I can vouch. Davis, California loves its bikes.
My cycling heart is full after a week in Davis. I has seen countless kids on bikes, dogs in trailers, folding bikes, tall bikes, cruisers, businessmen toting flowers home to their sweetie and so much more. The bicycle path network here is extensive and I was lucky enough to score a tour by some local bicycle advocates a few days ago.
After an early morning meeting in one of the many city parks, we pedaled off to examine some of the arterial cycling routes that students use to get to school. Our group cruised along shaded bike paths, across intersections, under tunnels, over bridges and through quiet streets that may someday be designated as ‘Bike Boulevards”. The network of paths was very impressive and even the most distant neighborhoods had access to safe routes.
The bicycle bridge over I-80 that connects North and South Davis.
One great program promoting biking and walking to school in Davis is Save A Gallon. Each day volunteers at Birch Lane Elementary track the number of student trips by scanning barcodes attached to each child’s backpack. We stopped by the school to observe this process and it was fantastic to see a line of kiddos waiting to log their miles for the day. This program provides small incentives for the participants and also has an auto-notify feature that emails each parent once their child arrives safely at school.
Many would say that Davis is a haven for bicycles, and in many ways, it is. In fact, one high school that I visited sees 50% of its student body arrive by bike. However, there is always room for improvement and during our lengthy tour of the city, my kind hosts pointed out some of their challenges and problem areas as well. Priority issues include improving a narrow tunnel that connects East and West Davis, increasing the use of ‘Sharrows’ and putting a few streets on a ‘road diet’. Much of Davis’ success promoting bicycle travel is a result of city planning that happened long ago – think the 70′s. Modern advocates are trying to encourage the passage of a Complete Streets policy in order to maintain Davis’ status as a Platinum Bicycle Town.
Davis is an inspiring place to ride and a great example of a community that has integrated bicycles into all aspects of its every day life. Thanks, everyone, for a great stay!
Lots of bike/walk love at the Summit!
This past rainy Tuesday I stayed dry inside Salem, Oregon’s Conference Center as an Oregon Active Transportation Summit attendee. The AT Summit was convened as an opportunity to assemble advocates of biking, walking and transit together for constructive conversations about how Oregon can continue to be an innovator in active transportation. It was an inspiring day that began with presentations by industry leaders such as Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong and state legislators. I attended two break-out sessions on the topic of ‘engaging communities’ that left me with exciting new ideas for promoting healthy transportation. I can’t wait to share these examples with my many eager Tour communities!
- The Political Economy Research Institute released a case study of transportation infrastructure development in Baltimore. Their finding? Pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure projects create 4 to 5 more jobs per $1 million spent than road projects. Another reason to invest in bikes and active transport!
- A study by the Society of Actuaries published new figures estimating the cost of obesity and overweight. Their number: $300 BILLION.
- Marion Nestle has written a couple of great articles recently. See this Atlantic piece for a summary on the new school food nutritional standards and her blog post about front-of-package labeling and the dietary quality of supposedly ‘healthier’ kids products.
Also – on a side note: As I progress in planning the School Food Tour I find that I am acquiring exciting new skills that I did not anticipate learning. Such as how to create a website. Cool!
- Cycling rates are on the upswing! An encouraging article at Governing.com about the rise in bicycles’ popularity. The author points out the need to view bikes as a means of active transportation and not simply a form of recreation (though they are fabulously fun to ride too – bonus!).
- Childhood obesity prevention in the Southeast – A new campaign aims to “prevent childhood obesity in low-income communities across the southeast”. This program will focus on promoting healthy eating and physical activity in schools and communities. It will use “students as mentors” and encourage youth to share what they learned at school with their family. The southeast is in great need of more programs such as this – I am excited to bring the School Food Tour to this region.
- Recipes for Healthy Kids contest – Entries to this USDA competition are due on December 30. Supported by Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, this program is designed to “introduce exciting new recipes into the National School Lunch Program”. Each category’s top scoring recipes will be published in a cookbook for students and families.
Ikea is giving a grand gift to its employees this Holiday season – a bicycle. This grey, commuter-friendly bike supports Ikea’s efforts to cultivate healthy living habits in its employees. As expected, the bikes require self-assembly. MSNBC reports the news here.
Now if we can just get Ikea to follow up this gift by providing a helmet, a bike safety check, education about riding on the road and ensure secure bike parking at its stores…