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SLO Traffic Safety Report details crash data, improvement plan

This green bike lane is just one of many projects designed to improve mobility in San Luis Obispo.
City of San Luis Obispo
This green bike lane is just one of many projects designed to improve mobility in San Luis Obispo.

Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. seen an increase in traffic fatalities across the country. According to San Luis Obispo Transportation Manager Luke Schwartz, the city is seeing these trends locally as well.

“In the last 3 years alone, we’ve had eight traffic fatalities in our streets," Schwartz said. "That’s about twice the rate of the previous ten year average.”

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, the Public Works Department presented its 2018-2019 Traffic Safety Report detailing things like safety and collision trends, the number of traffic citations and several locations that see the most collisions throughout San Luis Obispo.

Pandemic aside, as of 2019, total citywide traffic collisions are down more than 60 percent from the peak in 2002.

Bryan Wheeler is a transportation planner engineer for the city. He said the two-year report documents 901 collisions and four fatalities.

Wheeler said a majority of the collisions that resulted in severe injury involved pedestrians and bicycles.

“That really highlights the vulnerability of those users on roadways,” Wheeler said.

According to the report, the biggest causes of collisions are improper turns, unsafe speed and vehicles ignoring right-of-way rules at intersections.

“You can see concentrations along Los Osos Valley Road, Santa Rosa, and always downtown has a fairly high collision rate,” Wheeler said.

Public Works is actively working on 18 safety projects to reduce crashes and fatalities. Wheeler said they involve updating pedestrian crossings with ADA signal upgrades and making bicycle facility enhancements.

“Both of these implemented in places that are lacking currently we’ve shown in the report can increase safety for both pedestrians and bicycles," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said although some improvement projects can cost upwards of $600,000, it’s worth it to invest because the total financial impacts of traffic collisions are much higher, costing the city an estimated $32 million in 2019.

The city’s released Traffic Safety Reports are available here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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