A Metro rider loads his bike on the Orange Line. Photo by Nate Baird, via Flickr.
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.
Here are the links: Orange Line study, Metro Rail study and a summary of both in a Metro staff report to the agency’s Board of Directors.
[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.