Pedaling Success: How Davis, California Achieved 20% Bike Commuting and What Other Cities Can Learn

Bike lanes in Davis, California
I live in Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is one of the worst bicycle friendly cities I have ever rode my bicycle in. I'm not saying that people hate cyclists here. By unfriendly I mean that there is not much infrasture in the way of bicycle friendliness. We have some bike lanes but there is no rhyme or reason to any of it. You can be riding along on a bike path and then it just stops and there is no alternative.

One of the most bike friendly cities I rode in was Santa Fe, New Mexico. I felt very safe there, even at busy intersections because Santa Fe has a vision for cyclists and put it into practice. With that in mind, I heard about Davis, California and how they are so bike friendly that 20% of the community actually commutes on bikes. Read on to see how they did it.

Davis, California, is a small city located in Yolo County, just west of Sacramento. Despite its relatively small size, Davis boasts an impressive feat – over 20% of its residents commute by bike. This is a remarkable achievement, and one that many other cities in the United States could learn from. So, how did Davis achieve this level of bike ridership, and what lessons can be taken from their success?

Firstly, it’s important to understand the history of cycling in Davis. The city has a long-standing commitment to cycling, dating back to the 1960s, when local activists lobbied for bike lanes on city streets. The city council responded by adopting a policy to include bike lanes in all new road projects, and in 1967, the city became the first in the United States to create a bike lane on an existing street. This early commitment to cycling laid the foundation for the city’s current success.

In addition to its bike lanes, Davis has a comprehensive network of bike paths and trails, totaling over 100 miles. These paths provide safe and convenient routes for cyclists to get around the city. Many of the paths are separated from vehicle traffic, providing a safe and comfortable experience for riders of all ages and abilities. The city also has a bike share program, which allows residents and visitors to easily access bikes for short trips around the city.

Another factor contributing to Davis’s success is its compact size. The city is just 10 square miles, making it easy for cyclists to get around quickly and efficiently. The city is also relatively flat, making it an easy place to ride a bike.

Finally, Davis has a strong cycling culture, with a number of bike-related events and organizations. The city hosts the annual Davis Double Century, a 200-mile bike ride that attracts riders from around the world. There are also a number of local bike clubs and organizations, such as the Davis Bike Club, which hosts weekly rides and events.

So, what lessons can other cities learn from Davis’s success? Firstly, it’s important to have a long-term commitment to cycling infrastructure. Davis’s early adoption of bike lanes set the foundation for its current success. Additionally, creating safe and convenient bike routes is essential for encouraging ridership. Davis’s extensive network of bike paths and trails, as well as its bike share program, make cycling an accessible and convenient option for residents. Finally, creating a strong cycling culture is key to encouraging ridership. Events and organizations that celebrate cycling can help create a sense of community and encourage more people to get on a bike.

Overall, Davis, California, is a shining example of a city that has successfully prioritized cycling as a means of transportation. Through a long-term commitment to cycling infrastructure, creating safe and convenient routes, and fostering a strong cycling culture, Davis has achieved an impressive level of bike ridership. Other cities in the United States could learn a great deal from Davis’s success, and use it as a model for creating more bike-friendly communities.


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