of the road. Many of those roads rank high on the list only because they have 10 or 100 times more cyclists than other nearby routes.
Yea, I have to agree. I'd say Middlefield is definitely safer than Hwy 82, Central Expressway or Niles Canyon Road.
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Old 03-16-08, 10:07 AM   #8
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The common thread amongst those roads seems to me to be the probably high incidence of distracted and/or stressed-out drivers on them, coupled with the large usage by cyclists. I hope the focus of further discussions about the recent accident will be directed toward drivers, not cyclists. Drivers talking on the phone, eating, rubber-necking, fiddling with the radio, looking at the beautiful sights, putting on cosmetics, not using their turn signals, improper lane usage, not stopping at signs, running yellow and red lights, driving too fast for conditions, reading as they drive, and (with all due respect) driving too old.

Not to let cyclists off the hook, we must follow the rules of the road for vehicles, and only revert to pedestrian riding when absolutely necessary (and then only with extreme caution and respect for the actual pedestrians). There's nothing dangerous about the roads mentioned above.
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Old 03-16-08, 10:13 AM   #9
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Many of those roads rank high on the list only because they have 10 or 100 times more cyclists than other nearby routes.
Exactly. The article should really be titled "Most Popular Roads for Cyclists."

While the article is ostensibly sympathetic, it tacitly supports the idea that any truly prudent cyclist should stay away from "chaotic city thoroughfares, the narrow, winding roads and the speed-demon highways." Which of course translates to "stick to the bike paths, cyclists, because you have no place on the road."

Edit: What's encouraging about the list is that 7 of the 25 "deadliest" roads have not actually had a fatality in at least 10 years.
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Old 03-16-08, 12:12 PM   #10
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I wonder where the problems are on Clayton Rd. Are they near downtown Concord, or on the road between Ygnaico and Morgan Territory Road-- the part we all ride to do a Diablo Loop?
Probably the section from Concord BART up to Ygnacio intersection. Between the blue collar Soccer Moms and the thuggish, racing DVC juveniles, that road is pretty shi*ty. Any overused commute corridor for the poor, frustrated, and ignorant is going to make for dangerous cycling. Oh, and there's no bike lane, which brings out the best in the aforementioned Cretinous.
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Old 03-16-08, 12:19 PM   #11
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The common thread amongst those roads seems to me to be the probably high incidence of distracted and/or stressed-out drivers on them.....
Anecdotal, I know - but the two I'm familiar with, Clayton (out towards Morgan Territory) and Tassajara, are fairly high traffic with little or no right side shoulder.

I used to ride Tassajara a lot, but finally gave it up as a route last year. Too much traffic going fast, and no place to ride on the right. Even with perfect conditions, cars are too close for my comfort. Since there is almost always opposing traffic, overtaking traffic doesn't move far enough left when passing for my liking.
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Old 03-16-08, 02:03 PM   #12
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The Page Mill stat is wrong.
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Old 03-16-08, 05:57 PM   #13
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I dunno, but I'm having a tough time getting too amped up over these numbers - please don't misunderstand my point, everyone of these numbers represents a tragedy and a waste. I'd be very interested to know how many pedestrians and motorists were killed and seriously injured on say, Market St every year, to help me understand if these numbers are high.

I think that SanJoseBob has a good point about distracted motorists. Case in point, I was up on Skyline/Grizzly Peak this morning from Pinehurst to Tilden - a great route with fantastic views, but I'd think twice about riding Grizzly peak later in the day, during the week. I've driven that stretch many times and people are often distracted staring at the bay, stopping/starting unexpectedly to take pictures. You only have to listen to the news every now and again to hear how often teenagers get into trouble with their cars up there.

FWIW I like this table much better - while the number of accidents is obviously higher than the number of fatalities/serious injuries, the fact that the pool size is bigger leads me to believe that the trend is more significant. Surely this must also say something about safety on the roads since 1997?

County Contra Costa
Accident Type Injuries
1997 332
1998 296
1999 314
2000 308
2001 247
2002 192
2003 214
2004 228
2005 247
2006 213
2007 - 1st half 106
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Old 03-16-08, 07:01 PM   #14
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The Page Mill stat is wrong.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but, I *think* it happened on Old Page Mill Rd... Dang, now I'm gonna have to go look it up 'cuz it's bugging me.
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Old 03-16-08, 07:06 PM   #15
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You're right, John Peckham was killed on Old Page Mill Rd.
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Old 03-16-08, 07:58 PM   #16
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I agree that using raw numbers without any comparison of the volume of bicycle traffic lowers the usefulness of the chart. There is also another factor that makes the Chron's list less useful than it might appear at first: the length of the stretches of many of the listed roads. Lumping long stretches of road of varying configurations isn't all that instructive.

Clayton Road has already been mentioned. From Ygnacio Valley Rd. through Clayton and on out to Morgan Territory, it is either has reasonable shoulders or low enough car traffic (at least on weekends) to make for okay riding, while the rest of the road is unpleasant at the best of times (Sunday morning) and dangerous at others.

Then there's Highway 84 in San Mateo County. Not only does it's safety depend on where and when you are riding, but even which direction. I would not ride up the Skyline from teh east on 84 at any time, but that stretch of road is fine for coming back down. On the other hand, climbing up 84 to Skyline from the ocean is generally okay in my admittedly limited experience.

84 in Alameda County ranges from typical urban riding (in Fremont) to pretty but unpleasant (parts of Niles Canyon) to dangerous (other parts of Niles Canyon) to a downright death trap that anyone in their right mind avoids (Vallecitos Rd - I'm curious how that will be for riding once the new copnstructionover Pidgeon Pass is finished).

As for Silverado Trail, that has to be a function of volume of bike traffic. Yes, the car traffic goes fast as hell, but there are ample shoulders along virtually the entire length of the road. Highway 29 is a far more dangerous place to ride through the Napa Valley except fairly early on weekend days, but it isn't on the list.

Obviously, I could go on, but I've wasted enough of your precious time here. In any event, please be careful and safe, everybody. But let's also not be unduly paranoid.
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Old 03-16-08, 09:32 PM   #17
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This thread makes me think of roads so inherently dangerous that cyclists simply do not use them. Part of Stage Gulch Road between Petaluma and Sonoma and Calistoga Road from St. Helena Road north to the top of the hill come to mind. These roads are so twisted and have such heavy and high speed traffic that they are essentially unrideable.
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Old 03-16-08, 10:08 PM   #18
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Yea, I have to agree. I'd say Middlefield is definitely safer than Hwy 82, Central Expressway or Niles Canyon Road.
I ride through there everyday and its fairly safe but not entirely. I've noticed too many drivers who are impatient, do not pay attention and just plain idiotic in those roads especially during rush hour. I've learned to be very careful at intersections without traffic lights or without turn lights. The biggest problem there are left hooks. Its happened to me numerous times where a car coming from the opposite direction will try to turn left in front of me. I know they can see me but they will try anyway.

Don't let those bike lanes make you complacent. Once you do, it'll bite you on the butt.

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Old 03-17-08, 01:03 AM   #19
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Does anybody else have problems with Bridgeway in Sausalito? Seems like that's where I have most of my close calls. Especially southbound near Bicycle Odyssey. I had three near misses in one day today.
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Old 03-17-08, 08:55 AM   #20
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The article should really be titled "Most Popular Roads for Cyclists."
Exactly.

If you did the same thing for motorists, you would see the same phenomena, I am pretty sure of it.
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Old 03-17-08, 10:49 AM   #21
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Until a couple years ago, there had never been a cycling fatality on Mount Diablo. That changed when a solo rider was found dead... word at the time was it looked like he had a heart attack and just dropped.

Quite a few vehicle-bicycle collisions but they're generally minor due to the slow speeds. Many drivers don't understand passing around blind corners with no shoulders but there's just not enough traffic to be dangerous and that's how I like it.
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Old 03-17-08, 06:29 PM   #22
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Exactly. The article should really be titled "Most Popular Roads for Cyclists."

.
Interestingly, not exactly. Not one of our local Berkeley/Oakland Hills rides made the list.
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Old 03-17-08, 08:28 PM   #23
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No surprises!

Hey, of course there are more fatalities on Sand Hill Rd (and others on the list, I am sure) but do you have any idea how many cyclists there are on that road? It is just a percentages exercise. I used to live on Portola Rd. and Sand Hill was the way in and out. There were HUNDREDS of cyclists out on the weekend and many during the week. I had cyclists makes left turns RIGHT in front of me and exhibit the worst pack riding behavior imaginable (entitlement). I witnessed a number of near misses and all of them were the fault of the cyclists! Yes, there are nasty drivers but they are everywhere; the sheer volume of cyclists on that road makes it a certainty there will be accidents; fatalities per rider capita is probably remarkably low.
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Old 03-18-08, 01:46 PM   #24
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Judging from the roads on the list with which I am familiar, I would say the list is accurate, even when one factors in the number of cyclists frequenting them. For example, I drive Stage Gulch (Hwy 116) twice each day and I have never seen a cyclist try to ride it. Yet it appears on the list, which leads me to believe that a high percentage of those few bike riders who are brave (or just sadly ignorant of the dangers) enough to attempt it are being injured. The list includes only "severe injuries," which makes me wonder how many minor injuries occur on these roads as well.

I'm glad someone came up with this list to warn newbies and out-of-towners of dangerous roads that experienced locals already know to avoid. I recently saw on a Kreb's map that Hwy 116 was shown as a "favorite route" for cyclists. Wro-ong! I always contact the local cycling club before venturing into the unknown. Luckily, we here in the Northbay have very helpful clubs.
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Old 03-18-08, 02:42 PM   #25
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I rode Stage Gulch once and will likely never ride it again -- I agree it's a very unpleasant route for cyclists. But the list above includes "Highway 116," and Highway 116 covers a lot more ground than just the Stage Gulch section, much of which is more well-traveled by cyclists. So its inclusion may be very much based on the level of cyclist travel it sees.

Market Street is #1 on the list -- in part because there's a lot of chaotic car traffic on it, and in part because it's perhaps the most heavily trafficked bike route in the city. Riding on Market, I feel at least as safe as I do riding on Geary, but Geary doesn't even make the list because the level of bicycle traffic on it is not nearly as high.

Because the numbers we're dealing with here are so low -- the "deadliest" road in the Bay Area averages only one death every three years -- it seems like the amount of cyclist traffic, along with the length of the roads in question, are going to end up being very significant factors in determining the road's supposed dangerousness.
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