Cyclists in City of Davis unite for National Bike Month
The event that keeps cyclists waiting all year long is finally rolling around the corner — National Bike Month! Started by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956, the annual event encourages people to give cycling a try and educate the public about bike culture and the benefits of biking.
While Davis has approximately 20,000 cyclists, there are still many residents who choose not to ride for various reasons, some being that they may not know how to ride, where to go or how to bike safely around town. In May, all of those folks are in luck.
Both the City of Davis and the university are holding various classes and events regarding bike safety and cycling culture, covering topics such as how to fix a bike, finding others to ride with or learning the various bike paths across town.
“We teach all the bike basics, many of the same things you need to learn as a motorist,” said Tim Bustos, UC Davis Bicycle Program coordinator. “We teach people how to fix a flat on their bikes because most people have never been taught that. There’s a whole cross section of events oriented towards May being National Bike Month.”
The hope is that National Bike Month will increase awareness about biking and, in turn, increase the number of cyclists who attend these events and various bike programs.
For example, the Bike Campaign, which works closely with city governments, schools and other organizations to encourage cycling, has implemented Bike Buddies. This program connects new bikers with someone who can cycle with them, teach them tips and tricks and encourage them along the way.
“We also produce the City of Davis/UC Davis joint bike map for those who aren’t familiar with how to get around town,” Bustos said. “Having the bike maps available lists some of the key points in the city and lists where all the bikes shops are if they need to get their bike tuned up for Bike to Work day, for example.”
In addition to the annual National Bike Month, Davis is celebrating a plethora of events this year, like the 100 year anniversary of the incorporation of Davis and the 200th anniversary of the invention of the bicycle. In addition, the city will also celebrate the induction of the very first official bike lane in Davis (and the entire nation) on May 12th.
It all started in 1966 when two city councilmen, Maynard Skinner and Norman Woodbury, and the Davis mayor at the time, Ken Gill, joined forces to conduct the first study on bicycle lanes in Davis for the public works department to study.
“Nobody had ever figured out the width or how they would transition or how people would turn at corners with vehicles and bicycles,” said Bob Bowen, U.S. Bicycle Hall of Fame president. “Woodbury and others drafted some bills that were eventually passed by the state assembly and the state senate, and they were signed by the then California Governor, Ronald Reagan. In 1967, the city was able to put sections of the first official bike lanes in 3rd street downtown, on Sycamore Lane, on W. 8th St. and on L St.; it was the start of a bicycle lane system.”
These specifications and drafts were eventually adopted by the entire United States. However, while bike lanes are convenient and important to the incorporation of cycling infrastructure, they are sometimes viewed as outdated and even potentially dangerous.
“Celebrating it is great, but we also need to keep in mind that it’s not the safest infrastructure for bicyclists,” said Trish Price, the president of Bike Davis. “We would like to make sure that people are aware of that. We advocate for more separation from motor vehicles so that would make cyclists safer.”
In addition to advocating for road safety for cyclists and educating the public on cycling, Bike Davis also participates in the annual May is Bike Month competition. New or experienced cyclists can sign up to log bicycle miles ridden, participate in teams and win prizes. Greek organizations, clubs or even groups of friends can join together and participate, and Bike Davis is always accepting new cyclists to join their group for the contest.