LACBC Bike Counts: Strong Relationship Between Infrastructure and Riders on the Road

3_16_10_bike_count_map.jpgEach purple dot is a location surveyed by the LACBC last fall. The more purple, the more cyclists.

Oftentimes, cyclists find themselves arguing with non-cyclists about many different facets of life riding the streets of Los Angeles.  Cyclists ride the wrong way, spending money on bike lanes are a waste of money, cycling is just something people do to be trendy or exercise; these false arguments get repeated so often that non-cyclists, even ones sympathetic to the cause of safer streets for cycling, found themselves believing it. 

While anyone that’s ever taken to the street on two pedaled-powered wheels knows these "facts" to be untrue; the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition did us all a favor by putting lie to these falsehoods in their final report on last year’s bike counts completed throughout the county.  The final report will be available by the end of the day at the Bike Coalition’s official website.  In the meantime, let’s see how they’re report puts truth to lies.

Spending money on cycling is a waste of money since nobody bikes.

3_16_10_intersection_chart.jpg1 – bike path, 2 – bike lane

Of the twenty five intersections the LACBC counted, the top seven intersections all had either bike lanes or connected to a bike path.  In other words, the numbers tell the story, if you want people to take to the road on their bikes, the best way to make them feel safe is to provide either the protection of a bike path or the paint of a bike lane.  Of course, we’ve seen how sometimes this feeling of safety can be a false assumption at times, bike paths in urban areas come with their own set of safety hazards; but the numbers speak for themselves.  If the City of Los Angeles, or any city, wants more people to consider cycling for transportation; they need to spend the resources to make cyclists feel safe.

Cyclists are a public safety hazard because almost all of them ride on the wrong side of the street.

This has always been one of my favorite reasons to berate and belittle cyclists that usually comes from our car culture warriors.  You can try to respond with obvious retorts, such as "I don’t bike on the wrong side of the road, don’t I deserve to be protected?" or "How often do you speed or turn left after the light turned red" and they brush you off.  After all, just because you don’t break the law on your bike and they do all the time in their car doesn’t mean anything.  Cyclists are scofflaws.  Car drivers aren’t.

Now we have statistics to put truth to that lie as well.


Just over three percent of cyclists biked the wrong way on the street.  While anti-cycling advocates might point to the other two sets of statistics as proof of cycling scofflaws; it’s not illegal to ride without a helmet or on the sidewalk at any of the places that were surveyed.

People Only Bike for Exercise, Its Not Real Transportation

Not true.  The report shows literally thousands of people biking in the morning and evening rush hours at most intersections.  While there was an uptick in ridership on weekends at many places; that is no reason to discount the many, many people that use cycling as their means to get to work.  For example, over 100 cyclists per hour could be found spread out throughout the study region during the morning rush at 7th and Figueroa, the LA River at the Baum Bridge, Lincoln and Venice, Sepulveda and Ohio, The Orange Line Station at Reseda Boulevard, Santa Monica and Westwood and Amirality Way and Washington Boulevard in Marina del Rey.

The only disappointing statistic is the low percentage of riders that are women.  However, there is a solution.  Statistically speaking, intersections that had a high percentage of female riders also had either a bike lane or a bike path connected to them.  For example, across the city their bike count showed only 18% of riders were women, but at Lincoln Boulevard and Bluff Creek, the number rises to 34%.

While it would be preferable for the city to step up and do some official counts of their own, as one would expect a world class city to do; the good news is the Bike Coalition is planning on doing another set of counts next year. The group vows to do more counts in South L.A. and the Valley to balance this year’s work which the map at the top of the post shows a concentration in the Downtown and Westside.

Let’s hope their efforts pay off in a better bike plan, which should be released to the public soon.  A "secret" meeting previewing the plan was held last month.


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