Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bike Friendly Davis could be Friendlier

Davis is championed as one of, if not the, best biking cities in the US. See for example:
From my experience it certainly deserves this reputation. I live on one side of town and I work on the other side and bike to work whenever possible. I have tried to take as many different routes as I can to get to know the city. Over most of these routes, there are all sorts of bike-friendly features, like bike lanes, and traffic lights just for bikes, and even off road bike paths.

The off road bike paths are by far and away the best feature of Davis in terms of biking. These wind their way through many many communities and parks and generally make it incredibly pleasant, and safe to bike. I see so many kids on these routes going to and from school and it must be nice to know your kid can biek around possibly without ever crossing a road.

Yes despite this I am struck by the unevenness of the bike friendly features across town. For example, there is only one good off road route that head to UC Davis campus from the South side of town. This is the South Davis bikeway that it veyr nice and goes under I-80 and the railroad tracks. There is also a nice bike path on the West side of town (this one goes nearly all the way out to the next town in Winters). Ufortunately from the North and East sides of town, there is no direct route to campus that is off road. So in fact in these areas you see many many fewer people commuting within town on their bikes. I am sure the limitation is that it is hard to build bike paths into older communities. But if Davis wants to really become the best bike town in the country, it should try to find a way.

In addition, there are many very simple things that could be done to make biking around town and communiting to town much more pleasant. For example, there is what could be a really nice off road bike path connecting Davis and Sacramento. The problem with this is that it is incredibly exposed - both to the sun and to I-80 (it runs right next to 80 for much of its route). In some sections, judicious tree and shrub planing could greatly reduce both forms of exposure. It is unclear to me why this has not been done. But I am sure that this explains why this bike route seems to be so poorly used. Who would go out of there way to commute on their bike when they are so exposed to one of the most highly travelled freeways in the area.

I am very grateful to live in a place with such bike friendly features. But it seems that a few adjustments here and there could get even more people onto their bikes and off of the roads.

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