Davis, California

Davis, California, was the first U.S. city to be awarded the prestigious Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists. Davis received the award in 2005, and only Portland, OR, and Boulder, CO, have managed to gain a Platinum rating since then.

So how did this small college town in Northern California do it?

It goes all the way back to 1966 with the election of a pro-bicycle majority to the City Council. During an era when most California cities were building freeways and strip malls as fast as possible, Davis’ planners were developing off-street greenways and bike lanes. They were far ahead of their time and were seen as visionary, if not a little crazy.

We were in Davis today, and on a cold day in December there were many bikes around, being ridden by moms and dads, kids, students, seniors, and people from just about every walk of life.

Now, with bike lanes on over 95 percent of all its arterials and collectors, 27 grade-separated intersections, thousands of bike-parking spaces, and a 17 percent bicycle trip share, Davis truly is one of the best places in America to ride a bike. It only took a clear vision and 40 years of work to get to where they are today.

But Davis is not resting on its laurels. In the last ten years, the city has spent over $14 million on new bicycle infrastructure projects, and it budgets approximately $100,000 per year for bicycle infrastructure maintenance, all in a city with a population of only 65,000.

We were in Davis today, and on a cold day in December there were many bikes around, being ridden by moms and dads, kids, students, seniors, and people from just about every walk of life. Nearly every bike rack had at least a couple of bikes locked to it. We couldn’t help but feel a little envious of the city’s residents, with their mature cycling infrastructure, lively bike culture, and what appears to be a generally high quality of life.

Davis Wiki – Bicycling
City of Davis – Bicycles
City of Davis – Comprehensive Bicycle Plan

5 Responses to “Davis, California”

  • Don M says:

    Hi,

    Can you point me to your source for the information on funding ($100k/year)? I tried looking in the links at the end of the article but I couldn’t find it. We are trying to justify a similar budget in a city with a similar size population.

    Also, Boulder, CO was recently awarded platinum as well. See more here: http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/boulder-goes-bike-platinum/

    Thanks for the great blog!
    Don

  • Alan says:

    @Don

    Thanks for the information on Boulder. On the funding, I think you’ll find what you’re looking for here:

    http://cityofdavis.org/bicycles/info.cfm

    Alan

  • bongobike says:

    I find Davis an idyllic place. I have visited several times to attend conferences, and I am always delighted by the bike infrastructure, the weather, the cleanliness, the weekly farmers market, small population and few cars. I would move there at the drop of a hat, if I could only afford it! Housing is extremely expensive, as in most of Cali.

  • Tom says:

    Davis really walks the talk when it comes to bike infrastructure.

    Not long ago, I was Google mapping a route in Davis when I noticed the layout of several neighborhoods. There was a central Greenway trail, and off to each side were a series of cul-de-sacs. Each cul-de-sac had access to the trail, and the trail lead directly to the local schools and shopping. It looked like a fern, with the bike path as the stem and the neighborhoods as leaves.

    Last week, I happened to be driving back from Sacramento to the SF Bay Area, and noticed several bike commuters riding from Sacramento to Davis on the bike path that paralels I-80.

    Way to go Davis.

  • Tom says:

    Well, after my post, I went looking to find that map, but could not. Maybe what I had seen was a map of planned development.

 
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