Author Archive for Russell Reagan

Excellent bike path still under the radar after 10 years


Biking toward South Davis, along the former course of Putah Creek just before the path crosses under I-80.

Ten years ago this week, the City of Davis dedicated the Putah Creek Bicycle Undercrossing, connecting South Davis to downtown and the UC Davis campus. The $4.5 million project took four years to construct. In 2000 the longest segment was opened from W. Chiles Road near Research Park Drive, crossing under W. Chiles and six lanes of I-80. A ceremony on April 2, 2003 marked the opening of the tunnel under the Union Pacific railroad tracks behind Davis Commons at the east end of the UC Davis Arboretum.

The smooth concrete path stretching 0.4 mile is impressive as bike facilities go: It crosses under both I-80 and the railroad, passing through unspoiled open countryside so close to downtown Davis and the freeway-oriented businesses — but separated from them just enough to create a tranquil respite from urban life. It circumvents the busy intersections along Cowell and Richards, especially the freeway overpass with zooming cars and trucks merging across a disappearing bike lane at the entry and exit ramps to I-80. And it avoids long waits at stoplights.

I expect that many readers either don’t know about this bike path, or have learned of it the hard way — perhaps after biking the more treacherous Richards freeway overpass and then hearing a rumor of an alternate bike route.

A bicyclist heads toward I-80 on Cowell Blvd. at Research Park Drive. The flash on my camera makes visible this mostly hidden sign pointing to the bike path to bypass the freeway overpass just ahead.

A bicyclist heads toward I-80 on Cowell Blvd. at Research Park Drive. The camera flash reveals the barely visible sign pointing to the bike path that allows one to bypass the freeway overpass just ahead.

This path is hidden from the view of car and bus travelers because it doesn’t directly connect to Cowell, Richards, First, E, or F Streets. Take Research Park Drive heading west in South Davis, or the bike path along the UC Davis Arboretum heading east near downtown. Maps and bigger, more descriptive signs showing the way would be helpful!

It is also part of the Davis Bike Loop. Green pavement markers were added in 2007 and have raised awareness of this and other bike paths around the city, but these markers are of limited usefulness in terms of guiding unfamiliar bicyclists to specific destinations.bike_path_map

Besides the map provided here and others specifically for bicycling (e.g. Google Bicycling), this excellent bike path is not even shown on many maps. The Davis Downtown Business Association and UC Davis have installed large maps on public placards at key locations. None of these show the path.

In my view this omission is particularly egregious on the UC Davis map. The path serves as an ideal connector between the main campus and outlying campus units along Research Park Drive such as the Center for Neuroscience. Also missing from the campus map is a similar freeway crossing for bikes south of the Russell/113 interchange on the west side of the campus.

Why are bike paths barely shown or missing from these maps? Bike paths are more subtle and minute in detail for map makers to draw, compared to the street grid. Perhaps the view still persists that the paths are recreational rather than true transportation facilities.

I am not suggesting that bike paths on maps should be drawn as wide as the streets. But the campus map in particular needs to better highlight bicycling routes for bypassing busy streets and intersections via bridges and underpasses, to encourage this healthier form of transportation. Some exaggeration of the physical prominence of these paths would serve a valuable purpose.

Improvements are on the way! Construction is set to begin this summer on the Arboretum Gateway Garden, which will greatly improve the connection from the bike path to Davis Commons and downtown at First and D Streets. Also, the city plans to install wayfinding signs, probably in 2014-15, to guide bicyclists to destinations via bikeways, similar to those in cities such as Berkeley and Portland.

Bicycle Open House at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Sat. Sept. 29

Contact person: Ann Brice 530-758-0530
Event Date & Time: September 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

Yolo Basin Foundation and the California Department of Fish and Game invites community members and their families to participate in the first bicycle open house to be held at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on September 29th from 9am to 1pm.

This is a chance to get to know the Wildlife Area from a different vantage point. Volunteers from the Yolo Basin Foundation will meet participants at Parking Lot A with maps and suggestions for routes.

People may choose to bicycle several miles on the public auto tour loop as well as through some areas normally only accessible by foot.  Fall migration is starting and there are ample opportunities for waterfowl and shorebird viewing. Continue reading ‘Bicycle Open House at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Sat. Sept. 29′

Davis-Sac bike route detour, CR32A closure Sept. 17-28

Due to road reconstruction, County Road 32A between CR 105 and the on/off ramps for westbound Interstate 80 will be closed to traffic from September 17 to September 28, 2012; to facilitate the Rehabilitation of CR 32A and Railroad Crossing Safety Improvement Project.  Detour signs will direct motorists and bicycles to alternate routes, through Mace Blvd. (CR 104) and Chiles Road (CR 32B).

Click on the map image for more details of bike detours.

This project will rehabilitate the damaged section of the road surface; it will also install guardrails at the intersection of CR 32A and the Union Pacific Railroad Crossing. The road closure will assist in the expeditious completion of the project.

Source: Lilia Esparza, P.E., Assistant Engineer, Yolo County Planning and Public Works

Woodland Bike Clinic, Sept. 8, 10am – 2pm

DB! March Announcements

Davis Bicycles!
Late March Announcements

Tireside Chat with Ted Buehler: History of Bicycling in Davis
Sunday, Apr. 1, 4:00 pm
U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, 3rd and B Streets

Davis bicycling researcher Ted Buehler is the featured speaker for the first of two “Tireside Chats” on the history of bicycling in Davis. Ted’s presentation is based on his master’s thesis research at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. The first public presentation of Buehler’s research famously filled the Davis Varsity Theater in February 2007 when Davis Bicycles! was founded. Ted will present the seeds of policy favoring the bicycle in the 1950s and early 60s supported by UC Davis, grassroots organizing and the election of a pro-bike slate of city council members in 1966 and the first bike lanes in 1967. He will also present highlights of support for bicycling since the 1960s, the rebirth of bicycle advocacy in Davis since 2005. He will conclude by discussing possible next steps for Davis. In addition to founding Davis Bicycles! in 2007, Ted also co-founded the Bike Church, now the Davis Bike Collective. He currently lives in Portland where he participates in the Bike Temple and the advocacy group Active Right of Way.

The City of Davis this year is observing the 45th anniversary of bike lanes. The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame will host an additional presentation on this history on Sunday, April 15, also at 4pm. This Tireside Chat will feature former Davis city council member Maynard Skinner who was elected in 1966, and former Public Works Director Dave Pelz who helped design and implement the first Davis bike lanes.

Both talks will conclude around 5pm, leaving time for participants to ask questions and meet the speakers.  Admission is free for members of the USBHOF and Davis Bike Club, or is included with the daily Hall of Fame admission fee of $3 Student/Senior and $5 General.

Continue reading ‘DB! March Announcements’

‘Being the change’ to ride our bikes more

Although I do a lot of bicycling for exercise and recreation, staying motivated to keep doing it is still a challenge for me. Many of us have aspirations to start riding, to ride our bikes more frequently and farther, or to ride up hills. Social rides and challenges offered by the Davis Bike Club and other groups are a great way to motivate oneself.

After moving from San Francisco to Davis several years ago, I missed the many hills and interesting sights. So I was less inspired to ride and missed getting as much exercise biking compared to before.

Then I joined the Davis Bike Club and signed up for its “March Madness.” To participate, you choose a challenging mileage goal for the month of March and pay a registration fee. You are on the honor system as you ride to your goal. Any miles you ride your bike count: around town, to work, to school or long excursions. Proceeds go to school bike safety efforts.

After I started participating in this challenge, I was riding more than ever. From there, I proceeded to fulfill lifelong ambitions to ride the Big Sur coast and the 200-mile Davis Double Century.

Currently, I am helping to organize and lead a series of hill climbing rides with DBC. We started with a modest amount of hill climbing, and are working our way up step by step to mountain-size ascents.

At the same time, another informal group is training for the “Cinderella Classic,” a 65-mile womens’ ride a few weeks from now. This informal group is organized by my friend Susan Ashdown, who embodies what this essay is about: inspiring and motivating less experienced bicyclists.

Like me, Susan doesn’t claim to be the expert with all the answers about training for longer rides. “I am what you call a spark,” she says. “If I don’t know the answer I will try to find it and get back to you.”

She became the organizer “… because I always wanted to provide a connection point for women to cycle together, to provide a supportive place. I had gathered a few good folks to help them begin cycling further than the grocery store.”

Susan’s training group often has multiple rides a week. Since they started training in January, their long weekend rides have increased by five miles each week, with gradually more hill climbing. Participants include a large age spread, and a few men.

A recent training ride for the Cinderella Classic enjoyed a stop at Danny's Donuts in Old Sacramento.

In addition to March Madness, the Davis Bike Club offers its members two yearlong challenges: riding a century (100-mile ride) or a metric century (100 km, or 62 miles), once a month. A hill climbing challenge is planned for April. More information on these and Susan’s group rides are at

Susan, who plans to organize more training rides throughout the year, sums things up better that I can:

“It comes down to people wanting to do these things: cycling, or raising funds for others. They just need the connection point and spark. I guess that is what I provide.

“I feel, and I know others do as well, that cycling is a way they can contribute to others in need and ‘be the change.’ Often not only being the change for others in need, but also in their own life by making the donation or by cycling in a fundraising event, creating a ‘hero’ effect.

“Because that is what people are when they step out of their own world and step up to say ‘yes, I will be the change’ for you.”

— Russell Reagan produces the online newsletter of the Davis Bicycles! advocacy group.

Bicycling challenges and Davis Cinderella Group contact info.

These are some opportunities for distance riding challenges and group training rides described in the DB! column in the Enterprise on Friday, March 2.

The Davis Bike Club offers these mileage challenges:

The Hill Climbing ride series is also among the many rides organized by DBC.

Susan Ashdown’s Davis Cinderella Training Group is on Facebook. If you’re not on Facebook, contact Susan via e-mail:

Audrey tells her story biking to school

My name is Audrey, and I’ve been biking since I was little. From kindergarten to third grade, I often rode my bike to Fairfield Elementary School. I got/had to ride 14 miles to school and back with my mom. Part of the time, I biked with my mom on a trail-a-bike; as I got older I biked on my two-wheeler. It was a good experience , and it led me to wanting to ride my bike from Davis to Winters. Continue reading ‘Audrey tells her story biking to school’

Davis Bicycles! Film Festival, Sat. 11/20, 7 PM

Don’t miss this year’s Bike Film Festival which includes two productions featuring Davis cyclists: “Spokes,” a visit by bicyclists and city officials from Harrisonburg, VA who aim to make their city more bicycle-friendly, and “All Clucked Up!” a zany music-filled video about last spring’s bicycle tour of Davis chicken coops. Beyond our city, the festival will feature “Il Cyclista Dolce”, starring NYC’s Village Voice entertainment columnist Michael Musto, with sweet advice on cycling in the city; and “Beauty and the Bike”, a thoughtful piece on the feminine side of cycling in Great Britain. Continue reading ‘Davis Bicycles! Film Festival, Sat. 11/20, 7 PM’

Urban Cycling Skills Class Offered in Davis

Three-part course held on Nov. 9 (evening), Nov. 13, Nov. 20. Even the most experienced cyclists among us are likely to benefit. Completion of this course is also a requirement for anyone interested in enrolling in a LAB Certified Cycling Instructor course. The class will be held on the UC Davis campus. Continue reading ‘Urban Cycling Skills Class Offered in Davis’