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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Biking is great — here’s how to do it right

The Editorial Board shares advice, tips and tricks on how to make biking enjoyable for you and the people around you


You might have noticed that parking prices on the UC Davis campus have increased. If you’ve been driving to campus every day and you’re worried about how this change might affect your finances, we’re here to remind you that there are other, cheaper modes of transportation that you can take advantage of — and there’s one in particular that UC Davis is famous for. 

Davis was the first city to earn the Platinum Bicycle-Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists, and is also home to the US Bicycling Hall of Fame. With an excess of bike lanes and bike paths, as well as several protected intersections for bikers, Davis has put into place the infrastructure to make biking safe and easy.

Biking is a pollution-free mode of transportation and it conserves roadway space, which makes room for less concrete and more plant life in urban areas. It’s also great exercise, which is especially beneficial for busy college students who might not otherwise have time to fit in a workout.

Despite the protocols Davis has put in place to make biking safe for everyone, it can still be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. As seasoned Davis bikers, we feel it is our duty to provide some tips for how to make biking on campus and around town a better, safer experience.

First things first: supplies. Obviously, you’ll need a bike, and don’t worry if it’s second-hand or cheap; in our experience, older bikes seem less likely to be stolen. You should also purchase a bike lock to prevent theft — we recommend a U-lock since it’s more difficult to cut through than a cable lock. When locking your bike, be sure to secure both the frame and the tire to the bike stand. This will minimize how much of your bike can be easily stolen.

There are a couple of other important biking accessories that you are able to get for free from campus organizations. The UC Davis Police Department gives out free bike lights during regular operating hours and at their community events. Additionally, students, staff and faculty can get a free bike helmet from the Bike Barn on campus by completing a short bike education training and virtually signing the “Helmet Hair Don’t Care” pledge.

If you were expecting only sunny weather at Davis, the first couple days of fall quarter this year may have surprised you, so we wanted to share a couple of essential pointers for biking in the rain.

Attaching a fender to your back tire is the best way to avoid “the freshman stripe,” which is what students call having a stripe of water down your back, resulting from your back tire spraying up water from puddles when you don’t have a fender to block it. We also recommend a bike seat cover to protect your seat from the rain — even a reused grocery bag or shower cap can work.

Bike maintenance is also important, as issues are bound to crop up from wear and tear if you’re biking to school every day. If your tires have low air pressure, there are several pumps on campus that you can use for free, including one attached to the side of the Bike Barn, one on the west side of the Memorial Union and more. 

For other bike-related issues, the Bike Barn is a great on-campus option. We also recommend checking out other businesses in town and nearby in Sacramento that offer similar services.

With thousands of students biking on campus daily, and many more walking, scootering, skateboarding and so on, biking etiquette is incredibly important. This includes using hand signals when you’re making a turn, respecting pathways that are designated for pedestrians only and understanding how to properly use a bike circle. 

Bike circles travel counterclockwise; no matter where you enter from, you will always turn right into the circle. Even if the bike circle does not appear to be crowded, do not bike straight across the center of the circle — this can result in accidents, as other bikers will be expecting you to traverse the bike circle in the correct way. 

Biking is a staple of UC Davis and the city of Davis at large, and for good reason. It’s fun, environmentally friendly, affordable and simultaneously acts as transportation and exercise. We highly recommend taking part in this long-standing Davis tradition; just make sure you have the right supplies and a good understanding of the rules of the road (or should we say, the bike path).

Written by: The Editorial Board