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Davis, California

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Improvements to city bicycle infrastructure expected within a year

City of Davis bicycle infrastructure is expected to undergo several major improvements throughout the next year. The East Covell Corridor Plan (ECCP) is currently waiting for the input and approval of the Bicycle and Transportation Street Safety Commission. The ECCP will include new off-street bike paths beside the Covell Corridor, which will be implemented between the Unitrans’ O line and F street. This improvement is made to anticipate developments around that area, as well as to invite more people to access other parts of the city, including South Davis.

“We’re improving the bike path which crosses and goes through the driveway that goes into the shopping center up there. Car drivers will see there is a visible path where cyclists would arrive, [and] so they would expect them,” said Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis.

In addition to new bike paths, the ECCP includes implementation of dutch junctions. These junctions will be placed at the current intersection on J and L street, designed primarily based on European intersections. These junctions are expected to be safer for bicyclists.

“[Dutch junctions] give [bikes] added protection in the turn areas, by putting them in front of the cars [and thus] making them visible, and in some cases, by giving them a different crossing stage,” Davis said.

The design also includes addition to the standard American traffic signal, which will be used to allow exclusive bike phases and easier road crossings for pedestrians, as explained by Brian Mickelson, Transportation Manager of Davis. At the corners of the dutch junctions there will also be pedestrian and bicycle refuge areas, that would be used by cyclists and pedestrians to avoid vehicles moving through the intersection.

By preventing vehicles from making free right turns, the design will prevent conflict between vehicles, pedestrians and bikes crossing at the right turn point.

“We are trying to make our facilities as safe as possible because we’re encouraging more people to ride and ride safely, and make our facilities more inviting for people to ride, especially children. [It is to] encourage higher ridership,” Mickelson said.

The increase of safety for bike riders is expected to improve bike ridership in Davis. With 20 to 25 percent bike ridership, Davis has the highest bike ridership in the U.S. at any given time, according to Steve Tracy, vice president of the nonprofit, DavisBicycles!.

“We’ve got bike lanes all over the place in town, where other communities like San Francisco, that are getting famous for having really great bicycling facilities, tend to get designs that have bike-protected bike lanes, but they don’t have them in every neighborhood in their communities like we do,” Tracy said.

The city has progressively made improvements to the biking infrastructure of Davis. Recent changes include addition of cycle tracks on J Street which were done last spring, cycle tracks in Sycamore which were done last fall, adjustment of lanes on Fifth Street last summer and the implementation of a bike box on B Street. The bike lanes on Fifth Street were widened, which reduced the roadway from a 4-lane to a 2-lane road.

The overall focus of the city is to have “complete streets,” which consider the needs of the users — drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

“There’s a specific design element of complete streets, but the overall philosophy is that you look at a street and see the perspective of all users. How do you get pedestrians to cross the street safely? How do you provide safe space for bicyclists to interact with traffic?…And for the [ECCP], the dutch junctions would achieve that,” Davis said.

The concepts of complete streets and dutch junction designs were also explained by Rock Miller at a DavisBicycles! event, last Thursday. DavisBicycles! members as well as the general public attended the event. Miller, an alumni of UC Davis who graduated in 1976, is now working at an engineer firm focusing on street design. At the event, Miller discussed the benefits of Dutch Junctions and bicycle boulevards — roundabouts designed to organize four-way intersections that are primarily used by bicyclists.

Implementing small roundabouts would cost the city between $20,000 to $30,000 while larger roundabouts would cost the city between $100,000 to $200,000.

Miller also introduced the possibility of providing secure bike parking at Amtrak stations to encourage commuters to bike more. Due to the fact that many people in Davis commute to and from Sacramento, he believes that secure parking is needed at the stations, in order to encourage people to use bikes and public transportation more than private vehicles. He believes that every person in Davis, including UC Davis students, should participate in improving the bike infrastructures in Davis, and even choose bicycle and street design engineering as a way to contribute in the improvement of the world.

“A lot of people from Davis have gone on to really help change the world. From the standpoint of embracing bicycling, so many people graduating from college are interested in it….I really like people [who left] Davis, carrying the lifestyle and pushing wherever they end up to try to move the country to the direction of Davis… there are a lot of advantages to relying on a bike as a mode of transportation that other communities just don’t realize,” Miller said.


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