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Class Aims To Keep City Heights Bike Riders Safe On Dangerous Streets

Instructor Kevin Baross leads a bike safety course as students stand mounted ...

Credit: Pauline Callahan / San Diego County Bicycle Coalition

Above: Instructor Kevin Baross leads a bike safety course as students stand mounted on their bikes in front of the Copley-Price Family YMCA, March 10, 2018.

Data has shown pedestrians are more likely to be struck by a vehicle in City Heights than many other San Diego neighborhoods. An upcoming class for the mid-city community will teach bicycle riders how to stay safe amid these dangers.

The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition offers the road safety course near the neighborhood. It includes in-classroom and on-the-road instruction. The Coalition’s programs director Michelle Luellen said the three-hour class doesn’t eliminate risks on the road but teaches riders how to mitigate them.

"One is riding with traffic," Luellen said in a phone interview. "Another is trying to stay off of sidewalks because each time you cross a driveway is a potential intersection, and the majority of crashes happen at intersections."

She said attendees of the free course will also learn emergency maneuvers so they can quickly respond to prevent a collision.

A city report that examined pedestrian collisions from 2008 to 2012 found City Heights experienced a high rate of accidents.

"Collisions are concentrated in the more densely urbanized core of the city, south of Interstate 8, with the Downtown, City Heights, and Uptown communities showing a particularly heavy concentration," the report said.

The study also found low-income, high-density communities saw a higher rate of accidents. The annual median income in City Heights is far below the city of San Diego’s, and the neighborhood’s population is nearly twice the size of the downtown community planning area, 2016 Census estimates show.

More recently in 2015, the nonprofit Circulate San Diego identified eight San Diego streets, including three in City Heights, that see a high concentration of accidents. The city adopted a plan to make the corridors safer and eliminate traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2025. Despite this, pedestrian fatalities in the city recently increased.

Luellen said the majority of cyclist injuries are caused by rider error, such as catching your laces in the bike chain or hitting a pothole. The course addresses those situations too.

The next class is Saturday morning at the Copley-Price Family YMCA near the City Heights neighborhood. Other classes are scheduled in April, May and June.

The monthly course at the YMCA location near City Heights provides instruction in a classroom and on the road.

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