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We have all heard about bike-friendly cities in Denmark and the Netherlands, but this smaller Californian City may have flown under the radar. In 1967, two professors started a petition for the City of Davis to install protected bike lanes. With a city centre around a university campus, the bike-friendly city of Davis continues to grow its bike infrastructure and as a result, cycling participation.

Key facts

  • Davis has historically embraced bicycle transportation and has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to bicycling over the years.
  • Davis now has over 100 miles of bike infrastructure.
  • Today, 98% of the main streets in Davis have some form of bicycle provision. Cycle use is highest on the campus, with 50% modal share (lecture rooms are distant, timings tight).
  • From 2011, cycling participation grew from 17% to 20% in 2015
  • When 7,000 or so new students arrive each October, many struggle to cope during their freshman induction days – upperclassmen students gather at campus intersections and cheer as newbies wobble into each other on the bicycle-specific traffic circles
  • From a petition started by two professors wanting a protected bikeway after seeing them in Europe in 1967 until today, Davis has been a leader in creating a bike-friendly city. In 1967, the City of Davis installed America’s first protected bikeway, albeit illegally until a citizen’s campaign helped change state law to allow it.
  • After the statewide ban on bikeways, Davis has continued on its bike-friendly reputation by installing America’s first protected intersection in 2015.

Key Project: Davis Bike Loop

  • Back in the 1980s, two landscape professors named Kerry Dawson and Mark Francis first proposed the bike loop.
  • The bike loop is made up of approximately 12 miles of bicycle route that connects most of the major pieces of bicycle infrastructure in town, including bike bridges and tunnels.
  • Not only does the loop give people a stress-free option to forgo driving cars, so traffic congestion is at a minimum but it also helps people get outdoors more often, enjoy the fresh air, and get plenty of exercise all at the same time.
  • The route is designed to be used as a navigable route for children, so parents can send their kids across town on a safe, easy-to-follow route, undoubtedly nurturing the skills of the next generation of commuter cyclists.