Bicycle-Rail Trip Analysis and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Focused Study

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) recently began studying the ways in which bicycling, for transportation and in combination with transit, can reduce automobile use and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The first of these focused studies concentrated on the Metro Orange Line and parallel bicycle path. This Bicycle Rail Trip Analysis and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Study looks more broadly at bicycle trips to and from Metro Rail. The purpose of this study is to establish the benefits of providing an integrated transportation system where bicyclists are accommodated at train stations and on trains.

by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority


LA GHG Bike Survey Final


This focused study relies on bicycle trip data gathered by conducting intercept surveys of bicyclists at a subset of nineteen (19) Metro Rail stations. Counts and surveys were conducted during the weekday morning commute period (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.), the weekday evening commute period (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and the weekend midday period (10 a.m. to noon). Bicyclists were asked to report about the journey they were taking at that moment, from the origin to the final destination. Concurrently with the intercept surveys, volunteers recorded the total number of bicyclists entering and exiting each sampled station. Volunteers collected 605 usable surveys and counted 2,305 bicyclists at the 19 sampled stations.

This study uses survey data to calculate bicycle-rail trip distances and associated reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and GHG emissions. Bicycle count data collected at the sample stations was extrapolated to daily and annual bicycle trips at all stations using Metro Rail ridership data from fiscal year (FY) 2009, and commonly accepted traffic analysis methodology. For those bicycle trips that replaced auto-based trips, trip distances were calculated and used to calculate annual VMT reductions, which were then applied in the Caltrans Emissions Factors model to calculate estimate GHG, criteria pollutant, and mobile-source air toxics (MSAT) emissions reductions.

Published June 01, 2011

About the Author


Metro is unique among the nation’s transportation agencies. We serve as transportation planner and coordinator, designer, builder and operator for one of the country’s largest, most populous counties. More than 9.6 million people – nearly one-third of California’s residents – live, work and play within our 1,433-square-mile service area.

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