GLENDALE — Officers have stepped up enforcement of motorcycle laws this month as part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of rider deaths.
Glendale police cited more than 20 people, mostly for speeding, on local freeways during an enforcement operation Sunday, Sgt. Dennis Smith said. Officers looked for motorists and motorcyclists who violated traffic laws.
More than 100 motorcyclists were injured and four riders were killed from 2003 to 2007 in Glendale, he said.
"For me, four motorcyclists killed is too many," Smith said.
While the figures are lower than the statewide average, Smith said enforcement is critical because many riders travel through the city.
Motorcycle fatalities in California increased from 175 in 1998 to 560 in 2008, which is a 175% jump, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety.
Those numbers are expected to drop about 20% for 2009, the agency's spokesman, Chris Cochran, said.
"But they are still twice as much as they were five years ago," he said.
The recession played a significant role in the decrease in motorcycle fatalities, Cochran added, because fewer people are buying bikes and are traveling less.
He also attributed the drop to increased enforcement and public education.
The state agency awarded numerous police departments across the state, including Glendale's traffic bureau, with grants to conduct the targeted enforcement operations.
In Sunday's operation, police stopped a group of motorcyclists who reportedly hit speeds of 85 mph on the Glendale (2) Freeway.
As officers pulled the riders off the highway, Smith said, one of the motorcyclists fled.
Police followed the rider, who reached speeds of 100 mph, so the officers decided to pull back, Smith added.
Most Glendale traffic officers ride motorcycles and are aware of the dangers of maneuvering on the roadways.
"You don't have a second chance on a motorcycle," Smith said.