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.
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!