Some bicyclists are highly visible. They often wear bright clothes and ride hundreds or thousands of miles each year. Visible bicyclists are organized. They tend to be members of bike clubs and advocacy groups. Many ride their bikes on long commutes to work. They show up at public meetings to advocate for better conditions and demand that their rights to the road be respected. They are bicyclists by choice.
Another group of bicyclists is virtually invisible. They go unseen because they wear regular clothes, do not have a bike light and often ride on the sidewalk. They are riding to work, school, the supermarket, a bus stop or a train station. They use a bicycle because it is an accessible and reliable form of transportation and they most likely do not own a car. Other than walking, it may be the only mode of transportation they can afford. Many are recent immigrants who are generally unaware of their rights and responsibilities as bicyclists. They often work long, irregular hours and are unlikely to attend public meetings.
The above descriptions are somewhat simplistic but bring to light the challenge of understanding the needs of the full spectrum of bicyclists. The first group can be reached with relatively little effort through their affiliations with bike clubs and advocacy groups. In many cases their input comes unsolicited. The second group is not organized based on their status as bicyclists and reaching them is difficult. The Enhanced Public Outreach Project (EPOP) is an effort to better understand all bicyclists including the traditionally hard-to-reach and often underrepresented bicyclists. This Executive Summary provides and overview of findings and policy recommendations.
Bicyclists need access to the same destinations as drivers of automobiles. Origin and Destination Survey results show that the most common destinations for bicyclists are concentrated along major arterials, especially in areas with intense commercial activity (see Community-Based Origin and Destination Survey Analysis pages 27 to 104). Arterial improvements are primarily funded through the Road Surface Transportation Improvements (RSTI) category for Metro's Call for Projects, and only a small number of projects funded include improvements for bicyclists.
Bicyclists in low-income communities with high levels of transit use tend to ride more often and make more utilitarian trips (Figure 3.2, page 18). The areas they live in also tend to have fewer bicycle facilities. Rights of way are often built out completely making the installation of facilities like bicycle lanes a challenge. Local planners need to consider all the options available for improving the bicycling environment when making street improvements.
Providing bicycle racks is an inexpensive improvement that facilitates utilitarian bicycling. Results of the Countywide Bicyclist Survey (Figure 3.2, page 18) and the Origin and Destination Survey (Table 4.1, page 26) show that the most common utilitarian bicycle trips are for errands (trips to supermarkets, banks, post offices, etc.). A large number of these trips are to private businesses such as supermarkets, banks, and shopping malls. Respondents frequently mentioned that common destinations such as these did not provide bicycle parking. City ordinances requiring bicycle parking address only new developments. Addressing the need for bicycle parking at existing businesses will require incentives for city governments to take action.
Results of the Countywide Bicyclist survey show that the initiation of bicycle trips to work or school is highest during the hours currently restricted by Metro (see Figure 3.3, page 19).
Bike-transit users frequently commented that bus bike racks were often full, broken or not installed on buses. Reported bicycle rack use was greatest on the 720 Metro Rapid line. Bike racks on Metro buses currently hold two bicycles each. Full racks are especially common late in the evening when headways are longer. Other agencies including Long Beach Transit are currently using bus bike racks that hold three bikes each. Installation of these racks on Metro buses would increase capacity by 50 percent. Metro should consider installing three-bike racks on their bus fleet on routes with the heaviest rack use.
While surveying in our targeted communities we noted a general lack of unerstanding as to how bicyclists should behave in the traffic flow. One of the most common misconceptions was that bicyclists should ride against the flow of traffic. There was also confusion about the legality and safety of riding on roadways and sidewalks. With heavy traffic and a lack of bicycle facilities in these areas, knowledge of vehicular bicycling principles is needed. Survey findings also show that regular use of safety equipment is low among bicyclists in low-income communities (Figure 3.5, page 21). Lower-income bicyclists are also more likely to be riding in the late evening hours, when bike lights and reflective clothing are most necessary (Figure 3.3., page 19).
Education programs and public information campaigns are necessary to make all Los Angeles County residents aware of the rights and responsibilities of both bicyclists and drivers. Survey respondents frequently commented on the need for programs to combat inattentiveness and aggressive behavior by motorists.
.pdf version of the Enhanced Public Outreach Project for Metro's Bicycle Transportation Strategic Plan