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Bike Coalition launches real-time crash tracking app for San Diego

A bike counter shows the number of bike and scooter trips taken on 30th Street, Jan. 27, 2022.
Andrew Bowen
A bike counter shows the number of bike and scooter trips taken on 30th Street, Jan. 27, 2022.

The San Diego County Bike Coalition and Los Angeles- based mobility organization Streets for All are teaming up on a program to automatically report the details of every pedestrian and bicyclist-involved crash in San Diego in real time, officials announced Tuesday.

The San Diego Crash Tracker will report crashes through an automated Twitter account operated by the Bike Coalition. The program scrapes data from the Citizen App, which monitors police scanners and reports on incidents in real-time, to tweet out the rough details and locations of crashes as soon as they occur.

"After watching this program report crashes for just two weeks during our initial testing, I was shocked by how many people are hit by drivers on San Diego's streets while simply walking or riding their bikes," said Will Rhatigan, coalition advocacy manager. "We hope this program will help decision- makers understand traffic violence as the public crisis that it always has been, and encourage them to begin installing road safety improvements with the urgency that a crisis deserves."

From 2016 to 2020, an average of more than 240 people walking and 80 people riding bikes were killed or seriously injured every year on the streets of San Diego County, the coalition said. Even though the city of San Diego made a major step forward by adopting Vision Zero in 2015 — a commitment to reach zero traffic fatalities by 2025 — cycling advocates say the speed at which roads are being upgraded for safety has not matched the urgency.

"The Bike Coalition wants to emphasize that these constant crashes are preventable," San Diego Bike Coalition Executive Director Andy Hanshaw said. "Other countries have cut traffic violence fatalities by 80% through lowering speeds and installing a basic set of road safety features. Leaders here in San Diego can, and should install those features on dangerous roads."

The automated reporting is intended to increase the speed at which the community learns about crashes. Its creators said it also provides better data on crashes for which no injury is reported — crashes that are usually not tracked by government data.