Results Are In: Cycling Is on the Rise in Los Angeles!

December 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Bike News, Resources | 40 Comments
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One of the many LACBC volunteers that helped count people biking & walking in September 2011.

This past September, over a hundred of you took to intersections all around the City of LA to help us collect data on people biking and walking. We’ve been tracking down count forms and weeding through the data, and we finally have some preliminary results to share with you!

First off a HUGE thank you to all of you who participated in the count! Because of you, we were able to collect more data at more locations across the city than our inaugural count in 2009. Counts were conducted on two days at 58 intersections. We attempted three counts at each intersection: a weekday morning, a weekday afternoon/evening, and a weekend at midday. Thirty-three of those intersections have complete counts for both days—eight more than the last count!

Overall, we counted 15,111 bicyclists and 76,740 pedestrians! The following graphs summarize what we’ve learned so far about biking and walking in Los Angeles this year.

In the graph on the left we see the number of people cycling and walking during each time period the Count was conducted. The proportion of people cycling to pedestrians remains about the same from the week to the weekend. Of special note is the fact that the number of people cycling counted on a weekday was not significantly smaller than the number of weekend riders, which suggests that many people use their bikes during the week for daily transportation purposes. The difference between the morning and evening weekday count can likely be attributed to the fact that more shops are business are open in the afternoon so folks are likely to be running errands, commuting etc.

We also collected additional information about the cyclists we observed. As with the 2009 Count, we recorded the gender and riding behaviors of people cycling. We collected data on gender as research on cycling has shown that women can be an indicator of how bike friendly a city is; the more women riding the safer the streets.

As the graph shows, fewer than 1 in 5 of the people cycling counted were female. This proportion did not differ greatly during any of the count periods, as shown in the second gender graph on the left. This suggests that, while female ridership remains very low, the pattern of bicycling among women is consistent across the count periods and was not related to the time of day or week.

All-in-all, the gender data indicates that there is still a wide disparity in ridership between women and men in Los Angeles. Even as bicycling grows in overall popularity, much more needs to be done to encourage growth in female ridership.

We also recorded whether people cycling rode on the sidewalk, rode the wrong way down the street, and were wearing helmets. These results are shown in the graph on the left. Very few people cycling were observed riding the wrong way. A little over one-quarter of the people cycling were riding on the sidewalk and less than half wore helmets.

Since this is the second time we’ve done a count in Los Angeles we are also working on comparing this year’s count data with what we collected in 2009. Our initial examination drew from the 17 intersections for which we have complete counts for both years.  The results of this initial comparison have been very encouraging and are displayed in the final two graphs.

The bars on this graph show the number of people cycling counted in 2009 and 2011 at each intersection. The dots show the percent change (increase or decrease) in the number of people cycling between the two years for each intersection. As shown here, the overall trend has been one of growth in the number of people cycling across the city. Only two intersections recorded a drop in the number of people cycling from one year to the next, and none of the other 15 intersections saw less than a double-digit percentage increase in the number of people cycling.

One of the more pleasant discoveries of this Count came when we saw the relative gains in the number of people cycling after the appearance of bicycling infrastructure. Four of the intersections—4th and Wilton, 7th and Alvarado, York and Ave 50, and Fountain and Vermont—have streets where some form of bicycle infrastructure was installed between 2009 and 2011. These intersections saw a huge jump in their average ridership (101%) compared with the remaining intersections, which had a solid, but relatively modest average gain of 20%.

The final graph displays the general trend of greater numbers of people cycling from 2009 to 2011. The number of people cycling observed at these 17 intersections grew by more than 1,200 overall—an increase of 32%!

We also want to highlight the data collected by the US Census American Community Survey (ACS) on commute trips by bicycle in the City of Los Angeles. The data complements our count as cycling to work has increased by 56% from 2000 and 2010. The City of LA is hovering around the 1% mode share mark for commute trips by bike. The Census/ACS and our Count data provide us with a snapshot of cycling in Los Angeles and give us a baseline to measure the city’s efforts toward becoming bike friendly. They also help provide us further support for more infrastructure improvements, programs and policies. Active transportation demand and use continues to grow in Los Angeles and there is a lot that needs to be done in order to create a connected bike network that works for people of all ages and abilities.

We are working hard on the Count report and should have it done in early 2012. Again we could not have done this count without all of you so THANK YOU for volunteering and for getting out there everyday and riding your bikes!

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  1. “Given that nearly one-third (31%) of people cycling practice some kind of incorrect riding behavior (riding the wrong way and riding on the sidewalk)”

    Cycling on the sidewalk isn’t wrong, is it?

    • You’re right. Cycling on the sidewalk is perfectly legal, however while people cycle on the sidewalk because it often seems safer there are a lot of conflict zones and often it can be more dangerous. But we’ll correct that statement since you’re totally right – it’s not wrong. Thanks for pointing that out!

      • The fact that cycling on the sidewalk isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it’s not wrong, unless you’re a child. There are occasions when using the sidewalk is unavoidable, but they are rare. I’d say stick with your original statement.

        • How do you define wrong, Michael? Why is it wrong for someone over 18 to cycle on the sidewalk?

        • What is it that changes when one turns 18 that it is suddenly wrong?

          • I’ll spare the snarky comments and defer to the well thought out, logical explanation below (thank you Dale F). To answer your question about what happens when one turns 18 is, well, you become a grown up. Bicycles cease to be toys and become a form of transportation. Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is dangerous. You put yourself into many blind spots that can result in unwanted contact with cars (pulling out of driveways and alleys or making right turns), pedestrians, dog walkers, etc. There is a certain level of social and spatial awareness that is expected of adults. Cyclists need to be even more aware considering our struggle to be considered a legitimate form of transportation on our roadways.

            • If the sidewalk is wide, if there are no or few pedestrians, and if there are no blind spots, then riding on the sidewalk is the safest way to go, and the best way to go. Those conditions are very rare in some parts of town, very common in others. Please don’t generalize away our rights to ride.

            • My bicycle was transportation when I was in high school, it wasn’t only a toy. A bicycle can be transport for anyone no matter what their age– why do you ignorantly claim it’s a toy for anyone under 18 and that they don’t belong on the street if bicycles are used for ‘play’ purposes?

              So the argument isn’t that sidewalk cycling is dangerous, it is dangerous if motorists/cyclists are being unaware and going fast. So it can be that sidewalk cyclists are being perfectly safe themselves if they travel under 10mph. In this count we don’t know how fast the sidewalk cyclists were going and what the sidewalk conditions were, please don’t generalize that all sidewalk cyclists are behaving wrongly.

              • Hell, you don’t even know the age of the sidewalk cyclists, it could well be that they were under 18!

                • Sidewalk riders are so defensive and (chuckles to self) seemingly immune to fact and logic. This is almost as fun as arguing with a christian conservative republican, but not quite. Go in peace Defender Of The Sidewalk Rider.

                  • You said that all sidewalk riding should be deemed ‘wrong’ in this survey (see your earlier comment) yet you dont fact facts to support this reasoning because you admit yourself that it is okay to cycle on the sidewalk under certain conditions.

                    Case closed.

                  • **Michael ignores questions and fails to provide the facts supporting his claim, much like a conservative republican**

  2. Sidewalk Bike-riding seems to always be a hot topic. Here’s a great article from LADOT regarding this subject and how it applies to different parts of town and jurisdictions.

    http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/la-county-sidewalk-riding-part1/

    Besides how awesome LACBC is in giving us LA bike info, here’s another resource about why it’s safer to ride on the street rather than the sidewalk…

    http://bicyclesafe.com/

    My opinion of sidewalk riding has to follow the “Common Speed Law” we learned back in driver’s education classes. The law states that “motorists (cyclists also) should travel at a rate of speed which is consistent with the driving conditions”

    There are many factors, but if someone is ‘speeding’ their bike through a sidewalk, it is endangering themselves and pedestrians. That person should should just travel on the street.

    I ride almost everyday to and from work. Bottomline, as a cyclist, I always try to scan my changing environment and to always consider myself a “Cyclist Ambassador.” I always want to make drivers think… “Hey, that looks fun. Maybe I should ride to work too.”

  3. In some cities it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. I think those laws were mainly established to protect pedestrians. It’s prudent to ride slowly when on a sidewalk.

  4. [...] Featured Headline: The LACBC released the results of their summer bike counts yesterday.  Some potential headlines: Biking up 32% Since 2009, or Only 5% of Cyclists Ride “Wrong Way” in Lane or Only One in Six Cyclists Are Women.  Read more at the LACBC Blog. [...]

  5. Congrats, guys!!! I’m so excited to see initial numbers….Proof that infrastructure boosts cyclists!

  6. It’s exciting to see on the graph that the two streets that received bike lanes after the 2009 counts-7th st and Woodman Ave-more than doubled the amount of cyclists in two years. If you subtract the 22% average growth rate of cycling at intersections that received no treatments, from the 7th st and Woodman Ave totals, both of these streets still doubled in growth over the last two years and the 7th St bike lanes were put in shortly before the counts were made. That is very impressive.

    Compare the 7th St and Woodman Ave growth to the increases that were measured by different U.S. cities after protected bike lanes were installed.

    http://www.chicagobikes.org/pdf/Cycle_Tracks_Overview.pdf

    Chicago counted the bike volume changes on Kinzie St. shortly after the protected bike lanes were installed. Very similar time frame to when the 7th St bike counts were made after the bike lanes were installed on that street. Kinzie St. is a higher quality bike lane than 7th St. and yet 7th St had a higher percentage increase in cyclists. One of the Kinzie St. counts, after the protected bike lane installation, showed more cyclists than motorized traffic and so Kinzie St. was already a major biking corridor before the installation. Still, this gives me hope that quantity over quality can at least double the cycling on a street, if starting from a low bike modal share.

    It will be interesting to see the cycling growth rate in Chicago, where they are just starting to put in protected bike lanes, compared to L.A. cycling growth rate over the next two years.

    It’s should also be noteworthy that both Kinzie St. and 7th St got publicity about the installations, and I would say that Kinzie St probably got more media attention due to it’s more radical looking change compared to 7th St. Publicity is a great help in getting people to cycle at a new bikeway installation.

  7. On my previous post I missed York Blvd having new bike lanes just before the count was conducted. So, the above graph shows a doubling of bicycle traffic on three streets, after deducting the 22% average increase that was obtained from streets that did not get any bicycle infrastructure improvements from 2009-2011.

  8. Looking again at the above graph, I can’t see any noticeable effect on bicycling rates by putting sharrows down on Fountain Ave or 4th St. Just from the standpoint of increasing bicycling, it looks well worth the effort to put in bicycle lanes, instead of sharrows on busy streets.

  9. I truly believe the results as there has been a correspondingly enormous increase in photographs of Bobby Gadda riding his tall-bike.

  10. [...] Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition yesterday announced the preliminary results of a study showing that cities (like people) really can change–it found that the number of Angelenos [...]

  11. [...] year–that amounts to double the number of riders that were on the streets of NYC in 2007. · Results Are In: Cycling Is on the Rise in Los Angeles! [Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition] · Number of Cyclists in New York City has Doubled Since [...]

  12. [...] December: Bike Count results reveal–not suprisingly–that cycling is on the rise in Los Angeles. (link) [...]

  13. [...] protected bike lanes. The cycling rate in greater Los Angeles is pitifully low, although growing, with a severe gender imbalance. The main reason for this is likely that most people will not ride bicycles in traffic (or [...]

  14. [...] Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle … While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle [...]

  15. [...] Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle count. While this trend has [...]

  16. [...] Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle … While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle [...]

  17. [...] Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle … While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle [...]

  18. [...] have finally finished up the 2011 City of Los Angeles Bicycle & Pedestrian Count Report. We shared results from the 2011 count late last year.  The full report of our findings plus our recommendations for [...]

  19. [...] have finally finished up the 2011 City of Los Angeles Bicycle & Pedestrian Count Report. We shared results from the 2011 count late last year.  The full report of our findings plus our recommendations for [...]

  20. [...] Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle … While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle [...]

  21. [...] Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle … While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle [...]

  22. [...] of bike facilities. LACBC’s recent 2011 bicycle traffic counts are encouraging, which showed a significant increase in bicycling rates on York Boulevard between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 54 after the installation of bike lanes. Once the bones of [...]

  23. [...] Bicycle Coalition on growing the current 16% of cyclists who are women (stats from last year’s bicycle count). They also work hard at breaking down the ‘too dangerous’ feeling most women have [...]

  24. [...] make me feel like I’m a hot commodity, the truth is really that I am just a rare one: only one in five L.A. cyclists are women, according to a 2011 LACBC [...]

  25. […] Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle … While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle […]

  26. […] a tremendous increase in the amount of cycling compared to 2009, particularly on streets that received bike lanes in the time between the two counts. While studies across the nation have demonstrated that building bicycle infrastructure leads to […]

  27. […] all of the above and then some. In Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle … While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle […]


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