Thursday, February 25, 2010

San Diego May Host the Most Hostile, Dangerous Motorists in California

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(Photos by Nelvin C. Cepeda for San Diego Union-Tribune).

Unexpected responses to a recent California-wide CALTRANS campaign urging motorists to 'share the road' with motorcyclists, indicate that San Diego motorists may be the most hostile in the state. Furthermore, the responses to the campaign reveal that there may be a link between motorist hostility and crash-prone behavior.

Last week, CALTRANS used a number of electronic freeway signs in San Diego to encourage motorists to 'Share The Road: Look Twice for Motorcyclists':

According to CALTRANS spokesman Edward Cartagena, as originally reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, CALTRANS has received about 800, mostly positive, calls from Californians since the 'share the road' campaign began on February 11. Cartagena reports that, unlike state-wide trends, none of the calls in San Diego have been positive. In fact, one motorist even left CALTRANS a 20 minute long voicemail, ranting about the 'share the road' idea. Some motorists also complained that it 'wasn't [their] job to watch out for motorcyclists.'

One motorist interviewed by SDUT responded, 'What’s to share? You don’t have any choice about that. The sign says look twice, but I have enough to look at.'

If the reception of this state-wide campaign helped gauge motorist sentiment throughout California, then San Diego would be # 1 for highest motorist hostility.

Interestingly, San Diego also ranks high on the list--# 2 in the state--for frequency of motorcyclist crashes. Only one California city, Los Angeles, has more crashes per year than San Diego:

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While CALTRANS' campaign is about the bicycle's cousin--the motorcycle--the responses to the campaign yield some noteworthy information about motorist culture in San Diego. As mentioned in the Bic Control mission statement, one main purpose of this blog is to determine why it is that bicycling ridership in SD is so low--a meager .3% in 2006. One major factor appears to be that many San Diego motorists don't want to share the road and don't know how to share the road.

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