The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame could be moving to Davis.
After the Amgen Bike Tour‘s kickoff in Davis on Feb. 15, and the bike exhibition featured downtown last fall, attracting the Hall of Fame would be a crowning achievement for Davis bike enthusiasts.
Bicycling Hall of Fame officials are currently reviewing applications and will announce the winner sometime in April. The hall is currently in Somerville, N.J., but much of the collection has been in storage recently or exhibited elsewhere.
Somerville Councilman Thompson Mitchell told news site myCentralJersey.com that the hall can no longer be in Somerville because the community lacks financial resources that others are willing to throw into the museum.
“Somerville has a long history of association with cycling,” Mitchell said. “I‘m hoping the Bicycling Hall of Fame will realize they need to maintain a presence here in Somerville for non-financial reasons.“
The annual operating expense for the museum has been about $20,000 per year, according to the hall’s website. About 75 percent of the current cash budget is funded through charitable contributions and sponsorship.
Dan Kehew, president of the California Bicycle Museum, is a major advocate for a move to Davis.
“When the hall‘s homelessness became apparent, we got in touch with them as early as 2007,“ Kehew said. “Davis is the most active biking community in the country and is known all across the country as the biking city. Biking infrastructure has been built up over the years in Davis, so that adds to its chances of being selected.“
Location also seems to be an important feature that gives Davis an advantage.
“With a location near Sacramento on [Interstate] 80, near the Bay Area and close to visitor attractions around Northern California, it really is a prime location for the headquarters,“ Kehew said. “The hall really wants a permanent home, not like the temporary display that Somerville turned out to have.“
With the infrastructure and bicycle enthusiasts, comes the location‘s weather as well.
“We‘ll definitely be one of the top choices,“ said Bob Bowen, public relations manager for the city of Davis. “Unlike other cities you would be able to visit the museum on bike 12 months a year.“
The California Bicycle Museum not only hopes that the museum will tell the story of bike history, but also feature displays like those seen at The Exploratorium, a San Francisco hands-on science museum. The teaching of science and physiology would be combined with bike pedaling displays.
Davis‘ temporary exhibition featured antique bikes purchased with assistance from the UC and loans from the Hall of Fame. The exhibit attracted varied demographics.
“People were mesmerized by the human powered vehicle that went 50 mph,“ said UC Davis researcher and exhibition docent John Hess in an e-mail. “The last weekend we were open, we were visited by a Vietnamese family … who had no idea such old bike designs existed. The father and daughter were thrilled to climb up on the high-wheeler for pictures.“
According to the California Bicycle Museum, the Davis City Council has already decided that having a permanent bike museum regardless of the hall‘s decision would be a good idea.
The museum would have to be moved to a larger location, as the basement at Third and B Streets has limited space. Construction for something more temporary would take six to 12 months after the hall‘s decision is made. Within two years the city hopes to have a more permanent facility.
“We are considering facilities, demographics, bicycling heritage, public private partnership and funding,“ said Bill Brunner, a representative of the Bicycling Hall of Fame.
Ten other cities are vying for the position. Competitors include Somerville, N.J.; Worcester, Mass.; Morristown, N.J.; Tulsa, Okla.; Madison, Wisc.; Dayton, Ohio; Greenville, S.C.; Greensboro, N.C., Trexlertown, Pa.; and Raritan, N.J. Davis is the only West Coast town in the running.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached email@example.com.