The Bike Capital of America

Written by Alex Solorio, ESLLC 2015-2016

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For this blog post, I wanted to talk a little bit about my hometown of Davis, California. Davis is a relatively small college town with a population of roughly 68,000, over half of which is made up of college students. If Davis is known for one thing, it’s the bike trails, shops, and culture that have turned the city into what many have called the “Bike Capital of America” for decades.

Davis has been associated with biking since the early 1960s. A major reason for this is that so much land and population is taken up by UC Davis students, many of whom don’t have cars. The campus is located adjacent to the downtown area, which allows for students to easily take a quick bike ride into the city for restaurants, movies, or nightlife. Additionally, most of UCD’s campus is car-free. Although the same can be said for the University of Denver, UCD’s campus is 42.4x as large (5300 acres vs. 125 acres), and therefore required a lot more thought and planning when developing the area for bicycle-oriented transit.

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Even if you aren’t enrolled at the university, it’s fairly easy to live without a car in Davis. The city as a whole is just under 10 square miles, which allows for somewhat easy bike-ability to and from anywhere in it. Additionally, according to an article produced by the Guardian (link below), “In the 1960s and 1970s, when the rest of America was building only for cars, Davis built for bicycles.” I personally can’t think of a single major street in Davis that doesn’t include well-defined bike lanes, which I think is a testament to how important bicycles are to the city.

If you’d like to learn more, visit any of these three sites:

https://localwiki.org/davis/US_Bicycling_Hall_of_Fame

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/aug/03/davis-california-the-american-city-which-fell-in-love-with-the-bicycle

https://localwiki.org/davis/Bicycling

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