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

December 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Bike News, Resources | 41 Comments

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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