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Is Fresno County Safe for Bicyclists?

Since its establishment in 1856, Fresno County has become known for its agricultural achievements, proximity to multiple National Parks, and uncharacteristically gloomy weather. Although not one of the state’s most populated areas, Fresno County nonetheless had an estimated 1,013,581 residents in 2021. With over a million residents and some of the nation’s deadliest highways nearby, we wanted to explore bicycle accident statistics in the region and see how safe the streets are for bikers. 

How Many Car Accidents Occurred in Fresno in 2021?

For this study, we draw heavily upon data compiled by UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS). TIMS takes data from California’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) and compiles it into a more accessible and user-friendly format for the general public. As a starting point for our analysis, we wanted to determine just how many car accidents occurred in Fresno County throughout 2021. 

In the chart below, we break down the total number of reported Fresno County car crashes over the year (3,553) by injury severity. Over half of the county’s car accidents resulted in minor or no injuries, while 31% of crashes resulted in visible injuries that were nonetheless unlikely to be life threatening. However, 116 crashes in the region did result in at least one fatality.

How Many Accidents in Fresno Involved a Bicyclist in 2021?

Having established a baseline for the number of crashes in Fresno County and the severity of injuries suffered by crash victims, we used the TIMS database to determine how many accidents involved a bicyclist. In a similar fashion to the previous section, we graphed the number of bicycle accidents and their severity below.

Notable takeaways:

• Of 3,553 reported traffic accidents in Fresno County in 2021, only 88 involved a bicyclist. 

• 2.27% of bicycle crashes in Fresno County resulted in a fatality, which is similar to the region’s overall motor vehicle crash fatality figure of 2.71%.

• Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to harm in a crash since they do not have the protection of a car’s frame around them. Correspondingly, more victims displayed a visible or severe injury (56%) than escaped the crash with only a complaint of pain (42%). 

What Kind of Accidents Were Bicyclists Involved in?

The Freedman Law group notes that a significant number of bicycle crashes occur when a motorist is distracted or impaired and strikes a biker accidentally. This finding seems to be validated by the type of bicycle accidents that occurred in Fresno County. The vast majority (nearly 66%) of crashes were broadside accidents, where a car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle hit a bicyclist from the side. 

Broadside crashes can cause serious harm since the bicyclist’sbody will inevitably absorb a significant portion of the impact. Common wounds suffered by bikers involved in a crash include head, neck, brain, spinal, back, and soft tissue injuries. 

Tracking Crashes by the Primary Crash Factor Violation

The California Highway Patrol defines a Primary Crash Factor (PCF) as “the one element or driving action which, in the investigating officer’s opinion, best describes the primary or main cause of [a] collision.” It’s important to remember that, despite the authorities assigning a PCF to a crash, there are oftentimes many factors that can cause or worsen the impact of a collision. Weather, dangerous road conditions, vehicle defects, sudden driver incapacitation, and other problems can contribute to a crash and be difficult to detect in the initial investigation. With that said, the PCFs for bicycle crashes in Fresno County in 2021 are as follows:

Were Particular Days of the Week or Times Especially Dangerous to Ride?

The TIMS database tracks both the timeframe and day of the week that accidents are reported on. We compiled their data into the figure below to demonstrate when most bicycle crashes occurred in Fresno County in 2021. Somewhat surprisingly, the day with the highest frequency of bike accidents was Monday, with 17 incidents reported over the year. Sunday and Saturday, respectively, had the least reported bike crashes. It’s possible that a considerable portion of crash victims in Fresno were biking to or from work when they were hit.

The timeframes with the most crashes were 15:00 – 17:59 (22) and 12:00 – 14:59 (19). This lends further credibility that many of the victims may have been workers that were out and about at midday during the week. Relatively few crashes were reported in the early morning or late evening, compared to midafternoon.

Is Fresno County Safe for Bicyclists?

Given that only 88 of the 3,553 crashes in Fresno County throughout 2021 involved a bicyclist, it seems reasonable to conclude that the region is safe for cautious, alert bikers. To help lower your risk of getting into an accident while on your bike, remember to pay attention to your surroundings, obey the rules of the road, and never ride impaired.

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