Walter Evans's letter "Bicycle Boondoggle" {Dec. 20} refers to the Council of Governments and its new regional bicycle plan. Unfortunately, it contains errors that need to be corrected.

In November 1991, the COG Transportation Board adopted the bicycle element of the region's long-range transportation plan, which also includes highway and transit elements. The plan envisions a regional network of bicycle trails that would further bicycling for commuting and recreation, in keeping with COG's goals of managing traffic congestion, improving air quality and conserving energy.

The goal of the bike plan is to increase the number of bicycle commuters to the region by 5 percent. Our recent data show that 1,242 people now bike to work on the main roads into downtown Washington alone. Unfortunately, Mr. Evans inaccurately attributes this amount to the entire region. The total number -- including those commuting in such high-employment areas as Montgomery, Prince George's, Fairfax and Arlington counties and Alexandria -- is substantially higher. His letter states that there are 2 million people living in our region. In fact, there are 3.7 million. One point on which we agree with Mr. Evans is the estimated cost of constructing the trails in the plan -- $61 million. He did not mention, however, that this amount is to be spread over 20 years, that it is less than one half of one percent of the total amount that we expect to be spent for transportation improvements in the region (about $1 billion annually) and that 80 percent of the funding is expected to come from federal aid money.

Mr. Evans's letter contains several other inaccuracies. Local government contributions to COG are currently about $2 million annually. This translates to 50 cents a person for those living in COG's 17-member jurisdictions (not $300 per household). For this, we provide numerous services to local governments and the region's citizens, such as recruiting foster parents, coordinating police emergency responses, alerting residents to bad air pollution and developing plans to clean our air and promote recycling. One COG program alone, Cooperative Purchasing, saves local governments an estimated $2 million a year through collective purchases of heating oil, gasoline, diesel and other commodities.

We are convinced that COG's regional bicycle plan provides one cost-effective means of bettering our transportation system and quality of life in the next 20 years.

RUTH R. CRONE Executive Director Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Washington