LA Bike Trains running on schedule, fueled by enthusiasm

Hop on a bike train to work! If you’re looking for a new way to commute, LA Bike Trains has been up and running since May this year.

Bike trains are group bicycle rides that make scheduled stops for bicycle commuters to join in along the way. According to LA Bike Trains, they “harness the safety of riding in a group while kicking it up a notch by making the ride a fun social experience.”

“Conductors” with LA Bike Trains lead weekly rides along eight routes that crisscross Los Angeles County. The conductors keep the ride moving at a moderate pace and help fix any problems that come up, like a flat tire. They also offer a “Special Valet Service” to help you navigate from your home to a bike train meeting point. And unlike a traditional train, rides are free.

Bike trains are an easy way to get to work -- or to the nearest Metro station. Photo courtesy of LA Bike Trains.

Bike trains are an easy way to get to work — or to the nearest Metro station. Photo courtesy of LA Bike Trains.

“Most participants are completely new to commuting by bike,” said Nona Varnado, LA Bike Trains co-founder. “Bike trains aren’t fast or competitive. They’re for people with jobs, just trying to get to work while having fun and being healthy.”

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Every lane is a bike lane, but do you know how to use those lanes?

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Photos: Gary Leonard/Metro

“Every Lane Is A Bike Lane” informed motorists that they have to share the road, but even with a full lane, many cyclists may be nervous about riding in traffic. That’s why Metro is working with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Bike San Gabriel Valley and Multicultural Communities for Mobility to offer bicycle traffic safety classes.

Here’s the press release from Metro:

In efforts to help make bicycling safer in L.A. County, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has received a California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) grant and is working with local non-profit bike organizations to conduct up to120 English and Spanish traffic skills classes countywide.

The $203,000 grant, awarded earlier this year to Metro by the California OTS through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will fund bicycle traffic skills classes for prospective or experienced cyclists alike who are interesting in increasing their bicycle traffic skills.

Metro has contracted with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), Bike San Gabriel Valley (BikeSGV) and Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM) to conduct three- or eight-hour weekend classes through September 2013.  For a list of upcoming classes, locations and times, visit

“With bicycling becoming wildly popular in L.A. County, it is critically important that our cyclists know the safe ways to ride their bikes on busy L.A. streets, whether for work, school or recreation,” said Diane DuBois, Metro Board Chair. “Metro is taking a leadership role for the county in offering these traffic safety classes, so be sure to sign up if you are interested, as classes are filling up fast.”

Metro plans to reach up to 1,440 people for the classes. Each participant will receive a safety manual, helmet and bicycle lights for successfully completing the course.  Classes will be taught in cities throughout Los Angeles County, including L.A., Culver City, La Verne and Azusa.  Participants must be 18 years or older and be L.A. County residents.

“Bicycling for exercise, pleasure and commuting is a growing trend in California.  Unfortunately, so are crashes involving bicyclists,” said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy.  “Help insure a long, safe bicycling career by learning the valuable lessons and techniques being offered by these Metro-sponsored classes.”

LACBC will host 30 eight-hour classes, 30 three-hour classes, and one advanced-level seminar. BikeSGV will provide 30 three-hour classes, and MCM will teach 30 three-hour Spanish language courses.

“With the help of Metro and OTS, Multicultural Communities for Mobility will be able to continue to conduct Spanish bicycle safety courses throughout the county of Los Angeles to the most vulnerable of cyclists who ride their bicycle as a means of necessity,” said Andy Rodriguez ” League Certified Instructor. “Our work with low-income communities is positively impacted by this grant and we hope to save lives and teach people safe cycling skills.”

The curriculum for each class focuses on bicycle traffic skills and practicing on-road riding.  The first portion of each class will be in the classroom, with the second portion in a parking lot, and third portion on the road.  The material taught will follow the League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 curriculum, which was abridged for the 3-hour courses.

The number of miles driven in the United Stated has dropped each year since 2005 and fewer young adults are getting driving licenses. Concurrently, bicycling is on the rise in L.A. County. From 2005 to 2012, bikeway facilities within L.A. County have increased 14 percent, raising the bikeway miles from about 1,252 to 1,428 miles. And the total number of bikeway miles continues to increase as cities rapidly grow their bicycle networks.  In the past year alone, the City of Los Angeles has grown its bike lane network by 101 miles. With increases in bicycling, crashes involving injury and death have also slightly risen.  In 2010, for example, Los Angeles County had 25 fatalities and 4,201 injuries in a total of 4,226 bicycle collisions. In 2008 and 2009, Los Angeles County ranked fifth out of 58 by daily miles travelled for injuries and fatalities in California.  A review of the causes of these crashes illustrates that over half could have been prevented by the proper utilization of techniques taught in standard bicycle safety education curricula.

“LACBC is proud partner with Metro and OTS to offer in-depth, hands-on bicycle skills training that people can use for safe transportation and recreational riding,” said Colin Bogart, Education Director for the LACBC.  “These classes give bicyclists the tools to assess and manage the potential risks of riding in an urban setting, so they can freely ride anywhere with confidence.”

In efforts to raise awareness for cycling safety, earlier this year Metro also launched the “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” campaign that encouraged motorists to share the road with cyclists and give them a full traffic lane if needed. The popular campaign helped raise motorist awareness that cyclists have equal rights and responsibilities to the road per the California Vehicle Code. The campaign included messages on the back of Metro buses, billboards and spots on local radio stations.

Additionally, Metro is sponsoring 20 bike rides to further promote safe cycling in Los Angeles County. The rides focus on safe bicycling etiquette, rules of the road and basic maintenance. Each ride is led by a trained guide who will not only point out places of interest, but will instruct riders how to negotiate live traffic lanes and bike paths.  Before each ride, participants are given a “safety workshop” so they learn safe road bicycling along the route and practice proper methods of taking a bike on public transit.

Metro’s Bike Program plays an important role in bicycle planning across LA County, facilitating first mile/last mile connections to transit and supporting bicycle transportation through various policies and programs. For more information, please visit

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) strives to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries. It does this by making available grants to local and state public agencies for programs that help them enforce traffic laws, educate the public in traffic safety, and provide varied and effective means of reducing fatalities, injuries and economic losses from collisions.  OTS draws from several federal government funding sources for its grants. OTS also mounts public awareness campaigns and acts as a primary traffic safety resource in order to enlist the help of the general public and the media encouraging traffic safety.  For additional information, visit

Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – riding fearlessly through Commerce

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a weekly Why You Ride series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week.

Vincent Baltierra, Sr., leaves his house at 5:15 every morning, pedaling his bicycle down Washington Boulevard alongside the hundreds of trucks hauling containers between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Union Pacific and BNSF rail yards. He clocks in before 6 a.m. at City of Commerce City Hall, where he works as a street maintenance helper. He’s biked to work this way for 10 years.

“Although Mr. Baltierra is 72 years old,” wrote Rebecca-Lee Longoria, City of Commerce employee transportation coordinator, “cold, rainy, [or] hot weather, not to mention dangerous traffic conditions, do not prevent him from riding his bicycle to work.”

Name: Vincent Baltierra, Sr.
Start: City of Commerce
End: City of Commerce
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 30 to 40 min

Mr. Baltierra and his bicycle at a City of Commerce rideshare event

Mr. Baltierra and his bicycle at a City of Commerce rideshare event. Photo courtesy of Rebecca-Lee Longoria.

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Metro offering free bicycle traffic skills classes this summer

Photo: MoBikeFed via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: MoBikeFed via Flickr Creative Commons

Riding your bike around town can be pretty daunting. Luckily, Metro is offering free bicycle traffic skills classes all over L.A. County through September. The next workshop is this Saturday, June 22 in Claremont. (This class is currently waiting list only, reserve your spot in an upcoming class by following registration instructions on Metro’s Bike Program page.)

The classes are open to anyone who wants to learn or fine tune skills for riding on the road. Registration is required and participants must be over 18 years old. Make sure to bring a bicycle that’s in good working condition, pen and paper, lunch and water.

Metro offers 3-hour courses in both English and Spanish as well as 8-hour courses. Each workshop is broken up into classroom instruction, a bicycle handling practice session and on-road riding. Class participants will receive a free helmet, front and rear lights, and safety manual.

You can’t make me ride in a bike lane.


Bike Lane - Photo by Dan Gleiter

It seems like bike lanes are surfacing up overnight on just about every street in Los Angeles these days. I, like many cycling advocates in Los Angeles see this as a positive change for the city, one that benefits thousands within the community.

With the expansion of bike lanes throughout the city, I’m able to see more and more encouraged folks taking up their bikes to commute, and interest those who’ve never even thought of taking up cycling to commute. Bike lanes are GOOD.

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Metro Rail will run enhanced service for this Sunday’s CicLAvia


Walk, bike or skate down six miles of Iconic Wilshire Boulevard this Sunday with CicLAvia! There are 5 Metro Purple Line stations along this summer’s route – 7th/Metro, Westlake/MacArthur Park, Wilshire/Vermont, Wilshire/Normandie and Wilshire Western – so whether you’re heading out or heading home, Metro can help you get there.

Iconic Wilshire Boulevard will be car-free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bus lines detouring for the event include: 20, 60, 206, 210, 460, 487, 720 and Metro Silver Line. Detours will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or when barricades are present. For more details, please check the Service Advisories page.

Wolfpack Hustle is also holding a bike race around City Hall on the same day until approximately 9 p.m. that will impact bus service on Spring Street, Main Street, Temple and 1st Street. To avoid bus delays and detours, use Metro Rail to travel through and around impacted areas.

  • Red and Purple Line will each run every 10 minutes with 6-car trains. This means a combined service of every 5 minutes between Union Station and Wilshire/Vermont.
  • Gold Line will run every 7-8 minutes with mostly 3-car trains.
  • Blue and Expo Line will run every 12 minutes with 3-car trains.
  • Green Line will run every 15 minutes with 2-car trains.
  • Expect limited bike rack availability on the Orange Line. Use adjacent bike path where available.
  • Anticipated stations to be busiest include Union Station, 7th St/Metro, Wilshire/Vermont and Wilshire/Western. Consider using other nearby stations along the route to avoid potential wait times.
  • Use entire platform length when boarding for more seating and bike space availability.
  • Board with bikes using doors marked with yellow decals.
  • Always walk your bike within Metro stations or on board trains.
  • For everyone’s safety, do not bring bikes on escalators; use the stairs or elevators instead.
  •  Do not use emergency exit gates to enter or exit except during emergencies or unless directed by law enforcement or Metro personnel.

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – mayor of South Pasadena, biking to work since 1977

During Bike Week LA, we collected nominations for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a weekly Why You Ride series – because for many Angelenos, every week is Bike Week!

Dr. Richard Schneider is an overachiever in many ways. He’s a pathologist at two hospitals — one in Hollywood, the other in Lynwood. He’s the mayor of South Pasadena. And he’s biked to work nearly every day since 1977.

Name: Dr. Richard Schneider
Start: South Pasadena
End: Hollywood and Lynwood
Distance: 10 miles (Hollywood), 17 miles (Lynwood)
Time: 35-55 minutes (Hollywood), 70-85 minutes (Lynwood)

Dr. Richard Schneider and his bicycle (plus high-visibility jacket, helmet, and lights)

Dr. Richard Schneider, mayor of South Pasadena, and his bicycle (plus high-visibility jacket, helmet, and lights)

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Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition — the “bikiest” guy in LA

It’s time again for the Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for stories about commuting via bicycling. We collected nominations all throughout Bike Week LA and will be publishing a Why You Ride series with one winner a week — to remind us that every week is Bike Week!

Our first winner this year is Justin Resnick — probably “the bikiest guy in LA,” according to his colleague Rick Gutierrez, who nominated Justin for a Golden Pedal Award. Justin studies bicycle and pedestrian planning as a UCLA urban planning graduate student, serves as the president of the UCLA Bicycle Coalition, and works for the LADOT Bike Program. He bikes from Santa Monica to UCLA almost every day and to downtown Los Angeles one to two times a week. (And according to Rick, Justin bikes everywhere else too, including “nights out on the town.”)

Name: Justin Resnick
Start: Santa Monica
End: UCLA or downtown Los Angeles
Distance: 5 miles to UCLA, 18 miles to downtown LA
Time: 25 minutes to UCLA, 75 minutes to downtown LA

Photo of Justin and bicycle

Justin and his bicycle tabling for the UCLA Bicycle Coalition. The front and rear racks on the bike make it easy to carry things on his commute.

Justin commutes on a single-speed road bike that he built himself. He makes the ride easier by using “business-like” bicycle accessories that allow him to shift quickly from his bike to the office. His panniers, for instance, look like standard briefcases and have shoulder straps for carrying, as well as flaps that roll down to hide the pannier hooks. His shoes look like regular office shoes, but have clips that attach to his bike pedals (for more efficient pedaling). He calls his outfit being a “cyclist in stealth mode.”

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New video shows that L.A. River Ride this Sunday looks like fun

Here’s a video teaser for the LA River Ride this Sunday, June 9, starting at 7 a.m. It could be a great day out. Start and finish are in Griffith Park near the Autry Center. Rides range from 100 miles to a little kids’ ride (no miles). Live music, food etc. But there’s a parking alert. Due to massive construction in Griffith Park, parking will be severaly limited. Metro Local Line 96 stops a short ride from the starting line. Why fight it when you can ride it?