Professionals explain biking benefits and how Davis can still improve
The City of Davis was recently re-certified on Dec. 16, 2020, as a “Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists, according to a news statement from the City of Davis.
The process of recertifying happens every four years, and the “award recognizes the Davis community for its commitment to providing safer streets and better bicycling for everyone,” according to the news statement. A report can also be found online.
Amelia Neptune, the director of the Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) program at the League of American Bicyclists, explained that communities can apply for the BFC through an online application that includes the 5 E’s: education, engineering, evaluation and planning, encouragement as well as equity and inclusion.
“Because we get applications from such a wide variety of communities, from small rural towns to major urban metro regions, there is no strict one-size-fits-all rubric of criteria for what a community MUST do to reach each award level, but we base our award decisions on how well and how holistically the community approaches bicycling in each of the 5 E’s,” Neptune said via email.
After the online applications are submitted, input is also taken from residents through a survey, alongside bicyclists and advocates. The application and survey results are then reviewed. As of January, there are 5 Platinum BFCs—however, no community has received the Diamond award yet.
Jennifer Donofrio, the bike and pedestrian coordinator for the City of Davis, explained the factors that make Davis such a bike-friendly community.
“One is our extensive bike network with 108 miles of bike lanes, 63 miles of pathways, and 29 grade-separated crossings allowing people on bikes to ride under and over train tracks, highways, and roadways,” Donofrio said via email.
Donofrio explained that the City also hosts events to promote biking.
“Together the City and community partners host over 100 bike themed events a year,” Donofrio said via email. “We have also made education one of our type priorities with the development of a bike education program, which has now shifted to a free online bike education class to learn the rules of the road.”
Ramon G. Zavala, the transportation demand manager for UC Davis Transportation Services, explained how the normalcy of biking, people moving to Davis for the biking culture and investing in infrastructure that supports biking contribute to the bike-friendliness of the city.
“The nation’s first bike lane, off-street paths throughout the city, and the willingness to explore more infrastructure designs all contribute to making bicyclists feel welcomed in town,” Zavala said via email. “Welcomed cyclists ride more.”
A lack of cars also promotes biking, according to Minister at the Davis Bike Collective Francisco Dominguez.
“I think that having pretty much a closed to car traffic campus for the last 50 years has fostered a bike friendly healthy community,” Dominguez said via email.
The bike-friendly environment also contributes to the local culture in a few ways, such as increased happiness and consideration for others, according to Zavala.
“There’s a better connection to the community when not zipping around in a car,” Zavala said. “You notice graffiti and are more likely to report it. You share photos of pretty scenery. You communicate more with those around you. In all, it increases community cohesion.”
Not only does it benefit people, it also benefits the environment, according to Dominguez, by reducing the carbon footprint produced by cars.
In continuing to promote a bike culture, there are various goals that can still be achieved in Davis, according to Donofrio.
“Our goals are to reduce bike theft, improve our pavement conditions, bring bike share back, and improve our bike parking,” Donofrio said via email.
Ultimately, Davis’ achievement of being awarded platinum status showcases its accessibility through biking, as well as a means of staying healthy, Donofrio explained.
“Biking needs to be easy to do, saves time, and it needs to be normal,” Donofrio said via email. “No special outfits or special bike is needed. Getting friends and groups to bike together to showcase how fun and easy biking is can encourage people to bike.”
Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — firstname.lastname@example.org