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Saturday, September 18, 2021

League of American Bicyclists honors UC Davis

The League of American Bicyclists awarded UC Davis a platinum bicycle friendly business award April 22. UC Davis is the first university to be awarded a bicycle friendly business award. The award reinforces the university’s status as No. 1 “Cool School,” as judged by the Sierra Club.

The League awards business awards based on employer efforts to create a more bicycle friendly atmosphere for employees, staff and students. They announced the awards on Earth Day and gave 63 businesses Bicycle Friendly Business status.

“More and more business leaders are realizing that bicycling is a simple and cost-effective way to move toward a more productive company,” said Andy Clarke, the President for the League of American Bicyclists, in a press release.

UC Davis first applied for Bicycle Friendly University status in 2010-11, said David Takemoto-Weerts, Transportation and Parking Services bicycle coordinator. The League awarded UC Davis a gold award for being a Bicycle Friendly University in March 2011. Takemoto-Weerts said they were shocked to receive the gold award rather than the platinum award, which is the highest.

“We decided to apply again for the Bicycle Friendly Business award after the League visited UC Davis for other reasons and told me we should consider applying,” Takemoto-Weerts said.

Takemoto-Weerts described the application process and said there were no specific qualifications, but applicants had to fill out a form with 100 questions which the League uses to evaluate them.

UC Davis cited bicycle accommodations such as restricting vehicle traffic in central parts of campus and the Bicycle Education and Enforcement Program (BEEP). The ASUCD Bike Barn and TAPS do-it-yourself repair stations around campus were also considered valuable resources.

“The university also has facilities that encourage faculty and staff to ride bicycles,” Weerts said. “We offer faculty and staff access to shower facilities in the ARC if they feel the need for it after bicycling to campus.”

These facilities are part of the TAPS goClub incentive program, and also offer emergency rides and complimentary-use parking permits to use when the weather keeps people from bicycling.

As a result of the award, the University will be granted access to a variety of new tools and assistance to remain bicycle friendly. Weerts said the first step of this will be the League providing feedback on their application and suggesting areas where they can improve.

UC Davis is always seeking to improve its bicycle facilities on campus. The 2008-09 Bicycle and Transit Network Study was an effort to improve bicycle transportation and meet demands for future growth.

“Our main effort with the study was to find areas on campus that would need improvement for current and long-term conditions,” said Matt Dulcich, assistant director for environmental planning at the UC Davis Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.

Dulcich said they found three main areas that needed improvement: the Hutchison Corridor that connects with A Street, the North Quad Corridor that connects downtown and West Village, and the Hutchison and Bioletti Way intersection.

The Hutchison Corridor project is under construction and the Hutchison and Bioletti way intersection has already been completed. The North Quad Corridor project is currently in the planning stages.

There were many recommendations according to Takemoto-Weerts, but some didn’t take into account the cost of the projects.

One project that was completed in April 2013 was the conversion of Old Davis Road to a bike-and-pedestrian path only, said Kurt Wengler, project manager.

“The road will now connect to A Street and close off the Arboretum to vehicle traffic,” Wengler said. “It is now a much safer path for bikes and pedestrians. We also made improvements to paths in the Arboretum itself.”

As of May 2013 the project is mostly completed with the exception of a gate at the Arboretum center. The project cost about $2.9 million.

Wengler said the next project they would be working on is the conversion of Putah Creek Lodge Road to a bike-and-pedestrian path only. Another aim of this project is to improve connectivity to the Health Sciences district.

The estimated cost for that project is $3.4 million, an amount that includes costs for parking lot improvements in addition to the bike path projects. The bike path project, which includes narrowing of the path, landscaping work and a turnaround for cars, is estimated to cost about $200,000.

“We really want to improve connectivity from central campus to the Health Sciences District,” Wengler said.

Dulcich said there are no other roads planned for conversion to bike-and-pedestrian paths only, but improving existing bike paths and allowing for safer pedestrian traffic is an important goal.

One example was Kleiber Hall Drive, which was expanded to make room for a separate pedestrian walkway.

“UC Davis provides a safe, efficient and welcoming environment to encourage campus employees to choose cycling as their preferred commute method,” Takemoto-Weerts said.

PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org

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