Metro staff on Monday issued two interesting studies that attempt for the first time to quantify how many people are using bikes to access the Orange Line busway and Metro Rail. The studies also try to estimate the amount of greenhouse gases not being emitted because of people using bikes to reach Metro.
[UPDATE, 2:15 p.m. Please read the rest of this post, but also please leave a comment with any suggestions for Metro about helping cyclists get around].
The studies aren’t perfect — they’re based on surveys that had some limitations. But the studies are significant because in the past there hasn’t been any kind of real numbers on the relationship between bikes and Metro bus and rail service. The info the agency had was either anecdotal or very broad — estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau on the number of people who commute by bike in L.A. County.
The studies offer a mixed bag of good and bad news. On the plus side, over the course of a year, there are more than a million boardings by cyclists on Metro Rail. On the minus side, the amount of greenhouse gases spared by people pedaling to Metro instead of driving all the way to work are paltry compared to the overall number of vehicles on the road.
On both counts, there seems to be room for improvement. I don’t think cities around Los Angeles County have done much to help cyclists access the Orange Line or Metro Rail. Metro staff writes that there seems to be enough cyclists out there to warrant spending money on bike facilities to help people access Metro and further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A few highlights taken from the studies:
•Approximately 1.2 million boardings on Metro Rail annually are by bicyclists (representing 1.3 percent of all annual rail trips).•Bicycle-rail trips replace approximately 322,000 motor vehicle trips and reduce 3.96 million vehicle miles traveled each year, offsetting approximately 2,152 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) annually. This would be equivalent to taking 422 motor vehicles off the road.•Men greatly outnumber women when it comes to using bikes to reach Metro.•Bicyclists are universally using the Metro Rail system, with bicyclists report starting or ending their rail trip at 71 out of 73 Metro Rail stations surveyed.
•Over a quarter (27 percent) of bicycle-rail trips replace a motor vehicle trip.
•In terms of getting to or from the station, twelve percent of bicycle trips replaced motor vehicle trips.
•On average, 13 bicyclists per hour — one bicyclist every five minutes — enters or exits a Metro train during the weekday morning or weekday evening peak periods. An average of 10 bicyclists per hour – one every six minutes – enters or exits a Metro train during the weekend midday period; and
•On average, bicyclists traveled 2.2 miles to access train travel (within the typical bicycling catchment area of a train station). Bicyclists taking the bus travel an average of 4.9 miles to access a train station.
•Counts suggest that an estimated 535 bicyclists ride the Metro Orange Line bus each weekday. Compared to driving alone, it is estimated that bicyclists who use the Metro Orange Line bus collectively reduce their VMT between 274 miles and 2,074 miles each weekday, depending on the type of trip being replaced. The 772 bicyclists who use the Metro Orange Line Bike Path without using the Metro Orange Line bus collectively result in an estimated reduction of 2,621 miles per weekday in VMT.
•Based on the results of this study, bicyclists who use the Metro Orange Line bus and bicyclists who use the Metro Orange Line Bike Path may be reducing between 371 and 602 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) per year. The mode shift generated by the Metro Orange Line bus and its integrated Metro Orange Line Bike Path is potentially removing the equivalent of about 79 to 118 automobiles from the road annually.•The area in which cyclists can comfortably reach Orange Line stations is 13 times larger than that for pedestrians.