The Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and scenic views may attract tourists from all over the world, but Davis' bike paths, tunnels and traffic signals brought a group of San Franciscans here Saturday.
Tim Bustos, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the city of Davis, and David Takemoto-Weerts, UC Davis bicycle program coordinator, led about 20 cyclists from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition on a three-hour bike tour of Davis.
The group started the morning with a ride on the Capitol Corridor train using the train's bike storage areas. Its first stop was a visit to the Davis Farmers' Market and then the group set off to learn more about how Davis came to be known as such a bicycle-friendly town.
Some of the group's stops included the automobile-restricted areas of the UCD campus, the bicycle traffic signals on Russell Boulevard, Village Homes, the Dave Pelz Bicycle Overcrossing on Fifth Street and the Putah Creek Bicycle Undercrossing.
"It was such an incredible tour," said Peter Bejger, vice president of Different Spokes, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender bike club in San Francisco. "What impressed me is that there's a lot of intelligent urban planning. It's good to see bicycles fitting into urban planning."
Bejger and Michael Cobb, also a member of Different Spokes, are frequent participants in Critical Mass, an event that draws thousands of bicycle activists into the streets of San Francisco as a way to advocate for the rights of cyclists.
"What I also like here (in Davis) is that there seems to be less of an antagonistic relationship between bikes and cars like you sometimes see in the city," Cobb said. "It seems like people here are used to the bikes and don't have a problem with them."
Saturday's tour also included a look at the many types of bike racks that can be found in Davis. Bejger said he was impressed at how easy it is to find bike racks in town. Although, he wasn't as impressed with the hoop-style bike racks because he found them inconvenient.
"Really though, overall, it's hard to find anything to criticize," he said.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition chose to visit Davis because of its early innovations in bicycle-friendly planning. In the 1960s, Davis was the first city to in the United States to paint bike lanes on city streets.
Takemoto-Weerts noted that several aspects of Davis - including its flat terrain, mild climate and large population of students - would likely have led to a high number of resident cyclists.
"However, it was Davis' decision in the mid-1960s to proactively encourage and protect cycling that has made it the most bike-friendly community in the country," he said.
Because of increasing demands from cyclists for tours of Davis, Bustos has created a written narrative listing more than a dozen noteworthy Davis sites that would be of interest to bike enthusiasts.
For more information, contact him at Tbustos@ci.davis.ca.us.
- Reach Crystal Ross O'Hara at email@example.com
David Takemoto-Weerts' comprehensive history of Davis' evolution as a bike-friendly community is available online at http://www.taps.ucdavis.edu/probike98-1.htm.
"Where have all the cyclists gone", op-ed article by Robert Sommer, professor in the Department of Psychology, UC Davis, published in the Davis Enterprise, May 18, 2003. Response by David Takemoto-Weerts
Report and photos from San Francisco Bicycle Coalition tour of Davis, April 27, 2001
Davis Bicycle Club
" Cycling in Davis, California - the most bike-friendly city in the US
" Pedaling to Save the City - the Critical Mass bicycling movement
" Cycling in Osaka, Japan - the use of bicycles for transportation in Japan
" Class and Traffic - the often overlooked costs of auto-dependency
" Paul Dorn's Bicycles - reasons, considerations and rationalizations on bike types