The crash data behind Carlsbad’s local emergency proclamation for e-bike and bicycle crashes
Carlsbad City Council members continued their discussion on improving street safety on September 27, a month after the city declared a local state of emergency due to an increase in traffic accidents. traffic involving bicycles and e-bikes.
“Even though the dramatic increase in collisions involves bicycles and e-bikes, we know it takes everyone working together to use our roads safely and responsibly,” said Deputy City Manager Geoff Patnoe, at a recent council meeting. “That’s why we don’t focus on one particular mode of transport, but on everyone having to do their part.”
The emergency proclamation cited a 233% increase in accidents involving e-bikes and bicycles, many of which also involved automobiles. After a total of 30 crashes in 2019, there were 62 in 2020, 100 in 2021 and 57 in the first seven months of 2022. Most resulted in injuries and there was one fatal collision earlier in 2022.
There were also two deaths in August not covered by the data, including Christine Embree, a 35-year-old Carlsbad resident. Embree collided with a Toyota 4-Runner near the corner of Basswood Avenue and Valley Street while riding an electric bike with her one-year-old daughter, who survived.
The Del Mar Times obtained data for each of those 249 accidents cited in the city’s proclamation through a public records request. Here are some of the main trends:
1. The coast has seen the most accidents
- bicycle accident
- Electric bike accidents
About 40% of crashes occurred along the coast west of Interstate 5. The three census tracts that cover the northwest tip of the city, where the village of Carlsbad is located, were a particular hot spot. Around 1 in 4 accidents have taken place there.
Census tracts are geographic subdivisions that each have about 1,200 to 8,000 people, according to the Census Bureau. Carlsbad is made up of 27 census tracts.
2. The percentage of accidents involving e-bikes has risen sharply
Of the 92 accidents in 2019 and 2020 that the city recorded, only around 11% involved e-bikes. This figure rose to 33% in 2021, with 33 out of 100 accidents involving an electric bicycle.
According to 2022 data, which covers January through July, more than half of the 57 reported crashes involved e-bikes.
These numbers coincide with the growing popularity of e-bikes. According to market research firm NPD Group, e-bike revenues grew 47% in a 12-month period ending October 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.
3. More than half of accidents involve cars
An automobile was involved in 136 of the 249 accidents, or approximately 54%. The automobile was at fault in 48% of those 136 crashes, according to the city, and the e-bike or cyclist was at fault 44% of the time. In the remaining 8%, the offending party could not be determined.
4. Types of collisions and how they happened
Nearly 9 out of 10 accidents belonged to one of these categories: side, side, rear, hit by an object or other.
According to the city, crashes classified as “other” included an e-bike rider who was found unconscious, but there were no witnesses and apparently no other vehicles involved; an e-bike rider who was injured after slamming his brakes to avoid hitting a vehicle; and riders who have been injured due to bent rims, seat drops or other equipment issues.
Nearly 2 in 3 crashes were due to dangerous speed, improper turns, right-of-way violations or other inappropriate driving.
6. When do most accidents happen?
Accidents were almost twice as likely to occur on Saturdays as on Mondays. Apart from this difference, the number of accidents is fairly evenly distributed over the other days of the week.
In most cases, accidents were also evenly distributed by season – 29.7% in summer, 25.3% in winter, 23.3% in spring and 21.7% in autumn. But accidents in July and August were twice as frequent as accidents in November and December.