Statewide Safety Study of Bicycles and Pedestrians on Freeways, Expressway, Toll Bridges, and Tunnels

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Statewide Safety Study of Bicycles and Pedestrians on Freeways, Expressway, Toll Bridges, and Tunnels


The purpose of this study is to attempt to clarify some of the issues pertaining to bicycle on freeways. Specifically, the goal of this project is to develop policy recommendations and guidelines for bicycle and pedestrian use of freeway shoulders.
Based on the literature and investigations done as part of this study, highway bicycle collision rates per mile of bicycle travel are an order of magnitude higher than collision rates for motor vehicle traffic. Bicycle collisions are no more frequent on bridges and in tunnels than on the approaches to the bridges and tunnels. Overall vehicle collision rates are no higher on freeways open to bicycles than they are on adjacent highways open to bicycles.

Most freeway pedestrian collisions involve individuals who enter the freeway in a vehicle and leave the vehicle. A disproportionate share of these pedestrian collisions are related to installing and removing tire chains. The project recommendations include: enhanced efforts to inform drivers and passengers of the dangers related to exiting their vehicles on a freeway, a bicycle counting program to establish bicycle ridership and collision rates, a requirement to wear a helmet and possess a drivers license to operate a bicycle on the freeway, a minimum of eight foot paved shoulders on freeways that are open to bicycles, and restrictions relating to bicycles crossing freeway ramps on the freeway side.



Thomas C. Ferrara is a Professor of Civil Engineering at California State University, Chico, and served as department chair form 1987 to 1993. He hastaught more than 20 different courses since joining the faculty in 1971. His dissertation was on bicycles and motor vehicles at intersections—receiving a PhD in Transportation Engineering from University of California, Davis, in 1975. He has served as a project director and consultant on five statewide highway research studies and does professional traffic engineering on a regular basis. He holds registrations as a civil and traffic engineer in California. Dr. Ferrara is the principal investigator on this project and made contributions throughout this report. Mr. Solorio and Dr. Ferrara were the primary authors of Chapter 7, Policy Recommendations, of this report.


A. Reed Gibby is a Professor of Civil Engineering at California State University, Chico. After graduating from BYU with a bachelor of engineering science degree in 1967, he began his career designing freeways for the Washington Department of Highways. He obtained a master's degree from University of California at Berkeley in 1970, then worked in traffic engineering, including some time as a city traffic engineer. He also worked a number of years in transportation planning in Oregon, California, and Alaska. Since joining the California State University, Chico, Civil Engineering faculty in 1984, he has taught courses in transportation engineering and has been involved in nearly two dozen research projects, many of them directly related to highway safety. For a number of years he served on the Subcommittee on Bicycle Capacity for the Transportation Research Board Committee on Highway Capacity and Quality of Service. Dr. Gibby served as consultant on this project, providing weekly assistance throughout the effort. His major contributions were to the statistical analysis presented in Chapter 6 and to the policy recommendations.

September 2001
Bicycle collision
Bicycle facilities
Bicycle safety
Bicycle travel
Toll bridges
Highway safety
Pedestrian safety



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