Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services receives $275,000 grant from California Office of Traffic Safety

Cory Bilicko/Signal Tribune<br><strong>
A clearly delineated bike lane on Bixby Road serves as a rather wide thoroughfare for local bicyclists. However, now that Assembly Bill 1371 has taken effect, motorists on all California streets, including those without designated bike lanes, are required to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing them. </strong>

Cory Bilicko/Signal Tribune
A clearly delineated bike lane on Bixby Road serves as a rather wide thoroughfare for local bicyclists. However, now that Assembly Bill 1371 has taken effect, motorists on all California streets, including those without designated bike lanes, are required to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing them.

The California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has awarded a one-year grant of $275,000 to the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services to fund its Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Division’s Walk and Roll Long Beach program to increase bicyclist and pedestrian safety, according to a press release by the City of Long Beach Thursday.

“This grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety will support efforts to provide a variety of transportation education programs,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “These programs will make it safer for residents to walk and bike in our city.”

The grant money will go towards educational safety workshops about the importance of reflective armbands, bike lights, reflectors and helmets.

The Health Department will also be distributing reflective gear and safety information on streets commonly used by cyclists and pedestrians, conduct safe walking workshops for seniors, work with the Long Beach Department of Public Works to write safety messages for e-scooter users and organizing Long Beach Walk and Bike to School Weeks and Long Beach Safe Driver Awareness Week, the press release stated.

The grant will also go towards the Health Department’s participation in Bicycle Safety Month in May and Pedestrian Safety Month in September, the City said.

“Walking and biking are great ways to be physically active,” Health Department Director Kelly Colopy said. “This program will provide community members with the tools to prevent injuries while participating in these healthy activities.”

This is the fourth year the Health Department has been given such a grant to support bike and pedestrian safety. The Health Department used California Office of Traffic Safety funding to share safety information with approximately 3,000 local residents, organize Walk to School Week and distribute around 1,000 bike lights and 200 helmets to community members last year.

According to a press release by the City, pedestrian and bicycle collisions have been rising for the past five years. A 33% increase in pedestrian deaths cause by car collisions was recorded from 2012 to 2016, with a total of 867 pedestrian deaths in 2016. Bicyclists fatalities in 2016, a total of 147, had increased 14% from 2012.

“No matter which way you get around, you play a part in roadway safety,” Office of Traffic Safety Director Barbara Rooney said. “These grant programs are intended to educate residents on ways they can make themselves and those around them safe when they walk or bike.”