Members of a bicyclist advocacy group are hoping to show Los Angeles city leaders just how popular their two-wheel mode of transportation has become in the city.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition began conducting bicycle and pedestrian counts Tuesday, September 22nd at 50 locations across the city, including heavily traversed intersections such as Venice and Lincoln boulevards in Venice. The counts, held through Saturday, September 26th, are intended to give bicycle advocates and city leaders a better idea of how many people travel by bicycle and on foot in Los Angeles.

The coalition chose some of the busiest intersections to have 200 volunteers track the number of cyclists and pedestrians passing by during heavy travel times, helping assess year-to-year changes in those transportation modes as policy and infrastructure change. Coalition members say data collected at the counts can be used to influence city officials to include cycling and walking issues in urban planning and design.

“This is to really help provide the rationale for the investments,” Westchester resident Kent Strumpell, a member of the bicycle coalition, said of the count.

“Bicycles are becoming a more and more important form of transportation. These counts will help us find out where cyclists are riding and how many of them are riding.”

The cyclist advocacy group kicked off the campaign at a gathering at Lincoln and Venice boulevards, where one volunteer counted more than 40 bike riders through the intersection in one hour. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, chair of the Transportation Committee, told the group that his committee is taking a more active role in the cycling issue.

“In my opinion, the culture of the car day is over,” Rosendahl told the group members, many of whom brought their own bicycles to the conference. “The point is that we need to respect each other on the road; a bicyclist has as much right to be on the road as a car does.”

The councilman noted that the count results will provide the data necessary to support the city’s need to invest in walking and cycling as legitimate modes of transportation.

Jay Slater, vice chair of the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee, said he fully supports the coalition in conducting the counts and added that Rosendahl’s involvement in the effort shows his commitment to cycling.

Initiatives such as the bike count can help motivate the city to pay more attention to cycling needs, said cyclist Howard Hackett, a member of the Del Rey Neighborhood Council.

“At least the city is paying attention now, which is a good step forward,” Hackett said.

Hackett noted that counts taken at Lincoln and Venice and other busy intersections will show that there are many cyclists on the roads and their concerns need to be adequately addressed.

Bicycle advocates hope that results from the counts will also be incorporated in the development of the Los Angeles Bicycle Plan. The city is currently planning an update to the Bicycle Plan, which designates various arterial roadways as future bicycle lanes and recommends policies for implementing cycling as a mode of travel in the city.

Cyclists say that the plan needs to address ways to promote bicycling as a safe mode of transportation and provide more travel routes on major corridors in all directions.

“I hope they tighten up the bike master plan so that it connects more parts of the city,” Hackett said.

Bicycle Coalition members say they are working with the Department of Transportation to ensure that the count data will be applied toward the master plan and other city planning projects.