It's the ultimate hard sell - getting Angelenos to give up their cars to commute to work. But the MTA, in conjunction with a Century City website and UCLA, have been giving it a try by celebrating Bike Week this week, with Bike to Work Day yesterday.
UCLA's transportation department featured an MTA-sponosred Pit Stop on the campus at the Ackerman Plaza Turnaround, while the Century City Transportation Management Organization (CCTMO) has been running a competition from its website, www.cctmo.org, challenging area companies to see how many miles on a bike can be logged.
"We have been supporting cyclists as part of our Transportation Demand Management," said Michael King, a transportation planner with UCLA's transportation department.
He said that currently it's estimated that between 2 and 3 percent of faculty and staff at the university regularly bike to work, which as many 8 percent of students pedal their way onto campus.
According to MTA spokesperson Dave Sotero, only about 1 percent of employees in Los Angeles County bike to work. It's not yet known whether yesterday's event, which included not only the UCLA pit stop, but pit stops in North Hollywood, at Hollywood and Vine and other location throughout the city, had any impact on that percentage.
But Jeffrey Chernick and Evan Meyer, of the CCTMO, said that their website competition has been getting some good response since it went live on Monday.
"The first day, people were logging over 20 miles," Chernick said.
Meyer said that they seemed to have the most success with commuters who live within 10 miles of their office or place of employment. He added that just getting people thinking about alternative transportation is a help, especially if they're encouraged to try biking, for example, just one day a week.
"Giving them a benchmark, it helps," Meyer said.
King said that his pit stop - a table featuring brochures, information, snacks and accessories such as pant straps - had been drawing some good crowds. The stop had been up since Tuesday.
"I think today was our best turn out," King said, adding that bad weather on Tuesday and Wednesday probably accounted for the lack of interest.
Yesterday, about 120 people signed in at the table. King said that while almost half of UCLA's students and faculty rely on public and alternative transportation to get to the campus (which includes car pools, van pools, walking and biking), the goal is to get over 54 percent doing so by 2014.
"It's finding creative incentives," King said. "Essentially Bike Week is to for people to try it out."