Davis: US Biking Capital
May 10, 2019
Did you know that Davis, the quiet and peaceful university town, home to the West Village apartments and many other lovely communities, is a haven for bicycling that’s been compared to certain European nations in regards to its love of this humble means of transportation?
“Squint and you could be in the Netherlands: people dot around on bikes. Schoolchildren. Students. Professors. Bank managers. There are bike paths on the University of California Davis campus and in the city, the civic symbol of which is a penny-farthing.”
There’s plenty to be said about Davis and its embrace of bikes. Read on, and we’ll be detailing what makes Davis a “Biking Capital,” and the many features that you, as a dedicated cycling enthusiast, will be able to enjoy when you call this terrific town home.
Davis as a Bike Town
That boast of being the “Bicycle Capital of America” is no mere exaggeration. It’s a title the town has championed since the 1960s, and one that the Davis Downtown Association is keen to promote:
“Since 1966, Davis has been a leader in developing bicycle facilities, resulting in being recognized as the most bicycle friendly city in the country by the League of American Bicyclists. The Platinum Award was presented to Davis in 2006, the first city in America to receive such an award.”
Davis is the “only city in the United States that features a high-wheeled bicycle in its city logo,” representing its dedication to the pursuit of cycling, and some of the numbers, according to outlets like The Guardian, make it easy to see why. In most cities in America, they say, the modal share for cycling as a form of transportation are barely two percent. In Davis, that number is up to twenty percent, and for a while in the 1980s, was as high as thirty percent, putting it on par with the Netherlands, with average modal share for cycling that’s around twenty-five percent.
Part of the success for making Davis so bike-friendly you can attribute to the Davis’ size and environment. Indeed, having a small population, lovely weather, and plenty of flat, open space lends itself to being a biking paradise. Beyond that, though, Davis has been proactive through skillful planning, and creating the infrastructure necessary to make biking almost as ordinary as taking a car to where you want to go.
Back in the 1960s, Davis created the first American bike lane, serving as an example for other cities to follow when it came to creating modern biking infrastructure. The citizenry of Davis, being both well-educated and well-traveled, saw that the rapid expansion of Davis (due to the university and city growth), could pose a danger to cycle traffic (with increased motor vehicle traffic). Rather than stay complacent, the City Council decided that crafting European-style bikeways and education around bicycles would forge a path forward for this environmentally-friendly form of transport. Their idea took, and in Davis today, the bicycle is universally accepted, not just as a form of transportation, but as a symbol of the city’s “commitment to a green, sustainable and healthy lifestyle.”
Over the years, they’ve continued to improve upon the systems that allow biking to flourish. What follows are just a few of the statistics pulled from Davis City Hall about their infrastructure. The city, in present day, contains:
- 70 miles of pathways
- 50 miles of bike lanes
- 75% of roads with a posted speed limit of 25 mph
- 170 miles in the road network
- 2 miles of bicycle boulevards
- 1 mile of cycle track
- 2 miles of buffered bike lanes
- 10% of the streets have a posted speed limit between 25 mph and 35 mph
- 5% of streets have a posted speed limit of 35 mph or greater
Take a quick look at the Davis Bike Map, and you’ll see a vast network that connects cyclists with just about every place they might want to go throughout the city. As for those educational components to biking we mentioned, you can see these offered regularly. Biking With Confidence is one such program that the City of Davis provides, which teaches residents how to ride in traffic, the rules of the road, and offers up tips on how to be a predictable rider — minimizing risk while you’re on the road.
What’s more, there’s a culture around bicycling that persists in Davis. Check the calendar, and you’ll see all manner of events related to the topic, like the upcoming Get Hyped for Helmets Day, a “bicycle safety check party” where participants review their rides to ensure they’re road ready and socialize with a bit of morning music and coffee.
And, of course, the US Bicycle Hall of Fame is also located in Davis. What better place for this legendary American bicycling organization than a town that has done more than its fair share to promote bicycle use? The hall of fame honors competitive cyclists throughout history, and even has a museum detailing many significant achievements. It’s all part and parcel of the culture in Davis that encourages bicycle use, and helps make it an everyday thing for residents to see.
This is all to say that, yes, Davis is definitely a biking capital, and if you’re the type that loves to cycle, there’s really no question about which American town will suit your lifestyle best. Be sure to check out more about Davis’ history in the realm of modernizing bicycle transportation, and the Davis Wiki on bicycling to learn more about the activities, clubs, and shops that abound to help you make friends on two wheels and ensure your ride is in tip top shape.
The West Village Apartments Make Biking Easy
For its part, communities like the West Village apartments fit right in with Davis’ ideal of being a biking town. Located mere blocks away from the UC Davis campus — along with plenty of other Davis highlights and hotspots — make it easy to get around with no car required. You’ll fall in love with being this close to everything, and the joys of riding around town on two wheels are something you’ll have to experience to believe. This is one choice that’s easy to make, check out West Village, and prepare to enter a world where everything you need is right within reach!