There’s still time to take Bikeside’s bike friendliness survey!

By Alex Thompson

There’s still time to take Bikeside’s bike friendliness survey, and join the 478 people who have answered our core questions, including “do you think LA is bike friendly?”  Take it here, at Survey Monkey!  The survey will remain open until Sunday at midnight.

For those of you who have taken it already – THANK YOU! – and please consider passing the survey around to your friends, one more time, via Twitter, Facebook, email, or carrier pigeon. (If you already took the survey, clicking those links will pop you back to our original post announcing our survey.)

In the meantime, the preliminary results are in, and by a margin of 2 to 1, cyclists and non-cyclists say Los Angeles is not bike friendly. Of 522 respondents thus far, 478 responded to the main question: “Do you think Los Angeles is Bike Friendly?” 69.0 % responded “No”, leaving 31.0 % responding “Yes”:

By a margin of more than 2 to 1, people don't think LA is bike friendly.

By a margin of more than 2 to 1, people don't think LA is bike friendly.

Our opening question helps us cut up responses according to whether the responses are coming from frequent cyclists, or non-cyclists. The cool part of this is that we can take a look at whether people who ride in LA are more or less inclined to think LA is bike friendly. In other words, do drivers and pedestrians perceive LA to be more or less bike friendly than cyclists?

Of frequent cyclists, 63.7 % think LA is not bike friendly, and the other 36.3 % think LA is bike friendly. Compare that all other respondents, who either identified as LA riders who do not ride frequently, LA residents who do not ride at all, or riders who do not live in LA. Only 21.7 % of these respondents think that LA is bike friendly, far less than the frequent riders.  Two charts, showing bike friendliness according to frequent riders and bike friendliness according to all other respondents:

Frequent riders stil think LA is bike friendly, but not by the same margin as infrequent riders, non-riders, and riders from outside LA.

Frequent riders stil think LA is bike friendly, but not by the same margin as infrequent riders, non-riders, and riders from outside LA.

Although all groups think LA is not bike friendly, people who don't ride regularly have a worse impression of bike friendliness.

Although all groups think LA is not bike friendly, people who don't ride regularly have a worse impression of bike friendliness.

So why do die-hard LA riders think LA is more bike friendly than everyone else? It’s a question to think on!  I’ll bet you all can come up with some good explanations in the comments . . .

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14 Responses to “There’s still time to take Bikeside’s bike friendliness survey!”

  1. I think frequent riders think LA is friendly because they discover low traffic routes, have a higher tolerance for street conditions (or develop a higher tolerance). Though I think they answered the question for themselves “is LA bike friendly enough for you to ride?” rather than holistically but then again the bottom line is it is a yes/no question: Is LA bike friendly? I’m curious how people quantified that. Personally, if you cant have your child or grandparent cycle confidently and unaccompanied then LA is not bike friendly.

  2. I participated in the survey and replied in the affirmative. I do think L.A. is bike friendly. Though there’s plenty of room for improvement.

    That said, I think it’s a deeply flawed question.

  3. @Severin

    I definitely think you’re right that once you start riding, you find more and more ways to make your riding experience easier, and in that way, LA becomes bike friendlier.

    I like that characterization of bike friendliness. I thought similarly – would I be ok w/ my mom or dad going to bike without my escort if they were visiting LA? My answer was No.

    @f ron miller

    What’s flawed about the question? Seems like a fair question to me.

  4. Alex, it’s certainly a fair question. I think it’s flawed because “bike friendly” is a broad and vague a term. How one defines the term will effect how one answers the question.

    If by “bike friendly” do you mean the climate and the geography? Temperate and largely flat, Los Angeles must be one of the most bike friendly cities in the world.

    Or does “bike friendly” mean those who are not bike riders friendliness to those who are? Yes, there is some indifference and even hostility towards bike riders in Los Angeles (sometimes fatally so) though by and large I find the majority of motorists to be courteous and deferential when I’m on the road, so long as I am the same.

    Does “bike friendly” mean all-access, all the time to all of the roads in the city? Well it’s true, Los Angeles has a ways to go with bicycle accomodation and it could be while (or perhaps even never) before a see a family outing of Schwinns enjoying the afternoon on the Cahuenga Pass. Though I’m not sure how that warrants a 33% friendliness rating (or more to the point a 66% unfriendliness rating of your survey).

    Which I guess is my beef and suspicion with the poll results. Often with polls the answer is skewed by the phrasing of the question. Either Bikeside interests the views of a lot of generally negative bike riders or they’re not all answering the question by criteria.

  5. @f ron miller

    It’s up to the survey respondent to define what bike friendly means to them. I don’t think there is a universally accepted definition, anymore than you can universally define “good looks.” Let the people evaluate the city according to whether they feel it is bike friendly – as ultimately the goal is for people to feel it is a welcoming place to ride.

    “…my beef and suspicion with the poll results. Often with polls the answer is skewed by the phrasing of the question. Either Bikeside interests the views of a lot of generally negative bike riders or they’re not all answering the question by criteria.”

    Can you point to a way in which the question phrasing skews the answer? Otherwise, this is simply you having beef with results because the results don’t agree with your perspective. You speculate that results which differ from your perspective imply either Bikeside is friends with “a lot of generally negative bike riders” (over 500) or that the respondents aren’t evaluating LA according to your criteria. Option 3 is that your perspective is unusually forgiving, and that your perspective is not generally regarded as reasonable. The fact that you believe LA is mostly flat just goes to that point – there are a great many hills in LA and if you’re not experiencing them, then you’ve missed a lot of territory.

  6. Alex, you’re right about my perspective being forgiving –is it unusually so? Don’t know about that. I do know that I enjoy cycling in Los Angeles and that I am surprised to learn that of the cyclists who’ve responded to the poll, that 2/3’s of the frequent riders find the city not to be “friendly” towards them. That’s sounds like a lot of unhappy cyclists. More than I would have expected. Clearly I pal around with the cheerful 36.3% that find Los Angeles “a welcoming place to ride”.

  7. @f ron miller:

    I also enjoy cycling, and I don’t think that LA is a bike-friendly city. Apparently that’s enough for you to label me as unhappy and not cheerful.

    Do you enjoy skiing? Yes? Do you think LA is a friendly place to ski? No? You must be unhappy and cheerless.

    I cycle in LA because I have the skills to significantly reduce the risk of being struck by careless and aggressive motorists, and because I find those reduced risks to be an acceptable tradeoff for the joy I get from cycling.

    To my mind, a necessary component of “bike friendliness” is that a novice cyclist should be able to travel from where she is to where she wants to be (to the extent of her endurance), mostly on pleasant, bicycle-priority streets. She should feel safe and actually BE safe. And while we are taking steps in that direction, we are currently very far from achieving it.

  8. Joe, I’m not aware that I’ve labeled anyone –I’ve merely indicated that it sounds as if there are a lot of unhappy cyclists.

    I’m not sure you skiing analogy really holds up. The city Los Angeles is a pretty lousy place for skiing and, lord knows, if I tried to ski it everyday I’m sure I’d be pretty unhappy with the quality of the experience. Certainly I’d be lacking in cheer over the prospect.

    Your necessary component of bike friendliness is fantastic. I would love to ride on a bicycle priority street! L.A. has none of those, alas. Perhaps in the future that will come. (Are there such things anyway –streets which give priority to cyclists? Amsterdam or Copenhagen, I suppose.) Until then L.A, will remain bike unfriendly in your estimation. I respect that.

  9. Yes there are streets that give priority to bicyclists. There are signs in the Netherlands on certain streets (that have been engineered to better accommodate cyclists than motorists and give necessary priority) that read “Bicycle Street, Car Is Guest”. Similarly, ‘shared space’ prioritizes bicyclists and pedestrians over motorists. There’s also the 30kmph streets in cities in Europe. Many junctions in the Netherlands give priority to cyclists through engineering (having the bike path uninterrupted by driveways, side street, etc) and signage (yield signs to motorists crossing bike paths or bike streets).

    I’m an unhappy cyclist in the sense that I want more than 1% of trips in LA to be made by bike; I don’t want people to scream at me or yell disrespectful phrases at me simply because I choose to cycle; and I want to be able to expect bike parking at my destination; I want to be able to cycle as fast or as slowly as I like on dedicated, safe, state of the art bicycle infrastructure…

    I’m also a happy cyclist, feeling liberated from a car dependent life, never having to worry about paying for parking, gas, insurance, car payments…

    But is LA bike friendly? Not until everyone from the age of 8 to 80 can cycle on any street they please and feel safe and comfortable.

    Just curious, what was your reasoning for saying LA is bike friendly? Did you answer it from a geographic point of view?(weather, terrain..)

  10. Yes, thank you Severin. I figured that bicycle-priority streets were something that didn’t exist in this hemisphere.

    My reasoning for saying L.A. is bike friendly is an aggregate of several factors. The terrain and the climate are most certainly two –for they permit swift and comfortable travel. I live west of La Brea Avenue and am able use the bike locally for all of my needs. I commute daily by bike traveling over eight miles between home and West Los Angeles. There are ample bike lanes along the Santa Monica Boulevard corridor and where there are not, the side streets are quiet and make for easy and direct transit. Is it perfect? Of course not. I’ve stated here in the thread as well as on the survey that there is plenty of room for improvement but I couldn’t ride the streets to begin with if the environment wasn’t accommodating. So given the choice I chose “Bike Friendly” over not.

  11. LA is not bike friendly. I lived in Hollywood. No bike lanes, narrow roads, poor road conditions, careless drivers and high bike theft rates make LA a crappy place to ride.

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