Metrolink and SoCal Explorer Loyalty Program partner/Bike Month partner, the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, have teamed up to promote the many benefits of cycling as an alternative transportation choice that improves our health and our environment in Southern California.
Metrolink connected with Kevin Shin, Senior Director of Policy and Partnerships for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, who has been exploring his city via bike from East Coast to West for decades.
He shares his thoughts on the importance of offering bike accessibility in cities, and the opportunities to pair cycling with public transportation across Southern California.
Nobody “Walks” in LA – but People do “Bike”
The Los Angeles County Bike Coalition was founded in 1997 with the mission to fight for better bike infrastructure and create safer opportunities for cyclists in the region. The coalition was officially incorporated as a nonprofit in 2001 and began to organize educational and community drive activities such as building maps of local bike paths the establishing the annual “river ride.” In 2011 LACBC expanded to create a “chapter” program.
The LACBC aims to make the roads safer for all riders, including recreational cyclists as well as commuters.
“We started cultivating hyperlocal groups to focus on local advocacy in cities around the county and figure out how to integrate our work into the bigger picture of transportation – and over time the organization began to focus on building culture, teaching people how to ride and how to understand that the majority of the cyclists we see on the road are just a limited group who don’t actually represent the bulk of the distribution of the people who ride,” said Shin.
Shin says that given LA’s “car culture,” many drivers aren’t aware of how many bikes traverse Los Angeles for work and leisure travel. There’s also a large population of people who live and work in this region who don’t have access to a car. Shin says it’s important for drivers to always be on the lookout for cyclists to avoid accidents.
“There are many people we consider ‘invisible cyclists,’” said Shin. “These are the people who are riding to work super early in the morning, the essential workers and folks who ride not because they want to but because it’s their only option. It’s important to ensure everyone can safely move around the city.
From the First Mile to the Last Mile
Shin stresses the importance of understanding bicyclists’ role in the bigger picture of public transportation.
“Perhaps you’re biking to a public transit station and getting on a light rail, and then taking it further, and biking on the other end,” he said. “The biking ecosystem has a really strong role to play for short and long trips.”
Shin also points out that riding a bike can give people a greater opportunity to explore their community in a way that driving a car just does not allow. Cycling’s lower speeds really allow people to experience the community and create much bigger impacts on small local businesses all throughout Southern California.
“We want to get people to understand that transportation applies to more than just getting around, when it comes to making LA a healthy and resilient region,” he said.
Proper transportation also impacts mental health and physical health – biking and taking public transit allow people to be more active, and spend less time worrying about the stress and cost of traffic and parking.
Shin is a huge fan of public transportation himself – in fact, during his college years at Claremont McKenna College, he says he used Metrolink to get around, and he still uses the railway with his bike.
“If we continue to improve public transportation access for everyone [with their bike], it will encourage people to use it more,” said Shin. “The smoother we continue to create this connectivity – railway to bike connections – the smoother we make the public transportation process.”
As the LACBC continues to grow and evolve, they are continuing to ensure that the community understands biking is a way for people to better navigate their communities, stay healthy, and help each other.
The LACBC has put together a series of self-guided rides Metrolink passengers can take on their own, that highlight various points of interest in LA. Visit la-bike.org for more information on the organization.