The Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency (HSA) and the Community Traffic Safety Coalition of Santa Cruz County (CTSC) released the results of their 2012 bicycle traffic survey.
Each May and June, HSA staffers and community volunteers count cyclists at various locations throughout Santa Cruz County and observe their behavior. For 2012, they counted 3,046 cyclists at 46 locations.
73% of counted cyclists were male, while 26% were female. Surveyors observed 85% of cyclists ride in the same direction with traffic, 72% stopped at red lights and stop signs, and 24% rode on the sidewalk. County-wide, about 49% of cyclists wear helmets.
There are some marked differences between the Mid / North County survey locations (mostly the cities of Santa Cruz and Capitola), and the South County locations in Watsonville. Although sidewalk riding is legal in most of Santa Cruz County outside of Watsonville and downtown Santa Cruz, only 18% of North / Mid-county cyclists ride on the sidewalk, while 56% of Watsonville cyclists use the sidewalk. This is likely due to the high availability of Class 1 and 2 bike facilities in north and mid-county. In Watsonville, you’ll only see bike lanes on streets in some of the newer developments. Watsonville also has significantly lower compliance for cyclists stopping at stop signs and riding in the same direction with traffic.
Helmet use differences between South County and North / Mid County is also somewhat interesting. Helmet use has grown over the past six years county wide, but helmet use remains substantially higher in North County vs South County. In California, helmet use is compulsory for minors riding bicycles.
You can read the complete report in this PDF, which explains the survey process, the agencies and organizations involved, and splits out the stats for children, teens, young adults, and old cyclists like me. Watch also for discussion in the Santa Cruz Sentinel Street Smarts column, where you can read the comments to see modal bias in full effect.
Here’s POV video of me running a red light on Mission Street in Santa Cruz.