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Bike Coalition’s Bike Count Hints at Chronic Undercounting of L.A. Cyclists

2:17 PM PST on December 14, 2009

Last week, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition announced the preliminary results for the three days of bicycle and pedestrian counts the group completed in the City of Los Angeles in late September this year.  Fed up with the "official" numbers used by the City of Los Angeles, who continues to rely on out-of-date and incomplete census data, the Bike Coalition did its own counts, by hand, to get a more acurate picture.

Surprise surprise, the preliminary data suggests that there has been a massive undercount of cyclists and pedestrians.  While their counts included data from non-rush hour, it also didn't cover huge stretches of city streets.  From the LACBC's blog:

One exciting thing about these numbers is that according to the 2008 American Community Survey,just over 16,000 people reported commuting to work by bicycle in LosAngeles. This is a limited number because the survey does not countmulti-modal trips, bike rides to school, or other non-commute trips.But we counted over 20,000 cyclists just from our intersections alone.We captured cyclists commuting, recreating, running errands, visitingfriends and probably counted many multi-modal cyclists.

You can see a full map of counting locations here.

Another encouraging number is the low percentage of cyclists that were riding the wrong way.  It seems that every disgruntled, bike-hating, driver out there is witness to thousands of cyclists biking the wrong way , yet the LACBC bike count volunteers noticed only 6% of cyclists biking in the wrong direction.

There is some bad news from the survey.  The percent of bike commuters that were women was only 12%.  For Los Angeles to ever be considered a real bike-friendly city, that number needs to rise.

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