Safe passage

Butte County seeing higher rate of bicyclist/pedestrian deaths

Butte County Public Health just received a one-year $40,000 California Office of Traffic Safety grant, which will fund activities promoting bike and pedestrian safety. That’s a good thing, considering statistics showing that bicyclist and pedestrian injuries and deaths often occur here at a higher rate than the national average. At the same time, the city of Chico is updating its bicycle plan. Those hoping to weigh in should attend the final public info session today (Oct. 18), 5-6:30 p.m., in the second floor conference room at the Old Municipal Building. Check out these stats:

• From 2015 to 2016, the percentage of bicycle collisions that injured a child in Butte County more than doubled, from 8 percent to 20 percent, according to Public Health data.

• Nationally, 4 percent of pedestrians injured in a crash in 2015 were younger than 15 years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Butte County, that rate was 13 percent.

• The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 13 percent of pedestrians injured and 19 percent of pedestrians killed nationally in 2015 were elderly. In Butte County, elderly folks accounted for 27 percent of bike-related injuries and 56 percent of deaths.

A contributing factor to the problem is a low rate of helmet use: Only 28 percent of those 18 or younger, and 20 percent of adults 19 and older, used head protection, according to 2016 county data and the California Highway Patrols Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System.